Thursday 29 May 2014

One of My Most Wonderful Gifts

Twelve years ago I was introduced to the first person who would transform my life forever. A person who would teach me things I never dreamt I would learn. Someone whose tears and pain would cut through my heart like a knife. Someone whose smile would take away all my pain and upset the moment I saw it. A wonderful human being whose humility, kindness, grace and soul is unlike anyone I have ever met. 

At 11:20 pm on May 29th 2002, I was blessed with the greatest gift I had ever received in my life, my daughter. 

She took her time coming into the world and this should have been a clue to her personality. Even when she arrived, she didn't do so with a hearty scream. No, my daughter took her time to let the world know she was finally here. Her arrival marked one of the two most important days in my life. 

There is an easiness that she carries within her. Life is to be enjoyed...slowly. And slowly she does. At times her more relaxed nature bats heads with my more rushed way of life. Nothing is urgent for her. Nothing is pressing. Moments for her are savoured one by one, whether it's eating a meal, reading a book or brushing her hair. And I absolutely love this about her. 

She possesses a gentleness that will amaze you. Children, animals and adults respond to her with trust and affection. Her heart is large and she ensures that everyone is okay. I remember walking with her one afternoon when she was about four. We had passed a man sitting on the side of the road with a sign and coffee cup asking for money in what had become hard times for him.  A few feet beyond the man she spotted something and let go of my hand running to pick it up. It was a penny. Turning around with the biggest smile, she ran back toward me stopping in front of this man and dropped the penny in his cup. This man looked at her with tears in his eyes. I was blown away. This is who my daughter is. 

Far from being a drama queen, she does like to inject a bit of flavour to the things she does. This past Mother's Day she gave me a handmade card but before doing so had to set up the "how".  As I sat on the sofa, she walked toward me, iPod in hand, blaring the Katy Perry song "Unconditionally". My life at that moment became a musical. With tears in my eyes, I embraced her as she told me, that like the song, she loved me unconditionally. How did I luck out and be blessed with such an incredible child? Her actions are beyond anything I could ever imagine.

Although she is quiet by nature, she possesses a strong voice and has convictions that drive her. She advocates for justice and candour and will not tolerate lies and deceit. When her brother gets into trouble, she cries. Peace and harmony is what she wants to surround herself in and tries to create an environment where this is possible.

So today, I thank the heavens above for allowing me to be part of this wonderful child's life. Happy birthday my sweet, sweet baby girl. Momma loves you more than the sun, the moon and the universe. 

Talk to me! Who in your life has touched your soul in a way like no other?  

Monday 26 May 2014

Refreshing the Soul with a Bit of Paint

This past weekend was gorgeous! It has only been the second weekend since spring sprang that has been filled with sunshine, warmth and an overall sense of aaaahhh! And what did I do? I spent it INSIDE.

Knowing that my daughter was camping this weekend, I figured I would take advantage of having only one child around and start the redecorating I had been putting off. So I made arrangements with my wonderful aunt to embark on this little project. Had I known it was going to be as beautiful as it was, I may have postponed. In the end I'm glad I didn't. This was a long time coming. 

I've been in my home for just over five years. I remember the day I found this little gem of a condo. As soon as I walked in I knew this had to be mine. And mine it became. I moved in four weeks later and slowly filled this space with pieces of me. 

For the most part, the main living space and kitchen have stayed the same. It was easy to inject who I am in these rooms. It was the bedroom I struggled with. You see my bedroom not only serves as the place I go to lay my head; it also serves as my workspace. And I couldn't figure out how to make the two work. 

For the past few months, I have been scouring magazines, paint samples, furniture catalogue and I finally made a decision. It was quiet obvious once I figured it out. As most of you wonderful readers know, I have this overwhelming desire, this insatiable craving to move to Paris. Well, I can't move to Paris at the moment but why not bring a bit of that Parisian flair to me? And so the plans for redecorating began about a month ago. 

I wanted airy, I wanted romantic, I wanted beautiful. First was the colour. I had to cover the dull light purple walls that surrounded me. Choosing a colour is extremely difficult. I love colour; from warm yellows to midnights blues. How on earth would I decide? I ruled out all the dark, saturated colours filled with intense hues. I wanted a blissful paradise. Usually I'd veer towards my favourite colour or a variation of it but red was opposite of the feel I wanted. The colour had to be light and fresh. And then I saw it. A photo of a bedroom that had the most intricate wall paper behind the bed. It had beautiful drawings of birds all set against a lovely shade of blue. That was the colour I wanted. It called to me and would fit perfectly into my vision. 

A couple of weeks prior I had gone shopping for new bedding and purchased very simple white on white duvet with tiny silver squares strewn across. This fit in fabulously with my Parisian theme. There is something very sophisticated about white bedding. 

Over the past few weeks, I have also purchased a few other items for this transformation. A set of grey bamboo sheets that are softer than anything I have ever felt before. I also found a beautiful cast iron head board in a very elegantly scrolled design painted in antique white (to be delivered this week) The last item that I found was a lamp with a very plain glass base and turquoise shade. Little by little my room, my sanctuary, is coming together.  Next on my list are curtains and new dressers. 

I am finally feeling as though this room says Audrey. I was always hidden in there but something wasn't right. It dawned on me when I started planning. This room, although I lived in it, still had my past lingering in it. The furniture belonged to my ex and despite my purging everything that screamed him, the bedroom furniture was something I never even thought to rid myself of. It was just furniture. It wasn't until I rediscovered who I am did I feel the need to get rid of it. Perhaps that is why I waited to redecorate.

My first night in the newly painted room with new bedding and some wonderful new accessories felt refreshing. I can't wait to finish it.

Talk to me! What space in your home is a total reflection of who you are? Which room are you just itching to change and why?

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Deer Caught in the Headlights? Not me!

I can hear the sound of my heart pounding in my ears and with every second that passes it quickens. My hands are clammy and my breathing is erratic. My skin crawls with the anticipation of what is going to happen next. I have no idea. And the unknown is scaring the hell out of me. But I'm not a deer caught in the headlight kinda girl. I feel the fear and forge through it, catapulting myself further then I ever thought possible. Standing face to face with this numbing emotion, I stare it down and inevitably win in the end. 

Life is full of moments where we are faced with a decision, where the unknown could be a multitude of possibilities. Some people become crippled by this and choose to continue to live their life status quo, never venturing off the path guaranteed to be dull and mundane. As I look back at my life, I can identify these pivotal moments where fear stood in my way. It was when the adrenaline started pumping that I could feel movement forward into the unknown. 

When my marriage was dying it's slow and painful death, I was scared. I had two small babies and was still on maternity leave. Fear crippled me and in order to keep things moving along smoothly I became the scapegoat for everything that was wrong in our relationship. He knew that I was scared and used it to his advantage. It took a long time for me to even think about leaving. What would happen to me? To my kids? How would I survive? When I finally mustered up enough strength and courage to suggest we split up he offered me an alternative. Stay and we would live separate lives, this way it would be easier financially. For one brief, fleeting moment I actually entertained this thought. It was safe but I had more respect for myself than to stay in a loveless marriage. I chose the unknown. I left with no job, living in cramped quarters at my parents and had very little self esteem. I didn't let fear stop me. In fact, I think it made me more determined to succeed. 

Now I've always been the type to jump in head first and then figure it out. For me fear has always been the catalyst for pushing the limits, MY limits. In the wake of my new found singledom, I became a survivor. I embarked on a new business career with no business training whatsoever. I was terrified I'd fall but the fear made me actively search for ways to stay standing up. And I did. 

Now I am once again faced with an uncertain future and fear is rearing it's ugly head once more. I took one day to acknowledge that fear, even succumb to it. 24 hours was all it received. I still don't know what the future will hold but I have already started spinning my wheels. If nothing changes then I will be ecstatic but I am also over the moon that I still have the energy to carve a new path that will be better than before. 

Fear shouldn't be debilitating. We allow this emotion to become bigger in our mind than it actually is. LIFE is what we should see as big and we should constantly keep moving. For me it is quite simple...

Fear is my propellant and the unknown is my future garden.

Talk to me! Share a story where facing your fear has resulted in discovering something bigger and better!

Monday 12 May 2014

Four Pillars

As a writer, I think, A LOT. I am always pondering, remembering and trying to make sense out of all the things that have happened in my life. Yesterday was a day filled with thoughts. 

Sunday was Mother's Day and I spent the day with my children, mother, grandmother and aunt. The sun was shining and the air was warm so we took advantage of sitting out back at my parent's home and enjoyed the sunshine that was so desperately missed this past winter.  The kids were running around with our dog, my grandmother sat quietly in a chair in the shade and my mother and aunt puttered around the pond, trimming bushes, pruning trees and bickered the way sisters do. At one point, the kids and I were taking bets on who was going to fall into the pond first as these two women grappled through dead branches and dried foliage. I sat and watched in amusement, glancing over to my grandmother every so often to see that she was alright.

These women, along with my paternal grandmother (deceased) have been pivotal forces in my life. I learned how to be a strong woman through observing and listening to these females. Their life stories were filled with trials, tribulations, fear, joy, love and hope. They taught me how to stay strong in the face of adversity, how to stay standing when your world was rocked and how to love and laugh and not give a damn about what anyone else thought. Four women who are the pillars in my life.

My paternal grandmother was a happy, loving and fun woman. I was fortunate enough to have her in my life for 18 years. She lived upstairs in our home and my brother and I were always walking up and down those stairs, trying to catch a glimpse of she was up to. The epitome of class and elegance, I can still remember what she smelled like, how she painted her nails and teased her hair. A classic beauty that could have stepped off the silver screen. Mama, as we called her, came to Canada with children in tow and divorced her no good husband (I met this man only twice in my life). She didn't let fear stop her from moving forward. Not a new country, being a single mom or the prospect of creating a life in a city where she didn't know the language. She was formidable and tried everything, at least once. I can still remember her attempt to ride a bike in the early 1970's, falling in the ditch and regaining her composure laughing hysterically.  THIS was how she was and this is what I learned from her. Laugh. Laugh at yourself. Laugh at life. Laugh when it all seems bad because it really isn't that bad. I miss this woman terribly.

My Nonna is now a shell of who she was because of Alzheimer's. In the past two years, this strong, work horse of a woman has succumbed to this dreadful disease that has stolen the life and memories from within her. It is said that she had a bit of mischief in her while growing up in Italy. She worked hard all of her life but this didn't stop her from singing and dancing with her friends after a day's work. My grandfather knew she headstrong and wore the pants in the family and I think he welcomed it. This woman knew what was and what needed to be done. Caregiver to everyone, Nonna was our matriarch. She looked after her father-in-law, both her parents, her ailing son, all her brothers and sister and all her children and grandchildren. It took guts and determination for her to make sure everyone was okay. I never remember her being sick. I never remember her complaining about the things she chose to do. And yet, she sits her and loses a bit of herself daily. 

I love my aunt. She is my voice of reason. The one who says it like it is whether you like it or not. Her tough exterior masks the heart of gold she has. This woman bleeds quietly but loves excessively. Growing up, my aunt was the cool one - hot pink lips, long hair, cool clothes, lover of music and heels. The Rebel. My brother and I spent a lot of time with her, hanging out like hippies in the backyard. I always wanted to be like her, strong, wild, and carefree and creative. And I am like her.

My mom and aunt are night and day in some traits but in others, you can see they are sisters and possess the same characteristics that make them loving and strong women.  They just manifest these differently. My mother was often viewed as the weak, feeble one.  She stands less than 5 feet tall but is mightier than one may believe but less fragile than many expect. At age 9, she was given the task of caring for her baby brother, a task that came so natural to her and is still with her today. She is the caregiver, the one who needs and wants to be by your side when things go wrong. I learned, not too long ago, she cheers silently for you when you succeed but will cry openly with you when you are hurt.

These four women are the mainstays in my life. It is because of them that I keep a positive and determined outlook on life. And while these four women make up the four corners of my life, I have noticed that many of the women with whom I surround myself are just as amazing. They all have moxie. They are all fearless. They are all women who are the propelling force in their own lives. And that is what makes us remarkable.

Talk to me! Who are the women in your life that have taught you the most?

Wednesday 7 May 2014

And Like That, I Was Hooked

I didn't know what to expect upon meeting her for the first time.  I had heard so much about her that I wasn't sure I'd be able to decide for myself what I thought. She is a beauty, filled with energy and life like no other. She is chaotic, disorganized and will take hold of you and never let you go. I had only ever seen her from afar and the knowledge that I would meet her soon made my heart flicker with anticipation.

Stepping out of the car, I was taken aback by the immediate surge of energy she exuded. My skin tingled and my eyes grew wide. Everything around her was buzzing and my ears filled with the exuberance in her voice. Her constant hum resonated in my bones. Even her smell, a new and exotic odour, wafted about circling around me. I was awake standing in front of her. More awake than I had been in months.

New York City. 
Empire State Building
Photo by Audrey Bresar
I had finally made it here. The one city that was so close but yet I never managed to visit.  NYC is a global curiousity and everyone has to experience her at least once. So often depicted in television and movies and made immortal in Sinatra's rendition of the song by the same name, this city is a Mecca for artists, playwrights, actors and writers. I have long wanted to be swept away by the city's essence.

Swept away I was. Alas, I had only one day to get my feet wet but it was enough to be completely blown away. NYC is a city of countless adjectives. Bright lights, tall buildings, fabulous museums, beautiful parks, fascinating people. My head spun in every direction to ensure I saw and felt everything.

Herald Square
Photo by Audrey Bresar
I experienced such a vast array of emotions. Ground Zero and St. Paul's Chapel brought back all the feelings of horror I experienced watching the news that fateful day. My chest constricted and my breath stopped as I looked at the church where first responders lay to rest before venturing into the madness again. Tears flowed freely as I read the stories of some of those that perished. History that hit so close to home and is still so real.

And then there was Times Square filled with boundless energy. The Crossroads of the World...NO KIDDING! Talk about sensory overload. My eyes didn't know where to look next. If you blinked, you missed something. People were looking up, down, sideways and backwards. Not one person was looking and experiencing the same thing. It would be impossible to have everyone stare at one sign or focus on one of the colourful characters that inhabited the square. But I bet all could feel the electricity.

My time here was short and although I did see all the mandatory sights that are quintessentially and definitively NYC, I need more time to be fully infected by her. As it stands now, I am in awe and like a good drug, she is calling me back for more.

Talk to me! What has been your experience when visiting a new city for the first time? Have you ever been disappointed by a first visit?'