Friday, November 28, 2008

These are a Few of my Favorite Things...

You know that Christmas song that plays obnoxiously in every mall this time of year?

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes...

Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes...

Yup, you know what I'm talking about. Well, first, for those of you who don't know, that wasn't some contemporary ballad written to sell electronic gaming systems. It is a classic song, from a "The Sound of Music", and in its day, was fantastic.

I guess I should probably update my blog profile, because another very important fact about me is that I'm a total theater geek. I did musical theater in my city for years, some amateur, some professional. I'm a singer first, though, and was raised by a musician who instilled in me a love for music. I learned the piano, guitar and learned to sing. My skills on the piano and guitar are questionable at best, but I still love to sing. I try to maintain a healthy amount of shame, however, and do not play the piano or guitar in public unless absolutely necessary.

Anyway, with that little part of my autobiography out of the way, on to the purpose of this post. I'm not Oprah, but in the spirit of yesterday's American Thanksgiving, I'm going to give a little shout out and a little appreciation for some of my favorite things. Alas, there are too many to list here, but these are a few that are on my mind these days.

1) Waking up before the alarm goes off. What an entirely different start to the day that is.

2) A fire in the fireplace. I love the warmth of the hearth and the feeling of contentedness that it brings.

3) The smell of fresh cinnamon rolls. Mmmmm....

4) The smell of any home-cooked meal cooking. My next endeavour will be a hearty beef stew...I think I might be hungry.

5) A really good Merlot.

6) Pubs with close friends, drinking rum and shooting the shit.

(OK, enough with the food and alcohol. I do other things besides eating and boozing, I swear!)

7) Kitty snuggles.

8) Clean sheet day! Woohoo! Clean sheet day! :D

9) A hot bath, with any possible luxury, including candles, bath pillows, epsom salts and aromatherapy.

And maybe some wine. OK, NOW I'm done with the booze.

10) Good conversations. :)

May we all learn to practice more of an attitude of gratitude!

Cheers! :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

For the Record:

Dinner was amazing. :)

Peace out.

In honor of my American friends.

So, American Thanksgiving is tomorrow, eh? :)

Well, winter is upon us. Or, erm, technically should be. Thank you Climate Change, no snow yet. That's right, folks. I live in Alberta, Canada, and we have yet to have a snowfall that will stick for more than a few hours. It's nearly December. Brown Christmas, anyone?

It's also been unseasonably warm, and my cat, in his infinite wisdom, has suddenly been struck with the idea that it must be spring. So, all day and night he scratches at the door to get out because the little dumbass is suffering from spring fever.

He's driving me crazy. Good thing he's neutered. I don't need him siring any more neurotic kitties.

He's not the only one who is getting messed up by this weather. My own body is confused. It's acting weird. Maybe I'm just coming down with something, who knows. But I just know that this is atypical of how I normally feel in winter. At the risk of getting rotting vegetables thrown at me (kindly direct your compost toward my bin, thanks...), I actually really like winter. When you grow a garden, you tend to get pretty in tune with the seasons, and summer means hard work. You are on your feet getting pricked and stung, you're dirty, your hands are down in the dirt, and your knees and back kill you from the lifting, kneeling, hauling and weeding.

It's a pretty good life, really. I'd enjoy it more if I didn't have to work outside my home. I'd love to devote my days to my little bit of earth. I love when I see food start to come up. It is so rewarding. Mark Twain once said: "Time would be as well spent raising food as raising money to buy food." I couldn't agree more, Sir. Now, pay off my mortgage, and we'll talk.

In any case, summer is so different from the rest of the year. We even eat differently...Lighter foods become more the norm...lots of cooler foods. Chicken salads, a little barbeque with colorful, garden fresh veggies on the side...We work hard, we play hard, we eat great.

Then, as winter rolls around, things get darker. Days get shorter. I really believe that this is Nature's way of saying, "Summer is hard. It's time for rest now, because next summer is not going to be any easier!". We eat our harvest of squashes, carrots, parsnips and pumpkin. (Sadly, this season was too rainy, and my pumpkins ended up with "Powdery Mildew". It ruined the fruit. I was not happy, but I think I know how to prevent it next year.) We crave warmer foods, fattier foods, foods that sustain, foods that nourish.

I know I'm a nutritionist, but I personally believe that nutritional science has been one of the worst things to happen to our health. We have forgotten how to eat actual food, looking instead for packages that list calories, fat grams, protein and carbohydrates. We are more disconnected than we ever were. Which, I believe has been a primary cause of obesity and disease, frankly.

We no longer eat consciously. I suppose we think that as long as the packaging on something shows fewer calories, that we can eat it "on the go"...And I understand all the theories about eating all day long, or "grazing". I'm just not sure I agree with them. Food is our life force, and it needs to be respected. Spending our days unconciously shoving food into our mouths so that we can keep overworking is working against Nature's plan. If I am going to eat a meal, I'd like to prepare it. I'd like to sit down for it. Some good conversation or a glass of wine (or both) never hurts. I'd like my body and mind to relax so that I can properly digest my food, and get full benefit from it.

I had a wicked craving for seafood yesterday (and then felt nauseous all day and couldn't eat it anyway...hopefully today will be better...). I went to my local grocery store, and could not help myself. Now, see, I usually meal plan WAY in advance, so fresh fish is not normally an option because living on the prairies, there is no guarantee that there will be any available. When it is available, the quality is sometimes dubious, and sometimes downright offensive.

However, yesterday I went to the grocery store in search of some decent seafood, and there it was. Stuffed salmon. I know I could just as easily stuff my own, but...damnit, it looked good! Wild salmon stuffed with spinach and feta cheese. So, that's what we're having for dinner tonight.

I don't know how many calories it contains. I don't really care. I will eat until I'm satisfied, not stuffed. I will sit down at the meal with appreciation for where it came from, and I will give thanks for it. My vegetables came not from a grocery store but from my own freezer and cold room, and before that, my own backyard. (One of them came from the farmer's market, admittedly...) So, I say big thank you to Mother Earth for her bounty, and letting me in on her secrets. To see a tiny seed turn into a zucchini is nothing short of miraculous. It is truly beautiful.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A little bit of Wicca slips in there sometimes...

So, I'm typically a bit of an eclectic...Spiritually speaking, I mean. I'm not Wiccan, and not generally pantheon-oriented, but there are a couple of Goddesses and Gods that I do hold near and dear. ;)

This time of year, I tend to connect with Hestia (Roman: Vesta). In Greek Mythos, Hestia was the Goddess and protector of the hearth. She was a homebody, and was happy to hang back on Mt. Olympus while the other original twelve (including Aphrodite) went off on wild and crazy adventures. Hestia took an oath that she would remain a virgin (along with Artemis and Athena), and that she would attain a future of her choosing, rather than the choosing of others.

I must say, I connect with Hestia for a number of reasons. Clearly the virgin thing isn't one of them. Ahem. The first is the fact that I, too, am an unapologetic homebody. Sounds strange for a Gemini, probably, but as I was discussing with a friend the other night, my moon sign is Pisces. Often the moon is a greater indicator of one's inner consciousness than their sun. Our Sun sign (mine being Gemini) is what we show people, and likely what Freud would refer to as "Ego", while the moon sign is our inner working, psychological and emotional motivations, etc., or, with relation to Freud's theories, the "Id". I'll show you my bubbly, friendly, funny, silly Gemini, but when I'm alone, I'm the quiet, reserved, overly sensitive, intuitive, dreamy and painfully disorganized Pisces.

I'm digressing. My point is that I seem to be tapping into a deeper part of my personality...and perhaps that's good. Maybe that makes me somewhat self-aware. Or maybe it makes me a big weirdo with a penchant for wingnut theories. Anyway.

Back to Hestia. I feel most confident when I am providing, feeding, warming, caring, and welcoming. Understandably, I am certain that I do not yet possess the warmth or wisdom necessary for one to carry this out, but this is much of what I enjoy doing. I love having people in my home. Caring for them. Feeding them. Making them feel welcome.

That said, I also love Hestia's calm, grounded, peaceful self-assuredness, which I KNOW that I do not yet possess, but will strive to do so. In my naivete, I am knee-jerk. I am unwise (in the best way possible, of course! ;) ), and I am insecure. Hestia was at peace with her lot...Hestia was ambitious enough to go after what she REALLY wanted, breaking the mold of what was technically expected of her, and chose a life that was unconventional. She was comfortable with that, and did not compare her life to that of others in order to be driven by shame or self-consciousness. She walked forward, only toward her own happiness, regardless of the myriad of expectations that would have been placed upon her. She listened inside, rather than out.

In my youthful(ish) abandon, I strive for her warm, nurturing groundedness.

The other Goddess that I will admit to having something of an affinity for is Artemis (Roman: Diana). Artemis was also one of the three Virgins (seriously, what is that about?!), but she was the Goddess of the hunt, protector of animals, and protector of women, particularly women in childbirth. Anyone who knows anything about my previous career endeavours may find that a little uncanny.

Artemis was scrappy. She was maternal, in spite of never having born children herself. She also, however, had little patience for nonsense, as she took the heinousness of cruelty very seriously, and had little sympathy for the perpetrators.

I love that she fought. She was Hestia's antithesis in a way. Hestia was peaceful and non-confrontational, for the most part, and Artemis was a "take no prisoners" kind of gal. She fought for those who could not fight for themselves. I dig it.

They both intrigue me, for different reasons. Perhaps my admiration for them, like my astrological signifiers, denotes two different but equally important parts of my personality.

Or maybe I'm just a big weirdo with a penchant for wingnut theories. Who knows? :P

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

'Tis the Season to be Hood-winked...

I just need to get this off my chest. Why, you ask? Because I'm working in a mall. And every day I consider clawing my own eyes out. And this is my blog, so if you don't like what I'm saying, you just don't have to read it. I don't mean that in a passive-aggressive way, either. If it ain't your cup o' tea, feel free to keep on truckin'.

Sometimes I think I might just be sensitive, or tuned in. Or tuned out. Or fucking crazy. I'm not sure. But this reality that we seem to be living in as a society is not one that I am readily buying into. Maybe that's frustrating to some. But I have always felt like an outsider, and I suppose it stands to reason, that as an outsider, the customs of the insiders must seem a bit odd.

Maybe I'll never understand how it is that debt creates wealth. And I'll never understand how a new car or bigger house will make me more whole or happy. Maybe I'll never buy into eating junk food to make me happy and taking diet pills to make me skinny. I feel so foreign as I watch drug commercials touting the latest, greatest Trojan horse, and contemplating how we have been kept sleeping amidst this great robbery of our spirits as we participate in the 'work, spend,, spend, consume' treadmill. The worker bees are kept quiet for want of one more day's profits.

I feel disgust when I am listening to Christmas musak in November, played in a dark mall with no clocks, like a casino, so that the patrons lose sense of time and spend their life savings on the latest crap imported from China. I feel sad when I watch a child, who couldn't be more than six or seven, struggle to walk because obesity has taken his balance and grace from him so young. Then to watch that same child down a can of Dr. Pepper and a big tube of sugar (literally), while standing outside my shoppe...All I can think is, when will someone love you enough to help you stop???

I look around and see signs, and Christmas decorations, all advertising a "low, low price" and making promises of happiness, health and fulfillment. They make such promises to us to remind us that we have not achieved these things. "Here," they say, "let me give you what you are obviously missing."

Our inadequacy complex serves them well. We are reminded that we are less than. Less than the celebrities on TV. Less than our neighbours, friends and certainly less than those peddling their mass-produced wares.

All I want is a house that is paid off. A home that no one can take from me. It doesn't have to be pretty (God knows it isn't), and it doesn't have to be big (we are reminded of the smallness every time we have to turn sideways in our living room to sit down). I want a garden, so that I can eat, no matter what, and a way to provide the basics...heat, water, electricity. My furniture doesn't have to be brand new...I would be afraid to be my regular clumsy self, the self who spills stuff, and who loves her cats more than her vanity.

Do I occasionally get woo'd by consumerism? Well, yes, but I really believe that I am able to draw a particular line...I watch women run around frantically looking for "Acai Berry" because Oprah says it will make them lose weight. All I can think is, how have we lost such faith in ourselves that we don't believe our rational thoughts are as valuable as Oprah's fleeting ones, particularly when hers are so heavily beholden to corporate sponsors and shareholders?

Who knew being an outsider could be so freeing?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Friends are the Family you Choose...

Well, I think I've processed it all. I supposed now it's time to "write it down", as it were. Because, well, that's the kind of shit I do.

I took a trip this past week to visit some friends. It was absolutely incredible.

There's a saying that "friends are the family you choose". I would have to agree with that. There are things that these people know about me that few, if any do, and they are the ONLY ones who know it all simultaneously. They were absolutely incredible hosts, which seems like the understatement of the year, but I mean that.

The thing is, I really believe that one of my life lessons has been, and will be understanding the inherent meaninglessness of genetic connections. I don't mean that to sound crass, or to undermine relationships that DO happen to have a genetic component. However, the fact that I am waiting every day for my chance to meet my own children, who will not happen to be genetically linked to myself or my husband, and the fact that I can have such a deep, wonderful, and important friendship with these people. With whom, I might add, live in another country, and grew up in such different (and yet, such similar) ways as I did.

It was amazing to be with people who "got" me. To whom I didn't seem too nutty (well, maybe just a little...), and with whom I could laugh or cry at anything without judgement. It was wonderful to feel so cared for.

For this next bit, you'll have to imagine my best television commercial voice. Sorry 'bout that.

So, this is my way of letting my valued friends know that they have now been upgraded to family! Congratulations! So, with all of that having been said, let's go through the new features that come free with your V.I.P. status, shall we?

* No gimmicks, gadgets, headgames or general B.S. Come as you are. There are no pretenses here.

* 24 hour emotional support, available any time of day or night via phone or email. Toll-free calling available with a simple ring signal.

* Unconditional love and support, even when it's not apparent or visible.

* Free laughs. On the house. All the time. (For best results, try drinking a glass of wine or two first.)

* And finally, our home is your home. We promise that whenever possible, if ever needed or wanted, you will be presented with a warm bed, hot tea (or cold beer!), a home-cooked meal, and a really big hug. No questions asked.

Below is a music video that I believe sums up my connection with these people. It won't make a lot of sense at first, but stay the course, and toward the end of the video, you'll understand. ;)

I love you both, my Kindred Spirits.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Where have our Communities Gone?

Ah, so Samhain has come and gone, and we are still experiencing incredibly beautiful weather. Today was 12 degrees (celcius)...Ridiculous for November 1. Halloween night was just as beautiful.

Last night, we handed out candy to some pretty cute kids. And some pretty large teenagers, who I usually feel compelled to humiliate before they get anything. :) I heard more than one rendition of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." Whatever, kid. If you're taller than I am, you're going to have to earn it. ;)

Our wonderful neighbours came over with their 6 month old daughter, Kaiya...She's beautiful, and she was dressed as a poodle. It was absolutely precious. They are great people. They really look after us. When my husband and I were gone on our honeymoon, our old whirlybird got blown off our roof by the wind, and Barry grabbed it, climbed up onto our roof, put it back, and left us an apology note for going on our roof?! Such a sweetheart. It's great living next door to people like that. Even though they did make fun of my "health food candy", which, for the record, was still delicious, but it was sweetened with cane sugar and brown rice syrup. Don't laugh, I'm a nutritionist, for crying out loud! :)

One thing that was evident this Halloween, though, was how many people are no longer taking their children trick-or-treating in the traditional way. Apparently though, the malls were packed with kids.

I understand the inherent risks that seem to becoming more and more prevalent in our society. Sexual predators seem to be rearing their ugly heads more and more often, and with increasing populations, globally, there just seem to be more and more crazies running around. I understand, too, the increasing need to be vigilant with our children, since it is, after all, our responsibility as parents to protect them. I would like to think that I would protect someone else's child just as I would protect my own.

It seems to me, though, that by isolating ourselves from one another, we continue to run increased risks of not knowing who we're dealing with. In spite of our fantastic neighbours, we really don't know many other people on our block. Besides Barry, Dana and Kaiya, We know our neighbours on the other side, and they are fairly nice people, although they keep to themselves, and there is a Vietnamese family down the street, who seem pretty nice, with two young daughters and a little Bichon puppy...All I know is that the woman's name is Kam...but I really couldn't tell you much more. Perhaps the creation of community is a way of us keeping each other accountable, and ensuring that we have a sense of who we can trust. I do believe we were blessed with instinct for a reason.

In addition to what I think is just general ickiness of people spending any holiday inside a mall, I really believe that we are robbing ourselves of an inter-connectedness and interdependence that is really necessary for a thriving society. We need each other, like it or not. No one can do this alone, and by knowing your neighbours, or at least knowing enough about them to know whether or not they can be trusted, we empower ourselves to protect our homes and families.

We must not let fear rule us. Isolation breeds fear, which breeds isolation, which breeds fear, which breeds see where I'm going with this?

I am beginning to make a conscious effort to involve myself with my neighbours. I am volunteering for my community league. My husband and I will be volunteering to do community watch in the New Year as well. It is well-documented that communities with more citizen participation tend to be safer, and have decreased incidence of crime. Perhaps it is time to begin to heal and rebuild our broken communities.