Family Fundamentals

Wow!  What a busy week!  Besides cleaning my house, I did other things that make my life so wonderful!  I booked Workday Wednesday off to visit with my friend.  She took me to a cutie little beach side cafe and we lunched and chatted and had a lovely afternoon.  Come the weekend, another grand day with the grandchildren.  Kennie was celebrating her 7th birthday and we got to hang out at a fancy park and play and laugh and chat and just catch up with people we hadn’t seen in awhile.  Standing back and taking pictures for posterity, I had a momentary split vision of the world that I live in.  I experienced a clarity of my life.  It made me smile.  This is my family.

Now, this may not seem like a big deal to most people, however, my family is quite unique and diverse.  When I say my family, it’s really an extension of Wiseguy’s family, but this weekend I saw how remarkable it was when everyone was together.  Let me explain.

If you search for the definition of family, you will find that this definition has not been officially changed from when it was first defined.  It still reads as follows:  a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household.  For many families, this is still true.  Our society has changed in so many ways with regards to who raises children and who the guardians of the descendants are.  Single parent, LGBTQ parent(s), grandparents, adopted parents, step parents, aunts or uncles.  It’s not the “who” that is watching over them and guiding them that is most important.  It is the love and desire to raise children to become good conscientious adult citizens.  It is the proverbial “village” that makes this happen.

Segway back to Kennie’s party.  Besides the mix of genders and races, there were the divorced people who had remarried and were there with their new spouses or partners.  There were the cousins and aunts and uncles.  There were the grandparents and great grandparents.  All differences were put aside to celebrate this wonderful occasion.  There was no backstabbing.  No bickering.  People played volleyball and soccer.  Others sat around chatting and just catching up on what was new in each other’s lives.  Parents watched over their children, but all others watched as well.  It was a community of loving people wanting to enjoy the laughter and happiness of these adorable children.  Their high pitched squeals and big smiley faces could wipe away all thoughts of past anger and resentment.

My camera caught an incredible image.  The peacefulness on each person’s face.  The uproarious laughter.  Children playing in the sand…of the volleyball court.  To sum it up, it was a day full of happiness.  We broke bread together (well, hot dog and burger buns…that counts).  Everyone ate.  Everyone chatted.  The party was slotted to last from 1 pm to 4 pm.  Due to unforeseen cheerfulness, the entourage stayed until 6 pm.  It was actually difficult to leave.  It was such a beautiful, sunny day full of joy and merriment.  An incredibly memorable day.

Wiseguy and I came home and unpacked quickly.  We were exhausted.  Was it because of the fresh air?  Was it due to extra playtime with all the children?  Was it being in the sun all afternoon?  We smiled, resigning ourselves to the fact that we had no idea why we experienced the onset of tiredness, but we knew it was time for bed.  We were both smiling.  Why?  The day had been perfect.

Perfect?  Yes.  It was perfect.  The weather was ideal.  It wasn’t humid.  It was warm in the sun and cool in the shade.  The “family” came together to celebrate a birthday, but it was more than that.  It was a collaboration.  It was various entities of a family bonding together and enjoying each other’s company.  That’s what my camera saved forever.  It was about love.  It was about family.  It was about being there for a common goal and bypassing past prejudices.

In so many ways, children are the leaders.  They don’t hate (unless you steal their toy).  They don’t judge (unless you steal their toy).  Everyone is equal.  Religion, colour, nationality, et. al. kids don’t care.  As long as you are a loyal and nice playmate, they will be your friend forever.  Fun is what life is about.

I appreciate and love my “family”.  It’s definitely unique, but I am so proud to be part of it.  Living it.  Breathing it.  Loving it.  Laughing with everyone else.  It’s all about putting the Family “Fun” in Fun-damental.

 

 

Save the last dance for me…

This song has a special relevance for me.  I always believed I should’ve been born 20 years before I was born.  I was hatched in 1969.  Yup…quite a crazy year…but being a newborn, it had no relevance for me.  I have always LOVED music from the 50’s and the 60’s.  Actually I have loved music from the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s…well you get the idea.  Being raised in a European family, we learned to dance.  We learned to polka and waltz.  We did the “heritage/folkore” dancing so we had the dancing bug early on.  Now, imagine my lucky stars when I met Wiseguy and HE was also a dance fanatic!  This was not disco dance machine stuff…this was Polka at it’s best.  Really?  Really Maryann?  Oh yes!

I am sure you have watched…wait a minute…you probably haven’t.  There used to be an old tv show with accordion music where someone played “Roll out the barrel”.   This is not the same.  Wiseguy and I are all about the super circular speed.  We are velocitous (?) spheres spinning around the dance floor.  We are twirling around without a care in the world.  We dance, we spin, we have eyes only for each other…unless we might collide with other couples.  Very rarely.  The dance floors of today, with bodies only gyrating in one spot…booooooring!  Dancing is all about moving around the dance floor and just enjoying life.  Super sweaty time but so much fun!  Why do I mention this?  I had a recall moment of when I was going to leave hubby for three weeks to hang out with my dad in Europe.  It was the first time we would be apart for this long and we were at a fantabulous (my favourite made-up compound word of fantastic and fabulous…feel free to use it) family wedding.  The kiddies were with us and we were having fun, but also counting down the time to when we would be apart.

Songs and song meanings are very integral in our lives.  I am sure they are part of your life as well.  There are songs that are triggers.  They are reminders of events in your life.  As I mentioned, Wiseguy is a big song guy.  More 70s rock than anything (ugh), but then I am the yang to his yin with my love of pop music.  So imagine me and Wiseguy after two years of marriage, with kidlets in tow, knowing that I had to be at the airport by 2 a.m. to catch my flight to Europe.  Imagine my surprise when I heard one of my absolute favourite songs:  Save the last dance for me.   Initially this was a “Drifters” song, but then Michael Buble sang it…a bit more up-tempo.  Kind of more polka-meets-rhumba.  The last song of the night.  Wiseguy guided me to the dance floor.  Little did we know that our “Princess” (9 yrs old) was taking pictures of us the whole time.

Wiseguy and I have danced at many occasions (weddings, banquets, birthdays, etc.).  Wiseguy’s only rule is:  We are the first on the floor to start the dancing and the last to leave the floor.  We have survived waltzes, polkas, two-steps.  We have done the chicken dance and gagnam style and in the old days we did the YMCA. …ugh to these favourites.  We are glad that some songs have left the DJ list forever.  I now bring you back to this song of mine:  “Save the Last Dance” by The Drifters.  The songs they did have been remade over and over again because they are classics and still apply to every day and every time.  They were and are wonderful!

So, here we were, hubby and I, dancing as the wedding was winding down.  Many of the guests had already left.  No surprise.  It was 2 am.  They had music in the background as the band was starting to pack up.  Suddenly, I heard Michael Buble start singing, “Save the Last Dance”. I looked at my husband.  He looked at me.  We went to the dance floor.  I had removed my high-heeled shoes.  I, 5’5″ and he, 6’4″.   We began to dance.  The floor was ours.  We both knew I was leaving in about 6 hours and we wanted to enjoy our last night (morning) together.  Princess took pictures of us.  We didn’t know until we developed the film in our camera (yup…old day stuff).  Each picture shows how we moved with each other, silently, in the moment.  Joyous.

I do love many, many songs. There are songs to relax to.  There are songs to exercise to.  There are empowering songs.  Songs are here to feed us inspiration.  The reason why I love this particular song (Save the Last Dance) is two-fold:  1)  The beat is incredible and 2) The lyrics are all about love and trust.  Go flirt.  Go have fun.  Go enjoy your night.  I know you will come back to me and come home with me.  Why?  Because we are meant to be together.

Maybe to some it sounds like a stalker situation, but I find this song to be supportive of  a healthy relationships.  You don’t have to be glued to each other.  You can talk to other people.  You can dance with other people.  Why?  In the end, we both know that we love each other and will always end up in each other’s loving arms.  Trust, faith, love.  The bestest (my made up word that should be in the dictionary) kind of relationship.

Moral of the story:  DANCE!

Not “dance like no one’s watching” because everyone will be watching, but who cares?  Just DANCE!  Feel that music in your body.  Feel the buoyancy in your body!  Move across that floor and just live!  Your body is full of electricity and vibrations and it knows that dancing feel awesome!  And…as a small favour…Save the last dance for me.  XOXO.

 

 

 

Nobody cares…

I’m getting closer to my 50’s.  Yes, I refer to actual my age.  Many women prefer to lie about their age.  I am happy to be alive and well (health-wise) and LOVE telling people how old I am.  Why?  I don’t see why I should be shy or ashamed.  My real life eye wrinkles prove that I am a happy person because they are proof that I smile a lot.  The blue veins in my legs are a showcase of days when I gained waaaaay too much weight.  My whole body presents a story of my life.  To be honest, my absolute favourite parts of my body are: 1) my super-huge toothy smile and  2) my kaka-brown cow-eyes.  Why do I bring these items up?

Growing up in an environment of European descent was not easy.  There were many ways that you could be deemed unacceptable in regular society.  For example, I was diagnosed as near-sighted when I was 8 years old.  I remember going for the eye test and hoping that I wouldn’t “fail” the test because my parents would be disappointed. In the end, it was determined that I needed glasses.  I was actually ecstatic and elated and super pumped!  I even recall my eyeglass case…it was orange and there was the fuzzy head of a teddy bear on it.  I felt special.  That lasted for two days until I returned to school.  I was the only “four-eyes” in my class.  Yes…I could finally read everything on the chalkboard at the front of the room, but I was also a “loser”.  This eyeglass thing didn’t get any easier in other public domains.

My visual impairment made friendships awkward too.  My mother told me that I should not wear my glasses in public.  Why?  Wearing glasses at my young age meant I was somehow disabled.  Silly?  Absolutely, but at the time I believed my mother because she was my parent and she knew best.  At least that is what I was led to believe.

We would go to church every Sunday.  I would take my glasses off before entering.  Going up for communion was about following others so being visually impaired was no big deal.  The problem I encountered was when people thought I was ignoring them.   They would wave to me and I could really only see blobs of colours.  I appeared to be looking right at them, and yet, I myself could not actually see them.

For those who were forward, they would ask me why I ignored them and I’d make up some excuse (not mentioning the glasses).  For those who did not inquire, I became known as a very high and mighty, self-absorbed snob.  I found this out from friends after the fact.  Why do I bring this up?

It seems that our daily lives are always being judged.  Nowadays, they might even be recorded.  You never know when someone will be holding a “smart phone” ready to video or photograph whatever you are doing.  It seems that people are more concerned about recording the next “viral” video instead of thinking about how this could affect a person’s life.  In the end, I wonder…who cares?

No one really cares.  No one really cares about your life or what you are living.   No one really cares if you are happy, sad, disgruntled, ecstatic, etc.  That was generalizing, but in truth, if you are super happy, most people don’t want to share your happy news.  Why?  Most people are focusing on hardships and don’t want to hear about how good your life is.  “Misery loves company” and most would rather share woes.  Our society deals with sarcasm and belittling others to make themselves feel better.  Does this sound like a harsh judgement?  Perhaps, but oftentimes it seems that people would rather rally around those with problems than with those who are having a fantastically great life.

Perhaps I am just noticing this more often than I used to.  It could also be that I have decided to find what is good in my life instead of focusing on what I am missing.  This shift in vision took me a good two years to finally accomplish.  Why?  It’s not as easy as you think.  Here are some examples:

You wake up in the morning and the first thing you think is:  “Crap I have to get up and go to work.”  I would wake up, take a deep breath (which I can happily do) and literally tell myself to think of something positive.  So, I would say, “Wow!  I am so happy to wake up and breathe and enjoy another day of life!”  Corny?  When you start it, it does feel weird, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.  How do you re-program your thinking to be positive instead of negative?  It’s a conscious effort of changing what you are thinking.

  • Awwwww, it’s raining again! – NEGATIVE
  • Yay!  The flowers will grow and bloom; my garden will grow! – POSITIVE

Challenge!  Write down your negative thoughts and then try to find the positive.

  • My car is a piece of junk…becomes…I am grateful to have a vehicle to drive.
  • I hate my job…becomes…I have a way to pay my bills and this is only a stepping stone to my new and better job.

You can do it!  You can find something good!  (If you get stuck…look at pictures of puppies and kittens, or any other baby animal.  You can’t be grumpy after that!)   While you are on this journey of discovery and appreciation don’t think about what others are saying about you or thinking about you because you know what?  Nobody cares!

To Be or Not To Be…Alone

I remember hearing about people who were trying to “find themselves”.   Mostly it was people criticizing other people and I, as a child, did not know what it meant.  In our day it meant you were escaping responsibility.  Fast forward years later and I finally understand what that means.  Some of you may have already done this, purposely or accidentally, but for those of you who have not yet reached the precipice, I shall try to explain this phenomenon.

I do not claim to know the answers.  I believe life is a constant journey.  There are so many things we experience and live through.  Things we thought were super stressful in our teens seemed like blessings in our twenties.  Stuff we thought was tough in our twenties became insignificant in our thirties.  I am getting closer to my fifties and am appreciating the desire for people to support one another and fight for equality.  I watch and summarize it as:  One generation wanting peace and love for everyone.

If everyone finally looked around and said, “Hey…you’re ok!” we could all work, live, and be happy together.  However, the most important thing is loving yourself.  Every religion tells you that and many of us choose to ignore it because it seems selfish.  I was raised hearing this:   Love your neighbour as yourself.  For some reason, most of us, or all of us, missed the memo.  Love yourself?   YES!  It sounds so strange, but once you start living it (yup, through “finding yourself”) it’s amazing how much better all your relationships become after that.

One of the reasons I bring this is up is because I believe in the power of love.  I believe in the power of positive thinking.  I believe that everything will be good in your life as long as you believe it will be ok.  How did I get here?  I finally debated about “to be or not to be…” alone.  That led me to decide that I needed time to be alone, to “find myself”.  Why?  I needed to think about what my thoughts were.  Negative?  Positive?  How did I view my surroundings?

I realized that most of my life was about helping others.  I needed the approval and praise of others to feel my self-worth.  Yup, that’s where the needed “alone time” came in.  Spend time with yourself and your thoughts and find out how you feel about yourself and how you can improve on your self-love.

DON’T SAY:

  • It’s impossible and I can’t do this!

YOU CAN!

  • It’s too hard!

YOU ARE STRONG!  YOU HAVE THE POWER!

VERY, VERY IMPORTANT NOTE:  DO NOT LISTEN OR BELIEVE IN WHAT “APPEARS” REAL.  WE DO HAVE INNER POWERS AND STRENGTH AS LONG AS WE SAY:  “I CAN DO THIS!”

As children we were excited about everything.  Dandelions were roses to us!  Mud was extravagant!  Butterflies were miracles!  Sadly, along the way to adulthood, we were told to believe in hard facts, not fiction.  This is why I love children.  They are still so pure and  non-judgemental.  They can see the beauty in everyday life.  I dare you to try and wake up everyday and say I LOVE MY LIFE!  Most often, we DO forget to see all the good we have.  We have this idea that we need more “stuff” in order to make us happy.  Bigger houses, better cars, expensive clothing, etc.

Have you ever stopped to actually say, “Wow…I actually have so many wonderful things in my life.”  No.  And why not?  I think it’s because once we get something that we believe will make us happier, we realize it didn’t, so then we have to start looking for something else that will make us happy.

Which brings me right back to be being alone or not being alone.  If you really love yourself, you can look in a mirror and actually think you are wonderful.  If you love yourself then no one can bring you down.  That self-love provides such a glorious barrier to all the negative in the world.  If someone belittles you (which many workplaces or families do), it won’t matter.  If you love yourself, you can actually start loving others.  You will see that everyone is here to have fun!  It’s not all about work and getting things.  It’s about getting excited and trying new stuff.  (Like axe throwing…very excited about doing that!)  It’s about knowing that you can wish for things and believing they can happen.  If you love yourself, you will find more beauty in everything around you.  The trees will seem greener, the flowers will seem brighter, the birds will sound happier.  (Hmmm, maybe this is how people on drugs feel.  lol!)

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Is this being selfish?  Absolutely YES!  But if everyone was doing it, this would be such a magical world!  For those of you who meditate or do yoga or take long baths…kudos to you!  You know that by healing yourself with happiness and love you can, not only survive in this bizarre world, but you will thrive.  You will start enjoying life and living as you did when you were a child.  Find that happy place again.  You won’t regret it.

DEDICATION:  For those of you who are accustomed to my fantastically humorous ways, I wanted to let you know that I have someone, whom I love so much, and who needs added love and support for a “dis-ease” she has.  I know she will survive and thrive because she is a happy, loving, beautiful person, and she is making her own reality using love and positive focus.  Most importantly, she knows she is not alone and will never be alone.

P.S.  To my beautiful Sarmie, love conquers all.  You are beautiful, you are loving, you are…above all…greatly LOVED!  NEVER EVER FORGET IT!

 

 

 

Gnomenclature…

Yes, please feel free to “google” that word.  It does not exist…yet.  This new word now exists in my special dictionary where verbiage is absolutely a necessity.  Feel free to use it in your everyday vernacular!  The official, properly spelled word is:  nomenclature.  The definition is:  “the devising or choosing of names for things, especially in a science or other discipline.”  Well, my newly created word – gnomenclature – shall be defined as:  “the naming of garden gnomes based on their statuesque appearance”.  Yes…I think that shall do fine!  Why do I bring up gnomenclature?  Today I shall share with you the story of two garden gnomes and their ultimate destiny.  Our story begins…

It was Father’s Day.  A sunny day.  Wiseguy was excited to have the kids and grandkids over for this special day.  I must admit that every year the children try to find ways to surprise their father with unique and unexpected gifts.  Wiseguy is now at that point in his life where he lacks nothing, nor does he wish for anything.  The creative gift ideas were becoming a challenge.  One package he opened was not something either of us expected.  It contained a garden gnome.  True, none of those existed at our house.  The second package contained another gnome.  They were each about two feet tall.  One was jovial and the other was quite stern and serious.

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Happy Gnome (on the left);  Wise Gnome (on the right) – See??? Gnomenclature!!

So, there they were; our two new residents.  Happy made me laugh every morning when I saw him.  How could he not?  He always looked like he had just finished playing a trick on someone.  Wise gnome…well, he moved, a bit, but he never seemed happy about it.  We had fun moving them around and making the grandchildren think the gnomes pulled stunts while we were sleeping.  They would move from vegetable garden to table top.  They were ingenious (and obviously, so were we…way before that Elf on the Shelf thing became the big brouhaha.)

Cooler weather arrived.  Fall was starting to shut down summer.  We moved our tenants into a bench seat to hibernate for the winter.  Better to keep them hidden instead of having to clean snow off them.  Fall became winter, winter became a harsher winter, that part of winter finally turned into slushy spring.  After all the snow melted and the torrential rains abated, we re-introduced our ceramic/clay garden-variety (haha) gnomes into the backyard.  You recall them?  Happy and Wise?

The new year had begun and many new adventures for this fun pair!  Or were there?

It was the beginning of spring.  As I had mentioned, the snow had melted, the rain continued to cover the earth, but we felt confident that our two friends could handle the elements.  After all, they were garden gnomes.

One foul evening, the wind gods swept through our city.  They ripped shingles off houses.  Garbage bins went flying down the street.  You could actually hear the wind howling.  It whistled through the tree branches in an almost taunting way.  We hoped for the spring weather of yesteryear.  Luckily the winds died down.  The clouds had finally exhausted their waterlogged fluffiness.  The sun arose with a special kind of brightness.  The inclement weather ordeal was over.  I decided to venture outside and tally up the damage to our garden.  Sadly, my first steps through the rear door revealed devastation that I had not expected.

I opened the screen door and put hands to lips to stifle the scream of despair I felt clawing to escape from my mouth.  There, on the interlock brick, were pieces; many coloured pieces.  Blue, green, black, grey, red.  There had been a fatality!  I looked to my right and saw Happy.  The wind had turned him slightly sideways.  His eternally smiling face was there and his hand was still pointing as it usually did.  However, this was something surreal.  His hand was pointing at the remains of Wise gnome.  There he was, atop the bench seat, slightly askew from the night before.  His companion…the seriously, stodgy, Wise gnome was gone…in pieces…never to be repaired.  No Humpty Dumpty future for this gnome.

Comedic value?  Hands down, high five, fist bump…absolutely 100% classic hilarity!  Do I miss our elderly Wise gnome.  Meh…he lived…but not really.  Seriously…check out Happy!  Would you not want your life to be as happy as his everyday?  I know I would!

gnomeIt does not mean that you have to be mean to other people; although he does appear to be a prankster.  Those happy squint eyes and the smiling face…look at it!  That’s the model trouble-maker image.  Even with his disheveled clothing and half torn boots, he has found a way to make himself laugh.  I guess that’s why I like him.  No matter what adversity is thrown my way, I believe I can always find something to make me happy and appreciate all the good in my life.

So, if you feel lost and lonely or if you feel like you are being bullied or if you feel like you will never win…think of Happy.  Look at this picture and remind yourself…life is what you determine it to be.  If I can be like Happy (bwahaha) I will have a happy day, everyday.

P.S.  Gnomenclature states:  the naming of garden gnomes based on their statuesque appearance.  You can be whoever you want to be.  Stand in front of that intimidating mirror and decide.  It is your choice and your prerogative.  Just know wholeheartedly that you are beautiful just the way you are.  Love and be loved.  XOXO.

 

 

The Chosen One…

Today’s “it” word for mean people is:  bullying.  When we elders think of the term bully, we imagine the kid that used to prank us.  That prankster would grab your knapsack or hide your lunch bag or move your coat.  This led to endless laughter from classmates.  What did this bully teach us?  The one thing that I recall the most was thinking “I will never be like that person.” I think that is the greatest lesson learned.

In school we siblings were lucky to be the Chosen One for many of the bullies.  My parents were typical parents in some ways and yet extremely different in others.  Not fashion forward at all.  When puberty hit and there a growth spurt coming, there was no point in buying clothes that you were going to outgrow.  Hand me downs, or clothes that we had outgrown were fine.  Really?  Oh yes, really.  My parents grew up in a village where they were lucky to have shoes in the winter.  Yup,  those were my parents.  We didn’t invite kids from school to our house.  Our parents had us hang out with “our nationality” of people.  There was mass on Sundays (prayed in the “mother tongue”).  During the week we had choir practice (in the “homeland” language).  There were the musical instruments we learned to play (something that resembled a mandolin).  Dance group…yup, you got it:  the folk dancing of our ancestors.  These were all fantastic things to keep their heritage alive in another country.   In hindsight I am very grateful to have had such a wonderful upbringing.  As a child I wanted to break free.  I wanted to be like everyone else.  Why?  Here is the simple equation:

DIFFERENT = MISUNDERSTOOD = CHOSEN ONE

The Chosen One was NOT a good thing.  That meant you were prime target for being picked on.  Did we tell our parents about any of the verbal or physical abuse we received at school?  Heck no!  That would lead you to becoming a bigger outcast because then you were a snitch.  Equation:

SNITCH = UNRELIABLE = CHOSEN ONE

I wonder how my life would have been different if I had all the protection that is available nowadays.  Parents are told everything about what happens in school.  If there is a volatile child doing “bullying activities” they get sent to the principal’s office.  Why?  Due to past indiscretions of previous educators, teachers no longer have the right to say or do anything that will upset the bully.  The bully sits in the principal’s office.  The principal will tell them that what they are doing is wrong (which the bully already knows) and is told that if they reoffend it will lead to suspension or expulsion.  This should remedy the situation right?  In the majority of cases…no.

This system might work if parents would believe that their child is a bully.  However, the parent(s) will not believe any of this malarkey.  Here is how it plays out:

  • Meeting with principal
  • Parent(s) argues that their child is misunderstood and someone or something provoked their child
  • Principal stands firm
  • Parent(s) meets with Superintendent who then overturns the principal’s ruling
  • Game, set, match!
  • Bully returns to class
  • Cycle continues

I believe that what makes matters worse now is that everything is recorded and uploaded to be shared and viewed over and over and over again.  My generation didn’t have to deal with that.  If something happened, people would tell the story and laugh about it, but no one would be able to flash a phone at you and replay the indignation you had to deal with.

How do you get children to understand that their “joke” is not funny?  How can you teach them that it’s wrong to make people feel dumb or ugly when our “reality”  shows are demeaning people all the time.  Children learn by example.  What example is our society providing them with?  Which makes me think about how we survived in our day.

Friends.  I truly believe that whenever you feel down and lonely there will always be that one Chosen One who will be there for you.  You are not alone.  I find it interesting that in a world full of people, there are no human connections.  The connections are made through “text messages” and “likes” and “unlikes” and pictures.  We elders are the examples for our youth and we are constantly texting, e-mailing, talking on the phone and ignoring them, so why would they respect others when they get no respect themselves?  Are we really too busy to spend time with the youth of today?

I will agree that you need to love yourself first.  The reason is simple:  Equation:

LOVE YOURSELF = BARRIER TO BULLIES = HAPPY LIFE

If you can love yourself, then the mean people can’t bring you down.  If you live each day being grateful for something, then the little things won’t depress you.  If you take time to listen to your child and their day, oftentimes it helps you forget about any stress you have had in your day.  Why?  Their distress is usually something that we can resolve.  More often than not, your bit of advice will not only make them feel appreciated and loved, but it will make you feel like a genius!

This was a long one, but I am very passionate about this topic.  What can be done to get rid of the bully.  Are you going to the Chosen One (victim) or the Chosen One (friend)?  The choice is up to you.

Love…

Your friend (The Chosen One)

“Be the friend you always wanted to have.” – Maryann 

Chef…a culinary experiment

I love to cook.  I love to buy colourful foods (vegetables and fruits) and figure out what to make with them.  I love to research (basically “Google” recipes) and try out new things.  I have now expanded my culinary skills to actually NOT following a recipe.  Does that mean I’m a chef?  Well, that is a definition I actually looked up.  Chef means that you cook meals for people.  Yes I do that!  It mentions something about restaurants too…ok, I don’t have a restaurant, but anyone eating at my home and people I work with think I should open one. Very complimentary, but I don’t think I’m quite at that level.  Anyway, in my mind “chef” has a different meaning.  CHEF – Can Have Experimental Food!  Yes, anyone eating my food is my chosen guinea pig to test new things.  Welcome to my thoughts and dissertations on food.

Food.  I could say it’s a love/hate relationship but I would be lying.  I LOVE FOOD!  I love experimenting with new recipes.  I love prepping it.  I love cooking it.  I love eating it.  Notice…there is a lot of love here.  The hate part is…I LOVE FOOD!  Let me explain my absolute food weaknesses…McDonald’s french fries.  I swear those are like crack-cocaine to me.  I don’t do drugs, but these hot little sticklettes make me weak in the knees.  After that or almost neck and neck is pizza.  What kind of pizza?   Hmmmm…thin crust, thick crust, tomato sauce style, white garlic/oil style.  Mozzarella or goat cheese.  Pepperoni or roasted eggplant and zucchini with balsamic drizzle.  To add to my super cholesterol heart-stopping food fest…CHICKEN WINGS!!!!  I am a Wing-nut!!  (In many ways…)  Those are my favourite, unhealthy indulgences.  Do I have an unhealthy relationship with food?  Perhaps…but what relationship is perfect?   Am I right?

History lesson:  when cooking as a child with my mother I got to lick the spinny-things from the hand mixer.  I got to mix the tomato sauce for pasta.  I got to eat pizza dough (oops…that was never supposed to be revealed).  My cooking lessons were as follows:

Mama:  NE TAKO!  (translation:  NOT LIKE THAT!)

Mama:  Sporije!  (translation:  slower!)

Mama:  Ovako.. (translation:  like this…)

Mama:  NE TAKO!  (translation:  NOT LIKE THAT!)

Mama:  Ovako mjesaj  (translation:  Mix like this)

Mama:  NE TAKO! (translation:  NOT LIKE THAT!)

So…there you have my basic cooking lessons.

Oh wait!  There are two more phrases my mother always used:

Mama:  Na umjerenoj vatri (translation:  bake at 350…she actually had to explain what middle heat meant and then I finally realized it was always 350 degrees)

And last but not least:

Mama:  Otprilike (about or approximately).  Yes most recipes had that included.  Any seasonings you were to use like salt or pepper, you were basically guessing how much was needed.  For a newbie learning how to cook that never helped.

So, when I started sharing my knowledge with others I improved the lessons I had received.  I liked to train by smell.  I also did not use measurements (bad teacher), but I would have the meat in a bowl, and then I would cover the tops of the meat with salt or pepper or paprika.  We would mix the meat and then I would ask my “student” to smell.  Yes…you can actually smell salt and pepper and paprika and you could know if there was too much.  Seriously!  Again, for beginners we would start with a few shakes because you can always start with less and add more but you can’t take away if you have added too much.  There.  That is my greatest cooking advice.

Am I a chef?  Yes, in my mind I totally am.  I cook food for people.  I love cooking!  I am practising baking (not quite perfect yet, but it’s all in the learning).  I have the best kitchen with my Wolf Subzero Stove.   I think that people who have tasted my creations can vouch for me.

To summarize…I LOVE COOKING!  I love filling my house with family (approx 20+ people) and cooking and enjoying their reactions to my recipes.  Nervous?  Absolutely!  I want everyone to love it!  Yes…there goes that “love” word again.  Why?   I truly believe that feeding people with food is nourishing, but I also believe that the love that I put into making my food transmits into internal happiness for those who consume it.  Food isn’t just about livelihood, it’s about sharing and caring.

My newest adventure is with old fashioned European foods (lately Italian), and putting my own educated spin on it.  Check out this lovely plain recipe full of flavoured layers and many “oh my this is good” in between bites!  My latest heartfelt and enjoyable culinary experiment.

RECIPE:

1 half baguette

1 large garlic clove

4 tbsp buratta (I think…approximately)

4 tbsp balsamic drizzle (basically balsamic vinegar and honey boiled down for 30 minutes until thickened…”google” for an actual recipe…otherwise…meh…approximately what you think will work)

THERE!  Authentic European recipe.  MANGIA!  (That’s amore…I mean Italian!)

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Toasted french stick bread, rubbed with fresh garlic. Buratta spread on top and drizzled with homemade balsamic drizzle