Friday, December 31, 2010

see you next year

As half the world has begun to celebrate and the rest of us prepare to say farewell to 2010 and welcome 2011, I can’t help but reflect on the year that has passed with a big smile on my face. Looking back at a year in time will undoubtedly bring back many memories, some happy, some sad, some full of promise and some full of regret but for me, 2010 has been an excellent year and taking a walk down memory lane only makes me excited for all that is to come in the future.
After counting down for (literally) years, the Winter Olympics finally arrived in my home town. Taking in the world’s best athletes, perfecting my patriotism and watching Sid the Kid give Canada an important gold medal could not have been a better start to what was an amazing year. I went whitewater rafting, travelled to Spain, ran my second half-marathon, cut my hair drastically for the first time in my life and watched my best friend walk down the aisle.
On top of all the fun that this year brought, it also seemed to be a year that made me feel more grown up than in the past. I married my best friend, surrounded by my closest friends and family who so generously flew across the country to share in our celebration. Six months later, my husband and I bought our first home, adding to the celebrated milestones of 2010 but giving us something to look forward to in 2011 when we move in.
I can only hope that 2011 is full of the love, laughter, adventure and successes that I was lucky to experience this past year. While I’m a little sad that such a great year is coming to an end, I’m hoping that I can make the best of the one that is just around the corner.

Wishing everyone all the best for a happy and healthy new year, may it always be better than the one before!

What’s your best memory of 2010? What do you look forward to in the new year?

Friday, December 24, 2010

all i want for christmas is you

I’ve got to say that Christmas is one of my favourite holidays.
People are happier, families get together, homes are decorated and there are always sweet treats to be eaten. It is a holiday that shows the true generosity of others and a holiday full of giving.
I can still remember being about 5 years old and (not-so) patiently waiting for Santa’s arrival. My brother and sister and I were up at the crack of dawn, much earlier than we should have been and were so anxious to see what goodies lay under the tree. Now, the only way to sneak a peek at our gifts without heading downstairs, which of course was necessary for three little kids, was to crouch down next to my parents’ bedroom door, position ourselves at the perfect angle and see through the foyer and into the living room where we could ever so slightly see our gifts in all their glory. Have you ever seen three young kids try to stay quiet? And when they know they’ve been good that year which means good stuff under the tree? I’m sure we were more than loud enough to wake our parents yet when they opened their door we were still surprised to see them!...We would run back to our rooms as fast as we could, giggling with glee until it was time to make our way down for presents. Christmas is full of so many happy memories and as I get older and start new traditions or change old ones, it only makes me more excited for each year and all the cheer that comes with the holiday season. I hope that wherever you are, whoever you’re with and whatever you celebrate, you are enjoying quality time with the ones you love, appreciating all that life has given you and taking a moment to reflect on all the happiness that surrounds you. A Merry Christmas to all...and to all a Good Night!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

here come santa claus

If you grew up celebrating Christmas in North America, chances are good that at some point when you were little you made your way to your local mall, wearing your Sunday best or an outfit scarily similar to your siblings, and stood in line so you could sit on Santa’s knee and smile for all of three seconds. It’s a holiday tradition that seems to satisfy parents looking for a festive photo and scare sweet babies into screaming at the top of their lungs. Watching moms and dads make silly faces, bribe their young ones and hope they’ll get a great family photo has always made me chuckle so discovering a whole website of funny, weird and scary Santa photos has weirdly enough brought a smile to my face this holiday season.
Personally, I’ve always liked Santa. A cheerful, jolly old man who is going to bring me presents and likes cookies? Really, what’s not to like? And I have to admit that I still wish he was real. It took me a long time to stop believing that good old Saint Nick wasn’t really flying around the world delivering presents to all the good little girls and boys because I really didn’t want to stop believing, I didn’t want it to be a lie. Believing in Santa was magical. Waking up one Christmas morning many years ago to find a Polaroid of the big guy in red sweetly watching over my sister and me as we slept was such a treat…and finding out that our neighbours had the same photo with the same Santa Clause caused so much excitement and only sealed the deal that he was certainly real. A few years after, I remember having a discussion with some friends, the great debate of Santa’s existence, and while most of us decided that it didn’t logically make sense, one friend, who wasn’t so well off, argued that there was no way her parents could afford all the presents she and her three siblings received each Christmas morning. Well, that was enough to convince me for at least another year that the Pere Noel really did exist.
This Christmas, I’m lucky enough to be celebrating with my two-year old and four-year old nephews who have been behaving extra well these last few months in the hopes that Santa and his reindeer will stop by and I cannot wait to see their faces come Christmas morning…Santa let me in on a little secret and I happen to know he’s bringing some pretty exciting gifts!

Did you believe in Santa? Do you want your children to?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

gifts gone bad

With Christmas around the corner, and only nine shopping days left before the holiday, seasonal shoppers are still flocking to the stores in hopes of finding that perfect gift for all those on their list. In light of such, numerous gift guides are floating around the internet, debuting on talk shows and being reported on the news. Gift guides of the hottest toys, the best gadgets for your spouse or what to get those hardest to buy for are always handy to have in mind when it comes to holiday shopping. But what about what not to buy? What gifts would be the worst to unwrap come Christmas day? Gift giving can be tough enough if you don’t know ahead of the holidays what you hope to get someone...but when it comes to buying and receiving gifts, there may be several not-so-happy holiday presents that you’d hate to find under your tree. Even though I’d rather not think of a gift as being bad because a gift is a gift and it’s the thought that counts, sometimes you wonder what those thoughts actually were.
I don’t know if I’m just lucky or if it’s because I’m easy to please, but I’ve been fortunate enough to have received many great gifts as I’ve celebrated birthdays and Christmases, with the bad ones few and far between. So maybe I haven’t loved everything I’ve ever received (how many sets of tacky tea towels does one really need?!) but fortunately I don’t have any horror stories about pink pony sweatshirts or already used kitchen gadgets. Although I’ve got to admit that even if it’s not at the top of my Christmas wish list, chances are that I pretended I loved it and have plenty of use for it. On the contrary, my sister is the worst when it comes to faking her delight for gifts gone bad. Growing up, it was never a surprise if she loved your gift or hated it. Her squeals of delight over the good ones have always been in sharp contrast to the ‘oh-you-shouldn’t-have-where’s-the-next-gift’ look of disappointment that she can’t hide when she gets something she’s unimpressed with. Putting the present off to the side like it’s a hot potato and moving on in the hopes of finding something better is a classic LG move that she likely won’t grow out of. I have to keep my fingers crossed that I will not see that reaction any time I give her a gift!

What’s the worst gift you have ever received? What do you not want for Christmas?

PS Thank you so much for all the kind words and well wishes for my friend...she's not back to work yet but she's on the road to recovery.

Friday, December 10, 2010

smell the roses

Yesterday, my colleague, who has become a good friend, was hit by a car on her way to work. While crossing the street she was struck by a car making a left turn that must not have seen her as the rain poured down in the dark of the early morning. While she is indeed injured, suffering from what the doctors believe to be a cracked pelvis, I am most certainly relieved that she walked away from the accident requiring only rest and time to heal her wounds. I usually like to write about things that have made me happy or at the very least are positive in nature but in light of the accident, which I haven’t stopped thinking about, it only seemed right to reflect on how scary life can be and how fast it can change.
It’s made me want to hug my husband tighter and call my mom to tell her I love her. It’s made me want to tell all drivers to slow down and all walkers to be safe. It’s made me realize that rushing to get somewhere on time or speeding up just to make it through a yellow light may not be as important as it seems. As I got in my car last night, I felt a little more cautious and a little more aware of what was going on around me. With traffic accidents happening daily, some more serious than others, it only reinforces how precious life is and how all it takes is a second for your life to change. While bumps and bruises will heal and seem like minor hiccups in an otherwise uneventful life, it is usually the bad times that make you realize how good the good times really are.

While we all wake up in the morning fairly certain of how our day will more or less go, you can never predict that the unthinkable will happen or an accident might occur. I don’t believe we should live our lives in fear but appreciating what we’ve got is a lesson that I would hate to learn the hard way. As you go about your day, your weekend and the holiday season, please remember to take things slow, appreciate the life you are living and tell your friends and family how much you care.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

daily dinner dilemma

There’s a simple question that my husband and I ask ourselves every day and yet we almost always have trouble answering. The simple question of ‘what’s for dinner?’ seems to stump us on a very regular basis, getting more “I don’t know” answers than a 4 year-old being questioned by his parents. Once 4 o’clock rolls around, we seem to have the same discussion every day, trying to figure out what it is we feel like eating, and shaking our heads at ourselves that, yet again, we have forgotten to take anything out for dinner. It should be simple, considering we have to eat dinner every day, but having to decide the night before or the morning of what we might feel like eating that night seems to be harder than it sounds.
Along with many other things, planning ahead what I want for dinner is a habit I should have inherited from my mother. Her reminders to take chicken out of the freezer before leaving home for the day is not something I seem to remember to do in my own adult life. A simple task that I probably thought she was weird for doing is now something that I wish I could remember to do. I’m hoping that it’s one of those things that come with being a mom so that when I have children, they won’t come home from school to find me staring aimlessly into the fridge hoping the food will tell me what to do. There are certain responsibilities that come with growing up and while some I’ve mastered, there are others that I’m still working on. For example, I may have inherited the need for clean countertops and a spotless bathroom but I still have trouble seeing the dust that my mom always seemed to spot. I know when she would ask “am I the only one that sees the dust in the house?”, the answer “yes, Mom” was not what she was looking for! And so with that in mind, I figure there’s still hope for my husband and I. One day, we will wake up, get ready for work and remember to defrost the steaks. We will wake up the next day knowing we want a stirfry and we’ll have already bought everything we need. And hopefully the day after that, it will become a habit and our daily dilemma won’t be so hard to solve. Until then, trips to the grocery store will probably continue to be a part of our daily routine. (Umm, honey?…what’s for dinner?...)

Do you plan your meals ahead of time? What ‘grown up’ things are you still working on?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

i wish it was christmas today

Have you seen the SNL performance of “I Wish It Was Christmas Today” by Jimmy Fallon, Tracey Morgan, Chris Kattan and Horatio Sanz? While I love the dance moves and I’m envious of their sweet sweaters, I love the skit even more because it pretty much sums up how I feel all the time. I wish it was Christmas today, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the next... and now that it is December, I can officially sound off about my love for the season. As much as I look forward to this time of year, I feel very strongly about holding off the Christmas chatter until December 1st. Call me a scrooge if you wish but getting too excited, too early just takes away from how special a holiday it is for me. Hearing Christmas carols mid-November grinds my gears and gets me angrily scolding the radio station or store that’s playing them. And don’t even try to get me to watch a movie that takes place around Christmas time if it’s not the last month of the year. So, thankfully, now that it is December and we are in the month of Merry Christmas, I am getting giddy about all the wonderful things a winter wonderland will bring.
Even though it’s not officially winter and I am a loyal summer lover, there are so many things that I love about this last season of the year, one of the best things being the holiday that comes with it. I love to see twinkling lights lining the streets, I love to see ribbons and bows and boughs of holly hung all around town. I love the way everyone seems just a little bit more cheerful once December rolls around. I love advent calendars and gift wrap. I love scarves and mittens and toques. I love getting cozy by the fire, drinking chai tea under a fluffy blanket and wearing soft slippers. favourite thing of all about winter is something so simple…making snow angels! (A little hard to do without snow so I’ve got to be honest, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a white winter!) It may sound like such a childish thing to love about the winter but that may be at the root of why I love it so much. Getting lost in the moment as I lay on the ground moving my arms and legs back and forth allows me to feel like a kid again while I forget that I may look ridiculous or my pants will be wet when I get up. Forgetting about feeling silly or not caring if I’m covered in snow make for magical moments that really sum up what the holidays are about for me. Being able to be carefree and happy, surrounded by lovely sights and my favourite people while giggling like a little kid are the real reasons why I will welcome winter with open arms.

What do you love about the winter? Do you decorate before December?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

shop til you drop

I have a confession. This one isn’t as embarrassing as my love of watching The Real Housewives but I do feel like I’m in the minority when it comes to what I’m about to tell you. Are you ready? Here goes...I really don’t like shopping. I feel as though I should because I like fashion, furniture and getting new things and the satisfaction of a good purchase can be so rewarding, but put me in a mall and I’m usually ready to go home soon after I’ve arrived. With Black Friday sales and the crowds of Christmas shoppers making their way into the stores, I’m less and less inclined to go shopping, making it a very good thing that my Christmas shopping is almost done!
There’s several things that really turn me off about shopping. For one, I’m really bad at it. How is that possible, you ask? Well, I tend to look and look and look and end up with nothing! I am completely indecisive about spending my money that even if I find something I really like or really want, I usually need a second opinion. I need some convincing confirmation that somebody else thinks it’s a worthwhile purchase. And if there’s no one around to tell me I’m doing the right thing, then one of two things is bound to happen, the first being much more damaging than the second. It has happened to me so often that you’d think I’d learn...but I haven’t...yet. I’ll see something I want, look around for approval, not find the approval and decide to think about it as if giving it a good night’s sleep will give me more of a reason to purchase the product and plan to come back another day. What usually happens next is that I arrive back at the store, ready to pull out my credit card, only to find that they don’t have my size or they just sold out. I usually take it as a sign that I wanted it more than I needed it and I’m better off without it...but in reality, I’m crying a little inside and know I’ll be thinking about the item over and over in the days to come. The other shopping scenario that gets me if I’m alone is buyer’s remorse. There is something so terrible about overanalyzing a purchase, deciding to buy and then regretting it... and this happens to me more often that I’d like to admit. I am definitely guilty of making a purchase only to rethink it as soon as the shopping bag is in my hand....that is, until I get home to have someone tell me that shopping really isn’t such a bad thing and I, and the other people in my life, deserve pretty purchases every now and then. Add to these issues crazy crowds or not finding what I’m looking for and I am much happier to shop from the comfort of my computer. Another confession: I know I'm ridiculous!

Do you love to shop? Do you get buyer’s remorse?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

thank you

In honour of the Thanksgiving holiday being celebrated in the States, it seems only appropriate to reflect on how grateful I am for all that I have been blessed with. It truly makes me feel so lucky that I’ve got so many things to be thankful for. I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate the life that I’m living and how much gratitude I have for the wonderful people that make my life so special.
I think at times like this it is especially important to be thankful for all the little things that I so easily take for granted everyday. Like having mittens in cold weather or art supplies for painting. Or having a job that pays the bills or a computer where I can write my blog. I’m thankful for my alarm clock because as much as I hate to hear it go off every morning, it means that I’ve made it to another day. I’m thankful for the pain I feel after a long run because it means I’m able to walk and run and stay active. I’m thankful for having to pay rent because even though I’d love to have more money for shopping, it means I’ve got a roof over my head and a house to go home to. I’m thankful for warm meals and the leftovers I eat for lunch. I’m thankful for the technology that lets me stay connected to my family around the world. I’m thankful that I get to hear the words ‘I love you’ more than once a day. To be able to ‘thank’ the things in life that don’t often receive words of gratitude, like Leah of thxthxthx or Jimmy Fallon on his Late Night show, may seem silly or get a lot of laughs but in all honesty, it might make you take a closer look at all the wonderful, weird or simple things that we experience on a day to day basis. It’s a good reminder that the little things deserve thanks, too.
I’ve truly got so much to be thankful for and as corny as it sounds, I’m thankful there’s a holiday that reminds me of such. Thanks to every one of you for being a part of my life and a very Happy Thanksgiving to all those who are celebrating!

What are you thankful for? How do you celebrate Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

apology accepted

I couldn’t help my curiosity when the headline Fool Proof Ways to Apologize flashed on my monitor this morning. Really? Four failsafe ways to wiggle your way out of the doghouse? (And in the Shopping section nonetheless! Hmmm…I see where this is going…) Being in any relationship usually comes with it’s fair share of disagreements or arguments that can leave one or both of you needing to say you’re sorry. But considering we're all a little bit different and will react a little differently to any fight, tiff or argument that we get into, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that these probably aren’t the four best ways to fess up and be forgiven.
I’ve got to admit that I’m not won over as easily as is suggested. Yeah, I’ll take a candlelit bath or an unexpected outing and I believe there can be some special sentiment suggested by such shows of love …but a video testimony admitting your mistake? And pouring your heart out? Sounds a little too contrived to me. By all means, give these gestures a try but it may be best to understand the person you’re apologizing to. What I usually need when I’m upset is time. Give me a little time to clear my head and some space to think my own thoughts and then a heartfelt apology or expression of your feelings is going to go a lot farther than an expensive gift or perfectly planned meal. (I will take those too if you’re offering…but it would probably mean more if they came at a time when you weren’t trying to get out of the doghouse!)

Yes, the sweet touches are nice and, if you mean it, they show that you care. And that, to me, is the easy answer for having your apology accepted. Saying sorry shouldn’t be something we do because our mom says so, saying sorry should be something we do because we are actually saying what we feel.

Are you good at apologizing? Or too stubborn like I can be? What makes a sorry sweeter?

Friday, November 19, 2010

simple smiles: learning from life

Sometimes in life, there are days when things just aren’t going your way, when more bad than good seems to happen in a week or the month is speckled with sad news. And then suddenly, someone says something or does something that just hits you the right way and changes your outlook on the way you see the world. After a few days of feeling down this week, I received the perfect email pick me up from my sister. Whether she knew it or not, the email she sent seemed to reach me at just the right time, when I needed someone to remind me that life is full of wonderful reasons to embrace all that I have been lucky enough to experience. The email was a simple list that has probably made it’s way around the Internet for years and for whatever reason, made it’s way to me at just the right time. The list contains simple life lessons from a lady named Regina Brett who wrote the list as she approached her 45th birthday (…and not 90th birthday as is rumoured!...because she’d be looking pretty darn good for a 90 year old!). While so many of her personal life lessons really rang true, there was one that I’ve heard over and over but seemed like the right kind of reminder this time around.
“Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.” Such simple words but all too often and all too easily ignored. I can definitely admit that I’m guilty of holding on to a nice shirt or waiting to wear that new dress. I save treats until the time is right. I’ve got the good duvet safely in the closet. But it’s something that I think I should consciously change. Because really, what’s wrong with today? Why isn’t today special enough to take myself out for dessert or pull out that pretty purse? I don’t think I’ll be putting on my party dress to clean the bathroom by any means but I think the lesson I’m learning is that I’ve got to make the most of what I’ve got. Everyday is something to be celebrated and if I buy some nice candles, why not burn them? If I’ve got good things in my life, why not use them? Company shouldn’t be the only reason to get out the good towels! Of course I’m still going to get excited over surprise nights out, romantic dinners or pretty presents…but getting excited that every day is a new chance to experience all that I’m lucky enough to have is a life lesson that I hope I never forget. So treat yourself tonight. Pull out the china. Wear your expensive accessories. Make today the right time because today really is special.

What do you save for a special occasion? Any advice for embracing each day?

Monday, November 15, 2010

an a for effort

I spent the better part of my day today talking about how great I am. Yes, you heard me right, how great I am. It sounds like a weird thing to say, doesn’t it?! But it’s the truth and truthfully, I feel weird about it. It’s the end of my company’s year and with the end of the calendar year coming up quickly, it meant it was time for my annual performance review. That meant my morning was spent analyzing all that I’ve accomplished throughout the year and finding an abundance of adjectives for saying I’m awesome. I’ve got to say that it wasn’t one of my favourite things I’ve been asked to do at work. Sure, organizing business cards or sending out a large mailout aren’t glamorous assignments but having to talk about all the wonderful, amazing, beneficial things I’ve brought to my company this year made me feel more awkward than I anticipated. Like a resume or job interview, talking up your terrific traits isn’t always an easy task.
{an awesome hotdog? i think so!}
As much as I struggled through my own awesomeness, I’ve got to admit that it may have helped me feel pretty fantastic. It made me take a real look at the work I’ve contributed over the past year and realize that I am indeed an excellent employee. I find it all too easy to get down on myself when I have a bad day or when I feel like I could have done more but when I have to sum up my success, I realize that I’m proud of my achievements and that I’ve contributed an awful lot to my office. I’m personable, organized, dependable, always ready for the next challenge, and have stepped in to help others on countless occasions. I may blush at the idea of being boastful or bragging but being able to admit I’m wonderful just did wonders for my confidence. Not to toot my own horn (okay, all I did was toot my own horn!) but I was able to write quite a bit about myself and that’s got to make a girl feel pretty good, right?! I hope we can all see the good in ourselves, even on days when no one asks.

Why are you wonderful to work with? What makes you more confident?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

lest we forget

There's something really special about Remembrance Day for me. I can't be sure but I think the combination of having a grandfather who served, being proud of my country and respecting all those who have fought for freedom has created such a strong connection. I don't let this time go by without proudly wearing my poppy or observing a minute of silence and taking the time to truly remember all those who sacrificed so much. With so few veterans left and battles still being fought on a daily basis, I find it ever important to carry on the message that without the actions of these brave soldiers and civilians, the world would not be as it is today and I am entirely grateful for the courage and honour so proudly displayed during such a tough time.
{In Flanders Fields}
I remember having to do an art project in high school where we had to pick an image to recreate that represented life in the war. I can still remember the image I chose, of a soldier in a trench, looking sad, desolate and heartbroken but still stronger than I could ever imagine having to be. It's an image that I don't think I'll ever forget as it impacted me more than I could predict. It gave me a glimpse into the battle being fought on the front lines as well as the mental battle that I can only begin to imagine those in the war fought everyday. I can't comprehend the violence and I truly wish we could all get along without having to break out guns and grenades but I do think we have so many soldiers to thank for their bravery, selflessness, commitment and sacrifice to the battles of the past and present.

To all those who fought and continue to fight, I am so thankful for all that you have done in the face of adversity and violence and in the name of peace and your country. You and your service will always be remembered.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

snug as a bug

When I was younger, I used to wish for any excuse to stay home from school. I’d secretly hope that I would get sick so that I wouldn’t have to hop on that big, yellow bus yet again. And it’s not like I didn’t like school, I did quite a bit, but there was something so desirable about being able to stay home when you should have been in class, as if being home sick was a rebellious act, as if a sick day was a vacation in disguise. I secretly hoped I would get sick so I could stay home – until it actually happened. Because when you’re home sick, you soon discover it means staying in bed, fighting the flu and missing out on all the fun your healthy friends are having without you.
I had to stay home from work yesterday because a cold hit me hard and getting through the day at work would have been much worse than catching up on what I’d miss. And it made me think of the times when skipping school seemed so worth a sick day. Now, when I get a cough or a cold or a sore throat like the one that kept me confined to the couch yesterday, I fight hard to get better, to get back to the office, to get back normal so that breathing and swallowing become painless and thoughtless actions. I will admit though, as much as I hate being sick, it doesn’t hurt to take advantage of the good that comes with the bad. Who doesn’t love an excuse to stay in your pj’s all day? I won’t often say no to that! When you’re so used to getting up and getting dressed and going to work, I’ve got to admit that taking a break from the routine is a plus no matter how many boxes of tissues I may go through. And when soup is my staple when I’m sick, getting curled up under a blanket with a nice warm bowl of chicken noodle goes a long way in making me feel better. Even though The Price is Right isn’t the same without Bob Barker, I love being able to watch it as I dream of seeing myself in the Showcase Showdown even though being on TV is the last place I’d want to be seen considering the mess that is me on a sick day. Add to all that a husband who happily runs to the store three, four or five times just for me and makes sure I’m tucked in tight and I start to think I’ll wish for sick days more often (…minus the sick part, please!).

What do you do when you’re home sick? What makes you feel better?

Monday, November 8, 2010

keep fit and have fun

There’s always something so tough about trying to get back into shape. While I haven’t let it go too long, I’m currently challenging myself to get back into the gym on a regular basis and make working out a part of my regular week day routine again. So when I came across the 20 Biggest Health Excuses That Hold You Back this morning, it was like someone read my mind. Reading the reasons why I, along with many others, seem to put so many other things ahead of our health makes me realize how easy it should be to include exercise everyday. And when the outcome is feeling good (and hopefully looking good, too!) it really should be a no brainer when it comes to being fit.
Staying fit throughout the summer was hard enough...with eating out and weekends away, my outdoor activities had to heavily make up for my unhealthy habits. But taking a break from the ever important routine of getting my butt in gear to get to the gym has only made it harder to get into the groove again. Granted, after running a half marathon, I felt entitled to a few days off. It’s too bad those few days off turned into a few weeks off and after those few weeks off…well…exercising a few days a week is a mental battle harder than lifting some of those heavy weights. But I find that now is the best time to do it. Summer has ended, the days are getting shorter and my schedule has seemed to slow down. All perfect reasons for getting back to the daily grind of burning fat and building muscle. Yes, it’s a shame that when I don’t need the beach body cause I’m covered up by cute coats and warms sweaters, I’ve got the time to work on it. But I know working out now will only benefit me in the long run…like when I want that second helping of shortbread at the company Christmas party or some ice cream on my apple pie. So winning the fight against lazy days is a game I’ve got to become good at. Not only for the guilt-free holiday treat eating but also so I can feel good about myself. I know how awesome I feel when I get a good sweat going and how satisfying it feels to discover new muscles. These are the feelings that I have to keep in mind as I make my way home tonight. I have to ignore the couch who calls my name so loud and instead remind myself of all the reasons that going to the gym is a good choice to make. Because if looking good isn’t enough motivation, feeling good will get me going even more!

What motivates you to exercise? Do you have a regular routine?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

my purple pride

It's been several years since I graduated from university and while I may be in denial about the end of those days, I can’t help but relive them and reminisce about all the good times I had while I was there. So you can imagine my delight when I read that my school had rave reviews in The Globe and Mail's Canadian University Report, an annual survey based on assessments by students about the schools they attend. I'm proud to report that the university I attended finished with the highest ranking in seven of the seventeen criteria in which it was graded. Bishop's University was ranked the highest for, among other things, quality of teaching, satisfaction with town/city, campus atmosphere and most satisfied students...not so bad to be at the top of those lists!
Anytime Bishop’s is mentioned in the news, I’m like a proud mother celebrating her child’s achievements. I can’t help but get a little giddy to know that my alma mater did something worth talking about. Even when it’s bad news, like a flood, fire or foolish freshman (which happens all too often!), my heart still warms at the thought of my little university town pushing their way through any tough time or tragedy. Bump into any alum that went to BU and it’s like you haven’t seen each other since being separated at birth but lived on the same street your whole life. You’d think we were being paid to promote the school with the way we can’t stop babbling about our breakfasts at PizzaVille or walks across the arches. The memories, landmarks and school spirit seem to remain the same throughout the years and so reminiscing about life in Lennoxville is something so hard to explain if you’ve never experienced it. Having one small bar in town to raise a toast with your profs but two Greek restaurants for the post-bar poutine is accepted and embraced. Painting yourself purple during frosh week and again for every football game is not unusual...even if it means showing up to an exam that way because you didn't have time to take a shower first. And missing said football game because tailgating takes on a life of its own is a foggy memory for any proud Gaiter fan. Our school song, which is belted out by students every year to serenade the principal at his house, states “we will never graduate” and I don’t think truer words could be sung (…or slurred!). While I may have taken it for granted during those first few days as a freshman, I’ve come to realize that while I can’t go back, those days will certainly live forever in my heart.

Did you go to college? What was the school spirit like at your school?

Monday, November 1, 2010

expect the unexpected

Weekends are my favourite part of the week. Of course, there’s the whole sleeping in and not having to go to work part that always makes it such a relief to get to the end of the week but what I really love about weekends is the extra time to do fun things and the adventures that often ensue. While weekdays usually include errands and exercise, the weekend is often reserved for friends, family or fun and sometimes you never know what that will mean. For me, this weekend involved all three and while I knew it would be a good one, I couldn’t have predicted that I’d be as good as it was.
You know those days or nights when you’ve got good plans but if someone were to ask you about them, you’d say it was nothing special? And then you go out, have more fun than you could have imagined and look back and laugh at all the outrageous outtakes that made your night memorable? That pretty much sums up my weekend. I spent the last few days visiting a good friend a few hours away, and while I was really looking forward to the time we would spend together, I could never have imagined that such simple sentences would unleash a series of unforgettable adventures. When the owner of the pub we went to for a little live music casually told us there was a bowling lane out back (and he wasn’t kidding!) our night took a turn for the random as we suddenly found ourselves setting up own our pins and crossing our fingers for a strike. And when we were asked if we brought anything to throw by the cashier of the movie theatre where we went to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show, we shouldn’t have been surprised by the rice, toast and decks of cards that were launched through the theatre. They might seem like you-had-to-be-there moments but they were the moments that made my weekend. They were unexpected, a little strange and a lot of fun.
I love those nights – nights that need explanations with stories that couldn’t be scripted. It’s those nights that are often the most unforgettable, when one unexpected event turns into two and suddenly you can’t remember the last time you had so much fun. It’s those nights that start out okay and end amazing with a roller coaster of ridiculous all in between. It’s the unexpected fun that if you tried to plan for, you’d fail. It’s the rush of being in the right place at the right time without realizing that you’ve got all the ingredients for the recipe for fun. So if anyone ever tells you that there’s a bowling lane behind their bar, believe them. You never know where the night will take you.

What unexpected moments have made for memorable nights for you? What’s your favourite thing about the weekend?

Friday, October 29, 2010

tricked into treating

So it may not come as a surprise that I have a sweet tooth. So much so that every once and a while I try to give up sugar for a certain period of time so that I can get the sweetness out of my system. So then it also may not come as a surprise that I like Halloween. Any holiday that encourages me to eat sugary sweets and consume chocolate bars is certainly a-okay in my book! While dressing up may not be my strong suit, indulging in the tiny treats is one part of Halloween that I’m really good at.
Trick-or-treating was always something I looked forward to when I was younger. Considering my household was the healthiest on the block, having a chance to stock up on sweets was literally such a treat. Filling a pillowcase with enough sugar to satisfy my sweet tooth for months on end certainly seemed like a holiday made for me. However, as I grow up a bit, I’ve got to say that Halloween is a pretty strange celebration. Throughout most of our young lives, we'd told not to talk to strangers and especially not to accept anything from anyone unknown...but then all of a sudden, for one night of the year, not only are those rules thrown out the door but the opposite is actually encouraged. Your parents send you out the door, dressed up as ghosts and goblins and encourage you to accept candy from anyone and everyone who seems to be in the spirit of the evening. I’m certainly not complaining – holidays like these are my chance to break all my health rules…and I don't know whose idea the ‘treat’ part was but I like it! So as I spoil myself silly with small Snickers and tiny Twix, I tell myself that because they’re small, it’s okay. And while I know there’s really no logic behind my miniature meals, I’ll continue to chomp down on my candy corn because come November 1st, Christmas cookies will seem so far away.

What do you like about Halloween? Do the tiny treats tempt you?

Monday, October 25, 2010

what not to wear

Every year around this time, I get a sinking feeling in my stomach. I get anxious, self conscious and worried about what the week’s end will bring. Yes, I’m afraid of haunted houses and things that go bump in the night (I’m a wimp!), but what really gets me is the all important pressure of finding the perfect persona to duplicate on the eve of Halloween. With how many homemade horrors and do-it-yourself disguises make the Hall of Fame every year, it’s hard to compete with costumes that will always seem cooler than any I could create.
I tend to take the easy way out when it comes to costumes. Something that involves a small amount of effort and little money spent is usually how I dress up by default. Don’t get me wrong, I think dressing up is a lot of fun and I love seeing the creative costumes of more gifted individuals, but I tend to crumble under the pressure of creating a crafty, clever and recognizable costume. My past get-ups have always been easy, like a flight attendant or a rugby player, and I’ve yet to go above and beyond by turning myself into anything that would make others envy my attire. I tend to blend into the crowd as opposed to standing out, ogling the outfits of all the others that clearly didn’t wait until the last minute to whip up their wardrobe. And even though Halloween arrives at the same time every year, there’s something inside of me that won’t commit to a costume in time to make it a masterpiece. Sure, I’ve had some good ideas, but dishing out some dough, showing too much skin or taking the time to scout out the right materials seem to be my stumbling blocks when it comes to dressing for success. Or maybe the fact that I'm still taunted by my siblings for being a fat ballerina when I was 6 has put a damper on my costume-creating you know how hard it is to be anything skinny when you grow up in Canada and have to fit a snowsuit under your costume?! I know there will eventually be a 31st of October when my creative and crafty side will conquer my fears of not being good enough and I’ll create a costume worthy of being considered cool. Until that day comes though, dressing all in white, borrowing some wings and calling myself an angel just might be as good as it gets.

Are you dressing up this year? What the best costume you’ve ever seen?

Friday, October 22, 2010

everything's amazing, nobody's happy

I know we’ve all been there…wearily working away at our computers when all of a sudden we are no longer wired to the World Wide Web. We become frustrated, short-tempered and angry that the machine in front of us is not doing what we want it to, like it’s the computer’s fault that the connection failed or the document disappeared. And I know as soon as I say this it is going to make me sound old or out of date but the extent to which we depend on technology is astonishing at times. Our dependence on the tech world has increased so rapidly in the past decade that without it, we often don’t know what to do.
We depend so heavily on our phones, the internet and our computers in general to do so much for us that it’s no wonder that as soon as something goes wrong with any of our devices or our access is limited, we feel stranded. At the beginning of this year, the province of British Columbia, where I live, introduced a law that made it illegal to operate any hand held device while driving. They recently reported that almost 20,000 drivers have been ticketed and I can’t tell you the countless more I’ve seen that didn’t get caught. We’re so dependant on instant interactions, that making a call or answering a text seems more essential than the safety of yourself and those around you. It’s just one of the many examples of how chained we are to the technologies that make our world work these days. And while I’m innocent when it comes to texting behind the wheel (I’m not good enough at texting while walking, let alone driving!), I’m guilty of living a life full of dependence on devices… without my phone I wouldn’t know my friends phone numbers and without an internet connection at work I wouldn’t have much to do. After spending hours fixing up a file yesterday, only to have it magically go missing, I lost all motivation. If my moods are going to depend on how good Google is or whether or not I’ve got Facebook friends, I feel like I’m going to be let down more often than I’d like. Lately, with several technological failures affecting my productivity, I’ve found reflecting on the fact that phones and Facebook may rule my life makes me want to find other ways to function. Instead of fussing over the fact that the internet is slow or I forgot my phone at a friend’s, I want to continue to be in awe over all that we can do instead of the things we can’t. Because really, as Louis CK says, everything is amazing…and I’m going to do my best to be happy about it.

How dependant are you on technology? What devices can't you go without?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

so much to do, so little time

I know it can be argued that time is relative or that time is absolute and while I can’t seem to wrap my head around what either one really means, what I can wrap my head around is that time is a funny thing. It goes fast when you need it to slow down and when you want it to hurry up, it takes forever to get to where you want it to be. This past week I’ve been so much busier than I thought I would be and there just haven’t been enough hours in the day to get done all that I had hoped.
Whether it’s minutes, hours, days or years, it’s amazing the mind games time can play. When you’re counting down to a vacation or an exciting event, the days seem to drag on and getting from 10 days down to 1 day seems like an eternity. But then all of a sudden, once you’re kicking back on the beach or trekking through the rainforest, 10 days goes by in the blink of an eye and, before you know it, you’re back at your desk counting down the hours until the work day ends. The saying “time flies” never seems to be wrong!

I once worked at a library wholesaler where I often had to pack and ship books. While not the most stimulating work, it became necessary to fight boredom by having a little fun with the time…like seeing how many boxes we could pack before taking a break or guessing how long it would take to do large orders. What really became a challenge was trying not to look at the clock until we thought 10, 15 or 30 minutes had passed – a task more challenging than one would think and all the more exciting when your guess was right on! And now, there are days like today, when I wish I could take all those wasted minutes and tack them on to the time I’ve got left in the night ahead of me. So whether I’m killing time, wasting time or saving time, I’ll take every moment in time that I can get...if it's 10 more minutes of sleep, 5 more minutes until a deadline or 1 more minute watching TV with my husband, I want to make the most of every minute.

How do you make more time in your day? Do you wish time would speed up or slow down?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

jumping into action

This weekend, my husband received a generous, and if I do say so myself, frightening birthday gift from one of his closest friends. While not something you can unwrap and be surprised by, the gift of a bungee jump certainly has the shock value that one can hope accompanies good gift giving. I am happy to report that he, along with the four others that were much braver than I, survived the 150 foot jump. And not only did they survive but they all survived with smiles on their faces, full of adrenaline and excitement and the desire to do it all over again. My fear of bridges combined with my lack of interest in throwing myself off of one had me with my feet planted firmly on the ground.
Bungee jumping isn’t on my list of things ‘to do’ in my life but I, like most people, do have a list of several things that I hope to accomplish or experience in my lifetime. While I haven’t actually created a bucket list or 101 things to do in 1001 days, I definitely dream of being able to put checkmarks next to some exciting, scary or adventurous personal goals. Jumping out of a plane with a parachute appealed to me much more than jumping off a bridge with a bungee cord so skydiving is something I can now proudly say I’ve done… and would highly recommend! And now that I have a couple half marathons under my belt, running the full 26.2 miles will be next on my list of activities to complete. It’s satisfying to know that I’m going through life accomplishing my goals and completing tasks no matter how scary, unattainable, crazy or physically demanding they may seem. While some items can be fun, some can be serious and some can be good for humanity, taking the time to decide what you want out of life and what you want to be able to say you accomplished can be such a motivating exercise that once it’s down on paper, it’s hard to ignore. And that may be why I have such a strong desire to see the ball drop in Times Square on New Years Eve, swim with dolphins in crystal clear water and have an exhibition dedicated solely to my own artwork…because looking back on my life, I hope to be happy with all that I’ve done and hope I never have to say “I wish I’d done that…”.

What’s on your list? Would you ever go bungee jumping?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

ready to run

This weekend, along with 15,000 other fierce and determined runners, I will be pushing my way through the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Half Marathon with a goal of getting to the end. It will be my second time running a half marathon and while my speed may not be my strength, I will certainly be giving it my all as I lace up my shoes and hit the pavement for 21 kilometers of jogging joy. And I may not have followed my training program to the letter (it's hard to get out running when the couch is calling your name!) but I am ready to see how fast my legs will carry me throughout the streets of downtown Victoria.
I wouldn’t call myself a runner by any means but I can now say, after several years, that I truly enjoy running. That’s something I never thought I’d say, especially growing up with a mother who is most definitely a runner, having completed 23 marathons and countless other races, but my attitude towards the activity has certainly changed. We always joked that my mom was crazy, running for hours only to end up where she started…taking the car seemed much more efficient. But now that I’m one of those crazies, I find myself at peace when I hit the trails or the treadmill and the fact that I’m running in circles (or nowhere at all!) doesn’t seem so silly. It clears my head, activates my endorphins and continues to keep me healthy. And while my motivation to get going isn’t always there, once I’m out and about and jogging through the streets, I’m happy. My face may not show it as it goes bright red and I huff and puff and look as though I might blow my house down but there is something so satisfying about setting out to run a certain distance and completing that goal. And while this Sunday’s goal of completing 13 miles is one of my more ambitious objectives, I hope to get through it knowing that that sense of satisfaction will be waiting for me at the finish line.

Do you exercise? Or run? What do you do to stay in shape?

happy birthday shoes

Today is my husband’s birthday. Happy birthday to my baby, my best friend, my actor, my comedian, my chef, my salesman, my partner in crime, my pillow and my favourite face to come home to after a day away at work. His birthday is one of my favourite days of the year because it gives me a reason to celebrate having him in my life and reminisce about all the ways he makes me smile – like how he hates to wear socks and throws them off every single day into the exact same spot by the fireplace. Or the way he spoils all the sad parts in movies with a silly joke or a ridiculous comment. I love the look on his face when he knows he’s eaten one too many sweet treats or shouldn’t have had that second helping. And I love how he gets as giddy as little kids do when it comes to birthdays, Christmas or opening presents.
This year, I got lucky and knew my guy really wanted to improve his golf game so some lessons for the links were the obvious birthday gift of choice. However, husbands, fathers, brothers, and boys in general always seem to stump me when it comes to buying presents. What do you get for someone who doesn’t accessorize or beautify, doesn’t care about cute creations or pretty pillows and certainly wouldn’t want a new book or piece of artwork? I know not all men are the same but my dad’s tie collection grows with each celebration and I’m sure he wouldn’t mind a surprise every once and a while. And even though my husband says he’d always be happy with tools or electronics, what do I really know about either of those? In my opinion, a wrench doesn’t really say I love you and I’m so happy to be celebrating with you. If any guy in my life mentions something he sorta, kinda, might want, I’ve got to write it down because chances are, that’s what they’re going to be ripping the wrapping paper off of when it comes time to celebrate their special day. Thankfully, my birthday boy’s memory (or lack there of!) seems to save me and his suggestions for gifts easily become surprises! Thanks, babe...and happy birthday!

What do you buy for the guys in your life? Do you find it easier to shop for men or women?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

imagine the freedom

I don’t think I’m alone when I tell you that I’ve always dreamed of winning the lottery. Don’t get me wrong, I put a lot of value on working hard for what you want but wouldn’t it be nice to not have to worry about money for a while? Or for the rest of your life? There have been several stories in the news recently about lottery winners who have won more than once and I can’t help but picture myself accepting that oversized cheque with open arms.
Every so often, there seems to be a conversation about what I would do if I held the winning ticket. Sometimes I dream about being sensible – putting my money away for my future children, for retirement, for a rainy day; giving money to my family so my brother can pay off his law school loans, my sister can get a place of her own while she goes to school, my parents can take the trips they’ve always dreamed of; and the long list of charities that would be deserving of donations seems to grow along with the amount of money I dream of winning. And other times, I dream of all the luxuries that I would splurge on...spending serious amounts of cash on silly purchases. A shopping spree would certainly be first on the list along with beautiful houses in all the holiday spots I dream of visiting and enough shoes to fill the dream closet I’ll one day build. My list of material possessions and purchases seems to grow along with the rising jackpot. I’m not holding my breath that my bank account will rise from the few figures it’s at now to the eight figures I’m currently hoping for (buying tickets would help!) but a girl can dream, right?! Most of all, I want to win the lottery to just live life. To experience all there is to experience without the limitations of my bank account. To conquer all my fears and achieve all my dreams without worrying about where the funds will come from. To have the time and money to just be would be living the life of luxury I dream of.

What would you do with your winnings? Do you buy lottery tickets?

Friday, October 1, 2010

one film, four words

I really enjoy going to the movies. On top of the entertainment it provides and the yummy snacks I fill up on, going to the movies gives me the opportunity to be a movie critic - expressing my honest opinion about what characters I liked, what plot twists were unnecessary or why I can’t wait to hear what others will think of the casting. So what would I do if I only had four words to sum up my feelings about what I’d just seen on the screen? I’d probably think it was impossible but that’s exactly what users at The Four Word Film Review struggle to do on a daily basis. The challenge not only comes from having to sum up your thoughts in such few words, a tough task in itself, but the most creative reviews are both informative and humourous – not an easy assignment if you ask me.
Summing up a movie in only four words would be a challenge to say the least. Usually, after watching a movie (or during a movie!), you can’t keep me quiet. Whether I’m raving about the perfect plot or making suggestions so it’s not a snoozefest, I’ve got some kind of critique for the makers of the movie. Keeping it short, clever and with some hint of what the movie is about with a limited amount of words seems cruel at first. But once you take a look through the thousands of reviews posted by users from all around the world, it suddenly seems intriguing (My personal fave so far? Superbad: “Not super, not bad.”). So how would I describe a movie in four words or less? I haven’t been able to come up with a good one yet but now that I’m trying, I think it will be hard to stop. The next time I’m in the theatre or curled up on my couch watching a movie, I know what I’ll be doing – training my brain to think in four word increments and trying to come up with the best critique that I can. Easy? I think not.

Can you sum up a movie in four words or less?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

lost and left behind

Having stayed in several hotels since I was young, I’m not a stranger to a home away from home during my holidays. And having traveled with several different people, I’ve come to learn that everyone has their own way of living life on the road whether it’s unpacking everything as soon as you arrive or spending your stay living out of your luggage. No matter how you choose to live or relax while away, it’s probably not uncommon to forget a shirt stashed deep in a drawer or a shampoo bottle still in the shower, right? But would you forget a shark in your bathtub, your pet cockatoo or €20,000 in cash? These are only three of the top ten strangest items found left behind by the members of Great Hotels of the World. I can’t say I’ve ever had any of those items with me on a vacation but you can bet I wouldn’t be leaving them behind.
Leaving something behind is just not an option when I go away. If you’re anything like me, you can’t help but check, double check and triple check every corner, drawer, nook and cranny to make sure that every item you came with has made it’s way back into your suitcase. Even when I don’t use a drawer or open a closet during my stay, I won’t feel right about leaving if I haven’t taken a few peaks inside just to make sure my pants didn’t miraculously grow feet and walk their way into the closet. It doesn’t make sense but it’s what I do. While I may be a compulsive closet checker, I get a sense of satisfaction knowing that I haven’t left a sock sitting under the bed or a towel drying on the balcony. And even if I always get the feeling that I’m forgetting something, I can at least be satisfied knowing that I made a valiant effort to repack all my possessions…especially that pesky shark or my pair of false teeth!

Have you ever left anything in a hotel room? Do you live out of your luggage or unpack everything?

Monday, September 27, 2010

guilty as charged

I have a confession to make.
I’m not proud of it, I’ve only become involved recently and I don’t like to tell too many people. It’s not something that is a big part of my life but when I’m into it, it’s hard to break away. I have to confess…I like The Real Housewives shows. Judge me all you want ( I deserve it!) but there is something so captivating about these women and their network of family and friends that seem to live a life so completely different from anything I’ve ever experienced. Getting a glimpse into their world of luxurious spending, catty gossiping and daily drama is my unexplainable guilty pleasure.
I think we all need an escape like my love for the ladies of Orange County, New Jersey or Atlanta – not only for the downtime it provides to tune in to the TV and tune out of my brain but also because it presents a far fetched 'reality' that allows me to either laugh at the outrageous or dream of the lavish. I don’t watch and wish I was living the life of any of these women but it easily draws me in so that I’m involved in someone else’s life and I can step away from my own. With all the stresses that we deal with on a daily or weekly basis, I think it’s necessary to have a guilty pleasure. Something that isn’t our norm, something that allows us to treat ourselves, something that puts a smile on our face if only because it’s different from our everyday occurrences. And sometimes it takes something a little unusual or out of the ordinary to help us realize that our lives are full and fabulous. So as much as I’m not proud of my current choice in entertainment, I’m happy I have it. I'm happy I have something that lets me unwind and whether it’s a trashy tv show, a romance novel or a piece of chocolate cake, I hope we all have something to indulge in that takes us away from our day-to-day lives.

Care to share your guilty pleasure? What allows you to escape the everyday?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

fading into fall

I’m one of those stubborn summer lovers who refuses to believe that the summer ever ends. Even as the cool breezes blow in and the leaves begin to fall from the trees, I’m still holding on to the sunshine with two flip-flopped feet planted firmly on the ground. However, considering it is now officially fall, I think I’m ready to say so long to the summer and embrace all the wonderful things that this time of year brings.
Considering I’m a little late to the party when it comes to welcoming fall, all the things I love about autumn won’t come as a surprise. There is something special about a cool, crisp fall day with the fallen leaves dancing in the wind that makes me want to throw on a warm sweater with my favourite scarf and frolic through the beautiful orange, red and yellow. Follow the frolicking with a large mug of hot tea while I curl up under a soft blanket with a good book and suddenly saying goodbye to summer doesn’t seem like such a bad thing. The thought of warm fireplaces, cute jackets and Thanksgiving turkeys are enough to make me happy that the end of September is here - autumn seems to equal being cozy and that’s really nothing to complain about. As I break out my thick socks and add hot soup back onto my dinner menu, I am easily reminded why there are so many fans of the fall. As much as I will always be sad to see summer go, having four different seasons and being able to celebrate the change between each of them is something I truly look forward to. While I may be sad to pack away my beach towels and sunhats, knowing that blankets and toques will be keeping me cozy for the next few months is enough to keep me comforted on these first few cool days of the season.

What are your favourite fall things? Is fall your favourite season?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

happy birthday turbo

Today, my mom celebrates her 38th birthday.
She’s been celebrating her 38th birthday for the last 14 years but you’d never know it. She is one of my closest friends, my favourite shopping partner and a truly amazing mother. My mom is a health nut, a personal trainer, a 3-time Ironman Finisher and a dedicated volunteer to a variety of community causes. I’ve never met anyone with more energy at 5:30 in the morning than she has and her ability to eat a salad the size of a large mixing bowl is hard to beat. While I may not have inherited my love of accessories from my mom, whose Ziploc baggie works wonders as a purse, I will definitely give her credit for my love of all sweet treats as well as my need to always have a clean kitchen counter.
Mothers have some incredible talents that seem to come only with motherhood. Mom’s have an amazing ability to see dirt where no child ever will. They are especially skilled at making sandwiches so that they always taste better than any I could ever put together and their built-in lie detector seems more accurate than any used in an FBI interrogation. Mothers seem to have motion-sensor alarms that will arouse them just as you’re creeping in after your curfew and their magical power that seems to kiss away pain is greater than that of any superhero. I’ve been lucky enough to have grown up with a super supportive single mom who can’t help but laugh when she tells me “I’m getting serious now!” and always found ways to make sure we were well taken care of and well loved. Parenthood is a tough job and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without the love, laughs, support and daily emails my mom has provided me throughout the years. Thanks to all moms for being moms and thanks to my mom for being you...Happy Birthday!

What is your favourite thing about your mom? Or about being a mom? Are you like your mother?

Friday, September 17, 2010

spreading the love

I was reading my local newspaper this morning and stopped on a quick story about a young good deed doer who is making his way across Canada in an attempt to spark an increased level of trust and kindness among strangers. Stefano Andriani’s project, Travel Kindness, will see his team making their way across the country for the next few months doing everyday good deeds along the way. Efforts like Stefano’s, attempting to make our world a kinder place, are such necessary reminders that there really is so much good in the world, especially when the newspapers seem to be full of bad news.
{via - do you agree?}
A good deed, no matter how big or small, can really put a smile on a stranger’s face. To be able to brighten someone’s day by offering some spare change or a helping hand is often such a simple yet satisfying task and I truly believe in the value of being able to pay it forward. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a stranger's smile, you know how good it feels to get that extra push in your day whether it’s because someone gave up their seat on the bus for you or offered you an extra nickel for your morning coffee. I remember when I was young, my class at school was challenged to commit a good deed and not tell anyone about what we had done – a secret between ourselves and the stranger we had so kindly helped out. How hard does that seem? I mean, I could lend a hand to someone in need or go out of my way to be kind to a stranger and just keep it to myself, right? I remember that keeping my selflessness a secret, so that it did indeed seem selfless, was tougher than I could have imagined. We all have a need to share with others and I really don’t think it’s a bad thing to want to share the good things we do...even if it’s because we’re proud or just want recognition. As much as I do believe that challenge taught me not to worry about acceptance and to be kind no matter who is watching, I think hearing stories of goodwill are motivating. They encourage us to look at out lives and find ways to help those in need. They inspire us to take an extra second to notice that the world is a good place and by being in it, we can help make it better. I am thankful to people like Stefano and the many, many others that constantly remind me that common kindness can go a long way.

Have you received any random acts of kindness lately? Any heartwarming stories?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

where in the world

Vacations, no matter how long or how incredible, always seem to be too short. Coming back home and back to reality is always a bittersweet moment. As much as I am happy to be back in my own bed with the comforts of home cooked meals and my familiar routine, I can’t help but wish I was still soaking up the sun on the Spanish coast.
Spain was amazing! The early morning walks to the beach, feeling the soft sand between my toes as I lay taking in the Mediterranean and the late nights sipping sangria as the sun set over the sea. It doesn’t get much better! I was taken aback with all that Barcelona had to offer. La Rambla was busy and bustling and the perfect place for people-watching. The Sagrada Familia took our breath away with its inspiring detail and demanding presence over the city.
Spain was certainly just what I needed. The weather was perfect, we relaxed in the sun and there were certainly enough sights to fill our days making the recipe just right for some time away (and I did manage to pack pretty light!...thanks for all your tips!).
The problem with, or rather, the appeal of travelling, depending on how you look at it, is that after spending a short time in an amazing place with beautiful beaches and spectacular sights, all I want to do is see more of the world. You’d think I would just be grateful for my getaway - and believe me, I really am – but when you get a taste of all the world has to offer, it’s hard to stop with one visit to the Spanish seaside. Considering there are so many sights in Spain that I didn’t have time to take in, it’s exciting to think of all the other cities, countries and continents that I’ve yet to be able to visit. The world is so full of breathtaking views and interesting architecture, there are cities full of stories from so long ago, the landscape is so varied from one town to the next. My list of places to visit is constantly growing and I can’t imagine that it will ever stop. Talking to other travelers during my holiday has filled my head with dreams of my next vacation…hearing about cruising the Greek Islands or pub hopping through the Scottish countryside makes me wish my next vacation was weeks away instead of too many months. I am so inspired by the amazing holiday that I was so lucky to indulge in that I am so looking forward to the next one. The travel bug gets me every time!

Where do you dream of travelling to? Any suggestions for my next trip?