Dreams Do Come True

As a child I dreamt of being an explorer. I wanted to go to exotic places, see exotic people and do exotic things. I wanted to travel down the Amazon on a raft, stopping at all the villages along the river banks, eating foods I had never heard of before in Canada.

I wanted to be an archeologist. I dreamt of going to undiscovered places and finding lost civilizations. As a child I lived in the country and went on daily adventures, spending hours in the abandoned barn next door, walking in the woods pretending I was in a jungle and made forts in deadfalls. Bugs and spiders never bothered me.

I watched Swiss Family Robinson on Saturday mornings and dreamed of living on a deserted island. My hero was Amelia Earhart. If only I could learn to fly an airplane I could go to all the places my imagination took me.

My parents had a summer house in a small town called Chance Harbour on the Bay of Fundy. I would spend hours on the rocky beach, looking for crabs and other sea life. I collected all the sea glass and pottery I could find. These items were my treasures.

In the winter my family would go to Florida for a month to escape the cold Canadian winters. Florida was as far away from my home as I had been. The warm waters allowed me to see creatures I had only read about – octopus, manatees, pufferfish, rays, sharks. I got to try new foods – cantaloupe and honeydew tasted delicious as was the fresh squeezed orange juice. (Orange juice didn’t come from a can?) The water was so much warmer than the Bay of Fundy – I could spend hours swimming in the clear water. Hours searching the beach for sea shells.

Florida

Age 2 Florida Trip 

Looking back I had an incredibly wonderful childhood. I don’t think my parents realised how those Florida trips would shape me as an adult.

When I was 18 I asked my parents if we could go to Mexico instead of Florida. My parents told me if I could save up my portion of the airfare and hotel they would take me to Mexico. I was determined. I saved all of my paychecks until finally I was in Puerto Vallarta. The people, the architecture, the food, the sounds, the smells… everything was so foreign.

Nothing I read prepared me for the full reality of being in another country. No one can tell you what it is really going to be like for you in another country, you will have your own individual experience. I can honestly say that vacation changed me forever.

Peurto Vallarta

Age 19 Puerto Vallarta

I never became an explorer or an archeologist. I never got my pilots licence. But, no longer did I feel I had to live in Canada just because that is where I was born. I wanted to go everywhere, see and do everything I had ever imagined. I realized the world was waiting for me and it was only an airplane ride away.

I travelled to other countries with my first husband. Even though we only went to resorts, it did allow me to satiate my wanderlust. I went horseback riding on a mountain ranch in Hawaii. I climbed to the top of Diamond Head and was in awe of the beauty I saw from the lookout. I went snorkeling and swam with dolphins. I went scuba diving for the first time in Aruba. Explored Bahamas Cays. I went to Riviera Maya and trekked to Tulum to see the ancient Mayan ruins. I even went back to my beloved Puerto Vallarta and I got a chance to see the city with new eyes – adult eyes.

Fast forward a few years…. I had three children, got divorced and eventually remarried. My new husband had never traveled other than to Boston and he had never been somewhere tropical. We honeymooned in the Riviera Maya. He fell in love with Mexico just like I did all those years ago. Or maybe he just liked the warm weather.

Over the next few years we’d vacation in Mexico twice a year, always staying at resorts. Then, by chance, I heard of VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner). I convinced my husband staying at the resorts didn’t allow us to experience the “real” Mexico and I booked a week stay at a house in a small town called Todos Santos about an hour north of Los Cabos.

It was that trip that once again changed me. No longer was I satisfied at resorts full of drunken vacationers. I was tired of bringing day clothes and evening clothes and I was tired of the structure. I wanted to vacation like I lived there. For the next 4 years we rented the same house, staying longer and longer each trip. We bought groceries and cooked at home. I saw the expats and said to my husband “if they can live here, we can too.” He wasn’t ready then but I planted the seed.

I decided I had to get out of Canada. I hated the cold winters. I was tired of all the rules and regulations. I wanted to be free. I wanted out of the city and my need to be near the ocean grew. I wondered why, when all the world was theirs, my ancestors settled in Atlantic Canada. My paternal grandfather helped build the Panama Canal – why, I wondered, didn’t he stay there in the warmth instead of returning to foggy, cold Bay of Fundy.

I was quite determined to move somewhere tropical but since my husband had never been to any other foreign country I thought we should start renting homes in other tropical destinations. So we rented a penthouse on the beach in Barbados, a cottage with a pool high on the cliff on the Dutch island of Saba and stayed at a resort in Sint Maarten. All were lovely but they were not Mexico.

Finally, after 8 years my husband was ready, he too was tired of the cold winters and working outside in -40C. We were lucky in the stock market so he did the Freedom 55 thing and I quit my job. We packed our cats into the jeep and drove from Alberta, Canada to Todos Santos, BCS. Finally, after what seems like a lifetime of dreaming, I am living in Mexico, in the little town where we first rented a house.

Living in Mexico is all I imagined … warm climate, friendly people, and the sound of the waves. It’s not perfect here – the internet is slow, sometimes we run out of water and there are power outages. I don’t like fish and it seems almost every local restaurant specializes in The Catch of the Day. (I miss the Atlantic lobster) There are too many dogs here, they wander everywhere and bark at everything.

I have discovered something about myself: I can be happy anywhere – warm or cold, city or country – but I am most happy here… by the sea.

If I can do it, you can too.

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Everyone Has a Story

I find myself in this small Mexican town of Todos Santos very much a foreigner. I look different, dress different, and don’t speak the language (yet). As I wander through a streets and eat at the restaurants, so many people smile, make eye contact, and say Hola. They are real and authentic and living their best life. The people are genuine and helpful, and show pride in their small community.

On a street with row after row of small stores I met the owner of the local book store with the most magnetic and happy personality. She cracked jokes with my husband and cracked us up.

At a local restaurant owner by two brothers, I met an older couple who have travelled the world and have so many interesting stories to tell. They are an inspiration.

I met two chefs at a restaurant on the beach. They talked about having passion for life and about the importance of being able to do what you love each day. They are living their best life.

Here’s the thing. I hear people say all the time that they love their job or that they are passionate about their job, but then the next moment they are complaining about it, looking for reasons to take off, or quitting and looking for the next best thing. These two young chefs really seemed to enjoy what they were doing. It didn’t seem to be an act. It’s kind of hard to describe, but you could feel the authenticity in these guys. They were real and honest and living life.

I remember thinking what a great way to live – waking up every day and doing something you are passionate about. Something you love. We, as Canadians, live in a society where happiness is often measured with money and cars and homes and things and power. Worth is too often judged on what you have and not who you are. Decisions are made based on what can we do for ourselves instead of what we can share with others. The lines are very blurred between needs and wants.

I want to remember everyone has a story worth hearing and I want to listen. I want to appreciate and learn about different customs and lifestyles. I want to recognize that coming from a place with more power, money and things doesn’t mean I know more. I want to appreciate how lucky I am. I want to focus on my needs more and wants less. I want to never forget how good people are. All people.

One of my children has been bitten by the travel bug. She backpacks around the world, by herself, staying in hostels, making friends wherever she goes. I hope my other two children will learn the same lessons that traveling has taught me. I want them to see that the world is a big place, that so many adventures await them if they have the courage to try new things, that you can find goodness and similarities in faraway places, that some of the most beautiful places and experiences are off the grid or tucked away, that finding what makes you happy may be the greatest treasure you discover, and that taking the time to meet new people will expand their thinking and open their minds.

The two chefs

The two young chefs

Learning Spanish

fluent

I was born and raised in Canada’s only official bi-lingual province, as children we had French classes from K-10. I’m not fluent in French but I can get by.

French and Spanish are both Latin based languages so one would think I’d have an easier time learning Spanish. But no. I find myself confusing the two languages. So I end up speaking a mashup of broken English, French and Spanish. So confusing.

It will come in time, the more I use Spanish and the less I think in French.

The Spanish lessons I’m taking at Hablando Mexicano are helping agreat deal. My husband and I were able to get into a small group class that was paced perfectly for us. Twice a week for 4 weeks. Our instructor, Ivonne, is excellent. We’re having a lot of fun and learning so much.

The Real Halloween

the-real-halloween

As millions of children and adults participate in the fun of Halloween on the night of October 31st, few are aware of its ancient Celtic roots in the Samhain festival.

In Celtic Ireland about 2,000 years ago, Samhain was the division of the year between the lighter half (summer) and the darker half (winter). At Samhain the division between this world and the otherworld was at its thinnest, allowing spirits to pass through.

Christianity incorporated the honouring of the dead into the Christian calendar with All Saints (All Hallows) on November 1st, followed by All Souls on November 2nd. The wearing of costumes and masks to ward off harmful spirits survived as Halloween customs. The Irish emigrated to America in great numbers during the 19th century especially around the time of famine in Ireland during the 1840’s. The Irish carried their Halloween traditions to America, where today it is one of the major holidays of the year. Through time other traditions have blended into Halloween, for example the American harvest time tradition of carving pumpkins.

( http://www.newgrange.com/samhain.htm )

Fire!

Fire! Not something I ever expected to happen to my house  but that’s what happened exactly two weeks ago today.

When my husband and I arrived home from work my daughter was in the process of cutting veggies for her dinner. Hubby grabbed a beer and I got a glass of wine and we headed out to the deck to relax away from the sounds of my daughter chopping.

We had only been outside for about two minutes when hubby said, “She’s burning the house down in there!” I turned my head and smoke was billowing out the patio door. We jumped up and ran inside and were horrorfied. My daughter had put a pot of oil on the stove to heat and went back to chopping veggies. Needles to say it caught fire. I looked for a cover to put on the pot but not finding one I grabbed another pot and tried to snuff out the flames. Since it was not a tight fit the oil continued to burn. I told my husband to grab the baking soda but, being a man who is not familiar with baking, he couldn’t quickly locate it. When I removed the pot my daughter did the unthinkable – she poured water on the flames! At this point the microwave was melting and the cupboards near the burning pot were turning black. My thought process was to get the pot away from the wood cabinets before they caught on fire. So I grabbed the burning pot and took it to the patio. I could smell my hair burning and knew my face was burned. My husband couldn’t find the baking soda but grabbed baking powder instead. I told him to put it on the flames anyway. It worked.

We went inside to survey the damage. The house was filled with smoke. I went to the bathroom and luckily my hair was just badly singed and my face only a little red. No one seriously injured. The house on the other hand is.

The disaster clean up crew got to work the night of the fire and are still at it.

The actual fire only damaged one cabinet, the microwave, range and counter. The smoke damage is more disastrous as the fire itself.  Every item and object in the house is cleaned, down to the last pencil, by the disaster workers. Every item is put on an inventory list, even down to a stick of  butter and a chicken drumstick in the fridge. Our central air ducts have to be sealed by HVAC pros. All the walls and ceilings on my main level and upstairs have to be cleaned, sealed and repainted.  All carpets, the sofa/love seat, and mattresses/pillows need to be replaced. We lost all the food in the fridge/freezer plus all food in the cupboard that were in boxes or plastic. I also lost an entire collection of spices. Luckily we have full replacement value insurance.

The insurance company is providing a condo for us to stay in but I just want to go home. It will be at least three more weeks before the house is livable.

Below I’ve included a video that  you MUST watch.  It’s very short… but it shows what can happen if you put water on a kitchen grease fire.  I was so very lucky!

Pickled Jalapeños

Pickled-jalapeno-peppers

I love peppers and this is a super easy recipe.

Ingredients

1 cup white vinegar

1/4 cup water

1 tBsp granulated sugar

1 tsp kosher or sea salt

1 Garlic clove, minced

Jalapeños, sliced in half lengthwise

 

Directions

  1. Boil vinegar with water, sugar, salt and garlic in a small saucepan until sugar dissolves.

 

  1. Pack jalapeños into a clean 2-cup glass jar. Ladle hot vinegar mixture over the peppers until liquid reaches 1/2 in. below rim of jar. Wipe rim with a clean towel and secure lid on jar. Let stand at room temperature overnight. Use right away or refrigerate up to 1 month.

 

Three variations

Pickled red chilies: Instead of jalapeños  peppers, use 200 g red chili peppers. Add 3 shallots, cut in half, to jar along with chilies. Continue with recipe.

Pickled banana peppers: Instead of jalapeños  peppers, use 225 g banana peppers. Add 1 tBsp pickling spice to boiled vinegar mixture. Continue with recipe.

Pickled scotch bonnets: Instead of jalapeños peppers, use 140 g Scotch bonnets. Add 4 bay leaves to jar along with peppers. Continue with recipe.

All the Better to See You With

 

All The Better to See You With

Like the song says “I can see clearly now” will soon apply to me. I am having LASIK tomorrow morning. When I went in for my initial consultation, I was asked what my current prescription was for and I told them I needed my glasses for distance. Almost 2 hours later, when then were done the myriad of tests on my eyes, I was shocked to be told there was nothing wrong with my vision. What?!? Apparently I have really bad astigmatism and that is what is causing everything to appear blurry. We can fix it was all I needed to hear. I can’t even imagine what it will be like to make out the leaves and branches on trees, to to see facial features clearly, to not have to wear my glasses to drive, to have cool sunglasses instead of prescription ones. I am apprehensive about the procedure, it’s a scary thought to have a laser pointed at my eyes but I think (hope) I will love the results. Update to follow in the days to come.

 

Treat Her Right

Treat Her Right

Men, treat you wife right. She is not another woman. It has to do with appreciating her, with treating her as special. Does your wife feel special? Many husbands do for other women what they wouldn’t do for their own wives. They used to do it. They used to open up the car door every single time, now she’s hoping to get in before the car drives off. When love dies, marriage dies.

She must feel special. How do you make her feel special? By your words and actions from the heart. A random text during the day will make her feel special. Something like, “I’m right in the middle of something, but I just wanted to tell you I love you and I can’t wait to see you when I get home.” She’s going to beat you home! Because you just made her feel special. That took 30 seconds.

You also make her feel special with your gifts. I don’t mean a dozen roses. Writing little notes to her. When she’s making the bed and underneath the pillow is a note that says, “Every night I get to sleep next to you. I just want to let you know I wouldn’t have it any other way.” She’s special. Make her feel it. Sometimes it means telling her she’s the prettiest thing you’ve ever run into. Or that you couldn’t get your mind off of her all day. Sometimes it means drying the dishes while she washes them. Sometimes it means making one side of the bed while she makes the other. Why? Because those things will make her feel special.

If you only do this on anniversaries and such, this is too predictable. When you were dating you didn’t only do it on the anniversary, it would pop up here and there. It would keep popping up. She was bombarded with your love. First of all she probably didn’t like you, she didn’t think you were handsome. But you said to yourself, “I’m going to make you like me.” And you bombarded her with emails, texts, phone calls. In time, she began to say, “Why, he isn’t exactly a frog.” And you kept bombarding her, and she began to say, “He’s kind of cute.” And you kept bombarding her, and she calls up her girlfriend and says, “I’m in love!”

What happened? What happened is you making her feel special, something too many men stop doing once they get married. She fends for herself. When was the last date? I’m not talking about the last time you came home and said, “What do you want to do tonight?” That’s not a date. A date is, “Hey, I got this thing all planned, all you got to do is come along for the ride.” Now it’s not about you coming home, and having nothing to do, and saying, “What do you want to do?” Have the attitude that, “You are not left over, you are my evening!” Make her feel like the special woman she is.

Husbands, you’re the thermostat, you control the temperature. Your wife is the thermometer, she’ll tell you how it reads. So if you have it on 80, and she’s cold, the thermometer’s broken and you can fix it.

 

 

 

 

Silence

Be Careful with Your Words

There are hundreds of quotes praising silence, calling it a “source of great strength”, a “true friend that never betrays.”  Other quotes basically confirm that silence is “heartbreaking” and that it’s “the loudest scream”.

My mother had religiously told me that words once spoken can never be unspoken… she made sure I knew that silence is made of gold and that I can never blurt things to people that I can never take back. Her favourite was, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  What she didn’t explain that I should never be silent about my pain and let it take control of me, and so, I stopped recognizing my destructive silence.

Years later, I have come to recognize my silence and what it does to me… Silence deafens me, be it mine or someone else’s.

My silence is a cold grip around my heart squeezing tears out of my eyes… my silence cripples my mind until it’s no longer able to tell thoughts apart… my silence makes my body get colder as it feels extremes of both pain and numbness… my silence absorbs the air out of my lungs making me struggle to breathe.

And so does your silence, because it provokes a silent volcano of pleads to not let me dwell on my fears and worries and assumptions that would tear me apart and then hand me to silence for I have nothing to base any spoken words on… and I can’t just speak my worries, my fears and my assumptions, because once they’re spoken, they are real (even if they never really applied) and I can no longer take them back.

So please don’t assume I know, don’t fear my reaction if I know, don’t worry about what speaking would do to me because nothing is as bad as silence… because silence lurks in the blur, away from the cleansing sun light.

Silence has no room between people who trust each other, so don’t encourage my silence with yours.

 

 

The Blues

the Blues

I don’t have a name for it.

It’s a feeling, instead.

It’s like a gremlin sitting on my chest, pushing the air out of me enough so that I can breathe in enough to stay alive, but not quite enough to get the feeling as though life is free and easy. I can picture this little gremlin – he’s green. Horns. Beady eyes. Pigeon-toed and knock-kneed.

I am very grateful for my life. Very, very grateful. I have the kind of life I never thought a loser like me would ever get to live. What I feel – and what I write here – is in no way a distraction from the degree of love I have for my life and those in it.

But I guess sometimes no matter how much time you spend sitting on a sofa, how much you stare inwardly at yourself through the shell you call your body, or how many tissues you cry your way through, sometimes the truth is there are those in the world who are prone to dark… to gremlins. Very rarely, I’ll get into a place where (gremlins again) I almost literally can’t talk. It’s as though it’s just too much effort to talk, to make conversation. It requires too much energy, too much spark, too much of something of which I am short of.

No matter how beautiful and full of light your life is, there can still be gremlins.

You wish things could change. You wish there could be peace and quiet in all parts of you. You wish people would stop demanding things of you in a way that make you feel like a tiny human being. You wish you would quit doubting that you could do those things people demand when you can, you fucking can. You wish time would either slow down or speed up but for Christ’s sake, stop just hanging out here. You wish you could reach out, be a better person. You wish you could be a better person. You wish you could just be better.

I still can’t sleep, and I’m tired all the time in a way that makes me feel as though I’m 80 years old.

I’m not stupid – I recognize this morning some of what’s going on. I got the blues, baby. I got the blues. Minor blues, it’s not major at all, just tinted that side of the spectrum.  Too long of a winter here in the North. A fight with my hubby that we still haven’t resolved. Combination of many things.

Nothing else to do but pull myself up and keep going, right? The body wears out but the mind keeps going. I need to paint myself in rainbow colors, and I need to start with the gremlin. I need to stop feeling dragged through life backwards, naked, upside down through a field of cactus. I was sitting there thinking that instead of living life, life is living me. Only that’s, you know, a stupid thing to say.

I’m not sure what I set out to say here, so I’m going to stop talking now.

 

 

Live and Let Live

Live and Let Live

I don’t usually use this blog to rant but sometimes things irk me so much I have to voice my opinion… Live and Let Live is an idiom in which expresses the idea that all should be able to live their lives in the manner they want to, regardless of what other may think of them. And the world would be a much better place. As humans, deep down we all want the same thing – to be happy

Protestants were denounced as heretics and subject to persecution – 1600’s

Slavery was officially abolished in the British Empire – 1834

Tennessee became the first US state to explicitly outlaw wife-beating – 1850

US Congress abolished slavery – 1865

Canadian Women get the right to vote – 1918

Women get the right to vote in USA – 1920

Prohibition Ends (Canada) – 1920’s

Prohibition Ends (US) – 1933

Racial segregation ends in USA – 1960’s

Netherlands is the first country to allow gay marriages – 2001

Canada allows gay marriages – 2005

Facebook allows users to select custom genders – 2014

As Facebook continues to evolve, it also continues to acknowledge that we humans are perpetually doing the same. Facebook official: “We at Facebook believe that an open and connected world will ultimately make the world more accepting. This change may only affect a small number of people, but to them, it’s the beginning of something that makes a world of difference.”

I saw this on my Facebook news feed: “Dear Facebook, It really doesn’t matter how many “genders” you put on here to choose from – there are still ONLY two … God made them, male and female. Period!”

Those people who are so upset that Facebook has allowed people to customize their genders don’t get that it has always begun with one small step by a few brave people to make the world a better place for everyone. I imagine if you took these same people who are so upset with FB back to the 1960’s they would be the ones who believed blacks didn’t have the right to sit at the same counters as the whites, to attend the same schools.

The human race is diverse and diversity isn’t just our strength, but our GREATEST strength. Every single person should be able to feel comfortable being their true, authentic self. If you simply identify as male or female, fine that is who you are.  But why does this FB gender issue bother people so much? Why do you care? You’d think people who supposedly so love freedom and freedom of expression would cheer this. I guess for some people bigotry and hatred trump love of freedom & liberty.

It annoys me, saddens me that some people cannot move forward. And why does it seem like it’s always those who claim to be Christian that are bothered by this? Haters could quote all kinds of verses from the Bible to suit whatever point they want to make but in my opinion the one important thing that I take from the Bible is that Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 (NIV)

“Come on people now, Smile on your brother, Everybody get together, Try to love one another, Right now” –Youngbloods, Get Together

More Than Words

More Than Words

You can say “I love you” as much as you want, say whatever you want, whenever you want. But, if you’re not going to prove that the things you say are true, then don’t say anything at all. Because, if you can’t show it, your words don’t mean a thing. – Author Unknown

There’s always a turning point in any relationship…a moment that makes or breaks it. You took a wrong turn somewhere and mired yourself into the muck, and now you’re spinning your wheels deeper and deeper.  It’s a sand trap, and you’re slowly sinking.  I think most relationships hit this point. I think this happens for a couple of different reasons, but I think the primary general factor that it all falls under is when complacency takes the guise of comfort.

Comfort is a slippery slope. Comfort turns to complacency, and complacency slowly kills a relationship because at some point comfort takes over romance.  Why?  Cause romance is hard work.  So the fundamental difference between comfort and complacency is that becoming complacent is a conscious choice.  You are making a decision to place the relationship on the back burner to work on the other aspects of life.  But generally when we become complacent, it means that we get lazy at working at it.  The comfort monster in our brain tells us “You shouldn’t have to work that hard for love.  Especially in an established relationship.” No matter what, the result is the same and that is an overall laziness…a complacency that becomes the downfall of many relationships.

Eventually, we all come to the realization that saying you love someone and meaning it are two separate things. I’m talking about people who simply stop trying, and live their routine every day believing that the love is there without ever having to work for it. Love can be attained in many ways, but not a single one of them takes an easy road.  There are no shortcuts.  It’s like raising a child…no good child that grew to be a good person, was ever raised in an environment where they were completely ignored and considered to be nothing but part of the “routine.”  No…they grow up to be the children who stab you in the kidney for a pair of slightly worn Nikes.

We all want our relationship to be full of life and love, and constantly moving and evolving. Sometimes it might not be a realistic ideal, but if you really care about each other, you should never stop trying.

My 1000th Blog Post

1000th Post

I can’t believe I’m writing this post… my 1000th blog post!

Who would have thought on March 28th, 2010, when I sat down and wrote this that I would be here writing my 1000th post and thanking almost 300 subscribers. It really amazes me.

Thank you all, whether you read it for the first time yesterday, or if you’ve been reading for all 3+ years, whether you visit frequently or infrequently. Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment over the years…  that makes blogging the best.

Here’s to the next 1000!