The Warmth of a Sunrise

On vacation I enjoy sneaking out of bed early to take photos of the quiet landscape before the hustle and bustle of the day. It is a magical time as the sunrises and the colors dance across the sky. The landscape turns from dark to light with not a single person around to disturb the serenity of the moment.

secret garden

A calm reminder that each gentle sunrise begins with a fresh start to  another day. You never know what the future will bring but the key is to embrace the little things when other bits of your life turn dark.  A quiet bench were you can sip your coffee as the warm sun beats down on your neck is one of those tiny  morsels of goodness.

Sometimes life brings chaos but with it moments of clarity. It teaches us to grow, not make the same mistake twice, and keep moving forward to reach our goals. I hope in the coming weeks as many of you face the wrath of the White Witch  that you all find a morsel of warm sunshine to brighten your day.

Digging Deep: The Agnony of Revisions

My dog is an opportunist she watches perched on top of her chair and waits patiently as I prep dinner in the kitchen.  She always  knows there are morsels of scraps in the trash bin and will seize the opportunity to raid the bin as soon as I leave the room.

The end result is disaster across my kitchen floor and the only words uttered across my breath are “SADIE!”  She then like any scolded child slinks to her room and hides for the next hour.

idea

The other day as I removed the chicken bones from the stock and threw them in the bin. The girl could not contain herself and within seconds she had lifted the bones from the trash in front of my very eyes.

The NERVE! She didn’t even have the impulse control to wait until I left the room.

In my life I can be just as impulsive!  It is that moment of throwing caution to the wind  with that extra shot of tequila or two  on the beach and  enjoying the freedom to dance all night long.  A good idea can have the same effect and it  strikes when you least expect it!

The next day usually results with a very strong hangover. The spur of the moment of creating and the end result always a  disaster! But the key of a good idea gone ugly is surviving the  hangover.

My routine is to awaken with weary eyes, blink several times, slumping down in my chair, and then force myself into the process of revision.  The room  spins  from the agony of it all but deep down I know there is a story to tell.  Just as there is poutine waiting to rescue my belly from the heaviness of a hangover – there is a keyboard waiting for my fingers to connect to my brain and revise the story.

If you are good opportunist you wait to share that story not at its first, second, third, or fourth draft. You wait until it is perfected and that your words will be understood.  All you need to do is lift the idea from the  bottom of the bin, polish, and then trim it with cautious love. Some days revising  feel like a  spinning hangover but in the end I know with patience I will be sharing my first novel with you.

Falling into the New Year

If there is one thing I am good at it is falling and it is never done with grace.  My fear of falling extends into many aspects of my life and one particular aspect is skiing. My husband and children  ski two runs with me in the morning before ditching me for the call of the black diamonds.

phone home gully

I  don’t mind skiing alone because there is no one exclaiming  “Hurry up, Mom! You are sooo slow!”

On my own I can make my way down the mountain at my own leisurely pace and soak in the views inhaling the fresh mountain air.

The other day as I was skiing I made my way into a narrow corridor  of the run it was then I heard the swoosh of a snowboard right  behind me, a very loud expletive, and a thud.

I knew I was a goner.

My ski was clipped by the board, I went down letting out a very loud expletive, and smacked my head against the snow. I laid there for a moment looking up at the blue sky and accessing the damage. Only one very sore thumb, some stars, and the humbling experience of falling once again.

The young wiper snapper that clipped my skis  was already up and down to the next portion of the hill. I sat for a moment and attempted to pull myself up on my poles. I tried once, “Damn it!”

A large tribe of snowboarders then descended upon the run  and one young man hollered with warning to the ones above, “Mom down! Mom down! Mom down!”

They all swerved past me in a speed of lightning and it was at that moment I made the decision I would no longer be the “mom down.” I pulled up with one ski pole, then pulled up with the second pole, and with an elation exclaimed out loud to myself “This mom is up! Mom is up! I am up!”

As I skied down to the next chairlift   I contemplated going back to the lodge for my traditional  end of the day Bailey’s and coffee sitting in the lodge with all of the other Moms who were ditched that afternoon by their families. Instead, I took a deep breath and knew the coffee could wait because I was ready for my next run.

My fear of falling is big and when I do land on my back staring at the sky I know there is always a way to get up. It just takes humility, patience, and plenty of time. I have no idea what the New Year will bring but I wouldn’t expect it any other way.

The Halloween Posts that Ran into the Woods

In the past few weeks all of my Halloween posts vanished into the dark woods never to return. As I hollered  to each one “Don’t go in there!  We must stick together! The delete button will get you!”

One by one they ran off vanishing into the night leaving behind the echoing sound of their words!

halloween1If you come across any of these posts please tread with caution! God only knows what horrors could be trapped inside each post waiting to be unleashed onto your screen.

1)  The Lingering Smell

What happens when your tween brings home their hockey bag after an intense game? A smell that lingers throughout the whole home. It haunts morning, noon, or night.

I am gagging on the smell as I write this and if you don’t hear from me in another week than you know the smell has gotten me.

2) The Diablo Sauce that was not Hot

It is a secret sauce of an eighty year old lady who swears it is hotter than Hell.   No one has the heart to tell her that on tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and garlic does not qualify it to be hot sauce. Unless of course you are the devil!

3) The Haunted Blender

My blender will turn on when you least expect it! It waits until you  have gone into a zombie state while washing the dishes and without warning a loud grinding noise startles you taking you back to Children of the Corn. You know there is no escape!  All you can do is walkover with trepidation and quietly unplug it.

4)  The Howling Coyotes

Bright and early before the sun rises the coyotes howl, they yip, and they feast on their prey. You lay awake dreaming “If only I had a BB gun. “

5)  A Witch Learns to Twerk

Enough Said.

6)  Slacker Mom Creates Stoner Pumpkins by Accident

Martha Stewart would sigh at the sight of my crazy glued pumpkins.  Time was not on my side to carve the perfect haunted house pumpkin but the magic of a glue gun transformed my pumpkins into potheads. Yes. They sit on my step glorified with their hippy wigs, stoned out eyes, and beards. I swear they were not supposed to look like Cheech and Chong!

7) Up comes the Full Moon with an Unnatural Wind

Never wear a skirt on a windy day. That is all.

8) I Never Threw an Egg

I never threw an egg when I was in Grade 7 at that toad of a boy who was in Grade Nine on one dark Halloween night. In fact, I would never admit to it there is no proof.  No proof. Whatsoever. *whistling in the wind*

9)  Halloween Punch Hangover

Halloween Punch is a bad idea. A very bad idea. It’s poison!

10) Rob Zombie’s Dragula Possessed My Foot! I swear!

It’s true! The Moment I hear Rob Zombie’s Dragula it takes over my whole foot hitting the pedal to the metal.  The music  just takes over and I end up going twenty over the speed limit. I can’t be held accountable for it because really my foot is possessed.  But please  Just keep that between you and me. Thanks!

All I know is all of these posts ran and vanished! They are somewhere out there in WordPress Neverland echoing their lost pages one key tapping next to the other key each day.

The Luring Call of the Sirens

I have taken to swimming several times a week which has been great for my aching joints with the additional benefit of the calorie burn.  I also have been very vocal about finding the perfect swimsuit to keep everything in place while attempting to do the back crawl.

mermaid

On one coffee induced sunny morning it dawned on me as I reflected on my visits to several big box sports chains. The recommendations from the store employees were not for comfort or endurance  but advice on  fad colors of the season such as pumpkin orange.

It was at that moment  I heard the sirens call luring me into an over-priced swimwear boutique!

As I walked  in I was greeted by a sales associate, “How can I help you?”

“I am looking for a bathing suit that fits my long torso and holds everything in place so I can have a more comfort when swimming laps.”

“How many times a week do you swim?”

“Usually 2-3 times but my bathing suits seem to want to go in another direction from my body.”

“Not a problem. I have several that might work for you. Lets go one size-up from your frame because the do fit very snug.”

It was within ten minutes that I found the perfect swimsuit and it meet all of the requirements for this curvy girl. A nice fit, high neckline, with a flattering leg line.  I loved the style so much that I purchased a second one in a different color.

The only problem is that I did break my budget by spending  over a hundred and fifty  dreadful dollars. One of the many  treacherous hazards of  caving to the  lure of  the sirens call!

The Legend of the Cookie Dough Tapeworm

It is whenever I bake chocolate chip cookies  I have childhood memories of  trying to steal a taste of the dough from my Mother’s mixing bowl.  The whole process was a very pain-staking  because you  had to watch for her to get distracted  and leave the bowl alone for a minute in order to get a gooey taste of deliciousness.  If she came back and you were caught with the hand in the bowl then you knew you were in for the story about the tapeworm.

cookies

My Mom would glance over “Get your hand out of there! Do I have to remind you of what happened to your Aunt when she was a child?”

“No. I know”

“I don’t think you do. It was one day we were all going for a walk and your Aunt was hit by a drunk driving down the road. Do you know what flew out of her mouth?”

“A tapeworm.”

“Yes. A tapeworm and the reason your Aunt had the tapeworm in her stomach  was because your grandmother would always let her eat the raw cookie dough.”

“I know. But a little won’t hurt.”

“Fine. Have a smidgen. But don’t blame me if you get a tapeworm.”

It was with slumped shoulders defeated I would think of the drunk neighbor that hit my aunt on the side of the road. I would do anything to give him a piece of my mind for ruining the perfect treat which should be eaten by the breakfast bowl.

“Did anything happen to the neighbor?”

“No. He just got back in his car and drove off.”

The lessons my mother taught me from this story was  I was always to stand in a ditch when a car passed us on a country road because you never knew who had too much to drink  after church on Sunday afternoon.  And second the household ban on cookie dough taught me how to bake my own cookies so I could enjoy a taste of dough without my Mother’s watchful eye.

The other day I caught my son trying to put his hand in the mixing bowl trying to sample the  dough.  I looked him straight in the eye ” If you eat that you will get tapeworm. Do you want to know why?”

And that is how legends like “The Cookie Dough Tapeworm”  carry on from generation to generation.

Onion Boy and his Hot Dog

My first minimum wage job at the age of fifteen was  working the late shift  at a small town convenience store .  On the night shift one of my duties was to clean the dreaded hot dog machine. I would take the hot dogs out that had been sitting there for fifteen hours, drain the water,  try not to gag, and  then clean it.

I can still smell the putrid aroma of rotting hot dogs floundering on the edge of hell. It was disgusting.

onions

Another part of that job was dealing with a wide array of customers renting and returning videos. My favorite customers were the ones who would attempt to rent a video while they had a  fifty dollar late fee for not returning the latest porn video on time.  Usually, they would blush,  give you a good  reason for it being late , and with  a “one time only” warning  I would waive the fee.

However, there was always the exception to that  rule with  the one belligerent jerk that insisted on berating you, calling you names, and then wait for you to remove the late fee.

It would never happen – I would get the very scary manager and she would tell him off.

Problem  solved! He would storm out of the store flabbergasted that: 1) He was out of line for verbal abuse 2) Expected to pay the late fee 3) And now looked like a complete asshole in front of everyone at the store.

So when I go to my local convenience store for odds and ends I remember being swamped at the cash, dealing with a wide array of people in the public, and all of the dirty jobs of keeping the store clean while working for very low wages.

Just the other day I felt lucky and popped into the local convenience store to purchase a lotto ticket.  I waited my turn in line as the clerk worked to serve each customer. It is when I heard one angry gentleman yell across the store, “Onions! Where are the onions?”

The clerk politely smiled “I will be with you in a minute.”

“There are no onions for my hot dog!”

“Just one minute, Sir!”

He huffed! He stomped! And he huffed some more! I was waiting for him to blow the store down.

As I watched his silly gesturing and anger I thought only one thing  - you sir are a huge asshole!

This  lovely clerk working by herself did not deserve to be bullied into rushing to the rescue with onions.   What I wished for this clerk was that her manager was standing close by to usher onion boy out the door.  No one deserves to be treated like a doormat over the simple case of missing onions.

So as I watched onion boy hold his hot dog all I could think of was the putrid smell and how long that hot dog had been sitting in the machine. I imagined the pain he would feel in his  stomach and  the sudden rush to go to the washroom countless times that night. One can only hope his stomach is weak!

If he had only been polite maybe someone would have warned him not to eat the hot dog.

The Horror of Shopping for the One Piece Bathing Suit

If you were to peek into my swimwear drawer you would see an array of colors in bikini and tankini styles for fun in the sun. The one piece that is missing is the dreaded Speedo bathing suit.  It’s not that I have not tried to purchase that perfect one piece but fate has it that all swimwear companies are against me!

Back to the Beach 1-1

I believe there is a swimwear conspiracy were long-waisted curvy women are doomed never to have the leisure of finding that perfect one-piece for their active lifestyle. I say this as I have gotten back into swimming my tankini’s just are meant for more fun in the sun and not swimming laps. Everything moves and I am constantly readjusting my top in the middle or at the end of each lap.

The worst part is there is someone always looking from above at all of us lane swimmers which means I have innocently flashed a lurking bystander watching from above while attempt to do my back stroke.

I dream of a one piece that goes above my chest line! The effort of struggling into the contraption is almost as bad as SPANX except once pulling the bathing suit on I would make Pamela Anderson blush because it barely covers my nipples.

So if Speedo, Nike, TYR, or any other swimwear company is listening I want you to think of me in my plight in finding the perfect one piece bathing suit. It just has to cover my breasts and keep the girls in place for one hour of swimming three times a week. If you create this miracle suit I will forever be in your debt and will an add an extra day of swimming to my routine just for you!

The Presence of Swimming

I love the feeling of swimming laps  as I glide across the water erasing my busy thoughts as I focus on my breath and stride. The water lulls my aches and soothes my  spirit as I disappear into the water.

DSC_0477 I push-off the wall, stretch out , rotating my arms,  relaxing, and  begin to count 1,2,3,4 breathe, 1,2,3,4 breathe, 1,2,3,4 breathe.

It’s the  of edge  of the pool that waits for me  to do my flip turn and push-off the wall -  1,2,3,4 breathe.

The last few weeks my knees have been disagreeable and I decided it was time to ease up on them by returning to the pool.  I have not swam laps for months and dreaded the thought of not being conditioned enough to swim without gasping for air.

I hopped into the fifty meter pool  awkward, unsure of myself, but pushed off the wall  gliding into a front crawl.

Every four strokes I would take a breath and count.

1,2,3,4 Breathe.

I made it half way before I was gasping for air.

I switched to a scissor kick and swam on my side to save my drowning face.

I gave myself a pep talk after reaching the other side of the lane.

You can do it! It has been a while but you know what to do!

I switched into a back stroke, catching my stride, my bathing suit had grown a size, and one of my lady parts started to fall out.

You have got to be kidding me!

Red in the face, I straightened up, and tightened my tankini top. I felt humiliated!

Damn it! I am going to swim for forty minutes even if it was going to kill me regardless of swimsuit malfunctions!

I switched back into front stroke finding my stride but my mind wandered from counting the breath. Again, at the three-quarter mark I had to switch to the scissor kick.

I reached the end of the lane and decided to focus on the butterfly as I slowly glided through the water.  I heard a splash from behind me and it was a man trying to pass me in his formidable front crawl.

Something competitive launched from within and I was not going to let that man pass me. I had pride. I use to be a strong swimmer.  I picked up my arms and immediately resumed into front crawl.

At this point it was a race and I was not to be defeated.

I found my rhythm, my breath fell into place, and I won!  I made it to the end of the lane pushing a good distance between the two of us. It was that moment I knew I could swim a whole lap and had  finally found my stride.

As I finished my last lap someone told me “You look very calming when you swim.” I blushed and clearly thought he must have been watching the wrong person reaching out for the edge of the pool. I was reminded that day that there is a reward when you force yourself out of your comfort zone.  It is in the movement of your stride, the perfect pace when everything falls into place, and the present moment which allows you to treasure your breath.

This post was inspired by Andra Watkins “A Change Would Do You Good” series.

Open Your Heart to Dangled Carat

In Hilary Grossman’s  charming  debut memoir Dangled Carat, she opens her heart sharing her story of finding love and the follies that many relationships face on the road to commitment. It is the story of the “not so perfect romance” and one we can all relate too. Hilary, gives an honest look at finding love as she patiently attempts to manage the commitment-phobic man from running out the door.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00F55HITQ/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

She divulges the one fear many of us face:

I still don’t ask for much. I have always feared disappointment and rejection.  If you don’t ask, you can’t be told no.  At my core, even though I may pretend otherwise, I am an insecure girl.  And if I am honest with myself, I think that is the reason why I have been willing to accept my relationship with Marc completely on his terms.  I didn’t feel like I deserved a guy like him and I was afraid if I pushed my wants and needs too hard he would end the relationship.  I felt settling was better than losing him.

I suspect at one point and time if we are all honest with ourselves there is that voice in our head that never wants to ask for too much. Sometimes the fear of rejection is just too much and it hurts more than one can ever expect. The key is getting over those insecurities and no longer be willing to just settle.

Life is about taking risks and Hilary takes the big leap to open her heart to find love. She proves that love does happen when you least expect it. It is a reminder that nobody is perfect and it is never easy to give up your heart. But when you do find the right love it is worth it in the end.

Open Your Heart to Dangled Carat at Amazon!

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