Be The Hero(ine) In Your Own Story…

Hello my fellow blog lovers and supporters!

What a crazy week weather wise we have been having huh?  Blazing hot and now I literally saw my breath walking to the Go-Train the other morning and now back to hot again – Nuts!

What has also been crazy has been the SENSELESS killing, terror and hurting of innocent people around the globe this past weekend – I don’t know about you, but this has left me shaken and lost.  This sense of loss and purpose really got me to look within and discover what can I do when thoughts and prayers really are not enough.

Allow me to explain…

Now this blog, is not going to be the typical – ‘Us Vs Them’, ‘Lone Gunman Vs Terrorist’ portrayal in the media or the ABSOLUTE need for stricter gun control in the United States.  These are all relevant topics and quite frankly these are already rampant on social media and in the media itself, so my 2 cents really won’t make a ripple in the tidal wave of ‘after the fact’ responses that we are all being inundated with at the moment and for days to come – No, I choose to take a different approach – An approach that ALL of us can take and can truly make a difference in this world for the better.  Simply put – Be the change you wish to see in this world.

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I know this quote has been thrown around over the years, looks lovely on a carefully crafted Meme or sounds profound when discussing current events and you want to give your own 2 cents on how we need to change the world, but what does it actually mean?

Many of us see and feel overwhelmed by the events happening around us every day – homelessness, war, destruction, death, shootings, hatred, you name it – And many, if not all of us think – Well I’m just one person, what the hell can I do to change this or have a positive impact with something so large and so pervasive in society?

Turns out, we have been looking at this all wrong – It’s not what can we do to tackle these huge problems, it’s what can we do living our day to day lives to cause a ripple effect for possible global change. That is the answer in my opinion.

Believe it or not – You, yes YOU ‘Joe blow’, ‘Debbie nobody’ have the capacity to impact lives!

How you choose to live your life, directly or indirectly impacts those around you.  Let me say it again – How YOU choose to live your life, impacts those around you!

Let me tell you a story –  A few years ago, when I was still in my belly dancing troupe phase of my life – Yes this did happen 😛 I remember this one time before a performance we were putting on locally, myself and some fellow dancers decided to drop into a Starbucks that was close to where we were getting ready. We entered and went to the counter all decked out in our glittery gear and make up.  I was the last of us to get to the counter to order.  When I got to the counter the lovely girl behind the counter took one look at me and her jaw dropped and she blurted out “it’s, you” “it’s really you” Now I was confused and bewildered at her reaction, and I responded with, “Um yeah it’s me” “You don’t remember me do you?” Sadly, no I did not.  “You work at White Spot right?” “No I haven’t worked there in like 3 years” I said “I remember you were working there.  We were both on the bus and we had a conversation.  I really needed to talk to someone that day, I was feeling really down and there you were. You really helped me that day and I knew that if I ever got to meet you again I wanted to say thank you.”  Well I was completely taken aback and moved.  How could my benign small talk with a complete stranger on public transit over 3 years previously have affected someone so greatly?

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Whatever the reason, it did, and from that point forward I have never taken for granted how a kind word, a kind gesture or kind act can positively affect someone.  All of US hold that power and it is up to each of us to dispel it in our day to day lives in how we choose to live and interact with others daily.

THIS we can control.  So instead of thinking of the big issues that would paralyze anyone with their sheer magnitude and complexity, instead try thinking small, and how you can be the catalyst to start that domino effect of more positivity and healing in a world that quite frankly needs a shit ton of it.  For as I clearly found out, you just never know who you might be affecting in the process, and that includes yourself.

Thank you all once again for coming along on this blogging journey with me, you taking the time to read my ramblings each week does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.  But, before we go let me ask you this, has a stranger’s kind act ever impacted you unknowingly or have you impacted someone unknowingly with a kind act yourself?

I really can’t wait to hear all of your stories!

Until we meet again,

Love & Light Especially Now,

I send to you always,

Dina xxoo

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This Adulting Thing Is Not What It’s Cracked Up To Be!

Hello My Fellow Blog Lovers & Supporters!

Welcome to Fall folks or maybe an extended Summer given the hot ass weather we have been experiencing these past few days!  I’m OK with holding onto summer just that little bit longer, but maybe not on ‘Broil” if you know what I mean. 😛

I don’t know about you, but Fall always makes me feel a bit reminiscent or nostalgic of what I still want to achieve in the current calendar year and how I need to refocus and renew my commitment to me and the steps I need to take in order to achieve said remaining goals.  As the colourful leaves are falling, I am reminded that if you are committed to positive change and being in the present, time will slip away, and before you know it, the beauty that was always around you will slip away right before your eyes.

Safety and security is something we all strive for in life, but is it the right choice?

Allow me to explain…

When I was younger, I was very shy, awkward and so unsure of myself and my abilities.  I always felt like an outsider in my own life, like I was looking from the outside inwards and was witnessing someone else – Not the true essence of who I was inside, buried way down deep underneath all the low self-esteem, clumsiness and self-loathing.  As you can gather, I wasn’t a popular kid, generally stayed in the shadows where it was safe and secure.  But, inside there was a bit of a wild child in some ways, aching and fighting to break free and come to the surface.  She was regularly told to ‘shut it’ and ‘pipe down’ and keep her crazy notions to herself. She wasn’t really allowed to speak and take the stage until I was well into my teens – I finally got to the point where I said ‘Fuck this’ “I’m going to be what I want to be and if that ruffles some feathers then so be it!”  That is when my true ‘artistic and creative’ freedom for expression came to the surface and it was glorious!

 

I was in theatre, band (I played alto saxophone and no we never went to band camp..lol.. – look out Kenny G :P), outdoor club, environmental committee, broadcasting club, soccer and basketball – You name it I was probably a member of it in high school.  There was such a feeling of freedom and liberation when you dictate how you want your life to go without worrying if you ‘fit in’ or not.

Then inevitably comes adulthood and all that liberation seems to go to the wayside because of responsibilities and the prescribed need for safety and security.   But what if that is NOT the life you want to live?

The problem with living a ‘safe’ life for me can be described in a few ways.  But before I go any further, allow me to say that being ‘safe’ is just fine and I am not nullifying or condemning anyone for choosing this way of life.  Not at all, if this is your conscience choice, kudos to you for choosing how you want to live!

I’ve been testing out those waters of safety and security for quite some time now and I do have to admit it hasn’t been all bad – I do find some solace in feeling safe and secure, don’t get me wrong.  But, there is this other side of me, that rebel who wore Doc Martins with EVERYTHING and I mean everything, piercings, tattoos, black lipstick and my own version of a female flock of seagulls hair cut – Just ask my Mom and the countless times she would pretend she didn’t know me out in public because of my crazy get ups – Tee hee sorry Mom 😛

Well that rebel, wild child has been knocking, nay she had been kicking trying to knock down the door and be heard.  Not just in a whisper, but in a blood curdling scream for quite some time now.  I keep telling her to shhh and be quiet – The ‘adults’ are talking.   She pouts, and goes back into her corner, stomping and crossing her arms in front of her body all the while giving me the old stink eye.  As we know full well, most petulant teens will not remain quiet for long, nor if they truly believe in something will not back down until they are heard.

 

I think taking the plunge by coming to Toronto on a spur of the moment 3-month contract has stirred up thoughts and emotions in me that have been dormant or maybe I just haven’t been paying attention to them for a very long time.  What I do know is, ‘Someday’ is NEVER going to come.  If you are like me who has been telling yourself that ‘someday’ when I have this amount of money, ‘someday’ when I reach this weight or ‘someday’ when I get my dream job – you eventually realize that someday is NOW and its time to take that leap! Life can and will just keep on chugging along with or without your ‘someday’ and it’s up to you to take those moments and make them your own.

I deserve to make ‘someday’ today.  It is time to go all in on me.  I believe that I am worth that, what about you?

It’s time to dust off those old Doc Martins, that Sex Pistols T-shirt and see what colour purple my next hairstyle just might be.  What other crazy stunts will I be up to?  Who knows, you will have to stay tuned to find out…

Thank you all once again for coming on this blog writing journey with me.  Your support and you taking the time to read my ramblings each week, does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.  But before we go let me ask you this, if YOUR someday was today what would you choose to achieve?

I am so looking forward to your answers!

Until we meet again,

Love & Light I send to you always,

Dina xxoo

What Happened To Critical Thinking Anyways?

Hello My fellow Blog Lovers and Supporters!

We are almost at the end of July! Summer is flying by and I hope that you are taking advantage of all of the wonderful sights and events going on in our beautiful region here in Niagara!  So I was talking to my friends the other day as we do and the topic of sensational stories came up, stories that seem to just take over the news outlet.  What really struck us is the way we as a society just take it for granted that if it is in the news it MUST be real, right!?  Well, I am gonna say, not necessarily and here is why.

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Omar Khadr, by now all of you know or have heard of this man and his 10.5 million dollar settlement from the Canadian government due to his mistreatment in Guantanamo Bay on suspected murder charges that have legally never been proven and the subsequent backlash and outcry from the Canadian public against this situation. Now before you jump on the for or against bandwagon let me make it clear this is not what this blog is about.

Like many of you I too had the infamous knee jerk reaction to this situation, questioning how our government could be handing over millions of dollars to a suspected terrorist. The upsurge in popularity of this story, did make me ask myself, besides this news coverage what do most if not all of us really know what is actually going on concerning this story and the background of this young man? Have any of us done any research so that we maybe better informed to make an informed decision to participate in spreading awareness concerning an individual we virtually don’t know anything about. The answer was no, we hadn’t.

Is Omar Khadr a bad person, with conflicting reports out there, I am not entirely sure. What I do know, is that we the Canadian public have not been given the whole story, only bits and pieces to support a journalistic slant or increase reader circulation.  The issues of who he is, who he became after being taken back to Afghanistan as a small boy by his father and why we are getting involved in a case of abuse, unlawful confinement and alleged torture that occurred in Guantanamo Bay by the United States government is very complex to say the least. At the heart of this matter is the status of his citizenship being Canadian and we not doing anything to help him, knowing that no legal case was ever brought against him and he was held in captivity for almost 15 years by our neighbours to the South and how he did win a court case. How do I know this, I did some research.

According to an article from The National Observer,

“For all the fury boiling up over news of his settlement, there’s precious little insight or knowledge about the facts. As a former prosecutor, something has always troubled me about this case, and my deep unease hasn’t abated with time.  Any experienced trial lawyer would be troubled to open this file. With the exception of Khadr’s “confession,” wrung from a traumatized and severely wounded teenager under an abusive interrogation, the evidence against him was remarkably thin.”

So if the evidence against him was incredibly thin, how was he held for 15 years and we the Canadian public were not made aware of it? That was the first glaring question that came to rise for me.

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The landscape of journalism and media has forever been altered due to the onslaught of the Internet and the subsequent ever reaching popularity of social media. We no longer rely on newspapers or news stations to get our world news, no we log onto Facebook and Twitter to do that. This has become a double edged sword. The instantaneousness of information is amazing and plentiful. However, how much is too much? We are constantly being bombarded with information and images that our attention spans have dwindled to almost nothing, if you don’t get my attention in a few seconds, I’m moving on. It is almost like we have become numb, we actively try to filter out only the information that we assume pertains to us and ignore those that do not. Secondly, many if not almost all of us casually press send/share to videos and links and photos that are posted on social media outlets, without actively viewing them in their entirety, innocently believing them to be true without any verification to its authenticity. Where has our critical thinking gone? Many of us just accept things at face value as truth, after all if it’s on the Internet it must be true right?

Consequently, you and I are now becoming the “journalists” of society, yet we are not held to the same level of ethical standards as actual journalists are. So I beg the question, should we be held to same journalistic standards and if we break these should we be held accountable just as a journalist would? It is an interesting quandary. We live in a society where there in essence are no safety nets shielding and sifting through the garbage to reveal to us to what the actual “truth’ is. Are we equipped as individuals to do that job on our own? I think we are, ONLY if we are prepared to do the work, ie research to find it. It clearly seems we are living in a Brave New World, and I for one want to be better armed with knowledge and insight and not assumption and hear say.

Thank you once again for coming along on this blogging journey with me.  Your support and taking the time to read my ramblings each week does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.  But before we go, let me ask you this, have you ever seen something on social media or the internet that just made you question its authenticity and you just had to do your own investigating to find out for yourself? What was it?  I would love to hear!

Until we meet again,

Love & Light I send to you always,

Dina xxo

Girl Power!

Hello My Fellow Blog Lovers and Supporters!

We are already well into July – Where is the time going!?

It has been a hot one here, not too much complaints from me, not a huge fan of humidity, but I will suck it up if the sun is shining that is for sure. As I have been getting back into the world of script writing, I am struck on the new wave of strong female leads and or action stars that have been hitting the big screen, with Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman doing extremely well at the box office and now with the new release of Atomic Blonde starring Charlize Theron (total girl crush for me) as a 1980’s super spy with MI6 who totally kicks ass – literally.  I am fraught with the notion – Why has it taken Hollywood so freaking long to realize this untouched demographic?  We want to see these stories and characters on the big screen and cheer them on or be intrigued or horrified by them for that matter, but yet ‘Hollyweird’ is still resisting this notion?

As you can expect I have thoughts on this and well here they are…

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Hollywood is and always has been run by middle aged white men – There I said it! So logically they will want to see stories that are by and for them, who they mistakenly think is a general rule for all of society.  For the most part, we as a society have just put up with it and have tried ways around it by creating specialty networks like The Women’s Network or BET.  But, in my opinion it is not enough.  Women and minorities are still sadly under represented in both above and below the line jobs in film and TV and even less as Directors or Directors of Photography!  It still is by and large an ‘old boys club’ and basically they have closed ranks for any and all who try to break those stereotypical glass ceilings  More importantly, we need to note the huge impact downloading movies online has had on the industry at large.  Where we used to make and produce 100’s of films per year, we are lucky to see 10 to 15 from big studios now.

I am going to go a bit against the grain here and say, part of this is their own fault – More importantly their egos is what has gotten them into this hot water.  Instead of getting ahead of it – The onslaught of illegal downloads and the rise of Android boxes going mainstream, and finding a way to use it or invert it for their own benefit, they instead did nothing, believing that no one would ever challenge or topple the great studio system. I mean come on did they not learn anything from the music industry and the whole Napster debacle!? Apparently not…

As a result, because of the rapid decline of ticket sales and green lighting projects, many studio execs are feeling the pressure to be ‘safe’ in the projects they do make – Projects that follow a tried and true formula or in the form of a sequel trying to ensure a sure fire WIN at the box office.  This has made film and art in this vein much more vanilla or boring – Lacking risk and that spark to push boundaries and ultimately start a conversation, which in my opinion is what art is supposed to do in the first place.

So when we see those rare projects like Wonder Woman who use that system (comic book character) but subvert it by using a female lead, harolded by a female filmmaker, like Patty Jenkins of ‘Monster’ fame, audiences pay attention and do so by spending their hard earned money at the box office!  People want to be entertained, but challenged with their own unique human story in all of its beautiful, horrific, depressing and or joyous journeys.  They want to see themselves in the characters on screen and we can only do that if we tell ALL stories, not just the middle aged male whitewashed versions.

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So for me, I hope that I can be a part of that solution and not just another cog in the already existing wheel.  I too want to tell unique stories of the underdogs.  Portray women in a more realistic but empowering role – Yes they can be superheroes who kick ass but they also can bleed, get hurt and get defeated sometimes in the process.  Which is why I am so excited to see Atomic Blonde’s character of Lorraine Broughton played by the very talented Charlize Theron kick ass and take names while she takes care of who is killing her fellow agents during 1980’s Berlin.  Not a femme fatale per say, just an action star who takes no prisoners.  What I am finding so appealing is the obvious part of a female action star who really does kick ass (fast forward to a 10 minute fight scene done by Charlize herself all in one take no edits) but, also showcases the sheer brutality of it with bruises, blood and broken bones – which in most cases is non existent in most male centered action movies.

Action with a touch of realism is a great genre in my opinion!  I hope that this new wave of women centered films continues to gain steam and garner possible spin offs of more minority or gay/lesbian or transgender projects getting green lighted as well.  We all have a story to tell and it is about time Hollywood took notice and gave everyone, someone and something to aspire to!

Thank you all once again for your continued support and for coming along on this blog writing journey with me each week – noted and appreciated that I can assure you!

But before we go, let me ask you this – what changes in stories or types of films would you like to see more of in Hollywood?  I can not wait to see your answers!

Until we meet again,

Love and Light Always,

Dina xxoo

Yoga and Wine – Why Yes Please!

Hello My Fellow Blog Lovers & Supporters!

Warm weather is FINALLY here in Niagara and I could not be more excited and grateful! The first person that complains about the heat, I swear, I will get them a steaming and very noticeable side eye and eye roll I tells ya! 😛

It still amazes me how many genuine and wonderful people I have met and connected with online. I mean working in social media it shouldn’t surprise me all that much, but it does, and growing my online friendship with local blogger and woman extraordinaire  Joanne Deall of Niagarafied offline has been such a wonderful treat and experience.  On a side note – This talented lady has a brand new project she is launching called the People of Niagara If you have a unique story and live in the Niagara region she wants to hear from you! (Complete series breakdown can be found in the hyperlink above)

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The reason I mention this lovely lady is that recently she invited me as her plus one at a wonderful Yoga/Wine and Cheese pairing event at the beyond beautiful Legends Estate Winery in Beamsville.

Legend’s Winery was established in 1946 as a small house winery with over 200 acres of fruit and signature grapes that are farmed carefully and harvested gently with the stunning backdrop of Lake Ontario in the background. Perfect place for parties, weddings and receptions of any kind really. It definitely is a place where history of the past and vision of the future have struck a fine balance.  It is a shining example of the perfect symmetry of tradition and technology.  A little tricky to locate, but oh so worth the GPS to find it!

I had never been to this particular vineyard before, but when you say you are gonna get mello jello from an hour of yummy body bending yoga by the talented and oh so bubbly Joanna Deluca of Grimsby Yoga & Wellness, then top it off by sitting in the vineyard drinking wine and pairing it with delicious cheeses – UM YEAH count me in!!

Before I go any further I need to mention it has been quite some time since I had done any yoga.  I know, I know, before you all say, “but Dina you had written previously that you were training to become a yoga instructor yourself, why no yoga for some time?” Well as you all know, life is funny and unexpected and we get diverted on new paths, my reasoning for stopping my yoga training is for another blog all on its own.

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But, I digress, as we entered into the rustic and welcoming entrance to the winery store and tasting room, we were welcomed by the friendly and energetic staff who directed us into the ‘Barrel Room’, the place where we were going to be having our yoga session. Can I just take a moment to say WOW! What a beautiful and enchanting space to just take a moment to breathe and take in the positive energy and vibe of this space complimented with polished hardwood floors surrounded by windows showcasing what seems like endless barrels of fermenting wine – Just gorgeous! A perfect space for any event large or small!

The room was filled with laughter, chatter and mulling about as the participants found their own spots to lay their yoga mats and begin our session of relaxation and as it turned out, SWEAT!

As I had mentioned, I hadn’t participated in a yoga class for quite some time, but as it was listed to be a ‘gentle’ Hatha practice for all levels,  I thought, ‘well I can handle that’

Yeah, my brain should have asked my body first, this gentle session literally kicked my butt! Sweat, cracks and pops coming from my muscles and joints that I clearly have not been paying proper attention too were quickly awoken! A good ache if you know what I mean, almost like an old friend who I hadn’t seen in a while but have always meant to call and catch up with 🙂

Well if that doesn’t deserve some wine and cheese pairing I don’t know what does!

Luckily, I was in the right place!

After our session was done, we all gathered our things and casually walked out into the vineyard for our tasting.  Such a beautiful backdrop to an already lovely day.  Sweaty and satisfied participants tasting wine, eating some nibbles, chatting, laughing – One woman even told me that she was excited to have her wedding here in the Fall – Just lovely.

I was able to sample both a white and a red wine at the tasting table, and I have to say the Legend’s Estate Winery White Semillion is truly unique, crisp, slightly sweet, smooth and all around DELISH!  This was the winner for me, in fact I brought some a few bottles to enjoy later.

I can not say enough how wonderful of a time I had discovering this new gem in our very own Niagara backyard, and I look forward to visiting her again in the not to distant future.

Thank you once again for all of your support and for taking the time to read my ramblings every week!  That does not go unnoticed or unappreciated! But, before I go, let me ask you, what are some of YOUR favorite wineries here in Niagara?  I am always looking for new ones to discover and enjoy!

Looking forward to your feedback.

Until we meet again,

Love & Light I send to you always,

Dina xxoo

Turning 45 Is The New Black Right?

Hello My fellow blog lovers and supporters!

Here we are another week had come and gone and the buds of a new season are definitely in full bloom.  With the onslaught, yes ONSLAUGHT of my birthday coming up in a couple of months, it got me thinking, turning 45 is cool right?  Or as the kids are calling it, the new black?

At least that is what I am telling myself as I hyperventilate at the prospect of getting that much closer to the infamous 50!! I know that I am supposed to age with grace, be grateful for each and every year I am given, yadda, freaking yadda but you know what I feel turning 45, the big 4-5??

I feel middle age, over the hill, getting ready for the inevitable dirt nap. OK, OK those last couple were a little extreme but I have to say it kinda is how I am feeling. I don”t know why this birthday is affecting me the way it is, BUT IT FREAKING IS!

I think a major part of it is I am not nearly anywhere near the accomplishments I assumed I would have achieved by this impeding age milestone. I thought I would be married or at least in a loving committed relationship, a couple of kids, own my own house and have a thriving career in the film industry.  (YES my heart will forever belong to the cinema and the magic it brings to those who partake in it)  I know, I know rather melodramatic, but you get my point.  All of this sounds easy and achievable right?

Well, nope to all accomplishments.

I guess I am feeling a bit defeated, kicked around by life a bit. I know, I know, calling pity party for one, pity party of one. I know that age is just a number and you are only as old as you feel, I get it, I really do, I am just not feeling it right now that is the problem. I guess what I am trying to say is I need to come up with a new set of goals and accomplishments and not dwell on ones that have passed for now. New goals and new perspectives that is what I need.

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But how do I go about getting it?

First off, I am in the process of making an about face and hopefully starting a brand new career soon.  Same field, just different company.  A few irons are in the fire, we shall see which one gets HOT!

So, new career goals, check. I have started a new exercise and eatting healthy plan so I can be happier and healthier in myself and my outlook, and so I can get through the upcoming FOAM Fest 5k I entered in July! (Dear lord what was I thinking?? I must have been drunk! :P) check.

This new found outlook will allow me to be open to meeting a new somebody, and possibly that special someone, (Yup, dude I was seeing kinda fizzled out, what are ya gonna do) check. So here’s hoping the universe is listening to what I am putting out there. Life really is about the journey isn’t it. Well thus far this journey has had many twists, turns, bumps, obstacles and forks. It definitely has made my crazy life interesting, frustrating and rewarding. I honestly, wouldn’t of had it any other way. This life maybe crazy, but its my life, all of it, good the bad and sometimes the ugly.

It has helped to shape and mould me into the woman I am today. The crazy, spontaneous, emotional, unpredictable, funny, sassy and beautiful approaching 45 year old woman. So come on universe get your fire extinguisher ready, 45 lit candles is quite the blaze. But this time instead of quickly blowing them out, I am choosing to bask in its fiery glow…

Thank you all for coming along on this blogging journey with me peeps!  Your support and you taking the time to read my weekly ramblings does not go unnoticed or unappreciated! But, before I go let me ask you this, has your life turned out exactly how you thought it would?

I can not wait to read your answers!

Until we meet again,

Love & Light I send you always,

Dina xxoo

What is the definition of Family anyways?

Hello My Fellow Blog Lovers & Supporters!

Happy post Easter to all of you!  I am sure you are all still hung over on chocolate and farrrrrr to many helpings of dinner! But, what a gorgeous weekend for food, family and fun, right!  It has also come to my realization that this blog is my 50th one!

Holy AMAZEABALLS!!!

That just blows my mind, that I have committed to writing about me and my life (side note:  not the first time I have done this but the first time I have fully committed to it) and here we are 50 blogs later!

Screw you procrastination! 😛

Since this whole thing started with me and my experiences with my family, I found it apropo that we revisit what this concept is – What does the term ‘family’ mean to me and possibly for you as well?

Now the term family really does have many connotations or definitions if you will.  Long ago are the days of the term family, meaning the generic ‘nuclear’ family of Mom, Dad and Kids.  Today, family cam mean: 2 Mommies and kids, 2 Daddies and kids, Grandma and kids, Grandpa and kids, Adopted, Foster, Step etc. The possibilities are endless!

This past weekend, I was given the opportunity to not only spend time with my Mom and Stepdad but I was also given the privilege to spend time with old and dear friends that to me are just as close as family, in fact we are family in my books.

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Yes I am the cutie baby!  My the left front to back, My brothers Rob, John, David, Chris.  Me as the baby, my sister Debbie and behind her my brother Rick.  Missing is my brother Fred (the oldest) and my other sister Debbie.  Yes 2 Debbies don’t judge! 😛

You see, I haven’t always had a smooth sailing when it comes to my family.  I am the youngest of 9 children.  Yes you read that right, 9!!  But, it is not what it seems.  We are a blended family, with both my Mom and my Dad bringing their own children into the mix.  Mom had 3 children, Dad had 5 and pretty soon I came along to round everything out. So, in this assembly alone we had, biological, step and half all mixed together.  Having a large age gap, it is no wonder that it was hard to find a connection with most of my siblings growing up as I was revered more as a nuisance they had to ‘babysit’ when they would much rather be running around with their friends.  They were teenagers, who could blame them.  Well this division never really mended with some, as we both got older and honestly went our separate ways never to really cross paths again except for the occasional wedding or unfortunate funeral.  We are family in blood yes, but in emotional connection, no we definitely are not.  As the old saying goes, you can’t pick your family right!?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not sad or bitter.  I let any animosity go a long time ago, it is what it is and I have accepted this.  The one thing that truly hangs with me is all of the missed opportunities to be a part of my nieces and nephews lives because of this rift between me and my select siblings.  All of the memories or experiences missed and forever lost.  That truly does break my heart, for they never asked to be a apart of this, they are however the unfortunate casualties because of it.

This brings me to my point – I believe from my own experiences that the concept of family should and needs to include friends – For me, my extended family of choice.

My friend Mary has been a fixture in our family for as long as I can remember.  An honourary Arsenault being as she has been spending Christmas Eve with us for decades now.  Mary and I met in High School and the friendship has never waned.  We have been prominent parts of each other’s lives with a friendship that has lasted over 30 years. We have seen each other through breakups, car crashes, deaths of our fathers, job wins and losses, pregnancy, medical emergencies and me being the Godmother to her two beautiful twin daughters.  I KNOW that if I need her, she will be there for me no questions asked and I for her.  We may not always agree on decisions we make and we will tell each other.  We are definitely not ‘Yes’ friends.  Nay we are sisters.  I guess what I am trying to get at is, family for me is ANY individual who will love, support and enrich my life unconditionally, no matter if they are ‘related’ or not.  I don’t need a blood connection, I need a heart connection for you to be my family.

I encourage you to take the time to tell those you who you consider YOUR family that you love and consider them to be your family, appreciating all that they do for you. Now is the best time to do this because tomorrow is never promised.

Thank you all once again for taking the time to read my ramblings every week and for supporting me in my crazy blogging journey!  But, before we go, let me ask you this, what is YOUR definition of family?  Are your close friends your family of choice?

I can’t wait to hear your feedback!

Until next time,

Love & Light Always

Dina xxoo

Just A Tattooed Misfit I Is

Hello My fellow Blog Lovers and Supporters!

What a week! Snow, rain, sun – Mother Nature needs to make up her mind I tells ya!

Either way the irises are starting to come up in our front garden and the birds are singing once again.  I LOVE this time of year.  It reminds me of rebirth and how no matter what, you can always reinvent yourself and become what ever you have always wanted to become, as long as you focus and do the work necessary to achieve it.

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It also makes me think about appearances – How what you see on the surface is not necessarily what is underneath, either in nature or in humanity.

I am going to let you in a bit of a secret – Not many of you may know this about me, but, I have tattoos and piercings.  Quite a few to be exact and quite honestly it seems to be a surprise to most everyone I meet.

YOU have a Tattoo???? The emphasis on YOU in this common phrase that is directed towards me when it is revealed that I do indeed have tattoos, 4 in fact and soon to be more. You see I don’t fit the stereotypical “type” that would have a tattoo. I work a 9 to 5 job, dress relatively mainstream and have no motorcycle in sight. It really is puzzling that in today’s day and age we still have preconceived notions on how and what people should look and act like. Even though, tattoos and piercings really have become mainstream, I still run into this very same reaction each time it is revealed I have them.

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The funniest encounter was at the very same shop I used to get my tattoos done at.  I wanted to get a replacement jewelry for my nose piercing, so after I was done work I swung by the shop.  Waited in the line, while not one but two clerks looked me up and down wondering why someone like me was in a place like this.  They were new so they had never seen me before, finally one of them motioned with a smug, ‘what can we do for you?’ I mentioned that I wanted to replace my jewelry in my nose piercing.  Still with a look of confusion on their faces they motioned to the jewelry that I could choose from. Just as I was looking at the choices, Terry the shop owner and my tattoo artist came walking out from the back, motioned to me to say hi and inquired if he could see how my last tattoo I just got done was healing.  I lifted my pant leg to reveal my 1/4 leg memorial piece he had outlined for me.  He replied, “looks good”.  “thanks, I’ll make a follow up appointment while I am here so you can do the colouring.”

 

As I said all of this, I turned to the clerk behind the front counter and said, “Yeah this is my fourth one, Terry has done all of my tattoo work”  “I’ll take this one.”  I picked a nice nose stud” All with a big smile on my face. Well, the clerks mouth dropped and stumbled to say, “ah yeah, good choice, Jamie can replace it for you right away”  I seriously had to chuckle to myself.

You have to understand, tattoos are not just a fad or art to me. No, each one signifies and represents a poignant turning point or event in my life. When I look at each one I am reminded of where I was and where I still need to evolve to in my life. One of the ones that is most memorable for me is my tribal butterfly tattoo. You see this tattoo is a cover up. A cover up of a spontaneous choice, a youthful misguide in judgement.

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When I was 23 I decided on the nudging of a friend to get a tattoo; a Japanese character for truth. Because of my fear of pain I only wanted to get it very small, tiny in fact. Well, unbeknownst to me, over a small period of time this little character for truth turned into a distorted blob of black ink. My tattoo artist at the time did not inform me that your skin stretches over time and if the tattoo is too small it will distort. Here I was left with a smudge or mark to glorify my mistake in judgement.

Years later, when I had matured from a naive girl into a more knowledgeable and evolved woman I was able to signify this with my tribal butterfly tattoo. What better way to represent this personal growth then a beautiful, colourful piece of body art. This piece of art shows that a mistake does not have to define you, but it can open you up to an opportunity to grow, learn, evolve and blossom into the person you are meant to be.

Some choose to keep these pearls of wisdom internal, but I choose to externalize them on my body, showing them if I chose or keeping them close to my heart for only my eyes to see and experience.

To the outside world my butterfly is just that a butterfly, but to me it is my freedom, beauty, sexy growing mystique of being the woman I am and want to become.

Thank you once again for coming along on my blogging journey with me. Your support and appreciation does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.  But, before we go, let me ask you this, have you ever been prejudged for something based on your appearance?  What was it and how did you respond?

I am looking forward to your feedback!

Until next time,

Love & Light I send to you always,

Dina xxoo

Getting ‘Niagarafied’ at Vintages Wine Bar & Lounge

Hello My Fellow Blog Lovers and Supporters,

Has Spring finally Sprung here in Niagara?

I sure hope so, I am so ready for the changing of the seasons and all the beauty that comes along with Spring here in our beautiful region.

To get a head start on this, recently I had the privilege of checking out Vintages Wine Bar & Lounge located in the historic Pillar and Post Inn & Spa in the charming Victorian town of Niagara on the Lake.

If you are an avid follower of my blog, you know that over the Christmas holidays last year I had the privilege of staying at The Pillar & Post Inn & Spa, partaking in the facilities, wine tours and fabulous culinary offerings of The Cannery Restaurant.  My full review of my over night stay can be found HERE

I had remembered that there was a wine bar that we didn’t get an opportunity to check out and was excited to finally be doing just that.

But, before I go any further with my story, I would be remiss in not mentioning that this wine bar was not going to be a normal run of the mill drop in – NO, this was going to be a very special outing, I was going to be meeting an extraordinary blogger, business owner and all around cool chick Joanne Deall otherwise affectionately known as Niagarafied!

You see when I first moved back to the Niagara region in 2013, I knew that I wanted to reach out and get to know my local merchants, business owners and individuals in my community so I could finally feel connected to something that was bigger than me.  A connection that I was unable to create in Vancouver and knew that I craved that missing ingredient in my new home.  Back in Vancouver, local area bloggers were and still are generally the ones in the know of what is going on in and around the communities they write about. So, when I moved to Niagara, I knew I needed to do a little blogger digging – Low and behold, the name of Niagarafied kept coming up!

Local winery owners revered her, and lined up to have her come and visit and taste their hand made wares knowing, they would get a hearty, well written mention in one of her upcoming blog posts, and possibly boosting their social standing and their Trip Adviser status in the process!  So I knew she was someone I just HAD to follow and get to know while secretly envying her job – Visiting and tasting artisan wine and food samplings from local wineries right here in Niagara…Sighhhh I don’t know about you, but this is  how I spell dream job!

I started by reading and leaving comments on her blogs, and before long we were talking almost monthly online, sharing, re-sharing or re-posting each others blogs, talking, connecting and each of us getting to know the woman behind the writer; evolving into a well rounded friendship, be it totally online!

Well after two years of talking and me secretly wishing I could be her personal assistant on her next winery tour, we FINALLY set a date to meet IN PERSON!

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After having to reschedule twice because of a windstorm that knocked out the power and a snow storm the second date – No really, true story – Mother nature finally cooperated.

Can I just say, Joanne is even more lovely in person than online. Funny, sweet, endearing and down right good peeps to have in your corner, not to mention a total connoisseur of her wine and what she likes to have with it.  Both of us went with local white wines – Joanne an Oaked Chardonnay and myself something a little sweeter, a Riesling.  Sipping on wine in the quaint, cozy and Victorian feel of The Vintages Wine Bar & Lounge – Decorated with lots of wood accents, a crackling fire in the fireplace, really signified to me that this was a perfect choice and a rare gem to discover in our little region.  Staff, were beyond friendly and fun to interact with, but very helpful when we tried to make a choice amongst the scrumptious appetizers.  Joanne and I decided on the flat bread with homemade garlic hummus, goat cheese and roasted red pepper appie along with the blue crab cakes with garlic aioli and mango salsa.  Both were scrumptious, well seasoned, bursting with flavour and perfectly complimented our wine choices and our casual girls night out.

Having the opportunity to take our carefully crafted online relationship offline into the ‘real’ world’ was so refreshing and actually effortless.  We honestly felt like we already knew each other and meeting was just an extension of what we had already created authentically.

I really feel like I have made a friend in Joanne and I look forward to when we can get together again and further build our friendship.

Hey Joanne, just throwing this out there – I am ALWAYS available for any PA work if you ever need any on your next winery review, #justsaying 😛

Thank you all once again for taking the time to read my weekly ramblings and supporting me on my blogging journey.  Your time and energy does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

But before we go, what local little gem do you like to get away to in our Niagara region?  I am always looking for local merchants doing their thing well using local ingredients to check out!

Until we meet again,

Love & Light I send to you always,

Dina xxoo

Sometimes You Just Need To Take a Hike

Hello My Fellow Blog Lovers and Supporters!

March 1st is here and boy have we been blessed with an OUTSTANDING winter this year! Fingers crossed that this glorious weather continues and we slide right into Spring which is creeping its head right around the corner already me thinks!  2017 is already shaping up to be pretty amazing – why do you ask?  Because, that is how I am choosing to perceive it, and what I have learned these past few times I have circled the earth – how you perceive a situation, a moment or experience is directly related to how it will actually play out in your life.  The energy you expel is the energy you will receive.  This I have experienced more than once.

Sounds pretty simple right? In theory perhaps it is, but to put it in practice, that is a whole other ball game.  You see I lost this way of thinking a little while back.  I was so wrapped up in the big picture of my new life path and journey that I forgot to remember the immediate happenings around me, the little things.  Like the feeling of the crisp winter air on my face as I take a stroll outside, the sheer magnitude and beauty of a sunset over a waterway or the swooping and swaying of a bird gliding through the open sky.  These little things are just as important, they make you feel connected to yourself and the world around you.  In an age when we are always plugged in to smartphones, ipads, laptops and such, we have become more fragmented and stressed out, not only with our loved ones, but with ourselves as well.

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I lost myself a while back, with working many hours trying to grow my business, and trying to get this new path on track I let go of the one thing that used to bring me such peace and rejuvenation, and that one thing was my daily walk.  I used to walk everyday as a means of decompressing after a long day.  I would put on my walking shoes and my ipod and out the door I went, able to just “be” for those 30 minutes and just breathe.  These walks always left me with a feeling of relaxation and invigoration at the same time, it was like my own personal meditation.   I slept better, was more creative and just felt a spring in my step.

Well, as time in the day became a premium, my walk was the first thing to go.  As a result, over time I became lethargic, tired, overwhelmed and a wee bit depressed.  My weight recently started to creep up again and my general outlook on life diminished.  With this new path coming to fruition before me, I still felt this sense of stress and despair, everything I had been working for was happening, why wasn’t I overjoyed?

Then the other day, a Facebook memory I had posted a while back shared from my friend Nadine –  a letter that Michael Moore wrote on his journey over the last 42 weeks of taking a 30 minute walk everyday just as a gift to himself, not to lose weight or exercise but as just as a means to just “be”.

This got me thinking, when was I the most content and at peace in my life?

The answer, when I was walking!

These past few days I have taken up Moore’s challenge to take a 30 minute walk everyday, and already I am feeling a shift.  I was able to take in a breathtaking sunset over the Welland Canal the other night and see the faint sight of the twirling windmills off in the distance.  I wonder what I will be able to witness tomorrow?

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Friends, family, supporters, readers, acquaintances and such, I am sending you a challenge – a challenge to take a 30 minute walk everyday.  EVERYDAY!

Put your kids in the strollers, grab your spouse, put a leash on the dog or whatever, and just give yourself this 30 minute gift.  Rain or shine do it! Not only will you notice a change in yourself but you will notice a change in your relationships with your kids, spouse and others.  You will feel more grounded and at peace.  So are you you with me?

Let’s all grab our shoes and go for a walk!

Thank you all once again for taking the time to read my shenanigans week after week and supporting me on my blog journey.  Your support does not go unnoticed or unappreciated!

Until next time,

Love & Light I send to you always,

Dina xxoo