Friday, September 30, 2011

Dog Day Afternoon

"Every dog must have his day." ~Jonathan Swift

And what a day it is!  Full sunshine, cool fall breeze, dragonflies darting here and there and everywhere.  The leaves are beginning to change in earnest -- deep reds of sumac, burning bushes and the start of maples.  The yellows of birch and ash.  It's coming, there is no doubt.  But for today, it's gone to the dogs.

I got home from work to find Trooper laying oblivious in a sunbeam on the living room floor, the epitome of pure joy.  At my sound, she roused and when I grabbed her leash, her tail went into full propeller-mode which means, "Whoa!  Really?  A walk?  This is the absolute best moment of my life!"  Off we went exploring into the warmth of the sun.

We were greeted happily by the first two dogs we saw, a yellow and a black lab who live on the corner a couple of blocks away.  Enthusiastic barkers, they wagged their tails and lolled their tongues, spreading the joy of the afternoon.

The third, a gracefully aging Golden Retriever, waited patiently until we were up close and personal before wagging her tail and sighing, as if grateful for the chance to say "hi" without an extensive amount of effort.

Number four was a sleek German Shepherd, anxious to pull his person across the boulevard for a sniff and stare (as opposed to a meet and greet, I think).

Fifth was a wiley Black Lab who had trained her person well: Said person stood at the crest of the hill throwing a well-loved blue Frisbee down across the field in artistically skilled arcs over and over and over again.  Number five just kept running to get the Frisbee and looked pleased with herself that she managed to get her person some exercise on this incredible day.  She was willing to sacrifice herself if it meant her person was happy.  It looked like tough-love to us...what a job!  But someone's got to do it. 

Jack, the Russell, was the sixth to cross our path.  An exuberant fellow, he wheeled circles around his person as they walked up the street.  They were quite a beautiful sight: one walking, one dancing, each to the beat of their own drum.

Number seven sat next to the park bench that held his person.  A large tawny canine, lucky seven watched us proceed the entire way across the park though it seemed he was to be watching his little charges on the swingset instead.  Distracted as he was, though pleasantly so, he whined as we got close, obviously commenting to his person about Trooper's shiny black coat and trim, girlish figure.  Trooper turned her head, playing hard-to-get, and kept on walking as if she'd heard it all before.

A voice in the distance was the eighth of the bunch.  Clearly, we were seen, but he, only heard.

Tiny was the ninth, in the yard down the block, whom we waved to as we turned the corner toward home.

As for us, it's back to the yard for me to blog, and she to do what she does best -- be a dog on this most inviting of dog day afternoons.

Tonight, what a treat!  We're headed to Fermentations for a little wine and dine in the beautiful, thriving metropolis of Dundas.  The new menu starts tonight!  If you haven't been, I promise you, it's worth the trip!//

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Full-Blown Food Funk

I thought it best to fess up now to the true reason Food is part of the new adventure: I have never been so completely and utterly uninspired in the food department as I've been in the past six months.  In fact, I'm hoping beyond all hope that focusing my energy on the joys of cooking (what a great title for a cookbook!) through this blog will help me get to the bottom of the food funk and cure it once and for all. 

I am hard-pressed to find anything quite as demoralizing as answering the question, "what are you in the mood for?" everyday with Nothing! yet again.  It's bad enough I've got the funk, but Terry's got it, too.  And when we're both feeling funky...well...that's a full-blown food funk if ever there was one.

Let the shelves of cookbooks, and endless piles of recipes clipped from magazines and newspapers or printed from online sources be a testament to how much we love to cook, to how much we love food.  Terry and I used to be so great at planning meals, shopping specifically to what we wanted to cook each week.  About seven years ago, we even went through a period where we each picked a new recipe to try each week.  We tried everything, and had a blast cooking and eating our way through it.

The rhythm of that time has been lost.  Not because we don't love food anymore, or don't love to cook or entertain -- we do!  Hubby and me, we're foodies to the core.  What seems to be lacking is the energy, the enthusiasm for making real meals during the week.  We get home, we walk the dog, we throw together something basic and easy but ultimately unsatisfying...or worse, let laziness take us to a restaurant to waste our money on something mediocre that we're not in the mood to eat anyhow.

Do I hear an "Amen"?

Maybe we're just moody eaters.  Does that mean we've just been in the wrong mood for the past six months?  That's more than just a little sad.  No...what's even more sad than that thought is this: Tonight, out of desperation and an empty refrigerator, I had half of a toasted turkey and salami cheese, no veggies, no pickles or mustard.  No zip, no tang.  Just meat...and mayo...and bread...toasted for a little flair of denial.  See?  I'm doing something exciting!  Mmm...toasty!  Sure, little said turkey sandwich will sustain me so I'll live to eat another meal but what fun is it if it isn'

This calls for an intervention, stat!

What is your sure-fire cure for the Full-Blown Food Funk?//

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

In the Beginning, there was fun...

Tonight was Terry's annual Fall Wine Show.  Yes, it's true, I'm married to a wine distributor...and it's...FUN!  With over a hundred wines on display from all over the world, friends joined us for this annual event.

Our friends Joan and Paul (through the wine glass) who own Fermentations Wine Bar and Bistro,

lots and lots of tasty wines from France and Austria and Germany,

our long-time buddies, Chrisy and Dave (22 years and counting!),

and our friends Jon and Nicole Ryan from Genz Ryan and Studio Bodair, respectively.  Who gave up their anniversary dinner to join us in this festive event.  Thanks, guys! :)

Many wines, many friends, much fun...and a perfect beginning to the new adventure.  This one can be posted under, FUN.//

Yoga + Food + Fun + Blog = New Project

There are so many things in our lives that require regular maintenance.  As I let Trooper out yesterday morning, my sense of neatness was assaulted by cobwebs on the front porch by the door.  If I spent only five minutes per day keeping this up, it would stay looking great, my mind said.  I've heard the same about weeding -- only five minutes per day will keep a weed-free garden.  I'm not so sure.  What if we took those few minutes per day for each and every thing that required a little touch up here, a little freshening up there -- the cobwebs, the weeds, the dust, flossing our teeth?  I'm almost certain it would occupy my entire day.  Not that any of these things are more or less worthy of our time and attention than others, but it's no wonder we don't have any time to effect significant growth in our lives.

So how do we decide what gets our attention and energy, and what we're willing to just live with, addressing once in a while?  Because, let's face it, we can't do it all, no matter how much we might want to.  I'll admit it...I'm no longer interested in trying.  Martha Stewart, I am not.  A weed here, a cobweb there are now just a part of my daily landscape.  We all have that choice.  Our days our precious and I want my days -- what occupies them -- to matter.  I don't want them to be filled with endless five minute chunks of keeping something up that is inevitably changing, that by definition I physically can't stay on top of.  We don't need to do everything...we just need to be clear about what we want.

Hence, my projects. It's simply a way I've found to focus my intention on what's important to me, now. I like to think it keeps me current and relevent in the living of my life.

In terms of my new project, I ask myself the big question: What's important to me now?  Sometimes, I think it's easier to come up with what we don't want, rather than what we do -- I don't want to fill my days with mindless busyness.  Perhaps that's a start.  Taking it a step further then, what do I want my days to be filled with?

It gets me wondering...what if I consider this new adventure from a different perspective -- one of abundance rather than one of lack?  Instead of thinking about life as a set of rules or boundaries, as a series of things I need to stay away from or work harder at, or how my life would or should look if everything fell into perfect alignment, why not focus on what I want to experience?  And let the how unfold from there...

That being said, I want to experience:
  • a strong and healthy body, mind & spirit that are peaceful, vital and energetic.
  • joy preparing meals that nurture myself and others.
  • heartful and joyful connection with those I love and care about.
  • a creative outlet that is a positive force for growth and change for myself and others.
As with the beginning of my meditation project, what full shape this takes is anyone's guess.  Leaving space for the "how" is half the fun...//

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Getting Squirrely

"A sense of curiosity is nature's original school of education." ~Smiley Blanton

Yesterday afternoon, I was sitting out in the yard by the rain garden soaking up the sun and reading Food & Wine magazine.  After many chilly, overcast days, the sun felt glorious and I began to get sleepy.  My head settled effortlessly against the back of the chair and my eyes closed against the light.  A few minutes passed when suddenly, something was in my lap.  My head snapped up in enough time to see a squirrel launch itself off my leg and sprint across the yard.  I turned to watch him go as he looked back at me over his shoulder, mid-run, as if to say what I was already thinking...what the hell was that?


It was beautiful -- the kind of adventures in nature I love and am in awe of.  Laughing out loud with the glee of connection, I began to wonder what the squirrel might have been wanting to tell me, if indeed it had something (else) to say.

As I had drifted off to sleep -- pre-squirrel encounter -- it occurred to me that I had been thinking about my new project and what it might be.  My gut said that there was a message about my project in the timing of the squirrel's visit that I would be wise to pay attention to.  So I consulted with Squirrel in the book, Medicine Cards by Jamie Sans and David Carson -- my go-to guide for exploring any unusual animal encounter I might happen to experience.  What jumped out at me in the reading was this:

"If Squirrel has scurried into your cards today [or my lap, as the case may be], it may be that you are being told to honor your future by readying yourself for change.  The message could be to lighten your load if you have gathered too many 'things' that do not serve you.  These 'things' can include thoughts, worries, pressures, stresses..."

Ah, yes!  In my previous entry, I wrote about the many rules and worn out beliefs I have imposed upon myself over the years and how I am ready to let go and move on from this pressured way of being.  My intention then, is to more fully embrace my passion for exploring and learning by inviting new experiences into my life solely for their own sake -- not for how they might improve me.  Big changes!  This encounter feels like a nod from the Universe that I'm clearly ready to lighten my load.

Perhaps Squirrel hopped on by to let me know I'm on the right track in welcoming the new project, as yet undefined.  Perhaps it can grant me the courage to let go of whatever beliefs I've outgrown and to open up space for the new.

And perhaps the spontaneous laughter the squirrel's visit elicited from me is a clue as well...that whatever I choose to focus on, to make room for the fun, for there is great fun to be had!

Thank you, Squirrel.  I'm ready!//

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A New Leaf

"Not all who wander are lost." ~J.R.R. Tolkien

Fall almost always ushers in a time for me of re-examination and renewal.  Perhaps it's my autumn birthday that makes me feel my life anew this time of year.  Or all those years of starting school after Labor Day, each school year a brand new adventure.  Whatever the reason, I am honoring the pull once again.

A couple weeks ago, I was chatting with my neighbor -- a fellow blogger -- and she asked me what my new project would be now that my meditation project was done.  First of all, I have to admit to being completely taken aback that she had followed my meditation project on my blog in the first place (I'm sure I only mentioned it casually once upon a time...).  So in flustered response, I came up with the lame and noncommittal excuse that I was tired of the structure of a formal "project" and thought I'd just take it easy and see what comes.

Ha!  Who am I kidding?

For as much as my meditation practice has fostered a certain degree of ease and lack of frenzied striving in my life, I imagine I will always be the perpetual student looking for ways to invite novel experiences into my day-to-day.  Ways to challenge the status quo...especially when the status quo isn't fulfilling or life-giving anymore.  Who doesn't want to be inspired?  Seeking?  Wondering?

This tendency of mine has often been seen by others, and therefore -- for a time -- myself, as "wandering".  However, this kind of inquisitiveness isn't a bad thing.  Yes, it's taken me from one interest to another and back again.  Yes, I admit that without a certain degree of discipline and focus, it has kept me from delving as deeply as I might like into any one thing (Oh, look! There's a bird!).  But it has led me to some pretty amazing experiences that I wouldn't trade for the world.  And so it is that I've come to appreciate my curiosity as part of my insatiable passion for life...and of course, part of my charming personality (grin).

There is simply too much of life to live to stop being curious.  It used to be, not all that long ago, that my search for the new was about "bettering" myself.  During my meditation project, I discovered within me the misguided belief that my life was a waste if I wasn't constantly striving to improve myself.  Of course underneath this belief was the feeling that I wasn't good enough as I was...that I needed to be doing something -- something remarkable, even -- in order to prove my worth.  Over the nine months I was chronicling my progress, I came to let go of the drive to pursue anything new (which, I guess, was new?).  I simply set aside this idea of "bettering myself" to see what would come.

What I've come to find now is that my interest in a new project feels pure.  I'm not interested in self-improvement per se, certainly not out of a feeling of lack, but just experience for experience's sake.  It is time to embrace my wandering, my passion, my curious nature.  It is time to explore and discover what my adventurous spirit craves and to feed it -- trusting that in the feeding, I am nourishing myself, heart and soul.

But that then begs the question...what, oh what, shall it be?//

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


"You've given me the best of you, now I need the rest of you." ~Billy Joel, from the song These Are The Times To Remember

Last night, I took Trooper for a late evening stroll through the neighborhood on what we believe will be the last hot summer night of 2011. As we wandered, I looked up to find bright and full before us, the enormous Harvest Moon low in the eastern sky. It was idyllicly framed at the end of the long stretch of road we were on. My breath caught in my chest and I spontaneously laughed at the majesty of it. At the precious surprise of it. I was frozen in place watching, witnessing its presence for what seemed like hours -- which didn't bother Trooper at all, since she would rather go for a "sniff" than a walk these days anyway.

It made me wonder what it was about the moon -- Harvest or not -- that always gives me pause. All I could come up with is that it engages me. Somehow with its presence, just by its showing up, I feel drawn in, nourished and grateful. It is the moon's being that fills me. The moon simply is and in that, is complete and offers a feeling of wholeness in me. As ineffable as this relationship between us is, it's pure and unconditional.

How often do we feel we need to do something or provide something for someone in order to be in relationship with them?

I've noticed this past week that I have a tendency not to get too personal with the people I work with. In order to keep the relationships professional and to feel free to leave work at work, I've kept my work-life and my home-life mostly separate. This isn't to say I'm not friendly with my co-workers, but I've kept a certain reserve that I've believed is respectful, not only of others and the work environment, but of myself as well.

Perhaps it began during my years in the corporate world, which was essentially high school in an office setting -- complete with cliques and heirarchies, where I spent most days feeling like a square peg in a round hole. In that world, doing work that I didn't especially enjoy, with rules of importance and status that I didn't buy into, it seemed easier to keep things separate. Cleaner. Safer. More predictable.

Today, I find myself ten years strong in a small business that I've enjoyed immensely, still hanging onto these old habits that I've come to learn, no longer serve me. This became clear to me last week as a co-worker and I were having a frank, personal discussion. This woman, who is young enough that I could easily be her mother (Egads! Could I be old enough for this??) remarked that she was essentially afraid of me because of my said reserve.

Scared of me? Really? Hmm.... How clean and predictable is that?

Perhaps in my effort to keep things tidy and separate, they had actually become convoluted and messy. This young woman was simply asking for engagement, not just from me as a co-worker, but from me as a woman she saw who could possibly serve as a mentor and friend, or -- GULP -- a role model. And what she saw in return was someone closed off and unapproachable, which, as someone intending to live from the heart, is the complete opposite of what I really want.

All at once I realized that perhaps I had something of value to offer the people I work with beyond my skills, my talents and what my position as general manager requires of me. Maybe just playing a role isn't enough and I have been invited to bring the rest of me to the table as well. It occured to me that what began as an innocent lack of engagement was actually coming across as a closed door more than the simple reserve I intended it to be.

Boundaries are certainly important, but we must continue to challenge the beliefs that serve as their foundation. Beneath mine I found an old, worn belief that my heart, my "is-ness", had no place at work and I've been protecting myself ever since. And now I have someone just wishing I would show up, heart and all. What an incredible gift it is.

The Harvest Moon I happened upon last night reminds me of this -- that we don't need to do anything or be anything more to those around us than to be who we are. What we have to offer is ourselves, our perspective, our spirit, our being. No special skills or degrees or training are needed. All that is required is that we show up with a willingness to engage, to be surprised and to receive as well as to share.

The moon and I simply showed up last night and found each other, sharing a beautiful engagement in the process. I don't imagine it's all too different with people...when we let it.//