Sunday, July 7, 2013

Best day EVER

This is a post that was written on June 6 at 4:05 am but was not at ease to publish until now. 

As I sit here, it’s 4:05 am and I haven’t slept a wink. Normally, with my alarm set to go off at 5:30 am, I would be stressfully counting down the minutes, anxious about not having slept. Blame it on the latte at dinner last night, but somehow by choosing to drink one down, I think my subconscious was preparing me for the hours ahead. You see, today is the first day of the rest of my life. As I type those words, an uncontrollable smile spreads across my face. I feel like I’ve won the lottery. The freedom, the wide open possibilities that lay ahead – stun me. FINALLY, I AM HERE.

When I look back at the past year, there have been so many clarifying moments that seem to only make sense in retrospect, now knowing the role they played in getting me here: the almost perpetual illnesses I seem to face, the inability to continue running and being active, the tragic loss of two small children in our community and how we came to grips with that as a family emphasized what is important in life, the inspirational stories I’ve read about mothers determinedly running family-first businesses, and just the other day, when my oldest daughter asked me why I’m always sick. All of these moments, situations and reflections have led to this point. I don’t want to be that woman anymore. She is not me. I don’t want my daughters growing up to see that once you grow up after toiling away for years at school, your reward is getting up everyday full on feeling deflated at the prospect of spending the next eight hours working in a job that gives you no sense of purpose or satisfaction. It’s wrong. I’m not happy and I refuse to let that situation dictate and control my life any longer. 

I want my daughters to be inspired by my work ethic and skill, by my dedication to persevere and chase a dream. I want them to learn those attributes because those are the ones that make life worth living by enjoying every breath rather than waiting around in between the good moments. I want my girls to see me wake up and help them start their day with optimism and love. I want them to see how important the work is that gets you where you want to be, but also that the hard work in and of itself part of the reward… it’s doing something you love, something that truly moves you.

We will see how the next few weeks and months will go. I have no expectations of the future. I have only expectations of myself. For the first time, I feel free, relieved of burden and ready to take on the world. Finally, I am here.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The organized home...not mine!

Sometimes I just feel like taking the roof off of my house and turning it upside down, giving it a good shake to start over. Like a guest that has outlasted his welcome, I want to get rid of the stuff that just seems to linger, hanging on and sucking the Zen out of me. It collects like dust bunnies (we have those too) in corners, on surfaces, in cabinets and on benches….anywhere there is a surface, there is stuff.

Then I look at my beloved design magazines. At this time of the year especially the focus is on renewal and I find myself pining for the minimalist kitchens where there is nary a crumb on the serene white counter top, the seamlessness of the cupboards and lack of clutter on the counters a respite for my tired eyes that have no calm place to rest in my house. The BIG question? How do I get from here to there?

Then reality kicks in. I do a quick assessment and remember the following:
  • We have kids.
  •  We have a dog and a cat, a turtle, two frogs and two fish.
  • We have kids who have friends.
  •  It is winter in Canada: the most notoriously messy time of the year.
  •  I have attachment issues. I feel bad throwing stuff away. I blame my eco-minded teen years when I visualized anything I threw out sitting in landfills for the next 3 generations.
  •  I put things off. I would rather sit and watch a show and have a glass of wine than clear the perpetual clutter on the kitchen island. Even if I attempted it, I am not sure what to do with the ‘stuff’ anyways.

So there you have it. Clearly our family lifestyle and the fact that we are human beings are working against me. The trick then, is to find ways to fit that cleaner vision I have into our current lifestyle. For me, that means hiding messes from sight with ease. Purchasing organizational furniture and accessories is the easy part. The hard part is changing attitudes and behavior.

Case in point, I know I am a hoarder. I punctuate my cleaning by muttering ‘what if’ and ‘maybe I’ll need this later’, all the while fighting the growing ball of anxiety in my stomach. It’s a feeling that takes me back to childhood: your parent comes to vacuum your room but you have left some Barbie shoes strewn on the carpet. You know the scene. Panicked, you frantically race to the bedroom to pick up the microscopic footwear as Mom or Dad issues their final warning before “going in” and sucking it all up. Parting with ‘my stuff’ is a deeply-rooted security thing and the fact that it’s a psychological issue is not lost on me.
So then the question is no longer ‘Why am I like this?” but rather “How do I work around my idiosyncrasies”? What is the work-around for imbedded attachment issues? If I’m to be honest with you and myself, I realize that moreso than buying organizing magazines and snazzy file folders, I must actually make decisions and stick with them. Stop wavering, himming and hawing, and ultimately stop myself from going down the ‘Path of Second Thoughts’ when it comes to sorting and throwing out.

Now, whether or not I can actually do it is another thing altogether. Here are my steps for how to get started (don’t get me wrong – these are as much for me as for everyone else reading):

  • Start small. Biting off more than you can chew is only going to make things more of a challenge. It’s better to feel that you completed a task with ease and success rather than leave things a worse mess than when you started. Example. I want to reorganize my whole kitchen. Reality check: I will start with one cupboard or clutter corner.
  • Take a breath. When that anxiety ball creeps up, stop and ask what is really at stake by parting with X. Is it really worth the anxiety it is causing or is that more of an automatic reaction? Nip it in the bud!
  • Remove EVERYTHING and work backwards.  By clearing the space immediately, and then only putting back what you really want, you are likely to add less than if you started clearing out from a full space. Seeing the empty space right away is invigorating and will make parting with things easier because the end result is right in front of you. It can also allow room for more creative solutions to come through, helping the overall process. Clean slate, clean mind!

So there you have it. Wish me luck! Updates to follow. In the meantime, because it is necessary to have a place to put things, see my favourite recommended organizing products by visiting pinterest boards!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Oooh La La Lashes

I don't normally share my opinions about cosmetics and beauty products because I don't try a ton of new and exciting items on a regular basis. I stick with what I know works for me and I'm quite loyal to what I know and love. The exception being, it seems, things to do with eyelashes. The only other post I've written in this area was about my  beloved Fresh Supernova Mascara (still my favourite). Yesterday I ventured into an area of beauty products I hadn't been acquainted with since I was a baggy-pants blue-haired raver kid: FAKE EYELASHES!!
I wore these ones to a wedding
I have to say, when you aren't going for an over-the-top look that will be visible in a dark warehouse lit only by lazer lights, picking out falsies is a tad intimidating. I don't want to look ridiculous, just glamourous. So I went to the best place I knew to seek out my lashes - Sephora (seriously, what did us Ottawans do before this store opened here??).

There were about 5 or 6 different styles and it was really tough to figure out how they would look. To be honest, they all seemed to kind of lean towards the 'ridiculous' rather than 'glamourous'. For $10 a pair, I chose two of the most natural I could find, which to me, still looked over the top. Not so. Once I got them on and grew used to the look on me, I was in love!! Now I know why Eva Longoria is rarely seen without them. OMG instant Oooh La La!

A lot has changed since the last time I wore fake lashes. The glue for example, seems more forgiving and overall less 'stingy' and 'burny' when put on the sensitive skin of the eye. And it doesn't smell like crazy glue which is nice. Also, it's black. At first this freaked me out - I had visions of smeared black glue and a ruined make up job that I had no time to reapply. It turned out, the black glue is not only invisible on the black lash line, but it looks like liquid eyeliner! LOVE THAT. I especially love that because liquid eyeliner is not something I've been brave enough to try. Now that I see how it would look on me, you can bet you'll find a post about my favourite liquid liner here soon!

The true test came when my kids saw me with the lashes on and couldn't tell I was wearing them. I had to let them examine my eyes to believe that they were fake. 'Nough said. I'm sold. I just hope I don't rip out my real lashes in the process of using these falsies. Anyone with pointers on removal and reuse? Post your comments here please!

DIY kit to create your own look. I will attempt this next!


Monday, September 24, 2012

Things I love...When the Restoration Hardware catalogue arrives

Imagine morning coffee and laptop in those chairs SIGH!
Today I was greeted by Restoration Hardware's annual catalogue - a tome weighing about 5 lbs. It amazes me how much it must cost to put this gorgeous book together. The shipping alone must be astronomical. It is beautiful however, even though the pages resemble castles rather than real homes. This time though, included was a great little booklet - little being the key word. It was titled "Big Style, Small Spaces". Not only was it demure in size compared to its counterpart, it featured smaller furniture in grandly styled rooms yet of a more quaint scale. The booklet was divided into residential themes - one of my absolute favourite techniques to display various decorating styles and eras.

Cigar leather: naptime
Themes such as Chelsea Penthouse and Paris Pied-à-Terre were pretty typical of RH's styling of its furniture spreads: industrial chic and understated glamour of old France. What I found surprising were gems like Napa Farmhouse and West Hollywood Apartment. Oooh, how my eyes flitted from theme to theme. It was a really fun take on their collections - not to mention the scale and pricing were both more reasonable for the average sized room in the real world.

Of course, the large catalogue did not disappoint. Broken-in leather collections that make me want to crawl into the pages and curl up. Beautiful art deco foggy glass tables in the Strand Collection look like mercury glass, are begging to hold a Martini glass or two. The shimmering Victorian Hotel Pendant is the cherry on top of the vision I have of my dream dressing room. Too heavy to prop on my chest to read in bed, this will find its place on my coffee table. Maybe, considering the gorgeous photography and furniture, it is meant to be displayed that way afterall.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Foodie wars: diet books with bite

Wow, it's been a while since I've been on here and I've missed it. July has blown past and here we are in what has been one of the hottest summers I can remember. There have been a few Tweets I've shared in the past week, and of them, foodie books seemed to be the central theme. Perhaps it's because the effects of a week of indulgence and sitting around at the cottage have caught up to me, but diets, dieting and weight loss are always hot topics.

The first book I'm going to mention is one that is stirring up quite a controversy and once I reveal the title, that will come as no surprise. It's called "Six Weeks To OMG: Get Skinnier Than All Your Friends."

Seriously. I can't make this up, folks. If this sounds like something only teen girls would say, you have hit the nail of controversy square on the head. Who else could this be speaking to? The author, Venice A. Fulton, defends this saying the use of OMG is not intended to make his book appeal to young women. however, professionals are worried about the message this sends not only to young women but also about weight loss in general. The unconventional diet is based upon the use of the body's existing stores of fat in the morning, followed by no snacking and lots of caffeine the rest of the day (I'm simplifying for the sake of brevity). There is also a cold bath to kickstart your metabolism in the morning. Ick.

The kicker for me though was this article in a U.K. newspaper with case studies of people who went on this diet. Sure, there are convincing before and after photos of these people, and good on 'em for finally getting motivated to change their habits but for me, it was the before and after meal journals of a typical day that I found most compelling. I hate to break it to them but as soon as they have reached their target weight, the TERRIBLE dietary habits will creep back in. I mean, really people, crisps (chips) as your 'side' for lunch?? Chips (fries) and gravy?? Three or four pints, three or four nights per week?? And this is a typical day? Seriously.

I personally don't think their results have anything to do with the diet's ridiculous requirements as much as the drastic reduction in their caloric intake of these people each day. The 'after' diet plans are such a stark contrast to their 'before' diets - that is the real reason they lost weight and I'm sorry to say, eating less is not something new to dieting.

Moving on....

The other book I read about also deals with losing weight but the approach could not be more opposite if it tried. This one is called Culinary Intelligence: The art of eating healthy (and really well) by Peter Kaminsky, a professional foodie and writer. After facing health issues, he decided to change his habits, not his career. When faced with tasting and reviewing wonderful food around the world, he approached every eating so that every calorie counted both towards his waistline and the dining experience, savouring every single bite. This takes time of course, and when we are rushed, distracted or multitasking, not only are we more likely to eat more, we are less likely to enjoy what we do eat just because we aren't taking the time to really be in the moment and enjoy the experience. Isn't that something we should apply to more areas of our life too?