Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happiness can exist in chaos!

My sister and her family head back to Calgary today after being here for two weeks. Like always, it has been a very action-packed visit. My parent’s house goes from being quiet and orderly to a party zone. The ladies of Niagara drop by at all hours of the day to spend time with my niece Isabella and nephew Sebastian. There is never-ending dishes to be washed, toys everywhere, stressed out dogs, and sleepless night. While they are visiting I can’t help but feel the chaos, but the second they leave my heart aches for them to stay.

It got me thinking about the quest for peace in a persons life. We always want to find ways to relax and make our lives less busy, but I never thought about at what cost. I realized that when you live a busy social/family life you are truly living and experiencing happiness. Kids savour every moment of the waking day. My niece never wants to go to sleep for fear of missing a good time, and I think she is right. It is worth the lack of sleep to spend time with the one's you love.

I can't wait for them to come back again. Until then I will miss them every minute of the day.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sabbath Comeback

Although I’m not that old I can still remember when stores were closed on Sunday. At the time I never thought about the religious significance but simply accepted that that was the way things were.

I’m reading a book called “The Year of Living Biblically” by A.J Jacobs. It is a story about a Jewish man living in New York who decided to attempt to obey the Bible as literally as possible for one full year. Regardless of your beliefs, it is a funny and profound book.

In one chapter he addressed the concept of Sabbath, which basically revolves around not working on the seventh day of the week. By work, I mean you are not meant to do anything: no checking email, no shopping, and no working around the house. It is a day of rest and rejuvenation. Actually, there is much more detail than that but I’m sure you get the idea.

The author says, “In the post-BlackBerry age, is there really a boundary between the weekday and the weekend?” and I completely agree with him. My husband and I are often more tired on Sunday evening than we are during the week. We pack so much into our days off that we don’t find much time to truly relax.

I don’t know how it happened but as a society we have been tricked into thinking that having the ability to shopped seven days week or being a part of Facebook has brought more convenience to our lives. I’m starting to really realize that this is not the case.

Reading about how the author tried to change his habits on Sunday reminded me of what it was like when I was younger – it was nice. So this Sunday try and see if you can kick it old school. Don’t check your email, turn off your cell phone, hide your car keys, put down the paint brush, avoid the laundry and experience the relief and freedom of not having something to do. No matter how much you want to, you can’t. You have no choice. After doing this, you too will wonder why we ever let this notion fade.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Juggling Act

Hi my name is Josie and I put too much pressure on myself.

I don’t know if I inherited this trait from my parents or perhaps I picked it up after University, all I know is that I have a problem and need to address it.

I think it all starts with expectations. In my mind I want to be the perfect wife, valuable employee, helpful daughter, reliable sister, loyal friend, thoughtful daughter-in-law, admirable Aunt, and that’s on top of trying to be a responsible spender and a physically fit woman. I think it has worn me out in a way that I didn’t notice until today.

I want to be perfect at everything and make everyone around me happy. As a result, I didn’t realize that this notion has been the root cause of my stress. With such high expectations it is no wonder I have lost confidence in my abilities. So I have decided to make some changes.

I have given up the elevator at my office for Lent this year, but perhaps I should add a few more things. Until Easter, I’m going to give myself a break. I’m going to strive to do my best but brush it off if things aren’t perfect. I’m going to make a decision without feeling guilty. I’m going to be myself and not compare myself to others. I’m not going to worry about the future and live more in the moment. That is my pledge.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Juice Hybrid

I’m very picky when it comes to juice. My stomach is sensitive to fruit acid like you find in Tropicana juices, so I’m always on the hunt to find a juice with the perfect combination of healthy, tasty, and easy on the belly.

President’s choice Orange, Cranberry, Raspberry juice use to be my favourite, but I have found a new one that I need to tell the world about. It is called V8 fusion.

I’m sure you are all familiar with the original V8 drink, which I personally have to plug my nose to even try. Well the maker’s of V8 vegetable juice has created a new beverage -- a hybrid like the new hybrid cars that use two types of fuel. This drink brings together the best of both worlds: fruit and vegetable. It gives you a full serving of vegetables plus a full serving of fruits in every 8-oz glass. And let me be the first to tell you that it tastes AWESOME! My favourite flavour is Pomegranate Blueberry.

I find it easy to eat a lot of fruit during the day but being able to find one more way to squeeze in some vegetables is fantastic. The next time you are in the grocery store look for V8 Fusion and let me know if you agree.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bon appétit!

I’m a foodie.

I love the enjoyment that comes with eating great food. I’m not talking about chips, cookies, or any kind of junk food. I’m talking about fabulous dips, risotto, grilled salmon, home-made bread, filet mignon with a balsamic reduction…need I say more.
I have been known to talk about what I should have for my next meal before I finish the meal I’m having. I love watching the food network and would spend my first lotto winning's on hiring a professional chef live with me.

Of all the food items I love there is one thing that makes me smile inside and out. You know the kind of food that once you put it in your mouth you instantly warm and fuzzy all over? That guilty pleasure for me is a good croissant. I can’t get enough of a fresh croissant from a bakery, especially in Europe. It is the perfect combination between bread and dessert. I know it is 80% butter, but I could never turn one down. Oh and a chocolate croissant is simply heaven on a plate – no dessert tops that for me (Maybe Erica’s special chocolate and cinnamon cake).

I don’t know whether I’m like this because my spent my entire youth in the hospitality industry or the fact that I’m surrounded by such amazing cooks, minus me. All I know is that a good meal or croissant is worth every calorie no matter what Dr.Oz says.

If you disagree with me I would suggest you watch the Disney movie “Ratatouille”. Enough said.

Bon appétit!

Monday, February 9, 2009

"You know what really grinds my gears..."

I have had enough…I don’t want to hear it…I simply can’t take it anymore!

Why do people have to tell you how much money they spent on a purchase? I’m not talking about the people who tell you about great deals on flights. I’m also not talking about the people who tell you what they spent because they feel guilty for shopping and want you to know they didn’t spend that much. I’m talking about the people who constantly tell you what they paid, whether it is the shirt on their back or the paint on their walls, because it makes them feel good.

Let me give you a few examples…

Scenario 1
Q: “I love your living room. It's so cozy”
A: “Thanks. These curtains were only $4 at Costco and this couch was $100 since it had a small mark on it. Oh and did I mention that the lightening was only $8 a piece.”

Scenario 2
Q: “I have that same shirt. Did you get it at Banana?”
A: “Actually I got it at Winner’s for only $15.”

Please stop. Seriously people, please stop this insanity. I use to think that people did this to help other people find deals but then I realized they do this to feel like the superior shopper. It is the notion of one person being good with money and the other not so good. It is placing judgment without actually saying it. And regardless of whether you paid full price or half price, the answer to “I love your living room” is “thank you, we love it too.” And if someone says that they have the same shirt as you, don’t tell them how much you paid when you know they probably paid full price - that’s just rude.

Personally, I do not place any judgment on what people buy. If you want to spend a lot of money on a hair cut or a fancy car - all the power to you. There is no need for any of us to know the dollars and cents behind other people’s purchases and frankly I don’t want to hear it.

It is always great to get things for less than they are worth. It is the greatest feeling. But my plea is for people to keep this enjoyment to themselves. Let’s save the money talk for our accountants.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"It sucks to look like a kid"

There was an article in the Fact & Arguments section of the Globe and Mail that really hit home for me. The title was "It sucks to look like a kid". Right away I felt a connection to this writer. I was thrilled that someone else suffers from the same issue that I do – looking like a teenager when you are actually an adult.

If you look at pictures of me from high school and pictures of me now, the only real difference is less chub in the cheeks, but that is it. I’m about to be 30 and I could pass as one of my husband’s students!

I understand that looking young is suppose to be a good thing. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard "You will be grateful when your in you sixties." Frankly that is a long time to wait!

I’m not saying that I want to have wrinkles or weathered skin. I'm simply looking for the respect you get that comes with looking your age. When you are an adolescent, you don’t really care whether other people respect you (perhaps it is because you think you are always right) but once you are in the work force and making grown-up purchases like a house or insurance, respect is essential. Nothing bothers me more than being told that I look to young to doing the things I do or that I couldn’t possibly relate to the content of a conversation. It drives me bananas!

I have tried to do things that I thought would make myself look older but nothing helps. A new hair colour, new clothes, glasses, eye make-up and more. C'est la vie - I’m destined to look 17 for the remainder of my life. The only thing I have going for me is my love of easy listening, my practical approach to things, and my huge Mum wallet. If I pull out my wallet at the LCBO, they instantly know that I’m over the age of 19.

I would appreciate any input from my readers but my next step is to enter a contest where I could win a complete make-over. Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

"The right man at the right time."

The star-spangled dust from the inauguration has almost settled and I thought what a better way to get back into my blogging then to discuss my thoughts on the events. Instead of speaking my mind right away, I have sat back and listened to all the reactions of Obama becoming the big cheese or as my niece says so eloquently, “The President of the United States of America”. (Oh Isabella, you are destined to change the world one day).

Most of the comments were centred on excitement, change, happiness, and hope however I was shocked to still encounter negative input from the usual skeptics - “Why is everyone acting like he is the Messiah”, “He is only half black” , “Democrats are going to make the market worse”, “Canadian’s should care more about our own elections”. The list goes on and on and I’m super impressed that I didn’t pounce on a few of these comments as they were said.

Tuesday was a refreshing change for world to watch or should I say feel. I can’t remember a time when I have witnessed millions of people smiling and hugging each other. Did you know that not one fight took place that day within the crowd? I can’t remember a time when people felt empowered to take responsibility for their own actions and for each other. I can’t remember a time when people were more accepting of change then they are now. For me, Obama has restored my faith in the ability that one person can make a difference.

Regardless of his family tree, religion or political preference, I think that Obama should be admired by all those skeptics for his intelligence, his drive, his charisma, and for how his words and ideas are inspiring the world. Like religion, you may not agree with everything but if someone or something lifts the spirits of people it is a good thing, and should be respected. As for any negative comments that revolve around race, I simply loose respect for these people. How embarrassing that such ignorance still exists today. How many movies does Disney have to make in order for these people stop judging a book by its cover?

As for Canada, I hope the inspiration from this event will have a ripple effect on us. I love being Canadian (although winter often makes me second guess that feeling) but I wish the Prime Minister or any member of a party would stand up and remind me why it is great to be a Canadian. What are they doing to inspire us to want to work hard and support Canada? What are they doing to remind us where we’ve come from, why we must preserve and protect Canada and want to make it a better place? Instead of telling us why one party is better than another tell us how you plan on turning things around or at the very lease inspire us!

As Obama has so beautifully mentioned in his speeches, change does not come over night but I’m already impressed with the mark he has made.