Showing posts with label families. Show all posts
Showing posts with label families. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

In pursuit of excellence


Is the bar too high?

Do you often compare yourself to others::  beauty, looks, success, wealth, home, car, job?  Ahem, or career.

First, let me apologize because I was trying to sideswipe you to continue as if there hasn't been a few weeks since the last time I blogged.


Do we strive too far?

There comes a certain point in your life when you are at an event, more likely social, more alarming family ::.... and you just POP in your head!  Just like that with the zippy exclamation point (don't overdue it with multiples::.... that screams desperate for attention ....:: so you tend to ignore it or stop reading right there).

I found myself at my stepdaughter's wedding, as the "evil stepmother" I told everyone I was.  That was to downplay no input and my manners meter on high alert.   It became a time that because of my non role yet close observer of the past 12 years of the bride's life.

Try facing off two mother grizzly bears, it may not be pretty.  But manners prevailed and we treated each other with one acknowledgement and handshake (no hug and definitely no kiss to signify how genuine our gestures were).

Thankfully I'm no "other woman".   I came from picking up the pieces of a divorce and trying to make sure her kids were glued together.   I'm not even going to give it any respect and avoid saying that I'm the victim.  Because I was the woman in the marriage, the career magnifico, mom superior superwoman, and likely lastly wife.

At such a juncture in time and after 12 years, it would be misleading to not say that there was curiosity out there.  I mean, the "other woman" had had the chance to be involved this duo were, instead deciding to leap outta the picture to avoid the scandal that even not that many years ago would have been frowned upon.

So who was this mother and former wife?  I guess I wanted to see for myself and do what we do best we women, compare myself to this woman.  How pathetic when you think about it because I could not believe anyone would give up the chance to be married and committed to Rob for the awesome, thoughtful teddy bear he is.

I then decided to be less traditional::.... compare myself to the ex-wife, mother whom I played Head Coach for daughter ::..... most women wouldn't admit to it, be it they are the wrongee or the wrong doer, that they compare themselves to the other woman.  There are a lot of ridiculous benchmarks that just POP out there again.
  • Looks
  • Grooming
  • Manners
  • Poise
  • Success
  • Beauty
  • Clothes
  • Accessories
  • Jewellery
  • Shoes (did they match the purse?)
  • Any scarf, nail manicure, pedicure, evidence of formal fix er up
  • Body size, body shape, curvy, skinny, plump, thin
  • Make up, eyebrow shape and whether it needs plucking
  • Hair color, health, fried or gleaming?
  • Teeth white, whitener, straightened by braces or hidden behind veneers
  • Her kid(s) all of the above times however many kids
  • Work, stay-at-home mom, work-at-home mom, job, status, organization
I sorta apologize ::.... I got on a roll.  But the amazing part is that we can compute all of this information and filter it all to arrive at warning: "Threat" or "Possible Aly" ..... all under a minute.  The masters can talk while taking it all in and processing it all under the world's largest microprocessor:  the woman's mind.

I started my inventory differently.  I guess I wanted to be a bit unbiased and objective when I was comparing her now husband to my husband, her ex-husband.  (Yeah, I know, talking and writing like a woman who is processing information and spewing it out faster than any satellite network (aka faster than the largest telecommunications networks data).  Amazing eh?

I have to admit, I didn't think of it until only a couple of days ago:  Sunday.  The day after the wedding.  We women like to take in information, process it, exume it, but of all store information for later use so we can pull it out and extrapolate it, examine it, research it if need be, so that we have dissected it into the smallest of topics.  Then we speak to our mother, sister, brother, aunt, father, sister's best friend, brothers girlfriend, uncle, friend, acquaintances or therapy session.

I came out the lucky one.  My husband is awesome and he loves his family immensely.  That exuded from him in fumes, so light and almost vaporless.  I won't go on the scorn at her or ask her to give her head a shake.  Her new husband is a shell and only one quarter as interesting as my husband.  And that just about covers every area you can imagine, and the one you thought it implied.

I'll have to make up for being MIA the past few weeks by writing a little be more over the coming weeks.



Be healthy, be happy, and be hypercritical ...........:: LOL, checking to see if you're still with me ............::

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Advocacy for education

Education is a right for every child in our hemisphere.  In my opinion, it evens the playing field.  We are often reminded by great achievements by those who climbed out of despair, poverty or abuse to rise out of the shambles.  Education has a way of doing that.  It is something that we perhaps take for granted.

I often volunteer to help kids in education.  For almost three years I have been volunteering for Junior Achievement, where one is armed with teaching aids, representing major companies in the community as a way of giving back.  The skills covered are economics, budgeting, finance, credit, applying for jobs, understanding expenses and so on.  As volunteers, we are also setting positive examples for kids aged 14 and 15.  

I have also volunteered to prepare and distribute lunches to kids in an elementary school with demographics that show much lower than average household finances.  This was under United Way, another great organization that helps the community thrive.

Recently, our organization, did a fundraiser within our department about a month ago under the charity Stephen's Backpacks  It was set up as a contest among about 10 teams of about 13 individuals on each.  Basically, we were given two backpacks and filled it up with supplies for students, given suggestions by breakdown by group of elementary, junior high and high school (as needs vary).  As our social prime, we also raised funds, some donated filled backpacks, others supplies and others money.  It was a worthwhile cause, helping kids in education.  It helped build team work.  Sprinkled with a little competitive spirit to make it charged.   

I grew up with advocacy for education.  My parents gave each of us the opportunity to go beyond high school to post secondary education.  I was the only one of four to take advantage of it.  It wasn't always easy.  Sure, my tuition, housing was covered while I had to become innovative to get food.  I ended up volunteering on the Yearbook Staff, then moved into the Student Union as its Secretary.  Part of the reward was monthly meetings and afterwards a paid dinner at the cafeteria.  I also was a Floor Senior in the Students' Residence.  There must have been a free meal in their somewhere.  Both allowed me to attend social events for free, and there must have been free food in there as well.  I worked part time for a while but the hours of 5pm to 2am didn't always compliment getting up for 8am classes.  

I am thrilled that my second youngest daughter is attending University.  Her father had tried to take her to the Armed Forces recruitment office to subsidize her education.  I advocated her to follow her passion and dreams.  Both her father and I contributed towards an education fund the moment all three of our children were born.  It certainly helps today.  My daughter says that she knows how lucky she is to be getting an education without the cloud of graduating with massive debt.  She took a gap year off, traveled a lot, played competitive soccer and partied some.  I was always nervous that she would get too used to money and put off going back to school.  

I surveyed lots of friends and associates on the matter.  Was a gap year wise?  Looking back, I can see why she did do it.  She is a January baby, very articulate early, starting preschool in French emersion at age 3.  It wasn't playschool it was PREschool.  Then, she was a year younger at graduation than most of her classmates.  I understand she needed a break before she buckled down and went to school.  She took the time to explore her interests and decided on Fine Arts.  That was after Marine Biology, Meteorology, etc.  

What kids have today in some of the schools is career planning early.  Taking quizzes and skills tests to cross reference attributes with career paths.  She was advised to be a stock broker, given the reason that she was in strong in math and had personal integrity and honesty.  Her dad would have done back flips since he had taken the Canadian Securities Course from interest and built knowledge for investing.

My stepdaughter was all set on going into nursing from the time I met her.  She started work as soon as she could and glided from that into a strong position with a strong organization that provides ongoing on the job training which is not the same as a post secondary education.  We can foresee her working her way up as she has already moved upwards a fair bit for someone her age.  

Our youngest has moved cities, expanded herself and spread her wings.  She is starting to say that she has started to settle on an education direction now.  Communications.  I hope she does.  At least I've learned that they have to make the decision themselves even if the expectation is deep rooted and money set aside.  

The best thing we did, was start from the get go with an education fund.  It allowed the opportunity to always be there to back up the encouragement.  Their father and I met at college but didn't graduate with student loans.  

In the long run.  Education is the distinguishing factor that can set anyone apart.  It takes sacrifice, discipline and intelligence to start and continue.  If our governments really wanted to avoid political positioning by playing with education, they would encourage parent or organization finance for post secondary education for all.  

I understand that many US citizens consider the government paying for things like education and health means gravitating towards a socialist state.  I'd say, put your paranoia aside, it doesn't have to mean you're on the brink of communism.  It simply means that you are investing in your future.  Your children.  Their education.  A better chance of survival and financial security than some of their parents.  Educated households, I would imagine, statistically have less abuse of drugs, alcohol or domestic violence.  

We can break the chain of disfunction by protecting all of our futures by investing in our children's education.  

Sunday, August 16, 2015

7 reasons to love "The Hundred Foot Journey"

I'm flabbergasted.  I'm wheeling in the blown away zone after watching the best film I have seen in years:  "The Hundred Foot Journey" #thehundredfootjourney a hashtag to go wild if I had my way.

This wonderfully crafted story  unfolds when  two worlds collide and they get .. ummm ... ahhhh.... how do you say it? Spicey!

I was profoundly touched by the hidden messages in the tale that shines a brilliant light on how we have biases and racism not by our own hand, but by the world we grow up in.  

The story demonstrates how we can have set prejudices without really knowing it.  Regardless of which side of the story you find yourself leaning towards, it reflects a new world identification system.  It surrounds us daily subconsciously. 

We humans are so caught up in class system that is so far submersed, we do it automatically while its origins was carved in the world of India.

From afar, the rest of us collectively exude a  behavior we identify with when we think of this unique culture :
  • thriftiness (aka cheap)
  • bargains
  • traditions
  • family dynamics
  • religion
  • Bollywood
Rarely would a European or North American Caucasion  person identify India descendents to be:
  • genius minds
  • food master chefs
  • sex symbols
  • musical marvels
  • creative icons
Regardless of whether you can associate with the origin or excellence from either side, The Hundred Foot Journey shatters all perceptions.  From the fireworks emerges a tale  of a triumphant jubilee for viewers.

Yes, I reckon that the explosive creative pinacle is based on the latest hip theme of Foodie.  Toss out your prejudices and disperse your preconceptions and absorb the splendor of  entertainment at the finest.

Similar to the food world's Michelin stars, movie goers should revolt if the movie doesn't win an Oscar for best film.  This sleeper hit evolved from gifted storytelling in Richard Morais' 2011 novel with the brilliant adaptation of Steven Knight and talented cinematography interpreted by Lass Hallstrom.  An art film or society statement, take your choice. 

Allow me introduce you to a movie you will want to see by sharing the official trailer searched for and found on my trusted source for video You Tube.  


It has a good old fashion feel with a really great vibe.  It dislodges us and allows us to escape from all our worry about the environment, our careers, our family, our finances, our society, violence, government, our economy, our health, our peace of mind, our paranoias forgotten while enveloped into this wonderful journey.

From left:  Helen Miran, Manish Dayal and Charlotte Le Bon

It is led by the magnificent cast of the well known (Helen Miran aka from The Queen), getting to known Om Puri  and the unknown soon to be very well known (Manish Dayal now of InstaGRAM fame and French Canadian 

Charlotte Le Bon).  The magnificent characters 

 introduced to us by really really big knowns 

 (looks like Steven Spielberg and sounds like 

 Oprah Winfrey). Now those are really big WIGs!


From left:  Oprah Winfrey, Helen Miran and Steven Spielberg
Sit back and take in this celebration of cinematic roots with your loved one or loved ones.  It will move you back to carefree times and family antics that drive us crazy, we survive, and great recollections to draw poignant memories from.

If you are still not convinced that you should jump on NetFlix or bring out the wallet on iTunes, let me tell you why it's a favorite:
  1. There is an underdog who emerges as a champion for us to cheer on.
  2. There is watching the development of relationships from family, to love interest, to companionship, friendship or rivalry.
  3. There is that steal-the-movie supporting-actor who reminds us fondly of a crazy but lovable father or uncle.
  4. There is a love story between a Princess (of cuisine) and her knight in shining armour (blazing with Michelin stars no less). 
  5. Where the rich and sometimes not always famous frolick together in harmony by joining in heavenly cuisine -- where foodies relate to.
  6. It yields to the yearn of its target audience: Baby Boomers, Families, Dates, Girls Night Out, Pajama Party, Movie Fanatics or a Sunday Night movie.
  7. Where market and audience celebrate the unique message and widespread appeal.
From left, Manish Dayal, Helen Miran


Join me, together with @optioneerJM, to spread the word on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, InstaGram, Tumblr and Pinterest so others can share the pleasant gold old fashion experience. Show your support and belief that peace can be amongst us and we can actually enjoy our own uniqueness in culture, religion or region and embrace those wonders.

I promise you, it will capture your spirit and inspire you to believe that war is as big as a war becomes.  Yet, with understanding, cohesiveness, togetherness, humanity, and belief in the impossible we gather the spell that this tale puts us under.



Did I forget to mention that this magical experience was made possible because of Dreamworks Pictures that its fore founder would be proud of, Walt Disney (1901-1966): 

     All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.

          It's kind of fun to do the impossible.
                 The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Happy Fathers Day


Hats off to dads everywhere!  So much attention goes to moms because we are the ones who endure 9 months of pregnancy, give birth and often considered the primary caregivers.

The importance of fathers has been under appreciated by history and stereotypes.  However, most of us know first hand how important our dads are in our lives. 

As life unfolds, we get older and they pass on.  Often it is only then there lingers many wise words and wisdom shared.

I loved my father's stories.  As his elderliness was settling in, he often repeated them.  Then there may have been concern for his forgetfulness and a hint of exasperation on having to hear it again.  Now I look back to realize each time there was  a golden nugget to cherish and learn from.  

I really miss my father.  Yes he was tough when I needed to be taught a lesson.  He certainly displayed strength in difficult circumstances.  I think of him as a hero, handsome man with such dark eyes that did seem to sparkle when he was laughing.  He wasn't a teaser - he left that to my brothers.  He wasn't always there, he was a provider.  He was wise and could drill down to the heart of the matter.

I'm lucky.  I had my father for many many years.  As his body started to betray his vitality, he made up for it by wanting to talk.  He liked when my mom was out so he would call any one of us kids to talk, share those stories but most of all shield us from hurt, mistakes we made, and be brave for us when our own resources were depleting.  He was there when it counted and I needed him most.

As a kid I was disappointed if he didn't come to my skating competitions or tests, yet he always made it to the shows, bursting with pride.  He was important in his job and in those days kids didn't telephone their parents.  The very few times I did,  he would come home and say how impressed everyone was with my articulation or manners.  He was proud and a proud man.



Dads are not knights with armor to protect us against harm.  They have faults, they have weaknesses and life doesn't always hand them everything so they can, in turn, provide for family and hand down to children.  However,  we should respect how important that role is to everyone in society.  We should help those who need help being a father.  Everyone benefits.

I think my dad, for all his accomplishments and a tough journey to get there, appreciated and lived life to be remembered with honor and love.  I know he had regrets and may have had a few unfulfilled wishes.  Yet, he wasn't afraid to stand up for what was right and expected great things to come from all of us kids, and then his grandkids. 

I am happy to have had such a father.  Without him, I wouldn't have learned as much or nourished by his encouragement.

He did a pretty good job.  He matters now as he did back then.  He did leave a legacy and one of them was me.  Yes, I do feel sadness some days and would love to hear one more of those stories.

"A daughter needs a dad to be the standard against which she will judge all men."
~Unknown








 












Monday, June 15, 2015

Fashion for the Calgary Stampede


A name whose roots are embedded deep in the romance and traditions of the Old West: Calgary, once a rootin' tootin' Wild West town sprawled over the crossing of rangeland trails; today a bustling city in the heart of the Canadian Rockies."                                                       ~ Author Unknown  
 
 




The Calgary stampede is a fun destination for cowboy and cowgirl wannabe and enthusiasts.  You will see authentic cowboys and native Indians for sure.  Your experience will be even more fantastic if you get into the country and western spirit by dressing to blend in.

Here are some hot tips and trends you can consider: take a dress that you adore and imagine it with a hat, boots, jacket and accessories to start with. 


Polymore is a great website that you can assemble your looks and test them out.  In this case, I was imagining how to complete the cute dress to complete my look:















Here are some great looks to put together:  Remember hat + boots +ensemble + accessories



 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 






 
 
 
 












 
 
 







































 
 
 
For the kids:


























Mix and match:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



 







 


















 Images  



 

 
 
 
  







 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 
ETC: 


William and Kate, 2013
 
Kate and William, 2013


William Shatner, Parade Marshal, 2014




Ontario and Alberta cowpoke fun

 
 
Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau,
 
 
Calgary Mayor/Alberta Premier, King Ralph (Klein)
  
 
Alberta's Premier Notley and Canada's Prime Minister Harper
 
Ian Tyson
 
 

Saddle Bronc, #RODEO


Steer Riding, #RODEO

 
Hang over optional
 
Chuckwagon Races, #CalgaryStampede
 


Steer wrestling



 



Vintage:
 

 




MISS ..... or if you insist: