Tag Archive for life

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Very Rewarding Experiences

Okay, so Nadine Dajani tagged me (on a Wednesday, I must point out) to participate in a Top Ten Tuesday blog… I hoped that meant I could think about it until next Tuesday… But then thought, hey, why not post it early on a Thursday instead. (I’m nothing if not a rule-breaker.)

So, Top Ten Very Rewarding Experiences…

1. Finishing my first book. Actually, finishing the first chapter of my first book was pretty damned rewarding. So was finishing my latest book. So is getting even one good page done some days.

2. Being present at the birth of my niece. I will be forever grateful to my sister for allowing me to be part of that day.

3. Watching my nephew, who has autism, learn to play with other kids. The few times he’s genuinely hugged me have been pretty special, too. (He normally reserves that for his parents or his sister.)

4. Jumping out of an airplane. It was a tandem jump. But that just made it more cool because I got tossed out at 13,000 feet and got to do a free fall. (And it was easier to land with a pro on my back.)

5. Being a “Foster Parent” to a young boy in Burkina Faso. I’m not as good about writing letters and all that stuff as I should be… But I feel good knowing my small contribution is making life in his village just a little bit easier.

6. Serving on Boards of not-for-profit organizations. (Although this would also make my top 10 frustrating things list.)

7. Climbing to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite. I did this just a year after I had a ruptured Achilles tendon repaired and the last however-many-feet up (the part using chains) was the most challenging thing I’d ever done at that point of my life.

8. While I’m on physical achievements… Doing the Solvang Century (100 miles with a lot of steep hills) bike ride. Sure, it took nearly 9 hours. But I finished.

9. Helping writers less experienced than me.

10. Meeting any personal goal I set for myself.

Winter Wonderland

Maybe it’s because I spent chunks of my formative years in snowy cold places like Montreal and Winnipeg, but I love days like today.

Sure, it’s cold out there. But it’s sunny and there’s fluffy powdery snow and everything’s sparkling and fresh.

Wish I had time to go for a walk. (Must make time to go for a walk.)

Photo is of me with friends Scott and Joy during a very unexpected snowstorm in NYC a few years ago. We weren’t exactly dressed for it. No boots. Pretty sure I bought that scarf from some guy on the street. Blue raincoat was borrowed from my friend Elaine, because the forecast called for rain…

Messiness is next to…?

Probably not godliness, but who cares?

I was inspired by a great article by Margaret Wente in Saturday’s Globe & Mail. Inspired because she’s a great columnist, sure. But also inspired by the positive boost to my self-esteem. (But obviously not inspired enough to think of an original idea of my own for this blog… My apologies, Ms. Wente.)

Confession: I am a messy person. (Stop laughing, Molly.) I always have been. Although I know where things are when I want them, generally, I live in what looks to organized people, as a state of chaos.

If you’re one of those hyper-organized people, brace yourself. I’m about to post a photo of my desk. Well, part of my desk.

Are you still breathing?

I’ve heard some of the theories put forward in Ms. Wente’s column before. That actually being too tidy, too organized is a huge waste of time and merely a procrastination technique for people so inclined. I’ve also taken solace in the idea that many creative and brilliant minds of the past were very messy/outwardly disorganized people. Albert Einstein said if a cluttered desk is an indication of a cluttered mind, what does an empty desk indictate. (Roughly paraphrased quote.)

On this I rest my case.

Did my proclivity for a cluttered desk help my image/reputation in the business world? (Can’t. Stop. Laughing…)

But now I’m my own boss. It’s working for me. Mostly. So I’m not about to change and am trying, really hard, not to beat myself up for it.

What about you? Messy or neatnik?

The things that make us tear up

The strangest things make me tear up. I do admit that I tend to be more emotional and sentimental than even my closest friends might realize… But I surprise even myself, sometimes.

Like this morning when I picked my paper off my front porch to see this photo with the headline: Le Nouveau Pierre Trudeau.
For you Americans who might not know… Pierre Trudeau was Prime Minster of Canada for, well, most of my childhood and into my early adulthood. (With a short, less than one year break in 1979-80, he was PM from April, 1968 to June, 1984.)
And if he were still alive, he’d now have a grandson named for him. Story here. Little Pierre is Pierre-Emmanuel, not Pierre Elliott, but they both have the initials PET, initials as well known to most Canadians as JFK are to Americans.
I try to avoid politics while blogging and while many Canadians west of Saskatchewan, and east of BC, (Okay, I’m singling out Albertans, sorry), will probably take exception to this, I think PET was a great Prime Minister. Sure, I do understand why some Canadians hold him responsible for much of the divisiveness in Canada, today, but I also think he’s responsible for clarifying Canadian values, for helping us understand and be proud of who we are.

Multiculturalism, Bilingualism, Tolerance, the idea that the state has no place in the bedroom, our Charter of Rights, our constitution, our relationship to the US, (to roughly quote him: sleeping next to an elephant, you’re bound to get the occasional kick). Although some major Canadian defining policies (our international role as Peace-keepers and diplomats, universal health care) were enacted before he took office, these programs grew up and took root during the Trudeau years. PET took office the year after Canada turned 100 and I daresay our place in the world was largely defined during his tenure as PM.

So, seeing little Pierre today made me cry a little. (Big softie. Get to work.)

What Happened to Winter?

The superstitious part of me thinks this post is a mistake. That a cold front will descend the instant I push the “Publish” button.
But it’s freakin’ balmy in Toronto this winter.
Okay, those of you in the south or on the coast have different definitions of balmy… But it was 10 C in Toronto yesterday. New Year’s Day! That’s 50 F for you ‘mercans. That kind of weather is typical here in October or April, not January.
The average daily maximum for this time of year is about -1 or -2 (29 or 30F) and we often get a week in the -20’s around this time of year. I’m still wearing my fall jacket. I’ve been sleeping with my window open a crack. It’s crazy.
We do often get a “warm snap” in Dec or Jan when the temperature pushes above the freezing point and all the snow melts to a slushy mess, but the strange thing this year is that there hasn’t really been a cold snap. There hasn’t been any snow. We did have a week back in late November where I broke out my winter jacket, but I haven’t even looked for my boots yet.
I’ve heard economists say that global warming is good for my home and native land… That everyone in Texas and Arizona will be baking and wanting to move north. That the wheat fields in Kansas will become desert, while more and more (now permafrosted) land in Canada’s north will become fertile and more desirably habitable… And we do have something like 2/3 of the world’s fresh water in Canada…
Don’t know about all that. All I know is I’m going to enjoy this warm weather while it lasts!

Snotty sleeves

One of the good manners lessons my mother taught me as a very young child was to cover my mouth when I sneezed or coughed and NEVER to wipe my nose on my sleeve. Only people who grew up in barns do that, apparently.

Well, the City of Toronto is trying to get us all to move into barns, with their “Do the Sleeve Sneeze” campaign. I guess the idea is that if you cough or sneeze onto your hands and then touch stuff, like the hand railings in the subway or whatever, everyone who touches where you touched will pick up your germs.

Maybe this makes sense… But gross! I wonder if we’ll start to see lots of slimy looking coat sleeves this winter. I think I’d rather get the flu.

An Embarrassment of Shoes

I’m all for descriptive collective nouns, but when someone recently referred to my front hall as containing “an embarrassment of shoes” I took exception.

Shoes are great. I totally related to the main character in In Her Shoes. No matter how much a girl’s weight goes up or down or sideways (mine’s gone all three directions too many times to count) shoes look great. And regardless of weight issues, I just don’t have one of those clothes friendly bodies. Never have. Never will. I’m short. I’m stocky. I’m learning to live with that. One way I live with it is buying great shoes. And earrings. I’m big on earrings.

Yes, it’s true. I own enough shoes to make Imelda Marcos slightly giddy, but I’m not embarrassed about this. Hmmmm… What would be a better noun for a large shoe collection? A pride of shoes? A glory of shoes? A spectacular?

Don’t know. But I do know the the sunbeam, which arrived in my living room midway through my writers’ group meeting this morning, highlighted an embarrassment housework sins.
PS. Photo of shoe from Fluevog.

Crazy Weather

Okay, the weather may not be the most exciting blog topic, but we Canadians love to talk about the weather.

And this month it’s strange. Yes, this is a huge monster country so the weather is pretty diverse, but normally this time of year you can count on a few things. One of these things certainly isn’t snow in Vancouver or Victoria… They never get snow, even in the dead of winter, never mind November.

Yes, it’s normally getting cold on the prairies by this time of year, but the minus 40 windchills they’ve been having in Edmonton, Calgary etc. are insane.

And… it’s balmy where I live in Toronto. Okay, not exactly tropical, but my thermometer said 15 yesterday, which is almost 60 degrees Farenheit. In the sun, you don’t need a jacket. We often have snow by now. Maybe not the kind of snow that will last all winter, but perhaps an early blizzard that’s annoying and turns to slush and reminds us of what’s heading our way in January and February.

Instead, we’re getting the nice fall weather we really didn’t get much of in October. Yipee.

My apologies to my fellow Canadians suffering in less favourable weather conditions. I’m sure we’ll get ours, too… Soon…

Control and hairdressers

I was born a honey blonde. That’s what I would have called it anyway. It wasn’t ever platinum like my older sister’s, but still blonde. I liked the colour. In my not-so-humble opinion, it looked like 24 carat gold in sunlight. That and its softness almost made up for its limp, fine, impossible to style, poker straightness.

Sometime during my thirties—I’m not exactly sure when, because I moved to California when I was in my late twenties and I think the sunshine masked the exact year of change—my hair darkened and dulled, turned less golden blonde and more dark dirty blonde or even (gasp!) mousy brown. So, in spite of having much disdain for artificial blondes when I had my own, I started to add highlights. I’ve had a bit of a chemical dependence ever since.

After quitting my conservative day-job, I wanted to try something different. Having green eyes and that Irish/Scottish complexion thing going, I always wondered what I’d look like with red hair. I confessed this to my new, crazy-in-a-good-way hairdresser, Farzana, along with a desire to have something bold, something funky, something that didn’t scream 40-years old. (A milestone I’d just reached.)

The first few times she cut and coloured my hair, I’m sure we discussed what I wanted ahead of time. I seem to recall having input on the colours she used.

Not so much anymore. Now I walk in the door and she goes, “I have a great idea!” and several hours and many dollars later I emerge with some crazy hair colouring.

Not that I’m complaining. I keep going back, don’t I? And Jenny Bent remembered me at a conference because of my hair. (And I’m pretty sure it was in a good way.)

When I went in to see Farzana on the weekend, my hair had a strawberry blonde base, not unlike the natural colour of my youth, and some chunky highlights in a lighter blonde, and some red, and some brown… I loved it when she’d done it back in July and it had faded to something soft and pretty but roots were coming in. I wanted to know if she could freshen it up and fix the roots, without doing the whole hog double process it had taken to get it where it was.

Somehow, without much discussion, I walked out a few hours later with very dark hair. Deep brown on the bottom and a deep auburn on the top. For a natural blonde, the dark hair thing is a little disturbing. I’m not sure if it suits me yet. I do know I should have had her dye my eyebrows, too. I look freaky without makeup.

How much control do you give your hairdresser? Do you know exactly what you want and tell him/her? Or, like me, do you throw caution to the blow dryer?


Tucked in my paper yesterday was an LL Bean catalogue. A CHRISTMAS catalogue.

Give me a break! I’m having enought trouble believing it’s September.

It drives me nuts how businesses keep moving the holiday season farther and farther forward. Before long, we’ll have Christmas decorations in March.

Ho. Ho. Ho.