Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Monday

Today is Monday. Today is the one Monday of the year I will celebrate. Today is Monday and today my good mood is indestructable.

Today is the first day of Christmas week. No need to follow that last word with an asterix meant to correct it as a typo. If New Years, a holiday not even in a category comparable to Christmas, gets two days, then I demand that Christmas gets at least a week. (And let's face it, it gets almost two months anyways) Today is day one of the merriest week on the calender. I put aside as much energy I can in advance, store it in a vault, in a labeled shoebox, so I have an abundant amount to enjoy this week as much as I can, to find any excuse in the book to bring out the child in me that skims so close to the surface all year round just waiting for the right time to break through.What will you do to ring in the holidays? How do you prepare?

Here I have compiled a short list of all things Christmas, all things I find necessary to get done this week. If your schedule is lacking that cheesy holiday cheer it should be crammed with, than this list was made for you...from me...because if I'm ever gonna share, this week has gotta be the best time to do it.

-make a Christmas CD--first and foremost, as it will serve as the soundtrack of your X-Mas week and should be played at all and any time possible (a quality selection should really include Betty Boop's Santa Baby, Home Alone's Carol of the Bells, Trans Siberian Orchestra's Christmas Canon and Manheim Steamroller's anything)
-bake something--ANYTHING--gingerbread houses are preferable, if you're feeling really ris-kay, a gingerbread mansion is ideal, but there's nothing wrong with starting off slow...a gingerbread man, or two...and don't forget a wo-man, for politic's sake...(sugar or shortbread cookies cut into shapes of candy canes and santa are perfect--top them off with heaps of red and green sparkles, silver baker's balls and candy christmas trees all available in your local Fortino's bulk aisle)
-slot ample time for TV Christmas classics--Home Alone's been on loop since November 1st so I expect that one to be crossed off your list already, but no Christmas week is complete without Jack Frost, any one of the three Santa Claus', JTT's I'll be Home for Christmas, The Family Man, either version of Miracle on 34th Street, It's a Wonderful Life and most definitely Dr. Suess' How the Grinch Stole Christmas....for those who aren't satisfied with this year's screenings or whose schedule doesn't allow them to catch em should think themselves stores have late hours and a much greater selection without the hassle of commercial breaks
-if it's a white Christmas Week where you are, a tobogganing session, Snow Man making project or friendly/competitive neighbourhood snowball fight (complete with forts) should not be skipped--who knows how many other opportunities we may get for these with all this global warming mumbo jumbo they talk about
-save at least one gift for Christmas eve--admit it--despite the overwhelming fury and aggrivation the malls give you at this time, if there is one place where the spirit is most alive, it is definitely in the shops. There's nothing quite like the endless loops of Christmas carols, the cheery yet exhausted sales people, the crowds of people rushing to find that perfect gift, and, of course, the mall Santa's and their increasingly intricate workshops that give you that festive feel.
-if your not the primary chef of the house, accompany whoever is on every shopping and preparation experience possible--build up the meal in your mind so you can drool over it in your dreams and savor and appreciate every bite. The spirit is definitely alive in every grocery store you walk through, you can feel it from the jam-packed parking lots. And don't miss out on the trip to the markets--namely the fish market where I will (with overwhelming excitement) make my first visit too later this week
-wear as much red and green as you can--and don't forget about the ugly Christmas sweaters stuffed in your bottom drawer that you just haven't had the heart to give away just yet
-make sure you host as many pre-Christmas coffee and dessert dates as you can afford--remember its not quite Christmas Day yet and you're gonna need a place to put all those things you've been baking
-hit up Wal Mart to stock up on some sweet chocolate deals--nothing fills up the table better or gives the perfect sweet finish to an already full belly (my faves? well, anything chocolate is a friend of mind but Toblerones (try out the white chocolate if you haven't already yet), Guylians, Lindts, Ferreros are all dancing in my head)...and one box of assorted won't kill you...but drift away from Quality Street and Pot of Gold to a much more tasty world of Laura Secord
-and one more thing--save all your wrapping for this week--make an afternoon of it of course with your CD on repeat and your chocolates close by for extra energy. There was nothing like a stuffed Christmas tree that made me happier as a kid--and don't judge me on my took nothing more than a pair of gloves to make me happy and I have it on tape as proof!

Merry Monday and Merry Christmas week! Don't limit your activities my list (it's slightly incomplete at best, anyways) but try and indulge yourself in at least one corny, cliche, totally typical event of your choice!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Today is Groundhog's Day

Warning warning. Do not get your hopes up. I'm not talking about the real groundhog's day. No, I'm sorry you did not sleep through an entire season. I apologize but, no, Wiarton Willie did not leave his burrow and no, spring is not only six weeks away. No, I am terribly sorry, but  it is not even officially winter yet. What I'm referring to is a Bill Murray kinda Groundhog's Day. It's the day when we wake up and our lives feel like clockwork. The day when our same futile routine starts anew and we spend its entirety searching for ways to make it different from yesterday.

Everyday is Groundhog's Day for me. Every morning I roll out of bed with the same thought in mind--why can't I just sleep in? And where is my breakfast? Okay...maybe two [conflicting] thoughts, every morning they are the same and every morning they are followed by the same challenge I face every time I open the fridge...hmmm what am I craving this morning? It is only after the initial thrill of indulgence in either savory cheeses or sweet cereals that the painful reminder hits me--time to gear up for another session at the gym. Yes, here is when the reality of Groundhog's Day sets in the most--when I realize all I have in my near future is another one of the identical workouts I have been having for the past ten years, even despite my progress, even despite how different my workouts are from this week compared to last.

My dismal attitude is only temporary, I'm glad to say. It only takes a short (well, it feels much longer) 1.5-2 hours to turn it all around. Every morning I drag my feet onto the treadmill. Every mid-morning I bounce back to my car and sing my way home with the morning radio countdowns. Now I am free--now, today can be whatever I want it to be.

What do you do that makes your day that much better? For me, there is no hesitation in my answer, no doubt in my mind, nothing turns my day around like a good workout. I can wake up in any mood and in any state and nothing else can quite make things right like it does. There is something about its healing power that is quite different from all the consolation or sympathy that the world has to offer--it is different in that you are healing your self, by your own will, through your own strength. When I am battling my self--my weaknesses, my insecurities--I am running past my flaws, breaking through my skin with each step, with each mile into a newer body, a stronger me. When I feel bullied I picture myself running alongside my aggressor, as he huffs and puffs on the dust I leave in my wake. When my anger threatens my sanity, I erase it from my thoughts with a motivating song and drain it from my body through my dripping sweat. There is nothing better than a good run to get you through any rut, to push you past any obstacle, to make your today a day to celebrate instead of another groundhog day to dread.

What do you do that gives you that feeling? That out-of-body, out-of-mind experience. That one thing that pushes you to your limit, if not even a little bit further. When you're drowning, what brings you to the surface? When you're losing the game, what gives you the strength to tie the score? When you've been beat, when you've been taken advantage of, when you've been wronged, how do you get revenge? What fuels your fire? Pick one thing that has the power to take you to another world, if even for an hour, if even for a few minutes. Choose anything that makes you feel invinsible, unbreakable. You hold the keys to unlock your mind from its own, sometimes self-defeating, confinements and unleash it into a world of strength, of guiltless, deserving self servitude, of true independence in every sense of the word. Find something that can make your day not just any other Groundhog's Day.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas is nine days away and I can literally feel it. Maybe it's the endless loops of Christmas carols I wake up to every morning and likewise fall alseep to every night. Or maybe it's the cup of Starbuck's Christmas blend I just finished sipping on. Whatever it is, it's got me feeling good. And with no real work scheduled from now till then, besides picking up the odd shift here and there, I am officially in celebration mode. Holiday wine again tonight? Or is it the season to bake some brownies and savour some chocolate?

I saw the sign...or did I?

At the end of it all, where does the real challenge lie? I guess you can say that everyone is different--one person will handle one thing with stride and grace while the next person will simply flop on their face. I truly believe that in this thing we call life, the biggest challenge is not what we do, how we do it, who we do it with but merely the decision we need to make before we do anything at all. When facing a crossroad, a fork in the road, two opportunities, three opportunities, or no opportunities at all, the only thing that will get us from position A to position B is a choice.

I know what you're thinking--wow, very profound. Thank you buddha for enlightening us. We all already know this--choices were not made to be easy. The answer is not always in blinking lights or in  the cards that we have so carefully chosen from the deck in front of us. But it seems to me that there are those people who can make snap decisions so easily, so quickly. And they are the same people who never turn back, who never rethink if they were right or wrong or if they misjudged the situation or themselves. I envy those people. Mostly because I used to be able to do that. Yet now every choice is a hurdle to overcome--what job to choose, what future is best for me, what to do this weekend, what to wear to work, what to eat for dinner, should I really be buying this cereal?.... How do they do it? What is their strategy? Is their some sort of scientific formula I've been missing out on, some fool proof guide of how to make choices for dummies (like me)? Does it boil down to personality? Is it just a character trait that some people possess--to be strong willed in your decisions, to be perpetually clear headed and focused? Or do they look to something beyond themselves--are they just skilled at reading the signs not all of us can so easily see--the ones that are put on the side of our paths, directing us exactly where we need to go when we make an unknown turn on our mapless journey.

For someone like me, every coincidence has a meaning. Maybe that's why I look for signs everywhere whenever I'm stuck in a make-up-your-mind situation of pros vs cons which has so often been the case lately. Or maybe I look for signs so I can blame some sort of out of body, out of world source for choices gone awry. My excitement for my first downtown serving job was bombarded when an internship offer seemed to hold the keys to my future. Two of my wishes coming true--but simultaneously when they were supposed to happen consecutively. Admitting defeat, I decided to start again fresh, wipe the slate clean. Although fully equipped with a "thanks but no thanks" email in my draft box, the firmness in my selection wavered when I was prematurely greeted with a certain proposal in my inbox. How could I deny that this is no coincidence. And now, after a slight bout of anxiety-to-start-my-real-life had subsided, I was once again thrown off kilter by a message in my voicemail box from another part-time dream position in a venue which probably holds no sustainable future yet has been the recipient of dozens and dozens of my resumes for the past two years. What do you make of curve balls that come your way? Do they make you second guess for a reason--to tell you that you might not be as right as you think, your opinion not so sound, your preference not quite preferable?

How do you read your signs? But most importantly--does it even really matter? I mean, if there's one choice I've firmly made is to choose to believe that we never really know what we want. Case in point: Twenty years ago I had my heart set on being a butterfly. Twelve years later my love for the decorative colour on the insect's wings was expressed in a desire to bring colour and decoration to rooms and houses. Four years ago I was accepted to University of Toronto where I began my degree in Philosophy in anticipation of a career in law. Last May, I graduated with said degree. Law school here I come? Not quite. No, I was left with no aptitude or inclination towards law, or any other area or skill really, besides maybe the fine art of over-thinking (I'd like to shout out to philosophy for granting me this one) Last season I obsessed over the perfect pumpkin carving. This winter I fantasize about the North Pole. Yesterday I raved to my mother about my intense and exclusive desire for all things seafood--it's 10a.m today and I'm already thinking about the turkey and chicken sausage I have pre-made at home for dinner. One hour I want nothing else for my future but to usurp Peter & Paul's, the next I want to be Carrie Bradshaw.

I guess choices will always plague us--the best we can do is make as many of them as can. Never be indecisive, do not take your time, do not make a list or two or three and definitely do not check it twice. Say yes to everything and no to nothing. Experiment in every lab, play in every field, sign up for every team. Opportunities are finite, don't take them for granted.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tis the season to be just a little teeny bit selfish...

If you'd like to know what I've been up to lately, my answer for you would be a lot of clearing--clearing up my schedule, clearing up my head, clearing up my future and, of course, clearing up the mantel to make room for the wreath and all the ceramic Santa Clauses. One thing I have not been doing, however, is clearing up the negativity.

The time is shortly upon us. Before we know it, we'll be (sadly) hauling out the boxes to pack up all the glitter and sparkle that has left my eyes twinkling for the past two weeks. In no time, we will have nothing ahead of us to look forward to besides a distant spring and another round of the brutalest of the winter months to battle. How are you using the little amount of festivity we have left on our calender? I'm using every free minute I have to celebrate the season--whether it be a Christmas tablecloth-shopping trip with my mom, or a catch up lunch with one friend followed by a catch up dinner with another, a girls' night in, a girls' night out, a gingerbread-house-building challenge, a baking session (or two, or three), Christmas-themed weekly chocolate surprises for my boyfriend, neighbourhood Christmas lights decoration gazing or anything else I come up with. But what I must say I have yet to done enough of is give back to someone who is extremely important, yet so often forgotten, so often looked down upon, so often punished and so often someone I find myself shaking my finger at, shaking my head at in disappointment--and that someone is me.

When change happens gradually it is often hard to see just how far you have come, just how much progress you have made. For me, that is my greatest challenge--it is something I struggle with everyday, every hour and especially at every meal time and snack time. I won't deny that I have done well--when I want to generalize--but on a daily basis I seem to find it easier and easier to overlook my triumphs and dwell on my slip-ups. Maybe it's the dreary weather, or the extra holiday treats I have been indulging in, but lately I can't seem to shake that icky gross feeling of insecurity that I have been plagued with for the majority of my past.

But today I am in clearing mode. And I am ready to clear away the ugly thoughts. And why shouldn't I? After almost ten years of sweat and tears, of good days and bad weeks, of losses and gains, of boredom slumps and reenergizing boosts, I can finally say I am happy where I have ended up. I have reached and exceeded so many goals. I am smarter now than ever before, wiser than I was, more educated and healthier as a result. Today I will not look over every imperfection with disgust. Tomorrow I will not punish myself for an extra chocolate square here or a well-deserved glass of wine there.

If the imminent holidays have caught you in a frenzy to finish crossing off your shopping list, your over-time work hours have robbed you of your free-time or exams have made you forfeit any attempts you may have made to reconnect with friends and family, than at the very least take some time to appreciate you. Do one thing a day that puts you at risk to be transferred off of a certain someone's good list. Don't harp on the piece of chocolate bark you secretly gobbled last night, or the extra slice of cheesecake you had at your work Christmas party. This year, take the glass of eggnog for yourself and leave Santa the 1%. Don't read the article that tells you 'which foods to avoid this holiday season'--instead only avoid the ones that don't leave your mouth watering and your stomach grumbling. Forget about portion control but don't forget that red wine is good for your heart. Keep in mind that the season is for generosity, for giving, for friends and family, but don't leave yourself in the dust.

Another year has almost come and gone. Think about how much you have done in these twelve short months. Remember every challenge you have faced--whether it be a seemingly impossible essay topic, a fight with a friend, recovering from a broken relationship or adapting to something new and foreign.  If your hectic schedule leaves you with only one minute to spare, this year, use it on you. You deserve it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A dime, two nickels and two pennies-life-crisis

Have you ever felt like you were stuck in time? Trapped inside a frozen ice box of now and desperately scraping  from the inside to get out to later? You just don't know which direction you'd rather be going--you're overly anxious for your future, yet still nostalgic for your past.

I think (and yes, this is theory #132), that this may be the cause of my emotional instability and indecisiveness. I'm caught in a waiting room where it's never my turn, stuck in a purgatory brought to earth especially for me, racing to win the game of Life but hesitating whenever it's my turn to roll the dice. I'm swinging on the swings in the playground of my dreams while I build the picket fence around my ideal red-brick house. I'm wavering between leaping forward or turning around and running back.

How long will these clashing desires continue to plague me? Do I have the strength to make the right decision? Which path is easier anyways, when my choices include a mundane life of no challenge, or an unknown future of potentially overly-challenging learning hurdles? Or will I stay stuck in this insufferable limbo of fluctuation forever--essentially spending the rest of my life painfully deciding how to avoid the most pain?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Real life is for phonies

My mother always praised me for being a realist. Really? Try reading my blogs, mama. Reality to me is just so passe. Who wants to live in reality when you can live in a world where sugar plum fairies don't have to dance only in your head. My ideal job--event planning. Well, that's what I tell people. My real ideal job? Being Jack the Pumpkin King. I never understood why people gave the Grinch such a hard time, who doesn't want to steal Christmas? So you can swim in eggnog, make it rain gumdrops, have all the gingerbread in the world, park reindeer in your garage and have Santa's workshop in your shed. I definitely am not a realist. Common sense is not my thing. I'm most certain I live a life of a neverending childhood, where fantasy has trickled into reality, where talking bunnies send me on chocolate hunts and I get my spending money from underneath my pillow. When people ask me for the time, I take out my giant watch and stuff it back magically into my tiny interior jacket pocket. When I throw my unbirthday party, we drink tea not wine, you must come in your purple top hat and don't sit too close to the cat if you're no good at riddles. In December it is always snowing, Christmas lights are always glowing and sleigh bells ring to the tune of the carol of the bells. I've been visited by three ghosts, I've taken a walk up a hill to fetch a pail of water and ended up in the gingerbread house of my dreams with Smarties door handles and gummy bear couches. My fairy godmother dressed me for prom. On  March break, I vacationed to the North Pole and on Christmas eve I left out the double sets of my pictures for Santa beside his cookies and milk. I don't  call cabs, I call golden chariots. My mermaid tale was a perfectly suitable substitute for water wings. Hungry? I always have green eggs and ham.

Come into my world with me, whenever you need a break from your own. Come to a land where music is always playing, children are always laughing and nutcrackers are always doing ballet. Come to a place where we get stuck in dragon-guarded towers, not in traffic. Yes, I'm sending you an open invitation to my world--where you can go everywhere and anything goes. Where when I close my eyes, I can live in a chateau in France when I think of Paris, I can feel the sand on my skin when I remember Italy, where I am playing cards on the deck of the beach cottage in Wasaga when I miss my past. Where the whole world is at your doorstep and every other world is only a Polar Express ride away. Where a window of opportunity is quite literally a door from one magic to the next--from the land of all hallows' eve to the kingdom of Old Saint Nick.

No I don't think I'm a realist at all. Why should I be? When everyday can be an adventure instead.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Where everybody knows your name

If I hadn't already made my decision regarding my current employment status (do I stay or do I go?), then I definitely cemented it yesterday. A necessary meeting with a friend/past coworker/my first ever bride client led me back to Moxies for an early lunch. In typical me fashion, I arrived early--early as in doors-just-got-unlocked-early. And thank god I did so--reminiscing with friends meant I couldn't make it past the host stand for 15 minutes, didn't order my lunch for another 10, and took another 2 hours to chew and talk my way through it. And I loved every minute of it. I loved the familiar faces and the warm energy, I loved the where have you beens, the let's do drinks, and the how much do you miss us? from the managers. I loved every interruption, I loved that conversations seemed to pick up and continue as if I never left and I loved being made fun of with the same jokes by the same people. I loved to hear the recent gossip and even loved to hear the complaints just because it gave me comfort to know that some things never change and that, despite it all, these people haven't left.

Why is it that as we work our way through our young adult life we feel like it is necessary for us to upgrade our jobs? To move to something more professional, more advanced, more sophisticated? At least I've always felt that way. If there's one thing that this experience has taught me is that there really is no better or worse job. There is only what works for you, what ultimately makes you the most happy. When we look forward to our future, we typically envision a life of drudgingly dragging ourselves to work everyday, painstakingly punching in and joyously punching out, miserably dealing with demanding bosses and competitive coworkers. But why? I refuse to settle for a future that only pays the bills and puts the food on the table. Likewise, I refuse to have a future that can afford all the luxuries in the world if it means a life of miserable weeks followed by too-short weekends and lacking sufficient time with family, friends, and myself. I refuse to believe that we can't find the perfect medium--where work leaves you fulfilled without stealing your soul just to fill your pockets with money you have no time to enjoy.

It is for these reasons that I have decided to go back to my past. Yes, the same past I ran so quickly from, was so quick to criticize, was so miserable living in. Because I realized that sometimes, you just don't know what you got till its gone. That sometimes, you set your standards higher than you'd actually like them to be. That sometimes no matter how convinced you are that something is perfect, that it is not, and that if it doesn't work, it doesn't work and now its time to move on and get over it. But despite my decision to return to my most recent roots, I will  not give up on my pursuit. I will find harmony with work and play. I will find the perfect place for me, the right job, an enjoyable schedule. Even if it means I have to create from scratch, work from the bottom up, build it on my own. And until then, I will use the "life is too short" card to make sure I never have to endure anything that doesn't make me happy for any longer than I absolutely need to.

Monday, November 30, 2009

When Once Upon a Time doesn`t necessarily end in Happily Ever After...

What do you do when things don't turn out quite how you expected them to? And by 'quite' I mean not even close, not even at all. What do you do when your blessing doesn't leave you feeling very blessed? Do you learn to love things the way they are, or refuse to settle for nothing less than what you really want?

I think I've come to that kind of a crossroad, even despite the short experience I've had with my recent endeavors. Week 1 left me exhausted (after 60 hours of work), week 2 left me drained (after tacking on a second job to my schedule), week 3 gave me much more time to breath (but somehow my sporadic outbursts into tears became much more frequent), week 4, not even yet begun and my motivation is absent, my strength to start the week nonexistent, and my desire for it to be Sunday again is feverish. Maybe my lack of satisfaction stems not from a flaw in the actual jobs, but a flaw in my strength of conscious, physical strength, or something else. Maybe I tend to put things up on too high of a pedestal for them to ever live up. Maybe I am bad at judging my own character--maybe I don't know exactly what I want. Or maybe I could be right. Right in the sense that when something isn't for you, it just isn't for you and you don't need to force yourself to love it.

Let`s break it down. The internship--a dream come true for an inexperienced aspiring event planner. The reality--a not-so-welcoming cramped office working for people who don`t really seem to enthusiastic about their jobs, or the state that it leaves their bank account in. (Leaves me less than thrilled for a position in that company) The restaurant--chic spot downtown, frequent local sports celeb diners, easy and great money and a great learning experience for a growing server. The reality--doing a lot of ego-fueling (def not my thing), sore feet, lack of personal time, feeling alone despite being in a busy restaurant, and no nights to myself. The later starts give me ample gym time, but the amount of hours leave me with not much time for anything else. Recent messages from old coworkers make me miss a past that I was once miserable to call my present.

Now here is the question that I pose to you: (feedback would be greatly appreciated, via facebook is fine): What should I do now that my dream come true is actually a dream fallen through? When the item on the shelf isn`t quite as shiny as whats on display in the window? Do I settle for something less or pass it up to look for something more?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Test, test, 1,2 3

There's definitely been alot to say about my life lately. I'm going through a transition period that has left me feeling, fortunately or unfortunately, like everyday holds another lesson to learn from, and another challenge to overcome.

As I write my blog on the memo pad of my phone traveling from the Bay St station to Union, I realize I'm very much living my life in transit right now. It is where I conduct most of my business-eat meals, catch up on reading, sleeping, update myself on the lives of my friends, make my plans (really, what plans?), take my unpaid breaks...It`s tiring, but it's not bad. After four years of the commute I am clearly used to it. At least now I'm traveling to places I want to go.

I can't say the transition hasn't been difficult. I'm in the middle of a learning curve where nothing feels familiar and everything requires an effort. Two new completely different jobs, two completely different lists of things I have to master. I know I have been pining for this change for quite some time...but I was not made aware of the toll it would take on me physically, emotionally and mentally. Criticisms, small and big, have made me overly emotional---cut to me, hiding away in the washroom for a quick cry in the middle of a rush, or for a lenghty sob in a late night cab ride home as I listen to my drivers long distance call to Pakistan instead of the radio, while eating dry cereal (are you surprised), half of which misses my mouth and finds a new home all over my jacket, scarf and nylons.

If there's one thing I have learned from these past particularly trying days is that attitude can go a further distance than I have ever imagined. How do you handle the curve balls that come your way? When your not as good at something as you hope to be? When you make a mistake you know you could have avoided? When, instead of getting a shoulder to cry, your ignored with a cold shoulder? What's your breaking point.

I met someone new this past week. Or should I say I had a visit from the figure of the past. The playground bully. Yes, for those who may not know, or those who may not wish to believe, he does exist outside the brick walls of our elementary past. He has infiltrated the boundaries of the real world and, no, he has no mercy. He is no one in particular. He is not only one. He is everywhere--lurking behind wine bottles and server trays, office desks and water coolers. Just waiting to prey on any unsuspecting vulnerable victim--someone I have very much made myself out to be lately...someone you should never allow yourself to become.
This week, the playground bully put me to test. His challenges left me feeling weak and defeated on nights after long days of waking up too early, traveling from here to there, typing in the wrong client number, ringing in the wrong drinks and missing a newly sat table. This week, after coming face to face with the playground bully of my version of the real world, I was faced with two choices. Do I let it weaken me? Do I take the criticisms that I know are not true and rework them into the once confident definition I had of myself not too long ago? Or do I stand up to my bully, deflate his ego by proving him wrong and chuckle to myself as I watch him pretend to not see it, not admit it, as most bullies often do? I think we can safely say we've all met our match. If you haven't yet, count yourself lucky, but remember this for the time when you do: the bully is only as alive as you allow him to be. Don't let him test your opinion of yourself. It has been formed by someone who knows you best,  after a lifetime of jumping over hurdles without knocking down the bar, or knocking down the bar and picking yourself up again to finish the race. He is another hurdle. His criticisms are not what defines you, but what defines him. He creates them from anything, anywhere, at any opportunity, to feed his soul and corrupt yours.

A conversation had at work yesterday got me thinking. Why do our minds only cling to the memories of criticisms from others? So quickly casting aside the compliments, filing them to a part of our mind it takes too much effort for us to retrieve them from on a rainy day? Why do we let the playground bully stay alive in our thoughts, threatening our self esteem, and forget about our desk partners who complimented our hairbands and brought us chocolates at all the appropriate holidays?

Yes, I have learned that well in a short period time. Life in the real world isn't all I dreamt it would be. There are days when I skip to the subway, and others when I watch the time go backwards on the clock. There are nights when I`m close to giving up, followed by mornings of post-workout rejuvanation, followed by days of success. There are days when you are hurt by people who you thought were there to help, and surprised to be helped by those who you thought wanted to see you hurt.There are times when it breaks your heart to learn that a smile and a sweet demeanor won`t get you what you want, when nice guys will not finish first, when not everyone you meet will like you or think you`re smart.  But it`s time to face it. I am here now, world. I am here at least in my new world. I either have to face the challenge, or risk the loss. The true test is letting your mind chose which one is more worth it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tip toeing through the minefield

Why is it that when things are going good in our lives we automatically retort to saying that "it's too good to be true"? Lately, I've found that line running through my head more often than I am comfortable with. When times are rough, its always a grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side scenario. Isn't the whole point of that phrase to get us to appreciate what we have, no matter if it doesn't exactly meet up with our expectations? But when we finally get everything we ask for, instead of being grateful, we simply begin to anticipate our own failure. After landing a sweet job at a hot restaurant right in the heart of the city, an amazing internship with a prominent company doing exactly what I want to be doing in my future, celebrating an anniversary of a relationship that makes me happier daily, being in a good place with friends and family, I can't deny that I am not walking on eggshells. When will this all come crumbling down? How can I be so lucky? Is this all just building up to an even harder downfall? To put the stakes even higher, on Tuesday, day 2 of the internship, I was offered a part-time position (yes, paid) by the director of events and the same moment that he shook my hand after meeting me. I'm trying to stay positive, think like The Secret taught me and attract only good things to myself. But I must admit, it is a challenge when you lived a life with many many downs and not always so many ups. If life is a game, my winning streak is only making it more likely for an impending loss. But I refuse to be a statistic--this time I want to beat the odds. I will appreciate what I am being given without fear. I'm sitting at the highest table, with a full house...I'm raising the stakes, I'm going all in....will I take it all or will I flop?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Excuse me, Mr. Webster, can you please redefine lavish?

Is there something wrong with simply loving the simple life? I don't wish for extravagance. I don't enjoy dressing up (or barely dressing) on Saturday nights just to go somewhere that you can't hear yourself think, to waste calories on drinks you don't want to drink, just to waste your money on memories you won't remember. Not saying I judge those who take pleasure in this at all, I was once the downtown Toronto nightclub scene mascot. I have just learned to like early nights and even earlier mornings followed by productive days that lead into relaxingly rewarding nights. I prefer Sunday afternoons to Saturday evenings. I enjoy tasty dinners accompanied by exotically flavoured martinis and full-bodied wines at a dining hot-spot on the town. Even more I love home cooked dinners in, maybe not as a tasty, with a bottle of randomly chosen LCBO wine, sometimes not as prized. I find pleasure in comfort--in coming home from a long days work to curl up with a good movie, your favorite show. I find it in tacky decorating for the holidays and cooking festive treats, in books about women who walk stylishly and purposefully to their Manhattan offices, or books about history and legend. I daydream about a house with a backyard and a dog and a barbecue. My favorite channels feature shows that reinvent the living room and cook you dinner. I like to turn off my phone ringer sometimes, so I can live alone in silence, even if I do this as I sit in a noisy cafeteria at lunch time. I question whether my interests are strange. Or why they don't include the normal activities of someone my age. Did I miss out in Europe when my days were filled with sun and sand and my nights simply with gelatos, wine and my dreams? Should I put my name on guest lists to force entry to these standard weekend venues? Should I shop for clothes that I can only possibly wear out to ensure social activity? Or should I continue my life down under the radar, guilt free, where I am admittedly most content, yet where I risk most judgement for being an awkward social hermit?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Take Me Away

We all have those days when we want nothing else but to disappear...for a day, for a week, for a a place real or imagined... to explore, to learn a new culture, to get away from our troubles or to revisit the magical lands we were introduced to as a child. When I get into one of these moods, and a vacation is not on the horizon, I have only one indulgence that will satisfy my craving (besides cereal). To me, there is nothing like a well-crafted animated film that can take me away to serenity in a restless mind. It doesn't take much to make me happy...a Disney classic of fairytale lands, princesses and dragons, a Tim Burton ingenious creation of pumpkin men in Santa Claus suits or travels to the land of the living dead, and most recently, a trip through Henry Selick's trap door to meet the people with the button eyes and their sinister abducter. What can be more exciting than wrapping yourself up in a blanket and being taken on a journey to an unknown far-away land? To meet creatures of the underworld, ghosts of christmas past, misguided Halloween icons, madhatters and rabbits who can tell time? To watch candles come to life and sing and dance, to dance with a friendly beast, to see your imagination come to life on the screen in the form of the North Pole, of hobbit holes and giant peach houses? The two or so hours is all it takes to refresh your thoughts and invigorate your mind. The credits roll and I am ready to work even harder to make my dreams come to life.

I patiently wait for 1 oclock to roll around, when I will indulge once more in the much anticipated (by me) Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey. I'm sure it will be just as whimsical as I expect it to be with just the perfect amount of Christmas to inspire my holiday crafts. Expect my feedback to be posted shortly.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Confessions of a procrastinator

I always follow the same routine when I get into a new hobby, past time or interest. I usually attack it feverishly on the onset--buy any product that has to do with it, spend all my time thinking about it, working on it, etc etc. Then, slowly but surely (quite obviously as no intensity that strong ever lasts), the interest wanes and the hobby is usually either placed permanently on the self of the past or sticks around in the back of my mind, re-surfacing on rainy days when my mind is empty. That would be my explanation for the lack of recent entries on my part. My days, however, have been anything but empty. I won't bore you with the details, just a quick update on what came to be of all the exciting new events I had on the horizon. Ki Restaurant: I officially finished my training shifts last night. All I have to say is: Thank God I wasn't in school during this process. On the upside, I now feel fully educated in Japanese cuisine technique and terminology (pshhtt and I thought I'd stop at Spanish...) But I must admit that I am extremely happy here. Although the learning process has been challenging, I have felt both supported and warmly welcomed throughout it all. The clientele is awesome from what I see-similar to a Moxie's weekday lunch crowd. The hustle and bustle of the Bay street diners makes me yearn to be a top notch stock brocker or lawyer (just so I could wear fancy woman's power suits and demand all the attention and special treatment I could get!) I start on the floor next Wednesday I believe...until then I will anxiously wait to put my new skills to test and finally start making some dinero. Equally, if not more, exciting is the new internship I started this past Tuesday. Yes yes! I am officially an intern girl. And for one of the big boys in event and catering--Eatertainment. My tasks for now will be contract data entry and just generally learning what happens before an event comes to life. From there, I will move into more hands on stuff at actual events. Despite the fact that my boss Meelee warned me the office work was anything but exciting, I was loving my tasks on Tuesday. I guess I just had the geeky newbie thrills. Extra perk? Free food and drinks at the Bloor Street Diner express cafe...I guess my obligatory coffee runs won't be so bad now that there's something in it for me too;)...With my internship being in the Manulife centre in the beautiful Yorkville district on Tuesdays and working at Ki at Bay and Wellington every other day, I am now happy to call downtown my new home...(and will it officially be so in the near future? That seems to be the new household proposal for now)

I am feeling, finally, extremely fulfilled. My new schedule leaves me little time to dwell on my future and I am now working towards my career goal. I am so lucky to have landed two excellent positions in two thriving companies in the two fields I love the most. Only time will tell if I can make something permanent and successful from either of these opportunities.

But first, this calls for a celebration...and what is truly better than 3 nights up north relaxing with wine and food and my great boyfriend?

Till I return..maybe...or maybe in a month, or so?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lights, camera, fashion

Today is the day. Day One of my much anticipated hectic week. It already feels like this week is brimming with opportunities. I start my day off with my first meeting with the event coordinator/training coordinator at Ki. Then I will proceed on to my first shift volunteering at Toronto LG's Fashion Week. I feel like there's just so much to take in this week. Who knows who I will spot on and around the runway? Who knows what tips this coordinator will give me this week? And with a possible second job at a brand new upscale supper club and an interview for an internship at a prominent event planning company in the horizon, who knows what else this week will have in store...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Falling back into that festive feel

I absolutely love days like today. Days when it seems like everything and anything leaves you feeling inspired. I woke up in a particularly good mood, despite a short night's sleep. Sundays are the perfect day--when you truly feel like you deserve a day of rest after a week of activity. For me it's a day of rest in anticipation of a week with a jam-packed (yet equally exciting) schedule. I spent the first few hours of my morning perusing the internet--adding fuel to my creative desires through the Martha Stewart website's arts and crafts and pumpkin template sections. Yes, she has been recently added to my celebrity icon list and yes, I choose to disregard any past felonies that may be lurking on her resume. I feel like my new-found love for entertaining and decorating hobbies have left me feeling like I'm growing more and more into who my dad used to be each day--a feeling so unbelievably overwhelming yet unbelievably stimulating at the same time.

With a kick of energy from my espresso, I hopped over to Fortino's for a quick grocery run on my mom's behalf. There's something about Fortino's that always puts me in a good mood. Normally I despise having to fight through weekend crowds, but today I reveled in it: young couples shopping for a family Sunday lunch (my favorite), beautifully coloured fall produce of pumpkins, squash, sweet potatoes and Ontario apples, excited kids running around the Halloween treat aisle, and moms with grocery carts loaded with this years selections of extra-giant pumpkins. Yes! Pumpkins are exactly what I need today. I must say, I definitely did not look as graceful as the moms inside as I struggled to pick up two pumpkins at once which resulted in a twisted wrist, a popped knee cap and a dirty outfit. It didn't matter-the pumpkins were worth it and today is one of those days when no amount of struggle can bring you down.

There is no doubt in my mind that my burst of energy stems from last night. I have added yet another person to my icon list and, although this lady may not be celeb-status, she definitely meets and exceeds those ranks in my books. Before a birthday night out on the town in honour of Erica, us girls gathered at her house for a little pre-soiree hosted by the fabulous Sandra. I was instantly impressed (and envious) of the gorgeous fall decor scattered around the house-pumpkins of all sizes and colours, vanilla candles, and even Halloween hand towels. I was blown away at the spread that enticed me on the (beautiful) kitchen table: shrimp skewers with a spinach aioli, arugula parmigiano and fig salad, cheese gougeres and a fabulous cheese and honey spread all of which was perfectly complimented with Vanilla Sky and Pumpkin Patch cocktails created by John. I swear I did not want to leave that kitchen, I wish we could have brought the club to us and stayed right there. There's something about that house that is definitely magical. So I would like to officially and publicly thank both Sandra and John for an amazing evening that left me feeling fulfilled both in my stomach and in my heart and mind (bring on the cheesy remarks) and with a renewed desire to let out my creative tendencies whenever and wherever I can.

So now, I wait for my new Giada cookbook and Canadian Living Complete Christmas Guide book to arrive in the mail via before I begin to plan my Christmas wine and cheese party. But my days will be filled with fall decorating, pumpkin carving and holiday cookie making until then!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Unemployed is a four letter word...

Finally!! After weeks and weeks of searching, emailing, calling, etc, etc, etc, I have finally landed what should be a lucrative job! I am now officially a new member of the team at Ki Restaurant and Lounge at Bay & Wellington. The offer did not come without some work--an hour and a half interview and several grilling sessions from several of the restaurant's managers. It was all worth it in the end. This is essentially the dream position I've been trying to land since my introduction into the serving industry over a year ago. Not only do I have a new job, but a new job right in the beautiful financial district of downtown Toronto. I finally get to return to the commuting scene--with much more enthusiasm, might I add, considering I will be commuting to a place that I want to be. My orientation is on Monday, before my first shift at Fashion Week. AND on top of it all, I will be trained by the restaurant's very own event coordinator--fate? I think so. I was asked how I felt about double shifts....hopefully this means I will get somewhat full-time hours. Surprisingly, I am more than ecstatic to leave the empty, uneventful lifestyle that I have lately become imprisoned by. So I guess patience really is a virtue--but where in the fine print does it say that it comes with the painful price of anxiety???

Woo hoo! Welcome me back to the working world!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Raw meat, what a treat!

After assisting in the creation of a beautiful stuffing dish and filling it up inside the giant deceased bird, I, for my first time ever, threaded shut a turkey. Texture: slimy. Process: proved more difficult than my mom made it look, hence the bent needle that I ended up will. End result: fulfilling...maybe I'll voluntarily kill some live lobsters after all.

Trix are definitely not just for kids

I actually firmly believe that there's a big conspiracy going on in the cereal industry. And no, you did not just read a typo. I am absolutely convinced that there is some sort of added addictive chemical that they put in cereal that makes it impossible to stop at just one bowl. That would explain how I am so good at self-restraint in every single other aspect of my life aside from breakfast. I try to ban myself from said addiction for weeks at a time but I can never get past day 3 without giving in--excluding last Lent, but that's only because I didn't want to spend the rest of eternity in the fiery depths of hell. It would also explain why, even though I knew I was about to indulge in a four course Turkey dinner alongside four courses of wine, I still managed to scarf down two servings of the tasty treat this morning. Now I will blame my full stomach for for not allowing me to go to the hot yoga class I was trying to force myself to go to this morning. I guess that's what the holidays are for. I'm looking forward to a week of restraint AND extra cardio sessions.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Julie and Julia? Or Liana and Giada?

I went to go watch Julie and Julia last weekend. Warning: definitely not a good idea to watch this if your a foodie, or at least a broke foodie, such as myself. I thought the movie was adorable...but all it did was 1) make me hungry and 2) make me want to copy Julie's cooking challenge. Soooo, 40 dollars a new Giada de Laurentiis cookbook later, I decided to do just that. However, on a smaller scale. Julie challenged herself to cook all of 500-and-something recipes in the Julia Child cookbook in one year. My challenge? Cook all of the recipes (I believe there's about a hundred) in Giada's newest Italian cookbook-Giada's Kitchen. My reasoning behind this? I need to learn how to cook. The domestic woman's gene in me is slowly surfacing. My motivation? My desire to become a professional entertainer and cocktail party thrower in combination with my love for Giada, Italian food, and the modern miracles she works on authentic recipes. My test subjects? My mom (her talent in the kitchen will make her a tough critic), my boyfriend (his stomach is already doing hunger flips of excitement) and my sister (I'm sure her nit-picking will make its way through some of the dishes). I'll keep you posted on my progress, but I'm sorry to say, that unlike Julia Child's book, none of these recipes will involve me killing live lobsters.

Triumph of the Frump

My recent lack of social activity has killed my desire to dress in anything but track pants and sweaters. The part of my brain that was once so focused on style and fashion has temporarily (hopefully only temporarily) gone on hiatus and been clouded over by thoughts of warmth and comfort. You would think that when I was forced to trek downtown for my Toronto LG Fashion Week volunteer meeting that I would have wanted to get into the spirit and dress like I could possibly belong in the scene. Buuuttt comfort won the wardrobe battle once again and so I headed to King St West dressed in my runners, lulus, a gray cardy and a patterned pashmina. When I pulled up to the building I cannot tell you how lost and out of place I was. Everyone was dressed to impressed in their jeans and boots, their toques and blazers. I could feel the fashionistas eyes burning into me and scourning me for my outfit choice. It wasn't until we got our assignments that my confidence got a boost. Despite having applied late, I somehow managed to land a position working backstage. At first I was oblivious to the importance of this position until we backstagers were seperated from the group--apparently "everyone" wanted this "coveted" position, we were told, but only a few of us were selected for certain reasons (who knows what they were) After hearing the job description and learning that, despite the fact that the position is hectic, I would be working one on one with all the models and designers, I became overwhemlingly excited. I could feel the shopping-addict, fashion magazine-lover and fashionably concerned citizen bubbling up in me all over again. Step aside, doubting fashionistas, looks like the frump came out on top this time.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bowing out to Break Through

Sooo, its been just over a month since post-graduation season truly began. After being a professional student my whole life, New Years truly comes for me in September when the leaves fall off the trees and are used to replenish the shelves of any store's school-supply section. Basically right now, my life feels like it is anything but counter-productive. I've always been the "pssshh do we reaaallyyy need a car to get around?" type--now, I find myself scouring the Autotrader website daily for something--ANYTHING--that will fit into my student-loan-plagued budget. Please, I'm sending out an S-O-S to anyone that can save me from the confines of my house which has become an all too familiar prison for me ever since the slow economical season of the year began and shifts were cut short at work.

But my restlessness is not only caused by my yearning to spend more time at Moxie's Classic Grill. This is the first time (that I can actually remember) in my 22 years of life that I am not back in school full-time for the year. It is a feeling strange beyond strange. For the past four years of university I had school to back up my 'I'm still young and have time to create a future for myself' motto. Now, when people ask me what I'm doing with my life, my answer is simple, honest and to the point--nothing. And it drives me absolutely crazy. I am anxious to be a part of something bigger, something so much more and something that I want to be doing--something I've been dying to do for the past two years.

This past Saturday I spent my first day working somewhat in the field in which I plan to make a future. When one my best friends asked me to help her coordinate a wedding, I had to tone my excitement down so she wouldn't think I was a complete loser. The day was great--ensuring everything was perfect for what may be the bride's best day of her life. It was a fairy tale wedding--big wedding party, vintage cars, extensive guest list, chic decor--the works. And just being a part of it all coming together was amazing. I went to bed feeling truly tired from a truly fulfilling day for the first time in a long time.

And so, after a thrilling experience and stemming from a month's worth of anxiety, I have decided to make my official Pseudo-New Years Resolution. It is time to pack it up--the past, that is. The times when I studied through the week and raced to the clubs and the parties and the alcohol on the weekends. My stomach can no longer handle it (last weekend is my proof of that) Now, although still a fresh graduate, I have to seize my enthusiasm for a successful future and use it to do something productive. I must put myself out there, grab any opportunity that comes my way-whether its single-handedly planning a wedding, or serving cocktails at a bar mitzvah. Yes. I am ready world. Look out for me, I'm determined and I'm coming.....right after I find the perfect career-woman blazer and shoes. Right?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Before naptime...

For some reason, these past few weeks I've been plagued with a constant feeling of nostalgia. I've always been a little kid at heart but it seems like lately my desire to be 12 again is particularly fierce. Ever since I graduated last June, I've felt like a lost puppy. Don't get me wrong, I definitely don't miss the days of trudging downtown through any insane weather temperature or condition...just thinking of it makes me shudder. Maybe its because I live behind an elementary school. Everyday, at 10:20am, when I'm usually home alone, the silence is broken with sounds of recess bells and yelling kids. Everyday, at 10:20am, I think about how much I wish I was out there with them.

My childhood was definitely epic. I lived in a fantasy world created both in mind and shared in the minds of my two across-the-street neighbours. We wrote books (and did our best to live in the stories we invented), we rode our bikes to what seemed like the other end of the earth, we made movies, we held seances, we told scary stories, read scary books and lived for Halloween where we could truly express ourselves in the years most creative holiday. We loved every second of it. Life was so simple, yet so interesting, so fulfilling. And now I'm free from the bonds of school and university and responsibility and all I want is to feel as free as I did in those days...

But the sad thing is, I'm not 12 anymore and life isn't the same fantasy it used to be. It hurts to write it as a statement because |I spend so much of my time denying its truth. I express my longing for the past through my addiction to cereal, cartoon, Disney, Barbie, children books and fairy tales. Its embarrassing to admit that's daily recommendations for me include Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Platinum DVD addition...and even sadder that I actually contemplate ordering it every day. Don't we all just wish we could be kids again?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The seal is broken.

So, this is it. My first ever blog. My first ever anything that involves me sharing any personal thoughts with anybody except for my journal (and yes, I do refer to my journal as a real person--or else I'd feel like I was just talking to myself and let's face it, I can save a lot of energy by just doing that in my head). I must admit that I'm pretty nervous. I signed up for blogspot almost a week ago and it took me this long to muster up the courage to actually write my first post. Am I crazy for having these anxieties? Am I any good at this? Will people like me? Will people like my blog? Is my title good enough? Should any of this even matter?

I haven't experienced the thrill of freestyle writing for quite some time now--not since I left elementary school and got the creative life sucked out of me by high school and good old theory-loving university. I'd like to thank my talented friend and budding journalist super-star Erica for inspiring me to start this project. You can check out her blog at I'd also like to thank my dad for always praising my creative writing projects in school and proudly showing them off to anyone who was willing to listen. Now let's hope that I continue to inspire myself to write more entries and not get bored and abandon this project like I do so many others.

So since this is starting to sound like an acceptance speech, (for an nonexistent award, might I add, which I have created in my mind the same way that I created my friend, Journal) I think I'm just gonna sum this up with this: hello, blog world. It's nice to finally meet you. I really truly believe this could be the start of a great relationship.