Absence

You may have noticed that I have been laying low as of late. Life has caught me within its chaotic tendrils in both a positive and negative  manner. I keep moving forward with a smile on my lips and a sparkle in my eyes. My Spirit is riding the waves that Life sends my way. As the dust is starting to settle slightly, you will be hearing more from me again soon.  Please stay tuned…I appreciate your friendship and patience.

 

– Melissa

 

 

invincible heart

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Road Trip – Part Two

I’d like to introduce you to my great friend Steph.  Steph and I became instant friends about 12 years ago when we met at a playgroup with our babies. Our daughters became friends and we naturally did too. Our friendship has been positive and uplifting since that first introduction. You know that feeling when you first meet someone and you just “click”? That’s us. Clickity-click ever since. This is my favorite pic of Steph. She is a chameleon of awesome hair styles and rocks each and every one.

 

 

steph

 

 

 

Now that you know a bit about Steph, I will get to telling you about her half of our road trip together to Ottawa. While I was lounging around in a state of bliss, she was racking up some serious kilometers and using super-human amounts of willpower.

 

 

Steph decided to participate in a grueling bike ride to support and raise funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. She feels compassionate towards those she personally knows (and those she doesn’t) that are dealing with this debilitating disease. She chose to participate in this ride with her two sister-in-laws in support of her father-in-law that is living with MS. Let me explain to you how incredible I think Steph is for participating. Not only is she doing something to make a difference, she has embarked upon this trek with very little past road training. She purchased a bike strictly for this event a couple of months prior to this ride and quickly racked up the kilometers on local bike paths and roads. I am still amazed at how she jumped in with both feet and never looked back! Mind you, this shouldn’t really surprise me since Steph is the type of individual that once she commits to something she is all in. I have deep respect for her ability to do so.

 

 

The  MS Bike Tour  that she completed was from Ottawa to Cornwall. Here is the map of the ride route. She rode 100 km on the first day of the ride and another 100 km on the second day for a whopping 200 km altogether! Incredible!

 

 

Steph and her bike

Steph and her bike

 

 

If you would like to donate to the MS Society and congratulate Steph and Team Two Tired on their successful ride, you can do so until September 10th at the following link.  

http://mssoc.convio.net/site/TR/BikeTour/OntarioDivision?px=1215268&pg=personal&fr_id=2140&s_locale=en_CA 

 

 

Steph and I had arranged to meet up at the finish line, figuring that I would be there to see her finish her quest. She was too quick, riding like the wind, and already had her flowery flip-flops on and her bike packed in the car ready to hit the road for home by the time I arrived. She was cool and confident as usual when I spotted her standing to the side of the finish line. What a woman!

 

“A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.” – Wade Boggs

 

Steph, let me tell you yet again how fantastic I think you are. Your tenacity and overwhelming desire to do the right thing are truly inspiring. The world is a better place because you are in it.   xo

Wake Up and Live!

“Life is one big road with lots of signs.

So when you riding through the ruts,

don’t complicate your mind.

Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy.

Don’t bury your thoughts,

put your vision to reality.

Wake Up and Live!

– Bob Marley

It seems as though this week has been one of many ruts. Too many to count. It’s funny how sometimes it’s the smallest of things that push one to the point of tears. This week , although small in the grand scheme of life, my tipping point came when on an extremely tiring day I was itching like crazy from poison ivy only to have a wasp fly in the vehicle window while I was driving and sting me a few times on my inner thigh. At that moment I wanted to just put on the brakes and cry. I refrained thanks to a wonderful friend by my side to uplift my spirits. Friends help us see the ruts for what they really are. Through it all I tried to keep a positive attitude, laugh off the irritation or hurt of the week and just keep moving forward. Sometimes Life gets ugly…sometimes emotions are run ragged – there is always, ALWAYS a positive spin, a lesson to be learned or something better to look forward to.

Here’s where my week becomes downright fun…I am off on a road trip with my uplifting friend! Ottawa, here we come!  (More details to follow!)

Have a fun and rejuvenating weekend. Do something kind for Yourself. Love the Life you have been given. Laugh until your stomach hurts…I intend to!

MidSummer’s Eve

This past Sunday, three of my fabulous co-workers and I had the opportunity to volunteer for a garden party event  for the Niagara Symphony Orchestra. What a day we had! It has been a long time since I have both volunteered and been immersed in the classical music scene. I loved the uniqueness of everyone we met throughout the evening. So much for the cliché of orchestra audiences being stuffy. These music lovers were wild with passion for the arts! I was intrigued by the colourful outfits, hats and the beautiful smiles that everyone brought with them. I felt very honored to volunteer at an event that nurtures the love of music.

I have included a brief video clip by CogecoTV (a local channel). This gives some background about the event and the Niagara Symphony Orchestra (NSO). * Just a side note – at 3:38 in the clip I am walking across the background. I look like I was on a mission! Eyes peeled for the navy blue long dress and blonde hair darting across the background headed to the back right. Woo hoo! I’m on TV!

Midsummer’s Eve

The lovely ladies I work with and myself had the task of putting together arrangements of peonies for the tables as well as looking after raffle ticket sales and being spotters during the auction. Each of these jobs made for a fun day. The peonies were gorgeous large blossoms that were oh so fragrant.

Midsummer's Eve Peonies

Midsummer’s Eve Peonies

Appetizers and dinner were prepared by chef Oscar Turchi of Savoia in St. Catharines, ON.  My mouth still waters thinking about how amazing everything was. OK, Ronni and I were less than impressed by the goat’s cheese appetizers, I must be honest. We thought we’d break out and try to be adventurous. I actually had a hard time swallowing it without gagging. It wasn’t the appetizer itself but the fact that I know I don’t like goat cheese but thought I’d try it again anyway. I know now that sometimes I don’t have to try, try again until I like something. How Chef Oscar and his staff managed to pump out the amount of food they did in such a short time while working from a tent is beyond me. Kudos to the chef and his team! All of the food and beverages were top-notch. Here is the menu featuring the companies who provided each item which was presented at our place setting:

Midsummer's Eve Menu

Midsummer’s Eve Menu

The evening wrapped up with a performance by the NSO which was beautifully executed. The sound under the tents made for a unique listening experience. Close to the end of the performance people were starting to get a bit fidgety since the mosquitos started to come out for dinner in full force. Slap! – scratchy-scratchy. The next morning I noticed that I certainly got my fair share of bites. The only drawback to the day , other than the mosquitos, was the excruciating heat and humidity. I was flushed from the heat and feeling as though I was melting. I know I wasn’t alone by the amount of programmes that were fanning the attendees and the comments by my friends. I was relieved to lay down in air-conditioned splendour at the end of the evening, that’s for sure!

The Midsummer’s Eve event was made a success by many people but there were a few that worked tirelessly to make this event truly memorable for all.

“Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.” – Ludwig van Beethoven

Let’s Eat Cake

In conclusion to my post The Countdown Is On ,  I have decided to invite you to share a piece of birthday cake with me and a few friends. To enjoy my 40th birthday even more – and drag it on even longer – I decided to throw myself a party. Why not, right? The premise of the party was to celebrate friendship. To have an evening to enjoy each others’ company, have some laughs and savour a few glasses of wine. Oh, and eat birthday cake of course!  Only a couple of photos were selected due to a fun wine tasting where all bottles were consumed plus a few extra. I’m sure you catch my drift. Let’s eat cake!

 

 

 

birthday girl cutting the cake

birthday girl cutting the cake

 

 

 

 

Normally birthday cake does not thrill me. Unless it is a unique flavour or light and airy. I decided against heavy chocolate or something sickeningly sweet and decided to make my own cake. In my 40 years on earth I have found that the best way to get what I want is to do it myself. Don’t you agree? So, I searched high and low (ok, I scoured through tonnes of cake recipes on pinterest) for just the right one. Here is the recipe I decided upon if you are interested – there were a few of you that have asked for the recipe after eating your slice – Orange Layer Cake. The homemade orange curd (filling) was delicious. This recipe is definitely a keeper.  I didn’t use the frosting recipe included but opted for a light cream cheese icing instead. My daughter was given creative license to add embellishment as she saw fit and put hot pink candy-covered chocolates and a fresh cherry on top for good measure.

 

 

 

Cake anyone?

Cake anyone?

Would you care for a slice?

This year, something changed inside of me. I realized that a birthday is no longer just about the person that was born on that particular day but also about those that they choose to share their days with. Those individuals that make us happy and that it feels good to be around. In the name of friendship, thank you.

`The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.` – Oprah Winfrey

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

I Am Enough

This has been a tumultuous year for me. There have been far too many bumps along the road for my liking. For the most part I have managed to keep my chin up and smile even when I feel like crying. To be strong not only for myself but for those around me. This is exhausting, let me tell you. I know it’s okay to let down my guard and cry – I do. I am not without emotion. If anything it’s quite the opposite and I wear my heart and thoughts on my sleeve maybe a little too often. My close friends know instantly when I am struggling internally and call me on it. For these friends I am ever so grateful. We all need great and caring people in our lives. Friends are essential for a feeling of belonging, wellness and joy as well as a sounding board that we can truly trust. One thing though that has become clearer than a full moon on a cloudless night is that we need to be our own best friend first and foremost.

 

“I exist as I am, that is enough, If no other in the world be aware, I sit content, And if each and all be aware, I sit content.”  – Walt Whitman

We have ourself and only ourself at every given second during our lifetime. Yes, people come in and out of our lives. We have families and friends, coworkers and acquaintances but only I am with myself all of the time. I needed to learn to love myself. To be my own best friend. Sometimes reaching within is the best resolution.

 

 

This journey to becoming my best friend hasn’t been easy. It hasn’t been painful either. I think if I could capture the essence of learning to befriend myself in one word it would be sublime. When I altered the way I thought about myself, things became either intensely clear or absolutely unneccessary. Learning to befriend oneself isn’t conceited or narcissistic. It’s about finding your self-worth and trusting yourself with your thoughts and actions. I have discovered that the more I trust in who I am, the more I enjoy those around me. I don’t feel like I need to compete for attention or gain recognition. I have become happy just being Me. Growing up and maturing isn’t something that happens overnight, it is a process.  When I was younger I always struggled with self-worth and self-confidence, concerned that people would think I was a snob or conceited if I ever patted myself on the back. I thought I didn’t care what others thought of me but it was all just an act. A decoy for self-preservation, if you will. One thing I learned from this is that when we build walls we can’t see very far. My world was small. I have stumbled upon something magnificent. When you are your own best friend, everything you do becomes an experience and a reason to feel loved. Loved by someone who truly cares about my well-being…me.  Greater, more intense living and appreciating others is easier when you are present.

 

 

“Nothing is a greater impediment to being on good terms with others than being ill at ease with yourself.”
– Honore De Balzac

February Blues

Never be afraid

This morning I needed these words of wisdom. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in being strong not only for myself but for those around me that I lose track of where I’m headed.  The everyday mundane stuff creeps in until it takes over. Just when I think I know myself and what I want from life a giant bird of prey swoops down and clutches my resolve in its sharp talons. Today I feel “ho-hum” and sort of bumbly. The February blues caught up to me early this year for some reason. I don’t feel depressed, per say, just kind of blah. I’m sure it is the lack of being outdoors that is bringing me down.

In an attempt to perk myself up I cranked up some Buddy Guy on the stereo and am relaxing to the raw sounds of Buddy and the driving rain outside. I know that my dear friend Crystal (Change My Body, Change My Life) would tell me that I have some work to do on myself right now. I think I will listen to her words of wisdom. Today I will focus on my dreams, desires and who I am becoming. Life is constant change.

I need to give my head a shake, open up my umbrella and breathe in some fresh air. I do my best thinking out-of-doors.

“Men do change, and change comes like a little wind that ruffles the curtains at dawn, and it comes like the stealthy perfume of wildflowers hidden in the grass.”  – John Steinbeck

Dirty Ol’ Me

The gardening season, or work season in my world, came to an abrupt ending a couple of weeks ago. If you don’t already know this about me I shall give you a bit of history as to  the work aspect of my existence.

I come from a family of non-gardeners. Those that appreciate beautiful gardens but don’t really relish digging in the dirt like I do. Like my Gemini nature alludes to, I have dual aspects to my Being. I am a bit of a “girly girl” so to speak. I love bling, shoes, and cultural outings. I also love to get dirty. Say what?! Let me rephrase that…I like to put on my work boots, work up a sweat, seem to often have disheveled hair and dirt caked on me somewhere. That’s during the working seasons of spring, summer and fall. Now that winter is here I have morphed once again into purity itself (snicker, snicker). Ok, I am at least not covered in dirt at some point during the day.

I am a Horticulture Technician, or so my college diploma tells me. I have worked in many different areas of horticulture including landscaping, gardening (yes they are very different specialties), florists, greenhouses (both ornamental and agricultural), retail, integrated pest management and (shudder) chemicals.

When I started my college courses eons ago, I was asked constantly if that meant I was a gardener. For some reason this used to irritate me to distraction. I would nearly snap people’s heads clean off! My, how my world has changed! I now love telling people that I am a gardener. Things seem to have come full circle for me. I attribute it to the fact that I am now truly comfortable with Me. I no longer feel the need to impress anyone but just be myself. I really, REALLY love being a professional gardener. There,  I said it.

What it really boils down to is that I have found, or maybe we found each other, an amazing group of strong, powerful women that welcomed me into their “family” like no other people I have ever worked with have. The company is run by one of THE most spectacular women that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I love her charisma and zest for life…and good food.  Sure, I’ve always got along with most of my co-workers over the years but nothing like the way this group has bonded. We all look after one another. Don’t mess with us…seriously. We are all well-educated women that are conditioned to succeed in a feminine, no-fuss way. If there was such a thing as roller derby gardening we would be beside the definition in the dictionary.

I think I may be getting off track slightly.

Anyway, over the last few weeks off work for the season I have missed my friends/co-workers greatly…until last night. It was Christmas Party night! Woot-woot! It was great to be with them all again (minus one whom we wished had been there). Laughing at the past season’s shenanigans and catching up with one another. I feel refreshed.

I am a firm believer that we come into contact with those that we are meant to learn from. Those that have an impact on us and vice-versa. This amazing group of ladies has reminded me  about not only how hard work is greatly therapeutic but that human compassion is a wonderful thing. There is something to be said about the sisterhood of women. Strong, supportive women encouraging each other is an incredible gift shared the world over.

There is a whole lot more to me and “what I do”…but that’s another story, as they say. I will share that at another time.

The night came to an end all too quickly, but have no fear…we still have some Holiday partying in the not-so-distant future!

“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” – Coco Chanel.

Memories

I am caught in a vortex of emotions.

Over the last few weeks there has been a few pivotal moments in my life that I have needed to focus on. I have been trying to juggle many things at once and it seemed like something was just going to have to “give”. It was at this point that I received a feeling of sorts. Out of nowhere, fleeting thoughts of someone dear to me appeared throughout my week. On the evening of Friday, November 2nd I had been out and upon returning home I received a message to call my father. I knew instantly in my heart what he had to tell me. My thoughts were confirmed. I was told with sadness that my grandmother had passed away. Although I was upset by the news it was not a terrible shock. My grandmother was 95 years old and had lived an amazingly full  life. She was is great health with only a broken hip to slow her down a couple of years ago.

 

If you don’t mind, I am going to reflect briefly on my sensational grandmother and who she was in my eyes.

 

My Grandma was extremely pivotal in my evolution as a woman. She was always full of positivity and  seemed unflappable. She had a “You have to eat a little dirt before you die!” attitude. She rolled with the ups and downs of life and adapted when she needed to. As a young girl growing up, I saw my Grandma as brave, independent and fabulous. She was a seamstress and always had stacks of “repairs” she was working on. A steady stream of customers were always dropping by to pick up their clothes that Grandma had fixed for them. Never judging that the customers pants needed letting out – again. She would just chuckle and do a quick little wave of her hand to signify that it really didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I loved when she did that. I have since learned that the little things we can all get so bent out of shape over are neither here nor there. Let life flow as it may. Enjoy the ride and let others live their lives in their own way. Being non-judgemental doesn’t mean not having an opinion on things, it simply means that we are all different and others are not there for us to critique.

 

I learned early from my Grandma that sanity comes from acting a bit nutty sometimes. Laughter is the best medicine life has to offer. She would laugh with us when we told jokes, acted crazy or dressed up in her closet full of retro clothes. I see myself very much like her in this respect. I love to play and get kooky with my kids and friends just for the heck of it. Life is too short to be serious all of the time! When the weather is grey, put on some red high heels, sling a red purse over your shoulder and paint your nails to match!

 

I think the hardest part of saying goodbye to my Grandmother is that in my mind and heart she seemed immortal. I know better, obviously, but she had serious staying power. It seems surreal that her time here on earth is over. Memories of her will always be easy to come by since there are so many wonderful life moments that were shared with her.She showed me through her actions how to be kind and joyful. I was truly blessed to have her as my Grandmother.

 

Now I just have to learn to make raisin cookies the way only she could!

 

 

“Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.”  – Mark Twain