The Fur Love Flows

We are well into our fur baby’s 3rd week with us- what a ride it’s been! I can’t help but continue to wait for the terrible moment where I find my base boards destroyed or she’s eaten a shoe. So far this gal no longer sleeps in her kennel at night- and sleeps all night. She’ll get up with me in the morning but requires some coaxing to stumble down the stairs to go for her morning business. Geisha prefers, not unlike us humans, a gradual emergence from her little dreams into the arms of some warm cuddles and kisses. She’s caught onto the schedule and loves some interactive play time with a ball where she willingly fetches and brings it bCk to her mama. She’s caught on even further that her one ball gets retrieved and placed delicately into the red launcher her mama is holding. She is so damn smart!

This leads me to believe not only is she an over achiever in my eyes, but she’s going to need harder challenges. You see Akita’s are known to be very smart- but if not challenged you will begin to see your base boards destroyed and yard dug up in no time. Off to amazon I go in search for the equivalent of Baby Einstein toys.

Her repertoire of skills go from sitting for her dinner. Responding to sit, lay down, stay and come Geisha!

That’s when she feels like it.

Her “stubbornness” that I heard about in our Akita Research can be seen mostly around when she’s not ready to “ Come Geisha!!!”

She loves her time at the top of the stairs where can be seen regally peering down at her peasant humans below. There she has a perfect vantage point to guard her home- you see she already believes she is working and on duty. From her perspective she takes this job seriously and will not leave her post unless one of her humans is need of her help. Akita’s are not only hunters which you can see in her stalking behaviour with her balls and toys- but she is a certifiable guard dog.

My mom who is 79 is her #1- She takes her job protecting her as seriously as the secret service. She ensures “grandma” makes it down the stairs, and will escort her to the kitchen and from the kitchen to the couch where she resumes her post.

It’s worked out perfectly since my moms little lap dog had since passed and was grieving the loss. I had seen some leeriness prior to Geishas arrival as she wasn’t familiar with such a large breed dog who came with a “reputation” that proceeded her. As many experienced dog owners know these reputations in breeds can be discouraging and unfair to our beloved family fur members. Safe to say grandma is smitten and try to tell her otherwise that Akita’s aren’t the best breeds ever!

So here are a few updated images of our little baby! Her little floppy ears have popped and so has her fascinating little personality!

Surviving Social Work in Pandemic: A Practice Model in Staying Well

I had created this presentation for my unit about 2 months into the Pandemic. Probably the only time ever in my long career to take on an ass kissing task like this. Admittedly, I was struggling to get my footing and I knew that this slow period needed to be spent in a meaningful type of way. So the social worker in me decided to social work myself and put this helpful guide together for others alike.

Approaching Wellness From a Canadian Indigenous Framework

The Medicine Wheel: Organizing our Wellness

How Can We Lead or Support Our Teams if We Are Struggling too?

“Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.”

Lets Begin

Spirituality

“Solitude is the great teacher, and to learn its lessons you must pay attention to it.” ~ Deepak Chopra

Spirituality as a Support to Mourning and Grieving; Identify those losses in your life and all that you are missing. Create idea pin boards, lists of restaurants, places you want to travel, bucket list plans, or even festivals you want to attend. These will all contribute to a sense of hope by changing your lens that some of these losses are just temporary and better times are ahead.

Connect with others who are passionate about the same issues.  Whether it’s your self-care buddies, community of care, or a local organization or campaign you are volunteering for, surround yourself with people who can understand how you feel. Venting alone doesn’t help, combine complaining with action! Get into the practice of walking away during your Venting/Complaining Sessions with action items of how to constructively do something about the things we want to see changed.

Put good deeds back into the universe—directly. Focus on creating that human connection, on giving back and showing others that there is still kindness in the world. Balance your self-care with a healthy dose of kindness activism.

Curate your methods of staying informed. Truly evaluate how much news you are absorbing and be mindful of how the news affects you—physically, mentally and emotionally. Almost two years ago, I decided to stop getting my news from television. Turn off all but one of the push notifications on my phone in order to limit interruptions during the day.

Give myself permission to cry. Anticipate the ebb and flow of emotions that go along with the adaptation processes.  Feeling sad, disheartened, or downright hopeless at times is a commonality among us all.

Incorporate Prayer/Meditation/Breathing Exercise’s in the morning and at night if you are struggling to manage the anxiety, worries and restlessness.

Consider What’s in Front of You. Pay attention to what is simply visibly present around us that blesses us each day

Examples:
Did you tackle a recipe that you’ve been meaning to try, or bake a cake from scratch that actually turned out?
Did you hit the lottery and able to find Lysol Wipes or toilet paper at the store?
Were you able to finally transition from your day pajamas to wearing pants for your zoom/skype meetings?
Is your family safe with you at home?
Is the isolation and social distancing giving you more time to make room for other things that never had time for before?

Don’t minimize your accomplishments as small as they may seemingly be.

Try some for yourself!

And Most Importantly…Don’t Forget to Laugh

Physically:

“Did my FitBit  really only count 932 steps today?”

•Create a space in your home to work in(outside of your bedroom), and make it your own by filling it with things that bring you joy. Ensure your set up properly so you have all the items you need from forms, technology, and equipment.

•Ensure you are taking wellness breaks by getting up, walking, cycling, gardening or spending time in your drive-way chatting to the neighbor across the street. Included in this may also look like trips to the fridge for a snack. These steps count!

•Schedule time for Fitness in your day: Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned athlete, now is the time to get moving. Not only will it improve your energy, but boost your immune system in times we need to stay healthy.

•Now is the time to take your vitamins and eat as much nutrient rich foods as you can. Sun is also a great source of Vitamin D- Take your computer and sit in the sun when you can, to avoid an unnecessary trip to the pharmacy.

You’re Hella Canadian if you grew up with these two!

Free Fitness Resources/Apps

´1. RUNTASTIC

Running, jogging, biking – it doesn’t matter how you train, keeping track of your workouts is essential. Runtastic allows you to set goals, uses a built-in GPS to record routes in real-time, and even lets you share your successes with your friends.

PERKS OF RUNTASTIC

The app syncs with Apple Music to offer high tempo playlists for true musical motivation

By tracking your mileage, Runtastic guages what wear and tear your trainers are enduring

´2. ASANA REBEL: YOGA AND FITNESS

You don’t have to be a full-blown ‘yogi’ to use Asana Rebel. This handy little fitness app offers the perfect introduction to the regime. Rather than bombarding you with annoying notifications, you get a green dot on the built-in calendar when you train. You also get two new workouts every day so you’ll never get stuck doing the same old routine.

PERKS OF ASANA REBEL

When you first login to the app – using Facebook or an email – you’ll see a screen that asks you to ‘unlock’ the premium version. Don’t be fooled. You can still use the free option by simply clicking the exit button at the top of the screen.

´3. MYTRAINING WORKOUT TRACKER LOG

MyTraining packs a selection of helpful training videos, a routine log, and a handy calendar feature, but that’s not all. Technology may have come a long way, but you just can’t beat support from world class coaches. That’s exactly what this tracking app offers.

PERKS OF MYTRAINING

Got a burning question about your workout? Simply open the chat feature and speak to a certified coach in minutes.

´4. MY VIRTUAL MISSION

Are you in need of some workout motivation? If your current exercise is less-than-inspiring, My Virtual Mission may be the app for you. Use it to create the virtual fitness route of your dreams – literally. If you can imagine a route, the app can create it.

PERKS OF MY VIRTUAL MISSION

If you have a desired route in mind, the app will tell you how many miles that is and set a goal for you.

When you’ve completed the route, you can even send a virtual postcard to your contacts to show off.

5. COUCH TO 5K RUNNER

The hardest part of any run is taking that first step. Couch to 5K offers running novices all the advice, support, and help they could possibly need. The NHS program claims to get people off the couch and running in just nine weeks.

PERKS OF COUCH TO 5K RUNNER

Great for easing you into your new regime, so you can realistically work your way from a 15-minute route to a 5K run

Each workout is guided by a voice over from the likes of Olympian Michael Johnson to BBC presenter Jo Whiley

6. DAILY WORKOUTS FITNESS TRAINER

Ideally, staying fit and healthy means hitting the gym or track regularly. However, sometimes, you may not have the chance to get out nor the time to dedicate to it. The Daily Workouts Fitness Trainer app means you can exercise well in the comfort of your own home.

PERKS OF DAILY WORKOUTS FITNESS TRAINER

You can choose which area of your physique you’d like to target and the app offers a simple yet effective five to 30-minute workout that fits the bill

The uniquely genius thing about this app is it’s simplicity. Download it, pick a discipline, and get working

7. FITBOD WEIGHT LIFTING TRAINER

If the CrossFit phenomenon has inspired you, you’re not alone. More men and women are lifting weights than ever. When giving this regime a shot, Fitbod Weight Lifting Trainer is the ideal app. The step-by-step nature of the program makes planning an effective strength training workout effortless.

PERKS OF FITBOD

The more you use the app, the more it understands your abilities and the challenges you face

You can tailor your workouts to suit your training style and the available equipment too

Free Dance Apps/Websites

Apps for IOS/Android 

 Top 20 Free Dancing Apps To Learn Dance On Android And iOS Device1.1 Crazy Flamenco Rumba Dance

´1.2 ElfYourself ´

1.3 Just Dance Now

´1.4 Step Dance ´

1.5 Hip Hop Dance

´1.6 Pole Dance Lessons

´1.7 Pocket Salsa

´1.8 Dancing elf

´1.9 Face Dance

´1.10 Animate Yourself 3D

´1.11 Belly Dance Fitness

´1.12 Animate Me

´1.13 NinjaMe

´1.14 Hip Hop Dance School

´1.15 STEEZY Studio

´1.16 DWM

´1.17 Learn Bhangra

´1.18 Santa’s Christmas Dance

´1.19 Baby Hazel Ballerina Dance

´1.20 Dance School Stories

Emotional:

“REMEMBER, IT’S HUMAN TO FEEL HOPELESS.”

The National Center for Emotional Wellness defines this term as an awareness, understanding, and acceptance of your emotions, and your ability to manage effectively through challenges and change.

Emotional Wellness is so important there is even a whole month dedicated to this, can anyone guess what month that is?

For the most part, being human means having challenges and problems; however, it’s all about how you deal or cope with those issues that determines your emotional wellness.

It’s about embracing all the goodness in your life and looking at your glass as half-full rather than half-empty

Lets do a test-
Are you maintaining a good sense of emotional wellness?

1)Living in the present, without excessive worry about the future or rumination about the past?

2)Do you feel connected to others?

3)Self compassion?

4)Have you been holding on to grudges and been unforgiving?

5)Do you feel that you have been thinking rationally?

6)Do you feel in control of your own feelings, thoughts and actions?

7)Can you laugh at life and yourself? 8)Have you felt grateful lately?

Intellectually:

How do we stay sharp when the World’s been flipped upside down on us?

Defining Intellectual Wellness

Intellectual wellness encourages us to engage in creative and mentally-stimulating activities. These activities should expand your knowledge and skills while allowing you to share your knowledge and skills with others.

Intellectual wellness can be developed through academics, cultural involvement, community involvement and personal hobbies.

Why is Intellectual Wellness Important?

Intellectual wellness encourages learning. It is important to explore new ideas and understandings in order to become more mindful and better-rounded. Having an optimal level of intellectual wellness inspires exploration. Intellectual wellness also stimulates curiosity. Curiosity is important because it motivates you to try new things and develop an understanding of how you see the relationship between yourself, others and the environment.

The Route to Intellectual Wellness

Be open to new ideas, new cultures, new knowledge, new skills and new environments. When you have an open mind, the world is truly yours. This allows you to explore issues relating to problem solving, critical thinking, learning and creativity. Below is a list of suggestions for you to adopt in order to enhance your intellectual wellness.

Listen. When you participate in active listening you are able to fully comprehend the information that is being given to you.

Pick up a hobby. Hobbies are great ways to increase your skill set. They can also be fun!

Express your creative side by exploring different avenues of creativity and artistic expressions.

Sessions that support Intellectual Wellness

´Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction: Mindfulness is seeing things more clearly, and paying attention moment to moment to moment. When you are mindful, you notice what is happening—as it is happens. This creates a space, a pause in which you can respond considerately to situations, rather than react. Creative possibilities open up; new ways of being with life’s challenges can present themselves.

´Transformational Coaching: Together we will identify the specific steps to make your dreams a reality. In addition, we will overcome fear, self-doubt and find the clarity needed to make the changes you desire. And finally, we will co-create strategies and your plan to reach your goals so you can achieve and have a well balanced life.

Steps to Achieve or Maintain Intellectual Wellness

´Read. There are good books, newspaper articles, essays from the internet that can be read by anyone. Through reading, your comprehension skill is challenged and it widens vocabulary that would equip you with the new development around.

´Listen to good music and radio program. It is found therapeutic to listen to positive music because it calms the emotions and decreases the risk of stress.

´Watch positive TV programs and videos. Choose informative videos and not the ones that corrupt the mind or infuse negative ideas. This way, you will absorb positive energy that enhances the ability to think.

´Be creative. When there is an activity to do, challenge yourself to make something new and different, not the one you are accustomed to, to see how far your mental ability can go.

´Desire to continue learning. Always challenge yourself to learn something new to keep your brain active and be curious to what is unknown to you.

´Attend seminars or workshops. This will help you gain new ideas that are seldom included in the books you buy. You will also improve your social wellness by meeting people and gaining new friends.

´Eat a well-balanced diet. Proper nutrition is significant for the brain to function well and avoid mental stresses that may cause additional health problems.

Questions to consider as we go forward into a continuum of change and time of uncertainty…

Reflect on some of the old habits that were no longer serving purpose to you. What were they? How did they impact your self-care and wellness. What will happen if you let go of them?

What Habits have you acquired during the pandemic that have been beneficial and what is your plan to continue it?

Identify times, actions, or accomplishments that demonstrated strength and resilience in yourself? Can you share this with your team?

How have you grown or changed in reference to the 4 quadrants of the medicine wheel in the last 2 months? Where do you see areas that need attention? How can your leadership support this?

We Almost Didn’t Survive The “Rona”

As we all approach the seventh month of enduring life in a pandemic I’m sure many of you have had to take a step back a few times and asked yourself how have I not pushed my significant other off a cliff yet. Many of us in the field of health care and social services braced ourselves for the increase in domestic violence, overdoses, and mental health related cases. However, due to the isolation the issues have noticeably been pushed further into the darkness. I’ve often joked with colleagues that the eerie silence seems to be foreshadowing a scene from Game of Thrones. Anticipation continues to tease the anxious audience with the looming threat of the white walkers who inch closer, while lives hang in limbo.

A large part of being in the health care and human services sector is a responsibility to manage your own mental health and wellness. And as seasoned as some of us may seem at doing this, there was nothing in our bag of tricks that could have prepared us for this blow.

I think it was the end of June where my partner and I hit a wall of intolerance for each other. A wrong look, a snappy tone, or small misunderstanding was enough to ignite world war 3. Our lack of social buffers and distractions was like having a field of dry grass in a drought awaiting a match to be lit. Time together was no longer cute or meaningful opportunity to strengthen us, in fact it was going to break us.

We needed a relationship intervention. We needed a dose of what life was like before the complex web of Fuckery impacting our ability to be civil human beings. I recognize that we have remained in a better situation than most folks who have faced unemployment, illness, and loss of family members as a result of Covid-19. I think recognizing this was a motivating factor to get well in my personal life. The white walkers are coming and in this case as services and schools begin to reopen the demand for healthy front line workers will too. I can’t be of assistance to anyone if I’m in jail for accidentally poisoning the smoothie I so kindly threw in his face.

I can appreciate that there is a spectrum of opinions and levels of comfort with regard to the Covid-19 topic. My own has wavered consistently from the beginning of it. I remember being in Mexico in March just as the pandemic was escalating. By the end of my stay as the resort became a ghost town and the stream of concerned texts and emails came through for me to come home, the severity of it began to sink in. We are all aware of the panic and fear that ensued after that.

I’m sure this is actually how Covid was introduced to the world…Foam Party.

It was in July that both my partner and I tested positive for Covid. Living under the same roof as my 78 year old mother with significant health issues complicated our recovery even more. Covid left us fatigued, foggy, and unable to support one another at a time no one else could. And while I recognize there is still so much we don’t know about Covid-19 and reinfection, we decided to take what we think we knew and take advantage of our fresh antibodies and go on a trip. We had been advised after being quarantined and cleared by health professionals that we have up to potentially 3 months of antibodies until the harshness of winter ascends on us. So with our empty and weathered buckets in tow we took the summer vacay we needed to fill them accordingly.

We took a quick flight from Calgary to Vancouver, one we’ve taken many times before. This departure felt similar to the excitement attached to some of our previous tropical destination trips, equipped with the obligatory gate drinks. In fact, they were literally Gate Drinks whereby we were allowed two at a time to be drank at our gate while we waited for our flight. It made me wonder how this wasn’t even a thing before because I was loving it. We boarded our half empty flight where I could stretch myself across the seat and take an hour long disco nap prior to the anticipated fun that lay ahead of us.

Over the next few days we took in the beautiful sites of Vancouver. I was excited to show my partner a piece of my past where I had so many great memories. Having lived there before, I knew all the best places to go and reacquaint myself with the ever changing cityscape. My favorite part of Vancouver is the transit system, as it’s an extremely large and densely populated city whereby a short distance can turn into a 2 hour commute by vehicle.

Stanley Park is hands down a must when visiting Vancouver. You can rent all different types of bikes from cruisers to electric and ride along the seawall. There is the aquarium you can currently book ticket times for along with the many paths, beaches, and indigenous art spread about waiting to be discovered. From there you can tackle the city by foot, Skytrain, bus or scooter. Stanley Park is really close to Denman Street and English Bay where you can find the colorful and LGBTQ2S safe community that has been well established for a long time. Typically around the time we were there it would have been boasting one of the largest Gay Pride Celebrations and parade.

We strolled through Gas-Town & Yaletown in the search for the little hole in the wall sushi spots where you can get fresh sushi on the low-low. It was crazy to walk by the old closed clubs I use to frequent in my early 20’s, like Sonar and the Purple Onion now looking unidentifiable. These were the years of the late 90’s, early 2000’s, when Hip Hop and Rap artists were killing it, and my gold hoops were as big as the vibes. It was the time to be alive and in your twenties, try to tell me otherwise. Craft beer gardens and Bottle Service were nonexistent, and the only thing that separated you from the next person was what color your Fubu Jersey was.

The next few days we encountered some of the most gut aching laughter ever. I’m blessed to be surrounded by some of the quirkiest characters that are always sure to deliver. Our beloved friend we call “Uncool Jake” who is often the Butt of many jokes was in true form

By the end of the night after some monetary encouragement to the donor he was putting back shots of breast milk quite willingly. How our circle has changed since the far racier Las Vegas trip days. The content may change but the bad behavior never dies. With laugh lines reinforced, we moved on to a slower pace and headed to Vancouver Island.

We took the ferry to Victoria which is where I went to the University of Victoria. Victoria boasts the most beautiful inner harbor, where you could typically come across buskers, vendors and musicians. However…COVID World strikes again and it looked like it would traffic wise in the winter. Victoria usually is a big cruise ship destination, and the lack of tourism was evident with many of the storefronts closed and out of business.  After I identified the big tree I peed in one time on Canada Day I felt like we were ready to move on to the next stop on memory lane.

I decided to surprise my honey and took a night on Salt Spring Island staying at the Salty Pear Farm, which has a number of different Air BnB options.  They suggested that we go to Salt Spring Wild Cider Brewery and take in their tasting flights. They had us at the word “tastings” and primed our palettes and bellies by getting a solid buzz on. The view was vibrant as it overlooked hues of rolling wooded hills with the orchards below. The casual atmosphere along with the fervent staff made the experience idyllic. I left feeling like this would be a place that if I was a local would stay until closing time, and likely be found in a nearby field under the stars.

Salt Spring Wild Cider Brewing Company
Hamock Lounging at the Salty Pear Farm, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia

We surprised ourselves and showed enough restraint at Wild Cider in order to take in a waterfront dinner where we listened to the band Grapes of Wrath perform as the sun set. If you grew up in the 80’s & 90’s you will know that these guys were the SHIT! So I may have fan girled a little bit while my significantly younger partner took zero interest in this epic moment. Watching the boats come and go, as well as eaves dropping on the horny middle aged women’s conversation next to us was a highlight. It made me actually miss the girls night dinners I used to have pre-Covid days where the night would be littered with the dirty details of our one night stands of Stampede Past.

I had initially researched Sunset Kayak trips, but the trip was beginning to take a toll on our energy and were looking forward to just relaxing by the camp fire at the Salty Pear Farm. We were leaving for Shawinigan Lake and Tofino the next day so lacked the time needed to cover the Provincial Park, Lakes and artisan studios that Salt Spring is known for. It will be a destination I can see returning with a group of girlfriends after the pandemic has subsided.

Shawnigan Lake School Main Building

I had been anticipating the drive to Shawnigan as it was the boarding school I attended for 5 years. It is a prestigious school located on its namesake lake where I spent my years rowing and skinny dipping at night with my dorm mates. The grounds mimic something out of a movie, with its main gardens and mix of new state of the art learning commons among the old refurbished heritage buildings. My high school years here were hands down the best years of my life. Ironically it was also the setting for my last wedding that ended in divorce, yet the nostalgia of the place remains unsmeared. I pointed out the Chapel where I had lost my virginity in, which also was the same chapel I got married in.

Inside the Chapel of Sin

Indeed I am going to hell in a hand basket.

 I pointed out the train tracks that we would walk down and go smoke weed. I shared the story of when 15 of us got busted and all got put on “Wilbur Force” together, which was a punishment based more on public embarrassment along with loss of privileges. Joke was on them because all 15 of us were friends, and it allowed us the time to smoke more weed while not having to do sports or other enriching extra-curricular activities. It took us 6 weeks to pull a tiny area of Broom, which is that thick yellow brush that grows in BC, in what should have taken a week. I feel like it may have been easier to have just let us get away with our insolence, because it left many of the other students wishing they were on our side of trouble.  I love visiting this place, and cannot wait for my 25th reunion next year where the tradition of poor behavior will be continued.

We pushed on to Tofino and I was adamant about stopping in Coombs where they have the Market with the goats on a roof. My partner was a bit confused as to why this was a thing, let alone a reason to veer off our direct route to Tofino. Unfortunately the line was so long to get into the actual Market where I was just wanting to take in the familiar smells of the wood and hand made goods. We did take in lunch at the Italian restaurant Cuckoo Trattoria, dining on hand tossed flatbread, pasta, and sinful desserts. It made the blow of not getting into the market digestible. The patio sits in a wooded grove overlooking a ravine where you can hear the stream below, and offers soothing shade on a hot day. There were moments where I felt I was at an old Tuscan Villa enjoying a glass of vino with Il Mio Amore!

Coombs Market

On route to Tofino we passed through Cathedral Grove, which the Arboreal groves resemble Gothic cathedrals of Europe boasting the worlds largest and oldest trees. Due to the pandemic the trails and park was closed, however remained impressive with the lush green cavernous coastal forest lining the highway. I was thankful to be driving as this road is not for those who encounter car sickness.

.

Cathedral Grove, Vancouver Island

You literally weave and wind along roads hugged up against the coastal mountain range where waterfalls cascade off the cliffs and onto the side of the road. Each bend reveals a torrent river of rapids that have cut through the landscape unearthing interesting geographical land formations. All of a sudden my inner twelfth grade self made an appearance and I’m identifying fluvial formation terms such as “look at that Alluvial fan!” I officially outted myself at that moment as a total geography nerd and I think he dug it

Tough City Sushi, Tofino British Columbia

Despite the  distractions and near misses we made it to Tofino, whereby on our arrival Mio Amore quickly got up to speed on the vibe of the little coastal town. Earthly looking characters strolled the main drag in bare feet and dreaded heads. There was a mix of surfers, kayakers, and outdoorsy fleece clad groups meandering with a sense of ease and harmonious interaction. We scuttled quickly to find a restaurant that was not closing before 8pm and came upon another sushi spot called Tough City Sushi. We sat on the covered deck as the west coast rain fell fervently. The smell of the wet salty earth, and purr of the rain complimented the fresh raw fish and intimate moment we so desperately needed to renew.

The next day feeling rested and rejuvenated after our previous day’s drive we decided to take on Boogie Boarding on the world famous Long Beach. We rented wet suits and boards from Long Beach Surf Shop and it was super reasonable. The weather was in fine west coast form, blustery and wet.  This did not dampen our childlike excitement as we fought the fury of the ocean’s waves and rode them in one after another. On the beach we had found the perfect little driftwood shelter, shielding us from the elements and making for a romantic little sand oasis where we sipped craft beer and cognac to warm us up. 

We cycled back and forth between the ocean and our shelter that day, feeling the heaviness and weight of the previous month’s tension and sadness get washed away into the Pacific Ocean. I could have sat there in that feeling for countless hours. In fact I had not felt that weightless and in the moment in years where found myself so in tune with all of my senses. In fact with no doubt in my mind I knew that there was no other place I wanted to be than with him on this beach in the pouring rain. We had found our way back to one another even though we had not left each other’s side for months. There was a sense of renewed hope that when we returned home things would look brighter and perhaps easier even in a pandemic.

Our Little Love Shelter on Long Beach

The remainder of our trip as it began to draw to its conclusion was further filled with family moments whereby I appreciatively looked around me and acknowledged the wealth of love around me. I have often ended vacations feeling exhausted or less than enthusiastic to return to work. As I boarded the plane, I was anxious to get back to my own bed and return to the reality that faced me back in Calgary where I could flex my replenished perspective.  I even looked forward to seeing my mother who had also admittedly enjoyed our absence, but grateful to be back in our own brand of dysfunction.

It turns out it was a much needed reset in varying aspects of our lives, and not just between the love of two people. Who knew it was only an hour plane ride away and with people we’ve had all along. Who knew the city streets, highways, little towns, and islands of my childhood could ground the person in my future the same way they grounded me in my past and share that together. It left me Feeling not only grateful but fueled for the next few months at least to absorb the impending damage that this pandemic has had on families, relationships and individuals. And while there may be gloves, Lysol, masks and potential vaccines to protect us from catching Covid, no one is immune to the suspected long lasting emotional trauma that is un-ravelling as the months begin to inch closer to a year.

 Stay strong Friends. Stay Woke. Stay Close to those who love you and RESET.

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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U.S. Presidential Race: A Canadian’s View

If you are a new reader to my blog page or have not yet had the opportunity to read some of my previous publishing’s I’ll quickly recap. I’m Canadian, and my boyfriend is an American, hailing from St. Louis Missouri. He is a Navy Veteran now living here in Canada working back in the civilian world which to the rest of us is the only way of life we know. Since our cohabitation however, I have grown exponentially in terms of my own knowledge inadvertently as a result of how my partner engages and is effected by the American political climate. To be perfectly honest, in my own ignorance I often wondered how beneficial it was for him to be consuming and absorbing so much political propaganda on such a rapid pace. The constant discouraging news and racist acts of violence, exacerbated by a President’s twitter fingers had me screaming at the television constantly. It pissed me off, and I couldn’t imagine what it was doing to my partner who is toting some serious PTSD as a Navy Vet and a black man that served; willing to die for his country. So you can imagine I was initially concerned about the effects in which the constant media bombardment was having on us both.

Until something clicked in me.

Now admittedly I have always been fascinated with American Politics on a very superficial level until the dumpster fire grew bigger with the introduction of President Trump. Since that inaugeration, during my travels I’ve always steered away from discussing politics with the Americans I’ve met, fearful of what they may divulge with regards to their own political positions. I didn’t want to disrupt the potential pool pong partners or swim up bar vibes we had going on. In fact I really didn’t want to hate them based on where they sat on the spectrum. I knew it was wrong to feel that way, but nonetheless my truth. Seems harsh I know, especially as an outsider looking in as a guest observer essentially looking down from her left winged nose. That sense of unfamiliar divisiveness I felt that was triggered within my own being I imagine is what is dividing an entire country. For me to experience a sense of inherent disrespect for someone based on a political position is merely non-existent in the world of Canadian politics. Can you hear the shame in my voice? I’m far more pragmatic and open than this kind of avoidant behavior. While Canadians have varying views particularly based on Industry, Indigenous and Environment issues- I can’t say that I’ve ever despised someone for voting Conservative, Liberal, Green Party, NDP or Independent before.

In order to grasp the the comparisons between our two political climates here is my take on it. If you ever need a sedative to sleep just throw on CPAC and you will be lulled to sleep by the polite bickering between Parliament Candidate members. There is nothing sensational about it, however in my opinion superior in terms of its integrity (I use “integrity” loosely speaking). To be honest the only time I do tune in is when my old school mate Nicholas Milliken-MLA Calgary-Currie is on and I’m there just for his impeccably tailored power suits. Sorry Nick.

I admit I am flawed here. And that’s why its important to highlight my biases and how they may impact my lens.

I’ve asked myself why as a Canadian was I so enthralled with American politics and less interested with regards to my own countries leaders? I came to the conclusion that perhaps its because there has been no overt controversial attack against what values I hold, my safety, or livelihood as a white Canadian woman.

Gulp* That my friends is a perspective based in privilege- the ability to feel relatively safe regardless of the political climate within the country I live in.

This however is relatively a different narrative to our indigenous and POC populations. And for this reason is why I must disregard my trivial concerns regarding the emotional impact and become outspoken on the subject. Putting my fears aside and having those political conversations with Americans and Canadians as often as necessary. I can give thanks to my very own American consiglieri for that as I can hold my own equipped with far more in depth insights than ever before. The reality of my partner, his family, and others life experiences is being played out in front of our eyes. It’s clear to me why he navigates the world apprehensively and with an element of mistrust; he’s been living in this state of fight or flight as an American all his life.

You see American Politics carry a heavy societal influence on how its people interact with one another and how its systems overtly impact its citizens base on race. In a country where celebrity and sensationalism are guiding forces its no wonder how a reality star became president. All it takes is a bunch of misinformed, disenfranchised egg heads to start a militia that breed hate into the vulnerable, poor and uneducated folks of America. We can thank the gigantic socio-economical gaps for lighting the match to that fuel tanker.

But as the Presidential elections begin to wind up here shortly, it appears that the kettle is also getting ready to boil over. I say this because I can see the weight of this elections outcome has on the morale and weariness of my partner’s spirit as he watches intently every detail of the emerging variables that will determine the fate of his country. You see, he is a black man who has grown up in Missouri, where Mike Brown, a black man who was unarmed, shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer occurred. And unless you have been living under a rock, Black people have been 28% of those killed by police in 2020 despite being only 13% of the population.

See Chart: Number of people shot to death by the police in the United States from 2017 to 2020, by race

But you see as seemingly different the political cultures are between Canada and the United States the issues of systemic racism and police brutality remain the same. I believe that these issues have been brought to the forefront again as a result of the mounting tensions below us. Truthfully, its about time, sadly at the expense of peoples lives.

Caesar-Chavannes an Former Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes shared on CTV Morning News that racism in Canada can be seen daily when considering incarceration rates and health statistics.

“When you look at our health outcomes, when you look at our justice system and the overpopulation of our prisons with black and indigenous people, you have to really think about whether or not systemic racism does not actually exist in this country because I think it’s our lived reality every day,” Caesar-Chavannes said.

And if you are American and reading this you are probably thinking I need to be keeping my nose out of it. But you see the impact of these elections span beyond just my personal relationships, they impact my country as well.

In an article on the CBC Beyond Borders they outline 5 ways in which Canada could be impacted by the outcome of the elections.

Energy and the Environment

Trump promises more oil drilling, more pipelines — and less regulation. Joe Biden, on the other hand, says he’d cancel Trump’s permit for the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada.

Biden wants to invest massively in clean energy; rejoin the Paris Accord; and, finally, name, shame and potentially punish countries with green tariffs if they fail to cut emissions.

International Trade

Biden promises more Buy American policies and perennial disputes like softwood lumber would not disappear. But Biden says he’d drop some of Trump’s most aggressive moves against allies, like the steel and aluminum tariffs based on alleged national-security grounds. He has also hinted he might, eventually, try negotiating U.S. re-entry into the pan-Pacific trade pact now known as CPTPP.

Trump’s administration prides itself on a hard-nosed, transformative trade policy that includes lots of tariffs and duties, and has essentially paralyzed the World Trade Organization’s dispute system. His trade team says it has a long-term plan; its critics say the results so far offer more chaos than benefits.

Defense

Canadian defence policy has long rested on the assumption of an unshakeable partnership with the United States. Yet old alliances suddenly seem less sturdy. Trump has rattled old assumptions, repeatedly criticizing NATO allies for under-spending on their military. Past administrations have made similar complaints. But under a barrage of demands from Trump, allies have, in fact, upped their spending. Some defence analysts, and a top former aide to Trump, still fear he might withdraw from NATO in a second term. That uncertainty lingers over a deployment of Canadian troops in Eastern Europe.

Biden is a staunch NATO advocate, and under his watch, Canada could face a different challenge: conversations about NATO’s future role and missions. One major issue continues to hover over the continent: whether Canada will wind up spending billions to install new radar over the Arctic.

China

When the globe’s two superpowers clash, Canada risks getting sideswiped. Just ask the Canadians in Chinese jail cells and the canola, pork and beef farmers punished by Beijing after Canada executed a U.S. arrest warrant against a high-profile Chinese telecom exec. China-U.S. tensions now loom over myriad global issues, touching the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, agriculture, educational exchanges, journalism, new technologies and sanctioned goods. Trump made these issues top priorities. And they’re not going away.

Biden, however, says he wants to approach things differently — for starters, by working more closely with allies. He plans to host a summit of democracies to discuss ways governments and private-sector companies like banks and social media platforms might push back against global authoritarianism. One thing Trump has not clearly articulated — and it’s something Biden would be pressed to offer — is a sense of the long-term goal: How does the U.S. intend to coexist with China?

Immigration

Trump has indicated that for a second term, he would carry on with some of the more restrictive temporary work visa programs he established during his first term. Just recently, for example, he announced a major overhaul for H1-B visas. He is also seeking to end the temporary humanitarian protection of thousands of migrants who face threats back home, and decrease the overall number of refugees who come to the U.S. All this could put pressure on Canadian borders. 

Meanwhile, Biden has said he would reverse Trump’s H1-B visa freeze, review the decision to end humanitarian protection for migrants, repeal Trump’s travel ban and increase the number of refugees coming into the U.S. to 125,000.

In the meantime I can assure you we will be sitting at the edge of our seats awaiting the outcome. I can assure you my aggression towards the television will only get more violent-hide your children. But ultimately I am grateful for the awakening, and look forward to some politically fueled pool pong whoopings with y’all ‘Mericans.”