Ladies night!

I love being with my family; my husband, the kids, our siblings,,,,,,we have a great time when together and we genuinely enjoy each other’s company, and that’s a lucky thing cause you can’t pick your family, so it’s a bonus that we get along. You can, however, pick your friends and if you’re anything like me you surround yourself with people who share your interests and like a good time.

My girlfriends and I share a variety of activities. I have one friend with whom I hike exclusively because she’s the only one willing to do it with me. It’s our common bond and I would no sooner ask her to go to a movie (she hates them) any more she’d ask me to go camping (hell would indeed have to freeze over) We both know our likes and dislikes and neither pushes the other out of their comfort zone.

Another friend is my shopping buddy. (actually I have a couple for this category in the event of an emergency) We thrive on browsing the shops and make it a weekly occurrence. (much to my husbands chagrin) We give honest constructive opinions on what is being considered for purchase, trusting the unbiased judgement of the other, and we sincerely celebrate each other’s big win. (there’s nothing like a steal of a deal to make your shopping trip!) Shopping is always fortified with a nice lunch somewhere and most of our time is spent laughing. (I actually have a couple of friends who hate shopping and I honestly don’t understand it….they have to be missing a chromosome or something. It’s just not normal, but I’m very fond of them so I’ve decided to overlook this massive flaw to their character)

Other friends are travel buddies. We are comfortable on extended road trips or annual vacations and neither cramps the others style. We do our own thing throughout the day and meet for dinner and evening activities, recapping our events. It’s not too much and not too little time together, rather we respect each other’s need for space.

Then there’s out regular goto friends. They’re like the comfortable old shoes, familiar, easy, and they are always available in a pinch – you can count on these friends. They demand nothing of us and both parties are ok with long periods of silence. We can get together for causal impromptu meals or a last minute card game. There’s no pressure. You’re either free to get together or not and there’s no hard feelings  either way because we all know if today doesn’t work, tomorrow will, and that’s ok.

We all have the friends we’ve known since childhood and while our lives have gone in different directions we occasionally cross paths, picking up where we left off, as though we’d never been apart. I love those friendships. There’s something deep and intentional about their existence in our lives, like there’s a history that can’t be overridden by another. It’s a friendship that feels good despite the lapses and there’s no expectations of more than each can offer.

And finally, there’s our casual acquaintances. They are the people we meet unexpectedly, in social situations and immediately hit it off. You don’t necessarily make plans to meet regularly but know that you are likely to meet again through mutual acquaintances or at common events, and you look forward to seeing them again and again because it’s new and fresh and exciting.

All my girlfriends are unique in what they bring to my life yet I know I could never bring all of them together because their only common bond is me. The hiker would hate the shopper who’d hate the comfortable old shoes who’d feel threatened by the childhood friend who’d hate the new and exciting friend because each represents an aspect of their own personality that takes them out of their comfort zone….and yet it’s that very element, that one aspect of their personality, that has endeared them to me. A day with my lady friends is always rejuvenating. We confide in each other, support each other, never judge, and always ALWAYS laugh, A LOT!

Family is the staple provided to us for stability, structure, moral values, and unconditional love. They are our life long teachers. They challenge and support us and each family members presence in our lives serves a purpose, even if you don’t get along. Families aren’t always easy but they are our constant; the foundation upon which we root and grow, and not a day goes by where I don’t thank God for my family.

Friends, on the other hand, are the gift we give to ourselves so we can be a little more selective about their temperament. Choose them wisely. No diva’s, no drama, no jealousy, just honest sincere friendship….and a really good sense of humour!

Long live ladies night!




I am not politically inclined. I don’t like politics, I don’t understand them, and I have no interest in learning about them. My husband is hugely into current events, markets, the economy, and politics, so I am a bitter disappointment to him when he’s looking for intelligent conversation on these matters. That said, I actually spend a lot of time watching political coverage because my husband says he needs to stay informed (and also there’s NOTHING worth watching on cable) and I’m always taken aback by the behaviour of politicians. They yell over each other to be heard. They slander each other like petulant teenagers; name calling and hurling accusations, and they seem to focus more energy on demeaning their opponents than listing their own attributes (perhaps they don’t have any?)

I am not alone in my disinterest of politics. In fact I know more and more people who don’t even listen to the news because they feel it’s biased, manipulated, and unreliable, and let’s face it, the news is never good. In fact, the news today, is as bad as it’s ever been. World economies are struggling under staggering debt. Refugees are landing on foreign shores, desperate for human outreach, only to be turned away.  Corruption and scandal has infiltrated governments at the most senior levels. Bacteria and pollution of our air and waters are reaching epic proportions worldwide, and the world’s leading nations are being run by the three stooges. Is it any wonder we’ve lost interest? (or have we lost hope?)

Now I have to admit I’ve made more of an effort to pay attention to world events these past few years (not an ‘interest’, just an effort) because now the issues are filtering down, like never before, to affect our everyday lives, and with weapons at the whim and fingertips of unstable leaders, we could well see the end of our world. Too much power in too few hands – this is serious stuff. (even a political moron like myself can see that!)

More and more I’m hearing conversations around politics and world events in social settings, largely because the events are now serious enough to have a ripple effect on all of us, and not in a good way. I listen intently now but refrain from adding to these conversations for two reasons. One, I do not consider myself to be well informed in these matters so I choose to listen and learn rather than add an uneducated opinion. And two, the citizens of the countries at issue, can and do, carry guns and I’d rather not have my head blown off at a dinner party should I mention what I really think.

At the end of the day I have to acknowledge the error of my ways. Ignoring the political landscape is not good enough. We all need to make the effort to understand and take interest in what’s happening with government because when they’re right they deserve the accolades, and when they’re wrong we need to take an educated stand to point it out and fight with collective voices to be heard. This is the only way to effect positive change.

I still hate politics. I still think Politicians behave worse than immature 5 year olds in the arena but I have to applaud their willingness to step into that arena because it’s a thankless job and they will never satisfy everyone, so until we take up the challenge ourselves we have to support those willing to go in to battle on our behalf. And,,,,,,we have to support our elected leaders because in the absence of a better candidate, this is our only hope. Heaven help us!

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My place of peace

We all have a place we can go to that immediately relaxes us. It might be a favourite room in your home, a park bench, a lawn chair on the edge of a dock, or a room in the basement. Whatever or where ever it is we unconsciously escape to it when our mind needs rest.

I stumbled upon my place of peace quite accidentally a number of years ago. There’s a walking route I often take through my neighbourhood, and while a change of scenery is always welcome I found myself automatically wandering, day after day, in this same direction. Sometimes I wouldn’t even notice where I was going until I looked up and there in front of me was my place of peace. It’s a swampy area in the midst of an affluent neighbourhood (another reason I started taking this route….I wanted to snoop at the rich houses) and it is largely ignored by most passing by.

This swampy bog-like area boasts huge old trees, leafless and scarred with numerous Woodpecker holes, moss covered rocks, and a variety of plant life that clearly sustains all kinds of water wild life. At any given time I can see families of ducks swimming, large tortoises slowly making their way to the water from the weeds….all accompanied by a symphony of bull frogs croaking their availability to prospective mates. It is a slice of nature in the middle of a bustling city and for those aware enough to actually see it in all its’ beauty, it’s a place of peace.

Upon arriving at my peaceful place I feel my shoulders relax and I become immediately aware of my conscious thoughts….thoughts that often surprise me. If there was anything nagging at me or worrying me that I had tucked neatly away from my conscious mind, it is now front and center but no longer as worrisome. Somehow during the 4 kilometre walk that brings me here my subconscious dug out those hidden issues and started ruminating in a non-stressful, non-invasive way, and suddenly the issues aren’t as overwhelming as I’d once thought. Problems are not solved by any means, from this simple walk, but their weight seems less of a burden and solutions start to appear. I love this place and I go there when I need uninterrupted time to let my mind wander, free of distraction. It is my therapy.

About 18 months ago I found myself visiting this place less and less. I no longer felt the peace I once had here and I missed it so. It was my solace and I wanted it back. I found new routes to walk but none brought me the peace I had felt in ‘my’ place and when visiting it one morning it hit me! Something in my place of peace had changed and it was several forced visits later that I would finally figure it out.

Water. Or rather, the lack of it. The water was gone.

Over the last 2 years our summers were unseasonably dry and hot, drying up this little swamp until all that remained was a muddy marsh that no longer resembled the happy habitat for ducks and tortoises and birds. The reeds all dried up, as did the plant life, and the remaining old trees no longer housed birds – they just stood empty, and the noisy sounds of water life were silent. The realization was startling. Not only had I totally missed the slow decline of this ecosystem, but I was completely unaware of its’ impact to my psyche.

Water not only created an environment that gave life to so many creatures, it also acted as therapist to anyone open enough to see beyond their own problems. Somehow gazing upon something as simple as a swamp and the life within it calms a weary mind. At least it did mine.

Maybe I simply read more into this place because I needed something or somewhere to go where I could think clearly, uncluttered and uninterrupted. Or maybe it just resonated at a time in my life when I needed a place to work through the struggles on my mind, privately. Whatever the reason, I am grateful for this safe haven because I always walked away happier, lighter. After all, there really are no problems, only creative solutions.

I still walk every day and I’ve yet to find a place that brings me the kind of peace that this one did but I’m always searching because I think we all need such a place….I know mine will always have water because where there’s water there’s life.  Find your place of peace. Go to it as often as you can and let it work its’ magic on you.


The Honeymoon….ok, mine

Weddings have changed HUGELY from my day, as have honeymoons. When I grew up weddings happened in a church, with a full mass, NO EXCEPTIONS. Nowadays, weddings take place on tropical beaches, in hot air balloons, hockey arenas, bowling alleys, you name it. And the honeymoon now often only happens, if at all, months later and actually that’s a pretty good idea. When I married we left the morning after for our honeymoon, which meant I couldn’t spend time with all the guests who came from a distance for my wedding. Delaying the honeymoon means you get it all; the party, the people, the whole deal….and good for you. Now that’s planning, cause these people came for you, so revel in it.

The honeymoons taken today too, are so much more interesting than those we took. We’d go to a local Inn for 4 days, or rent someone’s cottage for a week, and if we were really adventurous, we’d fly to Florida. Today kids are going to Africa on safari, or Europe back packing, and they don’t even blink at the notion of living abroad for weeks at a time. B & B’s, Air BNB, and VRBO have made it so easy to travel with comfort, and this next generation are so much more adventurous than we ever were.

My wedding was lovely. I married at 10:45am, had a ‘subdued’ luncheon reception at a golf club, (my in-laws didn’t like loud music) followed by a hoopin’ hoolerin’ foot stompin’ good time in my parents Lithuanian home. (Lots of herring, cabbage, schnaps and polkas,,,,what more do you need?) Much later that night my new husband and I slept (soundly) in our new home. We woke early to head out for our honeymoon. We’d booked a hotel in the Laurentians which was a 9-10 hour drive. I remember my husband taking things down to the car for loading – there was a lot, but I am very organized and had everything packed and in proximity to the door. We started our journey with a very full car and a lot of optimism for our new future together.

By early evening, and after a stunning scenic ride, we arrived at the hotel, tired but ready to celebrate. We checked in to our room and my darling new husband ran rounds to and from the car as I unpacked, anxious to shower and dress for our first dinner in the hotels lovely restaurant. After retrieving the last load he finally shut the door, exhausted,,,,,and I glanced at him expectantly. Scanning the now crowded room once more in case I missed something, I said “where’s my stuff?”. He looked totally confused. “What do you mean, your stuff? It must be here.”

But no.

We had – his golf clubs (I don’t golf, so no idea what he was planning here), his pillow (he can’t sleep without it), and his 2 suitcases (he wanted to be sure he covered all elements of the weather). There was nothing of mine, and I mean NOTHING! All I had was the corduroy slacks and turtleneck I was wearing. The lovely negligee I bought for my honeymoon was apparently still hanging in plastic by the front door, and my suitcase was still neatly packed and sitting in the hallway. How nice.

I sat on the edge of the bed and cried while my husband called the front desk to frantically ask about the dress code for the dining room, which had been advertised as ‘formal’. He explained our predicament (you know, that HE forgot all my clothes) and they advised that because they were close to the end of the peak season they’d let me into the dining room in my cords. Little did they know I’d be in those cords for the next seven days, every meal, every event.

In an effort to make it up to me, we went shopping but we were far up in the Laurentians and stores weren’t exactly abundant,,,,in fact there were none, the closest several hours away so I spent my 7 day honeymoon wearing the same clothes every day. I slept in the buff – BUT ONLY because I had to hand wash my ONLY pair of underwear so I could wear it the next day, while Mr “I need my pillow” slept quite soundly, thank you very much! (And I should point out that he got more sleep on this honeymoon than he would’ve liked!)

In the end we survived and we actually had a  really nice time. We saw a small plane crash into a local waterway, which was interesting, (all survived), and I didn’t kill my new husband, which was also interesting given that I was more than willing to do him in, and I grew to have such an aversion to corduroy slacks and turtlenecks that to this day I don’t own either.

We finished up our honeymoon and drove the 9 hours home to have Thanksgiving dinner with our family. When we got home there was my lovely negligee, still hanging at the door, and my suitcase was neatly packed and waiting in the hallway. My new husband had a load of laundry, his golf clubs (which he never used) and his pillow (cause he can’t sleep without it)

I threw out my cords and turtleneck and took a shower. The moral of this story is, never believe your husband when he says, “ok, we’re all packed and ready to go”.

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