Saturday, October 31, 2009

the littlest hobo

When I was out running errands this morning, I had to stop and get gas.  As I was standing there holding the nozzle, I realized I was staring at the CN Tower - kind of numb, in a moment of solitude. Sometimes it's in moments like these when you stop and think about where you're at in life. And I started to think about how I ended up here, in Toronto.  

I came for love, but I stayed for a different kind of love.  This city has been incredibly good to me.  Over the last eight years, I've met some of my life long friends, I've gained a deeper understanding of myself and I've expanded my career here.  But underlying the love factor, at the base of it all, the key driver for being here has always been my career choice: advertising.  It's what drove me to leave Nova Scotia the first time 'round in 1997 when I moved to Calgary. It's what caused me to give Halifax another try in 2006 and it's what brought me back again to Toronto in 2007.  

So, back to the gas station.  My epiphany moment probably hit me right around the time the handle on the nozzle released and my thought process ended.  Recently, my job has shifted solely into the digital space.   I feel like this is a good thing given the fact that we'll all have no choice (advertising or not) but to embrace this mobile marketplace.  And in a mobile marketplace I realized that I can be anywhere, anytime with my job. Don't get me wrong, I love Toronto and I'm not going anywhere anytime soon, but with the world wide web we can be free! Free to travel and live wherever we want. This was a big moment for me this morning at Esso, especially as a small town kid that's traveled the country for work, making tiny sacrifices along the way. 

Now I know that people believe the digital space and social media causes us to be less connected, but it's simply not true.  You can now be where you love to be with your family and your friends by your side. I wrote about this similar topic once before, about staying true to who you are and not letting technology replace your genuine, real self.  But today my happiness came in knowing we can use technology to be closer, physically.  I'm not sure what took me so long to think of this...apparently I've been busy.

When I came back home this morning, I pulled out the journal that I kept when I first moved to Calgary (from Halifax) in 1997.  It was my adventure to finding a "real job" at an advertising agency after graduating from university. This journal entry was particularly relevant as I think about the possibilities of digital world twelve years later (and the fact that I'm transcribing a 12 year old journal entry to my online blog in 2009).

April 19, 1997

Well here I sit one month after finding a job feeling not so strong or satisfied anymore. I feel like I'm losing sight of what I've come to Calgary for.  Everyone has been telling me that it was such a big move on my part to come alone, across the country, to accomplish a career that I've always dreamt of. And if tomorrow I decided to go back home I still wouldn't feel like I accomplished what I wanted. 

Before coming out here I thought the most important thing was to find a job in advertising. Now I'm here and I have it, but it seems like I don't have much else.  I don't have love surrounding me like I used to back home.  I remember someone once said that the true definition of hell was having everything you've ever wanted (material things) and having no one left on the planet to share it with you.  Right now, today feels like that kind of hell. 

I've been so lucky to have been given the life I have and to have such incredible friends and parents.  I feel like no one else has the kind of friends like I do. I feel as though I really have the best ones and I miss them so much.  But I also know the importance of staying positive, feeling grateful, living in the now, knowing that this too shall pass and it will make me stronger.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

behind the scenes

When I saw U2 one month ago at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, I was blown away by a couple of things:

1) The size of the audience. Never having seen a concert there before and having seats in the lower bowl, section 100, we were still miles away from Bono, The Edge, Larry and Adam, but...
2) it was ok, because the size of the stage was monstrous. I couldn't stop thinking of all the people that are behind the scenes - that have designed, built and that put the stage together every night.

And it made me think about all the people that are behind the scenes in all things that make life more beautiful. From the parents that raise remarkable children, to the choreographers that create art in dance, the screenwriters that make us laugh and in our jobs, to the team of people that make us look good collectively every day. I'm appreciative of the big little people that make things better.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

alone in a crowded room

I pride myself on my independence.  Probably to a fault.  But I love the strength in doing things on my own; things that most others feel they couldn't do without the support and presence of someone else at their side. My lone-state of emotional happiness has ranged from "I am woman, hear my roar!" when I fixed a toilet for the first as big as "I'm on top of the world!" after a 4-day climb to Machu Picchu.  

Basically, I get off (not in that way) on having dinner alone with a candle, a glass of wine and a book in a cozy restaurant. (Oddly, I enjoy this more when I'm traveling, but not so much here at home).  I treasure solo road-trips with my dog and my ipod.  I prefer to run alone than with a friend.  And I'll never forget the first time I went to a movie by myself - pure bliss.

That said, my evil (or perhaps, my better) gemini twin also loves parties, dinners, trips and all around good times with the people I love the most in the world - my family and amazing friends.  So no, I'm not some kind of loner hermit. 

Last night, for the second time in my life, I went to a concert by myself.  This, I can say is not nearly as much fun as all my other fav things to do alone.  But my take on life is to never stop yourself from doing the things you want because you don't have a companion, partner, friend or lover with you - whether it's travel, a movie, dinner or a concert.  I'm incredibly happy that I pushed myself to buy that ticket to see Metric at Massey Hall last night.  While it's always way more fun to dance and sing with friends, Emily rocked that stage so hard that she had me dancing with her.  Not only was I in a moment with her, but we all were.  Together.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

you've got mail

Do you know what the second best thing to happen after a long day at work is?

Coming through the door and having old-fashioned mail in a white, hand-written envelope.

Do you know what the best thing after that is?

Seeing this image inside the envelope.

This is one of the sweetest, smartest and most independent little girls on the planet. Sweet Mara is my girlfriend Rhonda's 5 -yr old daughter. Mara and I have had a special bond since she was first able to speak. Our connection began with eye-wear and then grew over jungle gyms, baking and footwear.

This image makes me so incredibly happy, but a tiny bit melancholy at the speed with which she's growning up. But what grounds me in looking at it, is how much she is so in this one moment - so ecstatic to be grown-up and in school with the big kids.

Mara, may you always celebrate each and every accomplishment (big or small) in your life, in the same way you did on this one day.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

dance, dance revolution

I think as a general population there are very few things we collectively have in common, but I'm pretty sure we all wish would could sing and dance. Personally, if I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to choose one - hands down: dancing.  And from there if I had to choose between being part of a bigger dance group versus dancing solo, I'd go for the group.  

My first initiation for a choreographed dance was when I took line dancing lessons with my mom in the early nineties. Damn, we worked it - sliding our sweet ole cowboy boots across the hardwood floor to a crowd favourite, Achy Breaky Heart.  Now, I don't care what you say but I already sense your judgement (can you smell my judgement project coming?), but I can almost guarantee that if you tried it, you'd have a ball.  And that, my friends, is the magic of dance. Once you remove the fear of being judged you feel free, in the moment and an intense happiness.

I've had some old fashioned good times this past summer. I've rocked out to Eye of the Tiger with my band Munrovia, sang my heart out twice at Karaokelifted a third of my bodyweight firing a bowling ball down a cosmic wooden lane and tried to nail "We got the Beat" about seven times on an electric Twister pad with Marse this summer.  But alas, simply put - I miss dancing. And I can tell you I'm a little rusty because my seven-year-old 'faux niece' was teaching me Hip Hop dance moves last weekend and I almost threw my back out.  

In summary, I think I smell a new 'welcome to awes' event.

And while I fully want to bust it out in a group dance, I completely respect and appreciate dudes like this guy....god bless 'em.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

the seasons, they are a changing

I've definitely had writers block for the last 11 days.  I found myself struggling to think of any new and relevant content, while staying true to my theme.  The hard part is keeping you interested and coming back for more.  No easy task when this blog is about me, my life and cherishing wee moments.  So when I was running the other day, I thought about a project that I'm going to kick off right here on my blog in 2010 and I'll need your input.  So stayed tuned for "The Judgement Project".

As an aside, I'm sitting here this morning editing summer photos from my trip 'home' to Cape Breton. Although it was only 8 weeks ago, it honestly feels like last year.  The number one reason being that in these summery shots we're in swimsuits and shorts and today I wore my winter coat.  The seasons are a changin' that for sure, but mostly in the number of seasons we have here in Toronto. We are now narrowed down to only two: 10.5 months of "freeze your ass off" and 1.5 months of "toasty and luke warm".

this is a small taste of the many spectacular moments that we experienced this summer.  This is my dad and my 13-yr old niece.  I love this private moment of solitude and the subtly of their arms resting together.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

my two dads

It's almost two years ago to the day that I moved into my cozy little apartment in Leslieville. The plan was to only stay for one year.  But the problem is I'm kinda attached to my landlords, something I can honestly say I never thought would happen.  I'm mean everyone usually hates their slumlord, but mine are different...mine are gaylords!  Todd and Matt own the house (well actually, I might own it by now after two years of paying their mortgage) and I live on the top floor.  Over the last two years, we've gone from a tenant/landlord relationship to being truly the best of friends.  

They've lent me their truck to take friends to a Jack Johnson concert; they've come to the rescue many times when I've needed help looking after Dawson; they've made me dinner on numerous occasions and I've only returned the favour once with my 'white trash pot pie'; we religiously watch American Idol together and if I miss a night they don't understand why; they've met many of my lifer friends and gone to dinner with all of us on several occasions. They've even made my mom feel comfortable enough to share stories I've never heard before. I feel safe with them here and somewhat protected (although I could probably kick any robbers ass better than they could...well better than Todd anyway).  More importantly we can say almost anything to each other without hurting each others feelings (I said almost).  I often wonder what it will be like to come home without them here.  I mean really, I've lived 2 years without a dryer and a black cable cord running across my living room because the electricity isn't up to snuff.  Why?  Because it's worth living here for so many other reasons.

Aside from their friendship, they give me new perspective and they've showed me what real love looks like with a different 'face on it'.  It's a relationship unlike anything I've ever known intimately in my life, nor is it like any relationship in my list of family and friends.  They've been together for nine years and they do things differently than us straights, but sometimes I think they've got it figured out better than 'we' do.  They've been through a lot together and their age gap is close to that of Ashton and Demi's.  Aside from this photo, they've also broken down a few stereotypes for me in that all gays aren't "so queeenniee!". 

Now they are about to take their relationship to the next level. Parenthood.

Last weekend, we were at brunch where I got to introduce them to someone special in my life. The conversation, as expected, was seamless and at ease.   And since Todd is very outspoken and because his ovaries are aching, he brought up "Operation Eggs Benett".  He started to explain to us the difference between adoption and in vitro and why it's more challenging when you're a gay couple.  But it was when he said, "you know for us it's not as easy as a bottle of wine and a bear-skin rug" that it hit me.  The things we take for granted in life. And how so many people can freely have a baby that really aren't fit to be solid parents. And how for me, it could happen in one simple night and for them it will likely take up to 2 years.  It almost makes you want to say, here take one of mine because you have a precious gift that is like kryptonite to them.   

Anyway, I suggest you follow their story for more perspective and to just see how much love there is out there to give but how sometimes it's a bit hard it is to receive. 

Sunday, October 4, 2009

the sound of silence

A friend of mine asked me the other night why I always seem to stay away from stories that air on the darker side of this too shall pass.  My first thought was "have you ever read my rage post?". But he was right, I suppose on some level I'm trying to remind all of you about how precious every moment is in life and to also show that "this too shall pass" can and does have positive meaning.  (For instance, my one co-worker that told me this week that the first time she saw my tattoo she thought to herself: wow, what's this girl all about? is she ready to kill herself?)  WTF?!  Pardon?

I'm not sure if after recently talking about the 'darker side' of this sentiment, watching the movie "The Soloist" was simply topical or purely coincidental.  But it struck a dark chord (pardon the pun). Why? Well, I heart true stories and because my biggest fear in life is being homeless.   

Some might say that this is an irrational fear, but I beg to differ. I remember years ago my girlfriend Rita told me that one of her biggest fears was a tsunami. It was a fear that I felt was completely ridiculous and irrational, until the two of us spent Christmas together in Mexico and when we were getting ready to hit the beach we heard the news. CNN was our only English channel, and it made us aware of a tsumani that swelled in the Indian Ocean that morning - it would soon report that it was about to take the lives of 150,000 people. I looked at Reets thinking, well...not so irrational after all.  So, after witnessing my first recession as an adult, I feel my fear is also completely rationale.  Sure, I'm of sound mind and body but that doesn't mean we all can't fall upon incredible hardship. Perhaps it's because, as a middle-aged woman, the responsibility of having a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in and food to eat falls solely on me.  This is not intended to be a pity party, it's simply where the fear is rooted.

I cannot tell you how many times over my life where I've had a heated discussion with individuals that believe you shouldn't give homeless people money.  Sure, there are likely thousands on the streets that created their own self-demise, but there are so many that don't stand a chance from the moment in which they were born. And so many more suffer from an incredible mental illness that we cannot even begin to understand.  So, my point for years has been why bother painting them all with the same brush?  Imagine if you were the one in their position, I'm sure a smile or say hello goes so much further than any quarter or dime in your pocket.  So I often extend the gesture of human empathy.

Where my home today is my safe haven, I can totally understand why four walls may seem like a prison for a lone individual suffering mentally.  So given that they choose the streets as their unconfined home instead of an apartment or shelter - is that really a choice after all?

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