Make A Friend Day

baby children cute dress
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February 11 is Make A Friend Day. How cool is that? I’m serious. Where are you reading this post right now? The bus/ metro/taxi, a coffee shop/juice bar/gym, in the car/waiting room/porch while your child/friend/parent finishes a piano lesson/taking a shower/chatting with the neighbor? Is there someone you can approach in your vicinity? Someone you’ve been meaning to approach, but have been too busy or don’t know how ? How busy can you be that you can’t take the time to say, “Hi, I’m Catherine. We always end up in the same elevator in the morning. I thought it might be nice to introduce ourselves.” Once the possible awkwardness passes, you’ll probably get a laugh and “It is nice! I’m Jess and I’ve been meaning to tell you that I love your new haircut!”

Yup, it’s happened to me and it can happen to you. Just slap on a smile, walk through the coals of fear of rejection, and be your friendly self.

Human beings are social animals. We are meant to live together: couple, family, clan. A newborn child cannot survive on its own. From the day we are born, we seek to be understood and so we learn to  interact with others and form relationships. As babies, we communicated with cries and giggles, as small children with hand signals and single words, as teenagers with appearance and actions, as adults with hopefully well-thought out words. We are constantly learning to be with others and to be ourselves. From the beginning, we seek connection and belonging.

So how is it that the one-person household is rising around the world? In developed countries, solo living ranges from the mid-20% to just over 40%. In developing countries, the statistics show about 5%-15%. According to demographers, the numbers will continue to grow. They suggest financial independence, fewer children, changing cultural/religious views on marriage are some of the contributing factors. A good thing then that some created Make A Friend Day.

woman falling in line holding each other
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4 Benefits of friendship

  • People with friends and family handle stress better, therefore feel more at peace which allows them to be healthier.
  • People with friends take better care of themselves which points to having higher self-esteem. Meaning: they feel more in control of their lives.
  • Sharing with friends implies trust and alleviates loneliness. This increases a sense of belonging.
  • Two other benefits of sharing are a more grounded perspective toward problems and the ability to ask for a trusted opinion.
photo of women wearing masks
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4 Ways to make new friends

  • Pursue your interests. Volunteer. Join a sports team, a book club, a cooking class. These place you amongst like-minded people. The interaction that comes from participating will help you discover who would make a good fit for you. Or, you could do what I do: smile and say hello to everyone. In time (and it will come fairly early on), the group will separate into two: those who step closer and converse and those who politely reply while making minimal eye contact then quickly move away.
  • Online groups are another way to make friends, if you are active in a group. Whether it’s photography, writing, or politics, the more exchanges, the more we get to know how people think and feel, where they are from, and their day-to-day lives.
  • Surrounded by people, but don’t know them? Try approaching someone with the elevator conversation above.
  • Whether you are in university or working full-time, networking events abound. I’ve always had a hard time with them. I want to pick the right person to talk to. I want to say the right thing. I want to see understanding in their eyes. I want to impress. The pressure of that single opportunity either keeps me at home or in a corner, where no one except the guy who thinks he’s funny, gravitates to. An entrepreneur told me about her brilliant strategy. (Thank you Chantal.) She forces herself to go and allows herself to leave after speaking/delivering two business cards. That’s it! How easy is that? I can totally speak. As long as I’m on topic, I don’t have to be terrific. The business card serves as an ice breaker and avoids all that messing around with the phone’s contact list.

Remember true friendship takes time and commitment. Don’t freak out because I didn’t say marriage with kids and in-laws. So, coffee or a meal once in a while, a text or call on a birthday, a card at the holidays, a visit when your friend is sick, an invitation to an event of shared interest. And share and listen, listen and share, share and listen, listen and share, etc. Those are the little things that allow care, respect, trust, loyalty to grow.

nature flowers garden plant
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4 Quotes on friendship

  • “There are no strangers in the world, just friends you have never met.” –W.B. Yeats
  • “Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer.” —Ed Cunningham
  • “One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.” —Seneca
  • “Remember: No one’s more important than people! In other words, friendship is the most important thing–not career or housework, or one’s fatigue–and it needs to be tended and nurtured.” —Julia Child

Happy Make A Friend Day!

Who will you approach on February 11? How do you make new friends? Have you ever tried to make a friend and it backfired? Do you have a friendship that surprises you? Tell me about! I love hearing from you. Leave a comment

A Lesson From Motherhood

By now, you’ve probably heard that Meghan Markle is pregnant. While I distinctly heard someone in my vicinity exclaim, “Ugh, that woman!”, I smiled at the news. Becoming a mother has been the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me.

Some people look at having children as evidence of their love. Others as an expectation or obligation. Some a curse. Others as a life invent. And some as an opportunity to “make things right” which could mean anything from giving their children what they weren’t given as children, living through their children vicariously, or being the parent their parents weren’t. There are probably other reasons I can’t think of right now.

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There are also as many ways of parenting as there are parents. I decided that what I needed to do as a parent was teach my child to be the best human being she could be. And to do that, I had to set the example. So it follows that I strive to become the best human being that I can be. (I’m aware that this is a lifelong pursuit.) I learned to accept that I am not perfect, to forgive myself for my mistakes, and to love myself in spite of my flaws. I try to remember that when a driver cuts me off, he might be a nice person having a bad day. I know that while I have a right to be angry, I don’t have the right to humiliate someone. Mostly, I’ve learned that we are all human. If I approach each person including myself with compassion and empathy, I become a better person and I make their lives better too.

silhouette photography of group of people jumping during golden time
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Meghan Markle and all the expectant women out there have a lot to look forward to that has nothing to do with baby showers, epidurals, and the eventual pitter patter of tiny feet.

What’s the greatest thing you’ve learned since becoming a parent? I love hearing from you. Leave a comment.

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.

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
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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
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    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
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    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
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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.

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