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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Toxic People Test

Lately I seem to be bombarded by people off-loading toxicity. I would ask why but sometimes it’s just best to not let it eat up too much head space. To this I just shrug my shoulders, walk a LOT to breathe in fresh air, and spend more time with the friends that I know will make me laugh and help make sense of human stupidity and arrogance. There are certain instances where I know without the shadow of a doubt that people spew their garbage in my direction simply to get a rise out of me. I’m not sure they really want my reaction because it may never come. I have worked on my level of tolerance over the last ten years or so and have become a slow smolder, but there is a distinct threshold to my patience. I’m no mouse when it gets to this point. A lover, not a fighter is my true nature however there is fire in these veins.

 

 

Yesterday I was at the brink of popping someone. Yes, me. It felt like the negative bus had pulled up and offloaded an angry mob at my doorstep. To make a long story short, I worked through it with a few laughs along the way…but mostly a whole lot of working out, fresh air, journaling and loud tunes. I can’t hold a grudge or stay angry for long. After a few hours it just seems pointless and over-thinking kicks in. My bubbly nature tends to create waves again and I’m over whatever was bugging me. Moving on!

 

 

Feeling invigorated this morning and looking forward to spending time with a close friend, I had an upbeat attitude and a smile on my face. Even my hair was cooperating this morning!

 

I arrived at my local Starbucks to meet my friend, ordered my coffee and snagged a couple of comfy chairs at the window to enjoy the warmth of the sun. While waiting for said friend to arrive, I was within the auditory sphere of a group of ladies I have noticed here before. They were taking up a lot of space and dragged a bunch of chairs around a table, spilling over into the space of other customers. I waited patiently in my seat, minding my own business and trying not to overhear any of their bizarre conversation about the faults of one friends’ face and how said woman should do something about it. Good grief. As my friend was getting out of her vehicle, another woman came in to the coffee shop and joined this gaggle beside me. Only problem was, this woman dumped all her stuff on the chair I was reserving for my friend. I politely said, “Excuse me. This seat is saved for the person I’m meeting.” Well, you would think I woke a demon! The woman that was ever so sweetly pointing out her friends short-comings turned her wrath on me. “YOU CAN’T SAVE SEATS HERE!”, she snarled at me. What the heck? She proceeded to hiss at me that her friend had back issues and needed that chair. Then she told her friend to pull the chair up to their table! (Didn’t she just say her friend had back issues? Why was she not helping her friend with the chair?)  I was dumbfounded. Inside I chuckled to myself thinking how lucky this woman was that she didn’t try to steamroll me yesterday. Today she was dealing with normal me; whatever normal is. I kindly reported that I would move, since her friend was in need of that chair due to her back issue. You would think I had told her to go f*ck herself. She huffed and puffed like the wolf trying to blow down the little piggy’s house! I just grabbed my stuff and moved, whilst shaking my head. Weird.

 

Of course, my friend had walked in to see me moving seats and wondered what was going on. I let her in on the kerfuffle and was rewarded with a kind response about how tolerant I am of other people’s rudeness. That’s exactly what this boiled down to. Severe rudeness on this woman’s part and a sense of superiority. I was not going to be immature and argue over a seat, but clearly she was doing exactly what she told me I wasn’t entitled to do. What makes people think it is ever acceptable to speak to people like this? This is where every day dealings go off the rails. When we start speaking to others in such a way and with the tone that someone is worth less than another, issues arise. Not only is it rude, it displays a total lack of class. I would never think twice about giving up my seat to someone that genuinely needs it or asks politely, but bullying is pure toxicity. I will always use manners first and foremost. My parents taught me well that when you are kind, you are usually repaid with kindness. I only wish everyone had learned this wise teaching.

 

 

I think this was a test for me today…and I passed with flying colours.

 

 

 

“Anytime anybody is rude, it makes me double- check my own behaviour to make sure I don’t do that to other people.”  – Patricia Heaton

Kick It!

What am I kicking you may be asking. Well, it just so happens to be list making time. While I’ve never really jumped on the Party Your Face Off on New Year’s Eve bandwagon, I do like to use January 1st as a sort of stock-taking day. To scan both the vibrantly glowing and the dusty, cob-webbed corners of my mind in search of what I learned from the previous 365 days and how I choose to move forward through the next 365. An intriguing individual that I have come to know in the past year made a statement that hit the nail on the head, so to speak. I summarize when I say that he stated that each day is a new chapter not each year. Very wise, and the truth as I’ve always believed it to be. We don’t live year by year as those that seem to pivot their lives around New Year’s Eve would lead us to believe. We live day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, second by second. Each fragment of time is unique and within it holds incredulous moments. When my eyes open each morning, I give thanks that I have another day to experience joy. This is always my first thought. Seriously. This may sound hokey to some of you but it gets every day started on a positive note and in a forward direction.

 

 

Kicking it means two things to me – getting rid of something that is no longer of use to me and my journey and to initiate action to the extreme. Those of you that know me well know that I can be a bit hardcore with certain things so kicking it up to the extreme means a whole heap of willpower has to be employed. Let’s  just get right to the list, shall we?

 

 

 

Kick It Style #1 – Don’t bring me down.

 

 

1. Usually external things get to us all and create unwanted stress. Little things like someone cutting us off on our way to work or plain old rude behaviour. I’ve worked on taming the tigress inside of me over the past few years as far as not allowing others to get to me and stress me out as much. I’ve noticed my tigress stretching occasionally  as of late with the desire to lash out (both internally and externally) over menial things to which I would rather use control and poise. I accept my inner tigress and value her greatly but there is a time and a place for her abilities and power. That said, I am all about allowing irritation from others roll off of me. Meditation comes in handy here.   Letting it go.  To realize that some individuals are just moody bastards or buzz killers and frankly, ain’t nobody got time for that! 

 

 

2. Don’t push your agenda or religion on me or others…we all have our own. Just yesterday a patronizing individual tried to verbally overpower me by trying to force their agenda on me. This is more than a simple ruffling of the feathers here folks. When “No, thank you” was not working I had to pull out the big guns…yup, inner tigress. See, there is a time and a place. No stress, no raised voice just simple eye contact and force of character.  Say goodbye to Mr. Irritating!   I would love to hear what others have to say and I highly respect your opinions. However, respect mine as well. Thank you.

 

 

3. Bad vibes. I will merely smile at you until you feel like a tool or scram. Complaining and whining is ugly. I need to mentally tell myself to stop if I head down this path too. There is no use for such things. Let’s just stick to good vibes or if that’s too difficult, neutral vibes.

 

 

good vibes only

 

 

 

4. I am nobody’s doormat. I love the quote by Pablo Picasso, “Women are one of two things, a goddess or a doormat.” I choose to be a goddess.

 

 

Photo from Pinterest

Photo from Pinterest

 

 

5. Goodbye laziness – hello action!

 

 

6. Coffee as the first thing that hits my stomach in the morning. I know, I know. I am a severe addict where coffee is concerned and this is going to command a LOT of willpower on my part. This practice is doing me no favours so it is being kicked. Simple as that.

 

 

 

Kick It Style #2 – Here We Go!

 

 

1. Since the end of the work season (landscaping ended at the beginning of December here), the ladies I call co-workers/friends and I have been discussing ways to stay strong and fit during the winter months. Interestingly we have all taken a different route. I have embarked upon a mixed martial arts style full body workout daily for three months. After this time, I will be back at work and I’m sure I will still be kicking my own butt at home. Just for the record, I am not sparring or fighting. I’m a lover, not a fighter. I just like the defined muscle and definition of a fighter’s physique which will be mine with much hard work and dedication.

 

 

2. The volume of Life is being cranked! I am ready to ROCK!

 

 

3. I am realizing a few dreams this year that I have carried in my heart for many years. I will share them with you as they come to fruition.

 

 

4. I love, seriously and completely, love to be silly and live and laugh with abandon. Not in an embarrassing immature fashion but in a “let’s not be so serious all the time” sort of thought pattern.  This is not new to me but is a must as this is one of my defining characteristics. It is refreshing to be surrounded by friends of a similar mindset. If they are going to stare, give them something to look at. Or as Bonnie Raitt so superbly stated, “Let’s give them something to talk about.”

 

 

Ooo...so tempting.

Ooo…so tempting. Photo taken by unknown.

 

 

 

5. Staying in touch with nature and spending time outdoors is vital to my wellness. I feel drained when the connection with nature has been severed too long…like more than a day.

 

 

 

Each and every day I plan to make a difference in some way. Whether it be putting a smile on someone else’s face, sharing limitless love, helping others when needed with no expectations, or simply being a shoulder or an ear when such is needed. By bettering ourselves, it becomes easier to be there for others. We have more strength, love and compassion to share when we feel good about ourselves. I challenge you to do something each day that makes a positive difference in your life or someone else’s.

 

 

 

Let’s KICK IT! 

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 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

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

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

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