Yellow Gingham, Red Sequins or Grey Gabardine… do I have your attention?

It was a Sunday morning. Fine. I was in a hurry. Granted. The store had literally just opened, in fact, I was waiting for the lock to be flipped. Maybe I took her off guard. Maybe she’d had a super fun Saturday night and wasn’t QUITE prepared to be “on” for the buying public. I was wearing Lululemons (no, not the see through ones) and salt stained boots. Got it! But, COME ON! It’s not like I always dress like that… well usually anyway, okay fine, so not constantly, (but often)… anyway back to the point. Which is that I didn’t have her attention.

So I had just found out that I have this event coming up which I’m expected to attend. It’s an annual thing… same time every year. I always forget it’s coming up. So I guess you can tell I don’t LOVE it.

I thought I would treat myself (or rather my feet) this year, by wearing flats, and sooooo, I needed trousers. Yes, I did need new ones! I had a “look” in mind and damn it, if I’m going to this thingy then I’ll go looking like I want to look! WITH comfortable feet. So I pop over to a store nearby which I won’t name mostly ‘cuz one of my friends works for the chain, and it’s usually a really great place to shop. You know, quality pieces and good prices with very knowledgable staff. Usually.

Here’s exactly how the conversation went…

“Hi there, I’m looking for something like that, but in a silvery grey.” I say gesturing to a WHOLE WALL of ankle length trousers in a PLETHORA of colours.

“No, I’m sorry we don’t have any in grey.” She began to wring her hands, leading me to believe that she might be kind of into this whole notion of finding me something to wear.

“Do you suppose that any of your other stores might have them in a grey?” Figuring that I’ll try them on in the yellow gingham in my size then call my friend and ask her to pick up the same in the silvery grey which she’s promised they have.

“I have no idea. We never have any idea what other stores have!” That was abrupt, and just ever so slightly and unnecessarily defensive.

“Okay so maybe let’s look at ANYTHING in grey, silvery grey preferably, but just a grey trouser.” I say, aiming for an easy going, casual, “I’m a flexible kinda chick” sort of tone.

“We have nothing in grey.” Still with the look of a woman seeming to want to help, but possibly losing a tiny bit of interest, clearly not buying my act.

I start wandering through the store at this point, ‘cuz I KNOW they have to have SOMETHING in grey.

“I mean honestly, I’ll look at anything, anything at all in grey—light, dark, silvery or otherwise! I just want a pair of grey trousers.” I know I’m starting to sound a little desperate but this is a conservative chain and pale grey is hardly an unusual request in the spring right?

“No, we have absolutely nothing whatsoever in grey of any shade.” I was definitely getting a hint of anger from her at this point. I’m sure my look of incredulity wasn’t helping.

“What about these?” I say as I pulled a pair of what appeared to be ankle length, grey, yes even, dare I say it? Silvery grey trousers off a rack.

“Well, THOSE are a size 4.” She stated with great disdain as she cast an eye over my decidedly NOT size 4 hips.

I know that mostly this is just a funny story to share with you all, and make no mistake, I did think it was funny. I was actually laughing aloud in the change room, where the trousers (IN MY SIZE which were right there on the rack with the tiny size 4’s and) looked awesome by the way! But more than that I thought it was a story about the difference between listening and hearing.

How often do we listen to the same message and never really hear its actual meaning? I know for a fact that I can listen to the same thing repeatedly and not really get the message. But suddenly when it’s presented to me in a new light I will HEAR it differently. Hopefully as it was intended to be heard even.

So next time I want a pair of silvery grey, or dove grey or just plain old boring grey-grey trousers, I’m going to first ask for a bright red backless dress. WITH sequins!

 

 

 

 

 

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A Peculiar and Promising Action Taken

I spent over a year writing it, more editing and revising. I taught myself everything there was to know about the e-book publishing business. I had the manuscript formatted, a cover designed and I took the tough step of “putting myself out there” as one friend put it, by allowing the world to read my work.

I researched online marketing. I spent countless hours reading up on all the tips and tricks for selling a novel. I even hired (however briefly) an online marketing “guru” who taught me more that I thought I could ever possibly accomplish, although I did manage MOST of her suggestions!  I made LOTS of new friends in the strange world of self publishing, lots of terrifically supportive friends I might add. I got up at the crack of dawn every day to set my marketing schedule in motion. I got some pretty decent, REAL, reviews. I was interviewed several times and I even sold some books!

I was understandably quite proud of myself. It was a LOT of work, hard work, work that kept me awake at night, but I did it. I not only wrote a book, but I successfully (perhaps not quite as successfully as I COULD have) launched it.

And now, eighteen short months later, I’ve taken it off the market.

Seems a strange thing to do I realize, but I have (not surprisingly) a broader, and I hope more exciting and promising plan in mind.

You see as proud as I am of the fact that I actually WROTE A FRIGGING BOOK, like seriously, a WHOLE BOOK, my talent as a writer has changed, grown and dramatically improved since then.  I write every day, whether pitching magazines, writing fitness articles or short stories for competitions and slowly, very slowly, my considerably larger work in progress.  With that schedule comes a greater set of skills.  I studied writing (for television, and VERY briefly, but whatevs:) in college. I have taken many university level writing courses throughout my adult life, but actually sitting down and hammering it out—Every. Single. Day— is a much better teacher. To say nothing of the input from some of the above mentioned amazingly supportive friends—one in particular.

I hope one day to be not only recognized but also eventually remembered as a RESPECTED writer. I don’t think that my first (well second really, but who’s counting:) novel will be a fair representation of that.

It was a worthwhile and exciting experience. I have taken from it what I can and now I am moving toward what I believe will be an infinitely more rewarding future in writing.

Thank you for listening yet AGAIN, and please stay tuned!

 

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Getting it into perspective… sort of

I knew a woman a long time ago who liked to say, “You can’t taste the soup if you’re sitting in it.” It loses a little of its quirky charm when you don’t hear it delivered in a cartoonishly high pitched voice and thick German accent. You get my point though, it’s just a quaint version of the old forest and trees idiom.

My son has taken up declaring at the least provocation “That’s a first world problem.” Usually in the correct context, but occasionally he’ll throw in a “That’s a rich white girl problem.” which is frankly just a little annoying, but I digress. What I’m trying to say is that it’s all about perspective.

Without perspective we can lose sight all too easily of what is truly important, why we began something, why we chose a certain path, why we have worked so hard, regardless of the immediate results—or lack thereof.

It happens everywhere… to everyone, at some point or another. It most certainly happens to me, and with some regularity I might add.

The other day a friend of mine lost complete perspective. As I was composing an email with a list of reasons why he SHOULDN’T give up writing permanently, I realized that I had lost a little myself.

I’ve just come back from an all too brief vacation with a sense of dread over the time I had not spent writing, pitching, crafting and creating. I sat down at my computer (which I had uncharacteristically not taken away with me) and the desktop was a complete horror show. I had (no, I can’t even admit the number aloud) projects open… and worse, UNFINISHED. Not one of them was complete (read:neither submitted nor pitched, let alone crafted and created.)

Clearly I haven’t been seeing the forest for the soup.

And so now I will, one project at a time, focus and finish… oh wait, that just gave me a great idea …

 

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Just Pretend You Don’t Notice Anything New, Okay?

So leaving the house this morning on my way to the drug store, I realize that the recycling has not been taken out… did I mention that it was pouring with rain? It’s actually my great enormous teenage son’s job, but his brains have clearly leaked out his ears during “exams” week… I put the emphasis on “exams” as he had only two very early in the two week schedule. He has made an intense study of watching “Breaking Bad” in his man cave for the remaining several thousand hours of “exams”.

So back to the reason for the trip to the drug store. I decided to go on this little outing in no small part to avoid the barrage of text messages from my daughter questioning my ability (or lack thereof) to change the Ontario medical system to suit her schedule. I suppose you might ask why I think that simply leaving the house would stop the text messages. Well, I can then stuff the phone in my pocket and know that I am doing the right and legal thing while driving by ignoring the chimes and vibrations. And then once I’m in the store, well you see, my hands are busy with all the buying of stuff and juggling a (yes of course broken) wet umbrella.

So what exactly is the point, I hear you asking, of my telling you all a boring tale of heading to the drug store on a rainy Wednesday. I’ll get there I promise.

I immediately head for the beauty aisle. It always makes me feel a little better, much nicer than let’s say the pain relief or cold remedy aisle, let alone the feminine hygiene aisle. Okay so I’m in the beauty department and I locate the eye cream that I’ve recently graduated to… it’s the one for slightly deeper lines for the 40+ crowd. No worry. I’ve always embraced aging and hope that I’m doing it gracefully.  Oh make no mistake, I spend the inordinate amount of time at the gym that I do in hopes of defying gravity a while longer, but for the most part, I like my face. I’m just fine with all the little character lines… besides, it finally suits the length of my nose:)

I’ll tell you what I don’t plan on giving in to however… grey hair! BLECH! NO! I’ll fight that one tooth and nail for a great many years to come. So off to the hair colour aisle where I’ve recently discovered a new product which I am very pleased with. I like to experiment so thought I might try a new shade. I pick up a few boxes that look right… well the beautiful 25 year old on the box looks great at any rate. I bring the box in a little closer to my face to determine the exact colour by description and WHAT’S THIS? This box seems to have smudged in the printing process I think to myself reaching for another.

Well, I’m sure you’re all having a little chuckle now realizing what my next purchase at the drug store would be… yup I’ve finally reached the reading glasses age!

Did it really all have to happen on one day?

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Where I Win an Award!

I could not have been more surprised, nor honoured when the lovely Judith Salzillo @yojudidoll made me the recipient of the Liebster Blog Award.

liebsterblogaward

I hope that you will enjoy the Q and A portion of my acceptance as well as the Random facts portion. I think you will agree that I completely suck at random facts and stray from the point on occasion. Following that please find a list of other bloggers to whom I would like to pass the Liebster Blog Award. And please don’t forget to check out Judith’s blog at

http://50andfabulousblog.blogspot.com

Judith’s questions…

1. What is the one food you can’t do without? I think I’ll go with eggs, no wait, chicken, no eggs… ah the age old question!
2. One thing you want to do before you die? One? Impossible to narrow down the list of a million to one… sorry.
3. What is your favourite hobby and why? Gym time ‘cuz it keeps me sane (although I suppose some may argue)
4. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? Back in time… that is a place right?
5. What book are you reading right now? A Breath of Snow and Ashes
6. What are you most looking forward to in the new year? Renewed hope.
7. Favourite meal when eating out? Beef tartare
8. If you have one “do-over” what would it be? Having more self restraint while ordering the Foie Gras Poutine with my cousin Ted.
9. What is your favourite movie and why? Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and every single word is why.
10.Who is your favourite TV character? Barney Stinson even though the rest of the show has lost its appeal.
11.If you had a day to do anything you wanted to do, what would you do? workout/write/photograph… oh wait that is what I do every day! Lucky me!

Random Facts about Me

1. I struggle with the randomness of this sort of task.
2. I excel at procrastination.
3. I will choose to clean behind the fridge before tackling a random facts list.
4. There are approximately 27 cat toys under my fridge.
5. My cats do not seem to recognize the difference between dust bunnies and toy mice.
6. At my house, we refer to dust bunnies as dust kitties.
7. I am three human family members away from becoming a card carrying crazy cat lady.
8. Okay, seriously now… did you notice that my favourite movie was “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”? That’s for Tennesee Williams words not the Cat thingy… okay well maybe Paul Newman too.
9. I almost chose “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid” as my favourite movie so maybe it’s actually a Paul Newman thing.
10.“Cool Hand Luke” comes in close third place for favourite movie.
11.I can whistle absolutely any tune.

The final portion to accepting this award so kindly passed along to me, is to pay it forward to others. Putting together the list was far from easy, and you may notice that some of those included are not merely bloggers, but all have something interesting to say. Please check out their sites soon.

http://zencherry.wordpress.com

http://www.lynneknowlton.com

http://www.kamafitness.ca

http://www.MindfulHealth.biz

http://www.mybuddhistlife.com

http://thethirdglance.wordpress.com

http://www.aspieside.wordpress.com

http://www.PrinceEdwardCountyWineries.com

http://blog.pauldorset.com

http://coyotetooth13.wordpress.com

http://guylejeune.com

Wishing you all a very happy 2013!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An Unusual Christmas Lesson

During the holiday season, I like to spend time reflecting not only about Christmas’s past but also what I’ve learned, or maybe even what I’ve taught, throughout the year.

As a parent the opportunities to teach, and learn, are limitless and one that stands out in my memory is from a Christmas Eve about ten years ago.

My two, who were about 4 and almost 3 on this particular Christmas had been talking incessantly for days, maybe even weeks, about what Santa might be bringing them. They examined the packages already wrapped under the tree for hours each day. Their anticipation of the big day was palpable. It was quickly becoming a fifth member of the family.

Now I am not a religious person, nor was I raised in a particularly religious home. My husband however was. He finally decided that all of the talk of commercialism needed a little balance.

We took the children to sit in front of the tree, and with the lights of the tree twinkling merrily, we began to explain the story of Mary and Joseph. I let my husband take the reins on this one… I only know the vague outline and didn’t want to screw up this important moment.

“A long time ago, there was a woman named Mary…” my husband began.

The children listened to the story with rapt attention.

“… and so when the baby was born Mary and Joseph named him Jesus Christ…”

“JEEE-SUS CHRIST?!” My 4 year old chimed in, mimicking my oftentimes frustrated tone of voice to perfection.

My husband glowered at me over their little heads.

“So we’ll try again next year.” I offered weakly.

The lesson that I came away with was that perhaps it’s what we’re teaching when we don’t even realizing we’re doing it, that resonates most loudly.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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My Cat is Obese and My Mother is Always Right

I know, I know it sounds like a very strange title but it will come full circle, I promise.

You see I had my parents over for dinner the other night. Just a casual Sunday family dinner and as frequently happens when people come to visit, I feel it necessary to defend my cat’s physique. It doesn’t seem to matter how often a person has met him, they always feel compelled to tell me how really amazingly fat he is. A girl can get a little cranky.

“It’s not that he’s fat you know…” I say rather more defensively than truly necessary. “…my vet says he’s a very large cat and even if he were at an ideal weight, he would only be a pound or so lighter than he currently is. Look how tall he is! He’s a really big boy!” I exclaim. I should take this opportunity to point out that even my husband and children generally cast doubtful looks at me at this point in my weak defense of my big kitty.

“Stace, I see that he’s a big cat, but darling, he’s really rather fat too… I mean REALLY FAT!” My mother said to me that particular Sunday evening, kindly private school manners flying right out of the window. “I think it’s entirely possible that the person telling you that he is not overweight is hitting on you.” She laughs and looks around the table hoping for (and receiving) laughter of agreement.

“Oh Mummy, don’t be silly, that’s just ridiculous.” I retort somewhat angrily, coaxing my portly pet up onto my lap. He of course takes this opportunity to look around the table from his newly improved vantage point to survey for potentially interesting food items leftover.

A few days later a friend and I were out doing a little window shopping (okay maybe it was a little more interactive than that:) in the neighbourhood when I spotted my vet paying for parking.

“Hey! How are you? I haven’t seen you at the gym in ages (it’s a small neighbourhood… everyone works out at the same gym)… have you stopped going?” I ask him teasingly, knowing that he is as committed to his fitness as I am.

“I’ve been going in the mornings lately… I know you go usually in the afternoons don’t you? Hey, we should work out together some time.”

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The Right Home for the Wrong Attitude

As you may know, I write a column twice weekly for www.lifestyleandstrength.com . I write fun, silly and hopefully every once in a while, inspirational articles that I try to keep on the very positive side… The Lighter Side if you will.

Problem is that sometimes I’m a little cynical and caustic for an upbeat lifestyle site… okay maybe a lot. Somedays I can come up with 400 witty things to say, problem is they’re often also a little, hmmm, how shall I put it? Bitchy. Yup, that’s the word.

I’ve got the surly stories about the “Very Busy Barbies” I encounter throughout my day to day life. I’ve got a snark or two about most politicians, and it’s rarely polite. In fact the words involved are as far from lady like as humanly possible. I can almost always be counted on to have a snide remark about anyone that parks badly, wears too much cologne, drives poorly, disregards personal space, and God help you if you’re the poor sod who’s trying to make a buck telemarketing.

So where does a lifestyle writer girl take that kind of attitude? Well, I guess it’s here! On my very own website. So I hope that you’ll all bear with me as I allow my slightly cranky alter ego to run wild here from time to time.

I guess you can tell that my recent trip to “Pleasantville”, Ontario has worn off!:)

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Slowing it WAY down

I look forward to spending a couple of weekends a year at my sister’s place… no husband, no kids… just my big sis and I. It’s rather revitalizing.

My sister is a calm, reasonable sort who understands how to relax. I do not. I feel it is a necessary part of my evolution to train at the feet of the master.

This particular weekend I decided to come a day early, even though she would have to work on the Friday. It would be fun I thought… sleep in, maybe get a little writing done, then run a few errands as we were hosting a cocktail party on the Saturday.

Although I didn’t sleep in (my internal alarm clock is far too well trained for that) I did get a little yoga in, undisturbed for a change, before heading out on my chores. I was taking her obscenely smelly poodle for a bath, picking up a sod roller and driving out to the country to a local cheese maker for the next day’s hors d’oeuvre.

I am from a very large and bustling city. My sister lives in a very small and quiet one. I’ve known the town for many, many years. I lived in it until I was 12, but I have never before been so aware of the calming effect it has.

Everyone seems to drive the speed limit. They merge politely, smiling and waving as they do so. Is it possible that they really all know one another? Not a single person honked at me when I pulled over to the side of the road to consult the directions, or even when I made a sudden lane change when I spotted my destination. I laughed aloud when I got parking RIGHT IN THE FRONT ROW! My spot was one of MANY! No kidding!

The girls who worked at the dog groomers chatted politely with me, laughing and speaking with great familiarity as though I were a regular customer. I was almost finding it difficult to affect an exit strategy.

The man at the rental shop spoke kindly and explained everything before I even had a chance to ask the questions. I wondered briefly if he thought me simple, so gentle was his speech. He arranged for one of the staff to place the sod roller in the back of my car. The man who did so worried about whether it might damage the back of the seat. What sort of peculiar place was this I wondered.

The drive through the country on the way back from the cheese market was nothing short of idyllic. I snaked along the old number 2 highway on the shores of the St. Lawrence River, my speed varying by between 15 KMH below the speed limit to probably just at the limit. I swerved off onto the gravel shoulder on more than one occasion as I gazed dreamily at the brilliant sun beams bouncing off the river.

I realized after several kilometers of this that I had a string of cars behind me, patiently tolerating my rather bizarre driving style. No one honked, tailgated nor sped past me at any point… it was at least a half hour drive! I decided that they must all be just as blissed out as I on this perfect fall day.

I arrived a few minutes late at the school where my sister teaches, hoping that she wouldn’t be cross at having to wait. I spotted her across the schoolyard chatting amiably with a handful of students. They all looked up at the same time and waved at me, bounding through the parking lot to say hi. I’ve never met any of her students, but they greeted me as though I belonged.

My sister insisted that we stop at a gas station on the way home so that she could put gas in my tank as I had done all the running around that day. As she hopped out I saw her face break into a broad smile.

“Hey Bob! How are you? Will I see you next week at the Firemen’s Fundraiser?”

“Sure will Sher! It’s going to be a great time!”

They chatted happily for a few moments while pumping gas, then she slid back into the passenger seat.

“Friend of yours?” I asked.

“Nope not really, just the mayor.”

Sigh. I’m so relaxed. Nothing like a four hour drive through a rainstorm on the 401 to cure me of that little problem.

Please don’t forget to drop into www.lifestyleandstrength and check out my twice weekly column… you can find me under the “Lighter Side”

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Where Infinity and Hope Meet

When I was little, I was terribly afraid of infinity. It was represented by space and death and maybe even … dun, dun, dun dun … forever. My young mind was afraid of forever.

I vaguely recall a television program, obviously fiction, about an astronaut abandoned by his ship, just floating, alone… infinitely. You can see how that might trouble a young mind.

As I’ve grown and (possibly, probably, maybe, dunno:) matured, I’ve come to enjoy the prospect of infinity. It gives me a surge of excitement as I imagine the possibilities of forever. It represents hope to me now. Now my heart leaps a little as though I have a secret when I consider infinity.

Imagine having an infinite time in which to cultivate a passion.

My thoughts on infinity and hope are still developing in my mind. I will continue to explore this topic and to try understand and articulate the notions of where hope and infinity intersect.

Thank you for indulging me by listening, and no I have not been smoking pot!:) It might be one too many yoga classes of late though!

Please don’t forget to check out www.lifestyleandstrength.com where I am now published TWICE a week!  Thanks!

 

 

 

 

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