health and wellness, Sunday Confessions, That girl in the red coat, Women

Sunday Confessions

Truth – (noun) the quality or state of being true

 

I have a truth to share. I talk a big game about being true to yourself, believing in yourself and setting your sight on what you want and going for it. Most days, I hit a home run in that department. Some days, I am not capable of getting up to bat. Over the past weeks I have been in search of divine intervention, answers to questions I can’t seem to even articulate, yet I know they are there. I have been taking on the responsibility of other people’s problems, thinking that I could change things for them … like I really have that kind of power. I have found myself comparing myself to others, their achievements and what not. …I know, I know. Not even a month ago I blogged how comparison is the thief of joy. I’m just a woman trying to speak her truth and own it.

I read a quote years ago along the lines of “when you are feeling depressed, first check that you are not surrounded by assholes”. I have come to realize that I have been allowing the negativity of others and their snide, passive aggressive “compliments” to seep into my daily thoughts. I cannot stop what people say, I can stop what I let it do to me. I also had to remind myself that I can offer advice or my opinion, I cannot control what the other person will do with it, if they will heed my advice and help themselves, or just dismiss it all together and , in the end, it’s completely on me if I let myself hold onto the hurt of feeling dismissed. Trust me, as I sit here and write this I am wishing I could lay blame on others, the easier route in the short term, harder for the long term.

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada. Beginning at 11:00 a.m. I sat and watch the coverage of the ceremony. As I was watching the elderly veterans, I found myself wanting to kick my own ass. Here I am, a woman, living in a free country, allowed to vote, to walk down the street, earn a living, own a home, have an education. All because over the past 100 years, people I would never know or meet, gave up their lives for my freedoms. When I stopped and thought for a moment, really let it sink in, I realized that I should be grateful that I can have my moments of missing the mark, of wondering what if, of feeling like I am a failure. Why should I be grateful? I have the time to have these thoughts, to process them, to get them out of my system and keep on keepin’ on. Seriously. My biggest problem today is how I feel about myself or how I let someone make me feel. For the last 100 years men and women died for freedoms they never got to relish. Today, all over the world, children are being forced into war, families are being ripped apart at the border because they are fleeing such countries. Women are walking 2 -10 miles a day in hopes of getting clean water. Families in first world countries are one paycheck away from losing their homes. Hell, I am a woman who is able to speak her mind and has the freedom of speech, something I shall never take for granted, for there are women around the globe risking their lives just to be able to get groceries by themselves. Needless to say, I have gained some perspective.

We all have bad days. We all feel inadequate at some point. We all feel dismissed or ignored. We all fall victim to comparisons. In the end, it’s up to us to gain some perspective, take a hard look at ourselves and who we surround ourselves with, and most of all, to be grateful, for the up’s, the down’s and the all around’s.

 

lifestyle, parenting, Sunday Confessions, That girl in the red coat, Women

Sunday Confessions

Unless you have been living under a rock, in a coma or seeking seclusion in a Tibetan monastery, you are well aware of the political and cultural climate for women. It is 2018 and although we have made monumental strides towards equality, I am afraid, as of late, we have hit a plateau and in some arenas, we are facing stepping backwards. I listen to my daughter, who at 21 years of age is well in the middle of this mix. I hear her concerns, her fears, her hopes, her dreams. I raised her to be fair, to be kind, to stand up for what is right and to stand up for herself. I wanted to raise her the way I was raised. You see, I was fortunate to be raised by a loving and supportive mother and father. I was especially fortunate to be raised by a father who treated me as his child, not his daughter. It wasn’t until I went to school that I realized the differences between girls and boys. …don’t get me wrong, I knew about our biological differences, that only girls could get pregnant and carry a baby and that boys could pee standing up. Other than that, I thought we were the same, equal. I could double dutch like the best of them and could throw a perfect spiral. I could pretend I was a princess while wearing a pretty dress and imagine I was Babe Ruth whenever I was up to bat.

…before anyone gets on the soap box, I know all too well that girls and women are not the only people dealing with discrimination and adversity. Today’s tale is a focus on women and girls. I promise you, others will get their turn.

It wasn’t until I was 10 years old that I realized I would have to fight to prove I was just as good as a boy. We moved to Winnipeg, I was in grade 5 and my first day at the new school we had gym class. The teacher, a man, told the class it was calisthenics day and to start with push ups. So, I got down, assumed the position and began. The teacher came up to me, said “Oh no, you have to do your push ups like a girl.”. I had no idea what he was talking about. “Like a girl?” I asked. He said “Yes. Like a girl. Bend your knees, like the other girls.”. I looked around and they all bent their knees instead of being in a plank position. I looked at him and said “I’ve never seen that before. I don’t know how to do that. I’m doing it my way.”. To which he responded “Like a boy? Hmmm.”. When spring rolled around, it was time for baseball, my favorite sport at the time. I got up to plate and he placed a t-ball stand in front of me. I asked “What’s that for?”. He told me “Girls are afraid of the ball and can’t hit a pitch.”. I kicked the stand over, looked the him in the eye, and told the pitcher “Pitch it!”. …this is how I know there is a god, I hit that ball out of the park on my first swing. I thanked Jesus all the way around the bases.

Fast forward to high school. In Winnipeg, I was in french immersion for 3 years, so when we moved back to Ontario, I was a little lost in science. I had learned the basics in french. I asked my science teacher, another man, to clarify if I had the theory correct. As I was trying to explain I had learned it in french and wanted to make sure I had it right, I was told “Don’t worry so much. You only need one science credit. Pretty girls don’t need science.”. I was also told by a male teacher in grade 11 that “most girls get bored with computers” when I was getting lost in computer programming, a course I chose as an elective because I thought it was cool when my dad and I programmed our commodore vic 20 when I was 11.

In my sales career, spanning 25 years, men have told me;

  • I ask too many questions and if I can’t answer a customer’s question, just get one of the guys. – while selling cars
  • I should smile more
  • I get too emotional – when a fellow sales person scooped my deal and my commissions and I dared to stand up for myself. I had an appointment booked and the customer was under my name in the system, until the rat changed it.
  • “Wow! You have brains with your beauty”.
  • “Better ask your husband if it’s okay that you have to work late”
  • I wear too much makeup
  • I need to wear more makeup
  • I wear too much jewelry
  • I need to wear more jewelry
  • I am better being the face of the business, not to worry so much about what goes on behind the scenes.

Thanks to my stubborn nature, my need to fight for the underdog, my father raising me that I could do anything anyone else could do, my darling hubby who always has my back and a few good men that stood out from the crowd and fought for me and with me, I never let those remarks define me. Oh they stung and pissed me off to no end. I refused to let them define me. Then and now.

It’s 2018 and the fact that girls and women still hear these phrases (and worse) disgust me. Plain and Simple. Here’s the deal. In my book, you are either a good person or an ass. You either use your words to lift others up or to push them down. You are either kind, or you’re not. I don’t care if you are a man or a woman. I don’t care the color of your skin or if you believe in Christ, Buddha or the smurfs. Treat others as you want to be treated. Plain and simple.

Beauty, health and wellness, lifestyle, Sunday Confessions, That girl in the red coat

Sunday Confessions

 

Those of you familiar with my blog know all too well that I am a firm believer in being yourself, believing in yourself and when wanting something, to go for it. While sitting at my favorite window sipping my morning coffee and watching the birds frolicking on the lawn under the bird feeder I realized I had something to confess.

Last week I told you about the Joico Fall Trend Show that I was fortunate to attend. What I didn’t tell you about was the evening before. Around 8 p.m. the evening before the show I wasn’t sure if I was going to go. I was worried that it was a mistake to go, that I didn’t belong there. All the other shows and gala’s I have attended, not only was I a blogger with 35 professional hair care lines under her belt, I was a manager of a Salon/retail shop. Now that I am no longer in a Salon environment on a daily basis, I was worried I had no place at a Hair Show’s table. Yes, I know it sounds ridiculous and yes, I know I am always saying the opinions of others do not matter, and yes, I know it is best to listen to the whispers of hope and goodness rather than the shouts of dismay… sometimes, we all have our weak moments and the darkness starts to set in.

I woke up last Monday morning with a nervous belly ache. I hadn’t slept well, due to my nervousness and my snoring bed companion. As I made my coffee, I told myself, “you are going.”. I made myself post pictures and Instagram stories of my preparations for the show in an attempt to change my perspective and give myself that little push to go for it. I did my makeup, I did my hair, I put on my new boots I bought for this day …they are fabulous by the way, I said goodbye to my hubby and my girl as they told me I looked beautiful and that “you got this!”, I got in my car, put the destination in my GPS and I was off. When I arrived, it was raining and my umbrella busted the moment I opened it. Everything in me wanted to use this as an excuse that the universe was trying to tell me I wasn’t supposed to be there, instead I chose to think, “Sara, you need a new umbrella.”. I rushed in, trying to keep my ‘do in tact and found my way to the hall. As I walked past the banners and the stylists I heard my name. As others were scrounging for their tickets to get through the door all you heard down the hallway was “Sara! Your ticket is waiting for you inside, just go on in!”. Some heads turned with the look of “Who’s that?” as I walked by. Once I got in, within minutes I was greeted with hugs from former colleagues and stylists. I even ran into stylists that I had done private consultations at their Salons. Everyone asking how I had been, what I am up to and all happy to hear my news and happy to see me. Stylists complimenting my hair and asking what color I used and what products I suggest. I was able to meet the fabulous stylists and people that I follow on Instagram and who follow me. I heard “Yay! You’re here!” many times that day. It was a good day. One I am grateful for on so many levels.

The point to today’s confession? No matter how scared you are, how nervous you might be, you have to take chances. You have to get off your ass and make your life happen. I know all too well how easy it is to listen to the self doubt voices shouting and how hard it can be to hear the whispers of self confidence. If you quiet your mind for even a few seconds, they are there and you will hear them. All we can control in this life is ourselves and our minds. That is the reason for my posts and stories that morning, I was giving myself a positive visual, I was making my mind believe the good of my experience. I was “faking it ’til I make it” if you will. Here I was thinking I wouldn’t fit in, that I would look foolish or look like a loser for showing up and all the while, it was exactly where I was supposed to be and was welcomed with open arms.

Be gentle with yourselves Beauties, we are all doing the best we can with what we’ve got at the moment. We all feel scared. We all worry we won’t fit in. Take chances. Believe in yourself. A change may be just around the next corner. Grab hold of that door, take a deep breath, open it and walk through. No matter what happens, you will know you did it, that you tried and that is a thing of beauty.

health and wellness, lifestyle, Parenting past 15, Sunday Confessions

Sunday Confessions

Fear – An unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain or harm (Oxford Dictionary)

Many of my friends and loved ones have been going through some shit lately. Some big, some small. When you dig down deep enough, you will find fear is the culprit. Fear is the seed that is making that vine grow. Branching out into all aspects of life, family, friends, work, you name it, it’s trying to grab hold. I was talking with my daughter a few nights ago about this exact thing. She is going through some stuff (not going to share it – not my story to tell) and she inferred that I wasn’t afraid of anything. You see, I am an optimist. I try to see the good in all things. I prefer to raise people up which in turn makes me look like I have my shit together and have no fear. Sweet child, you couldn’t be more wrong.

During my 46 years in this earthly realm, yours truly has felt her share of fear. When I was a child I was afraid of monsters under my bed, my house catching on fire, spiders, bees and heights. I put my children’s Bible under my bed = no more monsters = no more fear. I wore my housecoat and slippers to bed so in case of of a fire I was ready to flee = no more fear. I saw my Auntie Jo squish a spider with her bare hands = no more fear…still a little freaked out by those 8 legged monstrosities. I found out that bees help things grow and once stung by one I got ice cream to make me feel better = no more fear. As for the heights…after falling 12 feet off the playground equipment the fear was gone. I realized I wasn’t afraid of heights, I was afraid of the pain of landing after the fall. Now I knew what to expect.

Fast forward 35 years and the fears I face aren’t as easy to overcome. My family gene pool offers ovarian cancer, breast cancer, dementia and Alzheimer’s. My husband had a heart attack at 39. He is fine. His heart is good. I still wake up to check if he’s breathing, just as I did when my daughter was a wee baby – you know, getting eye level with their stomach to see if it rises. Our lovely daughter deals with issues of anxiety and depression. I still get a knot in my stomach when she sounds funny on the phone or I receive a random text. …by the way, that is why I do not like texting – no emotion so you never know it’s context. Drives me crazy. Most of the time there is nothing the matter, but fear makes me think otherwise.

I’m going to tell you what I told my daughter. A little fear is good, it keeps you aware. A lot of fear is bad, it blinds you to what is right in front of you. We all have fears. We all have anxieties. Mostly over the things we don’t have any control of. I can eat well, do what the Doctor and Oprah tell me to do and guess what? I could still get cancer. I have no control over what happens to my husband or our daughter. All I can do is love them and remind them of their health issues and help them to practice self care and love.

In this life all we can control is our behavior, how we decide to see people and treat them. In my experience, kindness is a fear killer. It really is. Whenever I have been fearful of something new, be it work or life, I kill it with kindness. I also make myself remember all the fears I have conquered, from fear of falling off my bike when I was six, to fear of driving into the heart of the dragon – the 400/401 highway in Toronto when I was 43, and all the other fears in between.

Be gentle with yourself for you are doing the best you can. Fear will always be lurking in the shadows. I believe that kindness is light, so if you have light, there is no need to fear the dark.

Beauty, Sunday Confessions, Women

Sunday Confessions

 

 

As you may have noticed, last Sunday yours truly didn’t go to confession. At the beginning of August, I celebrated my 46th. birthday. It was a lovely day filled with beautiful birthday wishes and a few lovely surprises. This year I decided to give myself a present – the gift of time. That morning while sitting in my garden with my coffee, I vowed to myself and the cardinal sitting on my fence (whom I firmly believe is my Gramma Leah flying in to check on me) that I was going to give myself one day off a week. A day that wasn’t filled with laundry, cooking, cleaning, being my daughter’s private Uber service, running errands…you name it…I wasn’t going to do it. Being a wife and mother, I, as most of us do, take on every task, large or small, and wear ourselves thin. Our patience and our focus  lands on the back burner and in the end, we, our families and friends and even our dinner gets burned.

The first week, I gotta admit was tough. I had to keep telling myself, out loud, to slow down. I had to remind myself that the grocery store will still be there the next day and that left overs or takeout for dinner will not create the demise of my family. The second week it was much easier – of course it was the long weekend so I felt like I had a get out of jail free card. I woke up last Sunday morning, poured my cup of joe into my Mama Bird birthday mug and planted myself in my garden. I watched the bees buzzing, listened to the breeze in the trees and said hello to the cardinal – I’m telling you, it’s my Gramma Leah. Every morning she shows up within 5 feet of me, chirping away. It’s been happening for over 2 years now. Every morning, there is a cardinal chirping at me. I sat there for a while, then went inside, walked past the pile of dishes waiting by the sink, poured another cup of coffee and planted myself in front of my puzzle. Yes, my puzzle. I have loved puzzles since I was a kid, so I treated myself to a new one for the summer of 2018. This one will probably take me the whole summer to complete. In my infinite wisdom I purchased a 2000 piece Van Gogh’s Starry Night puzzle…and have now learned I need glasses.

My day continued as such, working on my puzzle, listening to music, laughing with my family, sitting in my garden having a Palm Bay. These events were on repeat all day, and it was wonderful. My hubby washed the dishes that were waiting on the counter and ordered Skip the Dishes for dinner …a dangerous thing this Skip the Dishes – getting to eat your favorite restaurant food in the comfort of your pajamas.

Here’s the deal. I know all to well that life gets in the way of best laid plans. Kids get sick. Pets get sprayed by skunks. Cars break down. Shift changes at work. The list is endless, I know. Carve some time out for yourself, put your name in your weekly agenda, make an appointment with yourself. Do a puzzle, get your nails done, read a book or simply sit in your garden. Making yourself a priority will make you a better person, for yourself and for those around you. Plain and Simple.

lifestyle, parenting, Sunday Confessions

Sunday Confessions

 

Comparison is the thief of joy. A lovely quote I stumbled upon many years ago. I have to admit, I used to compare myself and my life to others. Feeling like I was missing out, or not doing enough with my life. I would hear of vacations, career changes, new houses, new cars, you name it…if I heard about it, it was always accompanied with a dash of jealousy, wishing I could have all those things too. Nowadays, not so much. Maybe it’s maturity, maybe it’s my hysterectomy, maybe it’s the fact I am going to be 46 in a few days, maybe it’s perspective, maybe it’s everything coming together all at once.

This October I am taking a trip to Vancouver with my husband and I am going to my first concert with my husband. We have been together 26 years, married for 24. When I tell this to people, I almost always get “the face”. You know the one, the look of pity, or shock or sheer disbelief that I have not traveled or rocked out at a concert in 24 years. I have had people ask if our marriage was in trouble and if we are trying to rekindle the spark. I have had people tell me it’s about time I started living. I have had people say “…so what have you been doing with your life?”. Ten years ago, these phrases would have flattened me. I would have let the opinions of others take the helm of my life’s journey. I would have felt embarrassed or ashamed of my life, or lack there of. Today, not so much.

A long time ago, I decided to put my marriage, my family and our life together first. Over the years, we have faced job losses, lay offs, health issues – some scary, some not. We decided it made more sense financially and emotionally for me to stay home with our daughter until she reached school age. It didn’t make sense for me to be out of the house 40 hours a week to hand over most of my paycheck to a daycare provider. We made a one income household work, hence no travelling. When my husband was faced with manufacturing layoffs, I stepped up and worked 6 days a week. Keeping our house was more important then having a family vacation photo. My mother in law broke her hip, twice. That summer we took care of her, got her the rehabilitation she needed, took care of her home and finances, so our summer vacation plans fell to the wayside. I could go on an on, reading the list would make your eyes blurry and would give me carpal tunnel. Sure, we could have gone on trips and rocked out at concerts, but we couldn’t afford it, and honestly, I, hell, we were stressed enough, why would we add more financial stress to our platter? How would I enjoy myself sitting on a beach knowing that I had a credit card bill waiting for me in my mailbox with the vacation and hotel charges that I couldn’t pay? I guess all I am trying to say is shit happens, plans change, life gets in the way and never be ashamed of your life because you aren’t doing what everyone else seems to be doing. This is your life. Your choices must be what is best for you, and for your family (for those of us that have one). No one else is living your life but you. Another great quote I stumbled upon is “the opinions of others do not pay the bills”.

I am proud of what my husband and I have accomplished. It hasn’t always been pretty, sometimes it got ugly, but we are still together, fighting the good fight. We never lost sight of the fact that we love each other and that the problems and arguments were because of life getting in the way, not loss of love for one another. We have our home, we have our health, we have a beautiful daughter who is coming into her own and doors are opening for her at every turn…and although it is later than planned, we are going to travel and rock out at a concert.

 

health and wellness, lifestyle, Sunday Confessions

Sunday Confessions

 

 

As I sit here by my favorite window I can hear the rain falling and with it a much needed cool summer breeze. I have been wondering what to write about this fine Sunday. It seems I am having one of those mornings where ideas and memories are flooding my mind at the same time. I get inspiration for today’s tale then WHAMMO! I am hit with a memory – some good, some, not so good. I haven’t been sleeping as soundly as I would like lately, and all I keep thinking about is Shug Avery from the Color Purple singing “…can’t sleep at night. And you wonder why. Maybe God is tryin’ to tell you something.”. Now, I have no clue what God, the universe, the smurfs – take your pick are trying to tell me. All I know is something, somewhere is out of whack. Sure I could blame it on planets in retrograde, or the fact that we were dealing with record high temperatures and humidity…but I do believe that would be an excuse, not a reason.

Maybe the reason for my lack of sleep and feeling of unrest is to share it, to let whomever reads this know that you are not alone. That it’s okay to wonder about your life choices, to question your actions and the actions of others. To feel like something, somewhere is not as it should be. That there is a difference between being paranoid and being aware. That it’s okay to take time to figure yourself out, be it meditating, prayer, reading, walking through a forest – whatever you need to do to get back to you. Life pulls us in every direction. Now more than ever thanks to social media we can be left feeling like we aren’t enough, or doing enough, or travelling enough. Try and take a page from my book and see social media as one of your favorite magazines or reality television shows.

Take time for yourself, today and everyday. Even if it’s five minutes. Maybe, just maybe in those few moments you and I will hear just what God is tryin’ to tell us.