My Greatest Life Lesson Was My Greatest Failure

 

Hello My Fellow Blog Lovers & Followers!

We are less than 2 weeks away from Christmas and just under 3 weeks away from starting a brand new year called 2017.

I don’t know about you, but this year has definitely been a testament to resilience and fortitude for me, boy it has been a bumpy ride – both good and bad don’t get me wrong but a roller coaster non the less.  Transitioning from one year into the next, I always tend to get a bit self reflexive and it occurred to me that this past year through my blogs you all got an opportunity to get to know me a bit better, and I all of you through your kind words and support in reading and following along on this blog journey with me.  So to be completely transparent, I thought that it was only fair to let you onto the whole story of how I have been able to get to and become the woman, daughter, sister and friend you see before you today.

You see, I LOVE being a woman and for the first time I can say with a level of confidence that I AM comfortable in my own skin. Both statements are profound and bold for me to say at the same time. I have not always felt this way about myself. I mean that is not profound on its own, so many women have these very same sentiments, albeit they never have the courage or conviction to admit it aloud or even to themselves.

A photo by Oscar Keys. unsplash.com/photos/AmPRUnRb6N0

Nine years ago I had a life changing experience, I ended a seven and a half year romantic relationship. You ask, “well people break up all the time how is this life altering?” That is true, but for me, it was and still is. For the first time, I was truly on my own. I went from living at home with my mother (I see a bit of a deja vu here) to moving in with him. I had never had to be completely self sufficient, and then I had no choice. I had always lived under the guise of never being good enough. Although, I was able to put on a brave front and convince everyone, including myself that I was just fine, happy even.

Truthfully, I was panged with feelings of inadequacies, self loathing and unhappiness. I lived my life for others and in the process lost who I was, or maybe I never truly knew who I was in the first place. These feelings lead into the arms of a man who on the surface was kind and loving but underneath was bitter, angry and self loathing as well. This is where my true downward spiral went into full force. We verbally assaulted each other and my pit of self loathing became almost common place. But we said that we loved each other, that should have been enough, right?

I chose to build walls and live in this aura of denial that everything was fine, but truthfully I had become almost numb to all feelings, it was safer that way. I turned to food to comfort myself, a practice I witnessed my mother do from the time I was little, to comfort her pain of feeling trapped taking care of a terminally ill controlling man; my father. In the process, I gained a considerable amount of weight and now a new level of self loathing could be piled on top of the already existing pile.

Then one day, while out for lunch with a friend, she was able to break down a few bricks of my cocoon of emotional numbness. Once a few bricks came down the whole wall crumbled. Pain, fear, grief, all kinds of emotions came flooding back to me. I felt so raw so exposed, but I WAS feeling. That was my turning point. I no longer wanted to live with no feeling. In fact I just wanted to LIVE again.

In that very moment I made the decision to get my life back on my terms. This is where the real work began. I made a conscious decision to no longer skate by in life but to really look deep within myself and do the work. It hasn’t been easy. Each day got a little easier, I became more confident in my abilities and my worth. I did come to terms and confront traumas, obstacles and occurrences that happened to me in childhood. This is where the real work came into play. I discovered that I had a lot of pain pushed down deep and covered with denial and food so that I wouldn’t have to deal with it. Once I looked at it dead on, felt the pain and let it go, it was like I was free and almost lighter. A miraculous thing happened along the way, I found the real me. She has always been there, waiting, coming out every once in a while to remind me she still exists but would quickly retreat back into the recesses. I’ve missed her, the fun, joyous, silly, loving and self confident woman. She now has the staring role, no longer the background player.

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Now that I look back, I was only able to move on and heal by allowing for forgiveness for not only mine, but my ex’s actions as well.  After a lot of soul searching I realized and took ownership of my part in the relationship and realized that he was facing his own demons himself and he just wasn’t ready or had the necessary tools to deal with them in a healthy way.  I can say this with extreme confidence that he and our relationship has been my greatest life lesson and for that I am truly grateful.  I needed to hit my bottom so that I could break out of my safe cocoon of numbness and denial and really  look within and get to the meat of what was holding me back from my greatest potential.  And as it turned out it was me all along.

Do I still have days of feeling not so confident?

Absolutely, we all do, but now I don’t let it take over, I know that it will pass and life, my life will go on. I am not perfect by any means, I make mistakes, wrong choices and bad judgments like everyone else. But now I can honestly say I am OK with it, it does not define me. I chose to live in the moment and really be present in this crazy thing called our lives. My journey is far from over, only now I know how to stop and really take in and appreciate the view.

2017, I have big plans for you and I know that I am well equipped to take on any and all experiences, events, obstacles and successes.  Hell I am not gonna just take you on, I’m going to bask in and drink in every last drop of what you have in store for me!

So who is with me, who is ready to make 2017 their most kick ass year yet?

Thank you all once again for coming along on this blog journey with me, your support never goes unnoticed or unappreciated!

Until we meet again,

Love & Light I send to you all,

Dina xxoo

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The Pillar & Post – Niagara’s Hidden Gem

Hello My Fellow Blog Lovers!

My steaming cup of hot tea is sitting beside me as the light pitter patter of the cold rain hits the panes of the window, as I sit here at my computer reflecting on my experiences I just had this past weekend right here in Niagara.  You see  a friend of mine was making a big move to China and we wanted to have a fun experience to celebrate his new journey and to get a little holiday pampering in all in one sitting.  The answer, The Pillar & Post right here in Niagara- On-The Lake!

Boy did we make the right choice!

I must confess, I am just as guilty of  thinking we don’t have any truly first class destinations right here in Niagara where one can go to feel pampered and well taken care of at a reasonable rate.  I get it, I am just as guilty of this assumption just like the next person.

While planning our getaway I came across The Pillar & Post’s Facebook Page as I generally do when looking for places to go or shop, I generally check out their Facebook Page first, then their website, call it an occupational hazard of being a social media manager 😛  And while I was on there I saw a post for a package called Temptations in Wine Country Getaway. Now THIS intrigued me, wine tour for 2, upgraded room with fireplace AND $50 off of our meal at one of the in house restaurants all for under $200..SOLD!

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Now I had been here once before to enjoy their spa facilities so I was mildly familiar but I had not had the full Pillar & Post experience as of yet.  As we pulled up to the beautiful heritage stone building I was taken back by its regal beauty and stature.  This elegance was further enhanced with the grand and festive holiday decorations accentuating the entrance and the foray.  The front reception attendant was pleasant and welcoming.  We had arrived 20 minutes before our wine tour was to start and they were graciously able to allow us to check in a hour early.

Now I must say it is a bit of maze to get to our room, down winding hallways and many doorways.  You see the building used to be an old cannery back in the 1800’s which could explain the many corridors.  We quickly dropped our bags and headed downstairs to meet our trolley which was going to be taking us on our tour, I promise I will get back to the room descriptions later. 😛

Mark our driver was so welcoming and pleasant.  It being the off season, we were the only 2 people on the trolley for the tour!  Yes we got the entire trolley to ourselves, and because of that Mark threw in a third winery on the tour – SCORE!

After a brief tour through the downtown of the beautiful and quaint Victorian town of Niagara-On-The-Lake with a wonderfully informative history lesson of some of the major landmarks given by our jovial tour guide and driver Mark, we were off to our first winery Caroline Cellars.

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Caroline Cellars otherwise referred to as ‘The Farm’ is a quaint, rustic family run winery located in Virgil.  All of their wines are made on-site from grapes that are grown on their 26 acre home farm and 11 acre farm on Line 1. A unique quality about this winery is that their wines are available exclusively at the winery, but can also be shipped anywhere within Ontario.

Their on-site wine boutique with tasting bar was such a relaxed but refined place to taste, smell and experience their hand crafted creations varying from their crisp whites, robust reds and tantalizing dessert wines.  The Farmer’s Red was by far our favorite and of course we bought a bottle to enjoy later.

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Next Stop Trius Wines, might I add a complete contrast in experience – a much more modern flare but with a rustic undertone in style and ambiance.

Trius Winery is a Niagara winemaking pioneer. They have been crafting fine VQA wines from premium grapes grown in the four appellations of Niagara-on-the-Lake for over 30 years now. Nestled between the Niagara escarpment and Lake Ontario, they have made Niagara their home, evolving and flourishing in a wine growing region that provides the diversity to grow a number of varietals in unique growing conditions.

We were given a guided tour through out the entire facility.  Getting to go behind the iron curtain so to speak to see all that is involved in the wine making business was captivating and interesting to see first hand the sights, sounds and unique smells that go into making world renowned wines right here in Niagara.

Our tour was capped off with a quick wine tasting tutorial – how to correctly look, smell and taste the nuances of sparkling, white and red wines. Very cool tips in a fun atmosphere accompanied by the sparkling wine Trius Brut which was just DELISH!

Not gonna lie I was feeling pretty good by the time we hopped onto our trolley to travel onto our final winery destination Reif Estate Winery 😛

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As we headed into the parking lot of Reif Estate the sun was setting over the vineyard, such a glorious sight.  I have to say Reif Estate really was a nice in between winery between the rustic family estate setting of Carolines and the more upscale modern atmosphere of Trius.

Reif’s philosophy is “great wines start in the vineyard”.  This has become the cornerstone of the quality and integrity of Reif Estate wines. This belief, partnered with a commitment to produce predominantly estate bottled wines from their 125 acre vineyard, has provided them the opportunity to develop innovation and development in their own sustainable winemaking practices.  A quality that really appeals to my own socially conscious sustainability efforts I try to create with the local businesses I choose to give my money too.  Sipping on the Vidal Icewine was such a perfect way to end our tour of the beautiful Niagara landscape, the fact that it hit all of my flavor notes of sweet, smokey and crisp certainly helped with that experience I must tell you!

As we headed back to the Hotel, I was made very aware what a gorgeous landscape we are surrounded by right here and how I really do take that for granted, and that they really should get the shocks fixed on that trolley, yowsa! 😛

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We had 7pm dinner reservations at The Cannery Restaurant in the hotel so we thought that we would check out the outdoor hot springs before heading to dinner.  Inside our stylishly decorated, spacious room were two plush robes with fuzzy slippers awaiting our use, delicately folded like terrycloth swans as the gas fireplace glowed in the distance.  We casually headed down to the outdoor hot springs located in the back of the hotel.  Steam arising as the afternoon sun turned into cool night air as we waded into the bubbling hot-springs accentuated with rustic rock formations, holiday decorations, waterfall and jets.  One word can only describe this and that word is EXQUISITE!  It made me imagine how magical it would be to be in the springs with a gentle snow fall, Ahhhhhhhh.

After feeling blissful and relaxed we quickly got changed and headed down to The Cannery for dinner.  As soon as you walk in you understand why it is Ontario’s only Country Inn with a 5 star rating!  The beauty of the exposed brick and wood beams really does transport you to another time and place full of rustic charm and prestige.

The floor layout allows you to feel cozy and intimate while still being surrounded by other diners.  The open fireplace and the colourful and festive decorations all added to the overall experience of relaxed fine dining at its best.  Now the FOOD! (Sorry the pics are a bit dark but it was dimly lit for ambiance, soooo 🙂 )

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To DIE FOR!  We started with the Blue Crab Cakes with Mango Salsa which were robust in flavour but delicate in texture.  My entree was the Mediterranean Seafood Linguini – full with both seafood and flavour.  Tangy notes of olives and pesto complimented by the rich, bold seafood flavour.  Lastly, I finished my meal with the 40 Creek Whisky Creme Brulee’. All I can say is YUM! Sharp hits of whiskey flavour balanced by the rich and creamy texture of the custard was beyond decadent!

All around decadent and relaxing time was had by all and I would highly recommend a visit to Pillar & Post any time of the year.  But just a side note:  Since we are in the off season, places like Pillar & Post are offering packages that are beyond reasonable.  Take advantage of these offerings and try out a place that you normally would not have the opportunity too, support local and have an incredible experience to boot!

I know that this one was a bit longer than what I normally write but I just wanted you all to come along on my incredible experience that I had and one I hope to have again with Mom in the Spring, Mother’s Day perhaps!?

Thank you once again for coming along on this crazy blog ride with me, your support does not go unnoticed! Before we go, do you have a local gem you would like to share that you love to visit?  I would love to hear!

Until we meet again,

Love & Light I send to you all,

Dina xxoo