The Cheese and My Foot

imageIt was a late class. The dojang smelled of teenage sweat. Teenage sweat smells different from any other kind of sweat. And in a dojang with the windows closed, it felt like we were pushing our faces through invisible bricks of the most revolting curing cheese.

Sitting on the sidelines waiting for our time on the mat, a classmate leaned in to where I was sitting and with her Triny accent (which secretly sounds German), quietly whispered, “Someone should really open a window, don’t you think?”

I was thinking the same but the idea of crossing the mat and parting through the teenagers still working on their drills, felt like a physical hazard waiting to happen. Safer to stay seated and let myself become the cheese. Known fact, in order to overcome, just become! No?

Our turn on the mat. Someone managed to open a window. Fresh air. It was going to be a great night training. My regular partner was in class. We may not be the most aggressive when training together, but we have an understanding and we diligently train our muscles to react to the offensive strikes.

Warm-up begins. Hips. Ankles. Legs. Feet. We are going to be practising kicks, my favourite. And then we pair up with a warm-up partner.

Before I can turn to “my” partner, one of the Teen’s who has joined our adult class, grins and loudly says “Miss Donnafay?!”

I look in his direction. He is eager. He really wants to practise together. It is possible that over the last 9 months that the idea a girl is somehow an inferior training partner has dissipated. I didn’t want to let down his excitement and the obvious challenge he was wanting tonight and I said, “Sure”.

We were now a team and the next 5 minutes is a race against all the other teams and he wanted to win. I did too and we were going to try.

His turn first, high knees up to my hands. He was going as fast as possible. He was going to win this round. He finishes his exercise, pumped, he’s done first!

He turns to do his sprint and his right foot comes slamming down into my left foot.

I involuntarily swear the loudest swear in my swearing vocabulary and I fall to the ground. He stops, turns around shocked, “Miss Donnafay are you ok?” and I shoo him off to do his sprint.

My foot is no longer pale, it is colourless, it is WHITE!

I can’t feel anything but a ringing in my ears! It’s uncomfortable.

My poor foot, no match for a good stomp. Broken? Maybe. Fractured? Likely. 5 Days Later, Black and Blue? Most definitely!

The cheese doesn’t seem like a bad state to be in after all!

๐Ÿ™‚

On Death

IMG_20150516_161105โ€œ Itโ€™s not possible to have a neutral experience with death.โ€ Caleb Wilde with Anna Sale on Death Sex & Money.

It was day 2 of the client onsite training, we were just getting into the second hour when the email came through. My family rarely use my work address to contact me. When I saw my oldest sisterโ€™s name as the sender, I knew heโ€™d died.

I paused mid-sentence, recovered, finished my thought and called a 15 minute break.

I wasn’t anticipating my Grandadโ€™s death to provoke the emotions I was experiencing.

Complete sadness.

Acknowledging his passing.

His quiet, gentleness. He cared about people. He cared that life was good to them.

I know he cared about me, one of his many grandchildren. He knew the highlights of our lives. He wanted the best for us all.

I reflect on his life.

His stresses, his joys, his decisions that collectively made up his journey.

I contemplate how I honor the culture, the beliefs, the family unity that he influenced. I reflect on his understanding for the need of Companionship and Love.

I acknowledge what I unreasonably disregarded and misjudged.

I consider if I can allow this experience to unconditionally impress my future.

published @ย https://medium.com/@littlebeeshoe

That Man from the 3rd floor

A few months ago one of my best friends mandated that I “get serious” about dating.

To be honest, sometime in my teens, my grand-mother scared the marriage right out of me. It was a balmy summer day, she was at the stove cooking something delicious and I was sulking at the old wooden table.

“You know DF, the guy you agree to marry is the most important decision you will ever make. It will change your life for ever. You remember that and be mighty careful who you agree to marry.”

No problem.

Single.

Crisis averted.

Friends have done their best to persuade me that at least putting some effort into being available to meet someone that will change my mind, is worth my while. And spending my weekends traipsing here and there, would be better done with a male mate that wasn’t just a best-friend from some past, failed relationship.

As a pouty 20-something, that was a great strategy and I am still on the fence if it’s still a fool-proof strategy as a 30-something but open to entertaining suggestions.

Here I am, being open minded, taking advice from the one’s who have happily passed from single-dom into dual-dom. It can’t be all that bad, they are still happy.

So when a friend of mine gleefully described a fellow neighbour she met in my elevator, I agreed to keep an eye out.

“Come on DF, what, you’re going to sit here and waste away counting cars?!”

I argued back, “It’s much too close, honestly, there is hardly a floor separating us and how do you exactly propose I bump into him? Take up residence in the elevator?”

“No silly, just keep your eye open for him and talk to him when you see him.”

Ok. Fine

Within a week I magically bumped into this creature she accurately described.

He was tall, handsome and yes, he lived on the 3rd Floor.

Did I talk to him?

Not really.

With my mouth full of apple, I opted for grunting and hand gestures while he explained to me how “tired” he was from his “many” late nights watching “professional sports”. Finishing off with a list of the teams he was cheering for.

I only managed a “Have a nice night” once his back was turned and I was sure my apple pieces were safe!

I think I made her proud ๐Ÿ™‚

“A Room with a View”

First I am going to mention that this post is a selfish post. It might not make sense because it’s me writing to me but perhaps it will invoke some self-reflecting and take you back to a different time, place and make you smile about how perhaps self-involved you may or may not have been when you were young and “knew” everything.

I recently watched the movie “A Room with a View”. I didn’t know before I watched that it was based on a book from 1908 but it is. I am not even sure why I choose to watch this particular movie except that Helena Bonham Carter had a main role and she has played some interesting characters.

Halfway through the movie I was highly tempted to turn it off but my personality dictates that I must see how it ends no matter how painful. It turns out I was glad that I kept it as background noise. I have to say the movie really made me yearn (what a weird word that describes perfectly what I felt) for a piano, a mostly empty house and an old man tapping his cane in disapproval.

As soon as I heard the following lines I was transported back in time. If you haven’t seen the movie, this excerpt below is an impassioned speech from a man to a girl he loves and who he feels is about to marry a man who does not deserve her:

“But he’s the sort who can’t know anyone intimately, least of all a woman. He doesn’t know what a woman is. He wants you for a possession, something to look at like a painting or an ivory box. Something to own and to display. He doesn’t want you to be real, or to think or to live. He doesn’t love you, but I love you. I want you to have your own thoughts and ideas and feelings, even when I hold you in my arms. It’s our last chance… It’s our last chance…”

And it goes on.

The reason this particular part of the movie sent me back in time is this line is quoted in a song by Dream Theater.

Dream Theater is a curious American band that pulls from events, time, places that are interesting. Most of their songs are a collection of references.

I was introduced to the band sometime in the late 1990’s. I wonโ€™t pretend to remember exactly when but it was after I bought my first computer (for way too much money). ICQ had the “random” friend generator; I am not sure how this is relevant to this post but it somehow is; besides the fact that I think that the random friend generator was an interesting feature from a different time.

Back to the movie, the quote and Dream Theater. The album Awake was released in 1994 and the very last song on the CD was titled Space-Dye Vest and like mentioned earlier is a collection of quotes sown together to make a song. This was one of my favourite songs from the band and I can’t tell you why because I am not sure really. I think it was the quote from the Conan O’Brien show near the end of the song:

“That, so they say that, in ya know like, Houston or something, you’d say it’s a hundred and eighty degrees, but it’s a dry heat. In Houston they say that? Oh, maybe not. I’m all mixed up. Dry until they hit the swimming pool.”

I just found the song so disjointed and appealing.

Anyhow, I decided I must hear the song and that sent me digging through my CD’s. It turns out I have lost the CD along the way and I am stuck with having to remember the song in my head.

Sifting through my CD’s however has made for an entertaining night. I didnโ€™t remember having so much music compiled and this evening’s task has been moving my music collection from CD’s to my hard drive.

What I love about music is it can transport me back in time; I can experience the emotion, the hopes, the dreams and the feelings of a time without getting involved. I can remember the good times, have a smile on my face and well its great looking back at that “13-year old self” and knowing how it all turns out. ๐Ÿ™‚ Well up to now anyhow.

I get to listen to old bands that I couldn’t get enough of; here are a few of my favourites:

1. Ben Folds Five
2. Tonic
3. Fools Garden
4. Better Than Ezra
5. Collective Soul
6. Bush
7. Dream Theater
8. Edwin
9. Remy Zero
10. Catherine Wheel

As honorable mentions I have to add Ace of Base, Def Leppard, Deep Purple and Honeymoon Suite. ๐Ÿ™‚

I find it relaxing listening to these bands, it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling even with a bleeding, painful middle finger. Sometimes life just happens and there is nothing we can do to stop it. There is sometimes just no explaining all the decisions that led to today and why today is just the best day there could ever be and tomorrow holds so much promise.

What are your favourite bands that can take you back to a different time and place?

When Nobody’s Looking…

Since the big night out at Nashville North and my admission of listening to, setting my radio dial and trying out my underwhelming ability of line dancing to country music, I figured why not post a top ten list of ordinary things that I do that I find embarrassing to admit. The REAL embarrassing things I’ll leave till a later date when I am sufficiently acclimatized to dealing with the ridicule ๐Ÿ™‚

Here goes my list:

1. ABC’s new tv series GCB. My favourite character is played by Kristin Chenoweth – Carlene. I am not sure you can watch this show and not laugh!! It is a saucy drama about…well…bitchy women masquerading as saints, how could that not be funny?

2. Plenty of Fish. It’s like a dirty activity that nobody wants to admit to doing, but seriously it’s all in how you use it.

3. Singing at the top of my lungs in the car and getting caught by the old man in the car next to me at the light, he gives me a dirty look of shame….is that Britney Spears or N’Sync that she’s listening to?!

4. Listening to and knowing all the lyrics to Def Leppard’s album “Hysteria”. Particularly “Pour Some Sugar On Me.” Come on, it’s a GREAT song!

5. Going all goo-goo-eyed when Ryan Gosling’s look-alike decides to return something to the store. But besides the guilt of not always being able to pull it together, that’s right ladies the twin is in the hood and he wants to know if Shoppers Drug Mart sells Paint Tape! Do I look like an encyclopedia for random household goods and hardware? Ok maybe I do with my nerdy glasses but give me a break ask me for a date and I’ll try not to spill my dinner all over myself! haha. And gentleman, be honest if your Silver Screen dream look-a-like popped into your workplace and started asking random questions, would you be a man and keep it all together?! ๐Ÿ™‚

6. Eating a bag of Lays Ketchup chips in one sitting then throwing the bag in the garbage and pretending it didn’t happen. There is nothing quite like a Lays chip (except for Indiana Popcorn obviously)

7. Starbucks, Starbucks, Starbucks. It is not my favourite coffee shop, I agree it is much too commercial and pretentious and I secretly scoff at the regulars that I see at my local shop. Hypocritical? Absolutely, there is only one reason I know they are regulars…

8. But seriously Starbucks is attached to Chapters and Chapters is such a great place to browse for hours on end when a) you don’t feel like going home. b) want to read a book for free and are a germ a-phoebe and have a difficult time using Library books (seriously, what were the five people prior to you doing with their hands before/while/after reading this dog eared, well read book!)

9. Sneaking as many extra packets of raw sugar to help my friend grow her raw sugar packet collection. Why do I do this? I have no idea but I don’t want her to run out because subconsciously I am pretty sure our friendship hinges on the number of packets that she has available at any given time. Of course I am kidding, but seriously it has become my life mission to make sure she is constantly stocked up.

10. Moving that stack of clothes that needs hanging up from my bed to my drying rack, night after night promising “I’ll hang it up tomorrow when I am less busy.” Really? Less busy? I promise to hang everything up tomorrow ๐Ÿ˜›

And there you have it my top ten list of things I do that at some point have been met with embarrassment when caught.

What are yours? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Can take the girl out of Automotive but can’t take the Automotive out of the girl…adieu my friends

So it’s been 5 months since leaving Nissan and joining Chevrolet. The experience has been colourful, wonderful and I have met a lot of great people.

A few days ago, I received a Sales call for the one and only Nissan sitting on our lot, a 2008 350z Roadster. It has been in the used car inventory just under a month and although I’d peered through the windows, I didn’t tempt myself by finding the keys and taking it for a spin.

With a customer coming in to have a look at the vehicle, I decided to check it out in advance.

The minute I opened the door, I was met with that leather smell and I was hooked all over again. I turned the car on and let it rev and with the unique exhaust tune filling the cabin was transported back in time; reliving all the wonderful memories of weekends spent cruising around Ontario in the Nissan Z.

The weekends that it took me through the Forks of the credit, along the Niagara escarpment and on many coffee runs to “far off” places like…Paris. Top down, music blaring. The downfall, my social circle had to become a party of one!

Today I delivered my last car and said adieu to an industry that has looked after me for exactly 9 years and 60 days. That’s precise.

It feels surreal but here I am, at last car-less with a pair of trusty boots, a bicycle and spotty transit!

What I do know, the way to my heart will always be that throaty sound coming from a Z…

Joie de vivre

It’s past my bedtime, but I am so tempted to post today, plus tomorrow’s lunch and dinner is in the oven and it would be very wrong to go to bed and let it burn. I know this post is going to go a little all over the place and I apologize in advance.

This weekend turned out to be a little bit like a parabolic graph and it’s a wonderful feeling when strangers, acquaintances, friends and family all mysteriously come together to add sunshine and sprinkle a little humour here and there.

We wont talk about the low point of the parabolic (I just love this word, sorry!) weekend, because it’s really unimportant. The important part was learning something and well, seeing the bright side of what looked like a lot of doom and gloom ๐Ÿ™‚ . We don’t like doom and gloom, they are terrible words and even worse feelings.

What was so wonderful about the weekend? It’s really hard to explain. It’s more of a collection of events at the beginning and end that are linked together by a connection of belonging, attachment and a certain kind of Joie de vivre.

I spent two evenings out with girlfriends, both long overdue and needed.

However, it was the second evening’s coffee adventure that we ladies were interrupted by the unlikeliest (another word I rather enjoy) gentleman who couldn’t resist sitting next us (we were hogging the couches). We warned him that the material we may end up discussing would more than likely be a little offside and maybe offensive for his ears! He said he was prepared. He had two older sisters, a girlfriend who shared more than enough with him and besides he was going to be listening to his MP3 player.

Must I tell you, more than once we saw him smirking at our conversation that included a game of comedic charades. We were laughing so hard that no matter how high he turned up the volume of waves crashing into the surf, he eventually gave in and joined the discussion. I just wanted to tell this story, because well, never sit beside a gaggle of women! You will either get annoyed and leave or be forced to join the hokey pokey conversation!

What I really wanted to talk about was the Joie de vivre. I am sure it can mean different things to each of us individually.

Just over three months ago I decided I had too much free time and needed to fill in my off-days at the dealership. My sister highly recommended taking up a part-time job at Pier 1 Imports. I landed a Sales Associate job, was given a nice blue apron and spent a few days going through training.

If you are like me you are thinking training, really, it’s a Retail sales associate job. Why would anyone need a few days of training, don’t you just have to greet people, cash them out and send them on their merry way?

You’d think that right? I certainly did.

Well Pier 1 Imports it turns out is more than just a retail sales job. I like to call it my paid volunteer job because that is exactly what it feels like. Who knew that working in a retail store making minimum wage could have any impact changing how one views the world?

It has for me.

It’s this job that I have met many intriguing women; from the people I work with to the customers who come into the store looking for something new to spruce up their space. Everyone has a story, something learned and most are willing to share a tidbit here and there.

The store is more than great merchandise that has a rich background. It exudes a culture that permeates the entire organization that I can only imagine a handful of companies ever truly get to enjoy. It is one giant army spread across the globe marching towards a common goal. I have never experienced anything quite like this unity, their message and vision is consistent, authentic and believable. They have One Voice.

What amazes me the most is Pier 1 has perfected the process in which to induce a positive emotional response from their employees that draws out their strengths and creates a strong team.

So what’s all this post have to do with the Joie de vivre.

I realized tonight while sitting in our late evening staff meeting that it’s pretty nice to be part of something that holds so much positive energy (I have no idea if energy is the right term here :)). To not only have a strong, positive social network of women and men in my life, but also to have the opportunity to work with a group of people who have a Joie de vivre. People who are looking beyond status quo and have choosen to be part of something that values who they are and what they can offer.

I am doing my best to be realistic and not romanticize this job but perhaps it’s giving me an avenue to consider my dreams a reality. I have not always chased my dreams, I am guilty of putting them in the cupboard, shutting the door and leaving them there to collect dust.

It wasn’t until last year when I was hilariously chased down Queen Street by a gentleman looking for my number that I realized what a terrible mistake I was making. I honestly believe some of the most ridiculous things happen for a good reason and that story is one of them! You are all wondering, yes he did get my number and we did share an afternoon or two at the local ice cream shop talking about life. It was a curious conversation worth having with a man twice my age that got me thinking about my Joie de vivre.

To me, Joie de vivre is when we are able to let go of the pressure and the expectation to be anything different than who we are in our hearts.

When I left home for college, my mom had sent me a note that said something like this “We will miss you and I am sure that the people you meet will enjoy you as much as we enjoy you.” I discounted it for many years, what joy could I possibly bring anyone when I was not even happy myself.

Today I realize that we are most enjoyed when we are at our best and being at our best is when we are willing to be ourselves and by being ourselves we will find our Joie de vivre! ๐Ÿ™‚