50 Shades of Red: How to Choose the Perfect Red for that Beautiful Pucker

A couple of Red Lipped Foxes!

Hands down Red Lipstick has got to be my absolute favorite go to color for lips, and has never disappointed. Red lipstick has always been there for me when I paired a white t-shirt with some jeans and needed a touch of glam, or when I’ve gone all black and required a pop of drama. It’s been there for me during the holidays and complimented my agenda for seduction. If Red Lipstick was a girlfriend, she’d be the one who knew all your darkest secrets and be the one encouraging you to live your best hoe life. Red lipstick, like many of us girls has had a checkered past, carrying reputation with the harlots, hussies, and courtesans -victims of slut shaming. Perhaps that is why I feel wearing Red Lipstick is my tribute to the women before me who paved the way to paint my face as I see fit, without prejudice.

In the article Empowering, alluring, degenerate? The evolution of red lipstick it mentions that “Until lipstick was popularized in the early 20th century, red lips were often associated with morally dubious women: impolite, sexually amoral, even heretical. In the Dark Ages, red lips were seen as a sign of commingling with the devil. The makeup “was associated with this mysterious, frightening femininity,” says Rachel Felder, author of last year’s “Red Lipstick: An Ode to a Beauty Icon.

Red lipstick also has its roots in political movements throughout history, so wear it loud and wear it proud!

Here are some of the Reds I have come across and use!

Best Reds For Every Skin Tone

TUBE OF Shiseido Visionary Gel Lipstick in Shizuka Red on a white background
UNIVERSAL: SHISEIDO VISIONARY GEUNIVERSAL: LIPSTICK IN SHIZUKA RED

Shiseido’s most popular lipstick is a long-lasting, full-coverage lipstick that features a special gel technology that is weightless on the lips and also delvers full-coverage. The shade name is really something special to the brand too; Shizuka translates to “quiet” or “calm” in Japanese.

$26 (Shop Now)

bottle of Fenty Beauty uncensored on a white background
UNIVERSAL: FENTY BEAUTY UNCENSORED

When it comes to universal beauty, Fenty Beauty does best. The vibrancy and high pigmentation of Uncensored make it a favorite in Lagos, says Nigerian makeup artist Joyce Jacob.

$24 (Shop Now)

Bullet of Christian Louboutin Velvet Matte Lip Colour in Rouge Louboutin on a white background
UNIVERSAL: CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN VELVET MATTE LIP COLOUR IN ROUGE LOUBOUTIN

This luxurious lipstick may seem like a stretch, price-wise, but there is a reason it’s Net-a-Porter’s best-selling red in Paris, the city of red lipstick.

$90 (Shop Now)

Fair Complexions

25 Goldie Red, Rouge à Lèvres Satin Lipstick
25 Goldie Red, Rouge à Lèvres Satin Lipstick $ 42 Shop Here
Matte Lip Kit in Boujee
Kylie Cosmetics Lip Kit BOUJEE | MATTE LIP KIT $17.40 USD Shop Here
Colourpop Crme Lux Lipstick in On Display  best red lipsticks according to skin tone
Fair Skin: Colourpop Crème Lux Lipstick in On Display
“In general, the lighter your skin, the lighter the hue of red,” explains Murphy. “Light and dark don’t only refer to skin tone, but also hair color and eyes; think of the overall impression.” If your skin is on the paler end of the spectrum, look for a red with a touch of pink for a playful take on a crimson lip.
$7 (Shop Now)
Tatcha Silk Lipstick in Kyoto Red  best red lipsticks according to skin tone
Fair Skin: Tatcha Silk Lipstick in Kyoto Red
One of Murphy’s go-to reds for paler skin tones is Tatcha’s Kyoto Red Silk Lipstick, which looks like a garnet in lipstick form. “It’s a balanced, bright, perfect red,” he says. “It’s classic yet modern, and works on light-to-medium skin tones.”
$55 (Shop Now)
Tom Ford Fucking Fabulous Lip Color  best red lipstick according to skin tone
Fair Skin: Tom Ford Fucking Fabulous Lip Color
Everything about Tom Ford’s limited-edition red lipstick — reimagined in a sleek noir tube — is impossible to ignore. From the intense color payoff to the decadent texture and the bold name, it’s no wonder it’s a makeup artist’s favorite.
$60 (Shop Now)

Medium Complexions

Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Mysterious Red  best red lipsticks according to skin tone
Medium Skin: Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Mysterious Red
“Nars Mysterious Red is a full-throttle, punchy blue-red,” describes Murphy, who recommends it clients with medium skin because of its highly-pigmented depth and wear time.
$27 (Shop Now)
Rimmel London Lasting Finish by Kate Lipstick in 001  best red lipsticks according to skin tone
Medium Skin: Rimmel London Lasting Finish by Kate Lipstick in 001
If you’ve got golden or warm undertones, a fiery orange-red will be your new calling card. Rimmel London’s red lipstick (made in collaboration with iconic supermodel Kate Moss) costs roughly the same as a chai latte and delivers a seriously punchy finish.
$5 (Shop Now)
Fenty Beauty Mattemoiselle Plush Matte Lipstick in MaDamn  best red lipsticks according to skin tone
Medium Skin: Fenty Beauty Mattemoiselle Plush Matte Lipstick in Ma’Damn
As if Rihanna would ever do us wrong. Fenty Beauty’s range of lippies includes everything from black, forest green, and Ma’Damn, a brilliant, royal red that looks incredibly rich on medium skin tone.
$18 (Shop Now)
Giorgio Armani Rouge D'Armani Lipstick in 400  best red lipsticks according to skin tone
Medium Skin: Giorgio Armani Rouge D’Armani Lipstick in 400
Another formula with the makeup artist stamp of approval is Giorgio Armani’s Rouge D’Armani Lipstick in 400, a high-octane red with a velvety matte texture. “It’s a perfect red,” Murphy says. “[It has] a great balance of blue and orange, the formula lasts a long time, and is sumptuous.”
$38 (Shop Now)
Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy Matte Sculpting Lipstick
The Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy Matte Sculpting Lipstick in shade Volatile is a pigmented, warm red that both illuminates and defines your smile. Its lavish hue coats lips in a drenching high-coverage pigment that sculpts lips with a mattified texture. Pair this warm hue with a classic cat-eye to nail that vintage glam look. Shop Here

Dark Complexions

Nars Semi Matte Lipstick in Shanghai Express  best red lipsticks according to skin tone
Dark Skin: Nars Semi-Matte Lipstick in Shanghai Express
Few beauty looks are as unapologetic as a bold red lip, but if you want a subtler take on rouge, try a semi-matte formula like Nars’s lippie in Shanghai Express, which Henney loves for its warm, brick hue that glows on dark skin.
$28 (Shop Now)
Marc Jacobs Beauty Enamored Hydrating Lip Gloss Stick in Black Cherry Baby  best red lipsticks according to skin tone
Dark Skin: Marc Jacobs Beauty Enamored Hydrating Lip Gloss Stick in Black Cherry Baby
“Darker skin tones can play with deeper, warmer reds,” says makeup artistMorgane Martini (who happens to be a Marc Jacobs Beauty Global Artistry Ambassador). “But I believe that ultimately you can rock any red because it also depends on the desired lipstick application and texture – for example, sheer or very defined.” Case in point: A glossy tinted balm which gives red lipstick a casual, versatile twist.
$28 (Shop Now)
The Lip Bar Matte Liquid Lipstick in Red  best red lipsticks according to skin tone
Dark Skin: The Lip Bar Matte Liquid Lipstick in Red
For deeper skin tones, Oquendo recommends taking inspiration from the red carpet for your perfect red lipstick shade. The Lip Bar Matte Liquid Lipstick in Red fits the bills with its lush, stay-put formula. And a major plus is it’s from a black-owned beauty brand.
$13 (Shop Now)
Best Red Lipsticks For Dark Skin: Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick
Pat McGrath Labs Matte Trance Lipstick  Shop Here
Best Red Lipsticks For Dark Skin: Yves Saint Laurent Tatouage Couture Matte Lip Stain
Yves Saint Laurent Tatouage Couture Matte Lip Stain  Shop Here
Too Faced Melted Matte in Lady Balls
The Melted Matte formula from Too Faced is a lipstick lover’s dream come true. It applies like a gloss but dries to an ultra-matte finish, providing a super easy way to achieve opaque lips. Not for the faint hearted, Lady Balls is a vibrant true red that really pops against warm and deep skin tones and is easy to pull off. Shop Here

From Victim to Survivor: Domestic Violence a Disease more Deadly than Covid-19

I have to take a literal gigantic breath as I begin to write this very personal post. It’s not for fear of the consequences of divulging such personal accounts, but the huge knots it creates in my chest; a psychosomatic response to re-living traumatic experiences. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I began to write this then had to stop. I’d get doubtful and insecure as I’d stew over the vulnerability one faces when we talk about our truths that may touch on less than favorable aspects of our past. I have never shied away from talking about personal questionable life choices as a means to relate with others easily to remove some of those communication barriers. I have typically communicated them in the most digestible of ways; leaving out the darker aspects that perhaps are too heavy to unload on anyone that isn’t being paid to endure it.

But you see since the pandemic closures and increased isolation, according to John Hopkins Medicine the rate of murder-suicide, in which a male partner kills a female and then himself, has risen since the same time last year. In my personal network, I’ve been inundated with reports of domestic violence and abuse that has sent me on countless occasions into a tailspin of worry and concern for those involved. I’ve lost a close family member to a murder suicide, leaving two small children behind to face a life without either parent. And then there is my story which lead me to the decision to share in hopes others can relate and identify the warning signs or a way out.

It would be about 20 years ago that I finally left a very horrific and abusive relationship. I was an extremely naïve and sheltered teen, having grown up fairly normal, in fact very privileged. I had attended a prestigious boarding school where the evils of the world I’m sure existed, however in my little world did not. I had heard rumblings of inappropriate teacher student sexual relationships, and the odd senior who was rumored to have used cocaine. I had high school boyfriends who were all respectful, polite, in which nothing occurred outside of the typical adolescent dramatic heartbreaks.

Once I had graduated I had taken off immediately to University in Ottawa, following my high school boyfriend so we could be together forever. By year two I had fallen out of love and into the lap of this beautiful Haitian Spoken Word Poet who played the guitar, spoke French and burned incense while we canoodled on a mattress on a floor. That ended when my time at University in Ottawa ended, as did my tolerance for the smell of burning incense. My repertoire of lovers had been always a beautiful sequence of experiences and lessons in which shaped my view on love and loyalty. I felt empowered, desired, and fearless in my trust of others with my body, mind and soul.

I didn’t know otherwise. The universe had not shown me everything yet.

I look back often and ask myself when did things go so wrong for me. I have enough self awareness now to acknowledge that I have always had a curious flare for mischief and risk. The excitement attached to choices I’ve made repeatedly have always been self indulgent in nature, and in my immaturity lacked foresight. I’ve often ignored consequences; drunk off the adrenaline rush and for the most part got away with a majority of the poor choices I made. Right up until I met B.R.

You see B.R. was a bouncer at a popular nightclub I used to work at in Vancouver. He was gigantic. This was new to me, and I was attracted to the dangerous disposition he possessed. There were no boys or men like this at my boarding school or University. He was the unicorn I wanted to ride. My 19 year old self was fascinated by the celebrity status he appeared to have with crowds of people who’d line up outside and ask for him by name. He was the gatekeeper of all things cool to my little 19 year old brain. What I knew was that I wanted to be associated with that illusion of power and importance. And as things progressed it was just that…all an illusion.

I would learn as we began dating all about his criminal involvement, drug dealing, and of course the women he was still dealing with. You would think that all those red flags would be enough to high tail it in the other direction. Not this girl. I wanted more. I wanted to be a bad girl. The boarding school student, University student life was too vanilla for me. It bored me and I thought I could handle it, I mean I had a promising future what could shake that up?

I was getting a lot of attention at 19 as I had learned to embrace my shape and sporting a blonde T-Boz haircut. I was working the VIP section, serving athletes like Gary Payton when the Celtics were in town playing the Vancouver Grizzlies. It was the height of the R&B era in the clubs and it was a spectacular time to be in mix, where I was situated front and center. I was hooked and I couldn’t be swayed in any other direction.

As the courtship begun with B.R. I recall one night I would be followed from my work to my condo where a car pulled up in front of my gate in which a screaming tall blonde came plummeting out of her car to confront me. Allegedly I had stole her man. I hadn’t cared – I was seemingly winning the battle. She would continue to stalk my work place, bringing her friends to watch and attempt to intimidate me. I’d be told over and over I was the only one and made to feel that way as other girls would look on with what I had assumed was jealousy. I wish I had enough smarts then to have walked away…that would have been the first chance that I had to do so.

Eventually B.R. and I would move in together. To be honest there is a lot that I don’t remember but I know that it was filled with every kind of abuse under the sun. I was being groomed during this time to eventually be trafficked the way he saw fit or when I would be sold. Car notes, cell phones and insurance would be put in my name, where I had no idea. Bill collectors would call the home of my parents looking for me where I’d adamantly deny that the man I was with could not have done this to me. If I confronted him, I’d be met with painful and degrading verbal abuse that only sunk me further into the belief I was nothing without him. He would not return home for days, leaving me wondering where he was and who he was with. I’d sob on the floor of my shower waiting for is return which with every passing hour it would cut deeper and deeper into my self esteem and whatever pride I had left. He had been using drugs heavily during these times and would return home strung out and agitated, and I was oblivious to it. I hadn’t seen hard drugs and I didn’t know what hard drug use looked like. He’d come home one morning in a psychosis where I was woken up by him on top of me with a gun to my head, and in the next moment, it would go off accidentally; hitting the pillow and passing through the wall out the siding of the building. Another time him and his friend would rob our apartment, taking anything of value. He’d later try to say it was probably “one of my little boyfriends” which only was a way to deflect the heat away from him.

Another time I’d had enough after a terrible beating where I was able to get away and call police from a payphone on Davie Street. I’d make the mistake of telling police that he had a gun and where I believe he had gotten it from. I would learn that there was already an ongoing investigation involving the parties mentioned. That action in itself would make me fearful to live or return to Vancouver for almost a decade. Its the fear of those consequences that made me decide to join the same man that I had called police on in San Diego where he had managed to get past the border and elude police. You see I was 3 months pregnant by this time and a very damaged shell of a human being. B.R. had been successful in isolating me from my family and everyone or thing that loved me- having me to believe that my only option was him. I left with no warning and no belongings other than some clothes and whatever mementos I could pack in a couple of suitcases.

I’d spend the next 5 months living in San Diego. In the beginning my parents had worked with Vancouver City Police to locate me and they were successful however I was not able to provide a statement to police that I had been coerced to leave or had been kidnapped. The term “grooming” hadn’t really been a term used a lot in addition the way they had executed the search for me was terrifying. We had been surrounded by SWAT and when we were asked to exit guns were drawn and pointing at myself and him. I was under the impression I was in trouble and was going to do anything to get out of it. As I sat in the back of a cruiser and asked b a male tactical officer if “I was okay?” I remained silent. They would release me back to him where he’d unleash the worst beating I’d ever had experience from him resulting in chunks of my hair ripped from my head and a swollen jaw. I’d spend the remaining months stuck in a small apartment with no furniture, often hungry with no means of communication with the outside world. Sometimes I’d be able to walk a ways to find a payphone and call home where I’d tell my parents everything was good. I couldn’t risk another mess up like before.

They knew otherwise that I wasn’t at all good and as painful as it was they would await the moment I’d call and signal for help. As my baby grew bigger in my belly so did the desire to have enough strength to call and make arrangements for my escape. I’d walk in the hot San Diego sun down El Cajon Boulevard to that payphone and make a collect call to my mom and dad in British Columbia. My dad would leave their house immediately and make the 16 hour drive to com get me, only stopping for gas. When B.R. left that morning, I’d gather my belongings as quickly as possible and begin the drive home to Canada, back to safety as it seemed. I’d go onto to experience almost a year of peace from that day on starting my new life as a mom to my beautiful baby girl.

But a year is not long enough to undo the damage that had been done and in my loneliness I’d romanticize the idea that perhaps our daughter would soften his heart and encourage a new start. The communication started slow and I’d be suckered into believing that he was sorry. Somehow he’d miraculously been able to make it back over the boarder again to B.C. where he indicated he wanted to meet his daughter. Being a mother at 22, I faced some unique challenges with the familiar feeling of isolation happening to me again. My friends at this time were still in University and none of them to my knowledge could relate or empathize with the situation I had found myself in. I felt like I had no one to talk to and had not yet faced the ability to share with my parents what had happened to me. I had not yet even processed what had happened to me yet, I was just trying to survive and take care of my baby. I had not had a baby shower and the arrival of my daughter was not the celebratory affair that many of us experience in better circumstances. I had been so tired of everyone feeling sorry for me at this time and wanted to appear strong again. I was primed again to fall right back into the hands of the devil nd so I did.

It would not be long before things fell right back into the same cycle of of abuse again. And it would not take long for it all to come to the moment where I’d live or die. And unlike the fog surrounding all of the other terrible accounts of abuse, this last time I would remember every minute. It would start on a Saturday morning when I’d be dropped off by a girlfriend who’s house I would have stayed at that night. My daughter was away visiting her grandmother for the weekend and I for the first time in over a year would go to a pub. I’d arrive at my little apartment I had gotten where I’d be met in the hallway by B.R. My house had been trashed and I could see my daughters toys, clothing and other belongings had been thrown out of the window as well in the dumpster below. I’d be accused of being with other men that night and called every disgusting name in the book over and over. When I had tried to leave I would be dragged to the bedroom where I was held for the next 24 hours. I would be punched so hard in the head I’d blackout and wake up hours later with him above me, spitting hateful things. I’d be allowed to take a shower to wash off the spit and urine that had been thrown on me, only to corner me more and have more urine and feces thrown at me. He’d rape me on the floor several times, choking me until I’d pass out. I’d pretend to be dead, in fact I thought I was, breathing shallow enough as to not give off movement in my chest. This would scare him enough to finally get up and leave the apartment. Hours later when I felt safe to move I’d find my way to the neighbors and call police for only the second time on him. My neighbor would then tell me that she heard me screaming but wasn’t sure what to do. He’d go to jail for a few months and then finally deported.

I’d never return again to a life with him, or maintain any contact, My daughter would never know her father and for all the right reasons. I would spare her and my family the gruesome details that I feared so much would shape their opinions of me. The same fear I face in sharing these details with you all. Other than the courts and the police who took my statements I would share only snippets of what I had endured. Last year I finally completed my trauma therapy, and would be delighted to find out that trauma therapy would not entail me to re-hash every painful detail I had carried on my shoulders for almost 2 decades. I’d learn so much about my resilience and finally begin to release the sense of shame I had carried with me for so long. You see shifting my perspective from being a victim of domestic violence, to being a survivor of domestic violence, has been monumental in my healing and ability to speak out proudly on the topic. The moment when I pretended to be dead was not an act of giving up, it was the will to live another day, and the moment that changed the outcome that allows me to be here today. It is what has allowed me to carry on working with families and children that encounter domestic violence, and what helps me engage with other girls facing sexual exploitation. It’s what lead me to a career in social work for the last 15 years. So many great things came from being a survivor and I feel just as passionate for others facing the same opportunity to change their outcomes.

As I conclude the hardest piece of writing I have ever done, I encourage you to connect with me if my story resonated with you. If I can be of any help, direct you to resources, safe houses, or be an ear to listen to please reach out! I urge others to talk about their experiences with trusted people who can offer a good ear or wisdom that may surprise you. Survivors are everywhere, even among those who seem like they have it all together. Below I have left a few tips to consider if you or a loved one is facing domestic violence.

What should I do to protect myself from domestic violence during the pandemic?

Links to services

Look Out for Warning Signs

Put a plan together if someone you are living with is:

  • being verbally or emotionally hurtful.
  • threatening you.
  • having episodes of explosive anger.
  • harming animals.

Steps You Can Take to Keep Yourself and Others Safe

  1. Find a place you can retreat to safely. Avoid the bathroom or kitchen.
  2. Enlist support from a trusted friend or family member you can call.
  3. If necessary, use a code word or phrase to indicate you need help.
  4. Memorize phone numbers of people and agencies you might need to call in an emergency.
  5. Make sure you can easily access:
    • cash.
    • identification (Social Security card and driver’s license).
    • birth and marriage certificates.
    • credit cards, safe deposit box keys and bank information.
    • health insurance information.
    • any documentation, photos, medical or police reports relating to previous episodes of abuse.

Are there apps or interventions for domestic abuse?

If you are feeling unsafe but are unsure if someone you are living with is being abusive, apps may help provide some clarity on whether or not you are at risk.

MyPlan is an app for anyone having issues in a relationship, COVID-19 related or not. The app can help users determine if a partner’s behavior is showing signs of abuse. Also, users can get connected to resources personalized to their situation and their life priorities.

In-person interventions can work, too. Strength at Home is a program offered by the U.S. Veterans Administration to address the problem of veterans using violence against their domestic partners. It serves as a way to help address abusive behavior without demonizing the abuser. Random controlled trials have demonstrated that the program is effective.

Curating Creative Passive Aggressive Notes in a Time of Covid-19: New Ways to Drive Each Other Crazy.

We are 8 months into a pandemic that seems like its overstayed its welcome ten times over. They had predicted back in May, that the Pandemic would likely be here for the next 2 years. And in keeping with our theme today I’d like to tell Covid-19 a big old “Thanks in Advance for all your dedicated hard work, you really know how to kill it out there.”

I’m over talking about the C-word and perhaps we can find some unity in a world that has become more divided in a time where it no longer is just Donald Trump’s fault. I’m sure we have all had the opportunity to get to know our partners, room-mates, kids and family far more intimately since being home more. Up to this point my partner and I have exhausted every possible petty argument imaginable that we have no choice but to get along now. I think we may have single handedly invented a new method on how to save a marriage in 8 months…wait for the book! It was encouraging to come across this post “73 Ridiculously Stupid Things Couples Fight About,” and check off every single one of them. Needless to say that the serenity has bored me, and I’m left wondering how can I be a next level pain in his ass.

Stupid Things Couples Fight About
This is about right….

One may ask why would I engage in pure flagrant behavior, and risk severing the life and limbs of my relationship? Well you see I’m diagnosed with Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, and I get bored very easily if I do not have new ways of interacting with the world or engaging in meaningful and productive activities. Also, this asshole never puts the empty toilet paper rolls into the garbage- he leaves them on the floor next to the toilet. If you are not on my level of petty then you can see your way out- we are not the same people.

Ways To Reuse Toilet Paper Rolls and Other Cardboard Tubes - Reuse Grow  Enjoy

This is a new concept for me as I’m not subtle in my communication styles, which is surprising since my mother was queen of passive aggressive communication and punishment. I will be using her as my guest consultant as I proceed with my devious plan. Seeing as my partner pretends to read my blog I don’t anticipate he will know what’s up until I use this post in an argument down the road. I can visualize it now, I’ll store it away in the brain compartment labelled “Ammunition” to prove he doesn’t support my success and dreams in life when it seems fitting. I’ve already won the hypothetical argument and he doesn’t even know it.

So I have begun researching how I may address his toilet paper roll oversights in new ways that will perhaps keep our love fresh by tipping the scales of risk. I feel like the scales may tip in my favor at least in regards to some really great make-up sex if it blows up in my face. Below is a few ways that I will be adopting over the next month or so.

They Just Don't
Somehow dishes are not his nor hers nor anyone’s as claims are made that they weren’t even in the kitchen the make the mess. Yet here they lay.
Here Are The 20 Most Passive Aggressive Notes Ever Left. #6 Is Much  Deserved... LOL. - ViralServ
passive-agressive-toilet-paper-home
passive-agressive-clean-the-fridge
This seems like a great way to suggest that Fridge Cleaning is open to other days outside of the days he needs space for beer storage.
Leaving communal kitchens untidy is a common office gripe with one person using Post Its to express their dissatisfaction with their co-workers
I’ll take 500 of these please.
When sales promotions go wrong: One shopper became enraged by a supermarket's promotional deals
Swears up and down he only had one.
i tolerate you cake wife prank
Finally a Cake I can make-Nailed it.
wife makes passive agressive flow chart for hunger
Robbie’s Wife can feel my pain.
When things are getting a little boring in your relationship, the best way to spice things up is with a sexy dress-up session..
When a husband asks for something, what does a good wife do?
There are two ways to handle an argument: draw it out for ages and ignore each other until someone relents, or make a slightly funny retort and forget the whole thing.

I should have probably began this post with a disclaimer that I am not a licensed relationship counselor. I could probably be described more appropriately as the antagonist villain in regards to all things relationship related. I like to keep things dangerous, teetering on the ledge, holding a match over a barrel of gasoline. You may be wondering how can you find success in a relationship with this kind of attitude.

I’m so busy coming up with new ways to challenge and test our relationship through laughter, humor, and being unapologetically myself that I don’t have much use for the real relationship killers. When playfully researching ways to get under my boo’s skin I came across How to Annoy Your Boyfriend and it mentioned common habits that are real killers. It mentions things like being on your Phone all the time, or abusing it as a means to be over controlling. Mind Games was another point and it breaks down many identifiable habits couples engage in. Playing up Insecurities by acting jealous, or limiting their time with friends, running their phone down. Being a Diva, and that’s not confined to just women! This includes Demanding things that are not financially realistic, always making a fuss over little things, chronically prioritizing your needs above theirs to name a few.

As I conclude I hope you can appreciate my tongue and cheek approach to the obvious challenges we are all facing. Whether it be in our romantic or within our platonic relationships as we continue to hunker down in our social bubbles. Try not to burst yours because unlike the pandemic relationships can be here forever.

Now go and get busy messing with your significant other. Give them a Big Ol’ Wet Willy and tell them Cece told you too!

Follow my Instagram for daily videos of me annoying my boyfriend.

Happy Pestering!

PLANNING OUTFITS IN ADVANCE WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE: 8 Benefits that Will Make the Difference

☁️ Spoiled Princess ☁️ | Spoiled quotes, Quotes, Queen quotes

Let me begin with saying that this Chica misses getting dressed for the office as I have been a part of the millions who are now working from home for the most part. While my job still requires me to leave my home, it often doesn’t make much sense to carry out the full routine for only a short period of the day. Getting dressed up now is often coupled with comments from my boyfriend suggesting I either have a hot date or I’m meeting the girls for happy hour.

This is a comical considering neither have happened in far too long. *Ahem*

I am long over the initial online shopping frenzy of the early pandemic days when I had imagined coming out of the pandemic lockdown and sporting a new #ootd every day of the week in celebration of re-entering society. Those dreams are long gone, washed away along with the 28 inch waistline I intended to have by the end of the summer. As I sit here eating Nutella from a spoon wearing my boyfriends oversized Alabama Crimson Tide Sweater, paired with Monday’s Yoga Pants my sadness deepens. And not because my waistline isn’t 28 inches but rather 34 inches, but because the outfit does not reflect my creativity and personal style when it comes to expressing myself through fashion. I wish I could be as forgiving as the stretch in my Yoga Pants on the matter, but I simply cannot take this laying down any further.

Literally I cannot…I have bruised ribs from a Snowboarding Fall. Laying down hurts. And so does breathing.

This cracks me up and I'm thinking I will wear comfy clothes 24/7 now. Lol

I had intended on photographing more of my #ootd and I think we can call agree Yoga Pants will not cut it. I continue to watch and admire Instagram Feeds and admire the flow of beautiful content being produced and wonder how are you all staying so motivated? It often makes me feel like I’m living in parallel universe and I’m on the side of the fence where everything is going to shit. I’m not travelling anywhere in which would provide opportunities for exotic photo ops, and frolicking down a cute cobble stone road whimsically holding a basket of fresh flowers. There are no glamorous nights out capturing me in all my glory popping the Champagne; my perfectly outlined Chanel Red Lips beaming with Dom kissed elation. It’s Winter here in Calgary where I’d typically be sporting some beautiful knee high boots with rich sweater dresses and holiday sparkled ensembles. But things just aren’t happening in my world that would even warrant the kind of effort I typically have applied in the past to a Wine Wednesday evening out. In addition we as a Province just entered a State of Health Emergency so I’m really not going anywhere.

But I still managed on Sunday to get back into the habit of planning my outfits for my work week. This is something I used to do habitually which I feel has often made my life so much easier. There are so many benefits to laying out your outfits ahead of time.

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  1. You get to sleep longer since you don’t have to mess about trying to find or put together an outfit. Who doesn’t love an extra 15-20 minutes of beauty sleep. Pre-planning outfits means you don’t have to think about what to wear after the alarm rings.
  2. You avoid Outfit Blunder Frustration that creates “Morning Stress”- Ever start your day upset because you cant find something to wear, cutting into your ability to stop at Starbucks drive thru. It just spirals down-hill from here. Why do another task in the morning when there is already so much to do? It can be a mad scramble getting you and your family out the door as it is. Don’t spend precious moments reconsidering what goes together, what is appropriate for the day’s activities and what is clean. Why empty your closet as you toss things about, trying to find where you put that nude-for-you camisole, or those shoes you thought you put in the bin under your bed? Alternatively, if you gather all the parts of your outfit the night before, you reduce that morning craziness.
  3. You Get Noticed-When you are well put together people appreciate the efforts you take. Confidence can be contagious. When you can put what you are wearing at the back of your mind, you feel happier about your clothes. If you are not irritated by the clothes you yanked on at the last minute, unhappy with the forced, early morning decisions you had to make, you will be more content with the clothing you already own. Stylish people look put-together. It’s easier to look put-together when you’ve spent some time and thought putting an outfit together. If increasing your stylishness is your goal, outfit planning is a sure-fire way to get there.
  4. You are more likely to wear things in your closet that have been tucked away gathering dust. Generally, we have a tendency to wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. This seems like a bit of a waste of clothes, dollars and closet space. Make a plan to figure out how to wear those items that you never seem to wear. Put your closet to work for you. You are less likely to feel like you have nothing to wear if you spend a few extra minutes building an outfit around some of the clothing items you haven’t been wearing.
  5. When you have a visual reminder of what you have you are far less likely to shop for things you already have, and saving your money!
  6. Finding new ways to wear things in your wardrobe can be so fun and provide you hours of music fueled entertainment during a time that we are spending much more time at home.
  7. Advertising your gift of style in your personal life as well as via social media could lead to side jobs like being a personal shopper, stylist, or closet consultant.
  8. Going through your closet allows you to get rid of stuff that is ready for donation and no longer serves purpose taking up space in your closet. As Marie Kondo would say “By acknowledging their contribution and letting them go with gratitude, you will be able to truly put the things you own, and your life, in order.”

Above I have what I’d call a Casual Friday Outfit that’s ready for the Happy Hour Girls that keep it going long after Happy Hour is done. I like that you can either strip the blouse and wear the body suit with some high waisted booty hugging jeans, or strip the body suit and wear a sexy black bra under the floral blouse for an equally seductive look.

Above I can mix and match jackets, tops, pants and shoes. I’m in love with a Chanel inspired look that again can shed layers interchangeably.

Tips on How to Make It Happen

  • When you are putting together an outfit, think about using a completer piece. Pick out the completer piece first and build the outfit around it.
  • Some will pick out their shoes first and build the outfit around them. Shoes do a great job of setting the tone for what you will wear. Also, shoes are one closet item that bring a lot of people closet joy.
  • If you plan your outfit ahead, you are more likely to wear accessories. Accessories go a long way to looking stylishly put-together. Accessories are like the icing on the cake. It’s hard to ice a cake when you’re eating bites of breakfast in between blowdrying and demands to sign permission forms.

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Out with the Old in with the New: A Guide to my Favorite Top 10 Christmas Tree Trends

Last year I was forced to finally dispose of my old Christmas Tree when we were in the middle of moving. My boyfriend had mentioned that the only way I was actually going to get the new white one I had been admiring was to ditch the old $25.00 bargain one I had found at Army & Navy. My bargain tree was mainly kept as a piece of nostalgia for all these years after it was bought after a drunken lunch with a my close friend April. I remember somehow we wound up there and I had never stepped foot in an Army& Navy before, so you can imagine how in Awe I was with the isles of random shit and necessary junk. We tested several 5star tents for comfort as well as an opportunity to sneak some purse wine until we came across the too good to be true Tree Deal. We pranced out of Army & Navy that day with our new trees and a warning that indoor tent drinking was not acceptable behavior for such an establishment. This coming from a store that sells Pocket Knives and Febreeze on the same isle…could have fooled me!

So here I am 11 months later and I have finally bought my beloved new white 9 ft tall tree. What I neglected to remember is that it will require a complete decoration overhaul. So with a new tree comes the need for a new theme to match the new home. I’ve been busy pintresting and seeking design inspo for this hefty task and thought I’d share some of the ones that have really stood out for me.

modern farmhouse christmas tree with hunter green, black, white and silver. hygge and hearth & hand inspired.
https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/303359724898381884/

Working From Home: The Vapid Truths and Finding the Break in the Clouds.

Cookiebitch: I WORK BETTER PANTLESS

I believe that everyone is having a variation of experiences with regards to the new norm of working at home. Our jobs and careers are all so different and require different elements of support, equipment, and the tools to continue staying efficient while no longer having a standard office set-up.

I know for myself since the pandemic hit I went from being excited about setting up a home office whereby I believed I would work diligently at my newly purchased white and gray marbled desk. Admittedly I created a beautiful and peaceful space to work in, however the aesthetic aspect of it wasn’t enough to keep me in my guest room slash/office. We were urged to bring home our work stations in order to emulate some sense of normalcy while at home working, but the concept quickly lost its magic. I hated working in a room that I had no attachment too and perpetuated a deeper sense of isolation. Thankfully by that time Spring was upon us and I moved my office onto my patio where I was able to feel more comfortable and productive. I flourished from the Vitamin D and ability to work at a much slower pace than I had in the 15 years I’ve spent working as a social worker in child welfare. I also knew that it was going to be vital to collect my strength, get my rest, and prepare for the storm ahead. What I didn’t expect was catching Covid-19 which would derail my plan to stay on top of the game, and ultimately put me on my ass for months. You can read about my experience HERE.

And as the months went on I would continue to try and remind myself there once was a time we’d get excited about our requested days to work from home in our pajamas. In the world of social work we call these “Paper Days” and in order to get a paper day you’d have to be extremely overdue on your paperwork and jump through multiple hoops to justify why you needed to be away from the office. These days were great and I just loved them! So you can imagine the internal conflict and confusion I’m feeling now that I live in a constant hiatus of paper day’s and somehow I’m miserable? But it looks like I’m not alone.

But like many things you never really realize what you have until its gone. I truly believe that in job roles within the human services sector and the health care system we are nothing without our team. When we are together there is shared sense of responsibility as we hardly ever work in isolation but rather engage in a consistent flow of dialogue that impacts how we practice. The influences we have on one another is invaluable learning that allows us to serve the public in positive and creative ways. Not only in regards to how we approach and proceed with the important work we do, but how our morale and personal emotional wellness can dictate better outcomes for the communities we serve. Just today we met via videoconference and were collectively brought to tears by the bravery and strength that has been demonstrated among us. Each person simultaneously dealing with their own personal anxiety, worries and challenges while serving the city’s most vulnerable youth and families who’s issues have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Yet continue to smile and encourage each other in small ways that validates we are in it together.

I feel like their bravery inspires me to pull up my socks and adapt to the new circumstances whereby I’m able to weave the silver linings into a broader concept of appreciation. I should feel so lucky that my ability to work from home is not complicated with daycare/school disruptions and closures. I don’t have the burden of home schooling children with my depressing remedial math skills, or worry about them interrupting my zoom calls. The worst I deal with is maybe my mothers oblivious decision to start vacuuming at the same moment I’m giving a presentation. Try coming back from that distraction unscathed.

So like I said, I often need to take a tally of the good things that exist because I’m working from home more than I could have ever imagined. And as a result there have been many unforseen blessings along the way.

For me its things like being able to spend my days with my new puppy who requires a lot of attention and training. If we were working in office she would be essentially crated all day, and that’s no life for a pup. In addition to this, I feel like I have my very own therapy dog available to me throughout the day to pet, hug and play with when I need a mental break. I love looking up from my computer to catch her clumsily playing about-it brings a genuine smile to my face every time.

Additionally, its given me time with my mother who is aging and has been isolated at home for the bulk of the last 8 months as a result of the pandemic. And if you catch me on a day she isn’t driving me bananas I’d gladly admit I appreciate this precious time with her.

I’m cooking more, which means I’m eating more, but nonetheless I’m cooking in a kitchen. Being at home allows me to spend the time to prepare meals and eat out less. I’m falling in love with creating great and delicious meals whereby cooking had lost its appeal for awhile.

Practicing self discipline is another element to working from home that I have benefited from. I imagine many business owners can attest to setting their own work schedules, and can comprehend what happens if they slack off. I for one have learned that everyday needs to be guided by a strict task list of to-do’s that I have laid out in my calendar as a reminder to abide by. straying from this can leave me feeling nervous or ill prepared in the case things become too out of control and I don’t have the familiar supports available to guide me through the snowball effect that occurs often in my field.

In Addition to this, I’ve been able to predict my days better whereby I can schedule breaks in my day to actually take a break. Prior to working from home I’d take my breaks at my desk, eating my lunch and still work at the same time. Now I’ll schedule it into my day and take my pup to the dog park, go for a bike ride along the river, go for a walk, attend the gym or take in a massage. These things would have been unheard of before.

Lastly my team has continued to engage in new habits to stay connected and supportive with one another. I’ve never been a fan of group chats but I make an exception with this group chat. It has been fun to bounce our sarcasm back and forth as a reminder that we are all in this together and all equally at the mercy of a pandemic that is effecting us in varying ways. What’s been unique has been the shift from solely professional relationships into an extended family we can count on.

The benefits of working from home obviously go beyond my personal accounts, and are inspiring companies to consider it for the long haul.

In an article I read titled “The Benefits of Working From Home: Why The Pandemic Isn’t the Only Reason to Work Remotely,” touch on a few other benefits. They mention Less Commute Stress, A Happier, Healthier Work Life, and Fiscal Savings.

According to FlexJobs’ 2019 Annual Survey, 78 per cent of people said having a flexible job would allow them to be healthier (eat better, exercise more, and so on) and 86 per cent said they’d be less stressed.

“You get benefits from increased physical activity, mental-health benefits from reduced stress, increased family time,” says Trevor Hancock, retired professor and senior scholar, school of public health and social policy, University of Victoria. “Once we stop running like hamsters on a wheel, [we can] look around and almost literally smell the roses.”

In addition, articles like the one in the New York Times, surveyed that the average office worker revealed they used to spend nearly an hour every single day commuting to and from their jobs — that’s five hours each week office workers could get back by working from home. And with less commuting there is less carbon footprint. According to Global Workplace Analytics, part-time remote work in the U.S. could slow carbon emissions by more than 51 million metric tonnes annually. Carbon footprints also diminish with reduced office energy, less business travel, and paper usage, it says. Meanwhile—with idling traffic accounting for three billion gallons of fuel and 26 million extra tons of emitted greenhouse gases—a one per cent reduction in vehicles on the roads could yield a three-fold decrease in congestion. Even roadway construction from wear and tear could be reduced by 112 billion miles a year, it says.

I enourage you to go forward and reflect on some of the benefits you had not anticipated on since working from home. Share them with me in the comment section below.

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Man Down…I repeat Man Down: How my Ego was Bruised and Left to Die a Painful Death on the Side of Broke-Rib Mountain.

Hello To all My TalezfromaBroad Readers!

Let me start with how badly I have been slacking at writing new material these last couple of weeks but in my defense its not my fault…well not entirely. A few weeks ago I wrote a Blog Posting called “My Winter Action Plan: A List of 9 Anti Seasonal Affective Disorder Tips You Can Try.”

I tackled #2 of my action plan with such ferocity, determination and good intention. In fact I went for it so hard that I cracked my ribs about 3 runs in, and was benched by noon at the lodge for the remainder of the day. Why I didn’t buy a half day pass is beyond me, and what’s laughable, is I was actually exhausted by the end of the first run. Muscle memory would require a few more trips before I could pull a full dayer, but Muscle Memory wasn’t the only thing that left me abandoned on those slopes that day. So did the illusion that falling at 42 was going to be the same as falling in my 20’s. This was hands down the worst injury I have ever had in my life, and I have done some stupid shit in this crazy life of mine. I’ve jumped off ski lifts into powder filled cliffs, gone back country riding, heli-boarding…you name it, I was balls to the wall.

Part of my determination around tackling this list too was that I now had readers holding me accountable…so I blame you too. *If you feel an ounce sorry I’m accepting Wine Subscriptions and Cheese.

So lets go back to the day of doom where my ego was murdered and smeared on the side of a Green Run Sunshine Village. I was fresh off the lift, I had just adjusted my boots and bindings as I was starting to get a good feel for my new equipment. My group had gone ahead a bit as I had a few more tweaks to make just as they had pushed off. I was in a tuck just prior to my epic bail and as my knees extended upwards I caught an edge that had planted me with such a force comparable to what felt like a freight train hitting a mouse… I was the mouse…flat and gasping for any kind of breath I could take. My diaphragm had begun to involuntarily take control of my lungs, forcing these horrific heaving sounds, as if Emily Rose’s Demons were exiting my body. As I got onto all fours still heaving, I could see someone coming down the run towards me on a board. For someone near death this typically would be a beacon of light!

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You want to know what happened next?

Instead of hailing down the approaching beacon of light, I held what little breath I had in me out of embarrassment. I was just too humiliated that I had fallen so badly that I was now injured. I felt as if I could mind of matter the reality of the situation and trick my body out of what had already occurred. I’m sure this was the concussion and adrenaline talking. So despite needing some medical attention, my stubborn ass thought perhaps I could get down on my own once I could figure out this breathing thing. Never mind that it felt like my breasts had been torn off on the icy tracks about 8 meters back, and quite frankly had decided they could stay there.

I must have sat there for a good half hour, just trying to regulate and assess where my body’s capacity for movement was at. Most definitely I was in shock, that’s for sure, because I was able to ride my board to the bottom of the longest run in life. I managed to unclip and carry my board to the nearest bar The Mad Trappers Saloon where I couldn’t wait to check and see if I still had boobies still. My group was there wondering what had happened and where I had gone. I filled them in, and I ate, drank, 1,2,3,4,5 beers, until I figured I could head back up the mountain with some delusional hope. I mean I had a full days pass, that was expensive. By Beer #5, things were not improving, and neither was my buzz. You’d think by then I’d figure out that indeed, I was very badly hurt, but I’m stubborn and to be honest I had been immune to injury up until this point in my middle aged life. To be honest the reason I decided to leave the lodge was that my phone was running out of juice and I knew I’d have to drive home still, which was a 2 hour drive from the mountain. Time was of the essence as my body continued to swell and ache by the hour.

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The Mad Trappers Speak Truth!

Fast forward to when I get home where I am greeted by my family who intuitively knew I was hurt. I thought I had been uncharacteristically void of my typical dramatics. Perhaps that was the “Tell” that gave it away, as I had no energy left to be remotely extra about the pain I was in. The stiffness and swelling had really sunk in after the long and uncomfortable journey home. I had told the RCMP officer all about it who had let me out of a ticket as I had been pulled over for erratic driving. You see I explained to him I was just old and trying to re-live my 20’s on a snowboard, which he appropriately let me off after he asked about the conditions and whether or not I had fun.(Only in Canada Eh!)

Once home, I crawled up the stairs, took some Tylenol and advised my boyfriend I was “all good, probably just bruised some giblets.” That night was the worst I’ve ever experienced as gravity presented itself as if Fat Bastard himself had decided to take a seat on my chest and kick up his feet for the night. By morning my boyfriend was shuttling me to emergency, where I conceded finally to the fact that indeed I was badly injured. No Beer, Nor Denial, Nor Tylenol would be able to persuade me otherwise any further.

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Trying to Rally Here…

Sure enough we got in fairly quickly, X-Rays done, and advised that they saw no breaks but couldn’t tell if there were fractures either, not that it matters because did you know there is nothing they can actually do anyways. I pretty much had known this as I had google diagnosed myself at 4 am when I was looking to see if broken ribs could be fatal. Broke Ribs no, but apparently collapsed/punctured lungs yes. Hmmm good to know for next time I fall. I was sent home to rest, take Ibuprofen, and make sure I try to take big breaths to prevent from getting pneumonia in my lungs from the limited air I could take in. They didn’t even give me any good pain pills- just a swift kick out the exit doors. That was the only thing I was actually looking forward too. It was like going to a birthday party with no goodie bags. So I’ve been Tripling down Advil every 4-6 hours since last week.

Here I am 10 days later, and I am struggling by the end of the day. Walking around seems okay until one needs to push a grocery cart, drive, roll out of bed, roll into bed, reach over to wipe your ass. At least I can take full breaths now. I will never take breathing with full lung capacity for granted again, god as my witness. Last week in my ignorance I had said I’d be back on the slopes in a couple weeks but I’m definitely going to be another 3-4 weeks.

So hopefully you all will accept my minor set back as I continue to try tackling the other things on my winter action plan. I hope to get writing too again some exciting new Talez as I heal up and avoid any major risky activities. And while I feel annoyed by the discomfort and how this injury is impeding on my agenda to grab life by its lady balls, I can appreciate how my body has come through this and protected me yet again.

I will leave you all with this quote I came across that is so very true.

“Old age is meant to slow us down just before the final destination; otherwise reaching the stop would be too abrupt.” – On Old Age”

― Lamine Pearlheart, To Life from the Shadows

Repeat After Me: I am allowed to look sexy, feel sexy, and be in love. I am worthy of all of those things. And so are you.

Me in all my Fluffy Fabulousness

I would have been around 7 or 8 years old when I recognized my body was built differently than the other girls my age. I had been in competitive figure skating from an early age, spending most of my mornings before school and after at the rink going between one lesson to another. I remember my favorite thing to do was go to the concession stand if my mom had given me some money and share an order of onion rings with my tiny friends. One of the sneaky things I used to do was comb the bottom of my fathers closet where change would fall from his pant pockets onto the floor. This would fund my concession trips on many occasions against my mother’s knowledge who was trying to mold her little Olympic Dream on skates. And as a result, treats were few and far between however and was always reminded that Onion Rings were not a “healthy option.” I didn’t understand why not, therefore given my personality felt more inclined to indulge in the forbidden every chance I could get.

To put it into context further, I was the kid who had the homemade fruit leather and vegetable filled pitas in my lunch, which as an adult I would not complain about this at all. Especially considering my breakfast, lunches and sometimes dinner looks more like a reheated Triple Skinny Latte most of the time. But for myself all I wanted was the fruit roll ups I could stick on my finger like the rest of the kids and chew on its artificially sweetened chemically saturated nectar. Hot Dog days at school were especially difficult- I’d salivate over the Orange Drink and smells of boiled mystery meat and mustard. Walking home from school I was advised to not go to the corner store with friends, but my dads closet floor would always pull through and I’d have enough to buy a bag of O’Ryans Sour Cream and Onion chips, with its savory thick powder coating. The walk home would allow me enough time to eat it, and dispose of the evidence just in time.

By no means do I intend on framing my mother as restrictive or intentionally harmful with regards to the relationship I have with food. You see she knew all too well what I’d face growing up with regards to my weight and sense of self image because she too struggled. She grew up in a time when body positivity was not a “thing” and if you were overweight you would shield your imperfections from the world as to not offend anyone. She would sometimes tell me my clothes were too tight, as a way f trying to protect me from potential mean comments or stares she had endured. I remember her telling me that she would wear big earrings to draw attention to her face and away from her body. I too often use this jokingly when I simply need an excuse to wear big gaudy earrings that only I could appreciate. My mom knew the world could be cruel to me and did not want to see me endure the same kind of judgement she had been through.

So when I could be seen in comparison to the other tiny ice nymphs it was clear I was going to be a bull within the china shop. At that time my favorite Figure Skater at that time was Serina Bonnelly, a muscular powerhouse of fierce athleticism. I wanted to be her. In fact I’d attack my jumps and spins with the same kind of ferocity I imagined she did. Fearlessly I’d approach my set ups with a crazed adrenaline determined that could out-do any element of grace required to stick a landing. I wanted to go into them fast and hard, like a kamikaze pilot raging into battle. As a result I’d often fall just as hard, getting up each time to try it 30-40 more times. I wasn’t concerned though about the falls because I loved the feeling of taking flight with the robust capabilities that my body gifted me with.

As my skating career continued I had begun Precision Skating with a group of 20 other girls, which is now known s synchronized skating now. I remember being fitted for my costume, it was an Annie themed routine, and I wore an electric red body suit with a little white collar. There I was with my oddly shaped 7 year old body, you know the one, round bellied sprinkled with hints of puberty. My legs were strong and I was a powerful skater with a tooshie to match. I loved Precision skating as it was so unique to work with a team as opposed to being alone on the ice. We had gone to a competition with our Annie program and we had taken team photos after winning first place in our category beaming with delight. I’d get the long awaited photo and pull it from its envelope and look for myself in the photo, and it didn’t take long as I stood out appearing like a brown haired chubby cherub in a red body suit. I no longer wanted to be Serina Bonnelly, I wanted to be skinny and tiny like the rest of the girls.

My heart breaks for my 7 year old self with that statement.

Similar situations like the Precision Team picture would occur into my adolescence. I continued to be powerful, strong and heavy into sports like Rowing and Field Hockey which I would excel in. Lazy I was not and loved competing and enjoying the thrills of being an athlete. But sure enough, with every team I was on, there I would be, standing out in photos, with my bottom heavy thick legs and thighs among the petit bodies that I wanted so much to be like. I remember hitting grade 11 and had decided I’d drop some weight going from 136 lbs. to 120 lbs. Weekends we would order pizza to our dorm and I’d savor my allowed portion by eating the slice in layers, starting with the cheese, then the soft dough, moving down to the bare bones of the crust.

I actually still eat pizza this way now, except I eat 4 pieces with ranch and hot sauce.

During that time in high school I had heavy training related to my sports teams, but additionally I’d spend my nights in the weight room working out on my own when everyone else was hanging out. I thought maybe if I could get “skinny” things would get better for me. Maybe I’d be more desired by the popular boys, maybe the cool girls would want to closer to me as a friend, maybe teachers would pay attention to me or even maybe I’d be noticed more for my accomplishments like the skinny girls were. What I wanted was to be seen and appreciated. It seemed like this happened so effortlessly for the skinny girls. This was the message the world was giving me at this time. It was reinforced by the early warnings of my mother who had shared similar experiences of being treated differently feeling that society did not value fat people. In my experience the ridicule came in the form of feeling often invisible in the crowd and achievements unacknowledged despite my efforts, dedication and performance.

“If we make self-love or body acceptance conditional, the truth is, we will never be happy with ourselves. The reality is that our bodies are constantly changing, and they will never remain exactly the same. If we base our self-worth on something as ever-changing as our bodies, we will forever be on the emotional roller coaster of body obsession and shame.”

— Chrissy King

By graduation, I was tiny, and I looked phenomenal catching the eye of those who underestimated this newly blonde and bodacious bombshell. I worked that form fitting Latin inspired dress like a rockstar…it was my night to shine and it felt so good to be looked at for once. I remember my father continued to comment on how amazing I looked and how everybody was staring at his gorgeous daughter.

I felt seen finally!

It was like a drug for a girl that felt so invisible.

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Grade 12
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1997-ish

After high school I’d venture into a world that was far more forgiving, team photos a distant past and tucked away in a box. My inner desire to feel the urge to compare and regulate my body weight would be fleeting depending on where I was at emotionally. Having my daughter would push me over the 200 lb. mark and keep me there 20 years later. I’ve fluctuated since then losing 10, gaining 20, losing 30, gaining 10. The game continues today. I’ve done weight watchers, Keto, G.I. diet, HCG, and gone vegetarian all with great results. I remember in June this year I’d lose 25 lbs on a quick and restrictive calorie deficit diet, feeling like I had hit the jackpot finally on my quest to feel good in the body I was given. I had been anticipating a night out with friends and planned an outfit that would show off my newly smaller frame. I’d put this outfit on and immediately hated how my body looked in it. Parts of my figure that I loved before no longer were accentuated in ways that made me unique from the pack. I looked like a deflated and more invisible version of myself than ever before. This was not the kind of reinforcement I had hoped for in the quest to continue my journey to be more visible and accepted in the world. And wouldn’t you know, within months I’d go back to the fluffier and more filled out version of myself.

I cannot win, but I’m okay with it.

Let me just say this, the happiest I’ve been with regards to my how I feel about my body is when I can work out 5 days a week and eat what I want. During my most gym dedicated times as my commitment often varies, did I ever lose any significant weight, but my body would change as did my confidence. Do I get “Skinny” by doing this, absolutely not as you can see. What does change though is my confidence and acceptance of how my body looks and more importantly what I can do with it. I continue to try and free myself from the chains of a scale and the displayed numbers that are not necessarily a determinant with regards to measuring the contentment within myself. In addition I’m so pleased to see how society and women especially have embraced the body positive movement, and that plus size models are no longer seen as the other or niche market. On social media you can see women of all shapes and sizes celebrated for their beauty and unique figures, all sporting a sense of renewed confidence that is refreshing for a woman like me who has been welcoming this moment since she was 7 years old.

I recognize that body augmentation remains to be highly sought after with women desiring to attain fuller curves and minimized waists. It mimics the same patterns I felt in my early years looking to be noticed in the hopes to have access to the same recognition and opportunities that appeared to come so easily to the skinnies. And do not get me wrong, I am not against any form of augmentation that a woman desires to get, as long as she feels good about herself and does not risk her health in doing so. What I do caution though within my experience of sharing that sense of wanting to belong and be seen is to not expect that in doing so doors will open or life will get easier. Life remains the same and is contingent on the ambition and confidence you have within- You Cannot Fake It. If cosmetic and plastic surgery opens the door for confidence to root its seeds deep within you then its a win in my eyes. To each their own whichever road you choose.

And to be fully transparent I would love to get a few things nipped, tucked and sucked! I’m 42 and I have at least another 5-6 years of pool parties in me- I wanna go out with a Bang before Menopause hits and I have hair growing out of my chest and bouts of lunacy. If I wasn’t so darn practical and lets admit…peasant poor… I’m sure I would have already dove head first into it. In addition I feel like I have some heavy work to do before taking the easy the way out. I’ve been saying to myself, first get healthy and super fit, see where you land in terms of results then go from there. Lets see if this materializes, don’t hold your breath y’all!

Each individual woman’s body demands to be accepted on its own terms.   

Gloria Steinem

  

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Confidence Starts on the Inside- Do I look worried about you think?
If Unbothered was a Swimsuit….

I believe I’m not the only one in this revolving door of wavering confidence mixed with good intentions and intermittent self discipline as it pertains to managing weight. And I don’t believe us full figured women are the only ones that can get consumed with the numbers on the scale. I’ve often heard my slender beauty’s say that there is an element of competition and scale number comparison’s among themselves. They’ve told me other women will ask them how much they weigh and from there put themselves into a frenzy to keep up and out-do that number. I was extremely uncomfortable learning that those kind of conversations even exist. I assure you in the fluffy girl world we do not discuss numbers let alone divulge them in conversation! That’s a no go zone!

But it does not surprise me either.

Shamelessly I admit I’ve been binge watching the Kardashians and on countless occasions the opening scenes start with “Oh my god your so skinny.” Whether its that Jonathon Chaban “Food God” or one the sisters, I cannot believe that is an acceptable way to either greet someone or say hello. What baffles me even more is how this guy eats the way he does and stays looking like Skeletor, I swear the man two finger diets his way through life. Its cringe worthy every time I hear them say it on the show, I just want to jump into the TV and give their necks a choke. I miss fluffy Khloe by the way!

This way of being extends itself to the world outside of the Kardashians whereby other women will refer to other women as “those skinny bitches.” I’m sure you have either been guilty of it or heard it from someone. I challenge you to think about how you felt in that moment and ask yourself what did I mean when I said that to someone?

Did I mean I think they are beautiful?

Did I mean I think they look like they have been working really hard at getting healthy and toning up?

Why did I not just say something more specific with regards to what I admire about them?

I think often our own insecurities become disguised in our admiration of others and can be damaging to them. It’s essentially role reversal body shaming and its not a good look either. Again I think it boils down to the perceived idea that being thin carries the illusion that life must be easier as a result of the smaller number on the scale. Thin, thick, in the middle, we all have the same struggles, that being the journey to love thy damn self and the vessel that god gave you. It has taken me a long time to come full circle with regards to not allowing my value and self worth to be dictated by the failures of the sliding numbers on the scale. As long as body positivity continues to trend and we begin to see a larger array of women being celebrated in various media platforms I think we can begin to close the divide of misconceptions. Taking the initial steps to be kind within ourselves will open the doors to consider being kind to others, being authentic in our admirations of others, and opening the door for dialogue, understanding and acceptance.

“So the question is, which boulder are you going to choose to roll? The ‘must lose weight’ boulder or the ‘fuck you I will boldly, defiantly accept the body I’ve got and LIVE IN IT’ boulder?”

— Kate Harding

We are all Beautiful!

Dear Santa: I’ve been a good girl this year

Christmas is just around the corner for the millions around the world that celebrate this holiday. For my family it’s a pretty traditional time for us as I was raised in a French Catholic household where we’d celebrate Reveillon Christmas Eve. Reveillon is a derived from the French word “réveil,” meaning “to wake up.” Essentially its an all night feast often eaten before and after midnight mass- for me it was a time to weasel my way into opening my presents as soon as we got home. I mean technically it was Christmas day!

I grew up as an only child and in all honesty I was spoiled each year, where my mother would feel the need to fill the tree up with presents in the attempt to simulate her days growing up with 12 siblings. I was more than willing to be the obligatory gift receiver so that my mother’s nostalgia could come full circle. With my own daughter I admittedly did the same. Now that my daughter is grown she needs things more in the form of an envelope filled with money. I thankfully have a new puppy to fill her shoes and fill the tree with unnecessary toys and treats.

But to be perfectly honest this is the year where I’ve written a list to Santa for old times sake. The year 2020 has been a bitch and I’m over being Practical Pam whereby I usually ask for things I want for the house. This year its going to be a list of all things I want but don’t necessarily need so I hope Santa’s elves are ready to deliver.

Santa…are you paying attention?! Here I go!

#1- A new Camera. I have not owned a camera since my pink Canon PowerShot from 2007. As my interests in blogging and creating content for my new puppers Instagram I’ve grown out of my IPhone’s capabilities. Another reason is that I’m wanting to expand on how I see the world in another medium outside of words and stories.

best-budget-camera-youtube

#2-Ring Light. I realize I am late on this as everyone and their mom has one. As my partner and I begin to play with podcast and vlog ideas the need for appropriate and flattering lighting is a must. And it will just compliment my new camera! Beware of an explosion of flawless photos!

8" Selfie Ring Light with Tripod Stand & Cell Extendable | Walmart  Canada

#3- Spanx Faux Leather Leggings. These puppies speak for themselves. I’m always on a hunt for the ideal faux leather leggings and can never find the perfect fit. Some either stretch out, wear out, or snag too easy. These suck you in and keep their shape every wear, while giving your tooshie a nice boost.

Are Spanx Leggings Worth the Hype? | The Mom Edit | Spanx faux leather  leggings, Spanx leggings, Spanx leather leggings

#4 Gym Bag. Specifically the ADIDAS BY STELLA MCCARTNEY ROUND DUFFEL BAG. Nuff Said.

#4. Perfume. Tom Ford Fucking Fabulous. Because honey…I’m going into 2021 Fucking Fabulous.

I have many more but seeing that Santa is working his magic in a recession I’d be happy with one of the above 😉 Tell me what you are all asking for this year and please don’t say world peace.

The Beautiful Truth: The Bewitching Qualities Behind the Filters

Let me start with being perfectly honest since the title of the post has the word Truth in it. I use filters ALOT in my social media postings. In fact I deleted Snap Chat a few years ago after finding myself somewhat addicted to the pretty filter…you all know the one. The one that gave you symmetric noses, perfectly big bright and centered eyes, and flawless angelic skin. For me my break up with Pretty Face came swiftly and with no warning. It occurred when I was amidst an internal chat with myself where this voice appeared and said “I hated how my pictures looked.” I was like who’s this bitch and who invited her insecure ass to the party in my head? I didn’t recognize that human inside me that was being so terribly cruel to a girl just trying to love herself no matter what. I had to make a decision to either get rid of that shitty uninvited insecure biaaatch or the filter, so in true CeCe style, I got rid of both the beasts. I’m aware this topic has been discussed time and time again yet here we all are, using some level of photo modification at any given time. I’m not oblivious to how products are marketed, and people are products themselves when they are selling beauty. We are no different than the products in commercials with Glistening Hamburger Patties that are actually painted with acrylics and high gloss epoxy glue’s to appear more Juicy and Appealing to the customer. If you have no impulse control like me, one may find themselves driving on over to Fat Burger at the speed of light. But we know damn well that Burger is not nearly going to look as perfect as it was in the commercial, but all in all, still pretty damn satisfying when it touches your lips. Different visual, but same sensation of pleasure depending on how Hangry you were.

That’s kind of how I feel without camera filters. I’m still a delightful meal, and my ingredients haven’t changed. I still come with the lettuce, tomato, onion, all the sauce and 1/4 lb patty flame broiled. Substance wise- What you See is What You Get and More if you look real close by opening the symbolic bun up more.

Are you hungry yet? I am.

You see sometimes what one person finds appetizing another may not. The Vegans reading this right now are probably gagging on my imagery as we speak. And how would you know what qualities that others admire unless you take off the veil from time to time. You see, I’ve often admired beauty within the physical sense in many smaller and more peculiar aspects of a person’s face. Such as the slight curl of a lip, or how their cheeks ball into little tight chestnuts when they smile. I’ll notice the little cute freckle under their eyes that gives them a sexy yet playful air of mischievousness. Even skin tones where the richness and texture of their skin, can be so inviting to the visual sense. The little goose bumps on their chest or arms that tell a story of their current emotion- all sadly get blended into one boring and consistent hue behind a filter. Tousled beachy hair that is carelessly flipped about that perhaps is on day 6 needing a good wash yet looks Sexy AF. MUAH! I love it all!

I think the textures, contrasts, variations of color in life are what ignite the senses far more than a “pretty” and uniformly symmetric picture. Consider how many magazines we have flipped through, or social media timelines, and I imagine if you are like me I cannot remember one face or specific image. I do follow quite a few artists and photographers that do capture the raw beauty that I find mesmeric. Suitcase Joe did a series on L.A.’s Skid Row and found beauty that was intoxicating and memorable.

Photos By: Suitcase Joe. Skid Row street photography. Downtown, Los Angeles California.
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Photos By: Suitcase Joe. Skid Row street photography. Downtown, Los Angeles California.

Beauty Filter Nemesis Cosmopolitan Magazine even did a feature on body positive photographers to watch out for and follow. Very noble of them considering! The photographer coined as “BODY-POSITIVITY CRUSADERS” are seemingly redefining ‘BEAUTY’ by portraying women of different shapes and sizes through an inclusive lens. And while I love and subscribe to the body positive/self image movement its still often only viewed as art. In which you are a subject of someone’s “Art” or shared in an artistic platform with the hashtag #bodypositive the simplicity of the beauty is often missed.

Four Body-Positive Photographers Who Are Redefining Beauty

1.Roshini Kumar @rosh93 (All photographs are from her series BARE)
Photos by Roshini Kumar @rosh93
Four Body-Positive Photographers Who Are Redefining Beauty

In conclusion I urge you to take some time to admire all the ravishing intricacies that you have within your unique beauty and share it courageously like I did below!

Bedroom Escape Day: A list of Bedroom Activities for When the World is Sucking too Badly

My bedroom has always been my safe haven, my Cubbie Hole of Bliss you could say. And not just because for the obvious reasons *wink *wink, but there is something to be said about the calming effect it has on my spirit when I just need a break. Over the years I’ve mastered the art of soft lighting and luxurious textiles that caress my weathered skin, hungry for some solitude and kindness. Now that the snow has fallen my desire to batten down the hatches has grown even more so, drawing my blinds closed until the Spring.

As I mentioned before, by no means do I associate time to my bedroom as a place where I skulk and withdraw from Joy. In fact its where I come to recharge, free myself from the distractions and negativity in a space I can control. Every now and again I use it specifically for a day when I need to filter out the world a bit and get some reprieve from the ugly; Calgary weather included. When I’m in my fortress of solitude I don’t just lay in my bed with my covers pulled over my head like you may have imagined. In fact it may be some of the most productive time that I spend with myself. Some may wonder how is it possible to stay so busy and entertained within such a small space let alone by oneself. Well let me put you on to some simple ideas that you may want to consider next time you want a break from the world.

This idea came to me almost 10 years ago and has stuck ever since. It was rooted in nostalgia originally from my days in high school and university where we’d rotate stacks of fashion magazines. It seems like when social media took over and magazines/gossip could be accessed more readily online that the fascination with print died. In a genius move, I brought it back for days like this. I’d buy the Cosmopolitan, People, Vogue, and Rolling Stone to name a few. I’d read them from back to front like I had 20 years ago because we all know the juicy stuff was in the back. I love coming across the perfume tester pages so that I could rub its papery fragrance all over me like I was headed to a 7th grade dance hoping to score my first French kiss. But what is a stack of magazines without a bag of Twizzlers- its not so grab two!

Run yourself a professional bath- my bathroom is open concept so technically its still in my room. The decorative candles bordering your soaker tub that may have a layer of dust on them-Light those Puppies! For gods sake candles are meant to burn, and they aren’t an ambient accent unless they are lit sis. Next, throw on some kick ass jazz or whatever tunes get you singing along sorrowfully. For me its Nina Simone, Lana Del Ray, Tash Sultana, or my ultimate fave; 80’s Hair Band Ballads. Those you can really murder the best with your angelic voice as loudly as unnecessarily possible. I love a good ol’ sing along to some Guns and Roses Don’t Cry. I imagine you’ll remember lyrics that you hadn’t sang since you were backcombing your bangs and getting spiral perms. When your done, make sure you moisturize the hell out of your body with every miracle cream that’s under your sink and lay there butt ass naked until every fragrant globule of magical serum is absorbed. You may look like a buttered biscuit, but guess what, buttered biscuits are delicious.

Make yourself a snack platter you can graze on all day. It needs to be complete with all the cheeses, meats, dips, olives, bits and bites. Include some fruits to cut the salt intake, it will make you feel like you are indulging in a healthy way. Hell, even make yourself a jug of spa water and finish that up to ensure you are adequately hydrated as the goal here is to rejuvenate and recharge.

Do something creative whether its writing a blog, sketching, brainstorming interior design ideas, or coming up with small business ideas. These often can manifest themselves into bigger goals in the future that could materialize into new passions. Perhaps write a poem, or get out an old cute note book and jot down some free thought words. Let your mind go a bit and do something maybe out of the ordinary. Maybe you like nail art, try doing something different with your nails by watching a you tube tutorial on it. Or learn a new braid and practice it in the mirror. These are all little things that we often too busy for in our lives to consider as being alternatively mindless but pleasant ways to spend time with yourself.

Play dress up. Get into that closet of yours and drag out the items you don’t wear often. Try to put new outfits together with these items that you can get excited about when you emerge from your Cubbie of Bliss. In fact while your in there, organize a weeks worth of outfits ahead of time. If your up for it you can take it up a notch and do a full runway show, documenting how freaking amazing your style is and celebrating your ability to repurpose that sequined blazer you wore once at a new years party 5 years ago. Sequins never die queens.

Put on an old 80’s movie and fall asleep to it. Go sweetly into a wonderland of REM sleep that’s influenced by the movies white noise guiding your Adventures in Babysitting, or perhaps a day off with Bueller. For some reason I feel like these naps are best had in jeans…odd suggestion I know, but how often do we get to sleep in our day clothes? I find denim warm and all encompassing, holding me together like a hug I consented too. There is an underlying feeling of unfamiliarity napping in the daytime with my clothes on…it’s laziness coming to fruition, not something I personally can always enjoy without guilt. But in the Cubbie of Bliss, there are no rules and there is no guilt because here you can spend the day however you wish.

So as you can see I have some unique ideas tailored to my own personal comforts and quirks. They are merely a guide to ignite your own exploration around finding ways to be with yourself if you struggle to sit in isolation but feel weary from the world around you. In fact I came across an article in Forbes stating that there are 7 Science Based Reasons Why Should Spend More Time Alone.

According to Amy Moren, a psychotherapist and the international bestselling author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do there are a multitude of studies that tout the benefits of solitude.

1. Alone time increases empathy. 

When you spend time with a certain circle of friends or your co-workers, you develop a “we vs. them” mentality. Spending time alone helps you develop more compassion for people who may not fit into your ‘inner circle.’

2. Solitude increases productivity.

Although so many offices have started creating open floor plans so everyone can communicate more easily, studies show being surrounded by people kills productivity. People perform better when they have a little privacy.

3. Solitude sparks creativity.

There’s a reason a lot of authors or artists want to go to a cabin in the woods or a private studio to work. Being alone with your thoughts gives your brain a chance to wander, which can help you become more creative.

4. Being alone can help you build mental strength.

We’re social creatures and it’s important for us to have strong connections with other people. But, solitude may be just as important. Studies show the ability to tolerate alone time has been linked to increased happiness, better life satisfaction, and improved stress management. People who enjoy alone time experience less depression.

5. Solitude may reduce behavior problems in kids.

When you carve some solitude in your schedule you show your children that being along is a healthy thing to do. And research shows kids who learn to by themselves are better behaved than other children. Be a good role model and teach solitary skills early.

6. Being alone gives you an opportunity to plan your life.

Most people spend a lot of time planning weddings and vacations but never plan how to get the most out of life. Spending time alone can give you a chance to ensure there’s a purpose to all of your hustling and bustling. Quiet space provides an opportunity think about your goals, your progress, and changes you want to make in your life.

7. Solitude helps you know yourself.

Being alone helps you become more comfortable in your own skin. When you’re by yourself, you can make choices without outside influences. And that will help you develop more insight into who you are as a person.

Thank you for continuing to read, follow and comment on my unique brand of crazy tales and thoughts! Lett me know in the comment section what you love to do in solitude!

An Affair With Las Vegas

Las Vegas for those that are visiting can deliver a multitude of impressions depending on the person, age, financial status and moral compass they live by. You have your Las Vegas Show Bunnies in their sensible Naturalizer sandals who flock to see Celine Dion, Chris Angel and the Chippendales. You have your conference attendees who peruse the halls at the MGM in their lanyards juggling their plastic swag bags and their atrociously obnoxious neon Margaritaville glasses. Half Sugar half bottom shelf vodka. Then you have your bachelorette/bachelor crews where at any given point someone is barfing, someone is crying, and someone is having public sex. There are so many types of visitors worth mentioning which is why Las Vegas hands down can be the most fascinating place in the world to people watch in. Perhaps this is why I have always found it such a seductive city to the senses, whereby mine are on high alert from dusk til’ dawn.

I’m happy to be alive in order to share my Vegas Talez as my moral compass has often been left at the airport gate once I’ve landed at McCarran International Airport. I’ve been a frequent traveler to Las Vegas since 2011 where I was one of those bachelorettes, minus the penis straws and feather boa’s. My girlfriends are far more refined when it comes to protecting the image we aim to uphold, until the tequila and dirty martini’s begin to flow like the Nile.

In 2011 I went to Las Vegas with $500 bucks in hand, sporting my newly installed feather extensions. I had packed 3 new Victoria Secret Swimsuits, an assortment of bandage dresses, and enough blinged out costume jewelry that would make Joan Rivers proud. My maid of honor at that time was a well seasoned Vegas Pro and had set us up in a beautiful Suite at the VDARA, and had us lined up for all the best pool day parties. I remember pulling up to the VDARA with its dramatic design by world renown architect Rafael Viñoly. The opulence of the Lobby included a splendorous array of fine art by Frank Stella at the Front Desk to the specifically commissioned work by Peter Wegner in the Concierge Living Room. Every element existing in unison to create a sensation of peaceful serenity making the stench of harsh heat on dirty Vegas pavement a distant memory. I won’t bore you with the details of my Las Vegas maiden voyage as those details will go with me to the grave. I’ve been sworn to secrecy to protect the identity of the attendees, strippers, as well as the men and women’s hearts that were broken that weekend. It’s safe to say that my first trip to Las Vegas as a bachelorette would be the beginning of my love/hate affair with this the Vegas day & night life.

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Fast forward 9 years later, and while my gross yearly income has not changed significantly I cannot imagine surviving in Vegas on $500.00 spending money. My affluent tastes have since surpassed that measly stipend and I blame the enablers who have brought me to this point of no return. To all intents and purposes, I actually owe a great deal of gratitude the people, friends and family along the way that opened my world to these luxurious escapades I would have not otherwise had the pleasure of experiencing. I would go on to experience the beautiful resort properties of the Wynn, Encore, Aria, Bellagio, Cosmopolitan and my favorite The Palms Place. I could go on about what I love about each property but will save for another time as they all deserve to be highlighted in various ways.

Back to the Party!

You see in the early years of my Vegas trips, I quickly learned what type of Vegas visitor I was. I was aroused by the scintillating synthesis of the senses that the Las Vegas Party Scene created. The immersion of architectural/ interior design, bewitchingly sexy bodies and Tantric base of the music can be as powerful as a snake charmer drawing you into a web of indeterminate adventure.

Drai's Dress Code | Drai's Beachclub & Nightclub

I favorably smile upon the time a group of us had a front and center table at Drais Nightclub during the infamous Las Vegas AVN Adult Entertainment Expo held there yearly where we were flanked on each side by the porn industries finest. As the night progressed, the bodies became more and more entangled, woven together, and bound by the rich smell of the leather seats, sticky with champagne and mixed juices. I’d fall back into it, feeling the warmth pulsate through my body admiring the kinetic light show that made it all feel like a dream. In fact it was a dream come true as my senses fluctuated between the touch of a hand, a kiss from glorious engorged lips to the disarming aroma of vanilla and rose oils. Calvin Harris’ music would move my body with no inhibitions and find the beat at every moment, shifting with the audio-visual ques of the screens around me. Tall handsome security men, dressed in fitted black dress shirts and tailored to fit pants would open the red ropes for me, offering a muscular helping arm as I wobbled unstably in my platform heels. They would dote, smile and ensure my safety at all times keeping the undesirables away while facilitating the desirable’s entry towards me. The heat from the crowd would wet the baby hairs along my hairline, creating a crystal glimmer on all of our skin, capturing the lights. My dream wouldn’t end here though.

XS Nightclub Bottle Service | Surreal
Aviccii Announces Final Vegas Dates - Pace.Vegas
Avicii @ XS Nightclub

The Cabana’s at XS Nightclub would prove to be another formidable experience to add to my mounting repertoire of rapture. I had been to XS many times and experienced their bottle services, having seen some of the best DJ’s in the world there perform. Ironically I remember being front and center on the dance floor for RL Grime, and there beside me stood the late Avicii, completely blended into the crowd. We looked at one another seemingly in the same state of euphoria that bonded us in the moment requiring no verbal communication. We had established that we were both there for the musical intoxicating rush, and neither of us would ruin that for the other by exposing his presence among us common folk.

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But alas, I had no time for the common folk when I entered the beautiful and luxurious realm of the XS Cabana’s. The warm red hue’s of the private bungalows offset by the glow of the surrounding turquoise lit pool was the perfect backdrop to take in the Chainsmokers who were performing that night. My feet swollen and sore from dancing the previous 3 nights away welcomed the lavish cushioned sofas and ottomans that prove to be my most welcomed ally for the night. They propelled me higher into the Las Vegas night sky where I could watch from my elevated perch the magical circus below. I’d dance all night in the comfort of our very own Moroccan themed palace, until both magnums of Belvedere were gone. What a Glorious Hot Mess I was leaving the Wynn Resort that night.

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Lounging in my Palace at XS

There were many more of these incredibly unique only to Las Vegas experiences, however I must mention my favorite type of Las Vegas parties, which is the Day Pool Parties. Whether it be Wet Republic, Encore Beach Club or Drais, they all offer an incredible way to avoid having to wear heels and minimal attire to flaunt your best assets. Again the Cabana’s are wonderful to retreat to out of the hot sun or if you are requiring an intermittent disco nap. However, getting a day bed in the center of the mix is the best way to go in my opinion. You can take advantage of all the bottle service and menu perks while staying relevant in the sea of sexy wet bodies. People GO HARD in the daytime in Las Vegas, and if you are able to resist the magnetic energy flowing than I’m going to assume you have no heartbeat. One can’t help but grin with a childish glee when the base line drops and alcohol tainted chlorine water begins to splash about like a manic tidal wave breaking free from its intended form. When you look around, everyone has the same foolish grin, ignoring the fact that any other time they’d typically be guarding their mouths and open drinks from potential contamination. Its in that moment you say:

Who fucking cares, flap your wings and get your eagle on girl, mascara can be fixed!

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https://instagram.com/p/BEhLlhlIpk1/

Such carefree elation like this comes at a cost however both in the traditional, emotional and physical sense. It typically hits me as I approach my airport gate, where I search for a corner on the floor to rest my weary head until my flight is called to leave. The come down from a sensory high like this can be harsh and cruel as many of us return to mingle among the common folk where we appropriately belong. Boarding the plane with imaginary mangled crown sliding off my head by the minute I’m usually seated in the middle between the conference go-er and the Show bunny. Neither appear to be impressed by the sweet lingering smell of vodka and sin emanating from my pores. The remainder of the flight I will fall into a coma sleep, head bobbing and drooling pathetically. I’ll recover, and the discomfort I’m in will fade away, lusting for another Las Vegas affair.

Coming to Africa: Part 2

The Royal Visitor

Settling into a small African village in the middle of rural Tanzania was not as difficult as I had anticipated. Perhaps it was my experience growing up as an only child, that I was able to easily entertain myself through various means of daydreaming of soap opera type scenarios in my mind of what I imagine my life was like in an alternate universe. I always had a way of finding excitement in the forbidden, and would later in my adult years fully bring that concept to fruition.

But back in Africa there I was a young adolescent girl in a place where all eyes were on me. Not because I was particularly cute or worthy of any attention, in fact I was at the peak ugly stage with my new little cone boobs stuffed in an ill fitting training bra and face full of acne. I was the only white teenage girl in our village, and probably the first that many children and adults had seen. My skin, hair, clothing and activities were a source of fascination among the towns people. I only apologize that this was the first impression they got, because I assure you I die every time I see old pics of myself. Teens today will never understand life without filters and not knowing how at one time we didn’t wear make up that contoured and covered up the misery of awkward adolescence. This type of attention I can assure you is remarkably uncomfortable and definitely the first time I had experienced in my life being “the other.” However, I think it also played a major role in feeling comfortable and confident later in life and navigating the unfamiliar and adapting to my surroundings easily.

I had begun to explore and move more comfortably in my new community of Mgololo. There was a club house nearby where members could access an outdoor pool. It was rarely used by the local members as swimming wasn’t an activity that was actually common for the local kids and adults. So I would go naively in the hopes of meeting friends, but often would end up more like a circus act of one. The children would line up along the fence and people would collect and watch from the stands. It didn’t help that these were the years where Body Glove Swimsuits were in and there I was with an electric yellow neoprene suit looking like sponge bob flapping about in her very own Bikini Bottom Village of one.

Like I mentioned before I had the tendency to escape into alternative universes of reality. When I was at the pool I’d spiral into my make believe worlds, and this was like any other daydream where I became an Olympic Synchronized Swimmer- without the team obviously. I had no idea what I was doing as I had no experience in Synchronized Swimming nor had the athleticism to hold myself in any kind of position that would even remotely look like something graceful and coordinated. But I’d dance away, flailing my arms about, doing handstands, then darting out of the water with one arm shooting up to the sky. A few times I’d come up coughing and choking from taking in too much water in my aggressive attempts at more dangerous and intermediate moves. I’m absolutely sure I looked completely insane. My plan to draw in friends and meet people was completely annihilated by my weird ass resulting in defeat and loneliness. I skulked all the way home that day, retreating back to my bedroom and slamming the door in defeat. My only solace was eaves dropping on our gardener Felix who I had already begun to spin a forbidden romance with in my mind as I watched creepily through the curtains.

The Exact Bathing Suit I Wore

The next day was a new day and I had been in the bathroom for about 4 hours learning how to cornrow my own hair so that maybe I’d fit in more. I’d later find out that our hired house assistant Katherine could do it in the matter of an hour. I would also like to share that as Boujie as having a gardener and house assistant sounds, I assure you it was not and just a means to employ some of the folks. Our house was not even large enough to need any help with either, so often we’d all just hang out in the yard. I heard a knock at the bathroom door and opened it slightly as to not reveal the hideous attempt of cornrows on my head. Katherine was at the door giggling and told me I had some visitors. I thought she must be mistaken, unless word of my incredible Syncho Skills made it to the Olympic committee. She stated that there was a young girl my age named Miriam Mbelo at the door with her chaperone Charles Mbelo- whom I’d learn later was her older brother and worked at the same Mill as my father as a junior supervisor.

I quickly ripped out my braids, leaving my hair all crazy and kinked and approached the door. Miriam was tall, slender and had beautiful dark ebony skin with short hair. She was wearing a traditional African print handmade dress, and looked so mature and regal for her age. Miriam introduced herself and I was so pleased to find out she was my age and had invited me to come to her home the next day. Her older brother Charles quickly moved in front of her, introducing himself likewise. Charles was very formal in his introduction and advised that he would be coming to collect me the next day to escort myself to their home. I advised that I could find my way just fine as it was only around the bend, however he insisted I be escorted. Not wanting to ruin my chances at making a new friend I agreed riddled with anxiety about what on earth did I just experience. First who the hell were these people, how did they find me, and what is a chaperone and why did I need an escort? Katherine was no help and was snickering in the background the entire time because she already knew what was on the horizon.

Later that day my father had come home for lunch. It was customary in Tanzania for the big meal of the day to be eaten at lunch time. We’d all sit around the table and eat the equivalent of a meal that could be more suited for dinner. It was also an opportunity to acquaint Felix and Katherine to some of the North American delicacies we’d have shipped to us. Kraft Dinner was a popular one that we could all agree tasted better with hot dogs and hot sauce. At lunch that day, Katherine sat there staring up from under her shy disposition giving me the “eye” and signaling that I should probably share that I had visitors today and subsequently agreed to be “escorted” to an adolescent play date.

I casually blurted out to my father that I had met a friend named Miriam Mbelo and would be going to her house the next day.

My dad looked up and began roaring with laughter- was he drunk? Did I miss something? Being drunk at lunchtime in Africa was not a far fetched concept for either of my parents during this period so it was possible.

My dad began to sputter through the laughter and mouth full of food that our dear friend “Charles” had arrived at his office earlier that morning introducing himself and sharing a lengthy resume of accomplishments with my dad. My father stated he was really confused because he had not known or spoke to him before but had only heard that people called him “Prince Charles.” He had been left wondering what had he done to be blessed with the presence of such a royal visitor, the Prince himself. His reputation of having quite the inflated ego and sense of self importance among his colleagues was how we all became familiar with how he got the name “Prince Charles,” and was forever only addressed by this name forever after. My father provided a bit more background with regards to how the Mbelo’s were higher on the status pole within the village and could only guess where this was heading. I’m pretty sure they 100% knew where this was going but at my expense wanted it to play out for their own entertainment. My family can be cruel, especially if it means there will be laughter and humiliation involved.

So the next day, Prince Charles arrived promptly in another freshly pressed ill fitting suit that I imagine had been his fathers at one point, or still was his fathers. The pants were too short and displayed his long thin dusty ankles, which made his Sunday Church shoes look surprisingly newer in comparison. Clearly, his freshly moisturized legs had no chance against the dusty red clay roads that he marched fervently through to get to my house around the bend. I can only imagine the spectacle that this journey created in the little village, because by the time he arrived at my house there was a group of children trailing behind him with curiosity. The last time someone was dressed like this was when Mama Fifi, who owned the brothel by the mill, got married.

There was no turning back at this point for any of us as the ground work had been laid and the wheels were in motion little to my knowledge. Katherine promptly opened the door and invited Prince Charles in who sat poised like a regal Lion looking down from his perch above the Serengetti Plain…. except his perch was on our little wooden couch. I came out in my over-sized Spike Lee T-shirt, ripped jeans and threw on my flip flops completely oblivious to what was occurring. When Miriam was not there I just assumed she stayed in from the African heat. I scooped my Nintendo System, and some of my plastic friendship bracelet wire so that there would be no room for awkward silence between Miriam and I. I was not familiar with what African girls that were my age did and was more than willing to share a bit of what us Canadian girls did. So I headed towards the door uncomfortable with the formal presence that was sitting in my living room, and headed out the door without Prince Charles. I mean what was he waiting for, I didn’t need an escort to begin with?

There I was walking ahead at a brisk pace, village children trailing, and Prince Charles bringing up the rear. He asked if he could oblige by carrying my game system which I said “I’m cool, I got it.” Like what does a 13 year old girl talk to a twenty something year old man about? These were before the days of social media and internet whereby girls were not fascinated at all by grown men unless they were a lead singer of an 80’s hair band in spandex. The only boundries that were crossed at that time was maybe that one time my mom caught me tonguing the shit out of my Ralph Machio poster. Again, humiliation at my expense.

Thankfully the walk took less than 10 minutes as I had not developed the gift of small talk at that age yet. Prince Charles had gotten my age, grade, and that I was only child out of me before we landed at our destination- The Mbelo House. Miriam came out to greet me very formally again and was brought into the modestly decorated home that had a lot of the same furniture we had in ours. When the mill was built, many of the houses must have all been furnished the same in order to settle a mass amount of Expats and Tanzanians into a small remote village to run a fairly massive pulp and paper project. Miriam was impeccably dressed again and I wondered if she was always going to be this proper as I was not equipped to match her class and polite disposition. Lets face it, I was swearing like a trucker by the age of 5 and I was eager to see what damage my influence could do. Prince Charles who was in my peripheral was not helping either with my master plan. I wanted to talk about boys; boys private parts, anything and everything to do with boys. I needed to know if she had gotten to 3rd base because I wanted to share that 2 months before I got felt up over the shirt, and needed to address the other burning preliminary questions that would help us be BFF’s for life! I wanted to know did she love Bon Jovi as much as I did and if she thought Axel Rose stuffed a sock in his white jeans or was that really his ding dong? Prince Charles needed to make an exit, and wasn’t going anywhere as we sat there in silence.

After what seemed like an hour of staring, I asked Miriam if she wanted to go cruise the red clay streets of Mgololo. Surely this girl knew this was code for lets go find some boys to flirt with. I would never find out though because Prince Charles insisted he “escort” us about the town. The term cock blocking had not yet been introduced to my vocabulary at that time but without a doubt this was my fist experience of the cock who cock blocked. There we were, two teen girls who couldn’t look anymore different cruising the red clay African streets, village children in tow, and Charles bringing up the rear watching over his flock. Thankfully the walk provided us enough space to get in some more comfortable small chat in and make plans to hang out again. Miriam and I would spend a few more times hanging out, going for walks and watching movies. I even managed to get her in on eves dropping on Felix from behind my bedroom curtain. However, my plot to pollute her christian mind was never actualized and perhaps she remained a better person and wife for it.

However the story of Miriam and I’s friendship did not end there. It seems Prince Charles had his own agenda, similar to the fairy tales I was known to dream up in my head.This moment is exactly where my parents were anticipating on landing in terms of their own selfish desire for cruel humor at the expense of their equally devilish daughter. It was a Sunday afternoon and we were sitting on the pack patio pressing the passion fruits to make juice for the homemade Popsicles. From a distance we heard singing, similar to the choir that could be heard at the church. In fact it was the church choir singing Immaculate Mary, Thy Praises we sing….growing closer and closer. Wouldn’t you know, there was the choir coming up the path to our house, village children in tow, Miriam Mbelo, Mr & Mrs Mbelo and at the rear Prince Charles. The other Expats who lived around us came outside to check out the spectacle. My dad pulled his head out the hood of our Jeep, opening a fresh bottle of Tusker Beer and taking a long swig of it. It was in that moment he knew it was the moment that he had been waiting for. The moment in which decades of tearful laughter could be had at the expense of his daughter. He took another long swig and finished the freshly opened bottle, placing it on the hood of the jeep and making his way over to his pride and joy, his daughter, who was about to be proposed to by Prince Charles.

It seems that once Prince Charles had spent enough time observing the potential of Miriam’s new friend that it would be only right to approach this said friends father with a marriage proposal and Dowry offering of 50 Goats. It seems it would have been higher had I not ended up disclosing to Miriam that I had been felt up over the shirt which brought my worth down substantially.

Oh the Betrayal!

Firstly, Miriam never intended on being my BFF. I felt so used!

Secondly, Prince Charles used Miriam as an informant to plot and assess what I was worth in goats.

Thirdly, Prince Charles wasn’t escorting us anywhere, he was protecting his investment and took the concept of cock blocking to a whole new low.

And while the subject of child brides are nothing to be laughed or joked about, leading me to believe that I was about to be sold for 50 goats apparently was. I kid you not, my parents sat for approximately 2 1/2 hours with this man and his family, playing along poker faced until they could no longer hold it in any further. Even the church choir and village children had begun to disperse as the negotiations fell apart and no compromise could be settled upon . There would be no royal wedding in Mgololo after all. Prince Charles left with his ego dangling limply between his legs and offended that his seemingly gracious offer had been refused. His dreams of making babies with this girl were now assembled in a small pile of ashes, soiling his Sunday shoes.

My dad would often joke that had he been able to get at least 100 goat that perhaps his investment in my education would have paid itself off eventually. Years later I would remind the boyfriends I had along the way that dumped me that there was a Prince in Tanzania that offered to pay my parents in goats in exchange for my good lovin’. They were not impressed and I remained heartbroken and alone time after time. My hat goes off the the women of the world whereby this practice continues as it was by far the most insane experience I had while living in that little village. And if you are ever curious about your own worth in goat there are actually quizzes you can take online in case you hate your children like mine did and want to get into goat farming.

Click here to see how many goats your worth!

Coming to Africa: Part 1

Sometimes goodbye is a second chance.

When I was twelve years old I learned that my family was going to be moving from the little town of Campbell River “Salmon Capital of the World” on Vancouver Island to an isolated village in central Tanzania called Mgololo. My father who had worked in the pulp and paper industry had gotten a job at the Mufindi Pulp and Paper Mill.

My mother, who had spent the entirety of the 1960’s working as a nurse in Malawi and travelling Africa on her own, was also well accustomed and eager to support my father in this new chapter. However you can imagine as a pre-teen who had spent most of her life in a majority white hockey town that moving to Tanzania was terrifying not to mention kiboshed my plans to marry the captain of the local hockey team. My dreams of cruising the Ironwood mall in his sweet ass Letterman jacket was totally ruined by my selfish parents who had the nerve to move me across the world. The only hope of staying in touch with friends was by writing now seemingly archaic letters and tossing them in those specialized airmail envelopes via snail mail.

Riddled with teenage angst and bitterness my pleas went unheard and I found myself on a plane from Vancouver all the way to Dar es Salaam- the capital of Tanzania. When I touched down I had my first taste of a real third world. Prior to this, I had traveled to Mexico and Jamaica and thought I had seen poor countries before. Aside from those places, the only exposure I had to Africa poor was from my moms old photo albums of her early years. And lets not forget the terrible World Vision commercials with children covered in flies and swollen bellies standing naked in the dust.

Contrary to those commercials that is not what I actually encountered when landing in a real third world country like Tanzania in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Keep in mind during this time there were significant economic, health, and political issues rattling the continent of Africa with complicated social and political unrest.

At this time, HIV infection, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases would become a major disaster with far reaching repercussions. The HIV infection rate at that time was between 5 and 15% in urban areas and from l to 15% in rural areas but that in Bukoba town the rate was about 30% among adults. Country-wide some 800,000 people had HIV infection and the adult mortality rate tripled.(Wangwe 1997, Booth 2003).

Access to education in the rural regions had begun to expand with illiteracy falling rapidly from 63% in 1970 to 35% in 1991. The gender gap in education had also narrowed with primary school enrolment rates for girls now being more or less the same as for boys.

(Wangwe 1997, Booth 2003).

What my little pea head brain managed to observe upon arrival was the impact of the inappropriate aid programs and inadequate aid co-ordination ran by a corrupt government that left its citizens poor but resilient. Shipping containers filled with free aid and supplies would be seized and sold to its countries own citizens. It angered me and changed my views about NGO’s from then on.

I remember saying to myself “Where did all the Unicef money go from all the Halloween’s where I loyally toted that little box next to my candy bag?

I can still here the sound of loose change bouncing around as I eagerly ran from house to house. And I could see no evidence of how my coins had helped.

Hey Unicef, Where did all our hard work go?

While I processed my own disappointment, it didn’t take long for me to feel better because everyone was smiling. It’s like they didn’t even know they had gotten totally gipped?

We drove through the crowded chaotic streets, avoiding gigantic potholes, and coming across strips of half paved roads where it was evident that they had ran out of concrete or it had gotten stolen or resold. The smells of raw sewage, street markets filled with dried fish and exotic spices filled the air, drenching my clothes with a thick layer of “welcome to Africa.” The scent of my Exclamation perfume I had gotten for Christmas was no more and really no match for the pungent smells that awaited around the corner that I ended up growing to love.

After some time in Africa, my nose evolved as I began to identify the hypnotic scents of the varying wood that would be soaking and carved often in the streets. The essence of Ebony, Acacia, and Baobab wood replaced the familiar aromas of Cedar and Hemlock trees I had grew up around. I often place my face against the Masai carvings up until this day that we had collected and can be instantly transported back in time by its smell.

Having given my parents a pretty hard time for a solid 3 months prior to moving, they had made some efforts to acclimatize me to Africa upon my arrival. They took me to Bahari Beach, an African “resort” along the Eastern coast of the Indian Ocean. You can imagine my confusion when it was not the kind of resort I had been taken to before like when they took me to Disneyland a couple years prior. The only characters that met me along the way to the bathroom was the humongous Baboon Spider that had spun their webs between the stone columns. The entertainment that night included 12 ft long Python whereby they would continually drag the beast by its tail as to ensure it didn’t slither too close to us. Every now and again they would play around and put the Pythons head in their mouth to awe the audience with danger.

Let me just make it abundantly clear, I am terrified of snakes, and will become immobile from fear at the site of a snake on television. Sure enough, the entertainers smelled my fear or maybe it was my Exclamation perfume still hanging on for dear life- but they decided I would be the perfect “assistant” in the show. Sure enough they handed me the tip of the snakes tail and in .5 seconds I vomited all over the first 5 feet of the snake. It was from that point on that my parents prepared themselves for an additional 3 months of acute jaw clenching attitude coming their way.

Here you can actually see a visual representation of my attitude…dad…totally unbothered.

With Bahari Beach in the distance we embarked on the two day drive across rural Tanzania on our way to Mgololo. There was so much to absorb along the way from the over crowded buses with families sitting on the roofs passing us equipped with musical horns that greeted us, to dodging cattle on the roads. Sometimes Baboons would jump on our windshield and try to mate with their own reflections and I was introduced to the male baboon reproductive anatomy on a more intimate level than I had wished. There is nothing more humiliating than having an enormous red willy ejaculating 2 feet away from you on the other side of the window while you sit next to your father. Every now and again my mom would break the tension with, “You can’t get much more exciting than this.” Had I not been 12 and a spoiled brat I would have agreed with her, and 42 year old me owes her an apology because she was absolutely right.

I was literally living in a national geographic magazine like the ones my mom used to collect and store in the pantry where she kept all her canning. They had created a life experience for me unlike any other kids life from Campbell River. In addition, nothing would bring me more pleasure than making my parents uncomfortable now with Baboon porn.

On the road to Mgololo outside Mikumi National Park, Tanzania.

We drove by groups of Masai Warriors carrying spears and drinking goats blood to stay hydrated for their long journeys herding their cattle to areas of the country where grass would grow and they could hunt. I had not seen skin color like this before but now understood why I was always so drawn to the colors in my crayon box named Sepia and Burnt Sienna, because they were even more beautiful in real life under the African sun.

We stayed overnight at Mikumi Lodge, a wildlife reserve in Mikumi National Park. Entering the park we were flagged down to be advised that there was a “rogue” elephant in the area and to be aware. I remember thinking to myself how fast my father would be able to drive in reverse if we came across this rogue elephant. We later had found out that a couple days prior, a Japanese tourist had climbed down the escarpment to get a closer picture of the elephant. The escarpment acted as a kind of protection between the lodge and the African plains below that housed some of the most majestic yet deadly wildlife in the world. The eager tourist had approached the elephant who was getting some shade under a near by Acacia tree and did as a disturbed rogue elephant would do in the case he felt threatened, which was impaled the tourist with his tusk, shaking and dragging him about then tossed his dead mangled body into the Acacia tree he had used for shade. The elephant allegedly did not leave the area for quite some time where this Japanese tourists body just hung in the branches like a warning “don’t fuck with me.” I can assure you no part of me was even in the slightest curious about heading down that escarpment. I was quite content in my Kikaboga Suite where we were told proudly by the bus boy that the suite was where the President of Tanzania would stay when he came through, and where Queen Elizabeth stayed once. Now it was where I stayed safely with all my body parts attached exactly where they needed to be.

It was the rainy season during this time and the grass was high making it difficult to view the wildlife as we exited the park. We would return many times after that though and encounter elephant herds with small babies; and see zebras and giraffe. We were lucky to see a leopard hunting for impala on another trip, and of course the Baboons who were were always willing to whore it up on our wind shield.

We continued our lengthy treck to Mgololo, where I began to digest the reality of my new life surrounded by such an unfamiliar world in which the landscape would change around every bend. It was so surreal that I often felt like I was outside my body and looking down at this young girl immersed in a movie with no title yet. As we approached the tiny little village that stood on a hill housing a dozen expats, along with the mill managers and directors, the heirarchy was evident as the huts sat below in the grasslands. Our home was a tiny concrete house with a tin roof, and cool stone flooring. We had a papaya tree that was abundant with fruit in the front yard with a vegetable garden in the back that grew in the red clay dirt. My new home was a far fall from what I had moved from and lacked most of the amenities that I had been accustomed to while growing up in the western world. The shipping container that had traveled across 2 different oceans had not arrived and delivery was going to be standard African time.

I’m pretty sure I cried myself to sleep that night. It would take awhile for my 12 year old self to attain some maturity before I could recognize the gift that my parents had handed me. But so began the start of my life in Africa, and would not disappoint in terms of shaping much of who I am today.

I hope to continue engaging you all as I pluck away at the years and memories of my time in Tanzania and look forward to taking you on a literary tour of my experiences. Click Here to Read More.

Kwaheri

A Blind Date with Success:

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” -Socrates, Greek Philosopher

I was reading an article by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook the other day and she said something that reminded me of a very respected and loved family member of mine. She stated “If you are offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat! Just get on.” This couldn’t have been more of an accurate description for cousin Dan Duval, of Duval Consulting Ltd. It’s nearing almost a decade ago that I remember learning about his new business ventures in commercial development and construction. We often laugh about his humble beginnings in the field as he had no actual experience in at all, and half joked about learning how to pave a parking lot via YouTube.

It wasn’t even a half Joke in all honesty.

Today he now has his hands in almost everything, fearless and open to taking on new challenges which has led him to general contracting, project management and commercial construction services specializing in quick service restaurants throughout Western Canada. Him and his teams work can be seen in commercial chains such as Tim Hortons, Wendy’s, Starbucks and various other high volume establishments. In addition, Duval Consulting Ltd. offers a full range of high-bandwidth managed web-hosting for medium to large scale businesses.

Time waits for no one, and neither does investment opportunities. His company has employed some of the best trades people in the business, aggressively competing in a market and upholding a position at the top of the food chain.

And while I can’t discuss the details of him and his partner’s new project just yet, I’m overcome with excitement because its such an inspiring testament for other entrepreneurs to follow closely.

So with that grand introduction, you can understand how I too have been inspired to break into strengthening my writing and its capacity to become a career in Freelance Writing and Blogging. Interviewing and diving into the personal and traumatic depths of peoples lives has been something I’ve been doing for 15 years in the social work capacity. Applying this skill outside my professional role within child welfare is truly my real passion that I’m ready to realize. My goal is to actualize and execute it in a way that highlights success stories equipped with powerful learning tools for others to absorb. Emphasizing the focus on connecting people on a personal level to the sometimes dry and impersonal faces behind the world of business and finance. I’m ready to step out of the darkness of the child welfare world and bring light back into my life and others.

So here lies my opportunity to not only stand behind and support the success of those I care for and admire, but an OPPORTUNITY to build on my own road to success.

Do I know what I’m doing?

Absolutely not.

Will I slay this chance at doing something remarkably unique?

I guarantee it.

However by no means have I always embraced such a fierce air of confidence. I used to set goals but would often find it challenging to stay on track to finish them. Distractions would often derail my ability to focus and stay engaged, often losing interest quickly. I’d feel discouraged and think, why even bother setting goals if they’re too difficult to reach? In hindsight, I can reflect back recognizing it was my lack of commitment and involvement in unproductive and unfulfilling personal and professional relationships. It took some significant soul searching and honest personal critiquing to acknowledge that I was my biggest barrier. I could no longer stand by knowing that tragedy is when you have the potential and a gift and don’t utilize it to the benefit of yourself and others around you.

If any of this is hitting home for you, I imagine you require some diligent organizational tools like myself to stay the course. Below is a list of helpful ways I set out prior to bulldozing my way into anything I commit to taking on.

1.Be Clear About What You Want

Clarity is key. Before you begin to take action, make sure your goals are clear. What do you really want, and what does it look like? Write your goals down where you will see them and track them on a regular basis. A great system for creating supportive goals is using the SMART goals model. S = Specific. Get as specific as you can. M = Measurable. Define how you will know it’s complete? A = Attainable. Small steps are best. R = Relevant. Does it support your purpose, values or big picture goals? T = Time-frame. When will you complete it by?

2. Make a Strong Commitment

Commitment is a vital ingredient. When you commit, you’re telling yourself this is important to me and you’re ready to take action. It requires you to be honest with your self about what you’re really willing to do. Commitment is the inner drive that connects you to why you are passionate about your goal, and gives you the motivation and energy to take consistent action. Peter Drucker says it well, “Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes, but no plans.”

3. Mini Movements = Major Impact

Creating small consistent steps to move yourself forward is a practical and powerful way to support your success. Your big success is a result of many little victories. Every week take your goals and break them down into even smaller doable action steps. Each accomplishment will encourage you to keep moving forward. Like the Peruvian proverb states, , we succeed when we keep moving forward, regardless the size of the step.Subscribe to The Morning Email.Wake up to the day’s most important news.

4. Create a Support System

One of the best ways to ensure staying on track is having a strong support system. Whether you enlist a friend, join a class or group, or hire a coach, having someone else to check in with is a smart way to stay accountable. Accountability is the glue that keeps us sticking with doing what we say we’re going to do. I recently enlisted a friend to support me with my daily meditation goal, and it worked wonders! I’m now on day 30. It’s a fun way to support each other in reaching our goals and deepen our connection as friends.

5. Visualize Your Success

As we’ve learned from many professional and Olympic athletes, visualizing your desired outcome can highly increase the odds of reaching your goal. A study shared in Psychology Today examining brain patterns in weightlifters discovered that the patterns activated when a weightlifter lifted hundreds of pounds were similarly activated when the athletes only imagined lifting. Using our creative imagination to ‘see ourselves’ accomplishing what we’ve set out to do is a tool that most of us can easily apply to our benefit.

Once you’ve clarified your goal, imagine you’ve already reached your desired outcome. Hold a mental ‘picture’ of it as if it were happening right now. Imagine the scene in as much detail as possible. What do you, see, hear and feel as you experience yourself living your vision. Who is you with? What are you wearing? What does your environment look like? Bring it to life and have fun with it. A daily (or regular) practice of visualizing your goal is a powerful way to support your success.

6. Set up a Tracking and Reminder System

You may have heard the saying, – what gets measured, gets done. It’s definitely been my experience. When you track your progress it keeps you focused on what you’re doing consistently, while being aware of the results you’re achieving. There are numerous options for low and high tech tracking systems. Including, using a written calendar or smart phone app, etc. Find a system that works best for you.

7. Celebrate

Enjoy and celebrate your wins. You deserve it. It may feel odd at first, but acknowledging yourself and all you accomplish is a way for you to be a good friend to yourself and cheerleader along the way. You can use creative ways to reward your wins and add an element of fun to reaching your goals. You could schedule a day to visit a park or museum with a friend, treat yourself to a meal at your favorite restaurant, or a massage at your local spa.

Appreciating yourself also encourages you to keep going and builds your confidence. Remember to also thank and appreciate the people who contribute and support you to succeed.

These keys may not be new, but sometimes we need a good reminder or a little kick in the butt to get us back on track. Whatever your dreams or goals may be, begin taking action today. Set yourself up for success by using these keys to support you.

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” –Goethe

As I go onto to tackle a new set of goals whereby I may just have to YouTube my way through it. I definitely will be completing the above steps to ensure that the quality of my work reflects a level of professionalism and experience of someone who’s been doing this all their life-my dreams are banking on it. I look forward to sharing in the coming months this special project with you all with the hopes that more opportunities alike will present themselves so that I can keep stacking my goals and displaying them for the world to see.

Stay Tuned for the Release!

For other articles like this one:

Facing Our Wrongs: Fostering a “Hand up Mentality” as Women in Business.

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing: The Power Of a Woman Pack

Thank you for your continuing support, likes, comments!

Friday Date Night YYC: Down the Rabbit Hole

So this last Friday night My Honey Bear and I were joined by a couple of friends for another date night in the YYC. Our destination the Calgary Food Events Series: Foodies in the Park, Wonderland Dome Dining. I have been anticipating this event for a long time as I’ve always had a deep connection with the story of Alice in Wonderland by British Author Lewis Carrol. My intrigue embedded in the motifs and symbolism of the characters and lessons within the seemingly childlike story of Wonder. If you are not familiar with them I encourage you to explore further as they have played a significant role in finding resolve within many epiphany’s I have encountered in this life.

Themes and Motifs

In addition, the continuous stream of good reviews and beautiful pictures had me counting down the days and hours, ready to find madness at any expense. It was not only the dining experience I was excited for the but the overall soiree of dining in a literal winter wonderland. And unlike any other winter wonder land us Albertans are used to, this was an Alice in Wonderland themed one!

Date nights for me are always an opportunity to take the tags off a new cute outfit and dawn some new heels. In a Covid world these occasions are few an far between, so when this gal can throw on her sequins and lashes, you bet she pulls out all the stops. So prior to leaving for our date night, I was reminded by Practical Pete the Fashion Fun Police several times to dress warm and opt for the less dangerous foot attire as he shook his head at my original thigh high healed boots I had been itching to wear. And not knowing the level of comfort we would be experiencing inside the dome we came equipped with blankets gloves and scars ready to endure the -11° weather. Never mind that we had experienced an October snowstorm that whole day so the drive there in itself an adventure.

When we arrived at Fish Creek Park in Calgary, site of the the well-established Bow Valley Ranche restaurant is located. See my previous Friday night YYC Date Night post on this special heritage Farm House dining experience.

And to my disappointment, I most surely could have absolutely worn the boots as we proceeded to take a little walk towards the event area on the freshly shoveled paths. Anticipation escalated as the lights twinkled in the distance. Our journey down the rabbit hole was accented by the colonial style street lamps that took me back in time when lovers would stroll in Hyde Park. All bundled up we strolled collectively arm and arm, our heads decorated appropriately for a Mad Hatter party like no other. Our manly escorts who were initially perplexed by our wardrobe decisions that evening, now understood what all the pomp and circumstance was over. They too were realizing perhaps they were underdressed for the exclusive invitation at the one and only Red Queen’s table; their heads would surely the first to roll!

When we approached the gates of Wonderland we were greeted by A Gourmet Hot Chocolate Stand where you can sip on decadent chocolate nectar that created a child like sense of nostalgia for myself. We wove through the crystal white garden corridors towards our little snow covered dome, which was now resembling an igloo from the snowfall. The inviting glow of the other mad ones indulging in the delights intrigued my senses even more. When the little door to our personal wonderland was opened as if I had taken the sip from the “Drink Me” bottle shrinking me further into the rabbit hole. The dome was delightfully warm, equipped with heating, and there was no need for the layers we had brought.

Did I mention, I could have definitely worn the boots.

The setting was authentically decorated with the kind of tasteful magic you’d expect at the Red Queens table. The men allowed us to squeal with excitement- in fact they were squealing internally I’m sure of it. Our server “C.V.” was exceptional- he aimed to entertain and indulge in the experience with us. We were never in need of anything as he catered to our every request- even providing us sugar cookies to take home with us to the children who were tucked away in bed as the adults played.

“It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

.

The Menu is preset upon booking your tickets for the event-with us dining on a variation of Beat Salad plated like a backwards clock, roasted duck, beef tenderloin, salmon and cod. Desert was an assortment of naughty delightful tarts. The signature cocktails packed a powerful buzz to ignite fun and laughter filled conversation throughout the night. We were sure to incorporate our escalating gitty-ness with mounting shenanigans that truly were as Mad as a Hatter could get.

When in Rome!

“We’re all mad here.”

-The Cheshire Cat

This event I would attend religiously now that I had the opportunity to experience it. Many ask is it worth it? Well of course it is as you are factoring in the price of an entire “experience “ which when you consider how much you spend on just a night at a restaurant, movies or nightclub, it wouldn’t even come close in value! It ends November 1st, so if you are able to squeeze into a remaining reservation don’t miss this! There is even for the afternoon tea option I highly recommend if dinner is not an option!

“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

-Alice

Sadly our evening came to an end in which I felt as if time had stood still until the clock struck midnight. We were all just beaming with delight and so grateful to have had the opportunity to share in this experience. Our night did not end there, and was quickly followed tucked cozily into bed watching the Disney Tale from in the comfort of my pajamas. I simply cannot wait for the next time Foodies in the Park does another event like this!

If you enjoyed this Tale of sorts please continue to come by and visit for more adventures in the life of CeCe D. Drop a line, give me feed back, let me know what you think!

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Friday Dates YYC: A Summertime Memory- Picnic at Prince’s Island Park

The Best Picnic Baskets on the Market in 2020 | A Foodal Buying Guide

A proper late afternoon it was as I recall in late June. You see we were already in what felt like month 8 of wintertime, so when the warm weather hit, we took advantage of the good weather vibes. Nevertheless, these months can often feel like years. Weathering Calgary winters is a matter of psychological survival of the fittest. You can either fall into the winter doldrums and await the snow melt, or just carry on with life. Our ability to endure is massively under-estimated as many would assume we must be miserable during these months, but we make it work. Others tend to rub salt into our frigid wounds despite our resilience, but should be assured we make the most out of any outdoor time we can get. Located next to us is the Province of British Columbia, who’s residents continuously boast about their balmy year round weather, and it leaves us no choice but to talk about ours occasionally. Our conversations often worth mentioning which I learned is not a well known term among outsiders- The Chinook. They can be lovely and painful.

You see, just as my skull felt like it was going to rupture from the pressure, I realized it wasn’t from a Chinook but from a wicked mid week pandemic drinking hangover. Who knew there would something worse than the Chinook Migraines to consider… Alas there was the Covid-19 headaches lurking around each corner or on the surface of your delivered groceries. It seems that being an Albertan comes often with a lot of headaches no matter which way you go about life. We desperately needed a break from it all. And an early summer was delivered!

While Good ol’ 2020 is the year we all hope to forget, it was forgiving enough to give us a bit of early nice weather for a change, no headaches attached. In fact, as we were all hunkered down at our homes, I worked on my patio most days soaking up the cool spring sunshine. By June the weather remained beautiful and the Province began to lift the pressure of isolation and extreme social distancing measures. After months of binge watching Game of Thrones & Vikings, a date with the outside world would be added to my empty agenda. Kudos to all those who got super creative and cute with their social bubbles…we aren’t that type at all. We were just focusing on finding Lysol wipes, toilet paper, and not murdering each other.

So to my surprise, my adorable boyfriend made a plan to take me on a picnic at Prince’s Island park.

The sun was out and I was dressed for the occasion, wearing an adorable little romper with white polka dots. In fact it was one of 20 I would buy throughout the months of online shopping that kept me busy during a pandemic lockdown. As the Pandemic marched on foiling my runway Covid release party, I’d send them all back in defeat. I kept 2 rompers in total to symbolize the 1 time I picnicked in the park, and then one in case we’d do it again. On this day I felt sort of normal. Our picnic basket that had been given as a gift years ago was filled with some champagne and pre-ordered Lebanese food from a store that was doing “pick-up only.” We were into supporting the small businesses in which many as a result of our Stage 1 shut down were on the brink of closing their doors for good. I assure you we single handedly did our best to keep them afloat with our hearty appetites and my lack of desire to cook.

As we strolled making our way through the park on the hunt for the perfect picnic spot we ensured the two meters apart protocol. I should mention when you are in a park, its really hard to avoid the floods of roller-bladers, skateboarders, cyclists, and people who just didn’t give a shit. This was probably the most stressful part of the date as we worked really hard to do our share of distancing, dodging, ducking, and all around avoiding passer-byers. This may seem ridiculous but remember this was in the early months when no one knew whether to wear a mask, or thought Covid was a 5G network conspiracy.

This anxiety inducing element made finding the “perfect picnic spot” got old real quick and we lowered our standards somewhat settling on a plot of grass that had the least amount of Canadian Goose Shit in or around it. We settled for a beautiful spot under a tree where my honey could sit in the shade and I could soak up the long awaited warm summer rays. Blankets were laid, food spread out, champagne poured and a good vibes playlist begun.

I vividly remember how amazing it felt to be out in the world again, watching new faces stroll by, all equally desiring the same need to reconnect with the world again. Colors seemed amplified, the flowers and grass more fragrant. The sounds of the birds and the fountain heightened against the rousing melodic music in the background. Even the face of my boyfriend looked fresh and new despite having stared at it non-stop for the previous couple months while in the pandemic lockdown. Perhaps I was going to recant my initial thoughts of smothering him in his sleep? The edges of his lips would begin to curl up and a smile peaking through…indeed I would not be smothering him.

I had only wished we had brought a frisbee, mitts and a ball. Maybe badminton rackets even, not that I can actually do any of these activities well. There is something about being in a park however that suggests that when in Rome, these activities could be enjoyable even for a gigantic accident prone clutz like myself. I imagine that during better times in the world you could probably catch a scene from Top Gun where all the boys are playing volleyball shirtless, dogtags stuck against their glistening sweaty skin. Silver framed Aviators perched perfectly on the bridge of their Adonis nose, complimenting a strongly chiseled jawline. If luck would have it, maybe a rogue volleyball would make it my way, rolling into my peripheral view. I’d glare at the broad shadowy figure above me, looking sheepishly irritated with the interruption as I adjust my bathing suit flush against my oiled and cellulite free bottom. I did say it was “better times” y’all, 20 years ago give or take.

Let me get back to reality here.

Our food was so delicious, and so was the company. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect late afternoon; dining Al Fresco on our little patch of heaven in the park. We found new things to talk about that left us freshly engaged as our conversation danced with ideas, ready to execute for when things returned back to normal. Careful to not get too hopeful, but enough as to not let the cynicism seep in and ruin the day. We’d talk about places we wanted to travel too in the next coming years, and what kind of adventure we were seeking from these travels. We would go through the list of what we had learned about ourselves during the isolation from friends and family and what good things came from these lessons. We’d acknowledge the fact that the pandemic was not going to be forever but here for now. Just like how the time we had together was going to model a similar outcome. We’d have each other now, and in this moment hoped it would last forever, but impossible.

We would not get the opportunity to picnic like this again during the summer, but would spend some time on the Bow river floating, snacking and sipping in the sunshine. It would be the simplicity of these afternoons that I hope we can repeat next summer as soon as the warmth returns to us. I suspect the world may still be in a similar state in 7 months whereby our gatherings stay small, our travel plans stay local, and expectations stay realistic. Picnic’s in the park for a Pandemic Date Win!

My Winter Action Plan: A List of 9 Anti Seasonal Affective Disorder Tips You Can Try

Having lived in Alberta for the last 13 years I’ve had my fair share of symptoms related to Seasonal Affective Disorder Its acronym “S.A.D”- How very appropriate. I’d also like to add a new term to the list as well. The Seasonally Angered Disorder, because when its “Minus Death” outside, you literally cannot help but be pissed off with everything that makes you have to leave the warmth of your home or car.

For myself this yearly festivity of misery is compounded with a stressful job which is a sure recipe for a total unravelling of sorts. So when I tell you the first thing I do when the snow hits the ground is devise a Winter Blues Action Plan– because who has the time to come unraveled. Unless your Britney Spears who can shave her entire head and then go on to secure a Vegas Show and stay comfortably supported in a mansion in the hills. Not all of us can afford to be rich and crazy.

Love you Brit Brit.

For the rest of us peasants, life goes on with screaming children, Covid outbreak school closures, lost income, and no sign in sight of reprieve. To boot, Christmas is around the corner, work is piling up and life just isn’t very sympathetic to our ailing spirits. We can either hide in our closets in the fetal position or attempt to curb perhaps the inevitable. And if you are curled up in the fetal position as we speak, its all good, wipe those tears and consider making a list like this for yourself tomorrow.

So this year my Winter Action Plan needed to be tweaked, as I realized spending it cozied up alongside hundreds of warm bodies at a pub was not going to be happening during a pandemic. I can’t say I’ll miss standing freezing my ass off in the lines outside of National or any popular watering hole here In Calgary. However I do feel like I will need to compensate for my 100 meter dash to the car I often counted on to burn those extra 15 calories off, of the 8000 I consumed in Beer.

But maybe that’s it! There could be a silver lining?

So here is my Winter S.A.D. Action Plan!

  1. Less Liquor– Consider this your year to opt out of those unnecessary holiday Christmas party benders. Rather than look at how you may miss the parties and gathering, look at what you may be gaining from not consuming all the added calories. Now if you are a responsible drinker, you know the kind that can stop at 2 then your probably thinking this doesn’t apply to you. I’m the type I’m sure my doctor would classify as the “binge” drinker. It sounds horrible just like in the same way our BMI index states we are morbidly obese when we thought we weren’t one croissant away from my 600 lb. life. I don’t drink during the week at my home, or weekly to be honest with you, but when I do, it’s a bottle of two a wine, maybe some shots, and always doubles. So this winter is my opportunity to not only give my liver a good break, but also an ability to steer away from all the calories those binges bring to the waistline.

What Happens To Your Body When You Stop Drinking

2. Since I’m saving money from not drinking the pubs and restaurant dry- I have some additional extra cash flow to buy a new snowboard and hit the slopes more. Yes, the cold will still make me angry, but being out in the sunshine freezing is better than skulking in the darkness and not soaking up the Vitamin D needed for mood and immune system! You see sending more time outdoors doing fun activities will decrease the likelihood of getting sick as well due to not being around a bunch of coughing, sneezing, germ infestations. Snowboarding is something that I have loved to do all my life, and I’m lucky to be so close to so many mountains.

3. Schedule in the gym/classes As in make it a 5 day a week priority. Slotting my gym time into my Day/Timer a week at a time is helpful because that way I can schedule less important things around it. I find its helpful right now too that I have to book my gym appointments through the YMCA which is having some positive effects on my accountability and am mindful about attending those set gym appointment times.

4. Getting out for Daily Walks and Coupling it with a Good Podcast– Since I have become a fur mama to a very Active American Akita, it has become apparent we are both happier after a good long walk. I’m happier because she is less likely to act like a little asshole, and in turn I’m able to take in some knowledge and new learning while she inspects every tree and leaf along the way. Not only am I getting in more daily steps, burning some calories, but getting some much needed fresh air that leaves me less energy to worry about any kind of looming anxiety coursing through my veins.

5. Working on Something Productive in my Spare time that brings me joy. So in my case I love to write my blog, focusing on building an audience, and developing more ideas to add to it. It keeps my mind occupied and bustling with ideas where I can stay connected with the outside world. The blog world has been a major learning curve for me as not only is my writing still a skill I’m growing but perhaps a business at some stage in the future. I have also enjoyed crafting more and more which is something I had previously turned my nose up too. The ability to create has the ability to redirect nervous energy into something that soothes and calms some of the dark sad thoughts that can creep up as a result of the winter isolation.

Halloween Wreath Projects

6. Get Cooking Again-I used to really love to cook, but over the last 6 months I have been on some crazy diets that have literally taken the fun out of cooking. Meal Preps can often take the fun out of eating as certain diets can be restrictive as well as daunting when you factor in the grocery lists and ingredients needed to make something that only you are interested in eating. And to be perfectly honest after all these “diets” I am no different weight than I was these last 10 years. It always comes back and I’m left feeling ashamed. So I say F*** that this Winter. I’m taking it back to the old school where Avocado Oil wasn’t a thing, and I wasn’t logging my Macros.  With that being said, I don’t intend on nourishing my body either with garbage. According to Meghan Sedivy, RD, dietitian for Fresh Thyme Farmers Market in Plainfield, Illinois, says the winter months are a good time for root vegetables — think beets, potatoes, and rutabagas — as well as citrus fruits, such as blood oranges, white grapefruit, and autumn honey tangerines. Root vegetables are high in potassium, while citrus fruits offer fiber and vitamin C to help boost immunity, which is especially clutch this time of year, Sedivy says. Root vegetables are easy to incorporate in soups and stews, helping boost your vegetable intake for the day.

7. Meditation-I’ve admittedly been slacking on this. However meditation is something I began at the start of the Pandemic and utilized it to come to terms with the feelings of powerlessness, loneliness, grief and loss I was experiencing at that time. I went from scuttle bug to sad dormant half dead beetle when we went into lockdown-I was desperate, bored, and bummed out so I turned to meditation skeptically. I couldn’t believe though how well my spirit, mind and body responded to it. I’ve since migrated my interests into the world of Crystals and Rocks-where sometimes faith can blossom hope, and hope turns into actualizing outcomes.

8. Taking Vitamins– Like not just vitamin C that comes with your Sunday Mimosa’s. But the kind that are tailored to your specific needs and desired status of health you feel you need to attain. You can simply order pre-packaged daily vitamins packs that will meet your every need. They make it so easy and it’s a 5 second gulp which can make or break the Winter blues. There are lots of site but ensure you go with a quality and reputable company like VTMN Packs.

9. Reach out more to friends who I enjoy spending time with, and making sure I stay open and honest about how I am feeling. As the saying goes its okay to not be okay.

Whether these are things you are already doing or perhaps this list looks daunting to you, I encourage you to tailor one for the coming months that is realistic for you. And be kind, to yourself, you are up against the winter elements that wreak havoc on our hormone levels. The brain produces less serotonin without sunlight, which can cause depression, and less sunlight can also increase melatonin, which can heighten feelings of sleepiness.”

So its not you, it’s the season. Might as well make it your bitch!

Facing Our Wrongs: Fostering a “Hand up Mentality” as Women in Business.

I believe there was a time in not too long ago that my insecurity would have suggested that the lack of interest by fellow women to engage with my projects was personal. And perhaps still may be the case, however`oblivious to it I may be. I’m often blinded by my unrealistic Utopian expectations whereby women can sit cross legged and braid each others hair in the metaphorical sense. So you can imagine when there was a call to my fierce women posse to assist with building a network of culture and support I was equally as optimistic that they would flock to the opportunity.

If you have ever had the pleasure of being in a women’s washroom at a wine festival, you will understand the energy and spirit I am trying to harness. There is such a genuine expression of love, appreciation and unbridled desire to build one another up within the confines of this little sink space empowerment. I’m sure many women can attest to entering the public washroom of a Wine fest, head hanging low with regret, then leaving this magical space tall, proud, and ready to conquer the world. I ask myself why is this so hard to recreate on a website platform or in real life, surely we are also kind and supportive humans sober too?

So I began to do a little bit of research into this and found that there isn’t any simple answers. Gender related topics can be a challenging and slippery slope to tackle as the term “Gender” becomes more fluid in society and negates many of the explanations I came across. However, I’m never one to back down from considering certain components and came across a few worth exploring.

I came across this book Hardball for Women: Winning at the Game of Business which aims to decode the male business culture and show women how to break patterns of behavior that put them at a disadvantage. Initially I had to put my feminist pride aside so that I could revert back to 1952 whereby my “femaleness” was the problem that required change so that I could consider what it was Pat Heim and colleagues were trying to teach me about gender. I went to the website where they hail to be “The Gender Experts.”

I’ll save challenging this for another day…or perhaps never.

However, the book claims that there is a natural law in the female “culture” that allegedly shapes how women interact with other women at work and in their personal lives. They call this the “power dead-even rule.”

It claims that this is a subconcous process whereby the rule governs relationships, power and self esteem.

” For a healthy relationship to be possible between women, the self-esteem and power of one must be, in the eyes of each woman, similar in weight to the self-esteem and power of the other. In other words, these key elements must be kept “dead-even.” When the power balance gets disrupted (such as a woman rising in status above other women), women may talk behind her back, ostracize her from the group or belittle her. These behaviors are to preserve the dead-even power relationship that women have grown up with their entire lives. “

How did Alanis Morissette not include a phrase from this rule in her hit song “Hand in my Pocket”?

As Jagged of a pill that this is to swallow, I can’t say I disagree with some aspects of this. However, I feel like this suggestion falls short as it considers that all women were born with vagina’s, therefore all had the same experiences growing up that shaped this governing rule. If this may be the case how do we account for trans, non-binary, gender fluid population and the space they hold in the world of power inequality?

Feeling unsatisfied with that explanation I moved onto the concept that relates to our emotional intelligence (EQ). In my quest for answers, I came across an article by Dr. Shawn Andrews who brought up the book The Power of Perception, which states “that women at higher leadership levels tend to display more male-specific EQ competencies, such as assertiveness and confidence, and leverage less female-specific EQ competencies, such as interpersonal relationships and empathy. ” The book goes on to state that if a female leaders put less of a premium on the value of relationships, that she may not spend the time necessary to cultivate relationships with junior women.

“This is also called the Queen Bee Syndrome, when women behave in ways more typical of men to display toughness and fit in. For women at the very top, part of their success is convincing men that they aren’t like other women.”

I’m sorry, in my world there is only one Queen Bee and she goes by Beyonce!

Dr. Shawn Andrews, who wrote another article for Forbes called “Leadership, Gender and the Power of In-Group Bias.” explaining the third reason. To summarize, Dr. Shawn explained that when the competition for “spots” in favored in-groups increases, women are less inclined to bring other women along. This can happen when there are few females in an organization or few females in leadership roles.

They go on to say a fourth reason is that because of obstacles women face in their career and corporate environments, and the achievement of hard-fought success, their attitude toward other women is “I figured it out, you should too.” Executive women are often overly encumbered with daily duties and responsibilities and don’t take the time to mentor and support young women.

I’m sorry…. I’ve watched women in my field of social work be extremely “overly encumbered” by duties before, during and after hours and take on mentor roles.

Poppycock!

However in that fourth statement, it speaks directly to the reasoning to why my Feature Friday was created. There is a reason why there were “Men’s Only Clubs” that sought to foster wealth from within a privileged group. If you have ever stepped foot into the Petroleum Club in Calgary you’ll understand even though it members are welcomed from both men and women. However historically membership was help by high ranking oil and gas executives which were positions typically held by men. I myself have witnessed the undying culture of brotherhood called “The Old Boys” within my private school of Shawnigan Lake School. I had arrived only 2 years after they went Co-Ed so I understand this concept well. I’ve watched them publicly grope and make the young girls serving them uncomfortable at times on Alumni weekends with nothing said to prevent it from occurring. I’m guilty as well of participating as I said nothing and just glared feeling somewhat powerless in a room full of Old Boys who were “Just having fun.”

Who was I to spoil that?

*Cringe

But within that moment of regret, I also remember better times when one of the first girls to attend the historically all boys school became Head of School in her grade 12 year. I was privileged to be surrounded by a Kaleidoscope of brilliant young women who worked collectively to navigate within this old patriarchal system and go on to take their place at the top. When I look at what the formula was for this success, it was really quite simple. A unified and loyal sense of sisterhood whereby we were only as strong as the weakest link and if one of us was floundering, we all surrounded her to rebuild and carry her to the finish line. Shout Out to all my School House Gang! Woop Woop!

With that being said, perhaps my motivation is based in nostalgia, or perhaps a deeper desire to debunk the hard truths discussed above. The whole preface of my blog platform is to spread and celebrate women’s energy. I identified within my own frustrations and experiences a huge void that needs to be filled for women to begin supporting one another in business. I continue to urge my colleagues, readers and blogging community to apply for the next Feature Friday so we can celebrate you and inspire others alike! Blogging strategy is often based on building higher Blog traffic in order to allow typically invisible small businesses to be brought to the forefront of Search Engine Optimization. So Share, Share, Share!

If you like what you have read and want to read more articles alike please see my other blogging and social media sites.

Feature Friday With Nora Nivens-President of Nortec Alberta

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Nora Nivens

Tell me About your business?

Aye, which one?

I own and am currently president of an Interior and Exterior Renovations Company
known as Nortec Alberta alongside my husband. This is a company we have created and established within two years allowing him to stop “working” in the field and has helped me in my recovery from a
Mild Brain Injury to not have to go back to my “career” as a Social Worker with the Government of Alberta. I also have developed and have begun the journey to my soul’s path which is my Blog and
Holistic Healing and Mentorship Journey humbly named “Silas Rises”.

What fueled the desire to start your business?

I think as a young girl often being left alone to my own free will I was always very creative.
Creativity has opened up a new pathway of leadership skills and as a single Mom for many years, I had an “entrepreneurial” mindset which supported me in implementing and multi-tasking my way into own and establishing these Corporations. I now have four children and if I wanted to offer them everything I DIDN’T have in this life time I had to step it up or stay stagnant in a 9-5 with a “comfortable salary” position that wasn’t fueling my passion for business it was simply paying the bills.

What does owning and running your own business do for your confidence?

haha, this made me laugh. Some days I feel like I don’t have any confidence because I am a woman in the Construction world always having to pave the way for myself and then some days I
am filled with confidence because… I do know what I am doing and I do have what it takes to be a successful Entrepreneur because I am not only doing it, I mentor others in starting and developing their
businesses and life’s purpose/plan. Being able to buy my children something as they need it rather than “waiting” for “pay day” has been one of the best feelings. There have been times in my motherhood
life where I couldn’t afford a bag of bread or gas for my car …and now.. now I don’t have those worries; that has been the greatest confidence booster of all.

What challenges did you face and continue to face as a woman in
business?

Where can I start. From providing estimates to big contractors in the city to finding new work with established men who have been running multi million dollar companies for decades I have
my fair share of challenges. I am always a student and humbly so. Although I share many of my talents in building businesses and success, aligning your purpose with your career and mental health
and well being, I still am faced with adversity in the work place when
it comes to our construction company.

With my blog, this is my flow. This is my place where I can be me…soft, fluid, confident, transparent and full of light. It is here I don’t have to play hardball to get a contract, I can partner with people because of universal alignment, frequency and resonance. Now finding the balance in between these two as I am pushing further into both paths of business is going to be another challenge, but one I am looking forward too.

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Who are your biggest allies, and what can people do more of to
support other women in business?

My biggest allies are my children, my family, my friends and my TEAM! It’s interesting that in the Construction world, it can be a dog-eat-dog kind of day every day. It has taken about two years solid for to develop a solid, loyal working team. Not only does our company employ family, it employs my son, his friends, Adrian’s family, newcomers to Canada and some amazing men from the Maritimes that stick it out in the crazy Alberta weather for our company to build and expand; it has come down to loyalty in the Construction world and I truly feel as a woman I have a softer approach and to my dismay a mother approach with our workers, but it adds a special touch to the company dynamic I think lol. Within my blog, healing and business development services my allies are my
girls. I have a tribe of amazing women behind me that include you, and my circle of career oriented, creative healers that will change the world for the better. I think it’s important we always lift each other up in live, supporting each other in our purpose and our unique journeys. Everyone has such special gifts to offer and if we can continue to support each other with an open heart and settled mind, us women, we can change the world; we already are. Rise, Phoenix Rise!

How do you define your Big P***y Energy?

Oh dear lol. I think my energy in itself is big in light and life. The Prana life force I carry with
me in everything I do allows me to be transparent, humble, and full of laughter and love. I think with laughter and love BPE can be within anyone.

How do people contact you and where are you located?

Silasrises.com is where you will find my Blog, Healing, Metaphysical Tools and Business
Development and Holistic Mentorship Services. I have some big things happening in that realm in the next 6 weeks with a private mediation and healing studio accessible to my customers and am going to be developing a Holistic Real Estate Approach to incorporate into our Construction Company. You can find our Construction Services at http://www.nortecroofers.com . We are also on IG @nortecexteriors and @elanora.madelynne where you will find tidbits of what I have to offer as a healer and writer.

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You Gotta Know When To Fold’Em

I’m not one to talk about the past too often unless it brings fond memories, which for the most part I have many. The topic is not that far in the past that it doesn’t still give me residual pangs of hurt that feel as recent as yesterday at times. But I wouldn’t be willing to discuss it openly if it didn’t offer some level of experiential wisdom for anyone who may be facing similar circumstances.

You see it would be approximately 5 years ago that I made the decision to leave my marriage. The marriage was a result of a very long relationship in which it seemed just natural and right to transition to the next step. There is no real love story behind it, rather quite the opposite. In fact if you were to have only had the experience of knowing me more recently, the idea that I would have consorted with the mundane would seem absurd. However, let us return to the Cece of Christmas’s past. Proposals, marriage and the filling of new homes with children is what everyone was doing at that time. It’s what everyone was doing around us. I’m unclear why my mother’s voice wasn’t piping in at this time saying “If all your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you?” But in the case of marriage and settling down, the world around you is giving you a life jacket and pushing you off the ledge. I admit its easy to blame societal pressures to conform; I don’t deny that at that time I was all in. And when I say “all in,” I mean I wasn’t able to foresee my life being anything different than what it was. My vision was exceptionally narrow and reinforced by the baggage I had brought with me from my previous abusive relationship.

Often when marriages and relationships dissolve its only natural in many instances to look at the other person and place the blame on them and their shortcomings. That’s not to say that many partners are 100% to blame and do terribly selfish and hurtful things in which the other played no role other than love someone who didn’t deserve them. And in my case, it went both ways, however its never fair to dive into the details without the other’s ability to share their perspective. And I’d be open to that but he hasn’t answered my calls in three years.

I’m sorry to disappoint you and advise this post is not about my shitty marriage that didn’t work out. In all likelihood, I may devote a whole wine fuelled podcast on the subject, but until then I’ll uphold some integrity. I’m grateful that I am alive and well today living my life in the most authentic and honest way. What a difference 5 years can do for you when you make the best decision of your life.

Which leads me to the topic of how I reclaimed my life when it began to gain momentum in a direction that wasn’t a genuine path for who I am as a person. I believe for many people there are “tells” just like in a game of poker. You see just like the game of poker we often bluff when we aren’t holding a good hand; getting caught up in the risk taking and potentially losing it all. Often when the momentum has us pulled in, there is no consideration for the long game. The more we begin to lose, the more our “tells” come out as the anxiety and desperation begins to build. You see, when you keep seeking the rush of winning and ignore the consequences of losing, we’re left in the emotional poor house. At the tail end of my losing streak, I admittedly had lots of tells, but I also gave the illusion that I had lots of chips in my pocket.

Poker-playing AI threatens to unseat a raft of Texas Hold'em champions -  ExtremeTech

So its no surprise that when I landed on my ass, my emotional poor house was located on the corner of Despair avenue and Hopeless Street. I found myself in a deep, destructive depression that I could not for the life of me dig myself out of. I was erratic in my choices and behavior, and admittedly had considered running my car into bridge barrier one evening as I was screaming at the top of my lungs at the universe in anger. That event haunts me until this day because while it was over 5 years ago, the emotions, my surroundings, what I was wearing, the car indicator lights are as clear as if I was there right now in this moment.

Bridge Underpass Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

You ask what could have brought me to such a place of despair?

I can trace it all the way to the beginning when I first met my ex-husband. I was a single mother at that time with a one and a half year old. I was fresh out of an extremely horrifically abusive relationship with her biological father that left me in ruins emotionally, physically and psychologically. I was 22 years old and I was not equipped with the self awareness and emotional maturity to tackle the damage- in fact I was oblivious to it. I ended up settling after a year with the first real boyfriend I had since leaving my abusive relationship. When I say anyone that was nice to me and wasn’t physically abusive towards me was my standard at that time. The relationship brought many good things regardless of my basic standards whereby I returned to University and got my Social Work Degree from the University of Victoria. My daughter grew a close and loving relationship with a man who accepted her as his daughter whereby they remain very close. I couldn’t have asked for a better father for her and for that I will be forever grateful. He provided us with an extended family and sense of belonging that I had not experienced coming from such a small family myself. He remained committed to our little family and moved to where I got my first Social Work Job in Northern Alberta, leaving his family behind and beginning a life as a unit in a strange small town. Life was looking up as it was during the Alberta Oil Boom and Fort McMurray promised wealth and stability for us as a family. The momentum of my life appeared to be moving in the right direction. I was adequately distracted by my own ambitions and self actualizing a life that was ultimately the way it’s supposed to be in the naively idealistic sense.

Then one day his vision began to blur which quickly turned into vertigo, precipitating what we thought was a stomach flu. We went weeks attending the hospital and trying to treat his stomach flu. I knew something was terribly wrong, and finally demanded he be admitted to hospital otherwise I was approaching the media. Through further testing he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 25. He left Fort McMurray to recover with his family thousands of miles away, where I ultimately decided that I would help him get through this and we would make it work.

It was a devastating blow in every aspect.

This wasn’t part of the plan. In fact it shattered all our plans, and dreams which were left in pieces at our feet. Despite my rage and the unfairness of it all, I quickly resorted back to what I knew best. I had been here before and did what I thought was best in crisis; which was to ignore the emotional impact and take care of those who weren’t as seemingly strong as I.

And there you have it. Mistake #1-Believing others don’t possess strength without you.

Poor Self-Esteem and Confidence can make the human spirit rely on others to validate importance and purpose where others who are in pain can fulfill these voids for us. The experiences/traumas responsible for planting those weeds of doubt in ourselves can be vast and complex. In my circumstances, it would be the trauma from domestic violence, the psychological and verbal abuse. I strongly believe that there is a strong sense of co-dependency created within these dynamics, whereby one enables the other. When done improperly, assuming the role as the “rock” can also perpetuate maladaptive inferiority roles for those who feel powerless with their diagnosis. And in regards to my marriage- I take accountability for succumbing to depending on being needed then feeling stifled years later by creating the culture of dependency.

How do we remedy this? Well I can’t say I was successful in doing it in my marriage otherwise I wouldn’t be speaking about a husband that is now an ex. But over the last 5 years since starting over, I have successfully committed to putting my physical and emotional health ahead of others. This often means, setting firm boundaries and expectations with loved ones and communicating my bottom line. At times it can appear intolerant, or lack empathy, however when our reasonings are given context it can be the most admirable lesson ever. Not everyone will understand this- but know it is for us as individuals to actualize our strengths, and I see no better way than to demonstrate it by walking the walk.

So this leads me to my second mistake.

Mistake #2- Using others crisis as a distraction to avoid my own shit.

I feel like I take the cake with this one, because I could have picked a more appropriate career as a social worker to enable me in doing this. Nonetheless, do you ever find yourself immersed in others lives, being over involved in problems that aren’t your own, and coming to the rescue of some damsel in distress. I was this person, and counted on filling my world with a plethora of noise to avoid the loneliness and pain I was feeling. My bucket continued to run empty as the fruits of my perceived “strength” went unacknowledged or appreciated by my partner, and overutilized by others. I had created the norm and the illusion that I was the “Rock,” someone who had their shit in a pile. That was my doing, because if I eluded to otherwise people would stop running to me with their noise and I’d really be alone. You see, he was increasingly declining in health and struggling with the neurological complications of Multiple Sclerosis. He was angrier, moodier, and more depressed. Intimacy or signs of romantic connection were not reciprocated and I found other ways to appease my needs to feel a connection and needed.

It wasn’t until I left my marriage that I truly felt what it was like to be alone as my home was loaded up and squished into a small 2 bedroom condo. You see at that time I had nothing available to give therefore the noise stopped and the distractions saw no value in what I had to offer during this period. There were few calls or invitations to reach out and help me move or keep me company. It was then that I saw the value in standing alone in the deafening silence and appreciating the space required in order to redirect all my focus inwards. Often we look at isolation or being seemingly forgotten as a reflection of not being worthy or loved- when in fact its Solitude that is being given to us. So the next time you are feeling lonely or overlooked, take the silence as an opportunity to give your soul some good advice and leave the unnecessary distractions at the door.

Mistake #3-Believing that others opinions mattered

I was completely debilitated by what I thought people would think if I made the decision to leave. Never mind that the circumstance were making me suicidal, but with no success in reaching out for extended family support, I was still left with an enormous amount of guilt. What kind of wife was I leaving her husband when he had MS. The only thing worse than me was the husband who left his dying wife with cancer for the cute blonde nurse that was hired to do the home care. I was worried about what they would say about me and how I would be perceived by choosing a chance at life again. What would my daughter think of me, who couldn’t even begin to understand what I was feeling. And why would she, I had managed to shield her from the majority of my unravelling. I was terrified by all the hurt that I would be placing on everyone around me.

Do you see Mistake #1 weaseling its way in here again?

What I realized in this process is that not one person who’s opinion I was worried about ever took the time to listen or ask if I needed support. I can’t believe I was worried about what this would mean for them and concerned that they would have to take over the responsibility of his care. I was actually worried that this would burden them and they would be angry with me that I had not tried hard enough or just endured longer. In the end it all worked itself out, which is a testament that when we walk away people have the ability to find a solution with or without us.

In hindsight, I wish I had been more kind to myself during this time. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that the challenges we were facing could be tackled in isolation yet we were left with no other option. The marriage counseling along with the long list of personal coping strategies and personal sacrifice at the expense of my mental health had fallen flat. The fact that I’m explaining this further is my lingering “tell” that perhaps I still have some feelings of guilt to work through.

What awaited me on the other side of it all was the overwhelming support from my own family and close friends who knew there was a life out there for me. You see they had boundaries with regards to where they were willing to rejoin me again and even my daughter stood by my decision and me throughout it all.

Mistake #4- Not Doing it Sooner

I wish I had conjured the courage and wisdom it took to commence the decision to move ahead quicker that had been overdue. My days of bluffing no longer held a strategic purpose in my life and with a sense of relief, happily folded the cards I was dealt. Perhaps that ominous bridge barrier that originally symbolized an end for me, alternatively was the beacon of hope that life was worth living if I just changed the direction of my wheel.

Amen to that.

And while I don’t intend on stewing to much more on the mistakes of the past, I hope that in sharing them provoked some fruitful “What if’s” for you if you are facing a need for change. Whether you are facing a decision to get sober, ending a toxic friendship or leaving an abusive relationship-know that you always have choice to change the direction.

Begin to free yourself at once by doing all that is possible with the means you have, and as you proceed in this spirit the way will open for you to do more.
~ Robert Collier

Please go follow my Instagram @cece_a_broadtalez

Fall Date Nights in YYC

Date nights are always a fun opportunity for me to get dressed up a, throw on a Burgundy Jewel Toned Lipstick and venture out to a new eating establishment we haven’t been to yet. I get nostalgic thinking of when my mom and dad used to go out for dinner which was often saved for special occasions like a birthdays or anniversaries. My mother always had a flair for rich vibrant colors, and would accessorize her long royal blue coat with a ruby or emerald broach pinning her silk scarf against the lapel. Her cheeks freshly rouged as she shuffled me into my black patent dress shoes smelling of Shalimar and Oil of Olay.

It’s only to be expected that I’ve followed a similar pattern of pomp and circumstance on date nights. My boyfriend Tony is well programmed in his responses to my questions around appropriate dress attire where he’ll simply say:

“Wear whatever it is you’d like to wear!”-Smart Boy

It should also come as no surprise that I’ve been extremely overdressed on multiple occasions, but chalked it up to sometimes Truck Stop Diners with world famous pie deserve the opulence.

According to its Website:

We’ve had a couple of mentionable dinner dates in the last several weeks. We finally had made it out to Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant, located in a historical site in Fish Creek Park, Calgary Alberta.

According to its Website:

“The story of the Bow Valley Ranche is nearly twelve decades long. Throughout its many years, the house has always had a reputation for holding unforgettable parties. It began with a few characters who were critical to the development of Alberta’s cattle industry, the Big Four. In fact, the idea of the Calgary Stampede may very well have been conceived within the walls of the house.

In 1896, cattle rancher and businessman William Roper Hull purchased property along the Bow River and built a sprawling ranch house. The ranch became a centre for refined social activities, as he entertained many local and foreign visitors there. Among the activities popular with the guests, tennis and the outdoor pool were crowd favourites, as you can see from the pictures below.

Hull owned the house and property until 1902, when it was purchased by Patrick Burns, a successful cattle rancher who eventually became a senator. Almost a century later, local residents Mitzie and Larry Wasyliw created the Fish Creek Restoration Society in 1995 for the purpose of restoring the Hull residence. In the summer of 1999, the ranch house was opened as a fine dining restaurant.”

Bow Valley Ranche is a fine dining resteraunt and we were celebrating our common-law anniversary, which is a thing for some of us fearful of marriage!

September 28, 2020 gave us an abnormally warm evening and looked forward to clutching on to the last few days, hours and minutes of outdoor dining we could. We had also been aware that they were hosting the Foodies in the Park Series : Wonderland Dome Dining which we will return to experience on October 23rd, 2020. Stay tuned for that!

We strolled along the pathway leading up to the impressive farmhouse, lined with old fashioned street lanterns. It reminded me of the scene in Mary Poppins, Bert and the children went to the park and broke into song singing:

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious !

Amazon.com: Mary Poppins 50th Anniversary Edition: Julie Andrews, Dick Van  Dyke, David Tomlinson, Glynis Johns

A quaint little fountain in the middle of the Ranch House’s garden marked its way before we arrived at the steps leading us onto a porch that wrapped its way around the house. I knew that was where I wanted to sit for dinner, and we were led to a discreetly placed table

We started our dining experience with a hearty helping of Oysters on the half shell, fresh grated horseradish, lemon and mignonette du jour. On our first date, we had worked our way down 17th Ave, Bar and resteraunt hopping with our last stop being Market. There we drank cognac and ate Oysters until we ended up taking the party back to my place *wink *wink- So it only made sense to indulge.

For dinner I had the Smoked Gouda & Wild Mushroom Stuffed Chicken with macaire potatoes, asparagus, tomato confit and roasted peppers. Tony had the Rougie Duck a L’Orange, with Russian Blue mashed potatoes, green beans, baby carrot vichy. Both entrees were delicious, however we had a little giggle over the plating of his food, specifically his Russian Blue Mashed Potatoes.

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No description available.

We ended our evening of with a dessert of truffles that were on the house. Our waiter was so excellent and quite charming, ensuring our glasses remained full or if we needed anything in the most cordial of ways.

It was a beautiful way to finish up a gorgeous September.

Last night we ventured North of the bow River to SS106 Aperitivo Bar, and Italian Kitchen nestled in the heart of Crescent Heights on Edmonton Trail.

According to their Website:

“SS106’s name derives from the SS106 which is a 491-kilometre highway on the Ionian coast in southern Italy, stretching between the towns of Reggio Calabria in the west to Taranto in the east. While the highway offers incredibly scenic views of beaches, ancient coastal towns and the sea, it is also known as one of Italy’s most dangerous roads, due to tight turns. However, Domenico (the owner) wanted to change the highway’s reputation right here in their hometown of Calgary.

SS106 Aperitivo Bar was opened to create the Italian lifestyle here in Calgary. The Italian lifestyle is very social and every Italian visits their local bar daily even if it’s just for a quick espresso. Many people who have not traveled to Italy have a perception that Italian restaurants are only quiet and candle lit. In Italy many Italian restaurants & bars are very social, happy and louder. SS106 Aperitivo Bar has brought a piece of Italy to YYC.”-Website

And loud it was! It made me long for my girl gang and a time during pre-pandemic days where we’d sit for hours, drinking, laughing and taking no particular notice of the other diners around us regardless of how racey the topic was.I could see the owners vision at work as small groups of diners grazed over plates of Charctuterie, Olives and Pasta.

SS106 makes all their pasta in house and lived up to its charm of not trying to be anything else but just that. A perfect spot to drop in, fill your belly, and try one of their craft cocktails. I enjoyed an Apertivo called the Busted Negroni-Cinzano | Campari | Prosecco | Soda.

We ordered the TAGLIERE (BOARDS) Fromaggio and Calamari to start which were pretty standard and tasty. For our entree’s I had ordered the Gnocchi ai Funghi which is their House-made gnocchi served in a gorgonzola cheese fondue with seared mushrooms. Tony ordered the Fusilli Calabresi pasta served in a tomato sauce with parmesan cheese, which I ended up wishing I had ordered with its nicely spiced, well balanced sauce.Alternatively they have pizza’s as well that perhaps I will try next time. It was a nice time and I was happy Tony had come across this place for our date night. The service was awesome and quick, and very Italian!

Stay tuned for our next date nights in YYC : FoodiesintheparkWonderland Edition

Don’t forget to follow my Instagram @BPEYYC & my Facebook Page:@shegotthatBPE

Dear Medical Aesthetics: You Complete Me.

I was born in the late 70’s having spent the majority of my childhood in the 80’s and adolescence in the 90’s grunge era whereby the more plaid you wore and sadder you appeared, the more you were winning in the eyes of the fashion police.

See Pictures

The beauty icons of my generation were the Kate Moss’s, Christy Turlington’s and lets not forget the blonde and bodacious Claudia Schiffer. There wasn’t one dorm room wall at my boarding school during that time that wasn’t plastered by her Guess Ads. And while fashion magazines were passed hand to hand faster than crack on the streets of Detroit, there was no signs of their influence on us. Despite what we saw in those magazines, there was this unspoken acceptance with the fact that those beauty standards were unattainable unless you were born with gazelle legs and fine featured bone structure. We had made peace with that reality once we had hit puberty and hit our peak growth by 13. And this was okay. We knew we weren’t models and beauty wasn’t the broad and widely accepted diverse kind of standards we have now. It was almost like by acknowledging that we didn’t fit the mold that we were able to channel our efforts and energy into other things that gave us joy. You see having grown up in a time with no social media, there was no need to appease the masses for superficial adoration. Attention and praise would be awarded to those who did good at sports, were considered pretty cute or were outgoing and charismatic. Occasionally some would have the trifecta and then others like myself would blend somewhere in the middle.

Which of These Claudia Schiffer Photos Is From 1989?

Now that’s not to say that we didn’t attempt to attain some level of beauty practices, but it really wasn’t something that consumed much of our time. Our nightly routines in boarding school would have us in the bathrooms with Noxema burning away at our nostrils leaving our skin seemingly clean and refreshed. We’d also exfoliate with our St.Ives apricot scrub every second day, leaving it on longer for optimal effect. We’d go to sleep with dried acne treatment spots and pray that it would work its magic before morning.

Mornings may have included some dabs of Body Shop White Musk perfume oil, some poorly matched skin concealer, and lip smackers to finish off. I assure you there was no faces “getting beat” or “contouring” happening. There was a one shade/item fits all kind of approach; that was the magical “can’t live without” concealer for morning, noon and night. I didn’t even know that I was supposed to pluck my eyebrows until I was in grade 12 and then that was when the over plucking was all the rage. Didn’t take this gal too long before she had some epic thin quarter moon shaped brows dancing in the middle of her forehead. This thread thin trend is solely responsible for my dependence on the expensive Nano Brow/Make Up tattooing required to fix the mistakes of my youthful ignorance. Ironically, the brow correction led me back to the 90’s famous Cindy Crawford Brow Game!

Book Robin Yu who did my amazing brows!

My interest and curiosity over the years has continued to build momentum as the world of medical aesthetics continues to boom in popularity. It’s no longer something that only the celebrities of Hollywood get; its the stay at home, mom next door, or the beautiful young waitress’s that are the major fans spilling through the doors. Gone are the days where we see the obvious tells of invasive plastic surgery whereby anyone with eyes would do a hard pass on. It would be a close friend of mine who was in her mid 20’s that sold me on finally taking the plunge to get Dermal filler in my lips and Botox done. I would admire her pillowy full lips and taut skin and wonder could I achieve that or should I just embrace my aging skin and throw in the towel?

I think often as women we have these internal conversations with ourselves and are quick to admire others and then cower in the corner when it comes to admiring ourselves. The famous line from Dirty Dancing prances into my mind shouting “Nobody puts Baby in the Corner!” when I think that way now. And with no Patrick Swayze around to coax me into the spotlight me, I’ve often had conversations with myself like this:

Why spend money on this when I’m not even going anywhere whereby looking good matters? Why start now, I made it this far? How much difference will it really make, just face it, your getting old, deal with it! Maybe if I was an exotic dancer or in the business of needing to look good would it be worth it but why do I need porn lips doing child protection? Colleagues and other professionals might judge me and take me less seriously if I look like I’m trying too hard?

Does any of this sound like a familiar conversation you’ve had with yourself?

Even when I read this or hear myself say these things out loud I actually become very uncomfortable and unfamiliar with this version of myself. You see; that’s the sound of poor self confidence and a woman putting too much power in the hands of others who’s opinions shouldn’t matter. I don’t even recognize her and here’s the reason why.

Ever since I listened to that authentic and genuine little voice in my head that said:

“What if you absolutely love it and you walk out with your head held high?”

” What if you get it done and see results that make you smile?”

These are the two questions that plunged me forward into a love affair with medical aesthetics and I’ve never looked back. Sometimes letting go of doubt and the negative self image can be scary especially when you are an over-thinker like me. Our subconscious can begin to work double time when it sees a new cowgirl roll into town, perched high on her horse, appropriately named CONFIDENCE!

*three fierce snaps*

“Poke Me Prod Me, But Don’t Touch the Hair”

Now the reason I brought up my early years with regards to my beauty practices is because I think they had a lot to do with what took me so long to get to this place of appreciation for myself. No longer do I carry the attitude of the “me vs. them”; we are all one in the same and having a career in which beauty is not relevant or a prerequisite. However it is relevant in every other aspect of my life as a mother, daughter, girlfriend, social worker, mentor and friend is the qualities that stem from my confidence and self love. The actions and impressions associated with one’s confidence can have positive lasting effects on those around you that can not only be rewarding for others to be around but give you a sense of purposefulness.

And I know I’m not alone in this as I took it upon myself to research what are the driving forces behind the popularity. I discovered that Revenues for minimally invasive aesthetic procedures are forecasted to grow about 10% to 15% a year in the United States. They rose nearly 200% from 2000 to 2010, and the market share for those procedures rose from 30% to almost 50%, the American Society of Plastic Surgery reports. That ratio is expected to rise to more than 70%. In another report, the global medical aesthetics market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.5% from 2019 to reach $22.2 billion by 2025. The Canada Aesthetic Devices is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10 – 12 % during the forecast period ( 2020-2027) .

With these Growth Rates there is something to be said about what is driving these numbers and its not just my girlfriend Brittany and her gorgeous face. I will give her props for pushing me out of the dark ages but clearly she isn’t solely responsible for the increased interest. I looked further into the steady upswing in growth outside the linear world of the obvious aesthetically pleasing components and learned the following:

Medical aesthetic treatments provide greater benefits than just enhancing the physical appearance of the patients. Some of the treatments provide sense of improved self-esteem, leading to better psychological conditions of the patients. Treatments such as Botox can help to deal with the enormous sweating and migraines. When Botox is injected in the armpits of the patients it immediately paralyses the sweat glands, leading to lesser sweat released.

Similarly, dermal fillers are majorly used for filling the wrinkles lines on the patient’s face with a solution made of hyaluronic acid, but the same fillers are also used to smoothen and repair the skin that has been damaged by accidental scars or wounds. Thus, various health benefits associated with aesthetics procedures further drives the consumers to undergo these procedures for not just fulfilling the aesthetics needs but also as a solution for various other health issues.

There have been many technological innovations and advancements that are taking place in the medical aesthetics market. The latest advancements in the laser technology have led to its increased application in medical aesthetics. These advancements in laser provide benefits such as, small incisions, decrease in the intensity of pain and fast recovery after the procedure. There has been a notable increase in the application of laser technology for various cosmetic treatments such as hair removal, skin rejuvenation and body contouring. Transdermal focused ultrasound, monopolar RF, low level laser, high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) and cryolipolysis are some of the advancements in the laser technology that are used for many aesthetics treatments such as body contouring and fat reduction. Laser devices no longer come as a set of bulky and complicated machines to operate and have become more advanced with the introduction of small hand-held diode lasers. These technological advancements have made the cosmetic procedures to be more quick and impactful, which is further expected to support the demand of medical aesthetics products.

And lets not forget our Digital Millennials who are Creating a “Happy Marketplace” driven by a growing sense of wellness and self-care – particularly in younger consumers – interest in medical aesthetics treatments is at an all-time high, according to the results of a global study. These are your instagram influencers, beauty and lifestyle bloggers which are able to tap into markets that traditional commercial advertising can’t. Jeffrey Frentzen writes that demand stems from increased public acceptance of medical aesthetics and safer, more effective non-invasive treatments. The field has seen a rising adoption of procedures among men, as well as millennials and younger generations thanks in part to the Internet, television and social media influencers.

Demand for the older groups such as Gen-X and Baby Boomers continues to grow but at a slower rate. Adults under 45 are nearly twice as likely to consider aesthetic procedures compared with those over 45.

Here are some additional Growth Factors Worth Noting:

The rapidly aging population where age spots, wrinkles and the change of skin elasticity becomes more prominent

Increased demand among the male population

Technological advancements, including little recovery time for minimally invasive and non-invasive procedures

Growing FDA approval of medical aesthetic devises in the United States

Improved treatment results with decreased side-effects

Increased awareness among patients about the appropriate procedures available

Low-cost of certain procedures with arise in disposable income

So with that being said count me in as a life long consumer of the advancing word of medical aesthetics which will hold a place in my beauty regiment regularly. To be included as well I should note that the Noxema and St.Ives Apricot Scrub are a distant memory along with the hormonal acne of my adolescence. Those too have been replaced with an amazing and highly regarded skin care line called ZoSkinCare that provides a comprehensive approach to creating and maintaining healthy skin for anyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, unique skin condition or skin type. From correcting sun damage + pigmentation to preventing new damage + protecting against future damage. Shop ZoSkinCare online or Available at Skin Possible Laser & Light Solutions.

If you are a resident of Calgary or planning on visiting I highly recommend Cosmetic Nurse Injector:

Angela Street(Angela@skinpossible.ca)

Address: 1800 194 Ave SE #2150, Calgary, AB T2X 0R3Hours

Closed ⋅ Opens 9 a.m. Wed

Phone(403) 719-6523

Covid Brain: I Need Answers, Please Speak Slowly and use Small Words

It was exactly 3 month ago that I became symptomatic with Covid-19 and would later that week be a confirmed case after being tested at a drive-thru testing center here in Calgary Alberta, Canada. I remember that day I fell ill, because I joked to myself that perhaps at the fabulous age of 42, I had maybe over done it after attending 2 social gatherings. It wasn’t abnormal for me to require at least a week to recover typically after a good ol’ night of over consuming the godly yet deadly grapes of the earth.

I was working from home already that week and after three days in a row of 8 hour long naps, confusion, body aches and headaches that worsened in severity I realized it was most definitely the “Rona.” Thankfully I had already been self-isolating, but had to make the call to work to deliver the bad news. Not only did I have to tell my already strained unit they were going to be down a worker, I also had to contact everyone that had attended the outdoor tea party I had thrown at my house that same weekend. It was embarrassing to say the least but thankfully we would later find out that no one had become ill as a result of my illness. Aside from being relatively ill and stuck in my bedroom for 10 days, the two weeks of isolation after that I would say to date was the easiest part that I have endured thus far.

You see, no one is able to prepare you for the complicated variables after the initial diagnosis. Not only can it be challenging to return back to work, whereby do you have to repeat the Provincial Health System directions at least 3-4 times then await approval from the varying levels and then be told to repeat yourself another 3-4 times. Lets not even start on receiving the daily calls from the contact tracers who do not seem to have the information that you spoke with someone earlier that day. But for some reason they also want to take you through 15 minutes of questions only to be told something different than the person you spoke to 3 hours before told you to do. At the end of the day, I’m typically very good at doing what I’m told but I’d have to say I was left feeling less confident in what they had to offer me in terms of advice.

I remember when I returned back to work several weeks later, feeling happy to get back into a routine and be productive again. I’ve fallen victim a few times during this pandemic with the assumption that being back at work is going to produce familiar feelings that give that long awaited dose of normalcy or familiarity. However, my assumptions have fallen short as there is nothing normal about doing child protection in a COVID world, let alone doing it while recovering from COVID.

So it should not be surprising when I tell you in my last naive attempt to resume my regular scheduled programming that I fell hard and fast. It led me to the decision that I had to make for myself. It’s been 3 months since I tested positive for COVID and I have been sick 3 times with the exact same symptoms as before. Extreme fatigue, severe headaches, shortness of breath/tightness in my chest, and intermittent dry cough. The physical ailments are one thing, the mental health is a whole other challenge. I had to wave my white flag and take a lengthy leave from my job in order to heal, however remain at somewhat of a loss as to how to do this.

You see I’m well versed in how to treat and manage my mental health when I’m struggling in that aspect. I know how to implement a regiment of exercise, therapy, vitamins and nutrition as well as a healthy work life balance. I’m also well versed how to recover from a flu, illness, or physical ailment that I’m presented with. So perhaps from the outside its seems quite simple to overcome an illness that is being presented as “the common flu” when in actuality its just not the case for everyone. Just ask the people that have died from it.

So you can see where my confusion lies as for whatever reason I don’t have a clear action plan yet as to how I’m going to use this time to heal. All I’m armed with is the conviction that my cognitive functioning and body is telling me that we are in some uncharted territory and I’m at sea without a compass. In my attempt to seek out answers from my family doctor and the Provincial COVID Health link I have not been provided much information around whats happening to me. Since my initial diagnosis, I have presented at hospital twice, and received ECG’s, blood work, and chest X-Rays but no MRI or brain scan. My research has left me with little direction as the resources available speak to either health specific or alternatively mental health specific. But what happens if they are interconnected and are neurological in nature, which means an umbrella approach to assessment and treatment?

Seeing as I’m not one to sit around and be patient with essentially anything in my life, this predicament is no different. Therefore it seems that I have some work to do when it comes to advocating for my health and taking it into my own hands in order to press the health care system in catching up with the times. So I have quickly began to go down the rabbit hole researching information on the medical case studies involving the neurological effects of Covid-19.

I came across an article in Medical News Today which discusses how viral infections can impact the brain even if the if the virus has not directly infected brain tissue. For example, inflammation of the brain, or encephalitis, most often results from a viral infection. These infections usually cause mild, flu-like symptoms, but when they affect the brain, the issues can be severe.

Politics and personal perspectives aside, I think history can be a valid starting point in order to establish some sort of reference that’s not based in a conspiracy or political agenda.

What we do know is that in the 1918 flu pandemic, there was an epidemic of encephalitis lethargica, or “sleeping sickness.” Between 1917 and 1927, millions of people likely developed this issue worldwide. Many of the survivors experienced lasting behavioral changes and extreme lethargy. Some lived in catatonic states.

Previously, some researchers have observed a link between infections with SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV — the coronaviruses that cause SARS and MERS, respectively — and signs of damage within the central nervous system.

Are you scared yet?

While there is no evidence of anyone living in a catotonic state due to Covid I can attest to feeling the extreme lethargy and some odd behavioral changes. If I wasn’t so in tune already with my pre-existing mental health condition, I could have quite easily mistaken it for just that with the addition of my physician attributing it to depression, anxiety or a mood disorder.

A study was completed with regards to Brain Inflammation in the U.K. at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery that described the experiences of 43 people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 between the group had a wide age range of 16–85 years.

The study team analyzed both the clinical features and the results of brain scans and laboratory tests, and it is the first to have done so in this context.

The report details 10 cases of temporary brain dysfunction, or encephalopathies, with delirium. These patients were mostly over 50 and presented with confusion and disorientation, with one patient experiencing psychosis.

A further 12 patients experienced inflammation of the brain. The majority of these people experienced a rare disorder called acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis (ADEM), which is triggered by viral infections and leads to damage of the myelin sheaths around nerves.

The study went on to say that “ADEM is more common in children and that they typically see around one adult with the condition per month. During the period that the study was concerned with, this rate increased to one case per week. This is concerning, as ADEM can progress to multiple sclerosis.”

The team also found reports of nerve damage. Specifically, there were seven reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare neurological disorder in which a person’s immune system attacks healthy nerve networks. This syndrome is often associated with a prior infection and also involves damage to myelin.

The finding is consistent with a previous report, from Italy, of five cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome in COVID-19 patients.

“We identified a higher-than-expected number of people with neurological conditions such as brain inflammation, which did not always correlate with the severity of respiratory symptoms. We should be vigilant and look out for these complications in people who have had COVID-19.”

– Co-senior author Dr. Michael Zandi

The team also reported eight cases of stroke, which confirms previous findings. These cases are thought to result from the “sticky blood” found in COVID-19 patients.

The remaining patients had other neurological complaints, including dysfunction of the cranial nerve and a brain abscess.

Immune response gone wrong

Interestingly, some patients in the study did not experience any severe respiratory symptoms, making their neurological symptoms the first and major presentation of COVID-19.

The authors say that doctors should look out for possible neurological symptoms in people with suspected COVID-19.

“Doctors need to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes. People recovering from the virus should seek professional health advice if they experience neurological symptoms,” says co-lead author Ross Paterson, Ph.D.

In eight of the patients, the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord was tested for the virus, and no evidence of it was found. This suggests that neurological symptoms of COVID-19 are not a result of a direct attack on the nervous system.

Understanding exactly how an infection with the new coronavirus causes these symptoms will require more research. However, it seems likely that the neurological consequences of COVID-19 result from an immune response gone awry, rather than the virus itself.

One of the lingering effects that I have personally continued to experience along with the severe headaches and lethargy is the loss of taste and smell.

See “Lost Smell and Taste Hint COVID-19 Can Target the Nervous System

While the media and health officials report that COVID-19 is primarily a respiratory disease that attacks the lungs, but it has also manifested seemingly unrelated symptoms, such as a loss of taste and smell or memory loss, that can persist for months beyond the initial diagnosis. These oddities suggest a neurological source. 

It has been reported that at least two patients also developed strange behaviors shortly after being discharged from the hospital.

“One woman, as described in the paper, repeatedly donned and took off her coat, and began hallucinating lions and monkeys inside her home. Another woman became drowsy and ultimately needed emergency surgery to relieve the pressure on her brain.”

Thankfully I have not come across any lions, tigers or bears, Oh MY! But have experienced confusion and episodes of overwhelming panic whereby I’ unable to process the source or trigger. This can be daunting and imbarssing especially in a professional role like mine as a social worker who is typicaly the one moderating panic and confusion in others.

The authors of the study are now pushing for larger, possibly global efforts to track neurological symptoms. Zandi tells The Guardian that health professionals should begin incorporating cognitive function into their patient assessments, while his coauthor Ross Paterson, a neurodegenerative specialist at University College London, says early diagnosis is key. “Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause,” Paterson tells Reuters. “Doctors need to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes.”

Ultimately the general consesus out there is that the full long-term effects of these symptoms may not be realized for years, says Zandi. Many patients are currently too sick to place inside brain scanners, The Guardian reports, meaning the full extent of neurological symptoms remains unknown. In addition, some changes may be more subtle and happen over time.

In a seperate Reuters article, Adrian Owen, a neuroscientist at Western University who was not involved in the study, expressed concern over their potential to severely affect the quality of life for recovering patients.

“My worry is that we have millions of people with COVID-19 now. And if in a year’s time we have 10 million recovered people, and those people have cognitive deficits . . . then that’s going to affect their ability to work and their ability to go about activities of daily living,” Owen says.

My hope would be that going forward that both the Canadian Federal and Provincial government will begin applying the research and studies into our present health care approach to Covid -19 as a part of their medical practice and assessment. I believe as the numbers continue to climb more people will be looking for answers. In the meantime, us “long haulers” may just have to pave the way with the wisdom we carry as Covid-19 survivors. From one Long Hauler to another, Keep your Head Up!

I didn’t Choose the Good Life, the Good Life Chose me

I’m pretty sure I know when I got my first taste for the good life, and it was when I was 14. I remember I was starting to come into my little hour glass figure and I had bought this little black dress with white polka dots from Mariposa.  I was heading home to where my parents lived in Tanzania and had a solid 2 days of travel ahead of me solo dolo. I had always been stubbornly independent so this was no big thing for this little polka queen, and felt like I had some new hips to swing.

There I was with a business class ticket in route to London Heathrow. I had my Neon Yellow Sports Discman and binder full of CD’s in alphabetical order. Was I going to start my 9 hour flight with some Bjork and move into some Radiohead then turn it up and head into some Snoop Dog and Wu-Tang? I had my Vogue and Cosmo mags ready to go with the page corners turned down on the quiz pages that were going to reveal if I was a Sex Goddess or if my personality was compatible with Tom Cruise.

Ironically, at that stage I had maybe a few French kisses under my belt along with a feel up on the high jump mats stored in the school gym.  My first French kiss was with this guy Matt, and I he had just eaten a dill pickle. I should have settled for him in grade 7 because he ended up winning the lottery 3 times- I don’t joke. Maybe had I given him the blow job of his life he would have never broke up with me. But I didn’t know what that was yet either. The only access to porn we had was getting quick peaks of the playboy and hustler mags that were positioned in the back row of the magazine racks at the 7-Eleven. I was as green as the grass that grows in spring.

They were showing Jurassic park as the in flight movie, and the airline stewardess was handing out these little toiletry bags that contained nothing but Body Shop products. I thought I had truly made it in life with all my mini toiletries smelling like a fruit salad of satsuma and pink grapefruit. I asked myself can this get any better.

 It sure could.

The stewardess asked if I was travelling by myself which I responded hesitantly as I thought maybe she’ll assign me an adult and all will be ruined. All the “Between the Sheets” tips I had absorbed would go down the tube and the steamy love affair I had plotted out in my head with the cute boy in row 8B would be no more.

 But as luck would have it she offered me a seat up in the first class lounge, which I casually accepted, not aware of what awaited me on the other side of those velvet curtains. I’m pretty sure when I crossed the threshold it was my right of passage whereby I knew I was where I always belonged. Not only did I get more Body Shop Toiletries, I had a buffet of fresh fruit, cheeses, desserts and Swiss chocolate. Once seated I waited as long as I could so that I didn’t blow my age but I could not wait any longer. I went over and discreetly filled my entire ESPRIT back pack with everything that could ignite a teenage hormonal acne outbreak. I’m sure there was not enough Clearasil that could have intervened with this ravenous chick in a black polka dot dress.

As I settled into my seat with my bag of goodies, the stewardess came and handed me a hot wet towel. Next was the flutes of champagne and strawberries. The flutes were endless and I learned I could add grapefruit juice or orange juice to them, being advised these were called “Mimosa’s.” Within hours I felt like I was getting cultured as fuck and you couldn’t tell me otherwise. After about 10 of these I’m pretty sure I blacked out because I was in London and needing to transfer planes at Heathrow.

If you’ve ever been to Heathrow, its one of the largest international airports and it’s a nightmare. I’m not sure how I got to my next flight which was in a completely other different terminal and required a train and a shuttle. It was intense, but slightly satisfactory as I’m sure this was my first “Drunk Adventure.” My adventure took me to the first class lounge where discovered more goodies, and more of these Mimosa’s. I was an expert at ordering drinks now and I ordered myself a Mimosa, but got extra fancy and asked for orange juice and grapefruit juice in it, thinking I was going to approach it the same way I would at a fountain pop station. There I was perched in the club chairs, attempting to cross my legs like a lady surrounded by business men and a couple Arab Sheiks to my right. I pulled my Discman out because I felt like I needed some theme music and chose some Ace of Base with “All that she wants” booming from my little foam earphones.

By the time I headed to my gate, my hips gained a bit more swing as I smiled confidently at all the peasants walking by who had no idea they were dealing with a certified Mimosa queen and I had made it to the big leagues.

As my flight continued we had one stop in Dubai where I watched all the beautiful women begin to put on their Burka’s and tuck away any evidence of a goodtime. I wondered what their life was like and had wished I had not felt so shy and talked to them with my new maturity and class.

By the time I got to Tanzania I quickly realized wearing a little black dress to a third world country with  bag full of old cheese and crumbled cookies was not the best idea. My head was booming and with the heat and smells I barely made it to a garbage can. The class I had acquired over the last 9 hours went to shit, and mommy and daddy were waiting on the other side waving at me excitedly, blowing my whole cover. As soon as they saw me in my little slutty dress because it was now wrinkled and riding up my thighs from the flight, their response was “Wow, you’ve grown up!” That was all I needed to confirm that there was no turning back, I could never be that girl who would settle for dill pickle breath and plain orange juice again.  I hope they knew that I’d never accept anything less than first class from then on, and I had demands. But I assure you like any good set of parents, they grounded me as they quickly smelled the booze on me, and my crown knocked back onto the floor of reality. But regardless, it was too late, I still hang onto that crown and place it on every now and again to remind myself to just work harder, because the good life chose me not the other way around!

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