T'is the season to be jolly, and exhausted, and frantic, and running around like a chicken with no head. I know it sounds "grinchy" but hear me out. I love Christmas. The crowded stores, not so much, but the holiday season itself warms my heart.
Normally, by the time the new year has rolled around, I find myself exhausted, spent, broke, and longing for a "normal" routine. For many years, my time off prior to and during Christmas would be a flurry of baking, wrapping, shopping, decorating, phone calls, driving, etc. etc. etc.
This year though, I decided to do things a little differently. I put in the least amount of effort and Christmas still came and went and the world did not come to an end.
The evening of the 24th was spent with my son and my mom. Our meal was modest. She cooked a ham that was honestly the best I've ever tasted, and I made my now perfected tourtiere. Throw some cranberry, vegetables and freshly baked crescent rolls and we had more than enough on our plates. We didn't even miss not having turkey. That is one labor intensive bird and I was having none of it!
After dinner, we went for a walk. It was a lovely evening, the air was fresh and crisp and we looked at all the pretty lights decorating people's homes. When we returned, we exchanged our gifts and chatted while an old school holiday movie was playing on tv. It was quiet, it was perfect, it was maybe one of the better Christmas' I've had in a long while. The old saying "less is more" really rang true this year.
So, in closing, whether you spent the holidays surrounded by many, or in a smaller setting, or even solo, I hope that you found peace in your hearts and joy in all that you have done and wish you the very best for the upcoming new year.
I am amazed at how life as I know it can change from one moment to the next. These past couple weeks, two people I love very much are going through some big changes.
Being a nurterer and fixer by nature, it has been hard to stand on the sidelines and just watch as their story unfolds. However, as I am getting hopefully wiser in my years, I have learned that my input is no longer necessary. Not everything is mine to fix.
The bittersweet thing about life is that although we all share a connection in that we are able to relate in some way to things our loved ones are going through, we have to realize that their journey is not ours to live.
It may be hard to believe when it is happening, but allowing someone to go through their growing pains, so to speak, and watching them come out of it and adapt to change and carry on with life is like a gift. Both to you and to them.
As told to me recently by someone wise beyond their years, when you don't allow people to figure things out for themselves, you are sending a message that they are incapable of doing so. Wow. That one hit me right between the eyes. I had never looked at it from that perspective.
We must never be so attached to a situation that when God/universe/karma/whatever decides to shift things around, we become paralizyed by a new and unknown playing field.
Unfortunately, I have seldom practised what I'm preaching. On more than one occasion, when faced with the unknown, I have panicked. Actually, a more apt description would be a nervous internal meltdown. Oh I might have been smiling on the outside, but inside, there was a little voice screaming "I'm scared. What do I do now?".
It was Franklin D. Roosevelt who once said "We have nothing to fear but fear itself". It's true. Our minds can conjure up the worst catastrophes. We are so certain that things will go down as badly as we imagine it, but seldom does it even remotely resemble the boogiemen we've created in our heads.
For years I always brushed off my mother's simple yet wise advice. She has consistently told me "Everything will be ok. You worry too much." She is right. I don't know why I always doubted her when she would say that. Honestly, I viewed it as a weak and over simplified response to whatever fear had a hold over me. Those little old ladies know what they're talking about!
All this to say, that I am slowly realizing that I need to go with the flow. I have been fighting a battle most of my life in some form to fix and control the outcome of so many situations so that everyone is happy happy happy all the time and nothing upsetting ever happens. To anyone. Ever. Not only would I have a plan B, but a plan C, D, E, etc etc. Exhausting.
Only until I threw my hands up in submission and uttered "Ok world, hit me with your best shot." was I able to see that whatever that shot is, things usually work themselves out. Magically, all the boogiemen dissapeared.
I won't lie to you or myself and say that I am "cured" of overthinking and worrying, but I am happy to say that for the first time in my life, I can honestly say "I'm taking things one day at a time", and it sounds convincing and hopeful to my own ears.
On November 8th, the good people of the United States of America will be heading to the polls to elect their next president.
I've never been a very political person, but have to admit that this particular campaign has captivated me. What with social media and late night talk shows providing a daily dose of satyr, the answer to the question "are you not entertained?" is a resounding "heck ya!"
What has been equally interesting are the reasons why folks back up one candidate over the other. More often than not, people who are in favour of the Donald becoming the next leader of one of the most influential countries in the world always follow their statement with "well, you know she (Hillary Clinton) is pro-choice.".
Seriously? That's it? Please tell me you are not serious when you say that a man who has shown the world that he is racist, a bigot, sexist and predator should rule one of the most powerful countries in the world.
Offer me some alternate reason. Tell me of the good he will do in America. Something. Anything that shows you've given this careful consideration. Tell me that you've been on the lam and have been hiding in a remote location that does not offer cable or internet services. That could be the only reasonable explanation as to why his recent soundbites and behaviour at the debates have not turned your stomach and assaulted your senses.
I'm not suggesting that the Clintons are squeaky clean, either. However, even though I personally do not support abortion, I tend to echo the sentiment that the government has no place to tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body, if for no other reason that it sets a dangerous precedent. If the government can control that, then what else will they impose on women?
Donald Trump has said that women who have terminated their pregnancies should be punished. How frightening. I would have loved to hear what his idea of punishment is. That type of judgement should be doled out by our Creator, not a politician.
Who exactly let this clown in? What has happened, America, that has caused you to set the bar so low for yourselves? Shouldn't a presidential candidate at least have some political science background? A law degree maybe?
I'm worried for you. I'm worried for us - your neighbours to the North. I'm worried for the rest of the world if he actually gets elected.
Good luck, America. Please choose wisely. The world is watching.
I was out last night with a couple friends. We make it a point of getting together on a semi regular basis to catch up. We share laughs over a meal and discuss everything under the sun. The topics range from light to heavy.
There are times when we agree and times when we agree to disagree. We don't shove our opinions down each others throats, try to change each other's views, or go away angry. We listen to each other, lift each other up, and are respectful at all times. I'd even say that our friendship strengthens each time we get together.
Later that evening, I was on Facebook and a post in particular caught my eye. In a nutshell, an acquaintance stated that if the reader did not espouse the same political view as himself, to unfriend him. My first reaction was to brush it off as silly and ignore it.
When I thought on it a little more, I looked at it from a different perspective. I had been posting video clips of various late night show hosts poking fun at this dreadful candidate. Maybe my posts and other people's were getting to him and this was a polite-ish way of him saying he doesn't want to see these feeds anymore and is rethinking remaining "friends" as a result. Well, fair enough, I can respect that. So, I unfriended him. In my mind, no harm, no foul. We are all entitled to our opinions. Live and let live. Did I mention I barely know this person?
Within a very short period of time, I received a message from him, calling me out for unfriending him and berating me on it. Clearly he was in a bit of a snit over it and asked that I return some items of his as a result. Okay...I found it childish, but to each his own I guess. Did I mention it was about 1:00 am in the morning? That's a whole lot of negative energy being unleashed in the wee hours.
The following day I received a nasty-gram from the same person. Apparently the gloves are now off and I have committed the highly treasonous act of not catering to his ego. I'm paraphrasing of course, but that's pretty much the gist of it.
So here's the thing. When you issue those kinds of ultimatums over social media, you don't get to be surprised or offended when people take you up on it. Also, repeatedly using the words 'murderer' in an exchange with someone you barely know about someone you don't know at all on a personal basis is a little over the top. I think a little perspective is in order here. Actually I think more like a truck load of perspective is in order.
It's Facebook. Lighten up. Or don't. Either way,bringing that kind of crazy/hate to my front door is not welcomed. Ever. I don't deal with bullies, regardless of who they are, so you'll have to find someone else to argue with. I'm too busy being happy.
Yes you read correctly. The loo, the can, the throne room, washroom, facilities, the crapper, the john. I'm writing about bathrooms. Well, not all bathrooms, just mine.
I never gave it much thought before, but lately have been put in a position where i have had to fiercely defend my loo.
Don't get me wrong, if you come over and are a close friend and need to use the facilities, you are more than welcome to. However, if I barely know you and you need to do more than splash water on your face or wash your hands, then you're just going to have to a) hold it in or b) cut your visit short and go home. Yes, I'm serious.
This Summer I had a representative from an insurance company come over in the morning to collect samples following a twelve hour fast. We were half way through a long questionnaire when he asked if he could use my bathroom.
Inwardly I cringed but said "sure". I tried not to think about it, but when it come up on 10 minutes of him still being in there, I started to freak out a little. WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING IN THERE?? Reading a magazine? Taking selfies?
Seriously, that was so awkward and more than a little gross. All I kept thinking is some stranger's backside was sitting on MY loo and that no amount of bleach, disinfectant spray or rubber gloves was ever going to make this right in my head.
Is there any place more private or intimate than a woman's bathroom? We shower, bathe, fix our hair, apply makeup, wash and hang our delicates in there. It is NO place for a stranger's backside to be spending any extended amount of time in there. Ugh...I'm feeling creeped out all over again.
Note to self: bathroom will be out of order next time something like this happens.
Now that Summer is coming to a close, I can honestly say that I don't feel too bad about it. As much as I love the sun, I really like a cool crisp autumn breeze too. There are some things that are just not as enjoyable in heavy heat and humidity.
Take the other night for example, I took my bike out for a spin after supper. It was dusk and the bike path took on a whole other life. There was something peaceful and beautiful about it. It was quieter, there was a feeling of calm and contentment in the air. The skyline across the water was dotted with lights, and we couldn't see as much as we could hear the water.
I came home in a state of zenned out bliss. As I was locking my mountain bike to the fence in the back yard, though, I was accosted with an intrusive, lingering presence. I had the feeling I was being watched. I turned around and sure enough, I was.
Shirtless old guy from across the alley was pulling a meerkat. Not sure what that is? Well, it looks a little like this.
Now before you tell me it's a good thing, because he is conducting a one man neighbourhood watch, let me finish.
He just stood there, along the fence. Staring. I finally had to turn around and ask him if I could help him with something.
His response was this. "Oh, I'm just spying".
Me: (in my head) "No kidding".
Shirtless old guy: "Some neighbors had stuff stolen from their back yard"
Shirtless Old Guy: "Do you live here?"
Me: "Yes, I do. Goodnight"
First of all, I've never actually heard a grown man say he is "spying". Would that be of the double knot variety (those who are of the generation that remember the Beverly Hillbillies will understand this reference)?
Second, you make a lousy spy. I can see you. You're shirtless and wearing flip flops. What were you planning to do? Fling a rubber sandal at me?
Lastly, the obvious. If I were a thief, would I really be locking up my bicycle to the fence in the yard I'm stealing from? A bicycle is probably not a smart get away vehicle when stealing a television or computer or whatever else a thief would take.
So I guess I will give him credit for trying to be helpful, but after I have confirmed I'm not attempting a break and entry, he should have been off on his merry way to fight crime elsewhere.
Instead, he chose to still stand there and watch my every move. I should have turned the tables and ask him "What are you doing? Are you a peeping tom? A stalker? A flasher? ".
So silly. Common sense really isn't a given these days.
That is a perfectly reasonable question to ask the hostess of a restaurant over the phone. Said nobody. Ever.
I went out for breakfast the other day with my son. We were driving up and down the boulevard looking for a specific place called "Les Filles du Matin". The caricature on their logo had caught my eye a while back; it reminded me of Judy Jetson, it was so cute. I had made a mental note to drop in there one day. However, it was nowhere to be found. That being said, we walked into another restaurant.
When the waitress came over to take our orders, I asked if they were new. The name did not ring a bell and I hadn't recalled seeing them here before. She answered that they had been here for a while, but but due to the high volume of calls they were receiving from male patrons asking if the waitresses were topless or dressed "sexy," they had to change the restaurant name. They change the name from "Les Filles du Matin" to "Choco Coco".
I had to ask...why on earth would they be receiving those kinds of calls? The reason - apparently if you open up a breakfast place next to a bar, some people naturally assume that clothing is optional. Huh?? On a main boulevard of a suburb? Located next to Videotron and Pizza hut??
I didn't think that this type of knuckle dragging moron still existed. I can't imagine how creepy those calls were and how the owners must have felt each time these imbeciles would call in the morning for a cup of coffee and their jollies on the side.
It takes all kinds, folks.
After five long years, I am finally mobile once more. These past couple months, the morning commute was especially dreadful.
I'm singing a different tune now, though. Getting to work is no longer a miserable experience. In order to avoid traffic jams, I take the scenic route and drive along the lakeshore. Instead of being bombarded with other people's idea of personal hygiene and being a victim to the STM's predictable unpredictability, I enjoy the lovely breezes coming off the river, the trees, the people taking their four legged friends for the morning walks. The sight of a scrappy little pooch tugging on his leash to sniff every possible square inch of grass always brings a smile to my face.
I have also "discovered" talk radio. Keeping up with the news and current events by way of television or newspapers has never been my thing. Now I'm hooked. I'm up to date on what's happening in my city and abroad.
Montreal music radio is horrible and in the past I would just chose to either drive in silence or to pop in a CD. Now I'm being entertained on my daily commute by something I chose. Love it!
Think history doesn't repeat itself? Think again. Ten years years ago I was preparing to celebrate a landmark birthday on the beautiful beaches of Waikiki and Maui. I was over the moon happy as I was heading out for a bike ride. My mind was racing with all the fun my friend and I were going to have out there. Visions of myself taking surfing lessons early in the morning were dancing though my head as I hopped off the last step leading to the garage....and ended up sprawled out on the pavement. The pain radiating from my ankle was excruciating and I had trouble catching my breath.
I still went on vacation, but spent my time out there icing my foot at the beginning and end of each day and never did try my hand at surfing.
Today is day 2 of my vacation. Although I am not travelling anywhere, I still had a list of things I wanted to accomplish. So, I headed downstairs Monday morning to hop on my bike (are you seeing a pattern here?) and knock some things off my to do list. One minute I'm walking, the next I'm doubled over, seeing stars. Yep, I managed to sprain my foot. Again.
I think I understand how some animals opt for gnawing off their foot to end the pain and free themselves from a trap. The non stop throbbing and pain is making me a little coo-coo and I am functioning on two speeds: slow and stop.
However, as much of a pain this is (pardon the pun), it has made me realise that I have not been living fully in the moment. My mind tends to race to the next thing I have to do and I usually have several tasks going at once. A lot of things get done on auto-pilot.
Walking with crutches is not as easy as I thought it would be, so I have come up with some pretty creative ways to move around my apartment. I won't divulge what they are, but suffice it to say my floors are now uber clean.
I've been reading, catching up on my PVR'd shows and chatting on the phone to pass the time. All in all, it's not so bad I guess. This injury has forced me to slow down and I guess that's not such a bad thing.
There was a time when I loved Fridays. That euphoric feeling would start at about 8pm on a Thursday night. The next morning's alarm was bitter sweet. Bitter that it was blaring at me to get up, sweet in that it signalled the last day of the week where I was a slave to the grind.
These days though, I am not so keen on Fridays. There's a feeling of loneliness that washes over me as I walk across the empty parking lot at work to start my commute back home. I have a hard time with the way everything just seems to come to an abrupt stop. The subways are less crowded, people are more quiet. It takes me time to fall into relax mode when I get home.
Before being married and becoming a parent, Fridays were spent going out for a late night dinner and closing the bars. Then we'd do it again the next day.
When my son was little, Friday nights usually included a trip to Block Buster to pick up some DVDs for the weekend and some take-out . We'd try to watch them in between whatever running around we did on Saturday and Sunday. Those were some of the best years of my life.
Now that my nest is empty, I'm hard pressed to figure out what to do with myself with what was THE best night of the week. I feel guilty and lazy just sitting in front of the t.v., but am too pooped from work to do anything. So, I've got to come up with something that has me occupied and somewhat productive. Or, maybe I should just learn to relax and enjoy the down time.
It's always been my belief that if I can't find someone to do something with or somewhere to go, it's God's way of telling me I need to slow down and to just enjoy the moment. It just takes me a while to remember that.
Hi! I'm Chris, an empty nester living in Montreal and making the most of this stage in my life. I love cooking for friends and family, DIY projects, decorating and writing.