It only matters if you mind…

29 Apr

All babes

My 39th birthday is just a week away.  39! 39!  Almost 40. Tick tock. I think about time all the time – certain experiences, nostalgic moments or dates make me focus on it even more.  Yesterday I was listening to a science podcast I like.  The topic was ‘Is there such a thing as a fertility cliff’?  That podcast really got me thinking about time.  I’ve passed the age when falling off the cliff happens.  Shit.

One thing that time ticking away does is it gives you some perspective and teaches you things.  Here are: 39 Life Lessons from a single, somewhat wild and wise, certainly bold, usually not conventional, seen some the world, done lots and learned a few things along the way woman’.

  1. Time is a depleting resource!!  Without it, we’ve got nothing! We don’t know how much time we will each be given so use yours wisely.  This is the overarching theme of my next entries.
  2. Aging is actually sexy.  Growing up everyone spoke so negatively about aging.  Hiding their age or criticizing their looks.  As much as being young and hot, is hot – so is being older, wiser and confident in who you are with a few more curves and a bit of sag.  Honest to god, I don’t feel older!  I think I’ve somehow mastered the art of growing younger in my own mind.  I actually can’t imagine dying.  I think I will be the first person to not die.
  3. Life is not what you thought it was going to be and that is totally fine.  20 years ago I would have thought I’d have a bunch of kids and a husband who could chop wood, bake a pie and play rugby.  Not so.  The key is to be happy with whatever your reality is – you, after all, largely create most of it.
  4. Take time to get know yourself, what you want, who you want and how you want it.  Outside of how you grew up, who your parents are and what people tell you ‘you should do’.  Do you really know who you are at 23?  Do you really know what you want to do with the rest of your life at 23?  Is the be all and end all of life getting a job, saving money, getting a husband and having kids? I don’t think so.  Keep growing and evolving.  Referring back to the last entry.  By rushing into things or doing things the way you think they should be – you might miss out on getting to know yourself as just yourself. Not as part of a family, or as part of a marriage, as a student, etc.  That self might want very different things.
  5. Accept whatever body you got – they are all different and you can’t trade yours in.  Don’t compare yourself to an apple if you’re a pear.   I have girlfriends who can seemingly eat what they want and not ever break a sweat, yet they have hot bods.  I, on the other hand, don’t deprive myself, but I am very active, yet I have DD boobs and a muffin top that grows much easier than it shrinks.
  6. Take care of your skin.  I used to go to bed with  big old face of make up (and huge earrings) on and didn’t wear sunscreen.  Get into a routine – you won’t need to wear as much/any make up if you take care of the base and you’ll look younger than you are.
  7. When you look at your friends, colleagues, neighbours, or relatives and feel envy.  When you think their lives look perfect (especially on social media).  It isn’t.  I can guarantee you they are struggling with something too.   I had on a great outfit the other day which I got a lot of compliments on – I really looked like I had it all together.  What people didn’t realize is that my period started early and went all over the back of my skirt at lunch.  I was in the washroom scrubbing and drying it frantically.  Focus on making your own grass greener and work on your own shit.   We don’t talk about struggles, but everyone has them
  8. Get an app on your phone to track your periods and have tampons in your purse/desk all the time.  It took me until I was about 34 to do that.  It’s a big girl kind of thing to do.  For the guys who are reading this – don’t be weird about periods.
  9. #letitgo – this is a great practice of mine.  Don’t hang onto shit.  It weighs you down more than the Big Mac you ate when you were hungover.
  10. Try not to take things personally.  Most people are just trying to live their lives.  They don’t mean to offend you.  Stop with the judgements we place on other people.  I’ve done it and still make the mistake of doing it.  I really make an effort not to.  We are all different, with different emotional states and life experiences which cause as to be the way we are.   Though I should have judged an ex a lot more for wearing a pukka shell necklace.  It was a sign of bigger issues.  I just laughed out loud writing that.
  11. Further to that – life isn’t about what happens to you.  It’s how you react to it.
    1. If I criticized myself for every date/guy that didn’t work out – I’d never go on another date again.  Treat it as an experience, a lesson or an opportunity to meet someone cool.
    2. If I blared my horn at every person who didn’t see the light changed – I’d be full of rage.  We all have moments where we are the annoying one.
    3. If I blamed or pointed fingers at every friend or family member who ever disappointed me – I’d have no friends or family around me.
  12. People are going to disappoint you.  Relationships (not just romantic ones) aren’t always 50/50 and they aren’t always rosy. Sometimes you are putting in 90% and they are putting in 10%.  Sometimes you’re not on the same page.  Sometimes you’re the one who is putting in less than 50%.  They shift and flow.  Learn to know which ones are worth it.  And remember that if someone messes up – they likely have credits in the bank to draw from vs throwing them under the bus.
  13. Learning to just be yourself is super sexy.  When I was a kid, I was told I was loud and that I talked too much by many of my teachers and definitely my grandmother. Too much.  Do you want to know what?  The fact that I love to talk and make connections with others has probably been one of my biggest keys to success in my life.  As Glennan Doyle said – Bring all of yourself to life.  And if you’re told you’re too much.  Smile and think maybe. Or maybe their capacity is too small.’  Whoever you are… be it.  And be a great version of it.
  14. Spend time with kids.
  15. Stress sucks and it’s terrible for your health.  When you let stress get to you – you aren’t your best self and it affects the people around you.  Try to avoid it being a constant thing in your life.
  16. Make sure you take/give the time to develop and nurture your friendships.  Girlfriends are so incredibly important.  Really.  They will be the ones who will be there for you when the going gets tough.  Or when you need a laugh.  Or when you need to get drunk.
  17. Laugh.  A lot.  God it is so good for you.  As you age the opportunities to laugh and be foolish seem to happen less and less.  You need to create that energy vs it happening on its own.  Consciously create that energy in your life.
  18. Eat lots of good food.  Explore different cuisines.
  19. Travel.  As much as you can. Explore different cultures.  Meet people who are different from you.
  20. Ask questions.  My Dad always hammered into our heads and still does – ask questions, ask questions, be curious.  It makes others feel good and you learn something.  You might learn something that gets you excited or see another way of looking at things
  21. Don’t settle or ‘settle down’.  Both the settling and the settling down are boring.  Maybe settle into who you are would be better – that might not mean a house with a white picket fence.  I settled for someone a few years ago – settling was outside of my comfort zone and it nearly killed me.
  22. Go for it.  Whether it ends good or bad.  It was an experience.
  23. Get out of, and go out of your own way.  When you do things for other people it makes them feel seen.  One of the most basic human needs is to feel seen and have a sense of belonging.
  24. A nap is one of the best things in the world.
  25. Bring spontaneity into your life.  It’s fun.  I let my intuition guide me.  If the risk doesn’t exceed the reward – hit it.  Omg, I have so many hilarious and fun stories because I said YES!
  26. Have fun.  Lots of it.  Refer to number 17 and 25 – that brings more fun into your life
  27. When it comes to dating – treat others with respect.  Act as good as you do at work, for your family or with your friends.  Why do we act like such imbeciles when it comes to dating?
  28. Listen to podcasts, read articles, and read books that are about positive things.  In the morning if you can.  Gets you in a good headspace for the day.
  29. Surround yourself with positive people.  Talking about negative things is the lowest level of commonality.  Sometimes I do it, and then I feel shitty afterwards.
  30. Learn to accept a compliment. I used to dance around it, downplay it or try to deflect it onto someone else.  Saying thank you is all you have to say.
  31. Spend time with people you care about.  Your parents, your siblings, your friends, your nieces and nephews, your cousins.  If your house is messy when you do that – it’s okay.  Refer back to the time theme.
  32. Don’t ask someone:
    1. Why are you single?  What do you want them to say?  Because I am a loser and can’t find someone.   When someone asks me that I feel like saying – what a stupid question.
    2. When are you going to get married or why haven’t you been married?  Maybe they don’t want to get married.
    3. When are you going to have a baby?  If they don’t already have one – they either having trouble having one, can’t or don’t want one.  It is an extremely awkward position to put someone in as you are assuming they can/want to.
  33.  Celebrate the good things in your life. I just sent a organization wide email today about all of the AWESOME things that happened in my region today!  Maybe when you do that it will inspire others to put more worth and positivity towards their life.
  34. Ask guys out.  Say what you think.  Omg why are girls taught to wait around for men?  Go get it in every other part of your life, but when it comes to men take the backseat and play the demure role.  No.
  35. Be sure you pick your partner wisely.  Like really wisely.  I can’t say that one enough
  36. Find things you are into and places you fit in.  I am into dogs – I fit in with them.  Maybe it’s sport or art or church or volunteering.  Whatever it is, it’s great to find have hobbies or interests that make you feel good.
  37. As a girl – learn about money!!!  We are single longer now.  We make more money now.  No one really taught us about it when we were young because men took care of it.  In school no one taught us about it.  I have found that learning about parallelograms has really added to my success in my life far more than if someone had taught me about taxes or RRSP’s instead
  38. Technology cannot replace good old in person face to face or voice to voice conversations.
  39. There are going to be days when you feel a lot of things that I’ve stated above in a negative way.  That’s okay.  I’ve had big old snort cries over men, things not being what you thought, being disappointed, not feeling appreciated or because I felt overwhelmed and stressed.  I’ve cared about what other people thought.  I’ve been in slumps. That’s okay.

If you find yourself reacting to any of the points I wrote about, it might be because you’ve been feeling something related to it.  Remember that your comfort zone might be very different than what I’m comfortable with.  These are things that I’ve learned and value.  If to you being more spontaneous means trying a food you’ve never tried before – go to it!  Whatever it is you do or whoever you are – use your time wisely.  Drop off some baggage along the way.  Try to only carry forward good stuff.  And remember, whatever age you are – age is mind over matter.  It only matters if you mind.  We are after all just a sum of all the stories we have to tell – make yours a good one.

Xoxo

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How To Get Your Groove Back…

10 Oct

 

ParisIf you are single, reading this, and wondering if there are any decent men alive and single,  I have some advice for you.  Get the hell out of Nova Scotia, Canada, or North America for that matter.  I am just back from a fantastic vacation which took place across The Pond.  The Pond being The Atlantic Ocean.  I made the trip with my brilliant (and also single friend) Colette  – pictured with me in a very classy wine induced bathroom selfie.  I’ve visited Europe many times before, but at this age, this stage, and with a fantastic single friend – it was especially awesome.

As a woman in 2018 I am able to achieve just about anything I put my mind to.  Jobs, travel, adventures.  You name it.  A few years ago, I  spontaneously decided to climb Mt Kilimanjaro – the highest walkable mountain in the world.  I climbed that mountain.  I decided to run a half marathon.  I ran it.  Organize a big gala that raised loads of money.  No problem.  Meet a man who is an equal.  That is harder than running a half marathon to the base of Mt Kilimanjaro and planning the event while on top of the mountain with no connection to the world.  Over and over again, I hear myself (and my gfs) saying WTF when it comes to dating.

Halifax is an amazing city to live in.  Strong sense of community, beautiful landscape, no commute, friendly people, great restaurants, but what no tourist package or single woman in her 30’s living here will ever say – dating in Halifax is as good as the views.  There is a plethora of young ones and lots of old ones, but not much in the middle.  This phenomenon of wonderful women finding it hard to meet an equal spreads beyond the Nova Scotia border.  I was discussing dating with my co-worker in Toronto who is a smart, confident and funny single gal.    Big city.  Lots of options.  Her dating experiences have caused her to slot men into two categories:

  1. Completely afraid of an independent woman, who can take care of herself, speak her mind and won’t be all doe eyed for the rest of her life
  2. Emotionally unavailable and don’t know how to be a decent human being or reciprocate any sort of relationship behaviour.

There is a dating app called Bumble.  For those non-singletons reading this:  if you both swipe right you match, once you match the woman has 24 hours to write and once you write, the man has 24 hours to respond.  If the woman doesn’t write the man or the man doesn’t write back the match expires in 24 hrs.  Poof!  Mr. Wonderful is gone.  The idea being that you take it a bit more serious than say –  Tinder – where people just collect matches, but don’t write each other.  Bumble in Halifax is what I would describe as ‘scarcity of talent’.  How far am I willing to veer off what I am actually looking for?  How little am I actually willing to accept?  How bored would I be?  Almost every date I have gone on in the last year has been with someone who was visiting or here for work.  They stand out, however, they are only here for a short period of time.  I am telling you – it gets discouraging.

This is where things change folks.  This is where the normally positive, can’t be beaten down, always sees possibility Emilie comes back.  Last week , the afore mentioned friend and I jumped on a flight for a little Wanderlust – Paris and then Munich for Octoberfest.  We flew all night, went to our Air-Bnb, had a nap, got freshened up and made our way out into the streets of Paris.  We literally came out of the gate to see this masculine creature walking towards us.  I looked at him.  He looked at me.  “Bonjour” he said.  And in return Mousier.  We walk a little further where we sat down to have a cappuccino at a café.  Chairs face outward to the street.  Over the next hour Colette and I were like roosters – we didn’t know where to point our peckers.  Men. Men. Men.  They were coming from every direction.  It continued on, everywhere we went – doors were held open, eye contact made, compliments given, conversation.  Oh la la.   After a scrumptious dinner on our second night, we were still hungry for something more.  We stood contemplating our next move outside of the restaurant when the seas parted and we found two handsome guys walking towards us.  I ripped out my boldness (I was wearing a feather dress so I was feeling rather saucy) and said ‘Parlez vous Anglais?’  To which they replied – yes.   Some funny back and forth took place in the street.  We then decided to make our way to a Cuban Bar together.   After a few mojitos and dancing to very Cuban Michael Jackson music – one of the gentleman had fallen in love with Colette, so we set off on an adventure.   Eiffel Tower and Uber rides with blasting country music to parts unknown in search of fun.  We got home at 5 am.    The next day when we awoke around noon, we decided to take a look at Bumble (the afore mentioned dating app).   My jaw is still sore from dropping.  The men on there were amazing.  One after another.  Gorgeous, interesting, well travelled.  Match. Match. Match. Match.  The two of us were in fits of laughter – Henri, Louis, Lucien, Alexandre.  We wrote a few.  And they wrote back.  Imagine that!  At home, even guys who you aren’t really even interested in don’t write back.  I had a cheeky back and forth with an Italian architect.  We decided to meet for a drink later on.  I found myself across from this chic gentleman.  Well dressed.  Well travelled.  Well spoken.  Very intelligent.  He ASKED ME QUESTIONS!  Be still my beating heart.  He was curious about who I am, what my life is like and he wasn’t remotely ‘intimidated’ by it.  He is the head architect for Cartier globally, not a divorced teacher from Enfield who likes Netflix.  He asked me more questions.  “Bella, you are real woman”, he said.  Omg.  He was definitely interested in my architecture, but I had to bid adieu as the 5 am night before had caught up with me.  The next night Colette and I went for dinner at this Italian restaurant called Fulvio’s (same name as the architect coincidentally).  This short rotund Italian man named Fulvio and his wife own the place.  He came to every table with a board and described the menu with great flare and passion.  His energy was fantastic.  We joked.  We laughed.  We spoke to our neighbouring tables.  We shared parmesan.  Kisses and hugs were had, and we left full in the belly and in spirit.   The next morning we were off to Munich to experience Octoberfest.  We made our way to the train to head downtown from the airport.  The doors opened and this tall, handsome, silver haired version of Liam Neeson wearing a beautiful coat stepped off.  He smiled at me.  I smiled at him.  He smiled at Colette.  She smiled at him.  Colette and I have very different looks.  She is tall and blonde.  I am short with black hair and curves.   He liked both and made it known with hungry eyes.  And this just continued on.  While Colette was trying to rent a bike I stood waiting for her with my bike.  This guy came over and said something to me in German.  I didn’t understand.  He then asked me if I speak Italian. I said no.  English – Canadian.  Not the sexiest of dialects.  Colette made her way over to us to hear me explaining we were visiting.  He then said – well, what I wanted to say is that you are beautiful woman.  Ciao.   This was before we went to Octoberfest.  With no Drindles on, wearing only Canadian charisma, we walked into a sea of beer drinking-Drindle and Lederhoson wearing – German folk song singing-people.  Beeindruckend – that’s Wow in German.  My lipstick was referred to by an Irish guy as ‘the most fantastic display of lip coverage he had ever seen.’  We danced on tables, we sang, we laughed, we talked, we drank beer… it was absolutely hilarious.   We flew back to Canada renewed in our spirit, and our belief that there are indeed fun, intelligent, interesting, charismatic, good looking single men in this world! Well, actually, German men in Bravaria wear their wedding band on the right hand, so that did cause some confusion.  Though the interactions were quick and mostly foolish: eye contact, compliments, conversation (both intelligent and not), questions… all things Canadian men, ummm, don’t do – just like Stella  – it gave us our groove back.   

A few years back I reluctantly went to a psychic fair with my cousin.  I ended up getting my palm and energy read by this guy Brian.  I remember he looked at my palm and then at me and said – oh, you are too full of passion to be living in Canada.  Go to Europe.  They are passionate.  They will dance.  They will understand you. And so other amazing single ladies, I recommend you do the same.  Don’t get botox.  Don’t think you need to lose weight.   Wear less bold lipstick.  Not be yourself.  All you need to do is buy a plane ticket across the Atlantic to get your mojo back.

Xoxo.

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.

 

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.