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!

 

 

 

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

Melancholy Weather, Meditation and Mraz

Upon waking this morning I was greeted by melancholy grey skies that eventually broke open, spilling heavy  drops down on my already muddy side yard and gardens. The work day was called off due to a 90% chance of rain all day. Rain days are always a mixed blessing. I can always use “alone time” and relish the freedom to do whatever I so choose without interruption. Sadly, that usually ends up being laundry, dishes or some other equally mundane task. On the other hand, I seriously enjoy my job and my co-workers so a day that is normally a work day without being on the job feels strange.

 

 

Today I decided not to feel any guilt and use it as a Me Day. To get back to certain past-times I love but have set aside for a while in pursuit of other things. I started my day with a glorious hot mug of Starbucks coffee and some reading material. I do love a good read yet I tend to only read at bedtime, having convinced myself that reading during the day is simply too indulgent. Not today it isn’t. I have devoured numerous different forms of written word today – fiction, blogs, words of wisdom collections, and health reference books in my library. I refer to my large bookshelf in my living room as my rotating library. Books are always coming and going either on loan, new additions, or rotated from boxes in the basement to refresh the material occasionally. I love books. The feel of old paper scented from years of  habitation in musty basements or my fresh-air and cooking smells infused home. There is nothing quite like the feel of holding a real book in my hands. E-readers are great tools but don’t give me quite the same satisfaction as an old, well-loved novel or heavy reference journal. I guess I’m a book-worm. I do feel somewhat guilty at the use of excess paper so I tend not to purchase a lot of new books but either borrow books from friends and family or purchase used books in the name of reusing an existing product. I ponder over which is worse; the use of paper for books, either recycled or new as opposed to the plastics and other resources used to manufacture e-readers/tablets and the electricity to run them as well as the disposal of the battery and the item itself upon its’ completed life span. Books are mostly 100% recyclable and last for incredible lengths of time if treated properly.

 

 

The gloomy day has also brought me the joy of reconnecting with my love of meditation and kundalini yoga. I enjoyed my hour-long session of awakening my kundalini energy. Blissful. I now feel as though I am glowing and warm with energy. I forgot how incredible the feeling of the warm energy rising up the spine feels and how alive I feel after practicing. Perhaps my early mornings will start with a yoga and meditation session instead of racing to the kitchen for coffee as soon as my feet hit the floor. That would be a much better start to preparing myself for the day. My body will thank me profusely for cutting my caffeine consumption, I’m sure.

 

 

kundalini awakening

It was time to infuse my environment with music. Jason Mraz’s music has aroused my senses this afternoon with his gloriously uplifting music. His cd “LOVE”, is definitely one of my favorites and always makes me swimmingly happy. Check it out.

 

I seriously love this song –   93 Million Miles but my fave pick would be Living In The Moment. When I’m feeling stressed out, “Living in the Moment” always brings me back to reality. Interesting how music can speak so strongly to our emotions, isn’t it? While my musical tastes are very eclectic there are certain artists and cd’s I reserve for certain types of days, moods, and activities. Sometimes I insist on loud and proud ZZ Top or Stevie Ray Vaughn when I’m feeling feisty, or perhaps a hit of Ella Fitzgerald when I feel strong yet sentimental. I think the only type of music I don’t listen to regularly is country.  After growing up in a home where country music was the only type of music my parents listened to, I have had my fill. My sisters and I would escape to our rooms to fill our ears with artists like Wham, A-Ha, Madonna and Michael Jackson (that was me) to Duran Duran, Billy Idol, and Ozzy Osbourne. We tried our hardest to steer clear of country music and still do! I am not a country music-hater per say, just not a fan. You certainly would never find me screaming over some country stud muffin yammering on about dogs, trucks and his long lost girlfriend, that’s for darn-tootin’! There is a time and a place for every genre of music and I wholeheartedly appreciate the creativity and artistry of musicians. The world is richer because of music.

 

 

Today continues to be a day of things that bring me happiness and uplift the spirit. We all need to take a Me Day now and then. I think I’ll go give my kids a hug and tell them how loved they are. After that I will go to my other happy place, the kitchen. I’ll pour myself a glass of red wine and start on some onion bhaji, aloo ghobi, daal, a salad and homemade naan for dinner.  The perfect rainy day meal.

 

 

 

 

 

“Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue.” – Plato

The Countdown Is On

Well, this is it. My very last day being a 30-something.

 

 

I am savouring the final day of being 39. Today I am getting myself and my house in order. I have decided that I shall hit 40 being fabulous. No ifs, ands, or buts. Reflecting back on my life thus far a few things are glaringly obvious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let me expand.

 1. I have embraced the concept of being thankful. I don’t ever remember a time when I was not appreciative of the people, things, and experiences in my life. Sure, there are always negative moments sprinkled here and there but that does not define my existence, it only makes me appreciate the blessings even more.

 

 

2. I have an incredible group of friends. I believe it is true that we attract those of similar values and that our lives are intertwined with others’ for a purpose.

 

 

3. I never wanted to “fit in” and still don’t. On the flip side, I never chose to purposely “stand out”. My purpose is to be myself. Comfortable in my own skin and with my thought processes.  During the last few years of my 30’s I have learned to love the real me. Flaws and all – I own who I am. I love being unapologetically Me. It is awe-inspiring to watch my close friends as they come into their true self as well. To witness the confidence shift that makes a person captivating.

 

 

4. I no longer have the patience for idiocy or pompousness. I simply walk away without snaring myself in the web of manipulation. I think it was having children that made me wake up to this reality. I have lots of goodness on my plate, why ruin it with toxic thoughts and actions. No thanks.

 If life really begins on your 40th birthday, it’s because that’s when women finally get it… the guts to take back their lives. – Laura Randolph

 

5.  My grandma was right when she told me at a young age that laughter is the best medicine. Nothing makes me feel more alive than laughter. There is no other feeling that lifts the human Spirit quite like it.

 

 

6. Nature is essential to me being fully functioning. There is a certain vibration, if you will, that is felt when in nature. When we let down our guard and breathe slowly and deeply, the Earth’s pulse is detectable. We are all connected.

 

 

 I make the promise to myself as I turn 40 tomorrow to be true to myself. To enjoy the ride of Life with my arms spread wide open.  I occasionally have a mental boxing match with the concept of turning 40. I have to accept the fact that I am hitting the big 4-0. It isn’t really as big of a deal as others portray it to be. I look at it as though it has taken me 39 years to get to this place of loving Life. If you asked me the same questions at 20 and again now,  I would be much more fun and spontaneous now. Learning to love and be accepting has a magical way of allowing us to experience Life head on.

 

 

Whatever with the past has gone, the best is always yet to come. – Lucy Larcom

 

Birds of March Break

Oh, March Break, how I love thee. There is nothing more wonderful than trying to conjure up ideas for keeping children occupied so the phrase “I’m bored” never need be spoken. I live by the comeback my mother used on me and my sisters when we were growing up. It sounded something like this, “If you complain that you are bored I will find you something to do”. It usually involved cleaning something or some equally sigh-worthy chore. I rarely hear the term “I’m bored” anymore. Thank goodness…it is highly irritating. Scratches on my nerves like nails on a chalkboard.

I refuse to sign my kids up for all sorts of expensive ventures to keep them from getting bored. Isn’t part of being a kid learning to play? Is that even a word in most kids vocabulary now? We parents are so freaked out about our kids getting dirty or hurt that we hover over them constantly.  I smile inside when my kids come home covered in mud, grass stains or wet from exploring in the creek nearby. They are washable. Don’t get me wrong, I have boundaries that need to be respected but I also think that children need to know that it’s alright to not have an adult dictate what is fun constantly. We adults tend to sign them up for anything that comes along just so they have something to do. There is, of course, the exception of young children when both parents are working outside of the home. Day camps and other structured activities become a necessity in this case. I have been fortunate enough to have been able to be at home with my children but not without making sacrifices to do so. Let me tell you, being a stay-at-home mom has been the hardest thing I have ever done. From the outside looking in it looks like a breeze but it is quite the opposite.

Hanging out and being silly with their friends is at the top of my list of things I like to see my kids doing. When kids spend time with their friends they gain a sense of belonging outside of their family circle and begin to blossom with self-confidence. The sound of laughter from kids is one of the most enjoyable sounds I can think of. OK, the coffee grinder in the morning is a close second.

One of our local shopping malls has had a free educational activity every day this week for all ages. Yesterday was a demonstration by the Ontario Raptor Conservancy with a show about birds of prey. I was going, kids or no kids. I stated that I was leaving at 11:45 am and whoever wanted to join me must be in the car. Works every time!

The man who was giving the demonstration was excellent. Sir, whoever you are, thank you for an engaging experience that kept not only the little kids sitting on the floor riveted but you had me hanging on your every word as well.

If you know me personally (in the real world), you know that I am terrified of birds. Honestly, I really can’t explain my fear. Walking by a parrot on a perch leaves me holding my breath for far too long and walking sideways – no eye contact! I am intrigued by large birds of prey for some reason though. They are incredible creatures. We were only able to view the first half of the demonstration sadly since daughter’s friend wasn’t feeling well so we headed home. The two birds that I was awestruck by were the Turkey Vulture and the Barn Owl. My photos are seriously lacking and I apologize. I was using my Blackberry since I forgot to bring the better camera. Of course, the man beside me had the super-dee-dooper camera with gigundo lens and kept giving me the sideways look. I hope he managed to get some incredible pictures of these beautiful birds.

Let’s start with the Turkey Vulture. The wingspan was impressive to say the least. I believe the speaker stated the wingspan could be six feet across.

A co-worker (and friend) and I joked during the summer that we must be moving too slow when we looked up and saw Turkey Vultures circling overhead. The term “look alive” was never funnier than at that moment!

To learn more about the Turkey Vulture click on the link here.

Turkey Vulture                       Turkey Vulture                  Turkey Vulture

The other bird of prey that captured my heart was the Barn Owl.

Barn Owls in southern Ontario are now critically endangered due to lack of prefered habitat. There is only one mating pair left in the wild. We need to start allowing naturalization of grasslands to give these beautiful birds a place to thrive again.

For more info on the Barn Owl, see this page.

Barn Owl                           Barn Owl in flight

In my mind, these are the interesting tidbits that together make up a great March Break. I’m sure all of the people there that were spellbound by the demonstration would agree.

These types of performances are a great way to bring attention to the importance of these magnificent birds in nature as well as what the Ontario Raptor Conservancy does.

In case you were wondering, none of the birds present were from the wild. They have all been raised in captivity at the conservancy and are used to being with people.

The conservancy also rehabilitates injured birds and releases them back into the wild.  It was uplifting to hear of a group doing so much to help another species and doing no harm.

Time well spent, I’d say.

“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us.  When we see
land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and
respect.”   ~Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac