Off The Wall, the VANS

It all started in Milano. The obsession.

We were sock sisters. Sharing the same, mostly free adidas sport socks. They were peaking out over the tops of our shoes.

All the cool kids were wearing hideaway socks and adidas Stan Smiths. Were we even allowed on the street?

Sitting on the curb of Piazza deal Duomo we discussed our sneakers, our unfashionable socks and what we’d buy if we were to replace our well-loved, well-worn kicks. She, Originals, Green trimmed Stan Smiths. Me, VANS all the way baby! It’s all about the 80’s and Penn putting them on the map, forget about the 70’s 😉

That is when it started. The obsession of finding the perfect VANS.
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Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon a store, close to home, full of VANS!

I tried on this pair, that pair, the other pair, the sales girl obliged. We talked about Italy, about my age-inappropriateness of shopping for skater shoes and then I bought two pairs, I was feeling lucky.

Back home, I took the garbage down wearing one pair of my new VANS.

Maiden voyage in my new kicks – garbage room. Nice.

That is when I realized perhaps I should have tried on the 1/2 size larger.
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Shoes packed back in their boxes and the next day back to the store I went hoping that a new day meant new staff.

How embarrassing would it be, “Hello I’d like to return one pair of shoes and exchange the other pair for a 1/2 size larger even though you asked me yesterday and I said no.”

Nothing from that dialogue screams, intelligent, well thought through purchase decision!

Turned out, new day, new staff!
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Exciting – one return, one exchanged pair 1/2 size larger.

But the excitement was short lived replaced by disappointment, my ankles were falling out of my shoes.

Back in their box and the next day back to the store for an exchange.

Turns out different day, not always new staff!
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“Hey,” I greet the sales guy, “I am back again!” There is only one way to treat this situation with dignity and that is to play the bouncy, absent-minded, 30-something who has no business buying skater shoes to begin with.

He’s busy behind the cash, uncomfortable with his attempt to dress a male mannequin in board shorts. He makes a comment about it and to distract himself he’s given the mannequin a name. He may be more embarrassed about his work related predicament than I am about returning a 3rd time to the store 3 days in a row.

I crack a joke to get him focused off his awkward mannequin dressing and onto my much more important embarrassment.

“I’m the girl who simply buys things and finds an excuse to come in to the store each and every day.”

He laughs and adds on to the joke, “And instead of actually returning anything, you’ll just keep exchanging between the 8’s and the 8 1/2’s, back to the 8’s…always in the same style!”

His mannequin is no longer a point of embarrassment, he is 100% engrossed in mine!

The Motley

IMG_0196The night was early. The reservation was for 18 but as the evening wore on, 15, 16 17…18 people arrived with more still expected. We needed more seats, a bigger table. The conversations were lively and loud. We were there for a reason, to be connected, to say thank you.

I say “boss” because there isn’t a word that I know that adequately describes who she is. It is safe to say she is nothing like anyone else I’ve worked for – ever.

She is that “boss” who will always be remembered, in 20, 30 years, for shaping and setting into motion that “something” that fundamentally is important to my personal journey.

I learned honesty, I learned that it’s ok to be real, I learned that it’s ok to be wrong and it’s ok to make mistakes but most importantly to respect the diversity. She gave all of us a space to be our best selves even if we may not have realized it at the time. I thank her for that.

The yelling that was required to be heard at the long table was perhaps a product of our own noisiness and less about the music or buzz from the other patrons and that was a wonderful collective to be part of – the laughter, the shared experiences, the stories.

Today my voice is hoarse and I slept-in beyond a reasonable hour. I am grateful to have been part of the motley and continue to be part of the motley.

To connection. To humanity. To experiencing the thing we call life.

Life is like a box of…letters

When I left for college my family was really good at sending me letters in the mail. Yes I was old enough, or young enough, or whatever enough that email was a normal method of communication, however there is just something about getting physical mail.

I found my box of saved up mail in my junk drawer.

As a side note, junk drawers, no matter how organized one might be, are super important. It’s in these drawers that treasures are found 🙂 Like old comics cut out of the newspaper or that thing we made when we were in grade 3 that was “Oh soooo cute.”

In my box there were a few typed letters from a friend of the family who was living with my parents. He was…I dunno, 90? It is safe to say he wasn’t young and he had lots of advice for me while I was away in my first year at college. I laughed out loud when I read this Christmas Card from him:

MAY YOUR LIFE BE LONG AND PLESENT
MAY YOU HAVE TEN KIDS AND LOADS OF FRENDS

MERRY XMS, TO YOU.

Ummm, 10 kids – honestly!? I am WAYYYYY BEHIND 🙂

Anyhow in my box of letters there are some really funny notes and a few diaries I started but never finished (I likely got tired of the cover and found a new book to write in).

Perhaps this post is against my better judgement, but I cannot resist.

In my diaries from when I was 20, I didn’t realize this, but I was looking to find “Love”. And this makes me laugh. I will be the first to admit that this term was lost on me in my 20’s. It was a nice catch-all word that was the answer to everything. A little Love.

The problem, as a 20-something snot faced know-it-all, love was staring me in the face all along and I ignored it. I walked around it, I hid from it and yet would write in my diary at night, “I am looking for Love!”

You see the humour in this?! I do 🙂 and frankly it makes me laugh.

For whatever reason I decided that finding love was finding a magical man that I could put on MY mantle (forget about being his prize, I didn’t want to be a prize I wanted to win a prize!)

I can hardly stop myself from laughing and I can understand if this is making no sense but I will do my best to give some clairty (although that just may not be possible.)

When I talk about me walking around love and avoiding it, Love was my family and my close friends. The ones who cared about me and were there to laugh with me, poke fun at me and get away with it.

In my box of letters I see the love they had for me (how did they put up with me!).

So ladies who are in your 20’s who know it all, there are no magical men riding around on dark stallion’s or whatever colour of horse you prefer. There is family and best friends who have your back, who’d take a bullet for you, who’d do anything to keep you safe – that is Love.

I don’t believe love can be found just sitting there in the shade waiting to be happened upon.

I do believe it can be nutured and it can grow into something amazing and that it is worth the effort of friendship.

I am not sure when in my 20’s I stopped with my ridiculous “looking” and just started living – focusing on nurturing my attachments with family and friends and collecting new friends along the way, but it happened and perhaps that is just part of growing up.

It’s like the saying “Do a job you love and the money will come.” I say “Build strong friendships and love will come.”

To not finding Love. 😀 but rather great friendships!

A poem my sister sent me and yes I found it in the box of letters.

Friendship
To laugh and joke a bit, and grasp a friendly hand;
To love a bit and scold a bit, and hope they’ll understand.
To tell one’s secrets hopes and fears, and share a friendly smile;
To have a friend and be a friend is what makes life worthwhile!

Bananas

Bananas

On my way home tonight I was having a conversation with one of my coworkers about Banana’s. How they must be the correct ripeness for eating and that if one was to eat it outside of the optimum ripeness the preference we agreed would be to be under-ripe versus over-ripe.

Working so close to a grocery store has its benefits when it comes to picky banana eating. Instead of buying a bunch of 6 or 7 banana’s I can pick up one, two or three bananas at a time and they will last one or two days, staying in perfect eating condition.

I found this handy website that tells me all the nutritional facts on bananas. Size is VERY important for bananas when it comes to nutrition :D. For example an extra-small banana only has 72 calories where as an extra-large banana has 135 calories. Check out the nutrition website here – I cannot validate it’s validity but its fun that there is a webpage dedicated to Banana nutrition!

For all you folks who must rely on buying bunches of banana’s all at one time, I am happy to report that there is still a way to enjoy those over-ripe bananas.

I agree, it’s pretty good news.

There is this recipe that is called Best Ever Banana Muffins and you guessed it, I am going to share this best ever recipe. Just so there is no confusion before I share the recipe my sister introduced to me, I must first tell you a little story that will solidify the claim that this is the best ever recipe.

So over a year ago I went to visit her and her new family. I am still sad they live so far away but it is fun visiting (thank goodness I like visiting places or else this would be a huge drag). So I was visiting and along with me being a visitor (sort of visitor because family doesn’t always get classified as true visitors since sometimes family visitors hold that ho hum of “the relatives are coming again and they did bring their kitchen sink this time! I wish they’d leave it at home.”), there were also real visitor’s at the same time, meaning there was no blood relation.

My brother in-law being a thoughtful shopper purchased lots and lots of bananas that were on the verge of being over-ripe. You can guess why he did this? He really likes the Best Ever Banana Muffins and my sister being a great hostess and also really liking the recipe baked not one but TWO batches of the recipe.

So getting to my story of why they are the best, I know, you are all sitting on the edge of your seats. The visitor’s put shame aside and asked for a doggy bag for their drive home so they could continue enjoying the Best Ever Banana Muffins for the next day or two!

That’s right; these banana muffins will do that.

They’ll wash away any manners that your mom drilled into you as a child. They are THE best and they will make you lose your manners 🙂

BEST EVER BANANA MUFFINS

3 Large Banana’s (see handy website for nutrition value, way over-ripe bananas are the best!)
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup melted butter
1/3 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (the original recipe leaves this delicious addition out, probably because they aren’t so great nutritionally but they are much better with chocolate chips.)

Mash bananas. Add sugar and slightly beaten egg. Add melted butter. Add dry ingredients. Put into muffin tins. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.

Take them out and eat them warm.

The Saturday Identity

The Saturday Identity

First, I saw this tree today and I thought it looked interesting and perhaps a little more interesting in real life.

I have been attempting to write this post for a while. It is the beginning’s that are sometimes the most difficult but once I have one I can’t stop myself. Thank you my friend MK for letting me use this personal story:

“Just met a gentlemen who invited me to go in front of him at the parking meter. Said he had lots of time since retiring. I asked him how long he had been retired as he looked relatively young. Said he retired ten years ago after the doctors told him he had only two years to live. An inspiring moment for me on a rushed Monday morning.”

I really liked this story and I am sure everyone who reads it will take something a little different away from it.

These past few months I have had the freedom to a lot of alone time. Alone time is pretty scary. It’s like those Saturday’s when we have nothing planned and it feels like everyone else in this world is doing something fun and exciting except us. We try to rationalize and figure out what we can do differently to have a more exciting life. How do we fill up those empty spaces when the second hand on the clock stands frozen in time? Who are we and what is our identity?

I don’t know about you, but I am familiar with this frozen time on Saturdays. For whatever reason Saturday’s were the worse. The panic started creeping up as it got closer and closer to 5pm on Friday.

Yesterday my friend and I were talking about this. She took a year to herself in 2010 and well I am really happy that she did. That’s a selfish statement but it is true. I watched her let herself slow down. She allowed herself to feel, to philosophise about life, to peel away the layers. I had the privilege to be there and to hold her hand when she needed reassurance and you know what, it doesn’t make me a hero. She is the hero and she allowed me see the rawness (this apparently is not a word!), the fear, the human emotion of self-doubt and you know what, it is not weakness like we are told. What I saw was a women getting stronger everyday, following her dreams, being her person and that is strength. I am thankful to have her here today in my corner.

What does this have to do with frozen Saturday’s?

Identity.

When we allow ourselves to identify with who we are underneath all the layers. To acknowledge our emotion, accept it and reconcile it. When we ignore the stereotype, the media, the social pressure to be whatever it is that we are perceived to be on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Friday.

It can be lonely and it challenges us and ya maybe not everyone is going to think we are interesting, funny and like our art or whatever other ego driver’s that are important to us and that help us belong (big surprise to feed my ego – if we can laugh together and frankly I don’t care if you like me (but I secretly hope you do haha), if we’ve laughed together that means a smile and I love smiles! and as for interesting, I am quirky (aren’t we all) 🙂 I accept it)

So to those contemplating stripping away the layers, identifying with yourself versus what surrounds you: your career, your friends, your lover, your family, its pretty rewarding and I dare say…freeing!! Don’t get me wrong, we need surroundings but it’s easy to get lost in them too.

I know one day will come and I’ll need to rejoin the marching band and start identifying with more than the bare essential surroundings and lose some of my freedom. I’ll stop pretending to be retired, spending my days living in a moment of time and quite frankly that day scares me. I am sure that I’ll have a slight panic attack reporting for my first day of work. Will I be able to hold out and not become so involved that I forget who I am? Will I continue to look forward to Saturday’s regardless of the lack of a “plan”?

I am not sure, but I am going to do my damnest and I’ll be sure to use my best defence in the face of adversity; the dumbfounded look of a stunned bird – that is sure to keep me grounded cause who cares if I look silly as long as I am free 🙂

The Dandelion That Brightened The Day

The Dandelion That Brightened The Day

This morning on my way to work, it was snowing and I felt this huge tug for Barbados.

Barbados, yes the beach is pretty fabulous but that rain oh the rain!! I haven’t quite figured out what made Barbados so magical. Perhaps it was the dashing from tree to tree looking for cover and trying to escape the millionth downpour while holding onto melting ice cream cones, or the doubling over in laughter at our well laid out vacation plan that was turning out to be anything but hot sunny days. We could have both packed sweatpants and no one would have been the wiser.

We lime’d (and no it’s not a dirty term), played alot of cards, drank Starbucks instant coffee, ate Kraft dinner Bajan style (this just means the water boils at a different rate 🙂 and the cheese is sticky from the humidity!), dashed to the store and back between thunderstorms, spied on rich British travellers and learned how to drive on the wrong side of the road 😉

When I see snow falling at the end of April all I want to do is close my eyes and be transported to that magical rainy place that turned out to be the most unplanned, relaxing Vacation full of wonderful local hospitality (and sticky Kraft dinner, seriously the theme for my next vacation should be “eating wonderful local cuisine”, I admit we did have Bajan food a few nights but honestly what is with the Kraft dinner on vacation!)

I did close my eyes but I was not transported far far away and instead I found my feet firmly planted in Canada.

The good thing is there are equally magical things to a rainy day on a hot island and one of them is having conversations with a 5 year old about life. There is one concerned little lady who is on the look-out for my well being and my not owning a car. 🙂 She feels this life-style change will greatly impede my life and here are some of her suggestions on solving this dilemma:

1. Don’t move, moving costs money and you need to save money so you can buy a car.

2. In two days, what day will it be? Sunday. Umm ok, how about in 6 days? Thursday. What about 10 days? Monday. Ok, well ummm, how about you save as long as you can and when you get to $500 you’ll have enough for a House AND a car.

3. Your neighbour who parks beside you at your house, they can lend you their vehicle when you need to go to the store.

4. Here is a dandelion, I picked it extra long so that it doesn’t wilt so quickly. It’s pretty and will brighten up your house.

5. How are you going to visit? We’ll figure that out. Ok, well you can take a taxi maybe or you can just stay the night and if you stay the night then you’ll be here in the morning.

I can’t say I followed the entire conversation, but I did have a huge smile on my face and was no longer thinking about the snowy, cold morning; I was engrossed in how inventive and creative little people really are; brightening anyone’s day here and there.

“The Power Of Words”

“The Power Of Words” Another great You Tube link shared by a friend – this one requires minimal reading and will hopefully make your heart swell, just a little that it doesn’t burst 🙂