Welcome To Fall

Welcome to fall! I love all the seasons but autumn is particularly exciting.

Schools and the traffic pattern of the next ten months has been established. (Come to think of it, this may not be so exciting.) The hot summer days of sitting in traffic due to construction yield to dull fall days of sitting in traffic due to everyone trying to get somewhere at the same time.

Roadwork on Côte-St-Luc Rd., between Décarie Blvd. and Bonavista Ave. in Montreal, on Monday, June 4, 2018. DAVE SIDAWAY /MONTREAL GAZETTE

While we’re replacing our shorts and tanks with pants and long sleeve shirts, I’m to have enough room in the closet for a couple of new piece. The best fashion always comes out in fall.

Fall Fashion Trends to Shop on Amazon // Notjessfashion.com

At home, we’ve started talking about Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This week, we made our first hearty meal of the season: stew served with crusty bread. It was delicious. We plan on making tripe and pot roast, apple spice cake and apple pie.

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Image courtesy of OZphotography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

TV is getting a refresh. I’m excited about a new series called New Amsterdam and the return of Navy SEALs.

I’m fortunate enough to live in a place where the leaves on the trees change colour and provide a spectacular site which allows us to appreciate the cooler weather and single digit temperatures.

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Image courtesy of xedos4 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What are you looking forward to this fall? I love to hear from you. Leave a comment.

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Hoarding In Secrets

Secrets - eBookIn Secrets, Ron Pearl, Diana Rainville’s love interest, is a hoarder. In the story, the death of his mother and Diana’s support lead him to clean his basement. That seems miraculous, doesn’t it? Even Hollywood. But it’s not so farfetched. Alcoholics who fall in love often note that they drink less when they start a relationship.  The abuse victim feels strong and powerful. Depressed people are happy. Research shows that falling in love does cause a high due to a change in brain chemistry. Some research suggests the rush is Mother Nature’s way of making sure we bond so that eventually we reproduce. But that feeling of euphoria doesn’t last forever.

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Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So what happens to Ron’s hoarding after Ron and Diana have been a couple for a few months? The only thing that can happen. It returns in full force. As much as love can heal all wounds, only self-love can heal them directly. The loving people can help the healing by being supportive, accepting, respectful, open-minded, encouraging, by listening and by empathizing. So how can hoarding become part of Ron’s past?

Heartbroken
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In the story, Ron seemed so in control and confident, but he was far from it. His parents fought all the time. He couldn’t stop his father from leaving when his mother was diagnosed with cancer. He couldn’t stop his mother’s cancer or her death. He can’t get an education due to the medical bills and his career is chosen for him. He hangs on to garbage like a security blanket. It’s his way of dealing with his emotions. He gets a high from finding things he could use although he doesn’t use them. He collects them in his bedroom and his basement.

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Image courtesy of thephotoholic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When his mother talks about counselling, he doesn’t want to talk about it. He’s been to counselling and he does clear the basement so he is cognizant of the problem. But denial is a big problem for many hoarders. It is a life threatening disease. The only reason the hoarding hasn’t taken over in the story is because of his mother’s presence. But his room has no space and neither has the basement. If allowed, he will eventually fill the entire house. Eventually becoming unhealthy and unsafe for himself and his neighbors.

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Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Whether hoarding comes from collecting trash or buying too much, it’s a ritual which creates excitement. It’s also unusual for hoarders to share with others. And it’s not surprising that Ron didn’t need to think twice about dumpster diving alone when Diana wanted to leave. He just let her go without blinking. It is not an addiction although it can be associated with addiction and other mental health issues, nor is it an obsessive compulsive disorder although it can coexist.

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The only cure is to stop and deal with the emotions that are causing the hoarding. To learn more about hoarding, check out these resources:

www.hoarding.ca

https://www.helpforhoarders.co.uk/resources/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hoarding-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20356056

What do you do when you are avoiding emotions? What do you do to accept those emotions? I love to hear from you. Leave a comment.

3 Tips For Back To School

Are you as excited about your kids going back to school as they are? Or maybe you’re a student reading this. Are you looking forward to hanging out in your own world again? My daughter was bored and ready to go back to school after the first week of her summer holiday.

Daydreaming Girl
Image courtesy of suphakit73 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Now that the first day of school is right around the corner, the question is: Are you ready?

Here are three tips to get ready:

  1. Don’t panic! Either you’ve been waiting so long for this moment but didn’t consider what to wear, what supplies to pack, what to eat for lunch. Or you didn’t think about it at all and, lucky you, you’re in the same both as the dreamers. The first day of school will come for all of us whether we are ready or not, so DON’T PANIC! Even if you get everything else wrong, you’ll at least get to the same day as the rest of us at the same time. It’s inevitable.
  2. Buy ahead, return later. You might be one of the fortunate ones who received an advanced list of books and materials needed.
    School Supplies
    Image courtesy of photomyheart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Great! Go shopping. For those of us left guessing until the first day of school, we have options. You can rush around after school or after dinner to shop for supplies at your local low-end department store along with every other parent or student in a 4 mile radius from you. Or you can plan. To avoid the madness, hit the early sales, grab everything you think you might need, and save all the items and the receipts in the same place. If you need something you didn’t think of, you can pick it up easily. Instead of having 56 items to buy, standing at the checkout with only 29 because the store ran out, and needing to drive to two stores to complete the list, you’ll be grinning in the express lane holding one or two items. Whatever you don’t need can be returned later. This might entail up to three trips to the store, but chances are you shop there anyway so two of those trips can be in combination with other purchases.

  3. First day outfit. The first day outfit is only as important as you make it. The outfit makes the person does not apply here. This is not like impressing a new boss or a first date. Unless the first day of school is also picture day, which is rare, and, not to be confused with an id picture where the only think that counts is a clean face and a decent hair day. The first day of school outfit should be comfortable, clean and in good condition. It should also be weather appropriate.
    Weather Symbols
    Image courtesy of ponsuwan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    How many students leave home in heavy wool sweaters in early September, only to be sweating by the time they get to school because summer temperatures are still lingering? Enough that it was worth a mention here.

There’s no reason to turn the first day of school into a stressful event. Remove the stress and recognize it as a special day: a new beginning.

Back To School
Image courtesy of bugtiger at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How do you handle the first day of school? Leave a comment. I love to hearing from you.

Mixing Tourism With Learning in New York City

I spent last week in New York City with my family. We played tourist together for four days. Despite the crazy heat and high humidity, we managed to grab the hop-on hop-off bus to tour Manhattan. Then, we got the bird’s eye view from the Empire State Building.

View from Empire State Building

Restaurants were quite expensive, but we did find a grocery store a few blocks away from our hotel and we’re able to eat more affordably. Thank you Morton Williams Food Market.

Capture

We boarded a ferry and admired the State of Liberty from all sides. Until we approached the island from the boat ourselves, it had never occurred to me what a combination of fear, excitement and relief newcomers must have felt when they first saw her.

Statue Of Liberty

We sweated our way through some of Central Park, visited the impressive Cathedral of St John the Divine and admired the architecture of the buildings facing the Park.

Central ParkSt. JohnArchitecture

Of course, we had to grab red velvet and chocolate cake from Magnolia Bakery.

Bakery

And it wasn’t enough to see Times Square during the day time, so we went back in the evening. Interestingly, there’s so much digital advertisement that you can’t tell that it’s night time.

My touring time ended on Thursday night. I’ll have to go back because I didn’t get to see everything I wanted to. Plus, there are still so many libraries and museums to visit.

Friday morning, I joined my fellow writers. Writers tend to write alone. Maybe that’s why most of us are so social. We join associations, attend workshops, network at conferences and support each other online.  And why not? We write to share our knowledge through non-fiction, our experiences through memoir, or our stories through fiction and poetry.  We are people of the world. I love to meet new people, explore new places, and learn new things. Who doesn’t? I’m sure there’s a little bit of a writer in everyone.

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The Writer’s Digest Annual Conference was great. I got to learn craft from Steven James, Jane K. Cleland, Whitney Davis, Jordan Rosenfeld, and Chuck Wendig. I also took some genre workshops and discovered some great speakers like Gabriela Pereira, Kim Van Alkemade, and Rachael Herron. Any writer will tell you that you need to know the business of writing as much as the art of it. So I sat in on lectures by Jennifer S. Wilkov and Carol Van Den Hende. If you think that’s enough, it’s not! I made some new friends: Gail Nastacia, Marti Mattia, Patricia Powell and Silas Archambault. Overall, the conference helped me grow as a writer and charge my writing batteries.

Time to work on novel number three.

Number 3

Is there an event in your field that focuses and energizes you? Tell me about it. I love to hear from you.

Valentine’s Day

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Image courtesy of alexisdc at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

With Valentine’s Day approaching, I can’t help but wonder if I should have my next novel revolve around finding love for or on Valentine’s Day. I’ve been plotting it in my mind for a while and I wrote the synopsis. Nowhere does Valentine’s Day or any other holiday figure in my writing, but why not? Well, one reason is I plan on releasing it in December, so if there’s going to be the mention of any holiday, shouldn’t it be Christmas or Hanukkah or New Year’s Eve and Day? Ugh? Don’t know. While making the holiday a central part of the story would definitely make it a specific holiday story, bringing the holiday into the story wouldn’t matter so much as long as it makes sense to have it there, right? Probably.

Something else has surfaced

Romeo beanie boo
Courtesy of TY Store

A few weeks ago at the bookstore, my daughter mentioned she wanted a Valentine’s Beanie Boo. Friday, I found myself shopping alone and picked up a card and some chocolate for her. (I’ll get to the beanie boo. I have to.) As I was browsing the cards, I noticed how many were for romantic relationship. I remembered sending my mom chocolate or flowers at Valentine’s Day and my ex-husband asking me why I would do that, it’s a holiday for lovers.

 

But is it?

pexels-photo-590510.jpegSunday, I had a “Remember when…” moment and sent this text to my BFF: Remember when you, Alain and me would go to Mike’s Restaurant on boul. Cartier on Fridays/Saturdays after work? Sometimes Diran would join us. I can’t remember who else ever did. But we would talk and laugh and plan the future. I did not send the text out of nostalgia, but out of love. A “Hey Girl, we’ve been through so much together. Love you.”

Isn’t that what Valentine’s Day is all about? Sharing love. It doesn’t have to be about chocolate and flowers or dinner and sex or champagne and jewelry. It can be about family, friendship and romance. It can be about recognizing those who are important to us and who impact our lives, and about knowing who loves us and loving ourselves.

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Image courtesy of automation3664 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Who are you sending a Valentine to? Who are you hoping to get a Valentine from? I love hearing from you. Leave a comment.

Toronto Blue Jays WinterFest

Toronto Blue Jays WinterFest
https://www.mlb.com/bluejays/fans/winter-fest

If you saw my Instagram posts yesterday, you know my daughter and I were having a blast at the Toronto Blue Jays WinterFest. Normally at this time of year, some of our players head on a lucky city in Canada for their Winter Tour. As Canada’s only baseball team, they recognize that their fan base is not just city or province-wide, but nationwide.  It’s great to see that kind of appreciation for fans.

Thanks to my friend Mike, I became a baseball fan and introduced my daughter to it when she was two and half years old. Since then, we look forward to attending games every season. But this is the first year,  we went to WinterFest fun.

There were so many activities we couldn’t do them all in the seven hours we were there.TBJWinterFest activities

We decided to get some proper face paint and tattoos first.

 

We visited Ace and Ace Jr’s nest. I had never noticed it in the outfield before.TBJWinterFest Ace NestThe field was filled with activities like throw and catch, ice skating on wax and ping pong.

TBJWinterFest field

A band played in between QA sessions with the players and staff. TBJWinterFest QA

We got to sit in the SportsNet broadcasting boot where Jamie Campbell  normally sits.TBJWinterFest Sport Desk

Thanks for a great time Toronto Blue Jays!

Who’s your favorite team? What do you get out of being their fan? Leave a comment. I love hearing from you.

Allergic

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’m allergic to dust, pollen, penicillin, and other substances. An allergy is an abnormal reaction to an allergen. But what if it were more than physical?

What if an allergy could be applied to the mind?

Think about it… Are you a fairly stable individual until you go to your friend’s house for a BBQ and HE is there. You know HE angers you and you try not to let HIM get to you, but, just the thought of HIM, let alone HIS presence, hits your aggression center and you want to call HIM names and tear HIS face off.

Or you are having the best day until THAT co-worker shows up. You know THE ONE I’m talking about. SHE bosses everyone around. Since you’re a woman, SHE delivers a backhanded compliment about your work with a smile. Meanwhile, SHE bats HER eyelashes at your male co-worker, touches his arm, and giggles at his words. You’re not upset with him because SHE came over to educate him as SHE did you. If only knocking HER off her stilettos by pulling HER by the hair weren’t considered harassment and grounds for dismissal.

Maybe it’s just me

It’s not just me. We all have our triggers. People, places and things. Our impulses stem from our reptilian brain. It knows how to fight, fly or freeze. If we let our emotions take over when triggered, we’d be having a mental allergic reaction. Learning what triggers us, accepting that triggers are inevitable, and finding ways to deal with those triggers are the antihistamine medication.

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Image courtesy of anankkml at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So what do we do?

One of my tricks is reminding myself that we are all human. That maybe there’s someone in my life that I piss off as much as HE or SHE ticks me off. So just let it go. Easier said than done, but definitely doable.

So how do you handle your triggers? I love hearing from you. Leave a comment.
Allergic