Sunday, February 24, 2013

Headin' out

Last weekend, I took an old fashioned road trip to Toronto for a visit. Every once in a while, a feel a pull coming from the Southern part of the province. It's like the Vietnamese food, stylish shops and cool restaurants are calling my name. 
This photo was taken just before Gilly and I headed out to do some shopping. Shopping in Toronto is not like shopping back home. It's an event I have to mentally and physically prepare for. This particular day, I had not done either. Being so excited to see my sis and Franny, I woke up at 6 a.m. and hit the road.  This move would later come back to haunt me, as I stood in the middle of a busy Queen St. store, with, unbeknownst to me, a huge stupid grin on my face. In a daze, in my own little world, as people milled all around me. 
"Kate!" my sister laughed from across the store. "I think it's time to go home and put you down for a nap."
The girls are notorious for under-estimating distance. "Oh, it's just three blocks West," they'll say. No biggie. "Ten minute walk," they'll say. 
A half hour later, we're still walking, and I am getting impatient. 
"You SAID THREE BLOCKS," I whine. "Are we THERE YET?"
"Yeah, yeah," they'll say. "Only up this hill, around the corner, through a tunnel, and across the road. Then we're going to change into our bathing-suits and swim the channel, followed by a short, and I mean SHORT, jaunt by bicycle. It's really not that far. GOD, don't you ever walk ANYWHERE back home?" 
"Why yes, yes I do," I'll answer breathlessly, trying to keep up. "I walk to my car which takes me to mall, where I walk from store to store INDOORS where it's warm and I can stroll leisurely and keep up with MYSELF." 
I'll admit that most of this conversation happens only in my head. I would never be such an ungrateful houseguest as to complain about the extremely short walking distances during our many shopping sprees over the years. I usually don't say anything for fear of never being invited back.
Plus, my sister can totally kick my ass.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

True Beauties

From a very early age, I always knew there was something really special about my cousins Melanie and Nadia. When they visited, Gilly and I would get so excited. Our older, cool, cousins were coming to town, which meant we were in for some attention. They never acted like older, cool cousins though. They always treated us like friends. And over the years, as the gap between our ages grew smaller, that's exactly what they became.

They are two of the people who inspire me the most in the world. Always listening to the song in their hearts and never really straying far from that. And encouraging Gilly and I do to the same. They taught us so much about kindness, love, and spirituality. Melanie followed her dream and became an actress. She lives in Los Angeles and acts in music videos, TV shows, and commercials. At her first full length feature film premiere, the whole family filed into the theatre, (rubbing elbows with famous movie stars) and were awed by her performance. When it was over, I cried. She had done it. She was an actress, and a freakin' talented one at that. She has an infectous laugh. Her soul shines from the inside out. She seems to be perpetually glowing. She's one of my favourite people.

Her sister, Nadia is equally amazing. It's hard to imagine such talent made its way into the same gene pool, but it's true. Nadia is a talented artist. While for most of her life, she's been known as a visual artist, painting beautiful pieces, the past few years have seen her branch out. She decided she'd like to make a documentary, and a couple of years later, Muffins for Granny was born. Once again, when the credits rolled, tears rolled down my cheeks. I was so inspired.
Today, she did it again. She's working on a new project, and I got a preview. Curled up under my blanket on the couch for a good part of the afternoon, I was completely floored. While I can't say much now, this I can say: it will be amazing. It will change people's views and change people's lives. I thought about it all day. I thought about it when I went to the grocery store and when I made dinner. I'm still thinking about it now. When the time comes, you'll see. You'll be just as amazed as I am.

What luck. What luck to be inspired to go great things. To follow my heart. What luck to have these cousins that I can call friends, who make me laugh and make me feel special, make me feel comforted and whole and warm. What luck.

I'm so proud of them. Proud of all they have accomplished. Proud of their beauty, inside and out. Proud of thier teachings.
Proud to call them my family.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My Valentine

For my birthday last week, Damien, along with his family, my family, and a couple of friends all chipped in to buy me a Nikon D3200 camera. My new camera arrived yesterday, and I couldn't be more thrilled with it. For me, this means a few things: 
1. I will be able to take some really kickass pictures, and share them with you! I hope you like them. 
2. When I pull out my camera, Damien will no longer be covering his face, running to hide, or giving me a hard time about the amount of photos I take. On the contrary, he's super happy when I pull out my camera and start experimenting because, after all, it was his idea.
I was never much for Valentines Day, primarily because most years I was single. I referred to the 'holiday' as 'Singles Awareness Day,' and hung out with my single girlfriends making fun of people who got flowers and chocolate and pink and white teddy bears. 
I'm still not much for Valentines Day, believing (as my Dad always taught me,) that we should be showing our love our partners every day, not just on one particular day. Damien is out of town so I'll be spending this Valentines Day alone, which suits me just fine. But I will admit, I got a little caught up in it this afternoon, when I came home from work to a card that said:
I love being with you. It doesn't seem to matter what we do or where we are, we always have a good time. I never knew anyone more fun than you are, and I'm really glad we're together. 
Happy Valentines Day. 
I hope everyone has a great day tomorrow. If you're single, remember it's just a day designed to sell flowers and chocolates and pink and white teddy bears. If you're not single, though, let it be a great excuse to fill your partner's day with love.

Monday, February 11, 2013

270 Seconds of Summer

It's that time of year again when things get slushy and wet, the skies are grey and people start to tell each other how absolutely DONE with winter they are. You're all "Did the groundhog see his shadow? How many days until Spring? I could really use a vacation. Did you see that jackass splash me with dirty, wet snow? I am so DONE." 

I know this because it's exactly how I'm feeling right now. I know that we live in Northern Ontario, which means we probably still have oh...a good three months of winter weather, but I'm totally feeling where you're coming from. 

For those of us who can't make it to Cuba, Jamaica, or Florida, here's a little burst of Summer in 270 seconds.

Video is by Samuel Ebat.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

30 years

The way my Dad tells the story, the weather was just like it has been the past few days. The kind of cold that hurts your face, stops your breathing for a few seconds. The night was clear and crisp, the air filled with ice crystals and excitement. I came into the world on February 7, 1983, with no idea what was laid out in front of me.

Thirty years always seemed like SUCH. A. LONG. TIME. When I was little, I always pictured my 30 year-old self as a business woman in heels ("like Aunt Mary"). I pictured myself married to a man I loved very much, who was handsome and could make me laugh the way my Dad made my Mom laugh. Not the way people laugh when they're trying to be polite, but the way they laugh when something is really, really funny. When I pictured my 30 year-old self as a little girl, I always pictured myself as a mother.

Many parts of my life have turned out differently than I would have expected, as a little girl looking forward. For the past 15 years, half of my life, I have navigated the world without my Mama. This has been the biggest wrench thrown into my little girl plan. When I turned 15, my Mama baked me an angel food cake (my favourite) and let me have a glass of wine. She always made me feel so special on my birthday. Sipping my wine with Mama and Nana, I had no idea what was in store, just one week later. While I'll admit that this part has been hard, there are so many things that have gone right. So many beautiful, soul-changing, wonderful things from my little-girl fantasy have come true. 

This fall, I will marry a man I love very much, who is handsome and makes me laugh, the way my Dad made my Mom laugh. I know that someday in the not-so-distant future, I will become a mother. I may not be a business woman, but tomorrow morning I will embark on an exciting new career adventure.

Over the past 15 years, my relationship with my sister and Dad has ebbed and flowed. As a little family, we've risen and fallen, we've screamed at each other and laughed until we peed a little. In the end, the three of us have grown strong and unbreakable. Our bond has been cemented in a way that I wouldn't change for the world. My little family has given me compassion, strength, a sense of humour, honesty, drive, and has taught me never to feel sorry for myself. My family has prepared me to take on whatever is thrown at me for the next 30 years. I am ready because of them.

Sometimes I think not knowing exactly what the future holds is the greatest gift of all. Taking life as it comes, and not missing a single moment. If I had known exactly what the first 30 years of my life would turn out, there are so many little things I wouldn't have noticed.

If I could go back now and talk to my 15 year-old self, the teenage girl sipping the wine with her Mama and Nana, I would give her a big hug. I would tell her not to worry so much about finding a boyfriend, finding a career, getting 90 on her next English essay. I would tell her to hug her Mama really tight and tell her she loves her. I would tell her that life is going to be beautiful, that things are going to turn out ok. Better than ok. Things will be wonderful, I would say. I would tell her not to worry so much. 

Last night, sitting at dinner with Dame and my Dad, I felt a smile spread across my face.

"What are you thinking about?" asked Dame.

"I was just thinking that I have everything I could possibly want," I answered. 

He immediately called me out on being cheesy, but I didn't care. I still don't. That simple statement sums it up perfectly. 

The past 15 years has been quite the ride. And I'm thankful for every minute of it.