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.
This weekend I had my make-up done professionally. Our local neighbourhood Pharmaprix was hosting a VIP makeover event. So, I bought a ticket and booked an appointment.
It was the cutest thing ever. The girls were dressed, coiffed and made up to look like something right out of a 1950's movie. The oldies were playing in the background; Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, and all tunes with a rockabilly sound to them. There refreshments table was bursting with pink lemonade with striped straws, confetti topped cupcakes, popcorn served in those cute little red and white bags, and cotton candy. It was a feast for the eyes as well as the appetite. Vinyl records were hanging from the ceiling with pictures of pin up girls (fully clothed - get your minds out of the gutter! ) in the middle. Well done.
My turn came up and when asked what I wanted, I answered " a day look, mainly a good foundation to give my skin an even tone. ". Did I mention I don't wear a lot of make-up? She started working her magic and mid way gave me a mirror to see what she had done so far. I was impressed, my skin looked flawless. She continued. To make a long story short, by the time she was finished, my eyelids felt like they each weighed about five pounds. Did I mention I don't wear a lot of make-up?
Then there's my lips. I was a dead ringer for someone who had just competed and won (or lost -it's all a matter of perspective) a spaghetti eating contest and washed it all down with a bottle of orange crush. I am still trying to figure out how bright coral lipstick translates to a natural day look. In my opinion, all that goop made me look too serious and way older. Oh well, she did try and she was good, but that is so not my style.
My version of a beauty is simple; clean skin, a little mascara, blush, gloss, and a perfume that smells like a fresh, cool ocean breeze. Done.
No. No. No. No! If you have ever had a conversation with a two year old, odds are you've been introduced to the power of no. Once baby has grasped on to the concept that he has options, that word is milked more than old MacDonald's cows. E-i e-i -(n)o!
As a parent, hearing "no" to every request from your beloved little rug rat can be annoying. However, I can't help but feel a little bit envious at how easily they can say it. Children are so perfectly and brutally honest. If asked why "no", more often than not, the follow up to that is "because". Nothing personal, mom and dad. Just the facts. I'm down with that.
Somewhere along the line, we've bought into the trap that we have to be "nice" and say "yes" to everything and everyone. Hearing "no" can sometimes push the other person into a state of anxious confusion and feeling offended.
Consider this, though. After having said "yes" to everyone and everything, how much energy do you have left for yourself? Not much. I've learned that one the hard way. So, I've been actively practising the power of "no". It did not feel very comfortable at first because I'm a people pleaser at heart. I've lived many years trying to fix things for others and always offering a sympathetic ear. It all seems very nice, but the problem with that is lines get blurred. Where does the other person end and you begin?
You can't be of any use to anyone else if you become over-burdened and feel put upon. I watched a little clip on Youtube recently where a pastor summed it all up perfectly. He said "you are not the savior, Jesus is". Wow. The light bulb just went on.
So, this is me being (gasp!) selfish. Like a toddler learning how to walk, I'm still a little wobbly with the concept. I'll probably get frustrated and scrape my knees a couple of times before I get it right.
Thank you to my mom, son and close friends who have listened to me patiently as I whine and complained my way to this point. I think I'm finally getting it!
I just got back from the gym. I kicked butt. It felt great to be moving and breaking a sweat. As usual, I have packed on a bit of weight over the Winter and the numbers on the scale are making me feel very uncomfortable.
So what's a girl to do? Work out, of course. If I put on the weight, I can take it off. I refuse to become one of those people who just whine about not liking their body and doing nothing about it.
Being a little heavier, I am careful about what I wear when working out. My backside is purposely fully covered by a long t-shirt, and yoga pants are hiked up way over my waist a-la-Erkle. I have this thing about my tummy. I don't want it to show. At all. I used to give my former personal trainer hell if he tried to touch my stomach while doing crunches. I digress......
Unfortunately, not everybody practises modesty when working out. Enter mid-life crisis dude. I was just finishing off my workout when Mr. Cirque du Soleil put on quite the show. I'm not sure for whose benefit it was, but it was jarring.
You know those machine folks use for their abs? They stand up and hold on to two handles and lift their knees towards their chest? Well, he had his own plans for that thing. Picture a guy in his mid 50's, long gray stringy hair pulled back into a loose pony tail, and a huge gut....doing a handstand and some sort of weird upside down push up.
Needless to say, the ponytail came undone, and his t-shirt rolled down to completely expose his belly and back. All hairy, white and flabby. I think he's about seven months into his pregnancy, but I could be wrong. I'm just grateful his shorts didn't fall off (or up or whatever. I'm not used to people being upside down at the gym). It lasted all of about five seconds, but I'll never get those five seconds back. It was awful and I'm pretty sure I saw lint in his belly button.
All I kept thinking was ...."Why? Can't you just use the treadmill like everybody else? Let me introduce you to the stationary bike. The rowing machine perhaps?".
It takes all kinds I guess.
Happy mother's day! You know I'm not one to go out and buy greeting cards from a store. I thought I'd do something a little different this year. I decided to dedicate this post to you.
I don't say it nearly enough, but thank you for being such a kind, gentle, loving mother. You always look at the bright side of things and never complain.
You are generous in all things. I always feel welcomed in your home. Andrew and I love spending time on your little porch or poking around in your garden. We always look forward to your zucchini relish each year!
Thank you for keeping yourself young at heart and for taking care of your health. You are always so stylish and well put together. No lazing around in sloppy sweatpants for you!
You may not realize this, but I chuckle inside whenever I see you looking for your lipstick. At 80 years of age, the proud French woman in you is still alive and well. That being said, I hope you enjoy your gift. I'm so grateful to dad for having captured that moment between us so very long ago.
We love you mom. Happy mother's day.
Chris and Andrew
Happy as a bird with a french fry. That's how I felt today. Nothing spectacular happened; I was just acutely aware of an inner peace and sense of calm contentment.
My mind scanned through all things that I'm happy about. My family is doing well, I have great friends, a job I enjoy, a nice apartment, sweet little pets, and zero drama in my life.
That wasn't always the case though. I've had my share of crazy days. Some brought on by circumstances that could have been dealt with better, some self induced, some because I was not strong enough to walk away from situations that were not in my best interest.
The past two years have been a time of reflection and introspection. The noise of life as a single parent and juggling several balls in the air at one time have quieted down, and I am able to truly step into myself.
Here's what that looks like: zero tolerance for drama of any kind. I just won't allow it in my life any more and I draw lines in the sand very quickly. I abhor it so much that I actually have a physical reaction to it; I toss my cookies. It leaves me feeling like there is a hand around my throat, squeezing.
Nowadays I gravitate towards simple pleasures, people with a positive outlook, calm environments, quietness and uncomplicated situations. That to me, is worth more than gold.
So if you see me with a goofy smile on my face and ask me why I'm so happy, don't be surprised if my answer is a simple "because".
Hi! I'm Chris, an empty nest newbie 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.