Monday, March 28, 2016

WELCOME BACK BIG GUY!

I didn’t have much of a voice when I woke up this morning. I felt a tickle in the back of my throat all day yesterday but figured I’d survived the copious amounts of screaming I did Saturday night relatively unscathed. Before your mind steamrolls you completely into the gutter, it's not what you're thinking. I simply headed south for a Garth Brooks concert.

I’ll start by saying that I am probably one of the largest concert goers I know. The other thing that I’ll disclose is that in most cases I head to the majority of the events on my own. Once the kids left the nest, there was nothing stopping me from heading into the City, at the drop of the hat, for a night of amazing entertainment. I started taking the sport seriously about 5 years ago and suffice is to say my Ticketmaster account is my friend.

Did you know it's been 19 years since Garth Brooks toured  in Canada?
TAKEN: MARCH 26th, 2016
So, when my phone alerted me that a small section of seats were released late last Thursday afternoon (for the 2016 Garth Brooks World Tour) I instantly sensed my credit card starting to vibrate in my wallet and my online password begging to be used. 

Once logged on, how could I resist? 

With that Ticketmaster blue dot shinning right back I me, I felt blessed that she was the only one left.  I clicked my mouse to instantly purchase the perfect onesie. You know the seat: that one perfect ticket that’s always alone in a prime spot but meant especially for someone like me... A die hard, concert going, fanatic!

As a person that over thinks and over analyzes everything, if there's one thing mid-life has taught me, is the less you think about something the more fun you'll have. I'm not a risk taker, anything but. Though, over time, I have evolved into a person who has no issue seizing a moment when it feels right.

My added bonus to grabbing my last minute onesie on the fly? In all the thousands of dollars I have spent over years on varying concert experiences, I have never felt the energy around me as I did Saturday night. His words and showmanship made me feel like he was singing for/to/and directly at me, the entire performance.

Well, me, and 19,999 other fans. All of whom I figure couldn't talk this morning either!

Thanks, Garth. A mere 19 years later... Canada still truly loves you.

Friday, March 25, 2016

WE BROKE UP VIA TEXT!

It’s official. I am definitely a sucker for punishment.

For those of you that are new to reading here; since 2013 I have participated in an international blogging challenge called April A-Z. In a nutshell, I have to blog about a letter of the alphabet every single day (excluding Sundays) for the entire month of April.

I’m not sure why I waited until the 11th hour to officially make my decision to participate. I guess it's because deep down inside I wasn’t sure I wanted to. You see, last year it definitely took a toll. I was away (in Samana, DR) with shitty WI-FI trying to write and post in real time on the fly. It was extremely frustrating, an all-around awful week away, and it showed in my offerings.

I suppose you could say that because I don't write for a living, I wasn't sure I wanted to jeopardize my 10 day vacation, not to mention once again own the grueling task of writing 26 posts in 30 days. I guess you can say that for the first time since I started this electronic journal, found me sitting on the proverbial blogging fence. I have little to no stress in my life, why in the hell would I go looking for it?!

It's simple. It is the one specific time thoughout the year that I enjoy the specific forum of connecting and meeting other bloggers. By participating I see my largest increase in readership within those 30 days, so the stress of participation does have its perks.

So, my goal this year is to have a stress-free experience and I am confident our arrangement will work out. You seem I sent a text to my stress and ended our relationship specifically on my terms, then blocked them from communicating with me after.

What? Isn’t that how you dump someone today? ...Via BBM, WhatsAp, iChat, Facebook, or a simple text message?

If not, DO NOT tell my stress.

...I hit send, bolted, then landed in my very cool happy place to which they do not have a forwarding address!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

PROOF IS IN THE PUDDIN’

As you know, today’s the first day of spring. So, with the blinds open before 8am and the sun beaming in, my day got off to an earlier than normal Sunday morning start. With the side & back yards becoming the place where world famous mud pies could be made, I knew that I needed to wash the floors. An expected dog maintenance task that will happen a couple of times a week until things dry up.

Puddin' rocking the downtown Bracebridge drive!
TAKEN: MARCH 20th, 2016
Shortly after noon, with my chores complete, I needed to run a couple of errands. Because my husband didn't want to miss out on the fun, we decided to take the dogs. He drove and I managed the behaviour of my three pups in the back seat. 

We are currently looking to replace our Ford Explorer that we sold, so if you can envision two adults and three larger than average sized dogs in my wee Mazda 6... It’s pretty hilarious.

How funny? Today I noticed with everyone out and about, that they had a general expression of joy in their faces as we passed; walkers, runners and even riders. As the dogs hung out the windows of my glamourized upholstered skateboard, total strangers instantly felt a 'spring has sprung' connection. Some waved, some yelled hello, most just simply grinned from ear to ear as we passed them by.

I don't know about you but I absolutely love when spring is in the air. For me, it’s like a switch gets flipped. Each and every year I brace myself to get hammered by the time change, then a week later I pack up my happy lights and tuck them away until the fall. As silly as it sounds, the natural light that spring provides me is right up there with really great sex.

...It’s simply euphoric.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

TODAY... WE REMEMBER BLAIR

It's a given that most people think of today as St. Patricks Day. I suppose until 2011, I did too. It just so happens that 5 years ago today, one of the great ones answered their call and as a result my friend Blair McLaren passed away.

I know that name won’t specifically resonate with the majority of my readers but trust me when I write that he was a very well respected businessman. Though not where his career would end, when I was growing up, he and his wife owned the local sporting goods store affectionately known as McLaren Sports.

Myself & Blairs' daughter Sarah.
TAKEN: APRIL 1983
If I close my eyes, I can remember the day I sat in their store and he outlined my feet for a custom made pair of John Kenbli skates. I was so excited I was floating, and of course my mother was being my mother.

Though I remember the ordeal as embarrassing, I distinctly remember their conversation. He explained the manufacturing process & lead time, then they talked of why the price was the price. As he answered all of her questions, in an nano-second he earned her complete and unconditional trust. He promised never to disclose to my father the money she’d spent in his store on my fateful day; he never did. 

Over time, teaching their daughters to skate, led me to babysitting for him and his wife. I also remember it was the end of an era when they closed the store to focus on building a corporate family business ~ aptly named McLaren Press. What his wife and girls don't know is that 20 years later, when I opened IDP Muskoka in 2004, Blair and his brother Scott were one of my very first calls. After all, every new marketing agency with a solid business plan, needs a great trade printer.

I remember the meeting. It started with Scott (who lived across the street at the time) then he called in Blair. Much to my surprise, the two of them made me an offer to join their team 24 hours later. Though I declined, Blair always remembered the fire in my belly and my overall vision; he truly supported the concept of women leading in business.

Even with life being as busy as it was, no matter when I ran into him, he never hesitated to stop and ask me how I was doing. Never rushed nor forced. He was always genuine and very happy for me.

Funny thing is...? All these years later I still have those skates. Matter a fact I cherish them. Always have. Always will. So, tonight, I ask you to raise your green beer, glass of wine, or a glass of water to Blair.

Loving husband, wonderful father, grandfather, employer, friend. He may be gone but most definitely will never be forgotten.

Cheers, Blair...Thanks for the memories.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

APPARENTLY, I HAVE AN ISSUE?

A few months ago I was involved in a labour forecasting meeting where I was introducing a new weekly reporting mechanism I’d designed using Google Docs. In preparing to begin my demonstration, my Goggle+ profile (which you all see when you read here, comment on our Facebook page, or read my Tweets) popped up for me to log into. Without missing a beat, my Boss quickly asked… “What’s with the shades?!”

I vaguely explained that my profile pic's a very symbolic selfie that was taken at a time when I could feel my life changing. It was right around that time I began my electronic journal and as a result it has stayed with me this entire time. That said, I may have told him the story of the day I took the picture but I neglected to tell him that when it comes to me and sunglasses, I may have a wee bit of an issue.

Sporting my newest UV acquisition from last Friday.
TAKEN: MARCH 13th, 2016
If I recall, it started when I was in high school. Like most girls my age, I worked part-time and enjoyed something very exciting called disposable income.

By way of my personality, I knew early on that I would never occupy the proverbial “buy the shoes” lane. Yet, I discovered quickly that without incurring a boat load of expense, a pair of sunglasses could make the most amazing fashion statement. (That, combined with the fact that Corey Hart rocked the Billboard charts with Sunglasses At Night, sealed my 30+ year fate.)

Long story short. I had to scoot into the city last Friday to renew my passport. So, when my mission was accomplished I took it upon myself to do a little shopping. Almost eight hours later, I arrived home with two very small purchases. A new bathing suit and another pair of sunglasses. I could tell when I showed them off to Staccs, she really wasn’t impressed. I explained to her, what I have always believed to be true: some women like shoes but I am magnetically and compulsively attracted to a great concert ticket and sunglasses.

This morning, as I gushed over my new specs, she felt the need to share that she'd spoken of me to her father when I wasn't around. She admitted that when she and her father were in our local grocery store yesterday (that offers optical services) she spied a really neat pair of flashy colourfully tinted reading specs she thought I’d love. She mentioned to her Dad that she thought they should pick them up for me. It was at that point my daughter told me that my husband stopped and turned to her with a matter a fact attitude. “When it comes to sunglasses… Your mother has issues” he said.

I don't want to disclose how many pairs of sun specs I have, except to say that my husband bought me a 5 gallon tote and lid this weekend and mentioned that it may be time to for me to increase my storage.

I told him to use his comical (albeit much needed gesture) for his vintage album collection!!

I am pleased to report his albums have found a very safe haven,

Sun accessory issues my ass!!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

IS IT TIME TO SINK OR SWIM?

Don’t you find it interesting that the majority of our conversations begin with a mention that leads to a discussion about the weather? Perhaps I notice it more than most, because where I come from,  the weather influences everything from your mood to your ability to earn a year round living.

Keeping that in mind, as I was telling my BEF (best electronic friend) how excited I am that spring had sprung, they in turn commented that Muskoka still looked like a frozen tundra. I didn’t want to ask them if they were sniffing glue but I’m not gonna lie, thank goodness I have a filter because that very thought immediately entered my head. Frozen tundra? For crying out loud, the ice is sinking!

So, with that as our carpool chit-chat topic for the ride home, I asked the Sweeny-Meister to pull over so that I could hold up my phone to prove to the electronic naysayer that spring was most certainly here. She did, I clicked away, then immediately sent my pics. Then, when I got home, I downloaded them onto my office hard drive and this particular photo really resonated with me.

This bridge is the prettiest thing left at the old Tamwood Lodge site
 ~ on Lake Muskoka
TAKEN: MARCH 10th, 2016
When I spied this photo, I couldn't help but focus on the bridge. My point was to prove the ice was melting, yet I couldn't help but wonder... 'Is the bridge at her limit, or is she stronger than ever?'

My glass half empty tells me she's cooked. My glass half full has a much different opinion which is probably why I was reflective. 

My glass half full knows what she's been though and that she's fought very hard for herself these last 5 years. In the midst of a lot of change happening, she still remains firmly in place. Can she hang in there and endure the lakes opening one more time? Does she really even want to hang on? Or, would she rather give up and let it all go?

Just like any strong woman, only she knows those answers. For what it's worth, I think she's experienced the worst of what she's been handed & she should hope for the best as the seasons change once again.

Afterall, though she stands alone, she represents the end of a beautiful time in Muskoka.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

MY BONFIRE BEAUTY

This past Monday morning, the local radio station asked for people to call or post with what their personal telltale sign is that Spring is on it's way. A segment later, the morning guy announced that one fella posted he knows it's Spring because the roads are wet. Then, he immediately followed with a report of a lady posting that she knows it's Spring because her cat gets hyper.

As I prepared to turn on my hair dryer, I stopped in my tracks and burst out laughing. My quick change in demeanor got the attention of my three pups (that were occupying the powder room with me). I looked at them and joked..."Hey, you're looking at a woman with needs here. My cat gets hyper every Spring too!"

How do I get Dottie to pose?
Chicken wieners work every time!
TAKEN: MARCH 5th, 2016
For what it's worth, the dogs didn't think it quite as funny as yours truly and they couldn't figure out why the hell I was laughing hysterically so early in the morn.

Truth is, it was a stellar Monday morning moment after a truly amazing weekend. The weather kept me outside and it was mild enough to have a backyard bonfire late Saturday afternoon.

I love a great bonfire and so do my pups. With Dot aging quickly, I find myself picking certain activities that she enjoys just in case she gets called up to serve as a lifetime memory sooner than later. As you know, all dogs go to heaven, so I know she'll have no shortage to keep her herding instincts keen... Truthfully, it's us I'm really worried about.

As our Saturday afternoon festivities progressed, I posted to Twitter and sent a photo to my favourite electronic friend. It showed her bundled up in her blanket, on her very own Muskoka chair, to keep her  hips off the cold ground and basking our attention. Just look at that face, how could you not want to go out of your way and spoil that girl? Exactly!

As you can tell, more than usual, I will be capturing and hording memories...

After all, that's what we do with those we cherish and unconditionally love... Isn't it? 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

NO HUGS REQUIRED!

Well, this past week signified the week that I would have normally gotten on a plane, had I not already been away the first week of December and am booked to head out again the first week of April. 

This time last year, I had regrets when our American friends headed out of the snow drifts of Wisconsin without us but this year I could have sworn I felt differently. Though I'm genuinely sad that I didn’t wake up this week on a beach in Jamaica (to relax and ring in my girlfriends 40th birthday) I had to be realistic; there's only so much time and less than that left in the budget. Even understanding those two critical factors, from the moment their Facebook page alerted me that they’d boarded their flight, I immediately longed to return, for a third time since 2012, to Jamaica.

As silly as this may read, I realized this past week, that I discovered myself in Negril. When I type that, I should clarify that I don’t care who you are, nothing prepares you for mid-life. Never once did anyone ever warn, nor offer me the proverbial handbook, of what to do with my time and energy once my children moved on. As a result, I quickly found myself lost. Which in turn landed me at a personal crossroads, accompanied by a full blown identity crisis.

You can't visit Jamaica and not land at Rick's Cafe. AMAZING!
TAKEN: MARCH 2nd, 2012

That said, to add salt to my wounded wanderlust this past week, I ended up chatting with a specific friend that was in my inner circle at the time of my fateful trip of self-discovery four years ago. If there's one thing I've realized in hindsight, it’s that when you allow people to see even a hairline crack of discord in your life, human nature has them use that as leverage for their own agenda.

I won’t elaborate any further except to say that once I got home from my 2012 Jamaica trip, it wasn’t long before I closed myself off from their negativity toward me and their opinions about the direction my life may or may not go. I was shocked last week they typed… “Something tells me that you’re never going to let me forget that time.” 

My answer? Abbsa-friggin’-lootley!!

I’ll never forget that very painful time. Matter a fact, I don’t want to forget. If I do, then those exact hairline cracks of negativity and control will slowly reappear. My biggest fear is that they will once again purposefully chip away at my self-confidence, which in hindsight was devastating. 

Bull crap aside... Happy Anniversary, to me. Just like the day I landed at Rick's Cafe in 2012, when it comes to navigating mean people, my mind has arrived where my determination will always be. Hear me roar when I say that I will never return to a place where I allow any person, friend and/or family member to manipulate my thoughts again.

Because let's face it. Any and all of them thar thoughts are exactly that... MINE!