Sunday, December 29, 2013

My new bestie.

It’s the post-Christmas week and I am in a state of gratitude for all the kindnesses extended, the meals proffered, the gifts thoughtfully chosen, and the extra couple of pounds I packed on due to a spate of delicious baking that kept being replenished in front of me. Yes.  It’s true.  I am grateful for those extra pounds.  They’ve caused me to take a look at myself in an entirely different way – as has my recent participation in Throwback Thursday on Facebook as well as a hilarious comment that both Marty and I made at exactly the same time while enjoying a lovely dinner last week – when deciding if we were going to use the pool during our upcoming trip to Dallas, we both said – at exactly the same time – not me!  I’m too fat!

Yikes.  That was a mean thing to say to myself.  Would I ever say that to anyone else? To be honest, I should be grateful to have maintained a physique that many women my age would be happy to have. And then, I posted a picture of myself on Faceplant – I think I was about 22 in the photo – and I had a huge response to it with words like “you’re just as beautiful now as you were then” and other comments like that. Well here’s the thing… I thought I was so ugly back then.  And when I looked at my picture, I actually felt horrible for treating myself with such disdain and judgment in those days.  And I realized that I still do it as a matter of habit.  I looked at a few more pictures from that era and saw a beautiful little face, with a huge beaming smile, love of life sparkling from my eyes, and I couldn’t believe that she was me! I felt I needed to apologize to her for my contempt.

Well, here it is a few decades later, and I recognize that I’ve always been my own worst enemy in that regard. And part of my quest for a partner has been anchored in wanting to have someone by my side as if to say “she’s worthy enough, beautiful enough, good enough” to be in a relationship with someone.

What utter hogwash. I can’t believe I’ve subscribed to that notion for so long.  I have a ways to go with this, but now, when I look at myself in the mirror, I catch myself whenever some disparaging thought bubbles to the surface and I replace it with thoughts of appreciation for me – my new best friend.

And then there’s the looming New Year (and New Moon on the same night!) when the best-laid intentions are struck. Resolutions from my past were pretty typical (exercise more often, meditate every day, practice my guitar, read more, drink less, blah, blah, blah) and also coming from a “if I do this, things will get better” place. (That’s code for “someone will ask me out on a date if I do everything right.”) I’m going to change that up a bit this year.  What if I were to just notice when I’m being contemptuous or judgmental of myself, and take a moment.  Ask myself if this is true and in present time.  Be kind, and treat myself as I would any dear friend.  I’m pretty sure this will have a far greater impact on my life than struggling to maintain promises that are made for the wrong reasons.

Someone will ask me out.  Or they won’t.  But it won’t be because of 5 extra pounds or because I didn’t maintain my resolutions.  It actually doesn’t matter as much as it used to.  And it doesn’t mean what I used to think it meant.  And besides, I have a new best friend and she’s lovely.

Branded by friendship,

Love Buns.

P.S.  Here’s a cute one for you…

Monday, December 16, 2013

Self Portrait in Bloom

I have just returned from visiting family in Toronto. I feel content as if I have been sipping on a cocktail two parts love and one part stability. For years I valued the adventure and spontaneity of free spirited interaction over this combo of kindness and solidity. This year I cherish the sense of having no doubt that as different as we are individually I am valued by this mixed tribe of people.

As a kid I used to say I was adopted. I made up stories about who my father was. His accent and gruff demeanor embarrassed me. While I did not have to embellish my mother’s exotic background and her raven haired elegance made her a head turner, on some level I yearned for the type of parents I saw reflected around me. My parents immigrated after the war and the area they chose for a part of my formative years was quite affluent. I always felt like an alien surrounded by all those pearls and plaid. They had manicured lawns and corgis. I had a German Sheppard and a chick I got for Easter that grew into a rooster called Dr Kildare. 
I had no qualms waving a postcard at a peer and insisting that I had painted this work of art myself. At six years old I was comparing myself to my environment trying to elevate my status in order to belong and feel better about myself. I was creative and expressive and bold. That did not go down well in that conservative polite environment. I did not look like everyone else and deciding I would never fit in I embraced being the rebel. I designed flamboyant outfits wearing my grandmother’s vintage furs, dragging them on the ground. I lived in my imagination and performed ballet in a tutu for show and tell.  I was weird. Back then it caused me pain, today I embrace my weirdness and cannot even imagine trying to be like anyone else. I am happy I now know that the  task of defining oneself according to one’s own criteria is what leads to pure freedom.

Being with family resurrected memories and made me realize how comfortable I am in my own skin and also how highly overrated any kind of comparison is. It was an interesting revelation to feel so grown up, not old, just mature. When I consider what that means I always come around to evolution. I have evolved and can appreciate differences in others while at the same time remaining true to myself. I have stopped taking things so personally and know deep in my bones that whatever choices another person makes, whatever their opinion of me, it means nothing about me.

I enjoyed Toronto in a new way this trip. During a weekend hotel sleepover with my ex sister in laws (who hate when I describe them as ex) we picked up as if never having been apart. Our sisterhood goes back almost 30 years and as we explored the downtown core we rekindled the playful synergy that has remained between us. I chanced upon a unique Russian Vodka House called Pravda. Red fabric dangled from the ceiling as a bejeweled acrobat climbed its heights in the middle of the bar to impress us with her cirque du soleil routine.
The DJ was spinning old school rap while musicians were scattered on the steps and layered live riffs to create a unique atmosphere. At midnight glasses are raised to sing the Russian national anthem. I had a drink with a 30 something that left me shaking my head. Here I am toasting abstract concepts like honor, pride or the motherland and he raises his glass “To us.”
 Flattered? Yes.  Reality? Are you kidding me?
This Toronto trip had it’s share of slap stick as well as poignant encounters. I feel as if it was a stretch in preparing my heart to open in an even deeper way, one filled with acceptance and humor for the richness of being human, being fallible and being alive.
I am already missing it all.
Branded by connection:
Authentically Yours,


Monday, December 9, 2013

Recharging your batteries and other useful tips for the Christmas season.

Yikes.  The busiest week of the year for me is the one preceding the annual Christmas event with my spiritual community. There is much behind-the-scenes preparation which takes up considerable bandwidth in my already hectic schedule. And wouldn’t you know it, the clutch goes on my car a few days before the big day. Not only do I freak out about this unexpected expense, but my stress level soars and my body reacts by hiding behind an epic migraine. Yep.  Fun times.

The car gets fixed (thanks to my lovely roomie who magically has it delivered to the shop), and the next day, I run out to do errands and the #%@ing battery is dead. I’m in a dither.  And through the fog of my tenacious migraine, my hunch is that there is a loose wire and that the battery is fine.  BCAA arrives on the scene, assures me that the battery indeed needs to be replaced and so I fork out another handful of bills to make sure I have wheels for the weekend.

My roomie borrows the car while I’m at work and calls me to say the new battery is dead.  Migraine goes to the next level.  Hyperventilating is an option at this point. The car is delivered back to the shop where my new BFF Bob sees that a wire is loose and that’s all that is wrong.  I’m happy that I have functional transport again, but not so happy that I am the proud owner of a new battery that I don’t need.

Day three of migraine.  I begin to pay attention.  Something’s gotta give here.  It’s one of my favourite weekends of the year and I can’t even eat anything!  (For those of you who know me, this is the depth of despair for me. If I’m not eating, something is definitely out of whack!)

I run into a friend who goes into a self-deprecating routine and my tolerance for anything like that at this point is zero.  I tell him to stop it and even go so far as to recommend a Bob Newhart YouTube segment to get my point across. It suddenly dawns on me that you teach what you need to learn.  I have just told someone to watch a piece called “Stop It!”. 

So I stopped.  I took a look at the messages that were staring me in the face. I certainly wasn’t taking the time to make sure my batteries were charged.  Rather I was charging full-speed ahead to get things done with no connection to my actions at all.  My body was yelling at me to pay attention. When I finally realized that this is how I have grown to endure Christmas (by disconnecting so I don’t have to feel anything emotional), I knew I wanted to change it up. 

I took a deep breath, and began to consciously experience all the preparations for the weekend.  Every ingredient for my yummy dessert recipe was carefully measured, and I simply slowed down to smell the baking. Something quite lovely transpired – I actually enjoyed myself.  I went from ticking things off my “to do” list to living my “to be” list.  It was a nice change.

The day itself presented me with a new milestone.  I not only got through leading the Christmas carols without tears rolling down my face, but I smiled and drank deeply from the well of beautiful singing all around me.

I ate.  A lot.  My headache was gone. I was able to have the beginning of my Christmas season fully and with ease. I am looking forward to this whole month of mindful busyness and a lot of wholesome socializing (and all that great food!).

Oh yes.  And I called BCAA.  They are letting me keep my new battery and giving me a credit on my account for its value.

I am fully recharged.

Authentically yours,


P.S.  I leave you with a few wise words from Bob Newhart and Willie Nelson…

Sunday, December 1, 2013


Sitting in my hairstylist chair is often an adventure into the trajectories of random thought.
While the environment of a salon often pairs lattes with gossip and complaints about him, her, this or that, my hair guru Rio is a far more aware sort of being.
 With his own marvelous mane of dreads he marches to the beat of his own drum. In his case it would be a djembe.

“Did you know we could all have gone poof this year, literally bam…sun explodes and we are zapped? It seems there was a sun eruption last April that according to NASA sparked a temporary radio blackout on Earth. As he continues to share stats in relation to the size of various planets and suns, some thousands of times bigger than our own, I burst out laughing. As humans we seem so tiny in the great scheme of the vastness of the universe. Feeling happier than I had felt in days I realize that the thought of a great big bang and us all checking out together doesn’t fill me with dread. Quite the contrary, it seems like a fine way to go. I wonder aloud why I hadn’t heard of this explosion if there was concern that it could have ended the world as we know it.
NASA had been aware of the potential and decided to keep it to themselves he informs me. I laugh even harder thinking about how his business would have declined if we were all waiting for our potential demise. A haircut would be the last thing on my mind.  I percolate on what I would be thinking about.

With the Christmas parties just starting to move into motion I decide to poll people about what they would get up to if they knew the end was in sight.

“Martinis and cigarettes,” says my pal T who is a health food, vegan, partly raw, kind of eater. She never eats processed food, even making her own chocolate from scratch.

Family oriented folks talk about spending quality time with each other. At a film industry gathering last night  there are a few attendees who say they would stop working immediately and just hang out. Do nothing.

I wonder why just the thought of this possibility makes me so happy, laugh out loud happy. I do think I am at my best in a crisis and this could certainly qualify. There is something about the end of anything that prompts me to examine the middle and sift through details looking for my learning. If it were possible to let it inspire me to live more fully I would but in this case it’s not an option, we would be gone.

I realize I would definitely want to express my gratitude and joy to those I love and who have been a part of my life. I would invite everyone to a party, a flamboyant gathering at some fantastic retreat on the water that I could now afford to rent since conserving life savings is a mute point.

 I am sure we would indulge with all sorts of things that I have to moderate now and I also suspect the level of honesty would dip so deep that superficial conversations would become irrelevant. Lots of touch, breathing in of sunsets and silliness would ensue. And maybe that’s why I laughed so hard when Rio first broached the subject.   Clearly I could use a deep shot of pleasure laced with multiple threads of real. All my current worries would vanish…literally.

And I love the sense that we would all be in the same boat. All together we leave in a blink, in a flash. Tuck and Patty’s You Take My Breath Away, a song that never fails to move me to tears of joy would be playing.

 I trust that what happens after that will be less of an illusion than much of what I encounter on this plane.  I think I have just distilled what makes me happy to a simple equation! Authenticity plus pleasure, add a dose of creativity and sensuality, sprinkle liberally with good friends and voila.  A life well lived.  So how to translate this awareness of what is really important to my current life situation. Not sure yet. 

I do know it has to involve that lusty combo of real and deep with fun and frolic. And all those things I have always wanted to do, I think it’s time to do them.

I will have the human spirit combo please…extra mayo.

Branded by release.

Authentically Yours.





Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Abracadabra and other magic words.

I can’t begin to describe the breadth of experiences I’ve had this week, ranging from sheer delight in the magic of the universe to seeing a friend choose to go into palliative care to get some relief from her painful suffering. At both ends of the scale lies a common factor – truth.

Let’s start with my friend. She is a lovely, radiant being, full of light and laughter, and currently very ill. We have all rallied around to support her wish to manage her condition holistically, but none of us was prepared for the devastating waves of pain that she often endured for hours. She needed respite from these bouts and we weren’t able to provide that.  Through frank and meaningful conversation, we were able to help her find that her resistance to a higher level of care was seeded in her fear of facing her childhood sexual abuse. Until she was able to begin to confront that, she wouldn’t be able to make choices for her care that were in her best interests. Her fear of having others be in control of her physically was far greater than her desire for relief. Bless her heart, she decided a couple of days ago to go to the hospital.  While I haven’t seen her yet, I hear she is getting some much needed rest and from her daily blogs (which amazingly, she is able to still post), it looks like she is facing her fears head on and talking about them, no doubt helping many others do the same. I am awed by her bravery and her determination. No matter what happens, I know she believes her journey has not been in vain. 

It was through the assistance of our beloved local doctor, who got the wheels in motion for her.  I recently heard he had started a foundation (, to help those in need of palliative care. I contacted him and he immediately went around to see her at home. I don’t know what he said, but I have no doubt that his gentle kindness went a long way towards making her feel it was a safe decision to get admitted to the hospital.  We are indebted to him for his compassion.

While this was unfolding, I was also in the middle of reading the book, E2, by Pam Grout, at the urging of a friend whose reading choices I respect greatly.  It consists of nine experiments to prove that your thoughts create your reality. To say that I am gobsmacked (or is that godsmacked?) is an understatement. I’m not going to share all my results but a couple of them will give you a taste of this experience.  In one of them, I was to state to the universe (or whoever/whatever you believe to be a field of potentiality) that I was going to see purple feathers within the next 48 hours. I went to work the next day and in walked a friend who I had not seen in a while.  She brought me a gift, accompanied by some very lovely compliments.  After she left, I opened it, and it was a pair of earrings.  And yes, you guessed it.  They were feathers.  Need I tell you there was a substantial amount of purple in the plumage?  Wow.  The next day, I was to ask again for a sign that would help me make a decision that I was currently pondering. For the purposes of an ongoing negotiation, I can’t give you the details – suffice it to say that it involved committing to spending some money that I didn’t have.  I was inclined to choose not to go ahead but it didn’t feel quite right.  Within the prescribed 48 hours, I received a notice from those fine folks in Ottawa who had decided that my income tax return needed reassessing. When I looked at the size of the cheque, I also looked at the payee’s name to make sure it was me!  The amount will more than cover my commitment, should I decide to go ahead with this business proposition.

What has this part got to do with the truth? To me, it’s to be fully aligned with the greater whole, have a connection beyond what I can comprehend and surrender to the knowledge that it is real and true.

I am reminded how blessed I am both to be allowed “in” to someone’s very private process as well as to be the recipient of endless abundance in its many forms.

Branded by hocus pocus and a whole lotta love,


P.S.  I'm so glad I found this version...

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


It’s amazing who comes into your life just when you need a prod in the right direction. Those jolts only hurt if we resist…but I am getting ahead of myself. 
 I have never been a huge fan of back adjustments and just the thought of being cracked into shape when I am in pain or spasm is too much to contemplate. I only found myself on a chiropractors table because my Chinese Medicine Doctor   ( she is a real treasure)  spoke so highly of him and he was just down the hall, plus after acupuncture, pain killers, and heating pads, my lower back was refusing to co operate and relax. Let’s call this state desperate.
 I had been in agony all week, couldn’t walk or sit kind of agony, muscles spasms so fierce it made me want to cry like a baby. I told him I didn’t much like adjustments. He said if you can’t touch the floor after I am done with you on the table we may have to adjust, but let’s see what your body wants. And with that he started pulling and stretching and digging into my muscles while at the same time getting me to dish. He mentions the connection between the lower back and emotional issues of loss and transition. I start talking…yup lots of that going on. I spill my guts, feelings ooze down my cheeks and I am no longer focused on his physical maneuverings, I am letting go.
 “Do you know what this is intuitively, he asks. I nod. “You don’t have to take on other people’s pain”, he says.
Yup, those lights bulbs are popping as I agree that is what I do when there is extreme loss and I feel powerless to help those I love, those who are suffering.

 I let go of that too and in that moment so did my back. I bounced off the table and touched my toes.  None of this is the prodding I was referring to, it was the prelude.

I came back a week later for a tune up. “Oh so you drink greens”, he said as he eyed my thermos filled with blended spinach, kale, sprouts and parsley. Somehow this lead to me talking about my slow metabolism and how unfair it was that I eat so healthy and yet cannot easily lose weight. That’s when he got firm and refused to accept my responses. "Do you want to lose weight?" he said.
“Of course,” I replied.
“Then you will! Make a commitment, you have to want it.”  
“I want it. I want it. I also want ease and softness and living with a gracious relaxed quality.” I insist.
“Oh you want your cake and to eat it too. “he smiles. “Do you realize you have just described your body?”
 I don’t get it for a second. Soft, easy, relaxed? Really?
“Why not just accept yourself the way you are? “he offers.
Yes I have been here before.  But here is the smack down. He refuses to accept my story or reasons for why the weight doesn’t just drop off. He    challenges my ego and I like it. After listening to myself, ‘yeah but’ him for almost an hour I finally hear it myself. The story I am running with is no different than when clients of mine complain about a situation and yet rather than staying committed to action that would change it, keep reinforcing it by believing themselves powerless. By believing the details are real they actually limit the outcome. Worse yet…generate the outcome.

Now I don’t have a lot of tolerance for repetitive stories and you can imagine how hard I laughed when it landed that I was doing just that. Looping around ‘not fair’, ‘can’t do it unless I starve myself’, ‘slow metabolism’, ’soooo unfair’.  Well hell…maybe my metabolism is slow…so what!  I can guarantee it will stay that way if I keep repeating those words.
I realize that if I created my story, I can also drop it and create a new one.
And that is the plan. Physically, emotionally, spiritually….I am dropping my story. I am leaving my name at the door because our names are the identity part of ourselves that hold the story. I am claiming my power to shift my perception and create any desired outcome.
So I want my cake and I want to eat it too. Yup, that’s what I want. Thanks Doc, both for fixing my back and sticking up for the truth that we may not be able to control everything that happens in life but we definitely can control the way we perceive it.
If you are a fan of light bulb moments and tuning into your body/mind connection this is the chiropractor for you.

Now off to the drawing board of my unconscious and imagination. I am going to feel myself into the very thing I desire. And the raw vegan dessert pictured above will help. Gorilla Food 

Branded By: Acceptance

Authentically Yours,

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Leave him lay where Jesus flang him.

When I was a kid, one of our neighbours used to say that and of course, we’d all crack up when he did.  He was a devoted church-goer and a lovely man so it was doubly funny when he said it.  It was code for “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

This seems to be my train of thought these days… but with a twist.  I’m looking at parts of my life that I have thought were broken, and that I have spent lots of time trying to fix.  What I’m realizing is that if I look at these same pieces with gratitude, and an understanding of my circumstances, all of a sudden, I no longer need to try and change them. It is what it is.  Or as Popeye would say, “I yam what I yam, Olivsk”.

I’m not talking about giving up, or falling into complacency about my life, or succumbing to defeat.  I’m talking about channeling my considerable amount of energy into getting the absolute best out of every moment, every day, regardless of what it looks like. I love those “aha” moments, when I “wake up” and totally “get” that my current situation is exactly where I’m meant to be and why.

So I find myself realizing that my store, Presence, is not going to provide me with a significant retirement fund. Having been an entrepreneur most of my life, I have failed to put aside enough along the way to make sure that I can always live in the style to which I’d like to become accustomed!  At the same time, being here for as long as I have has been incredibly rewarding in terms of meeting new friends, acquiring new skills, being surrounded by beautiful objets d’art, and amazing scenery. I also have come to realize that when I chose to do this I was at a different stage and a big portion of my decision was made from a need to satisfy an itch stemming from personality, a need to be recognized as a prominent and successful business person in my community.  When I accepted that essentially I already have what I need in terms of approval and appreciation, I have less of a need to keep my store going. Presence has helped me find (pun intended) that what I was looking for was always here.  Within. I want to really zero in on these next few years, and really get clear about what really blows my hair back.  And do it.  Be it.  For the right reasons.  Or at least for reasons that are pertinent to me today.

You can be sure it will have something to do with music, intuitive reading, and helping others find their true path in a healthy and wholesome way.

Stay tuned.  It ain’t over until the (insert appropriate adjective) lady sings.  And I haven’t even started warming up yet.

Branded by the key of C,

Authentically yours,


P.S.  I found out that the expression came from the book, Bird by Bird, a very famous, New York Times bestselling book about writing by novelist and memoirist Anne Lamott. Although I haven’t read the book yet, here are a couple of quotes from it that rang true for me…

“Don’t look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance.” (p. 112)

and I love this one…

“How would your main character describe their current circumstances to a close friend, before and after a few drinks?”  (p. 47)

And now, gitcher cowboy boots on and have a listen…