Monday 24 February 2014

A Thousand Words

Photography is something that I have always loved. I love how time is captured with a single click and I am guilty for clicking away, all the time. I love looking at the world through the photographer's eye and discovering something I would never have seen. It could be the smile of an elderly woman, the tear of a child, the contrast of light and shadow on old buildings around the city.  Whatever it is, it tells a story.

Today, technology makes it easier than ever for people to capture images that intrigue them and share them with the world.  I often use my smart phone when inspiration hits and I see something that will become a part of a future story.  But I also have a real camera.  One that I use to freeze moments in my life. And yes, I still print out these shots and lovingly place them in albums.  These albums fill the nooks and crannies of my home and are there when I want to reminisce of days gone by; remembering all the people I have loved and who have passed, of my babies that aren't babies anymore and of all the wonderful places I have seen and touched my soul. 

Each of the photos I take hold meaning for me, whether it be sentimental or inspirational.  What I saw when I took them, what I heard around me, what I smelled, felt and touched - these are all my experiences.  What you see when you look at them may be very different.  

And so, as the saying goes, "every picture tells a thousand words" and I want you to share your word or words with me on any of the photos you see below. 

Photo by Audrey Bresar
Photo by Audrey Bresar

I won't share with you where these were taken... 

Photo by Audrey Bresar
Photo by Audrey Bresar

Or when they were taken...

Photo by Audrey Bresar

Or why they were taken.

Photo by Audrey Bresar

Photo by Audrey Bresar

So what do you see in these that I may have missed? 

Talk to me!  I want to hear what word or words you use to describe one or two or all of these!

Thursday 20 February 2014

Always Go For Gold!

If we learned anything from today’s Women’s Olympic Hockey game, it’s NEVER GIVE UP.

Hearts across our nation dropped, as the U.S. team took an early lead and held on to it for most of this game.  With less than four minutes to go in the third period, our ladies were able to tie the game, suddenly giving hope to Canadians across the globe.  What seemed like a silver medal win instantly became the chance of a lifetime for this team.  Could they win their 4th Olympic gold?  It was well within their reach again.

And win it they did! 
Eight minutes into OT, Marie-Philip Poulin scored the golden goal and cheers for this AMAZING CANADIAN WOMEN’S HOCKEY team were heard around the world. 

Many thought that a win was impossible as the minutes ticked away in the third period.  But this team of amazing women pulled together and made it happen. And there is a story here. 
It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.
Something was restored in the universe today, something that falls under the name of hope and belief.  As long as these live in your heart, anything is possible. Team Canada proved it today.

What a moment!

It was a terrific comeback that will be remembered for years…or at least four!

Now on to the men’s tournament – Okay boys, make sure you play like girls J

TALK TO ME!  Tell me about times when perserverance and hope catapulted you to success?

Monday 17 February 2014

Why Starve When You Can Indulge?

Most wintery, Sunday afternoons are spent sitting under a blanket, in front of the television, searching for something to get lost in that will take my mind off the bitter, cold outside.

Old movies, in black and white or technicolour, usually aid in distracting me from the elements outside my window.  I am a sap for these nostalgic, classic films (thank god for Turner Classic Movies!!!) and when watching them, I am filled with a that same old sentiment of being born in the wrong era.

Today, I fell in love with the 1958 film "Auntie Mame", starring Rosalind Russell. It is based on the novel by Patrick Dennis and tells the story of an orphaned boy who goes to live with his aunt.  Now, without going into a plot synopsis, I'm going to focus on the one repeated and most famous line in the film that seemed to guide Auntie Mama's life.  

"Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!"

The character of Auntie Mame is full of life and she is one spirited soul. There is a brilliance about her that shines through her being.  She sparkles and thrives in living her life to the absolute fullest - travelling, throwing elaborate parties, surrounding herself with interesting people and avoiding becoming, what in her mind is absolutely sinful, stuffy and conventional.

Her exuberance is seen throughout the film no matter what life throws at her and I loved it!  Although many looked at her as frivolous and silly, there was a grace and elegance in her character.  She possessed a worldliness that made her endearing.  As I watched this character tell her story, I couldn't help but think that this is how I want to live.  

This concept, this idea, of living life to your fullest is not a new one.  It has been around for decades and both the young and old share this advice with family and friends daily.  If we take a look at history, this is most visible during the 1920's, when decadence and self indulgence was at its peak. In the wake of World War 1, society changed.  People threw caution to the wind and everything seemed possible after years of despair. This new social attitude was a welcome relief to the general populous. But somehow, this outlook on life gets lost after a while, either because of a world disaster or, more personally, because of the everyday BS that fills the hours of our days.  We get sucked into this vortex and forget to "eat".

I want to be more like Auntie Mame, stuffing myself at life's banquet table until my sides burst, savouring every appetizer, delighting in each entree and devouring every single morsel of sinful dessert.  It shouldn't be that difficult to do if we keep things in perspective, if we keep a sense of adventure, if we focus on our own happiness and keep our souls hungry. 

So I think my next life meal will consist of a wonderful appetizer of fun, an exciting entree of adventure and a wanton dessert that tickles my insides. All, of course, paired with an extravagant glass of effervescent champagne...because this girl deserves a glass at every meal.

Every girl needs a glass of bubbly
Photo by Audrey Bresar

Talk to me!  What does your life banquet look like?

Thursday 13 February 2014

Happy Valentine's Day....Now Get Out!

Nine years ago, one day after witnessing two close friends profess their undying love for each other, on what is deemed the "most romantic" day of the year, I took a good look at the person I married and said, "I've had this all wrong.  I have been waiting for you to decide whether you love me enough to stay when it should be me who decides.  Happy Valentine's Day, now get out!"

Best. Valentine's Day. EVER.

For the record, I am the biggest advocate for love and romance and would never begrudge a happy couple their constant euphoric state.  In fact, I still hold eternal hope in my heart that I will find my forever after with a man who adores and cherishes me every day of the year, not just February 14th.  And I believe I will find it, however daunting it may seem at the moment.  

What I realized that particular Valentine's Day was I deserved better than what I was being given and I was letting it happen to me.  It was an empowering moment, as I mentioned in my previous post, Pivotal Moments. That realization hit hard as I watched one of my closest childhood friends say "I Do" to her best friend.  He looked at her with unwavering love that oozed from his soul.  His eyes lit up when she floated into the room and continue to light up to this day.  Individually, both are amazing but, together they are a perfect blend of everything you read about in stories. No matter how dark the day is, the sun shines for them.  No matter how few pennies they have, they have an abundance. They hold each other up when they stumble and lift each other up when they fall. Two souls that found each other and will never part. I was in awe and when I figured out that I could have this too, my mind was made up. 

That Valentine's Day, instead of shedding tears for what I didn't have, I decided it was time to fall in love with me again. I finally saw my worth through their vows. Something clicked inside me. It wasn't anything they purposely did. They were just in LOVE and wanted to be in love.  And that gave me hope.

So this Valentine's Day, I am holding up a glass and toasting all the couples in my life who have weathered the tempestuous waters of life, who continue to see the worth in one another and who continue to choose to share their life with a person that makes them better today than yesterday.  

love. Love. LOVE.  Ain't it grand?

Talk to me!  Love is more than chocolates and roses, what does it mean for you?

Monday 10 February 2014

Remember Me When I No Longer Remember You

Watching someone you love deteriorate in front of you is painful.  

My grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s just over a year ago and the past few months have been heart wrenching to see this once strong, determined and independent woman become a shell of her old self.  Now let me preface all this by saying, she is almost 90 and has certainly lived a full life but it still doesn’t make watching this any easier.  This is such a horrible, degrading, unapologetic disease and it affects the people around just as much. Yesterday, she struggled as I helped her put on a sweater and boots.  The simplest things we take for granted, like how to put our arms through a sleeve and slide our feet into shoes, was lost.  I also see how this has infiltrated my mother and her sibling’s lives.  How entrenched in my grandmother’s life they have become, taking care of her every need.  I see the frustration in their faces and despair in their hearts.  They get angry, they cry, they yell and they love because it is all they can do.  My grandmother still remembers us but can’t remember that she just spoke with you five minutes ago.  But there will come a time when she will look at our faces and not recognize that we are the ones that filled her life, caused her joy and felt her love. 

Both grandmothers were afflicted with this disease and it got me thinking that maybe this is what I have ahead of me, what my children will have to deal with when I am old and grey.  They are too young to fully understand what is happening to my grandmother right now and I don’t know if they will remember how it affected all of us.  I am using this post to write them a letter, one that hopefully they will never have to read, should the day come when I don’t remember them.

My beloved children,

I am writing this letter to many years before you will ever see it. The children I see in front of me today are young, vibrant and filled with a curiosity about the world that I hope will never end. This letter will be read by a man and woman, well into their mid lives, with families and responsibilities of their own; a man and woman of whom I am sure I will be proud.

My life has been filled with the overflowing love I have for you both. I wanted you before I knew you and now can’t imagine not knowing you. But alas, there may come a time when I look into your eyes and not recognize the twinkle that I have come to adore so much. There may come a time when I will think you are just two kind strangers who love me. I may not remember your laugh or your smile, what your name is or how wonderful our lives have been. What I want you to know is that you both have made my life complete, filled it with a joy and happiness that I could never have imagined. My love for you will always be in my heart even if I can’t remember it in my mind. It is out there, as energy, in the universe and you will always feel it, no matter what.

Should a time arise when I start forgetting all that my life has meant, I have but three wishes for you to remember.  Please remember all the times I have been patient with you and be patient with me.  Do not get angry with me or resent me for what I have become through old age.  It is not who I was, nor who I wanted to become.  Remember that I have lived my life for you and don’t expect you to live yours for me. Yes, I want you to spend time with me, love me and be gentle with me but I don’t want you to take care of me.  This is a burden I never want you to experience.  I want to leave this world with my dignity intact and yours not tarnished by having to bear witness to my deterioration.  And finally, don’t feel guilty for choices you are faced with where I am concerned.  Make them with love and stand by them, knowing that I would understand. I trust you both and know that the bond we have cemented throughout our lives will carry us through this difficult journey. 

I hope that there will never come a time when I don’t remember what our life together was like or how much I love you. I hope I am always aware of what you mean to me because the thought, today, of not remembering, tears my soul apart.
But for today, at least, I will remember.

Yours forever,

Talk to me!  The thought of forgetting all that my life was, scares me...maybe this is why I write.  How do you keep all your memories alive?

Thursday 6 February 2014

Life Lessons from Being a Mom

I found out I was pregnant with my first child on September 11, 2001, just as the Twin Towers came down through a horrible act of terrorism.

I listened to the doctor congratulate me, as the school's principal where I worked, ran into the building, in a frenzy, "The world is coming to an end...oh my goodness...oh my goodness" I hung up the phone, trying to make sense of all of this. We turned on the television and I watched in horror. In one day, the world, as we knew it and understood it, changed.

Not even 30 minutes passed before parents began arriving to collect their children. All had tears in their eyes and hugged their babies and held them close. Fear made them stop in their tracks and gather the things that really mattered to them.

I didn't know what was going to happen next. All I knew was a child was going to be born into a different world than the one I had lived in.

I have never taken being a mother for granted. Never. Not once. It is an incredible gift that I was fortunate to be given. My children are my reasons; they are the stars, the moon, the sun and my universe. I am here to guide them and help them realize their full potential.

Funny thing is, while I have been doing that, they have taught me lessons I would have probably never learned had they not been part of my life.

Lesson #1 - Now, I know what it means to love unconditionally. There is no one else in this world that I would lay down my life for or walk to the ends of the Earth for. No matter how upset they make me, no matter how frustrated I become with them, the fact is I love them. And because of this, I have changed how I deal with upset and frustration. As a single mom, I get to play both good cop and bad cop, so I have to be careful how I handle these roles.  My children know, without a doubt, that when "bad cop” mom rears her head, it isn't because she doesn't love them, it's because she is unhappy with their behaviour. This leads to lesson number two.

Lesson #2 - I have learned to be careful with my words. Words are powerful weapons and sting more than anything. They last. Once said, they are out there forever, lingering in the air and in the deep corners of our minds. They haunt and torment us, hidden in our subconscious and manifest themself in our darkest hours. I tell my children I love them, every day. I tell them I am proud of them, every day. I tell them they can be anything they want, every day. I shout out their accomplishments and I acknowledge their defeats, with kindness and encouragement. They know that I don't care if they fail, what is important is that they are happy with their own attempt.

Lesson #3 - Slow down. This one was not so much learned but forced upon me. Kids are kids and essentially don't see the urgency in EVERYTHING the way adults do. The take their time to envelop themselves in their surroundings, noticing all the little nuances we, as adults, miss. This becomes abundantly clear when we are on vacation. You see, mama bear always had an itinerary to follow and, inevitably, one (or both or all three of us) would end up in tears. Slowing down means you get to see the world through their eyes and smell the roses. And believe me, it's incredible!

Lesson #4 - Play is good! Play leads to laughter and laughter leads to memories, great memories. I used to be so focused on the full basket of laundry or the dust that blanketed all surfaces of my house. Every weekend would be about cleaning and running errands.  Then one day, exhausted from the usual hustle and bustle, my son asked me why I didn’t like to play.  That was when it hit me! I didn’t want him to remember me like that. The mad woman who ran around tucking in chairs, washing floors, dusting furniture, folding laundry and ensuring everything was just so. It wasn’t until my son articulated those words that I realized when I was doing all this “stuff”, I was losing precious moments with my children that I would never get back (mind you, after the incredible insight my 4 year old gave me, I wondered how much I had already missed!) Now we play. We sing. We dance. Every weekend. Fun, silly stuff. Stuff that they will remember with a smile when I am long gone.

Lesson #5 – You can’t change what has happened. I used to walk around with an overwhelming sense of guilt that my children were part of a statistic that stated 1 in 3 marriages fail and that they would grow up in a divorced home. I hated that they wouldn’t be able to see what a functional, loving and respectful relationship was between a man and woman.  They wouldn’t see what it meant to be someone’s other half.  But one needs to be whole before you can be part of another’s life.  And that was what I was learning.  I told this to my friend years ago, while sipping wine at the dining table.  I thought my daughter was so entranced in her activity but she overheard my comment.  “But Mom, you are showing us how to be independent and strong. It doesn't matter what happened before.”  Lesson learned. Loud and Clear.

This is why I love my kids so much.  And I am sure that as the years pass, I will accumulate many more lessons to add to this list.

Talk to me!  What lessons from your children have you learned in your journey?

Monday 3 February 2014

Love is An Action Verb

Technology scares the hell out of me!  Create a webpage? Tweet? Post? All these things were completely foreign to me but I prevailed!  I am still learning every day but am so much further than when I began.  

The wonderful thing about this blog is that it fully immersed me in the world of social media and I have encountered a plethora of new friends and acquaintances.  Some, like my main gal Beth, took me under their wing and helped me navigate these strange waters.  She introduced me to many other forums and bloggers and I feel as though we have known each other for years, even though we have never met or even spoken live! Beth writes her own blog, which is A M A Z I N G!  Her voice is true and resonates with everyone. I love her candour, shoot from the hip style and sense of humour that comes through the screen. Check her out at Writer B is Me.

I have also had the opportunity to chat with people who felt that my words have spoken to them, given them some insight into their otherwise stressed and hectic lives. My chats have involved everything from writing to raising kids to being a single mom to mending broken hearts.

One of the most poignant discussions I have had with many is how do you keep love alive? How do you keep the intimacy strong? It is something I struggled with in both my relationships.

Couples often forget to grow in their relationships and marital issues are a direct result of that. Women become so busy raising their children and lose sight that they are women first.  Men are so preoccupied with being the provider that they are too tired at the end of the day to engage. Couples become so intertwined in the family and picture perfect life that they forget to make time for each other as a couple and on their own as individuals.

In a nutshell, they fall out of love with themselves which as you know, is what my blog is all about: my journey of falling for me again and to never fall out of love with myself, no matter what life throws at me.

Now, I am not a Ph.D but I had life experience and my share of broken hearts, all of which, I have discovered, stemmed from not loving myself first. We all need to nurture ourselves and remember to focus inward so we can project better outwardly. These are just my learnings and are not meant to be strategies for the general populous. Everyone has a different coping mechanism that works for them and I would never suggest that what is good for me is good for you.

A wise old woman once told me that a relationship is like a garden. Unless you take the time to water it, feed it and occasionally pull out the weeds, it will wither away and die. How often you care for this garden shows your commitment to it and that is how it will sustain a life of its own.

The one piece of advice I can share that I have learned over the years is expectations ruin relationships.  Let things evolve organically.  When you put expectations out there, people will never measure up to your standards.  Acceptance is a better tool to use to maintain a healthy garden.

Talk to me! How do you ensure that you never fall out of love with yourself?