Thursday, December 27, 2012

My Perfect Day - December 27, 2012

A perfect cup of joe

Lazy pajama morning

Someone else to shovel the snow

Leftover Tortierre for lunch

A bit of shopping

My favorite clothing shop gifting me with a new top

Mid-afternoon latte break

Late afternoon drinks and snacks with friends

Couple of pre-dinner Kir Royales

Fabulous daughter cooking my birthday dinner

My favourite musical selections cranking on the stereo

Good hair day

Clothes still fitting miraculously post-holiday feasting

Personalized Google birthday greeting

Surrounded with love

Happy Birthday to me!

Monday, December 24, 2012

2012 Christmas Message

I want to share a message with all of your this Christmas Eve, 2012 that I read on a blog I follow that I felt that was so well said, I could not have said it better myself....

"May you go deeper. May you reach higher. May you fearlessly seize what is good and loving and share it generously with those around you. May you find within yourself those satisfactions you’ve been taught to seek outside of yourself. May you realize how beloved you are, a child of God and a powerful spiritual entity, busy creating what tomorrow will look like for yourself and the rest of us.
May you enter the stillness long enough to know it’s not empty but full to brimming with all the beauty you’ve forgotten about yourself, with wisdom and truth. May you have a holy moment, a revelation that illuminates your connection with this lovely planet, and the oneness of all the life forms that reside upon her. "...Eric Francis

This resonated with me even more so than usual as I have sadly known two young people who committed suicide this year.  These tragic losses of two young men in their late twenties has had a deep and profound impact on me and I can only imagine the pain it has caused those closest to them. 

My heart goes out to any family facing this first holiday season post crisis.

May we all cherish each and every precious moment.

Merry Christmas to all.  

Friday, December 14, 2012

Time to Shift Gears

Could this be the tipping point?  Please tell me it is! The tragedy in Connecticut this morning just has to be a final wake up call.  How many more innocent lives must end before we get it?  

It is like that "meaning of insanity" quote by Albert Einstein.  The one that goes -"the meaning of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."  How much longer before handguns are banned?  How much longer before humanity stops putting so much emphasis and importance on the acquisition of material things?  How many more days, weeks and years before everyone realizes we are all connected? How many more hearts have to be broken; families torn apart, nations divided before we rise above it all?

Days such as this leave me so depleted.  It's as though I cannot absorb all the grief as there is such an abundance of it swirling around that it threatens to absorb me.  I sit here grateful that just yesterday I was able to embrace and hug my daughter before she left town to go back to university to write a couple more exams.  The lingering energy of that moment will have to sustain me today as I weep for the victims and their families and friends of this senseless crime this morning.

From what I have been reading and learning, we, the human race will have an opportunity for enlightenment or awakening on December 21st.  There are many takes on this phenomena of late and I have kind of bought into one in particular that describes the actual scientific explanation and how there will be a window of about 8 minutes where we will be able to absorb this energy of the shifting planets and if you are open to it, may actually be able to awaken to a higher consciousness - a shift, a new way of thinking and doing that will be for the betterment of individuals as well as the collective.

So pay attention on this day and if new thoughts come to you, you are advised to write them down, no matter how far-fetched or unusual they seem as a way to remember what came to you and then perhaps begin to act on them and make changes to the way you live your life, perhaps live a larger life than the one you are living now.

Based on what happened today, it can't come soon enough.  

Monday, December 3, 2012

My Never-ending Journey

Nothing like a sick day on the sofa to give one pause.  Feeling physically incapable of much at all, the day called for quiet and self-reflection (like I haven't done enough of that in the last 3 years - ugh!).

I rummaged through my collection of books next to my bed knowing I would not choose fiction.  No, today called for some sort of inward journey (again!).  I find when I am in this sort of mood, the book I actually need to be reading usually jumps out at me immediately and today was no exception.  It was time to revisit sections of "Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life", even though the mere title of the book can sometimes depress me reminding me that I actually really am in the "second half".

It was sort of apropos considering I had just shot off a note to the CEO of Habitat for Humanity to see if he would be interested in talking to me about creating an off shoot of his organization devoted to the interior decorating of the houses they build for the needy.  I figured they should not only provide a roof over the heads of the recipients but why not look nice as well?  It would be such a pleasure to be able to do my work for people who might really appreciate my efforts even it it did mean beg, borrowing and stealing furniture and supplies to do it from generous donors all over the province - I thought the idea had some merit and still do despite his gracious decline of my offer and idea.

Anyway, I digress.  The book.  Back to Dr. James Hollis, PH.D and his incredible contribution to those looking to find meaning in this challenging materialistic world we live in.  I flipped straight to the back of the book as I recall that is the section that had the most impact on me the first 10 times I read it.  Yes, there they were - the 10 questions.  The 10 best questions you will ever ask yourself.  You may  not be able to answer them all at once and truth be known I am still chipping away at some of them myself.  So I thought it might be a good idea to share them with all of you because I doubt many of you out there have this book or have even heard of it, so here goes.....the title of this list could stop you for a good while itself.  Dr. Hollis - I now give you the floor.

Is the Life you are Living too Small for your Soul's Desire?

Consider these questions.  Answer them honestly to yourself or they will prove of no value.  If they hurt a bit, or intimidate a lot, then they are hitting home for you.  Answer them honestly, and you are on the way to the insight that leads to wisdom, the wisdom that leads to change, the change that leads to a larger life, and the larger life that ultimately provides healing because it is the life the gods intended for you.

1.  Where has life in its unfairness, stuck you, fixated you, caused you to circle back and back upon this wounding as a provisional definition and limitation of your possibilities?  Why do you continue to cooperate with the wound, rather than serve something larger, which serves you in return?

2.  Where has life blessed you, given you a gift? And what have you done with that gift? How have you accepted the responsibility that goes with it?

3.  Where are you blocked by fear, stuck, rigid, resistant to change?

4.  What is the fear beneath the fear?  The fear that intimidates you only gains its power from the wiring beneath it, the wiring of history, which leads to a deeper fear, a fear from your past.  This circuitry activates the old message that this fear, this issue, is larger than you, and so you ignore the conscious, empowered adult you have become since then.

5.  Where was your father stuck, and where has that stuck place shown up in your life?  Where was your mother stuck and where has that stuck place shown up in your life?  Are you repeating their lives, their patterns, or tying to overcome them by compensation, or treating the problem in a way that brings harm and further self-alienation?  Is this the legacy you will pass on to your children?

6.  Where do you avoid conflict, the necessary conflict of values, and therefore avoid living in fidelity with who you are?

7.  What ideas, habits, behavioral patterns are holding you back from the large journey of the soul? What secondary gains do you receive by staying mired in the old - security, predictability  validation from others? Are you now tired enough, hurting enough to begin to take the soul's journey on?

8.  Where are you still looking for permission to  live your life?  Do you think that someone else is going to give it to you?  What are you waiting for, someone else to write the script of your life for you?

9.  Where do you need to grow up?  When will this happen?  Do you think someone else will do it for you?

10.  What have you always felt called toward, but feared to do?  Does this possibility still summon you, symbolically if not literally?  What new life wishes to come into being through you?

So, there you have it my dear readers.  I challenge each and every one of you to consider these questions, or some of them at least and see where it takes you.  

Work on them one at a time.  Try to do it before New Year's Eve and then start 2013 with a whole new approach to your life.  

And you thought losing 10 lbs  as your new year's resolution was tough - piece of cake next to this! 

Happy trails!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Home Sweet Home...for Now

Hosting a social occasion in one's home, however humble, is oft reason to quickly pull your place together.  I had been putting off this "pulling together" for weeks since I moved into my new digs in June.  I was exhausted from having moved twice within a year, feeling rather uninspired in the new space and was generally not really excited about the prospect of it since it will likely only be another temporary accommodation before I move again into a more permanent home.

What I failed to realize was that the very off-putting of this task was what was bringing me down more than the seeming futility of it.  Why bother I thought, I will be gone before long.  But this attitude and present state of my home was having a much larger impact on my general state of mind than I realized.  It is not like me to be so accepting of clutter and disarray, so facing it daily was subliminally affecting my usual energy.  It was time to hop to it.

I do tend to dive into these zones of creativity with an almost obsessive compulsive approach.  Ideas fire up in my brain and I become completely focused on the task at hand...a woman on a mission.   I needed to address the entry first.  The tiny box-like space between the first and second door leading to a set of 17 stairs that were a blank hollow echo chamber leading to the living space.  What to do?  Bear in mind that whatever I do, it has to be able to be accomplished quickly, inexpensively and result in something unique and expressive of moi.  

Painting was out of the question time-wise and I did not want the mess of it.  I wanted the stairway to have some personality.  I wanted to draw the eye away from the ugliness of the steps with their aluminum step caps and plain white risers topped with cork flooring.  The banister was equally uninspired in a wood stain with high gloss varathane coating  - ugh!  I need to paint it black at the very least, but again, no time for that.  I started playing with letters in my head.  Turn the steps into a phrase.  Something welcoming...but not "welcome" That would be too banal.    Steps. Stairs. Arrows leading people up. Clever architectural words. The French words for enter, stairway, think, think, think. 

That's when it came to me.  Stairway to heaven.  Ugh, no, how stupid.  Believe me, this place is nice enough, but heaven it is not.  Wait, it does have some merit.  I counted the steps again. Seventeen of them.  GOT IT!  S T A I R W A Y  2  H A V E N (all my homes are havens in a way I thought). I got in the car and went on a search for stick on letters and numbers.  Gotta love Canadian Tire.  This was the result. I had to take the photos in 2 pieces but you get the idea.  

Next was the living room which I had pretty much done but it needed a bit of attention, so I moved a few things around and that took very little time and I was happy with the result.  I used to take myself way too seriously with my decorating.  I was pretty traditional.  The new me is all about fun and colour and if it speaks to me, don't try to over think it.  I go with my gut now and just let feeling dictate more than practicality or even function sometimes.  I want to like looking at it.  That is my new rule of thumb. (Love my Dudeman!)

There was another unaddressed space in the hall leading to the bedrooms from the living room and I had zero budget for a console table but I did have some assorted art that was stacked in my daughter's room with no where to call home and a small demi-lune outdoor table that needed to be protected from the winter.  It was coming inside and it is really a bit too deep for the space, but it works for now and I think the hall looks less like an empty shell now and the vignette I created cost me twenty bucks worth of candles and some elbow grease to clean the table after a summer outside on the deck. (Thanks Cindy for the Cape Breton folk art - I love her!)

I am always re-energized when I like my surroundings.  This recent spurt of creativity was just what I needed heading into the dreary month of November and as we spend so much time inside in the winter months, a necessary balm for any pending S.A.D. that may creep up unexpectedly.  It is even more gratifying having done it for next to nothing.  

Roll Credits

Glass Waterfall Coffee Table: Shelter
Sofa: MGBW, Elte
Raspberry Chair: Shelter
Green Chair: Shelter
Bookcases: Ikea
Kitchen Table and Chairs:  Shelter
Media Stand: Ikea
Carpet: End of the Roll
Floor Mirror: Custom Designed
Stiletto Art: Dudeman, (Nicholas Sinclair)
Floral Framed Photography: Paul Causie
Surveyors Floor Lamp:  Ethan Allen
Gingham Ottoman:  Ethan Allen
Table Lamp and End Table: Home Sense
Accessories: Muskoka Living, Artifacts, Home Sense

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Mmmmore, More, More!

There are some foods that have become sought after in my life.  When I say sought after, I am referring to perfection.  The "perfect crab cakes", the "perfect Caesar salad", the "perfect hamburger", the "perfect fish and chips", the "perfect pizza", the "perfect butter tart" get the gist.

I find myself in a city or a restaurant and I start to gauge the possibility.  Is this a place that makes all their own food from scratch, or am I getting prepared frozen crap from another source?  Does Dufflet deliver their desserts or is a there a talented young chef slaving away in the kitchen back there cranking out the ultimate flaky pastry or tiramisu with painstaking attention to quality ingredients and just the special unique touch to elevate his/her creation to heavenly status?

Ever since I read Eat Pray Love, I am chomping at the bit to go to Naples and eat that pizza Elizabeth Gilbert became addicted to not caring that every day that passed caused her to gain a pant size.  The gelato too for that matter.  Sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind and worry about losing the 10 lbs later.

The current winner, historically speaking for the crab cakes was a place in Charleston, South Carolina called Magnolia.  I have attempted a few since then, but so far, they have paled in comparison.  The hamburger is still elusive.  Nothing  has ever even come close to beating my mother's homemade patties that my father would BBQ, leaving them pink in the middle and the fat and juices dripping out of them with every bite.  Now, health regulations manage to ruin every restaurant's attempts to cook them properly - no pink allowed - ugh!

I also have a thing about Italian Sausage.  My father used to work with an Italian guy who made his own sausages.  Once a year he would invite my father to come and join him in a day of sausage making as he had all the equipment necessary and the ingredients would be carefully chosen and mixed to create the most exquisite lean, perfectly seasoned sausages this side of the Atlantic.  My dad liked to really taste the fennel, which in my opinion is what  gives this sausage the unique and delicious punch it needs to reach nirvana status.  The level of spiciness is secondary to this.  I like hot, but some people can't handle that, so even a mild heat with enough fennel will do.  I recently bought some hot ones from a local butcher called Cumbraes, hoping that at long last I had found "the perfect store bought Italian Sausages".  

Tonight when I got home from work, I poured a glass of red and pulled my expensive ($8 for two) Italian treats out of the fridge and set about to cook them.  My plan was to toss a salad to go with my extravagant purchase.  I got distracted by a Skype call with my BFF in Austin while they were sizzling in the pan and by the time they were ready, I was tipsy from my red wine and feeling lazy, so I placed one on a plate and sliced into it (standing at the stove) with the notion I would just taste it first and then make my salad.  I noticed straight away how lean it was - a good sign.  I let it cool just enough so that it was still very warm but not too hot that it would burn the roof of my mouth.  The smell was mouth-watering and the "chew" factor was just right.  I began to taste the fennel, then the hot spicy heat just the right level.  Mmmmm, this was good.  One more bite before I make the salad.  OK, one more.  Alright, I will finish this one sausage and save the second one to have with my salad.  All told, I had cut this delectable tube of magic Mediterranean meat into seven slices of food heaven.  

I became possessed with the kind of hunger for more, reminiscent of my teenage libido.  Screw the salad I decided - tonight I shall dine on sausage and red wine and nothing more.  No arugula,  no tiny sweet cherry tomatoes, no thinly sliced red onion, no shaved parmigiana reggiano or balsamic vinaigrette   Just me, the meat and my wine.  I summoned up my inner cave woman and savoured slice after slice of this savoury succulent meat in a casing.  As I watched my second sausage disappear as quickly as the first one, I regretted only buying two, even though that was already double the amount I would normally ingest.  Each delicious bite like a tiny foodgasm, my taste buds alive with joy and satisfaction.  I was transported, animal-like in my devouring of this pure protein and fat feast.

It was over way too soon.  Another similarity to teenage sex I thought. I splashed what was left of the wine into my glass and retired to the sofa to write this blog, not knowing when I started what I was going to write about, but lo and behold, a little synopsis of my night of fine dining and the end of my search for the "perfect Italian Sausage."  

Aaahhhh!  Got a light?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Just Call me Sir Edmund Hilary

Is everyone around me facing some kind of struggle these days?  That is how it seems.  Here I am up in the night, unable to sleep...again.  I am physically tired, but my mind is wide awake.  I thought perhaps a wee bowl of cereal might do the trick, but I tried that and it just made me crave a piece of cinnamon toast.  I have not had that yet, but if a bit of writing does not send me back to the land of nod, I may crank up the toaster.

Custody battles. Cervical Cancer. Job angst. Aging and dying parents. Aging and dying friends. Separations. Divorces. Money woes. 

Just a few of the dramas going on around me to people I know or care about or love. No wonder I cannot sleep.  Sometimes my own problems pale in comparison.  Most times actually.  A psychic recently told me that my life looks great to others.  She said it as though it was some sort of special gift I had.  But inside she said, I knew the truth.  The truth about my reality.  I got to thinking about what she said and realized that for most of my life, I even believed the hype.  My own hype.  Even I bought into my outward persona.  

The part of me that has been churning on the inside for what seems forever was something I was able keep under control.  At arms length.  Just below the surface.  I knew it was there, but I was stronger.  I could outwit it.  Slap it back down when it got too noisy.  Lately it is getting harder to silence.  What is it she is trying to tell me?  What is it that I don't want to hear?  What is it I fear about her?  

I am not going to answer these questions tonight.  In fact, the thought of trying to answer them is enough to make me want to escape back to sleep.  These inner explorations are exhausting.  I have been on this journey for the better part of three years consciously now and it feels as though I am coming to a culmination point with these last few miles the hardest.  I am so ready to reach the top of this mountain I have been climbing and plant my flag.  But then what?  What will I see on the other side?  Is it all downhill from there?  Or, can I just camp out at the top for a while?  Hang there and enjoy the view until a big wind comes along and knocks me off that perch. 

Has traversing this rocky climb been worth it? Will the view be rewarding enough?  Should I have just been happy with making it to the base camp and then turned back?  The only way of knowing is to make the climb.  Reach the peak.  Or, as the saying goes, will it be lonely at the top?  

One thing I know for sure is that I have always been a sucker for a spectacular view and if I can still have cinnamon toast up there...

...well, that may just be heaven on earth.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." Marianne Williamson

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hugs "R" us

Sitting here in my hotel room in our nation's capital after a perfect late summer day spent with my daughter on the eve of her 18th birthday.  She is attending an evening class and I am alone waiting for her to join me.  A series of flashbacks have been going through my mind all day and as I ponder our journey together as mother and daughter the one thing that stands out in my mind is hugging.

Hugs have been our glue.  Our cure-all.  Our balm.  When she was barely old enough to walk and talk, it was the solution to every fall, every victory, every bad dream. Hugs were like band-aids for us.  Any seeming crisis has always been followed with hugs. We have hugged every morning, every evening and any time in between when we just felt the need.  

When she knew that she would be leaving for Ottawa, she was excited and this great new life and adventure was spread out before her.  It was all positive.  The only thing she stopped to contemplate was "how would she live without our hugs."?  How, indeed.

So, today when I saw her coming toward me in the residence courtyard, I watched as every step she took toward me was like a dance of brisk moving legs and arms that started to reach toward me with the same familiarity that I have witnessed for most of her 18 years, and the sweet tilt in her head and smile on her face that accompanies this intimate ritual between us and it always feels the same.  Warm and heartfelt and connected.  For this moment in time, all is well with the world.  She is safe and secure and loved.

As she gets older and spends more and more time away from me, these are the moments she can carry with her and know that even though they are not as frequent, they will always be waiting for her the next time. 

Happy Birthday baby - here's to many more years of adventure, learning and of course...hugs.

Mom xoxooo

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Transitions 101

We grow accustomed to rituals in our lives and then just as we get comfortable with them, something changes.  It is life.  This is possibly one of the strangest Labour Day weekends for me in about 14 years.  

It is the first one without my daughter.  Up until now it was all about new school supplies, lunch bags, clean uniforms, talk of buckling down and getting up early again.  Not this time.  This time she is on her own in another city, no nagging mother reminding her to take her water bottle, her vitamins, straightening some stray hairs in her part.  She has to do it herself now.  

The twists and turns in the last couple of years have been challenging, but this one may actually end up being the biggest challenge of all for me.  It did not hit me until it was here.  We both knew it was on the horizon and we were excited and eager for this transition but it's all talk until you actually embrace for the last time.  When I was driving away, I felt like going back for one more hug.  The the next day I thought I might drive over to her father's for one more as they were not leaving for Ottawa until yesterday.  I thought better of it.  I will be seeing her in a couple of weeks when I visit her up there for her birthday.

Still, that's a long time between hugs.  It's crazy really.  She has been away at camp for as long as six weeks in the past and I was fine with that.  But she was coming home then.  There was a beginning and an end.  I know this is not the same as when she will leave permanently, but it is the step before that and if she chooses to spend summers up there, it is pretty close to the same.

I packed a card for her to open tonight for her first night in residence in her new room.  It is as close to a hug as I figured we could get.  I hope she pulls it out whenever she is feeling homesick, or lonely, or sad or overwhelmed.  Thank goodness for Skype.  At least I will be able to see her face and gauge her moods.  She is and always has been a hopeless liar - I can read her face and know in an instant when she is not being truthful about something despite any claims to the contrary.  She knows it too and she generally just gives in the moment I call her on it. 

Funny how we think of our kids being so dependent on us, but in some ways we are equally dependent on them.  In my new single life, it was she who was often here at the end of the day to listen to me, share meals, walk somewhere together.  I took it for granted.  I realize that now that the place is empty when I get home.  Time to re-acquaint myself with myself.  I don't mind being alone.  Most of the time. 

So, this Labour Day weekend begins a new chapter.  For her.  For me. For her father.  When I dropped her off I asked her to stand in front of his house and pose for a photo.  I have always taken a "first day of school" photo even in recent years when she would roll her eyes and protest, but she indulged me and stood with her computer in her arms across her chest and smiled and I got a shot for the record books.  

Probably the last one on her scholastic journey.  Another milestone.  Another memory.

Carpe diem my sweet girl!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It's Golden and Rare

The silence here is deafening tonight.  The windows are open and I can hear crickets.  They remind me that summer is not over...yet.  I can hear a jet off in the distance, landing or taking off, not sure.  There are traffic sounds out front and pleasant voices in a back yard to the rear of me, but in here, in my kitchen, complete quiet surrounds me. 

Normally I would put some music on.  But not tonight.  As much as I am tempted to break the silence, I am equally loathe to tamper with it.  Everyone is gone.  My girl, the cat, the hairdresser downstairs, even my ex-husband has moved out of town.  The whirlwind that has been my life for the past several months has slowed to a breeze.  A subtle, gentle, unobtrusive whisper. 

Just me, a cup of hot tea and and an empty nest.  There are a few minutes of dusk left, a haze of deep orange on the horizon that can be seen from where I am sitting and just now the sound of the fridge motor.  A car up the alleyway just started its engine, but that is it.  I had been longing for this moment for days.  Peace. Rest. Solitude.  Now it is here and I am not so sure about it.  I hear the voices of friends saying "Oh, they may drive you nuts, but you'll miss them when they are gone."  I will surely miss my girl, the shedding furball and his litter box, not so much. 

I need this right now.  This time to myself.  Time to reflect on yet another transition.  Time to re-group.  Re-focus.  Re-charge.  That's alot of "reeing" going on I realize.  However, this is the reality.  I have been running on empty for a few weeks now. 

Time to re-boot.  Start writing more again.  Pay closer attention to my diet.  Get back to my work-out routine.  Turn ebb into flow.  Regain some balance.  This renewal that has taken place so may times before as we head into September.  Even though my school days are long past, this time of year still conjurs up this feeling.  Fresh starts make sense now, like a packet of brand new Laurentian coloured pencils once did the first day of classes or a pair of new penny loafers or a new lunch box. 

For tonight however, all these plans can wait.  Park themselves, turn off the engine and just listen to this summer night.  Savour the peace and quiet and let the crickets sing me to sleep, and with any luck, let me sleep all the way through the night. 

After the marathon of life I have just run, the chances of that might be pretty good.

Nite all.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

She's Ready.

It's official.  She is ready.  My baby is ready to leave the nest.  She just beat me by 99 points.  This is a first.  For her.  For me.  For the record book.  She and I have been playing Scrabble since she was old enough to spell. 

In the early days she was hopeless.  She would play weak 2 and 3 letter words with no concept of strategy on the board and would get so frustrated when I would crush her with 32 point words played off of her lame moves that opened the triple for me.  I did feel a little guilty back in the day about stomping on her like that, but it was my plan.

NO mercy!  Not even when she was 6.  Her father was appalled that I would be so mean.  He would pull me aside and tell me to let her win.  NOPE! No way.  No way was I going to let her think she was winning when she was not.  It was my intention to give her a reality check.  A metaphor for life I figured.  No falsehoods.  No bullshit.  Learn how to win.  Perfect your game.  Too many kids were growing up thinking they were the be all and end all when really they were just average kids.  She was going to know that if she wanted to win, she was going to have to learn the game if she wanted to win.

Tonight all my efforts paid off.  She has won before, but never by such a margin.  She was elated.  Secretly, so was I.   She is smarter than me. Just as strategic, and motivated to win.  This is a good thing.  The next decade will challenge all kids her age.  She is about to head off to first year university next week and she will join the throngs of kids her age who will graduate in 2016.  It won't be easy for them.  The world is changing fast and by that time, who knows what will have transpired in this crazy world.

She will need to be clever and strategic and motivated.  No one will have an easy go of it unless they have a family business they can walk into, or they are the creme de la creme of their crop.  The challenges will lie before them like track hurdles, each one more and more difficult to clear. 

I don't know if our years of Scrabble games will help her all that much...but I reckon they cannot have hurt.

Congrats my sweet girl - you blew me out of the water tonight...and I am still smiling. :)

7 letters - 50 extra points - Pffft! And no, Vexs is NOT the plural of Vex! And you won with losing that challenge too!   Be proud.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Moving on......Again.

The birds chirping in my (at first glance) seedy back alley sound the same as they have in all my homes all my life.  That is re-assuring.  I am sitting here this temperate Sunday morning, sipping tea, all four of my windows open wide to let some fresh air blow through after days of non-stop A/C filling the air listening to this choir of birdsong, backed up with a little traffic whitenoise from the front of the building.  It will do.

I have been in my new humbler abode for 9 days now.  There are still boxes to unpack, closets to organize, pictures to hang, but this morning, I need this.  I need a moment.  Moving is exhausting.  I have moved twice in a year now.  I have too much stuff and not enough storage space.  I now have a treadmill adjacent to my living room, which is also my kitchen and dining room.  House and Home will not be shooting the next issue in my "small" space, that is a given.

Oddly, however, I am OK with it all.  I miss the spectacular view I had in Port Credit, but I sure don't miss the commute into town.  I am saving a good hour a day, time that is precious and now I can re-ignite some "me" time that felt like it had been savagely stripped from me when I started my new job in April.  I sense a bit of normality returning to my  life, whatever that means.  In my case, getting back into some of my fitness routines that seemed to be taking the hit the last couple months.

Weathering some major life changes takes its toll.  New job, moving, selling house, kid heading off to university.  Somehow we manage to "stay calm and carry on".  Stay in the moment.  Stay in the moment.  I repeat this mantra over and over.  It helps to not try to look too far ahead and not looking back is generally a good idea as well.  Have you ever tried it?  Not as easy as it sounds.  But it does work.  That is not to say that I am able to do it all the time.  There are days when I positively suck at it.  It is a practice, like meditation and I am practicing.

My view has now been replaced by a wee oasis.  This apartment has a sizable deck that faces a back alley.  Bamboo walls have been installed on either side for privacy, a new bright green patio umbrella, some tropical plants and flowers, a wall planter full of fresh herbs which were supplemented by the little old Italian woman across the laneway the other day as she gifted me with a handful of basil seedings - all good I say.

It was a sweet welcome.  She has a hole cut out of her frost fence that allows her entry from her backyard into the alley.  She stooped to pass through with her fist full of sweet smelling basilico and asked me if I spoke Italian.  I regretted telling her I did not.  She thought I looked Italian she told me.  That was a first.  She then took me back through the hole in the fence and showed me her garden.  Perfect neat rows of tomatoes, swiss chard, green onions, peppers, nary a weed in sight.  I praised her efforts and thanked her whole-heartedly for her welcome to the neighbourhood and came back and planted the seedlings. 

Come September, I will have lush amounts of fresh basil to add to the countless tomatoes that I have no doubt she will be giving me.

How lucky is that?  The new hood is looking better all the time.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Leafy Life Lesson

Ten minutes ago, a solar eclipse began its process in the sky here in Toronto and other cities along this longitude.  I decided to experience this astronomical event alone, meditating the wonder of such things while I listened to some peaceful music, Reflections of Nature, Zen and the Art of Relaxation.  The sun is low in the sky now, but has not yet set. The lake looks cold and  blue, the sky is clear, a few sailboats linger about before heading in to dock for the night. 

I am continually inspired by nature, the tree canopy below my window, almost full in its fresh lush spring leaf.  I picked a maple leaf off of a tree today, just to hold it and admire its newborn perfection, the perfect points, the almost translucent green delicacy of it.  Year after year, the same trees budding out and forming these stunningly beautiful individual works of art by the millions.  We take them for granted, all these leaves, as they start out so fresh-faced and hopeful before they are battered with wind and rain and the heat of the mid-summer sun and sometimes they war against more than the elements.  They fall victim to insects, or disease and if they are lucky enough to make it to autumn, they begin to darken, dry out and crinkle. 

But just before they eventually fall from their mother branches, most of them gather up the strength for one final show of beauty and resilience.  They wow us with a show of the most spectacular colour, holding on now for dear life.  "Look at me!  Look at me!  It has taken a life time for you to finally notice me!"  And we do.  We notice.  We spend October in awe of these now elder leaves, breathing in the heady smell of ones already fallen, crunching beneath our feet as we pass under the trees that start to drop them.  Brilliant reds, golden yellows, deep oranges. 

Artists paint them, photographers capture them, small children jump and play in the raked piles of them.  Their life has had meaning.  They have brought joy to all those who notice them, to those who appreciate them and they will knowingly return in their next lifetime to do it again.  They fear not the falling.  They accept it as part of the journey.  They were the lucky ones to survive what life dished upon them.  They reached their goal.

If we were to ask these leaves - "Was it worth it?"  Was it worth the strength it took to hang on, to battle the elements, resist the disease, suffer the insects chewing through bits of your perfect symmetry?  I think they would wonder why we would even ask such a question as they softly fluttered to the ground, back to the earth whence they came, on their next journey to feed the earth, knowing another generation of leaves just like them would return again in six months, nourished by these, their fallen ancestors.

"But wait, was it the journey or the destination?", I would want to ask them. "What was the best part?" And they would reply, "without the journey, there is no destination...and a word of advice, their voices would echo as the breeze lifted them, carried them away...the journey goes quickly, don't miss it."

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Crossing the Finish Line.....First!

TIME! I just don't seem to have enough of it these days.  Can't remember when I felt so stretched.  I don't know how some women do it; women with several kids, a full-time job, volunteer work, all of that.

I work full-time, have one kid, don't volunteer and only try to say yes to invites that I really want to accept.  I have learned over the years how to say no when it means I will risk becoming exhausted or left with no time for myself.  This is the time that is being snatched away from me lately.  The all-important time to myself. 

It cuts into my work-out time.  This is not acceptable.  I worked really hard to get in the shape I am in now, which is nothing out of this world, but I am at a comfortable level of fitness, weight and good health and I want to keep it like this.  As soon as my exercise routine is disrupted it is only a matter of days before I start feeling sluggish, unmotivated, fat.  Nine days have passed since I last lifted a dumbbell.  I already feel less toned.  I have been flat out sick with a head cold and have had little energy other than to drag myself through my work days, missing only one half day at the worst of it.  It is amazing to me how quickly the deterioration can begin.

So, today is a day off and I had a meeting cancelled this morning which gave me a chance to write a quick blog before I set off on a good long hike along the Humber River and lunch with a friend.  Wonderful, glorious, precious time for myself and with a friend.  These times are really appreciated so much more when you are clamouring for it and declaring it more important than chores or other less soul-feeding activities that are hovering around in the back of my head nagging to be tended to.  Screw it.  My mental and physical well-being are way more important than scrubbing my toilet or vacuuming the crumbs around the floor of my kitchen island. 

I had dinner last week with an old friend who I only see every few years and when we get together, we catch up and it is like we never had any time pass in between.  She said something to me once she heard a detailed account of the last couple years of my life which has stuck in my head for days now.  She said,

"Deb, this is how I see your life.  The word no is just a speed bump on your way to yes."


I thought about what she said.  And the more I thought about it, the more her analogy struck a chord with me.  I suppose it means I am determined.  That is true about me.  I don't even like the word no.  The word no to me is like a gauntlet being thrown before me.  It made me recall several instances in my life where it was life-changing for me. 

The time I got a decline letter from Ryerson University when I applied to get into the Journalism program there in 1982.  I was devastated.  No bloody way, I thought.  This HAS to happen.  It is what I had my sights on.  We will see about this, I thought.  I called the Chairman of the Department.  He agreed to meet with me.  I pleaded my case, sold my attributes, convinced him I was worthy.  A week later, a new letter arrived.  I was in.  My friend was right.  That decline letter was just a speed bump.

More recently, I was declined by another landlord for a condo lease in this building.  He did not see me as a good tenant for whatever reason.  Once again, screw you buddy.  I found another BETTER space several floors up and that landlord thought I was fine.  No one was keeping me out of this building. 

Another time, a professor at Humber College declared the first day of classes that he never gave perfect scores on papers.  Really?  We will see about that.  It nearly killed me buried in research, but I ended up with 3 perfect 100% papers that year.  Ask me anything about the History of Furniture and I will likely have an answer.  Or, I could break out the 1000 pages plus that I turned in that year and look it up.  I still think I should make a coffee table book out of all those pages. 

Am I competitive?  Is that it?  My mother thinks so.  My tennis opponents think so.  My kid brother thinks so - just ask him about every board game, every tennis match, every race.  I play to win.  I am a much better loser now than I was at 8, but I still try to beat him and celebrate when I do.  We both do.  It's fun, we have fun doing it. 

I suppose I should sit back and analyze this about my nature and sometimes I do ponder it and try to figure out how much of my ego is involved.  As I mature, it matters less and less, but I have a sneaky suspicion that there will always be a little part of me that wants to compete. Nothing like a good solid fist pump between friends.....right bro?

Winner take all.....most of the time anyway.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Just Love this Poem.....

I stumbled across this today, and I just want to share it with all of you.  It is by J.L. Sanders.

Other Paths

There must be other paths,
More winding, tangled
Into sweet nothingness,
Sleeping hidden, overgrown,
Darker, deeper
Rock bound paths
Misted and rain drenched,
Where with one mishap,
You might stumble,
You might slip,
If you are lucky,
Into a real life.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Juan Valdez never had this problem!

I drive 25 kms to work each morning, five days a week.  You would think that somewhere along this route which includes city streets and highways in Canada's largest city, that I would pass by at least ONE Starbucks or ONE Second Cup (my second choice) but alas, no, I do not.  I pass by one "non-drive-thru" Tim Hortons one Timothy's (yuck).  This is a problem.

Why? Because the coffee at work sucks.  I only drink one or two cups a day and I need them to be GOOD cups, not mediocre cups, or weak-ass cups or tasteless cups - GOOD cups.  There is a Starbucks about 4 blocks from where I live, but it is in the wrong direction opposite the route I take and that would require me leaving at least 10 minutes earlier and that is entirely out of the question because I can barely get out the door in time to get to work when I have to, never mind trying to add an out of the way coffee stop onto my closely shaven morning routine.

I have to come up with a solution.  Today I actually left extra early so I could make the stop at the less than desired Timothy's along the way, and bloody hell, if there wasn't a police barricade on the block it sits.  I kid you not.  I had to detour around the road block for several blocks, now putting getting to work on time at risk and so I thought I remembered a Tim Hortons one block north of my new work that might have a drive-thru that might work but when I got there, it was backed up with at least 15 cars, so I had to skip that plan and just head to work COFFEE-LESS!

Ugh!  Left with no choice but the in-house cafe version of joe, I opted for tea.  There is caffeine in tea, right?  It would have to do.  I would need to main-line the coffee they serve there if I had any hope of even a slight jolt and even then, it was doubtful.  By now, I have started to think, I have spent way too much time and energy thinking about the much desired java I was craving and maybe it was time to just give up drinking the damn stuff anyway.

So, now I am thinking it is time to invest in one of those travel coffee thingies but I have gone down that road before and they always end up getting left somewhere, or I forget to bring it in from the car, or I buy one that is too big for my holder in the car or I end up drinking it all before I get to work and then I feel I did not really enjoy sipping it while I commenced my day in front of my computer screen, checking emails, phone messages and settling in.  You see, it is part of the settling in routine - the coffee. 

My daughter in her infinite wisdom would refer to this dilemma as a "first world" problem.  So now I feel guilty even complaining about this in the first place.  It is like people who complain when their plane takes off 15 minutes late and it will take ALL that extra time to get to Paris now, godammit.  We are soooooo spoiled.  Air travel, being relatively new in the big scheme of things, our ancestors had to sit on a ship for 2 weeks to get to Paris, how would this generation ever cope with that inconvenience. Pfffft!  Like I said, spoiled rotten - every last one of us.

Still, this coffee situation must be dealt with and dealt with soon.  Maybe I need to  map quest some different routes.  Surely one will pass by a Starbucks or Second Cup. 

Hey!  What about delivery?  Now there is a concept.  The Starbucks guy shows up at your workplace with a big tray of coffee strapped on like the dudes at baseball games who sell soft drinks and peanuts in the stands.  It costs a little extra, but the employees are so grateful to have it show up they don't mind.  No fancy coffee drinks, just basic bold grande coffees. 

Listen up Starbucks and Second Cup - it could work.  There are a lot of bad bad coffees being consumed out there at offices and workplaces all over the city.  It does not have to be this way. 

Does it?  My quest will continue.  It may be a "first world" problem, but that is my reality.

Thank goodness.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Elvis for Easter?

I was thinking of heading out for a bit of a hike, but the wind is really howling out there today and I am not in the mood to be blown about.  I am sitting here in silence just listening to the wind.  It is so strong, that it has pushed drywall dust out from under the baseboards in several spots around my condo.  It is a new building, so things are still settling, including that I guess.  Obviously the walls are not 100% sealed and the wind has found it's way in somehow.  There are whitecaps on the lake and now and again I can see the spray of water hitting the breakwall off in the distance near the Port Credit Yacht Club.

I am not a big fan of wind.  Must be my Capricorn earth sign.  It stirs up all that dirt and makes things feel out of control, like the newspaper and plastic bag that just went flying by my 16th floor window.  In any event, it is a good excuse to stay in and write instead of getting some exercise.  I can do that later when it calms down this evening, which it likely will. 

Today is a work day for many but I am off, as is my daughter and she continues to slumber late.  I will allow this, as it is back to school for her tomorrow and teenagers need more sleep so I am told. We had a good time together yesterday.  We spent the afternoon with my parents and we always enjoy our little road trips together.  She brings the music and she surprises me with a  vast range of selections.  I never know what to expect.  Yesterday we sang along to everything from AC/DC's Back in Black to the Leah Michelle version of Barbra Streisand's "My Man" to Scottish band, The Proclaimers hit (I'm Gonna Be) 500 Miles! And we crank it up loud.  Really loud.  This, I believe is my middle-aged revenge toward my own parents for telling me to turn my record player down all the time when I was her age.

Besides, when the music is loud and you are singing along, it is more difficult to hear your own bad voices!  The day turned out to have a bit of musical theme actually.  The subject of Elvis came up at the dinner table and Emma shared with her grandparents that she thought had she been a teen in the 50's she would have been one of those screaming fans tossing her panties on the stage at him. 

My dad disappeared shortly after that and went to the basement.  He has never been one to sit still for long so we did not think anything of it.  He emerged from the basement with a box.  It contained a 5 disc set of the complete Elvis Presley collection from the 50's along with a nice book and assorted information - even some Elvis stickers.  It was one of those things he had ordered off the TV years ago, listened to once and shelved.  He handed it to her and said, "Here, take this, I never listen to it anymore."  Her face lit up, she jumped out of her chair and hugged him with such genuine gratitude that it surprised me.  It is not often she reacts this way.  He had found a way to impress her and please her and it's not everyday a 73 year old man can bring such joy to a 17 year old girl.  It was a lovely moment.

He is also getting more and more nostalgic as he ages.  Every time we visit, out come the photos from back in the day.  They are not in albums.  They are completely disorganized.  Hundreds of them in boxes and bags.  This time they dated back to the 70's and 80's.  We all looked so young. Emma was not even born yet.  Hell, I had not even been married yet.  Usually I recognize the photos, but yesterday there were a few I did not remember ever seeing.  One in particular of my mother.  My mother is a pretty modest buttoned-up woman.  Never one to look "sexy".  But here was a shot of her looking exactly that.  Her long hair, her low cut top, her face lightly made up.  I would go so far as to say - pretty hot. (see photo below). She was an attractive woman when she was young.  Not that she is unattractive as an older woman, but she is not turning heads any more, other than my fathers.  After 55 yrs of marriage, that is pretty good.  I think he still sees her as she was in that photo.  That is love.  He would be lost without her.  He drives her crazy.  But they keep going.

I don't know how they do it.  I have not had the stamina for it.  Their generation takes a different view of marriage.  It's forever.  Short of serious abuse, you stick it out.  I don't necessarily agree with that attitude, but it is pretty common old school thinking.  I see it all the time.  Couples who stay together more out of habit than desire.  There is no right or wrong here.  Whatever works for the individuals involved.  Truth and authenticity are not words bandied about with them.  Were I to raise those issues, they would likely look at me like I was from another planet.  Those things are not really a consideration.  If you read Elizabeth Gilbert's follow up to Eat Pray Love, a book called Commitment, there are even fewer reasons in some cultures for ending a marriage.  It is not even a concept. You marry. You stay married.  End of story.

Sometimes I wish I could stop looking.  That path is not littered with obstacles and precipices and leaps into the unknown.  It is sure and steady and accepted. 

Perhaps the reason they took that path, is so that I have a safe place to go once in a while, where I can veer off my own rocky road and rest for an afternoon.  I did that yesterday. 

It was a peaceful break.  A soft place to fall....even if it was only for a few hours.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Never Hesitate

It never fails to fascinate me how one moment in time and the decision you make in that moment can alter the course of your life.  Last spring I was at a cocktail party.   It was quite a gala affair and I was supposed to go with a colleague and at the last moment she could not go.  I was a little apprehensive about going on my own, but I knew it was going to be a great party and I figured, "What the hell?", surely there would be at least a few people I would know.

It was an industry event and the chances were good I would bump into someone I could chat with.  When I arrived at the event, the crowd was already assembled - I was fashionably late and so it was a bit difficult to see through the well-dressed bodies.  I would have to snake my way through the gathered clutches of wine-sipping revellers until I recognized someone....anyone.  There were a few local celeb designers that caught my eye but they were already engaged in conversations and besides, I did not really "know" them.  One of them was talking to a woman I knew, so I elbowed my way into their private little circle and said hello to the gal I knew.  She did not introduce me to her celeb friend, but I was just grateful at that point to have someone to talk with.  The usual small talk - Hi! How are you?  Wow - you look fabulous!  Have you lost more weight - every time I see you, there is less of  you.  Yadda. Yadda. Yadda. 

Once that was exhausted, it was time to move on and go check out what all the hoopla was about in the first place, the opening of a new section of the showroom and adjoining art gallery.  It would give me more to talk about in the next familiar encounter.  It was also a chance to top up my wine at the bar.  The music was live and actually exceptionally entertaining.  There was a band and an old school R&B singer who also had a personality and people were actually listening as well as talking.  I stood and listened myself for a time and was so impressed, I thought it would not even matter if I talked to anyone else all evening - this was really good.

As I stood there swaying a bit to the music, I glanced around me, again, wondering if there were more people I might know.  I noticed a woman who seemed to be on her own as well.  She was leaning against the arm of a modern white leather sofa.  I checked her out from top to bottom.  She was an older woman, elegant, petite, so well put together, she stood out in the crowd.  Compared to the rest of the room, she really had it going on.  She had a confident sense of style, her clothing betrayed her age, yet did not look too young for her.  She was dressed in soft hues of silver and white from her casually draped silk scarf to her strappy sandals.  She could not have weighed more than 92 lbs. soaking wet, but it suited her perfectly.  She was not tall.  About 5' 1" without her heels would have been my guess.  Her hair was short and spiky and silver as well.  The good kind of silver - not old lady silver.  Her make-up was expertly applied and her jewelry was bold and artsy.  I could not take my eyes off of her.

I kept thinking she must have been waiting for someone to join her.  I waited a few minutes, but no one approached her.  She seemed quite content to continue listening to the band.  I had this sudden overwhelming urge to go tell her how lovely she looked.  I was also curious about this woman who looked like she should be in a Vogue magazine shoot for "how to pull off 70 with style".  She truly was the best looking woman in the room.  I followed my instinct to go and tell her what I had been thinking.  I walked across the room and approached her from the side and tapped her on the shoulder, "Excuse me, (she turned to face me) I just want to say that you look amazing. You are the most stylish woman in this room."  She looked at me, a total stranger and her face lit up like a freshly struck match.  "Why, thank you so much,"  she said as she extended her hand to shake mine.  We introduced ourselves to each other and after that it was non-stop chatter for a good 20  minutes.  She too was a designer, owned her own business, loved shopping for her clients at this showroom and we talked about the trials and tribulations associated with running your own business.  We had a very pleasant conversation and she even shared some personal things about her life that endeared me to her even more.

At one point in our conversation I mentioned that I had always wondered what it might be like to work at this place.  She asked me if I would like to meet one of the managers and I said sure.  She escorted me across the room and introduced me as though she had always known me and left me to my own devices and disappeared into the crowd.  For the second time that evening, I was engaged in an interesting chat with a woman I had never met.  She asked me to send my resume to her and told me that she was always looking for talented people to join their team.  At the time, I did not feel the need to do that, but I kept her card and filed it away.  

I owe a big thank you to "Ilona" and her gracious introduction. I start my new job April 17. 

I must seek her out and tell her.

Karma at work. That's how I see it.....

.....and a bit of serendipity.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Prosecco and Crab Cakes

Yup, that is my dinner tonight.  I drove home from my last day of work at my now "old" job thinking, "Shit, I should have made a plan for tonight."  I should be celebrating the ending of one chapter and the beginning of another, but I kind of blew it.  I actually thought my last day of work was tomorrow, but the boss had given me tomorrow off on the schedule because of the Good Friday holiday at the end of the week, and so even I was surprised when I realized today was the day.

I drove home and thought, well, maybe I will take my daughter out to dinner and we can celebrate together, but I also forgot she had plans for the evening, so that was out.  I stayed in my work clothes, still unsure what I felt like doing.  It just seemed like I "should" be doing something special.  It was too late to start calling friends.  I had already texted everyone I knew proclaiming my good news.  Now what?  In the past, whenever I have left a job, there was usually some sort of going away party, or at the very least drinks at the local bar after work, but that was not the case this time.  I was leaving for the competition and although they wished me well, it was not a happy day for them.  Only for me.

Normally when I get home from work, I shed my business attire and slip into something more comfy, usually work-out gear to head to the gym, but I was not going to the gym tonight, so I did not feel like changing.  My dress said party, but my wallet said STAY home!  It was time for the "fridge stare".  Open the door.  Stand and stare.  Nope, not that. Nah, don't feel like that. Ugh, too much chopping. Too healthy.  Not healthy enough. Too many carbs. Eggs? Not breakfast for dinner again. And then I spotted it!  Hidden behind all the milk and OJ and light cream cartons, the salad dressings and condiments, a small bottle of Prosecco that had been in the  fridge since Christmas.  The perfect solution to my quandary.  And wait! It gets better!  I opened the freezer and there were 6 frozen forgotten mini crab cakes in a box that had not expired yet.  Bonus.

Mock champagne and semi-good crab cakes.  I could make it work.  I even had some creamy Renee's Dill and Cucumber dressing for dipping.  I figured I would leave my dress on as though I was really going somewhere, put some music on and short of lighting a candle, I was set to make my own private party into an event. I prepared the seafood painstakingly in the microwave, hit the "that was EASY" button and cracked open the screwcap on the "champagne".  Just as I sat on my counter stool to imbibe and nibble, and enjoy my cityscape and lake view, everyone and their brother started texting me, emailing me, calling me. 

Here I was alone, but not alone. I wanted a party, and oddly, I sort of had one. 

So, let me say thanks to everyone who called, texted and emailed.  There have been many friends and family on this journey with me and I appreciate the support and the encouragements and the congrats from the bottom of my heart.  

The next chapter begins April 17 at Elte.  Come and see me.  Bring friends. Be inspired. 

I know I will be. 


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Saying "YES" to Life

"I didn't follow the plan.  I'm happy to have so many things that I still haven't figured out."

That is a quote from Susan Sarandon in the April 2, 2012 issue of People magazine.  I knew there was a reason I have always loved her.  I can relate.  It is exactly how I feel about my own life right now.  Following the plan was killing me.  So I stopped.  She did it at an even scarier age.  Still stunning at 65, she jumped into the single life 2 years ago after splitting with hunky hubby Tim Robbins, 13 years her junior.  Screw age.  Now she is involved with a man in his thirties.  You go girl!  In the article she admits to a bit of lipo-suction under her chin and eyes and she is open to trying other procedures down the road.  Why not? 

She also says in regards to her "sex symbol" status, "'s really more of an attitude.  Sexuality means that you're saying yes to life."  As a recently more mature single woman, I could not agree more.  I don't feel my age these days.  In fact, I feel great.  I notice the looks.  When I was married, any looks I might have gotten, went unnoticed.  I was not available.  Now, I sense it.  Or maybe they sense my status change.  Not sure.  But there has been a shift.  There is no question about that. 

The other thing that shifts is friendships.  I am someone new amongst my old married friends and I also relate more now to my single friends, some of whom are new as well.  I just spent a fun weekend with two girls I work with. (see us in the photo below) A total of three decades separate us, but what I noticed was that was the only difference.  We have more in common than not.  We all long for love and success and happiness and age does not discriminate in that department.  The youngest of the three could be my daughter, the one in the middle was apparently my daughter in a previous life (I was her father) and we got along famously.  We all had something to learn from one another and that is what is so great about it.  There is a reason these women have come into my life and I into theirs and it is all part of each of our personal journeys.  We may not realize why right now, but the reasons will reveal themselves over time and that in itself is precious.

Susan Sarandon also describes her new single status as "terrifying and exhilarating" all at once and I get that too.  Their split has given both of them "a chance to live a more authentic life".

Saying yes to life has that effect.

I concur.....wholeheartedly.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Potty Training 101

"GEEZ," I thought.....not AGAIN!  How is it that twice in one week, I have been witness to men urinating in public?  Kid you not, twice!  I am not talking about some dude off in the shrubs next to a roadside, trying to conceal his activity.  NO, I am talking about just off the sidewalk, within perfect view of my driver's seat, relieving himself on a wall in one case and a tree in another. 

Did someone forget to send me the memo that this was the latest trend?  The first one had just stopped and whipped it out next to the sidewalk and was watering a maple tree, and the second one had stopped on the QEW, between Erin Mills Parkway and Mississauga Road in traffic that was literally crawling, so I actually was almost stopped beside him and he was not even trying to be discreet at all.  OK, fellas, just because you CAN, does not mean you SHOULD.  Seriously, if you are going to do it, at least have a modicum of modesty and hide "behind" the tree or your car or whatever is available to shield your act from the public eye.

Maybe it just annoys me that women do not have this luxury.  Our bladders can be bursting and there is no way we are stopping at the side of the highway, unless there is something really good we can hide behind, like a forest or thick brush.  Even then, it is would be a last resort.  Once when I was hitching through Europe, my travel buddy was desperate in the back seat of a car doing 100 MPH on the German Autobahn and she finally pulled a thick towel out from her backpack and stuffed it down her jeans and let it go.  It was better than trying to communicate her need to the driver who could not speak English and then what?  Stop at the side of that road? 

Then of course, even if we do have the occasional back to nature experience, there is the dreaded splash back to deal with, or the event takes way longer than you anticipated and your thighs are starting to shake having held them in the squat position for way too long, and you just slightly elevate your ass and inevitably, it is just a little too far and then your stream changes direction and your shoes or socks or both end up with wet spots.  There just is no way to do it in a dignified manner, no matter how hard you try. 

Hopefully my recent viewings were just a co-incidence, not a trend.  I think peeing in private is really the way it should be gentlemen.  And in case you were wondering, it is NOT sexy and it won't work as a chick magnet, in case you thought it might.  In fact, it will totally ruin any chance you might have had - so hold it buster.  Just like we do.  A little suffering might do you some good.  See what it's like for us.  And that's nothing compared to giving birth....don't even get me started down that road.

Toilets were invented for a reason.  As were urinals.  Shit - you even have two choices!  What more do you want?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The dreaded Hunt Begins......

Although it is officially still winter according to the calender, the temperatures here in Toronto are anything but seasonal.  There is a palpable early spring fever in the air with temps soaring in the high teens and there is even talk of 20 in a few days.  It seems I barely had a chance to wear my full length winter coat this year, let alone gloves and hats.  The clothing shops are bursting with spring fashions and so inevitably a girl's thoughts turn to that annual elusive wardrobe essential.....the perfect "white pant"!


Does it exist ladies?  I know for those of you with small asses and thin legs, it does exist.  It probably does not even phase you.  But for any woman with a bit of curvature, the white pant is akin to the perfect bathing suit.  Case in point.  A couple years ago, my BFF and I set off on a mission to find the perfect white jean.  In our minds, we saw ourselves slipping into said trend with the ease of kid gloves on a freshly manicured hand.  What we got instead was an afternoon of stuffing our butts and thighs into something more like ground meat into sausage casings.  A white jean can turn an already slightly heavy leg into something that looks like a candidate for The Biggest Loser's next season.  How is this possible? 

The obvious answer is the colour.  It's not black. Or even dark denim.  It is glaring, neon, bright, flashy, in your face WHITE! And it will emphasize the tiniest of flaws on any butt or thigh, even if you do think you look pretty good in your Lululemon yoga pants.  The truth is, you almost really need to be "underweight" to pull off a tight white jean.  Not to mention you need to be at LEAST 5' 6" or taller.  My unfortunate 5' 3" body has legs to match and even if I sport a really high heel, the white jean is just not doing me any favours.

So, a compromise is in order I figure.....the white pant.  This is NOT a jean, but a perfectly cut pair of dress pants that drape ever so softly past my hip and do NOT hug my thigh, or my calves and are barely off the floor with a pair of wedge sandals.  They may or may not be lined.  They could be linen, but then you have the wrinkle issues.  Ideally they are in a mid-weight soft drapey fabric, have a flat front, a side zip perhaps and make me feel elegant and almost wispy as I stroll through the world.  They feel cool, never hot, and they hug my bottom ever so slightly, but not too tight and the real key to them looking amazing is the right undergarment.  No VPL EVER!  This in itself is a challenge to pull off.  You can't wear a bikini pantie.  You can't wear a white pantie. It has to be beige so it sort of disappears.  The goal is to look as though you are wearing nothing underneath, yet your arse cheeks appear as though they are perfectly smooth and rounded just like nature intended.  (never mind that nature blew it - the perfect pantie will fix that). 

With all this early warm weather, the hunt is on.  That white pant is out there.  I know it is.  And that brings me to size.  Sometimes, as much as we hate to do it, sometimes we have to go UP a size for this perfect white pant.  What looks awesome in black in a size 6, somehow looks too tight in white.  This only adds to the angst of the hunt.  No woman wants to go up a size.  It is an admission of failure.  A defeat.  A "godammit, I did not work out this hard for this!"  Who among us does not have a variety of sizes in our closets?  Some are the fault of the manufacturers - some just fit smaller or larger.  But most as we know are the fault of that unsolicited bread basket on the bistro table, or the three birthday cakes at work in one week, or the forgotten promise to only drink on weekends....c'mon we all know the culprits. 

But the white pant - that's where all bets are off.  It requires weeks of stellar food control, no missed workouts and often going to bed feeling a little hungry and trying to ignore it.  That is if you want them to look great.  If you will settle for OK or good, then go ahead and misbehave.  I do have a little incentive this year though.  I was in my favourite shop a couple of weeks ago and I tried on a top that was part of the new spring collection.  I tried it on with jeans as well as with a black pant and it looked good.  The shop manager and style guru came over and said, "fabulous colour on you Deb, you should see how it looks with white".  That did it.  She brought a pair of white pants over and just held them against the top and I was sold.  Now the top would never look good with anything BUT white.

So, 5 more pounds to go before the intense hunt begins.  I have to now.

I have nothing to wear with the top!