Wednesday, October 30, 2013

5 years

Lazy Sunday, Gracie-style.
Originally uploaded by Julep67
5 years ago today, Gracie came home with us. She was a tiny, frightened, timid girl. When I carried her into the yard that first time and introduced her to Sam, she started to relax a little.

It took a long time for her to be completely comfortable with us. In her previous home, I think she was yelled at. A lot. She's a sensitive girl and that must have been very difficult for her.

Five years later, she's evolved into a brave, confident girl. Gracie struts around the house and yard with her tail high and swinging. A working dog, she likes to be the boss and tries very hard to herd us whenever she can. She's also very sweet and if she likes you, won't leave your side if she can help it.

Happy Anniversary Gracie. It's been a wonderful five years. Thank you, so much, for adopting us. We love you.

Monday, October 28, 2013

How in the world were they making that sound?

Was so sad over the weekend to hear about the passing of two amazing, talented people:  Marcia Wallace and Lou Reed.

They both died at the age of 71, after periods of poor health.  Marcia was a long-time survivor of breast cancer, Lou had recently received a new liver.  When we heard about Lou Reed yesterday, I thought that perhaps it was another hoax (there was a widespread hoax about his demise in 2001) but sadly, it was true.  They are both gone now but have left us so much to enjoy while we miss them.

Mark shared this on his on his Facebook page and I thought I'd share it here.  Jonathan Richman says it better than any of us ever could.

Monday, October 21, 2013

attempting kindness

Originally uploaded by Julep67
I’ve been exerting a lot of effort lately to be kinder in general and less snarky in particular. I wouldn’t have thought that being generally nicer would have been all that difficult. I realized recently that a lot of what I tweet, or sometimes write here, isn’t very nice. It’s sometimes downright mean and frequently snarky. It’s so easy to react quickly with a negative tweet or snide comment on facebook. Counting to 10 and cooling down a bit before I hit “send” it tough but I am feeling good about it.

A couple of times, very recently, I’ve had many snarky and mean-ish things to say about a couple of local contractors we are working with (one for our home and another is a vendor we use at our income property). I’ve been less than impressed with the customer service I’ve received from both. In one case, the contractor has actually endangered our dogs not once, but twice. Rather than name and shame, for the moment, I’m going to take a page out of the “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” book. Honestly, more often than not in the past, I was more inclined to take a page out of “Steel Magnolia” and live by, “If you can’t say anything nice, come sit by me” instead. I’ll say nothing at all for now, until the issues are dealt with and I can share a complete story, not just a bitter bit in the middle.

Now, rather than rant and rave about how frustrated I am, I thought I share something good instead. We are presently selling our rental property. It’s a great little house in a terrific neighbourhood and we’re had a terrific city councillor, Sandy Berg. Today, I contacted her about an issue with our driveway (the street has been ripped up a couple of times over the last year to allow for water and sewer works). She got back to me almost immediately about the issue and has put in a request with the appropriate folks to get in touch with me about resolving it. How nice was that? Kudos to you Sandy Berg. I think you’re doing a terrific job representing Kingscourt-Strathcona and would like to say thank you for everything you do District 8 in the City of Kingston.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fun For Friday

So yesterday I had a horrible headache. I think part of it was weather related, part of it was not enough caffeine (which I didn't realize until today, d'oh!) and part of it was caused by a noisy leaf blower which was blaring outside my office window all day long!

I resisted taking anything for it because I was afraid I'd fall asleep at my desk and opted to drink lots of water and be as quiet as possible. Late in the afternoon, the leaf blower stopped and my head ache disappeared. Nice!

Today, my head has been fine, I've had a couple of cups of coffee here at work and I've been listening to some fun music from what I can only describe as my guilty pleasures playlist.

Thought I'd share one of my guilty pleasures with you. If this doesn't get you dancing in your seat (or better, on your feet), nothing will!!

Happy Friday & Boogie Oogie Oogie!!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

thank you, sincerely

I know that events like BlissDom Canada need sponsorships to survive. Each year that I’ve attended BlissDom Canada, the sponsors they partner with have impressed me. One which stands out in particular is Chevrolet Canada. In 2011, I won a trip to Orlando, Florida (courtesy of the folks at Visit Orlando and Chevrolet Canada). We planned to take the trip during our regular vacation time during the summer of 2012. Because of Mark’s cancer diagnosis and subsequent surgery, we were unable to make the trip. Both sponsors, upon hearing that we were unable to go, stepped up in a big way. The Visit Orlando folks sent us a huge box of Florida related swag and the Chevrolet Canada folks offered us the use of a Chevrolet Orlando for two weeks anyway. We happily took them up on their offer and, in conjunction with the Taylor Auto Mall here in Kingston, we picked up a shiny new Orlando and drove it around town for 10 days.

When I attended in 2012, again, Chevrolet Canada impressed me. Not only were they an on-site sponsor (providing once again their AMAZING re-charge lounge) but they provided transportation throughout the weekend. I’m always impressed with the friendliness of their staff as well as their generosity. This year, it was nice to see them back at BlissDom Canada, doing all of their amazing sponsor-y things (shuttle service, test drives, re-charge lounge, general awesomeness) AND promoting their wonderful hockey helmet program. I told one of the lovely Chevrolet Canada reps in their booth that the ads I’d seen on television (and I don’t watch many ads) always make me cry. When a big car company can make ME cry over a hockey helmet, they are doing something right! Thank you to Adria MacKenzie and the folks at Chevrolet Canada for everything you do for those of us who participate in BlissDom Canada!

The other sponsor I’d like to thank is Sleep Country Canada. My first interaction with Sleep Country Canada happened last year when I met Christine Magee at registration. Until that moment, all I knew about Sleep Country Canada was that there was a store in the west end of Kingston and they had that oh-so-catchy jingle! I spoke with one of the Sleep Country consultants about pillows and neck pain I was experiencing. I was given valuable advice (and a gorgeous pillow!) which has completely eliminated my neck pain. I also had an opportunity to speak with Christine Magee. We discussed the research her company is doing into sleep disorders and I was very impressed. In the year since that first encounter with Sleep Country Canada, I’ve recommended them to several friends and we do plan to purchase our next mattress from them.

This year, I was happy to see that Sleep Country Canada had returned to BlissDom Canada. I enjoyed chatting again with their representatives and I received an amazing Tempur Pedic pillow as a gift. As soon as I got home, I started using that pillow as a lumbar support when I’m in the living room or at my desk. Until I started using the pillow, I didn’t realize that I was having mild lower back and shoulder pain. The extra support from this tiny pillow has made all the difference in the world for me. These two small items from Sleep Country Canada have definitely improved my physical well-being and I don’t think I would have discovered them had it not been for BlissDom Canada. Thanks so much to Christine Magee and the folks at Sleep Country Canada for supporting this very special conference!

Monday, October 14, 2013

BlissDom Canada, you've literally blown my mind

A little over a week has now passed since the end of BlissDom Canada 2013. This year, more than others, I had a tough time processing everything I learned and experienced over the weekend. Last week, when I returned to the “real world,” I felt very vulnerable. Silly things like commercials or photos I’d see online would cause me to well up far more often than they normally would.

Over the past week and a bit, I’ve not felt very articulate. I’ve started this post many times and have several unfinished versions in my draft folder. If I’m honest, I don’t know if I have the words to describe the change that I’ve been experiencing. I do know though, that those drafts are going to find their way onto these pages in the coming weeks. This particular BlissDom Canada weekend has inspired far more than one post from me this year.

So this isn’t really a wrap up of what happened to me over the weekend, that will come later on. I see this post as a jumping off point for me as I continue to make some changes in my life. For the sake of brevity, I’m going to leave you with three of the many lessons I learned:

1. I have already started making changes in my life. I attended Gillian Duffy’s “Taking that First Step” micro session as I was looking for inspiration to change. I had met Gillian last year at BlissDom Canada and so admired how she was able to box up her life in Canada and follow her bliss around the world. What I discovered during the micro session was that I was already actively making changes in my own life. Speaking with Gillian and the other participants made me realize that I too was being courageous and was actively working to improve things in my own life.

2.It’s okay to say no. The hands on workshop entitled “CHANGE: What Do You Stand For?” with Jennifer Hunter and Tania Carriere reinforced something for me that was very important. Jennifer & Tania reminded me that there are things you need to say “no” to, to leave room for the “yeses.” I don’t think I’m alone in not wanting to say no. I like to think that I am competent, confident and capable. Somewhere along the line, I think I told myself that saying no was equal to admitting I was weak. On some level I knew that this wasn’t true but hearing Jennifer & Tania state it was like a slap in the face and I realized that it’s absolutely okay to say “no” sometimes.

3.Leadership is not how much money you make or what your title is. I feel like I could write an entire book on the things I took away from Drew Dudley’s closing keynote. One of things that resonated most with me was the idea that “Leadership is not how much money you make or what your title is.” Drew was right when he said that most of us don’t want to identify ourselves as being leaders and yet, we are. There was a lot of talk about the power of kindness over the weekend. Personally, I’m trying to be kinder and it’s not always easy to do. Doing positive things for ourselves and for those around us, especially when they aren’t aware that we are doing them, is very rewarding.

Thank you BlissDom Canada, for once again rocking my world and blowing my mind. Thank you to the speakers who inspired me. Thank you to the friends I have made through BlissDom Canada for listening to me, for sharing your stories, for making me laugh, smile and sometimes cry. Thank you, most of all, to the amazing BlissDom Canada team (not to mention their generous sponsors) for doing all of the heavy lifting and creating something really very special and uniquely Canadian.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

happy birthday John

Today would have been John Lennon's 73rd Birthday. It's also his son Sean's 38th birthday.

In honour of their birthday's, I think you should listen to your favourite John and/or Sean song today and celebrate.

In case you were wondering, my favourite John song is "Across the Universe" and my favourite Sean song is "Headlights" (because I'm a sucker for some hand claps).

Happy Birthday Sean and John.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Ready to get my Bliss on

surprise package
Originally uploaded by Julep67
For the third year in a row, I'm getting ready to head off to Blissdom Canada this week. The organizers put in an incredible amount of work for us, securing terrific speakers and wonderful sponsors.

The first time I attended this amazing social media conference, I was very nervous about attending. I had never been to a “blogging” conference before. While I have had this blog for a long time (since around 2000, in various formats), I don’t have much of an audience. Most of the time I know that I’m writing for myself and I’ve always been fine with that. I soon realized that while some of the folks attending were very popular bloggers, most of the folks there would be a lot like me. The time we spend in front of our computers is time spent alone (for the most part). This was an opportunity for me to step out from behind the computer and meet the real people from my online community.

I threw myself into my first Blissdom Canada experience with two feet. I went to breakfast that first morning and introduced myself to anyone who I could make eye contact with and met some wonderful people. When I had a chance to meet Gail Vaz-Oxlade, I got very emotional and tears welled up in my eyes. She took one look at me and said, “What’s going on? There is to be no fucking crying in this room!” and followed that up by giving me a big hug. Toward the end of the weekend, I remember tweeting something along the lines of, “I came to Blissdom Canada wanting to become a better writer and am leaving wanting to be a better person.” To say that I was inspired by the weekend was a huge understatement.

Getting ready for Blissdom Canada in 2012, I was nervous again but really excited. This time I had a better idea of what to expect and had made connections with some people I was looking forward to seeing again. The nerves were still there though. I knew that a lot of the attendees knew each other pretty well and were attending in small groups. I was attending on my own, traveling solo, not part of a posse.

The first night of the conference, I saw a tweet go out from someone who was looking for a dinner buddy. I tweeted back and before I knew it, I was in the hotel lobby getting ready to go for dinner with @AureliaCotta, @5minutesformom and @dorisdays88. After we finished our meal, our small group merged with another group and before I knew it, I was part of a mass of people walking to a party a few blocks away. Definitely not something that I would I have thought I would ever do on my own but Blissdom Canada brings together amazing people and I got swept up in it.

In less than 48 hours, I’ll be traveling to Mississauga to attend my third Blissdom Canada and I can say that the nerves are totally gone and I’m just really excited about going. Instead of traveling by train as I have the past two years, I’m hitching a ride with Sarah of who kindly offered a seat in her car. As I have in other years, I know that I’ll come away from this weekend feeling emotionally exhausted but inspired and happy.

I would say that’s worth getting excited about!