Lessons of Life

Life has a funny way of teaching us the lessons we are here to learn. I think the past five years there were many stepping stones to the platter of lessons I have recently been blessed with. I say blessed like it’s a gift because quite honestly I look upon all things as gifts. Sometimes they are not gifts we would choose for ourselves, like opening a parcel with a nasty sweater at Christmas. Still gifts just the same. I have unwrapped a few unwanted gifts as of late. I won’t go into great detail due to the private nature and those close to me but to generalize the situations for the sake of soul-searching and allowing a connection with others that may possibly have recently opened a similar gift.

 

 

As a parent, I have been given the lesson of stepping outside my comfort zone. Not just the daily run of the mill parent craziness. Children are a supreme blessing in my mind. Swirling around them in constant motion are many things; love, chaos, frustration, joy, laughter, among so many other beautiful things. Sometimes though, a ripple in the smooth surface depicts an undercurrent that threatens menacingly. The demon reared its ugly head in my child’s life as Anorexia Nervosa. It was a slow and steady build up that went undetected by my cautious eye only to attack with a vengeance like an unexpected sucker punch. I struggled within myself originally, laying blame in my mind where I could. That route was fleeting as I stepped outside myself. This wasn’t about me and how I felt. This was about my child and how they processed things. The alteration to my thought process has allowed me to become the support structure this fragile Being needs. Simply, compassionately, I remain strong in the notion that I need to be the rock when my darling is feeling at a loss. There are those around us that still want to lay blame, find the root cause, or dissect everything to bits. I feel the process is about gaining back self love and control in a positive format. To know that love from those around the sufferer is unconditional. To be strong for them when they don’t have it within themselves to be.  There is a long road ahead to health and wellness for my child. It’s an all-encompassing disorder. Treatment is multi-faceted. To say I wish my child never had to deal with this is an understatement. However, taking this one day at a time makes this lesson a little easier to deal with.

 

 

Too often I hear people complain about their weight needlessly. Who truly thinks a thigh gap is remotely sexy anyway?  Don’t get your knickers in a knot if you are naturally thin and have a thigh gap. That’s a totally different thing. I’m referring to young girls (or boys) that starve themselves for this look that is not natural to their physique. It breaks my heart to see people think so poorly of themselves as to deprive themselves senselessly of proper nutrition. Learning to love and accept our bodies at their natural weight and shape is a practice in self love. We are all constantly bombarded by utter ridiculousness for the sake of industries to prosper at the peril of making us feel bad about our outer shell. Looking good is important for self confidence but being healthy makes one look fantastic! I don’t know about you but looking fantastic due to great health pummels the heck out of a mediocre “looking like everyone else” or not enough energy to do the things you want. I struggle when people ridicule others with differing figures. It matters not whether its an obese person calling a slim woman a bitch or an average built person being condescending to someone of heavier stance. Having hit many different weight points in my lifetime, I realize that every body shape and weight deals with some sort of stigma. When we stop ridiculing and scrutinizing others, perhaps we can all go a little easier on ourselves. Lets all just aim for healthy!

 

 

 

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Inner Child Visits Disney – Part 2

Starting the day at 3 am before the sunrise, it was both a thrill and a relief to finally arrive at the hotel.  Pulling into the Disney Pop Century Resort, our home away from home for the next five nights, the exhilaration was palpable. There is great joy in finally announcing, “We’re here!” when travelling with kids as many of you know.   Everybody off the Disney Magical Express!

 

 

I have never been in the presence of so many genuinely happy people as when at Disney. There is no fake joy being tossed about here, just ear to ear grins of folks that love spreading happiness – and their jobs. I found myself constantly smiling! Yes, I do frown occasionally (I know, it’s hard to believe) even though I try to stay upbeat. I shall apologize now for the blurriness of some of these photos. The night before leaving home I decided to treat myself to a new iPhone 5  and was still trying to figure it out. You are all a nice bunch so I know you will look past the static. Moving on.

 

 

 

Home Away from Home

Home Away from Home

 

 

 

Hotel check in

Hotel check in

 

 

 

A game of Twister anyone?

A game of Twister anyone?

 

 

 

giant foosball

giant foosball

 

 

 

Pop Century Hotel

Pop Century Hotel

 

 

 

The trek through the hotel grounds included three pools, an arcade, numerous photo ops, playgrounds, and the plant and animal life to just touch the tip of the iceberg. One could stay at any Disney themed resort and never have to leave it the entire stay there is so much to do! My two kids were entranced by the geckos (or whatever type of little lizard they were) and were always on the look out for them. My daughter was very worried that they would be stepped on and tried to keep everyone abreast of the gecko crossings throughout our stay. We never did swim in the pools though, we were far too busy. So much for my entire wardrobe of bathing suits I packed. Next time.

 

 

 

We were only in our hotel room long enough to drop off our luggage and turn around so as not to miss our reservations at  Bongos Cuban restaurant in Downtown Disney. Side note: Downtown Disney is a world all of its own outside of the Disney theme parks. An incredible place to visit with so many great things to do. My only disappointment was not being able to enjoy live music at The House of Blues. I’m thinking Disney would be a great girls trip in the near future…great but dangerous I’m sure, knowing the wild and wonderful women that are my closest friends.  Sheesh, sidetracked again…Bongos Cuban restaurant as described by my teen-aged son that can eat like a locust, “That was the BEST meal I have ever eaten in my life! I wish I could eat here every day.” I have honestly never seen him consume so much food as he did that night. I’m surprised he even tasted it he inhaled everything around him! The only photo I took inside Bongos was my son sidled up to the bar while waiting to be seated. Bongos had a great atmosphere that was fun with great music that kept everyone upbeat. I highly recommend this eatery.

 

 

 

Bongos restaurant

Bongos restaurant

 

 

inner Tonga toast edit

 

no more Tonga edit

 

 

I am not a breakfast-loving girl but Tonga Toast broke me…I almost ate it all!

Honestly, I could do an entire post on the fantastic restaurants and food at Disney but I would like to move on to other things. I will say though that the level of professionalism from all restaurant staff was spectacular. The chefs are obviously highly dedicated to their craft and take great pride in their finished products. As a family with a few food allergies and special requests we were awed by the impeccable care given to our needs. A chef even came out to talk with us personally and do a rundown of each item on the menu and how it could be altered to suit our needs. Stress-free goodness  on a plate for a vegetarian that has anaphylactic allergies, let me tell you. My kids have stated on a few occasions since returning home how much they miss the awesome food at Disney. You’d think my cooking sucked…thanks guys.

 

 

The next morning, we were up early and raring to hit the pavement. We walked like we’ve never walked before over the next few days and my sister and I tuckered out the kids every single day. Interesting how we had far more stamina than teens. Every night it seemed as though the kids were nearly begging to go to bed. Ha! Music to my mommy ears.

 

 

I will not bore you with a boat load of photos but I will add a few that capture some of our favourite moments…and a couple embarrassing, yet highly entertaining photos as well. Life shouldn’t be so serious that we can’t laugh at ourselves occasionally.

 

 

 

Didgereedude

Didgereedude

 

This musician was in one of the squares in Downtown Disney and was phenomenal. He played both the electric guitar and the didgeridoo while singing. No kidding! Check out his website to hear his incredible talent and perhaps purchase some fun new tunes for yourself.

 

 

 

Epcot at Night

Epcot at Night

 

 

Epcot bridge- view of France

Epcot bridge – view of France

 

 

Fireworks at Epcot

Fireworks at Epcot – best fireworks display I’ve ever witnessed.

 

 

 

sitar and tabla duo

sitar and tabla duo

 

This duo was top-notch. My son and I sat and listened for an extended period of time (in the shade).

fun photo op

fun photo op – who could resist?

 

 

 

Disney Yeti Coaster

Expedition Everest Coaster – oh look, it’s me and my sis! Third person back from the front in the black shirt is moi. Screaming my head off…lovely.

 

 

 

Indiana Jones movie set

Indiana Jones movie set attraction. Demonstrates how the special effects were executed.

 

 

 

Tower of Terror

Tower of Terror – everything I thought it would be…and more! I wonder how many people have suffered heart attacks on this ride?

 

 

 

 Aereosmith Rock 'n' Roller coaster

Aereosmith Rock ‘n’ Roller coaster – guess who? Whoa that was FAST!

 

 

 

Sulley and I

Sulley and I – I thought meeting a character would be a bit more subdued. Not so.

 

 

 

Disney has implemented many strategies to make their parks and resorts more environmentally friendly. If you are interested in their approach there is contact info on their website.

 

 

 

In the spirit of letting our Inner Children run free, I definitely think Disney is the perfect location to just dive right in. Fast-paced or leisurely, whatever your pace it caters to every age group equally. Loving Disney as a child and returning as an adult after many years I would  have to say that I enjoyed it more this time around. Honestly, if someone has a hard time enjoying Disney they need their head examined.

 

 

 

During our visit to Florida we took a side trip. Where did we head off to? You’ll have to read my next post but I promise I won’t make you wait too long.

 

 

 

“I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.”  – Walt Disney

Inner Child Visits Disney

Success at last!

 

 

After years of hearing, “When can we go to Disney, Mom?” and months of planning the dream finally became a reality. This was the only thing my kids had ever really asked me for and I was determined to make their dreams come true. I persevered through setbacks over the years while keeping the prize of Disney in my sights. It became about more than a child’s request. It morphed into a personal feat of determination to accomplish something that was slapped out of the air whenever the words were spoken by negative thinkers. Those that didn’t personally enjoy Disney, had already been there and lost their Inner Child somewhere along life’s path, or were hell-bent on being a dream crusher. I ignored them all…even though their words and actions hurt me and my kids I stayed focused. I reiterated over and over to my children that I was taking them to Disney. Then I went one step further and committed – I gave them a time period. I was now tapped into the reality and was not going back on my promise. It was happening.

“Determination gives you the resolve to keep going in spite of the roadblocks that lay before you.”

– Denis Waitley

I am thrilled that it came together the way it did. My children are no longer tiny Beings that need to be toted or pushed in strollers, thank goodness, which made everything more enjoyable all around. I thanked my lucky stars whenever I witnessed parents struggling with over-tired and cranky wee ones, juggling diaper bags and strollers, and having to pretend they were enjoying all the kiddie rides when I know they were secretly longing for the Tower of Terror.  There is something to be thankful for in each stage of parenting and at present I am reaping the rewards of kooky teenagers. They are like aliens sometimes but they are so much more enjoyable to travel with than little ones. That said, last week my sister and I accompanied  my two kids on this magical journey and let our Inner Children run wild!

 

 

This vacation was more than just time away for me and my kids. This was about taking time to connect outside of the regular realm of our existence.  I have always had a wonderful relationship with my kids and this was another aspect to explore – travelling together for more than a few hours in the car. It was a fabulous experience! I am a Spirit that hungers for travel, adventure and fun so  who better to share this with? This excursion was also about strength and determination to accomplish a goal. To teach perseverance and to take part in making someone else’s dream come true. To share a joyful experience that they would hold in their memories for a lifetime. Time spent with my sister is always a blessing as well.  My parents gave my sisters and I the love of travel early on and we all feel grateful to them for sharing such a wonderful gift with us. I am thankful I can do the same for my children.

 

 

I have been asked a few times what my favourite part of going to Disney was. Honestly, I think the unspoken energy shift in my kids was the most incredible thing I have ever witnessed. I tear up with love for them as I type now. When a person lets their walls down and just lives for pure joy and laughter it is the most amazing thing to witness.

 

 

I must admit that I was a bit distracted at times with the beautiful plant life. So many gorgeous specimens that we don’t have here in southern Ontario. I was forever taking pictures of vegetation and spouting off Latin names as my kids just rolled their eyes at me and tuned out. Except when I said Monstera…that caught their attention. Go figure.

 

 

 

garden at resort

tree person

As we walked by a stand of trees in the Animal Kingdom Park this leafy figure stepped out of the gardens. They were on stilts and moved slowly and fluidly along the edge of the greenery.

These are just a few of the photos I took of the plant life – I wouldn’t want to bore you by sharing all of them. The gardens at Disney were spectacular and the amount of lush foliage and trees surrounding all the resorts, hotels and parks was a sight to behold. Disney certainly does it up right.

highway signs

Disney, here we come!

disney arch

It was all I could do not to squeal as we went under the arch. Seriously! I’m a big kid.

I think we were more excited than the kids!

I think we were more excited than the kids!

 

We have arrived!

Join me again next post when we get off the bus and get crack-a-lackin’ at having some serious fun!

 

“You’re dead if you only aim for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway.”

– Walt Disney

 

 

Thanksgiving Challenge

Last year at this time I was in full-out Thanksgiving dinner mode. See last year’s post here. This year I thought I was going to cruise through the weekend with absolutely no stress in sight. Alas, here I am on Thanksgiving Monday in the throes of assembling something “wow-worthy”. If not for my family’s enjoyment then at least my own sense of accomplishment. Here’s the thing…since we went to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving for a couple of days I figured that I wouldn’t feel like preparing one myself so I didn’t fill my fridge and pantry with any of the necessary ingredients. This Thanksgiving Day I have decided to challenge myself by putting together a full spread with a near empty kitchen. I seem to like this type of challenge since I do this type of thing frequently. I cook with the spirit of adventure – trying new things is great fun and I seldom use recipes except to bake.  I am sticking to an Autumn harvest theme in celebration of the season.

 

At present I have a luscious smelling pot of pumpkin and roasted garlic soup simmering on the stove. It is chock full of delicious organic ingredients and fresh herbs from my garden. In the oven is a cauliflower roasting away with real butter (mmmm…) and a sweet mesquite spice blend.  I have yet to sort out a main dish but I suspect a chickpea something or other is about to be concocted.  I’ll report back on that if anyone is interested in the comments below.  Cyndi over at Healthy A-Z inquired as to whether I would be making the gluten-free pumpkin pie that I made last year. She inspired me to do so. Sadly, my cupboards were void of the necessary items so I have decided to whip up a spiced custard and serve with baked apples. 

 

This time of year encourages me to get busy in my kitchen and get back to the simplicity of great food using what is being harvested. Soups and stews fill my foodie brain and I enjoy the run out to the back garden to snip herbs for whatever is in the works on the stove. I am usually hopping from stone to stone down the garden path in my bare feet and quickly darting back into the warmth of my fragrant kitchen with my arms full of healthy goodness.  

 

To all of my fellow Canadians, may you be filled with thanks for all of your blessings and enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and family. To all the non-Canadians, let the spirit of gratefulness bring you peace at this splendid time of year.

 

 

 

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”  – Oprah Winfrey

 

 

 

 

Summer of Revelations

I have learned a lot this summer. About myself and life in general. I’d say that I am sad that summer is coming to a close but that would be a lie. I am elated at the prospect of change. Change of the season to Autumn, change of daily routine, and change in temperature. I respond well to change, I think. It keeps me on my toes and makes everything  fresh!

 

 

I never thought of myself as a Being of Summer. Boy, how things have changed. The heat and humidity are not high on the fun-factor scale for me but I can deal with it which I never used to be able to. This summer I have developed the look I always sought when younger but could never accomplish; hair bleached by the sun, tanned limbs and absorbing vitamin D in the form of sunshine like nobody’s business! This really hit home when my Grannie said to me a week or so ago, “You are definitely an outdoor girl.”  I used to be the girl who hid from the sun to keep my  pale skin from freckling and turning the shade of a cooked lobster. Now I work in the sunshine daily and am trying to be smart about precautions while maintaining reality. I certainly don’t spend my days off laying in the sun!

 

 

“I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things…

I play with leaves.

I skip down the street

and run against the wind.”

– Leo Buscaglia

Yesterday, I realized something quite extraordinary – I am only twelve pounds away from the weight I was throughout high school! Mind you, after having two children, the joy of passing time, and working a very physically-demanding job my body shape has changed significantly (for the better, I think). So, I plan on saying goodbye to those clinging twelve pounds before the end of this work season and accomplishing a task I had never thought was all that important until now since I am so very close to accomplishing it. Weight in terms of the scale is not all that important to me but how my body responds to exertion through work and play is paramount. I have become strong and more defined muscle-wise over the past two work seasons and am liking how I feel! I intend to keep getting better in terms of health and strength. My lazy and uninspired days are behind me.

The other day something occurred to me when I was listening to an acquaintance talking. This individual had mentioned how difficult and time-consuming it was to be environmentally friendly. WHAT? This came as a shock to me as it was in that moment I suddenly realized that I basically run on autopilot when it comes to issues of environmental responsibility. Sure, I’m not perfect and I sometimes make poor decisions but overall I feel responsible for my actions and have integrated this thinking into the every day so it is the norm in my world. It seems so archaic and offensive not to care about the planet we all share and its inhabitants. I seriously don’t understand the unconcerned mindset.

 

 

One of the biggest revelations this summer has been that sometimes, there is no going back home. Recently I went back to my hometown to visit family and friends. I quickly realized that this may be their home but it is no longer mine; I am merely a visitor. At first this thought made me uncomfortable so I dug a bit deeper to understand the reason for my discomfort. I think part of the parcel is that my parents are aging (as we all are) and I have moved in a different direction as offspring are supposed to do. When I first moved away from home at the age of 19 to St. Catharines, I knew no one here. It was not only an adventure but it was sometimes lonely and scary until I made friends and connected with others. Luckily, this was only a matter of days that I wound up in the company of good people. This city has become my home over the years and has replaced my hometown as the place I identify with. I no longer consider myself a Peterborough girl  and this puts a bit of a lump in my throat. Honestly though, the Niagara Region has opened its arms wide with welcome and I am now enfolded in its embrace. I love living here!

 

 

This summer has also shown me more of the incredible natural beauty that surrounds us here in the Niagara Region. We have such a diverse landscape that is teaming with incredible natural wonders. The Niagara Region is tucked between two of the Great Lakes – Lake Ontario (I live on the south shore) and Lake Erie. There are over 200 walking, hiking and cycling trails to be enjoyed and shared with incredible flora and fauna at every step. The Region has created many naturalized sites to encourage wildlife to do its thing and give a safe haven for many species. One of my favorite hikes/walks is up the escarpment by Niagara College. It has a feeling of such intense history to be with these particular trees and rocks and gives an all-encompassing feeling of being a part of Nature not just an outsider looking in. These photos were taken in the late Fall a couple years ago but the escarpment is beautiful in every season.

 

 

 

One of my favorite walking trails on the Niagara Escarpment

One of my favorite walking trails on the Niagara Escarpment

Ericsson 2012 343

 

 

 

Within a short walking distance from my home is the Welland Canal. Even though I’ve lived in St. Catharines half of my life I still find the Canal interesting. It is fascinating that these huge freighters and  sea-going ships make their way through a system of locks up the Niagara Escarpment. For a brief description of the Welland Canal see this link. When my kids were itty-bitty, they used to love to go sit at the locks with me and watch as the ships went through. They were thrilled to bits when the workers on the massive ships would wave to them. Recently I have visited the Canal again a few times and realized that it doesn’t matter how old or young you are or where you come from the Welland Canal is an incredible feat of engineering.

 

 

I’m sure I need not dwell on the prominence of wineries in this region but seriously, they are worth a visit and the trip along the wine route. Wineries play a huge supporting role in the area’s mindset and activities. Good food and great wine are the specialties of an area filled with orchards, farms and vineyards. It’s easy to eat well here.

 

 

Another huge revelation for me and I think the most important of all – I need to live the life I envision for myself. We all have dreams, desires and are called deep from within our Soul to certain places, people and actions. Respecting someone else’s dream is essential to living our own.

 

 

Learning to love the Life we have and moving forward instead of stagnating or going backward is on my mind. I see movement in my future…I strive for joy each and every day through learning new Truths…to treat myself and others with kindness…to appreciate all that is on offer.

 

 

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open

where there were only walls.”

– Joseph Campbell

 

 

 

Road Trip – Part One

The road trip was brief but added fuel to my fire.  It has taken me this long to collect my thoughts and bring myself back to reality. Road Trip – Part One will be about how I spent my weekend away while Road Trip – Part Two will focus on my friend Steph (and travel companion) and what she was up to. Let me just set the scene by saying that Steph kicked some serious butt and focused like a mad woman last weekend.  We traveled together to our nation’s capital city, Ottawa, then went in our separate directions to get busy with our planned weekends.

 

 

Ottawa is in my Top 10 of favorite cities. If you haven’t visited this stunning city, I encourage you to do so. History, art, culture, politics, nightlife, cuisine, outdoor activities galore all rolled into one beautiful package. I have visited Ottawa so many times that I have lost count but every visit I find something new and exciting to explore. What was my main reason for going to Ottawa other than as a travelling companion to Steph? I was making the journey to visit my sister. Oh, how I love my sister and spending time together always makes my heart happy. We had some serious visiting and spa-ing to do! Yes, I said spa-ing. What else could I possibly call decadent lingering at this Scandinavian style baths/saunas for hours on end? Just thinking about being there still sends me into deep, rubbery bliss. This was my second visit to le Nordik in Quebec that is just a short jaunt from Ottawa. Each visit was a uniquely different experience but both were insanely sublime. I am actually thankful I don’t live closer or I’d be on a first name basis with the staff.  Seriously. Should you ever have the opportunity to go to a spa such as le Nordik, please do so. If you decide to make the trek to le Nordik in Quebec, call me…I’ll join you.

 

 

What do I love so much about this spa in particular? Perhaps it’s the eucalyptus steam sauna that makes one’s body drip with moisture that sends me into a euphoric state. Maybe it’s the freezing cold waterfall or plunge pool that is awaiting my departure from the sauna.  Or possibly it was the relaxation afterward that my body and Soul cried out for. Oh, who am I kidding…it was all of it rolled up into one bliss-filled day of heaven on earth. I even enjoyed the dry heat saunas this visit which I hadn’t been keen on my last visit. It’s interesting how tastes change with the passage of time and personal experiences. Since picture-taking was obviously taboo (this is a den of relaxation and who can really let go if someone is snapping photos of them lounging around in their bathing suit in sometimes unflattering positions).  I suggest that you visit this link to see what all my gushing is about. If I had to choose what my favorite thing about the Spa was, besides the company of sister and friends, I would have to say it was a tie between the Vaporo aromatic sauna, Tellura – which was freaking amazing, or simply the sensational hammocks in the trees secluded from activity. These hammocks were not your run-of-the-mill hammocks either, my friends. There was something almost magical about them. Once cocooned within its folds, no sounds but the leaves blowing in the breeze and quiet relaxation music I effortlessly drifted off into restful slumber like no other I’ve experienced.

 

This place is truly decadent.

 

The trek up to the Spa

The trek up to the Spa

 

 

 

 

Another of my fave sites to visit in Ottawa is the parliament buildings. I am not a lover of politics by any means but the architecture is even more impressive than the buzz that surrounds parliament hill. Canada’s parliament buildings were built between 1859 and 1866. In 1916 there was a fire in the centre block that left nothing but the northwest wing and the  library standing. If it weren’t for the foresight of an employee to close the library doors, the library and its contents would have been lost as well. During the first World War, construction began to build a new centre block which was completed in 1922 with the Peace Tower finished in 1927. The Peace Tower was named in commemoration of Canada’s commitment to peace. Cool feature: the huge gargoyles on the corners of the Peace Tower by the clock face.

 

 

Me on the Hill with the Peace Tower and Centre Block

Me on the Hill with the Peace Tower and Centre Block

 

 

 

There is always something interesting taking place on Parliament Hill. The day we were there the Queen’s Guard were strutting their stuff on the grounds, including bagpipers- in kilts! Yes, I giggled yet again at the sound of bagpipes.

 

 

Queens Guard

Queens Guard

 

 

 

 

On Parliament Hill we stumbled across an incredible sculpture that I hadn’t noticed before. I was struck by its beauty and strength. The Suffragette movement touches me profoundly. I become choked up at the courage of women to stand bravely and fight for the rights of women everywhere. I am proud to call myself a feminist and share in the convictions of my sisters before me. Feminism to me is not an excuse to man bash (glorious specimens that they can be) as some women choose to do but to expect equality across the board. Not ask for permission to obtain it. This sculpture garden, if you will, is very moving.

 

 

sculpture

 

 

 

 

Take a seat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

After enjoying the sights and hubbub on the Hill, my sister and I strolled (alright bolted) to Chateau Laurier for brunch. What a brunch it was! Maple crepes with maple whipped cream, chocolate croissants, delicious salads, hot dishes and a pastry table that delighted the eyes and taste buds among many other dishes. And the coffee…oh, the coffee. Sinfully scrumptious.

 

enjoying the coffee at Chateau Laurier

enjoying the coffee at Chateau Laurier

 

 

 

The road trip of relaxation, catching up with my sis and excitement came to a close all too quickly. I already miss my life-long friend and can’t wait for the next get together. Getting away from the daily grind is essential occasionally for allowing my Spirit to soar. To remember that there is intense beauty and exceptional individuals that share this planet. Sometimes the places that are relatively close  – in this case about 7 hours away from my home by car – feed the hunger for adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”
-Bill Bryson

In The Moment

A few days ago, I heard a woman say something so simple yet so profound. She said, ” This makes me happy.” It struck me instantly how amazing these few words strung together really are. I found myself smiling at the knowledge this woman shared outwardly. So often we deny ourselves the emotion of just being happy. To realize in the exact moment of happiness what it is that makes us feel this way is truly wonderful. The comment led to a lovely conversation with my boss (and friend) as to how this comment made us feel upon hearing the woman say such a sentence. We both had a similar reaction of joy. A heartfelt outpouring of words that made us relish the moment and reflect. To be so in touch with a moment in time and our own reaction to it is in its essence very grounding.

 

 

 

Last weekend my sister and I hit some garden centres where we came across this gigantic flower-pot. If it helps to set the scene, I’m 5’9″ so this is a pretty tall vessel for plant material! I have a similar one that is a smidgen smaller but this one was seriously big enough to immerse myself in should I so choose. If I didn’t think my sister would have been embarrassed I probably would have climbed in to test my theory. Happiness is those small blips that make your Soul feel uplifted, whatever the cause. This moment was a blip in my day…although just being with my sister makes me incredibly happy in itself.

 

 

 

 

Although I am acting like a dork, I'm happy!

Although I am acting like a dork, I’m happy!

What makes you happy? Is there a moment you remember thinking “this makes me happy”?

“True happiness is…to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future.”  – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Lightning Storms Aplenty

My first day off work in seven days has finally arrived and with it came a great amount of rain.  This is turning out to be a Spring dictated by the pendulum swing of Mother Nature’s moods. The past two nights we have been treated to incredible lightning displays interspersed with loud rolling thunderclaps. Pelting rain and hail have also made an appearance. I enjoy a good thunderstorm every so often.  The intense energy of a thunderstorm is exhilarating. I have great memories of sitting outside in the breezeway with my dad and sisters watching thunderstorms as a kid. My dad instilled in us that all aspects of Nature and weather are to be respected and enjoyed. These are the memories that last a lifetime. I think this is why I love the energy of storms and rainfall so much.

 

 

 

lightening

 

 

 

Last night as I sat sipping tea with a wonderful friend in the window of Starbucks, intensely discussing our lives since we last talked. We noted periodically the flashes of lightning strikes on the other side of the glass.  I was feeling a bit edgy being so vulnerable while at the same time enthralled by Nature’s magnificence. Why is it that often we are drawn to things that can do great damage? Like storm chasers following tornadoes or those that love the thrill of cliff-diving. The chances of being struck by lightning are pretty slim but it’s still a possibility. It seems to me by my limited research that approximately 120 to 190 people per year are struck by lightning in Canada. On average about 10 people per year die from lightning strikes in Canada alone. Most of these “hits” occur in Ontario, Quebec or Saskatchewan. Yet another reason I refrain from golfing (not really, I just am a seriously terrible golfer). There are not enough trips to the clubhouse that could make me enjoy spending time on the course. One interesting tidbit is that 84% of lightning strike victims are male and sometimes while holding a metal club while in an open area. Very curious.

 

 

 

One of my early recollections of lightning striking close to home was just that; lightning striking my home. Luckily no one was in the house at the time. My mom and I had been shopping for back to school clothes if I remember correctly and we were coming out of the shopping mall on the opposite side of the city from where we lived when the thunderstorm began. The thunder was insanely loud, that I still remember. When we finally returned home we noticed bricks scattered around the yard and our chimney missing. Inside the house told  the story of how damaging lightning can be. Throughout the second story of the house the jolt of electricity left its calling card. Even down the stairwell at the opposite side of the house there was evidence remaining. I recall standing in the backyard noting how the bricks of the chimney lay while listening as the adults talked. Funny how only certain snippets of past events stay within our memory while the remaining information is suppressed or deleted.

 

 

 

From this moment, I was a lightning enthusiast. I have a healthy respect for the destructive power while being enthralled by its magnificence. Shortly after the aforementioned event I went on a warpath in the tiny school library looking for information about lightning and storms. I became hyperaware of safety protocols and still recall vividly the day on the school playground when a thunderstorm rolled in at recess and a bunch of kids ran to a lone tree in the middle of the field. I kept thinking “what a bunch of idiots! Don’t they know that is the worst place to stand?” Obviously they didn’t know and were more concerned with getting wet than being struck by lightning!

 

 

 

I have passed along my appreciation of a great thunderstorm to my kids. Some nights when the sky is filled with flashes of lightening bolts we snuggle on the living room couch and watch as Nature shows off.  Way better than squeezing in amongst other people, vying for the perfect position and swatting at mosquitos to watch a fireworks display, I’d say. Now that Spring has finally arrived and with it the likelihood of thunderstorms, I feel electrified. Pardon the pun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“There are many silly superstitions about lightning, and as a result many people – maybe even you – are terrified of it. You shouldn’t worry. Thanks to modern science we now know that lightning is nothing more than huge chunks of electricity that can come out of the sky, anytime, anywhere, and kill you.”  – Dave Barry

Greening It Up for My Blogiversary!

One year ago today I decided to give WordPress a go, encouraged by my friend Crystal over at Change My Body, Change My Life. I am so glad I took her advice. Over the past year I have grown immensely (not in size, but in self-confidence and spiritually) thanks to making myself find words for what I was thinking and experiencing. Thank you to all of you that have read my blog and encouraged me. WordPress bloggers are an incredible group of individuals and I thoroughly enjoy the camaraderie that takes place. I have even made a few new friends to boot! So, once again thank you to all of you that not only visit me here at Live Love Be Green and/or on my Facebook page Live Love Be Green but that also create your own fascinating blogs that capture my imagination and that makes time well-spent reading what you have to say.

 

 

 

So, since it is not only my one year anniversary of blogging but is also St. Patrick’s Day I thought I would try something new and fun with a poll. I am just trying to get the idea of how to create a poll so bear with me if it is lame.

 

 

For our St. Patrick’s Day celebratory dinner I made a vegetarian shepherd’s pie (yum) with a fresh mesclun salad and a mouth-watering pint of Guinness for me. For dessert I lovingly baked a Chocolate Guinness cake with salted caramel drizzle. Holy heaven on a dessert plate! I shall leave you with thoughts of Guinness Cake. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Chocolate Guinness Cake with salted caramel drizzle

Chocolate Guinness Cake with salted caramel drizzle

“May you live a long life Full of gladness and health, With a pocket full of gold As the least of you wealth. May the dreams you hold dearest, Be those which come true, The kindness you spread, Keep returning to you.”  –  Irish blessing

Blanket of White

Yesterday morning as I started my day with a steamy mug of coffee, I pondered all of the things I could possibly do over the weekend. Then I cleared my mind of its swirling chaos, sunk back into the couch and watched the snow swirl and dance as it floated down to earth while I savoured my caffeine fix. The snow storm we had been promised had arrived…with a vengeance. School was cancelled due to the weather conditions so we were all moving like sloths. We had at least a foot of snow by the time I finally stepped out the front door around noon into a swirling mass of blowing snow. Each winter our front walkway becomes a wind tunnel for blowing and drifting snow since it faces North and is flanked on one side by the house and the garage on the other. In the summer it creates a nice shady, cool space to enjoy a beverage while in the winter the wind seems to lay in wait for me to open the front door to slap me in the face. Actually, truth be told, I kind of like getting an icy blast when I step out the front door. By the time I make it to my car I am acclimatized to the wind. Good morning!

Our super handy neighbour that helped me prep my garden in the Spring (see here for details) noticed me shovelling and swung his snowblower around to assist me. Sweet. I was only shovelling for a grand total of about 10 minutes! With a wave of thanks I darted back inside for a refill of hot coffee. Mmmm…

The rest of my day was spent organizing and cleaning. Some things just have to be tended to. Thursday I assembled a shelf and desk that my daughter received for Christmas. I should have known by the instructions clearly depicting an “x” over one individual and then indicating two people were needed for this task that, perhaps I should employ a helper. In typical Me fashion I went ahead thinking, “No problem. I’ve got this.” As I fought with the final screws in the shelf I realized that I should have heeded the pictorial warning.

Four hands are better than two.

Four hands are better than two.

I won’t bore you with the trivialities of the remainder of my day except to say that I delighted in the gorgeous snow drifting and blowing to the point it seemed as though it would never end. I managed to hunker down inside all day except the brief foray into shovelling. The best part of the day? Why, enjoying the fire that I started in the fireplace and reading a book as the snow continued to fall. Divine.

We have more snow now than we have had in the last few winters combined, I think. I love the fresh look of a blanket of clean snow. Interested in how much of the white stuff we were blessed with? Here is a article from a local media source.  It seems as though we have more snow in our neighbourhood than any of those pics show. I took this pic while staying cosy and warm inside. This was about an hour after the neighbour and I had totally cleared the driveway but you can’t even tell where it is anymore. As you can see from my car in the driveway I have some work to do before I can go for a spin. My Mazda wasn’t going anywhere too quickly, that’s for sure.

Snowmagedon 2013 Feb

Snowmagedon 2013 Feb

I love the pace that a big snowstorm sets. Everyone slows down a fraction. Neighbours help each other shovel. There is no intense pressure to run around all over town. We simply adopt a slower rhythm as our ancestors did before us by instinct.

” The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found.” 

– J. B. Priestley