Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are…

3 Jul

Online dating

What’s new?  Likely one of the most used pleasantries when engaging in small talk.  I actually have my 20 year high school reunion this weekend and I am 100% positive that question will be asked many times.  What’s new with you?  Hmmm.  When you are single that is a hard question to answer.   You don’t have the usual filler material that those who are in a relationship or those who have children can use – ‘I got married’ or ‘I had a baby’.  Instead it feels somewhat awkward and I find myself grappling with what to say.  What’s new?  Well, I have lots of new things on the go, but not the type of stuff you say when engaging in small talk. If the level of small talk is a bit deeper and you perhaps know the person a bit better, ‘Are you seeing anyone?’ will come up.  I am willing to talk about that.  Dating.

I spent a lot of time this weekend with single girlfriends.  They’re smart, confident, fun, pretty, athletic, independent, well travelled, social, interesting and not emotionally messed up women.  I would say the topic of dating comes up every single time we are together.  In fact, it might trump the topic of weather – it even trumps the topic of Trump.  It is like a merry-go-round… we always circle back to it.  It is hard to find someone who is a good match for you.  It is even harder to find someone who is a good match for you when you are 38 and not normal.  That is right NOT NORMAL.  The new normal is flakey and complicated.

Dating has always been a source of emotional highs and low for anyone who engages in it:  triumphs and also complete emotional vulnerability.  In the past, it was giving your number to a guy at a bar and then obsessing with your girlfriends over when he was going to call.   Checking the messages just in case the phone didn’t actually ring when he called.  I remember one girlfriend telling me that she hid in a bush outside a guys house as she was sure he was dating someone else. A low moment.  There have always been the ‘ghosting’ tendencies – not calling after taking the number, not calling back for a second date or being stood up.  Today though, it is a real jungle.  You are no longer required to get dressed up, drink a bottle of wine, take a taxi downtown to your favourite bar to sort through a room full of drunk people in the hopes of finding someone who floats your boat.   You can do it from anywhere – from your toilet, your bed, your sofa, the subway, the doctors office or when even when your date goes to the bathroom if you’re not that into them – you can swipe away as you have access to every other single who is within a given radius of where you are.   More is more.  Options are endless. We make quick judgements based on carefully (or sometimes not so carefully) curated photos of potential mates.  While I was typing this I decided to look at Tinder to see who is around me.  There is a guy named Liam, 36, with 4 sexy photos of himself.   He wrote:  ‘Always love pizza.  Down for whatever’.  John, 42, 3 photos – one of his truck, one of his dog and another of him smoking and having a beer with the dog in the background.  He didn’t write anything.  Graham, 47, one pic of himself with balloons up his shirt which look like breasts. He wrote ‘Married, looking for summer fun.’ I wonder who swipes Yes to these guys?   The pool isn’t overflowing with options.  Just like ordering from the Sears catalog when I was a kid – a lot of stuff in the photos didn’t look as good in person or it just didn’t fit.  On top of this catalog style mate selection – no one talks to each other anymore.   Human to human connections are limited these days.  We shop online, we pay our bills online, we book travel online and we can even order groceries online which greatly lowers the likelihood of meeting someone in a grocery store.  Look around the next time you are sitting at a bar or you’re at an event – everyone is looking at their phones.  It fills a void for the social awkwardness that being alone creates.  I am guilty of it.  They might even be swiping you while you are sitting beside them.   I used to be an amazing wing woman.  I brought a lot friends to the men they were lusting over – there have been a few marriages as a result of my skills .  I wasn’t shy to go over, strike up the conversation, slyly bring my friend into the mix if he seemed cool and then slide away.  I was like Will Smith in Hitch.    I think that’s why old guys always like me because I still enjoy talking to people.  I remind them of ‘the good old days’ when people, just, you know, spoke to each other.  Now if someone comes up to you, you think they are a Jehovah’s Witness or they’re going to put a drug in your drink.  Now don’t get me wrong – online dating has brought me to meet some great guys.  I am discerning with who I meet – you can sniff out quite quickly if someone is worth meeting or not.  You know, if they ask you a question beyond ‘what’s up’ they are really standing out of the crowd.  I’ve had some hilarious dates, great connections and lots of fun.  In fact, this past winter I thought I met someone who was a keeper via online.  It ends up it wasn’t my ring finger I gave him… it was the middle one.

Sex and the City aired for the first time 20 years ago – they were more or less the same age as I am now.  I’ve watched every episode a few times over, and do you want to know what I notice – it is the same stuff my friends and I are dealing with today just in a different package.  My sister-in-law (who luckily found my anomaly of a brother while they were in university) said she thinks she would die if she had to date today.  I am telling you I deserve a medal for the resilience I have shown.  It is actually harder than running a marathon… at least in a marathon you know the struggle is over at 42 km’s.

Just like Carrie never lost sight of the fact that her Mr. Big existed and that romance was not dead… I too remain steadfast in my belief that there is an amazing man out there for my girlfriends, and hopefully for me too.  I am not sure what he looks like, what his age is, where he lives, what he does for work or how much hair he has – it seems that those things matter less and less.   Emotional intelligence, the ability to communicate, the ability to compromise, consideration, reliability, integrity… those attributes are actually the sexy ones.  I know he exists, it only makes rational sense to me that there are also amazing single men out there who are  thinking the same things as my single friends and I.   I don’t think, however, that he is on Tinder with pics of himself at the gym or with balloons up his shirt.  Come out, come out, wherever you are… please.

 

Advertisements

Stop and Smell The Roses

28 Jun

older blogI would say one of my favourite things in life is connecting with others.  Meeting new people, engaging in great conversation, learning things about them, having a laugh and sharing common bits. I grew up in the country where one of our main time passers was visiting our neighbours and family members – on those visits conversation always flowed.  My father always hammered into my head – ask questions, ask questions, ask questions.  So as a girl who had a natural draw to others I got to practice my conversation and question asking skills all the time!  Those skills have brought me some of my best memories in life.

On my way to work today I was trotting along with the dogs when I heard someone running up behind me saying “Excuse me, excuse me!” I turned around thinking she was going to tell me that my dress was stuck in my underwear and that my butt was hanging out or that I had dropped something from my bag.  She said “My friend is across the street – the guy in the wheelchair.  He was in a serious accident and has been in the hospital for a month and he really misses his dog.  Would you mind letting him pet your dogs?”  “Would I mind, it would be my pleasure!”  So we made our way across the street.  It ends up that he fell asleep on his way to work and he is now paralyzed.  I always feel like the dogs know when someone is feeling vulnerable, so they add extra bits of affection.  Millie got right up on his lap and started licking his face and Jillie laid her head on his legs looking up at him with her sweet eyes.  He just kept saying over and over again ‘You’re such good dogs.  Jillie, you look so much like my dog.  I miss her so much.’  After a solid twenty minutes of this love fest and great conversation,  he said to me ‘Wow, I just realized that was the first time I had totally forgotten about being paralyzed since it happened.  Thank you so much for taking the time to stop.”  Oh boy.  I thanked him right back – his attitude towards his new norm was completely inspiring.

We all live in a busy world.  Lots to do.  Places to go.  Distracted by phones ringing.  Distracted by podcasts.  Distracted by music.  Distracted by texts.  Distracted by social media.  Distracted by finances.  Distracted by schedules.  Distracted by stress.  Distracted by life.  Divorce.  Urban life.  We need to slow down.

The Harvard Study of Adult Development spanned over 80 years; it is one of the longest studies in the world.  The study hoped to find clues into what predictors cause some people to lead healthy and long lives.  Guess what they found?  The quality of ones relationships with loved ones, friends and their community was singlehandedly the biggest predictor of health and happiness.  When you have strong relationships you are more likely to exercise, maintain a healthy weight, feel less depressed, enjoy your work, and use alcohol in moderation.  Close relationships, more than money or fame, bring you joy.  It is true folks – empathy, compassion, communication, connection, and a sense of community matter the most.

I have this bizarre notion that I am never going to die.  I just can’t imagine it.  I think I will be on the cover of The National Inquirer with the headline ‘The Canadian Woman Who Never Died’.  In case my notion is true – I am going to keep connecting, conversing and offering compassion whenever I can so that I can add as many days as possible to my life.  Meeting that guy today inspired me to stop and smell the roses for even longer than I usually do.

Choose Happy

13 Jan

cow

Over the Christmas break I was having a very funny conversation with my parents about someone who is particularly difficult to deal with – historically and present day.  I said to my Dad ‘how can that person not recognize how off-putting and polarizing their behavior is?’  Dad said ‘I think a lot of it is genetic and it isn’t going to change in this instance.’  He said ‘just like intelligence, some people are smart and some people are negative.’  I’ve always been adverse to such ways, but with age I have become even more turned off by it.  As in, I literally find myself tuning out of conversations where the outlook is negative or critical of others.  As I get ready for my day I listen to podcasts.  I start off my day  listening to inspiring talks with inspiring people.  Today it was Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations and she was talking to Gretchen Rubin who wrote The Happiness Project.   It was 32 minutes of I TOTALLY AGREE WITH THAT content.  She stated that happiness is actually 50% genetic, so it seems that my Pa was correct!  It got me thinking about happiness and how it is such a prevalent topic.  How do you find it?  How do you stay happy?  Why are some people more happy than others even though they have less or have more challenges?  Why are some people never happy?

I’ve always been a naturally ‘happy’ person.  I generally see the positive side of things and I always remain optimistic.  I guess we can say that is 50% because of my genetics, but what about the other 50%?   Or let’s say 40% because no one is 100% happy or positive (and anyone who acts like every single thing is amazing is covering something up).   Believe me, there are times when I feel like giving the finger, I’ve done my fair share of gossiping (and complaining) and I’ve been in a relationship that definitely brought me down.  And I am now 37 and single – not what I envisioned when I was younger.  Some days the inner cynic in me comes out, but I genuinely try to kick those shitty thoughts to the curb.

To exemplify what I am talking about, I will give you a little window into my world.  When I wake up in the morning I send a few girlfriends (who need a little pump up) positive thoughts, videos or quotes for the day.  It is therapeutic for me too.  Millie (my dog) and I head out for the day – I never used to listen to music when I walk, but now I do.  As I trot along I often find myself singing out loud to the songs I am listening to.  The music puts a little more bounce in my step and it has been a great addition to my morning.   We walk to my brothers house where we scoop their Golden Retriever (who is always pumped to see us).  Along the way to the office we talk to many people who love dogs.  In particular, there is a guy who asks for money on Spring Garden Road and we walk by him most days.  The dogs LOVE him, and so most mornings we stop to chat with him.  The dogs lean into him, lick him and just give him a big dose of love.  Earlier this week he told me that he watches for us every morning and that seeing the dogs is the best part of his day.   (Heart warmer!!)   I am sure he is invisible to most people, but the dogs treat him like he is the best thing since sliced bread.  After that we make our way my way to the office to start the day.    This past Wednesday it was super icy.  Black ice everywhere along the way.   When I got to my office I changed from my sensible winter walking shoes to my ‘not so sensible for the winter booties’ (they are leopard so that should indicate their level of their uselessness in winter).  Shortly after arriving I had to pop out for a meeting which was only a block from my office.  Forgetting about the black ice I stepped off my office steps with great vigor (at the same time two guys were walking by).  My front foot hit the ice and slid forward while my back foot was still on the step.  I literally did a full Nadia Comeneci style splits.  I popped back up (in my dress) in record time to the boys saying “Oh wow, ahhhhh, are you okay?” to which I said “Oh yes, I am fine!’  I took one step forward and BAM I went down again.  This time a face plant type of fall.  I again popped right back up and one guy said to the other ‘Take her hand man’.  I said laughing ‘No, no, I got it.  I am going to walk gingerly now.  I didn’t even rip my tights and I gave you guys your story for the day!’  We all had a solid laugh and I made my way to my meeting.  My hands were burning from hitting the pavement and my legs were wet.  The meeting was with a mom who recently lost her 43 year old daughter to ovarian cancer over Christmas.  Talk about a way to snap back out of your own shit and be grateful for everything you have.

What I am getting at – the other 40% is within you.   It is how you choose to use your time, control your thoughts, perceptions and reactions to life.   I dated someone who made lots of money and he was one of the most negative creatures I’ve ever met.  Happiness doesn’t come from money.  I’ve met people who are married and they complain endlessly about their partner.  Happiness doesn’t come from having a partner (or how they behave).  I’ve met people who have great jobs, but they are miserable.  Happiness doesn’t come from your job.  I know people who are beautiful and thin, but they are insecure and self critical.  Happiness doesn’t come from being beautiful or skinny.  I’ve met people who have all of the nicest things (big house, cars, clothes, travel) their heart could desire, but they aren’t happy.  Happiness doesn’t come from things.

As my very wise brother told me once upon a time – life is mostly made up of choices.  Most of the parts of your life are choices you made:  the big house (that you might have to work your ass off to pay for), the job (that you are spending too much time at to pay for the house), the partner, the kids, the commitments and the list goes on. Now don’t get me wrong folks – there is nothing wrong with a nice house, a busy job, wanting to climb the ladder or having nice things.   I am talking about your attitude towards it.  How do you treat other people, do you complain, do you feel stressed, do you feel joy?   Life is going to throw curveballs at us – lots of shitty things happen that we can’t control.  If you’re already off balance when those things happen it is going to be a real challenge.  One of my dearest friends lost her Dad unexpectedly on Christmas Day.  The support she has received from others is amazing because she is awesome and always goes out of her way to help others.  You get out what you put in.

Everyone’s idea of what makes you happy is different.  I dare you to do a few things that make you feel happy – it will make your day better and anyone who you come in contact with too.  As one of my favorite quotes states: Awesome things will happen today if you choose not to be a miserable cow.

 

 

Resolution Revolution

4 Jan

resolution

 

Every single year in early January we make BIG declarations about what we are going to be better at this year.  Exercise more! Lose weight! Money! Time management!  No drinking!  Putting yourself ‘out there’ more!  More adventure!  And so on.  Monday, January 16th, will be what we call Blue Monday or better known as ‘The Most Depressing Day of The Year’.  Christmas cheer has worn off, you’ve likely broken your resolutions, its flipping freezing out and your December credit card statement has arrived in your inbox.  A dirty-dirty combination indeed.

I am going to focus on the one I think is the most common:  lose weight.  I don’t know about you, but most every weight related resolution I’ve ever made has not happened or if it happened it wasn’t maintained long term.  I go out of the gate strong, planning, hitting the gym, packing my lunch and then I fall off the self  betterment rails – thus making the resolution a failure.  Left with tight pants, a gym membership not being used and a bad case of the guilt’s for not using it (and for failing at the big resolution).  Oprah is a favorite of mine and as you most certainly know she has dealt with weight her entire life.  Up and down.  Skinny to fat – fat to skinny.  This was all under the watchful eye of the world.  I remember she once said that when her pants don’t fit her she feels the exact same way as anyone else does.  The difference being she was photographed, scrutinized and criticized.  How could someone who has chefs and trainers at her beck and call, still fail at weight loss?  Over the last few years, she says, she has changed her relationship with her body (and food).  In the past she focused on hating her thighs, criticizing her body and dieting.  Instead, she changed her thoughts: it isn’t about a diet, but instead a commitment to see things differently.  Starting out from a place of gratitude and positivity instead of a state of self loathing.  It isn’t about saying: I am cutting out sugar! I am cutting out carbs! I am cutting out gluten! I am cutting out wine!   I am running a marathon!  Or when I lose 20 pounds I’ll be HAPPY.  I’ve run 3 half marathons in my life and when I did them I lost weight.  I hated every-single-minute of it.  That runners high everyone talks about.  I never achieved it.  The only high I ever felt was when I crossed the finish line and thought THANK JESUS that is over and I was able to take off my two sports bras.  Resolution statements are usually short term – 5 pounds down and then 7 back on when you start to eat pasta again or stop doing whatever you were doing as it probably wasn’t enjoyable!

Here are a few things I know about myself:

  1. I am not a naturally thin woman
  2. I love amazing food and culinary experiences
  3. I am not a lover of winter
  4. My disdain for winter causes me to not be as active
  5. 1 + 2 + 3 +4 = weight gain over the winter

So, here is my little attitude-behaviour changing story: I started to change my winter attitude about 7 years ago when I got a dog. That little white rocket requires me to hit the pavement no matter what day, no matter what season and no matter what weather. My brother and his family got a dog last year too. I already bring Millie to work with me, so it only made sense to add him into the gang! I now walk to my brothers most days of the week, pick him up and deliver him back end of day. That’s about 8 km of extra walking a day. It helps them, he adds more joy to my day and it adds to my movement.  So everyday I get nearly 10 km in.  I know that I would rather walk 10 kms than run 1.   It works for me.  For the past 6 months I do hot yoga over my lunch on average 4 times a week.  I love it.  I am in competition with no one but myself.  I am still not sporting a six pack (nor do I want to or ever will), but I feel healthy, it is consistent, it works for me and it creates a solid base. One pound, two pounds, three pounds… it has consistently come off.   If I add anything more to more routine it makes a real difference.  Rather than the usual January boom and bust and being cooped up inside wearing lululemon’s (which trick you into thinking you are not putting on weight)  I am on the move when the snow flies!   It is already a habit.   Also, being single is definitely a way to keep yourself slimmer – just like in nature, when you’re on the hunt you’re hungry!!

Last year I spent a month in Australia where you would think I would have tipped the scales to the right.  Nope.  I lost weight.  Why?  Because I was on the go all day long.  Walking, swimming, moving, talking and sweating from that glorious sunshine!  Doing things I love to do.  Not sitting in front of a computer, avoiding going out at lunch as it is freezing, and then crashing home in the dark (it is dark here shortly after 4 pm in the winter) cursing about my numb fingers.

In an effort to combat my winter weight I am doing the same thing this winter. Walking every day, downward dogging and sweating at hot yoga over lunch, going away on a trip mid-February to a hot country for 3 weeks, and I am going to keeping myself busy doing things that bring me joy.  I’ll be busy doing things I love.  Busy learning new things.  Busy spending time with people who make my mind curious.  Keeping my mind positive, laughing and feeling grateful for my life.  I am going to bring out my French heritage – as you know those bitches are skinny and they eat cheese everyday.  The secret is that they don’t deprive themselves and physical exercise generally flows within their daily life – the slow burn.  I can guarantee you that when you lose 10 lbs by starving yourself or doing a physical activity you hate –  the relationship you have with your body, food and exercise isn’t positive and it will limit you in other ways. The conversations we have with ourselves directly correspond to how we present ourselves to the outside world and those closest to us.

So, if you are looking to shed some lbs, get tighter or achieve some kind of health goal – don’t give your credit card so readily to a gym.  Figure out what it is you really love to do, amuse-toi bien (have fun), do more of it and give yourself some self love along the way.  I can guarantee if you asked someone else what they see when they see you – it isn’t your cellulite.

We Are Family

22 Aug

Cousins
So, I come from a big family.  When I say big family, how big is that you might ask? Well, my Mom’s father had 13 brothers and sisters and my Dad’s mother also had 13 brothers and sisters.  Both families are Catholic and so there was a whole lot of procreating going on.   Something I’ve realized with age is just how much sex was happening in the past.  When you think of it – there is a very small window when a woman can get pregnant every month.  There were no ovulation tests or IPhone apps for tracking ovulation.  So, with no tracking they were able to get pregnant all the time.  This means they must have been doing it all the time in order to hit the bulls eye on such a regular basis.  Since there was no internet, no cable, no Sunday shopping, Facebook or yoga class to go to – our ancestors used sex as their main source of entertainment.  And through this entertainment came big old families!

I recently had a family reunion for my mothers side of the family – from my Great Grandmother and Great Grandfather there are currently 290 blood descendants (and counting).  That is correct.  From 2 people came 290 people.  Around 250 people attended the family reunion.  Not an optimal place for a single girl, but hey, it was a lot of fun.  The photo at the top is me with most of the great grandchildren who attended the reunion.  How crazy is it to be in a room with 249 people who are related to you and due to my mothers steadfast ability to keep in touch – I know most of them.   Growing up, a past time was visiting.  We had what I call ‘Country Cable’ – two channels which seldom had anything good on them.  Sunday there was Mass for Shut Ins, Grand Pre Wrestling and Coronation Street.  So instead of watching shit TV we would go visit a relative.  There was an open door policy at most houses.  We would just show up, interrupt whatever they were doing and have a visit which usually involved tea and some kind of baked good being put out for you to snack on.   Lots of conversation about politics, family going-on’s and of course stories from days gone by.  Can you imagine doing that now?  My flipping doorbell doesn’t even work!  Now anytime there is an unexpected knock or doorbell ring people assume it is Jehovah’s Witness recruiters and they suddenly become very still inside their homes.  For me, those visits impacted who I am – I loved hearing all the details, all the funny stories, all the opinions, and learning of all of the dynamics.  One thing about me is that I remember everything. I can recant visits from 25 years ago where someone was talking about someone jacking deer, someone growing magic mushrooms on someone’s property or that damn Chretien Government.  Birthday parties were just cousins.  Weddings were mainly family.

After university my cousin Amy and I moved to Toronto.   We chose Toronto as our cousin Alicia had moved up a year earlier and we were hungry to join in on all the fun she was having.  Amy and I shared a computer room with a futon for the summer. There was both a heat wave and a garbage strike that summer and we somehow survived.  Our other cousin Sarah also migrated up at some point.  She is double second cousins with Alicia, first cousin once removed with Amy and a standard second cousin with me.  That means that Alicia’s Mother and Sarah’s Grandmother are sisters AND Alicia’s Father and Sarah’s Grandfather are brothers.  That is right – two sisters married two brothers.  Since Alicia is the youngest in her family she is the same age as me even though she is my mothers first cousin.  Make sense?  See what I am saying about big family.   Amy’s Dad is my Mom’s uncle – her Dad is the youngest in the family of 14 and my Grandpa was the oldest boy.   So Amy is actually my Moms first cousin, but due to the fact that her Dad got married many years after my Grandpa – she is closer to my age.   Layers.  When we would go out it would inevitably come up that we were all related.  Most people were mystified that we could:

  1. All be related
  2. Know each other
  3. Like each other.

Most people would say something like ‘I have like 3 first cousins and I don’t really know any of them’.  There is something completely unique about being pals with your cousins.  You know where each other came from, you know their family, you know dynamics and you know their history.  You really know who they are and how they become who they are.  There is no need for small talk and you ultimately have each others backs.  And we were kind of like Disney World – there was something for everyone.  Tall, short, blonde, brunette, athletic, conservative, wild, shy and loud.  We are all different and have very different tastes in men, so we didn’t ever get out the gloves over them.  But when a man came onto the scene he was sniffed out hard by ‘the cousins’. Kind of like a litmus test for ‘is he bring him home to NS worthy’.  One guy had a terrible laugh.  Nope, we knew he wouldn’t work.  There was an old guy.  No, he didn’t stand a chance.  What do you think?  What do you think?  What do you think?  Everyone has an opinion.

I’ve traveled all over the world and let me tell you – I have family all over the world and my mother would make sure I reached out while there.   Most cities and countries have included a family visit or a connection with someone a family member knows.  Where I live it seems that I run into someone I am related to most days.  For example, today in hot yoga, one of my cousins was in my class.  We did a quick wave and smile before getting into our downward dogs.  In a world where connections are shallow, a sense of community has been lost and people don’t know their neighbours – it is a beautiful thing to run into someone you really know.  Connect with them.  Have a good chat.  Get some updates and usually have a laugh too.  You feel part of something.

A big family.  It gives you deep roots, a wide support system and plenty of gossip.  I dare you to get to know yours even if that means 3 people.

37 Reasons Why

28 Apr

Happy Birthday

A week from today I will officially be in my upper-mid 30’s.  37 years or 444 months or 1,924 weeks or 13,505 days or 324,120 hours.  Whatever way you want to put it.  Birthdays are a great time for reflecting.  Thinking about what has happened in the last year and what you desire for the year ahead.  Now that I am in my ‘upper-mid 30’s’ I’ve been around the block, I’ve learned a few lessons and since it is ‘International Pay It Forward Day’ I am going to share some of my thoughts with you and hopefully you can absorb something from them.  Since I am the only one who can see things through my own eyes and mind – this is my list not yours.

Here are 37 things I believe to be true and the reasons why:

  1. Aging is a gift.  The reason why I know this is true is because being dead is the alternative.
  2. Advil Liquid Gels are amazing.  The reason why I know this to be true is if I drink a bottle of red wine and don’t take one before I go to bed – I get a roaring headache.
  3. Go with your gut.  The reason why I know this is true is had I listened to my gut I wouldn’t have dated a guy who wore a puka shell necklace, khakis and had no friends.  My gut said he wasn’t cool.  He wasn’t.
  4. If a guy stands you up or in modern terms ‘ghosts you’.  Shame on him for a being a pussy.  The reason why I know this to be true because it has happened to me before: it is both immature and flakey.  Do you really want to date someone who is immature and flakey?  Nope. Also, if someone does that to you don’t wonder: what is wrong with me?  Why doesn’t he like me?  You just aren’t what he is looking for.
  5. Don’t make assumptions.  The reason why I know this to be true is because when I’ve made assumptions it ends up not being what I assumed and it causes you unneeded drama or miscommunications.  Ask questions.
  6. Your mind is like a parachute – it only works when it is open.  The reason I know this to be true is that when you say no, judge, criticize or act out of fear – nothing good happens.  Keep that mind open.  Amazing shit happens when it is.
  7. When you find a lipstick you love buy it, stop trying other ones on and buy at least 3 of them.  The reason why I know this to be true is that I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on every type of lipstick.  Finding the right lipstick is like discovering penicillin.   When you find a good one you need one for your purse, your bathroom and an extra in case you drop the other one in the toilet or your nieces put it on and break it.
  8. There is no ‘THE ONE’.  The reason why I believe this to be true is that there are 7 billion people on this planet and you’ve only met a small number of them.  I think there is ‘someone’ who collides with place in life, attraction and timing.
  9. Further to that note there is no fairy-tale.  The reason why I believe this to be true is that I’ve seen a lot of relationships and not one of them look the way they are presented in movies and books.    Whoever you end up with – they are going to annoy you, piss you off, be late, you’re not going to be attracted to them at times and they’re going to leave laundry on the floor.  They aren’t always going to know what you are thinking or buy you amazing gifts. Prince Charming is hiding in the woods of Never Never Land.
  10. Take Risks – go outside of your comfort zone.  The reason why I know this is true is that every single time I’ve done this I’ve learned something about myself, other people and the world around me.   Spice things up.  Do new things.
  11. Travel.  As much as you can.  When you travel you grow.  The reason why I know this is true is that the most amazing memories I have involve travel.  See the world.  See your country.  See your province.  See your city.  You need to.  It makes you more intelligent.  It makes you more empathetic.  It makes you more interesting.  It makes you more dynamic.  It makes you happier.
  12. Be curious and ask questions.  the best conversations happen when you do this.  The reason why I know this to be true is that people love it when you are interested in them.  It is interesting to know more than you currently do.  Oh, and don’t date someone who doesn’t ask questions.  You will end up listening to them talk about themselves all the time and who wants to do that?  Gross.
  13. Make sure you work on your friendships.  If you don’t – you won’t have friends.  Friendships are an incredible blessing.  Friendships are one of the most gratifying relationships because there are no real rules or codes of conduct.  No hours of operation.  The reason why I know this is true is that I have loads of friends, it takes work and my life is super rich because of them.  Oh and don’t hang with friends who talk about cellulite, other girls and don’t eat anything other than salad.  They’re boring and superficial.
  14. Don’t use the excuse “I am so busy”.  It stinks.  The reason I believe this to be true is that it is overused.  There is a lot of time in the day and week.  Really the truth of it is you chose to not make it a priority and that is okay.
  15. Get a pet.  The reason why I know this to be true is that your relationship with your pet brings out a side of you that is just beautiful.  Friendship, dependence, joy and love.  I firmly believe anyone who mistreats an animal cannot have normal relationships with humans either.  You are a shitty person if you mistreat animals.  Period.  Even people who don’t like them.  I question their character too.
  16. Talk to your parents.  Let them know they are a priority to you. Your siblings too.   The reason why I know this is true is that I’ve seen 17 babies be born.  It is amazing.  A wonder.  You see how much parents love their kids,  really.  Your Mother grew you for Gods sake – she deserves a phone call.  No one knows you better than your family.  If your immediate family are jerks – talk to your grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles.
  17. Don’t compare yourselves to others.  Don’t.  The reason why I know this to be true is when you focus on what you don’t have there won’t ever be enough.  Unless Apple comes up with some nifty new machine that allows you to transform yourself – you can’t. So work on making your own garden green.
  18. Food is amazing. The reason I know this to be true is because it is true.  You can’t deny it.
  19. Eat really amazing food with friends and family.  The reason I know this to be true is that food tastes better when you share it with others.
  20. Make up your own mind.  The reason why I know this is true is that it sucks to be told you have to be this or that.  It sucks to be forced to act a certain way.  It sucks to be told what is this or that.  When you are old enough to make up your own mind be brave enough to do it. Don’t live your life according to someone else’s rules or opinions.  Being yourself is the best.
  21. Once you are able to make up your mind find people who think like you.  The reason why I know this is true is that when you are around people who think like you really cool things happen.
  22. When you are looking for input or advice get it from like minded people.  Don’t get it from someone who is critical, negative or insecure.  The reason I know this to be true is that I’ve done it and it doesn’t work.  Why would I ask someone who has no style what they think of my outfit?
  23. Try to laugh as much as you can.  Have fun as much as you can.  Do I really need a reason why for this one?  No.
  24. Be kind to other people. Be generous with your time, energy and skills.  The reason why I know this is true is that when you are kind everything is better.  It is true.
  25.  Tell people they are being a dick when they are being a dick.  When you do it they usually learn something too.   The reason why I know this is true is that when I’ve done it the outcome is usually better. I haven’t done it a lot of times in my life as it honestly takes so much to get me worked up.  But generally, talking about it is always better.
  26. Life isn’t about what happens to you – it is how you perceive what happens to you.   9/10 times it has nothing to do with you.  The reason I know this is true is that few people intentionally ever do something to offend someone.   Not taking things personally is a much better way to keep your blood pressure down.
  27. Exercise.  Find something that works for you.  The reason why I know this is true is because when I’ve tried to force myself to be a runner I flipping hated it.  My boobs are too big.  I run on the side of my foot a bit.  I’ve learned that walking the same distance works better for me.  And I don’t have whiplash from my rack.  Getting a dog is an awesome way to incorporate exercise into your life.
  28. People are not what they look like on social media or online dating sites.  The reason I know this is true is because when you can take 12 retakes and edit the shit out of photos you look way prettier and the scene a lot more fun than it really is.  You are just as pretty and your life just as fab.
  29. Know the difference between a man that’s not worth it and a mans that’s not perfect.  The reason why I know this is true is because I’ve given too much of my time to men who are not worth it.   Where are those imperfect but deserving creatures hiding?
  30. Bullies, cranks or gossips.  They are super insecure and unhappy.  The reason why I know this is true is that confident and happy people are not mean or negative and they don’t care about what other people are doing.  Don’t give them your power.
  31. If you are girl you can do anything you want in life.  Anything.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t.  The reason why I know this is true is because I am a girl and I do whatever I want.
  32. Spend time around kids – it is really good for you.  The reason why I know this is true is because I’ve spent lots of time around kids and I’ve loved (almost) every minute of it.  They are uninhibited, authentic, honest, in the moment, inquisitive, accepting and loving.  And most of them like ice cream.
  33. Get to know someone who is good with technology.  It really helps.  The reason I know this is true is because I am awful at it.  Our world is based on technology now.  I should add that to my list of things I want in a man.
  34. Spend time with your family and friends doing things you love to do.  Jobs come and go.  The reason I know this is true is because I deal with death through my work and know that people wish they worked less.  On that note – do a job you like. You spend a lot of time there so if it doesn’t bring out the best in you – make a change.
  35. Everyone is different: they don’t want the same things as you, think the way you do or do things the way you do them.  That doesn’t make them weird or wrong. The reason I know this is true is that I’ve met a lot of people in my life.  When you really listen to people you understand them more. Refer back being open minded and kind.
  36. A nap is one of the best things in the world.  The reason I know this is true is that a nap feels like someone injected me with fresh energy and that is a really good thing.  I mean, Einstein, Winston Churchhill, John F Kennedy, Thomas Edison and Salvador Dali all took daily naps.  They knew what they were doing.
  37. We need to celebrate being alive way more often than one day of the year.   You don’t need a reason to celebrate.  Just do it.  All the time.

xoxo

 

A Special Place

24 Apr

HMMS

I grew up in the country.  All 3 of my brothers and I had the good fortune of attending a small rural school.  Now that I am in my ‘upper-mid 30’s’ I have the perspective to know what an absolute gem of a place that school was.  Our bus driver, Eugene, would burn by our house every morning in order to turn around at my grandparents garage a mile over the road.  I knew I had about 5 minutes to get my butt down to the end of the driveway.   The school is only a mile from where we grew up so the commute was short.  At the end of the school day, even that short ride felt long when you were hungry and tired because we played hard.  We had a real ‘Wildhood’ at HM MacDonald.

To give you some background info.  The school goes from grade Primary to Grade 6.   For the most part the same teachers taught myself and my siblings.  2 teachers retired after I had them (my class is legend to be the worst one in history… so we likely drove them to retire), but otherwise the teachers all stayed the same.  The classes were small.  I think one time we broke the 20 mark when a girl from British Columbia came into our class for a short time. Sierra.  I remember that ‘Come From Away’  girl clearly:  she had really long hair and it seemed so fascinating to be from Salmon’s Arm.  Her family mysteriously came and went.  There was a rumor that they left their dog in their freezer.  In grade 5 a piece was added to our school which enabled us to have more room and so they extended the school line. I remember we had a ribbon cutting celebration and different political officials came to our school for it. I graced them all with a tap dancing routine to Bobby Day’s 1956 smash hit – Rockin’ Robin.  I ‘time-stepped’ my way into our local newspaper.  I just laughed thinking of that.  When the new section opened we had a few jogging pant wearing kids from over the road join us.  Other than those few changes,  I basically had the same kids in my class all the way through.

Oh the memories.  When you have the same classmates, the same families, cousins in the school, the same teachers, the same janitor/bus driver and the same playground supervisor everything felt so secure and safe.   Of course there were the usual issues – bullying, cat fights, back talking and of course sour milk.  Literal sour milk.  We had a milk program at school and it has scarred me more than any bully did.  The milk was often on the warm side and I never liked it.  One time I complained that the milk was sour and my teacher said it wasn’t.  IT WAS.  Until this day I cannot drink milk on its own from an unknown source.  I have PSMDD – Post Sour Milk Drinking Disorder.

I know for certain that HM MacDonald helped me grow my confidence.  With confidence you can communicate better, be empathetic, be compassionate, take risks, think big and have a more positive outlook on life.  No one fell through the cracks.  We all knew each other and so it became a safe place to do public speaking, singing in the Christmas concert (or getting the golden speaking roles if we did a play) or strike out at baseball.   I could tell stories for hours about my memories from that school.  The time (when in grade 5 and 6) Allan and Brent stole the school bus and ripped around the soccer field with it.  Or when we were out past the buzzer and saw our teacher tramping across the soccer field to get us – Randy fell out of the tree he climbed and broke his pelvis.  When Amanda put a tack on the teachers desk and he sat on it.  When Bradley had gas so bad in class that our teacher sent a note home to his parents about his diet.  Or Miss Hickey (our completely bizarre music teacher) who made us study Beethoven and Bach in grade 3.   When we turned against our sweet bus driver/janitor Eugene and got a petition to have him removed from the school for smoking in the furnace room.  On a more scholastic note: Mad Math Minutes, Reach for The Top and science fairs.  Having to take the bus to Lakevale School to have enough kids to make two teams from and track and field day in town.  Hotdog days when it was your Mom’s turn to serve.  Cake walks where it didn’t matter who made the cake or what was in it – you ate it and loved it.  Participaction with Hal and Joanne.  Mass in the school gym on Wednesday mornings.  That canopy where you all run into the middle and it goes up into the air.  Fiercely competitive dodge ball.   The ‘Humping Cabin’ the boys made up in the woods behind the school.  To be clear – no humping ever happened.  The boys would make humping like motions while walking into it.  Heads Up 7-Up.  Hatching chicks every spring in our classroom.  Crazy high swings and those frigging monkey bars that everyone fell off at some point.  I could go on and on.  I am sure my brothers could add in countless memories they too have.  We all made life long friends from our days at HM MacDonald.

As like many other families who came through HM MacDonald; my siblings and I have all done well for ourselves.  When someone complimented my Dad (who is a terribly modest creature) on his children he said ‘that was largely because of their Mom not me’.  While our parents and genetics play a big part in who we become so does the community you grow up in.  I know for certain that our elementary school days greatly impacted our characters and potential.

I read this week that the school board is looking to shut down HM MacDonald. This announcement came out of the blue as it is a thriving school with full classrooms and a small operating budget.  Tears came to my eyes when I read it.  The idea of kids from our community taking long bus rides to be placed in big classes breaks my heart.   It is a special place.  There are so few special places like this left.  We need to nurture them not close them down.