Finding My Calm In A Sea of Chaos

Hello my fellow blog lovers and supporters!

We meet again, from the far away shores of China, Beijing to be exact, to where ever you all reside in this vast, vast world we all live in.  As I was going over my notes of upcoming blog ideas for you all (yes I keep notes ) 😛 I realized that I have been remiss in writing about all of the adventures and historical sites I have had the pleasure to already explore while being in here in China for over 3 months already!

So for today’s blog we are going to backtrack a bit,  all the way back to January, and let me share with you all my trip to the famed Lama Temple, right here in downtown Beijing.

Let’s go…

The Lama Temple or Yonghegong Temple is a temple and monastery of the Gelug School of Tibetian Buddhism, located in the Dongcheng District.  It was built in 1694 during the Qing Dynasty to be used as the residence of the Emperor YongZheng, who was the third Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, before he ascended to the throne.

Accompanying this beautifully crafted piece of architecture are many pavilions which served and functioned the various needs of the Emperor and monks. (Insert houses to be occupied by the Emperors many ladies in waiting, other wise known as a concubine and or mistresses, in contrast to many temples filled with different, but beautifully ornate manifestations of Buddha statues.  It really is a Ying with a Yang kinda scenario.

I really didn’t know what to expect, which has become my philosophy while living here in China really. When I walked through the gates, I didn’t expect to feel this rush of calm and peace to wash over me as I visited each of the ornate buildings – But, that is exactly what happened.

Allow me to explain…

As many of you know, I am not a religious person.  Even though I was raised a Catholic (shout out to all my St. Mikes peeps!) Now I am not going to get into a debate here about organized religion.  If you find something about believing and practicing one that resonates with you or gives you that sense of purpose or faith or peace or whatever you’re looking for, then awesome – all the power to you.  I however do not have these same beliefs or experiences.  I would characterize me as more of a spiritual person, who connects with  and responds to energy and vibration from everyone and everything around me. That is my ‘religion’ if you will.

But I digress, I honestly didn’t know what to expect visiting a place with such ‘religious’ meaning for those practicing Buddhists here in China.

Fun fact – Did you know…

“China is a multi-religious country.  Taoism, Buddhism, Islam, Protestantism and Catholicism have all developed into culture shaping communities throughout China’s history.  Freedom of belief is a government policy, and normal religious activities are protected by the constitution.”

So me being a person who is greatly affected by others energy including my own, I wasn’t sure if my energy was going to jive in this religious place.  But you know what, as I partook in an incense burning ceremony and just allowed my heart and my mind to be open to the experience, this overwhelming wave of calm and peace swept over me like a gentle wave.  It really was a wonderfully beautiful, peaceful and calming experience that I wouldn’t have changed for anything.

As I entered each new temple, filled with a new Buddha manifestation, I was pulled into the tradition and beauty of the ritual and practice that I once partook in Sunday morning mass.  It really was magical.

The best way to show you what I experienced is through the numerous pictures and videos I took.  Take a gander…

 

Are you wondering if I am now at an internal crossroads of once again becoming religious or remaining an agnostic?

Nope, I’m still an agnostic, but now I have a new found open mind and appreciation for what religion can offer those that feel a connection and who need that sense of belonging – surrounding themselves with other like minded individuals.  That sense of community that church can offer those that feel lost or disconnected from life and from others can not be dismissed or discounted.  This I will acknowledge and have a new found appreciation for.

Thank you all once again for coming along on this blog writing journey with me, and taking the time to read my ramblings, but before we go, let me ask you this, what experiences have you had in life that surprised or maybe altered your perception you once had, good or bad?

I can’t wait to hear your answers!

Until we meet again,

Love & Light Always,

Dina xxoo

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Top Six Things To Know As An Expat Living In China

Hello my fellow blog lovers and supporters,

I’m baccccccck, hopefully on a more consistent basis this time, I mean that is the plan and my intention – OK here goes!

Did you miss me?  I sure as hell missed all of you terribly! Who knew trying to move to a new country, hell a new continent, diving into a brand new career would actually disrupt my rhythm and way of doing things – I mean come on, who would have thunk that one, I mean not me, I’m freaking invincible and can handle any and every disruption or chaos that comes my way, right!? 😛

Well, as it would turn out folks, and it pains me to admit this – I am NOT superwoman and EVEN I have my limits.  OUCH, that was a hard one to admit, but alas it is true.  A few more revelations I have come to understand since moving to China as an Expat, a mere three months ago will be discussed further, in well, this very blog!

So let’s begin shall we…

1. Hygiene

Your concept of ‘good’ hygiene and China’s concept of ‘good’ hygiene you’ll discover is vastly different!

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As most of you know, China has a little something called a ‘squat toilet’.  These little gems are basically a hole in the floor, where as the name indicates, you ‘squat’ over and well do your business.  Just take a moment to think about that, and how we as women urinate.  I don’t know about you, but I never really gave it much thought as to ‘how’ my pee comes out on a western toilet, but let me tell you, you sure as hell learn real quick on a squat toilet as you’re pissing on your shoe trying to aim for that bulls eye blind.  Not to mention, toilet paper is not provided for you sometimes at all or at the very least not in the stall, but rather outside, so you have to decide before you go in, is it going to be a 4 or 12 sheet kinda experience.  God forbid, you think you gotta only pee and SURPRISE a number two plops out – Well folks you are shit outta luck, like literally. 😛

Additionally, many of these ‘restrooms’, have no soap to wash your hands.  So bringing in your own Purell and tissues with you becomes part of your China survival kit, while the North American custom of shaking hands just goes out the window. Because of this squat ability, it is not uncommon to see adult men, women and children just dropping their pants and squatting to urinate and defecate right on the sidewalk in plain view.  I never believed these rumors until it happened to me the first time walking down the street, and a gentleman just dropped his pants and proceeded to take a dump right there on the street, it was like a freaking train wreck, you know you’re not supposed to look but you just can’t help yourself – All the while in my head I kept repeating, ‘Nooooooo, he isn’t gonna, no, no, no, he wouldn’t, HOLY SHIT, yup there he goes.  Dear God keep walking, don’t make eye contact, don’t make eye contact..’ as I hurriedly ran by, shaken and quite frankly disturbed.

2. You’re a Fucking Unicorn

As a white foreigner or ‘laowai’ – When you walk down the street, especially in the more ‘rural’ or’suburban’ areas like where I am here in Fengtai district, you definitely do stand out and are kinda like the circus side show performer you would see at those old school vaudeville shows. I literally have been videoed with people’s phones as I walk down the street, been stopped countless times to ask if I would take a selfie with random strangers or have witnessed looks of shock and awe and wonder on the faces of Chinese residents as I walk by.

Is this what celebrities feel like when they go out in public? Cause its fucking weird!

The part I do enjoy is the shy Chinese children who see me and are so curious and a bit stand offish, so I usually try to wave hello and interact.  They either get so excited, smile and say hello back or run behind their mothers scared and screaming.  It’s pretty much a crap shoot, but I like my odds. 🙂

3. Beijing Traffic Or Should I Say Traf-fuck

So I get asked all the time from my family and friends back in Canada, ‘so is traffic in China as bad as everyone says it is?’ YES, YES it is! They’re basically are no rules, if it says you can walk as a pedestrian, that doesn’t mean a car isn’t going to turn into the crosswalk from any direction, because they do and they don’t give a crap if your walking or not.  Sidewalks are fair game for motorized scooters to come whipping by on as well.

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When I first got here, I can’t count how many times I almost had a heart attack crossing the street.  I would have to psych myself up, like I was getting ready to enter Thunderdome – Give myself pep talks, fight the feeling to flee or curl up in the fetal position, before I worked up the nerve to step off the curb and into the abyss.  Now, I’m just a hardened veteran that can bob and weave and merge with abandon.

Strange how quickly we adapt isn’t it!?

However, don’t even get me started on driving in a car here – Getting cut off or bumped or side swiped is just common place.  Car horns will assault your ears daily, but it doesn’t always mean the same thing as it does in Canada.  Because they’re no rules of the road here – Honking has become a sort of signalling system to other drivers and pedestrians to let them know you are there and of course to also say ‘WTF dude!’

But, through it all, I have to say there is almost a sort of beauty in the chaos of it.  For some reason they make it work, it’s almost like witnessing a fluid, elegantly choreographed automobile ballet, where everyone has their own bit parts.

4. Baijiu Really Is ‘White Poison’

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This stuff is no joke folks, this shit will mess you up! Baijiu is the national Chinese alcohol and even Chinese people are in awe when they see a foreigner drink it.  It’s cheap, tastes like turpentine and around 60 proof.  I was ‘initiated’ on this stuff when I first arrived and let me tell you – Hammered doesn’t even come close to the level of intoxication I experienced.

Seriously, the brew master has got to be the devil himself ya’ll!

5. Air Pollution Is Real

I must say compared to last year, the air pollution has been much better overall, but it is not uncommon for you to begin your day with AQI (Air Quality Index) of 50 which is normal and within a couple of hours it is over 300 which is very unhealthy.  The National AQI app will become your right hand letting you know the levels every 30 minutes.  You have to understand Beijing, is located in a bit of a valley due to the mountain ranges surrounding it.  So, if we don’t get high winds to blow the pollution away, it just kinda sits there and builds up.  Face masks are a MUST!  You may feel like Mad Max, but your lungs will thank you.

But, I will give some kudos to the Chinese government who have quickly implemented structures and procedures to ensure that China with be sourcing 40% of their energy from renewable resources by 2020.  They are already well on their way.  Coal emissions have reduced drastically, because of the influx of solar and wind power resources, car pollution has been reduced as well – On high pollution days random cars with random license plate numbers are forbidden to drive on those days and if they are caught driving they are made to pay a stiff fine.  In addition, they also put restrictions on construction during these high days as well.  All of these efforts have proven to already drastically reduce the amount of pollution produced here in Beijing.

6. Warm Water The Magic Elixir

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Little known fact – Warm water will cure anything that ails you.  No really, it’s true, at least that has been my prescription given to me since I got here by EVERY Chinese person I’ve met.  I could have a cough, sniffle, ear ache, sinus headache, broken toe nail, bruised knee, bullet wound – OK I haven’t had a bullet wound here but I have had all of the above, but I could almost guarantee somebody would say “You need to drink more warm water, that’ll fix you right up.” Yup – So doctors in Canada you need to start carrying warm water in your medical bag, save you so much time and money, you heard it here first. 😛

All in all, these past few months have been about discovery, adventure, facing fears and stepping outside of my comfort zone.  China has been an incredible backdrop to have all of this unfold for me.  I kind of relate China to that one drunk uncle we all have that comes to all the family get togethers – You know he is gonna make a scene, but at the very least you’e gonna have a laugh and a good time in spite of and because of it.

Thank you all once again for coming along on this blog writing journey with me and taking the time to read my ramblings.  But, before we go, let me ask you this, what strange and wonderful things have you experienced traveling to a foreign country?

I can’t wait to hear your answers!

Until we meet again,

Love & Light Always,

Dina xxoo

 

 

Hot Mess Mondays

Hello My Fellow Blog Lovers & Supporters out there!

We are coming close to the end of October and about to dance into November and I don’t know about you, but I have been a bit like a hot mess these past few weeks – Not as focused or productive as I would like to be and not getting to those goals that I so eloquently have put forth for myself.  For some of you this sounds normal and for others not so much.

So in my effort to come up with a blog topic for you this week, being in the ‘hot mess’ state that I was feeling, I couldn’t come up with anything.  Nope, it would seem that that creativity or inspiration tank was empty and I was perplexed.  So instead of beating myself up for it or fighting what I was feeling, I decided to go with it and think outside the box and write you a reenactment of how I was feeling – thinking that many of you can relate, I decided to create it around a short story, a ‘hot mess’ scenario if you will.  Rules are meant to be broken right? So here I am breaking my own rules for blogging – Here is my short story – My Hot Mess Monday…

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The blaring alarm clock pierces Charlotte’s eardrums, jarring her from her much needed slumber. She reluctantly rolls over and smacks the snooze button with all the strength she can muster. “Dear God, it is too early” she mutters into her deflated pillow. Charlotte takes one last sigh and rolls over, throws the duvet off of her pajama clothed body and gets herself out of bed, takes a stretch and a yawn and shuffles herself off to the bathroom.

Charlotte takes a look at herself in the mirror, her hair is disheveled, her mouth tastes like the bottom of a birdcage, and she has smeared and partially worn off make-up with a small bit of some unknown crusty goop in the corner of her eye. In the upper right hand corner of the mirror there is a little post it note with the quote “40 is Fabulous!” hand scrawled across its beaming yellow hue. Charlotte while rubbing her eye reads the inspirational post it and takes another look in the bathroom mirror, blinks a couple of times at the image reflecting back at her and begins to chuckle and mutter, “Yup I’m fucking fabulous alright.” She shakes her head, opens up the medicine cabinet, pulls out her toothbrush and tooth paste and begins to brush her teeth. Charlotte gets ready for her day.

Charlotte runs down the stairs trying to button up the last of the buttons on her dress shirt. She rushes into the kitchen and pours herself a cup of much needed coffee. She takes a look at the clock on the microwave, “Crap I’m late!” Charlotte puts the lid on her travel mug, grabs her coat, purse and keys and runs out the door.

Charlotte is speed walking her way to the bus stop. “Man I really need to work out more” Charlotte thinks as her wobbling thighs and buttocks burn. Behind her she can hear the rapidly approaching familiar chugging and whirring sounds of the Number 9 bus. “Aw man not again” Charlotte breaks into her signature flailing chicken run of terror. Loud grinding and whirring sounds hunt, overtake and leave Charlotte in the dust or more literally in the drink; a cold splash of muddy puddle water leaves her drenched. “Are you effing kidding me!” Charlotte screams as she reaches the bus stop out of breath and clearly irritated. The Number 9 bus is still loading its passengers. Charlotte dripping wet and pissed off steps onto the bus and glares at the bus driver. “Oops, sorry about that sweetie” The bus driver says with a bit of a chuckle. Charlotte beyond irritated, “First off, I ain’t your freakin sweetie, second off George, you’re a dick, get over yourself, you’re a effing bus driver not a brain surgeon!” “Excuse me I am NOT a bus driver I am a Transport Technician” Charlotte wipes her face with her soggy sleeve, puts her fare in the fare box and leans into George and says, “Oh that is right I forgot a Transportation Technician, translated means, I have a small dick so I must overcompensate by driving the biggest piece of crap machinery known to man.” Charlotte drops the last of the coins in the fare box and takes her ticket. George shakes his head and mutters “Bitch” Charlotte mutters “Dick” and walks back to her seat.  Charlotte plops down next to an unsuspecting middle aged male passenger quietly reading his newspaper. As Charlotte sits almost in defeat the man looks up from his paper, Charlotte is still dripping wet and still panting from running. The man looks at Charlotte in puzzlement. Charlotte casually looks over at the man, wipes water dripping down her face with her sleeve and gives the man a cordial half smile and says “Hey, whatcha reading, anything worthwhile in there?” The man still puzzled at her very wet and distressed attire, stares at Charlotte and blinks a couple of times before replying, “Oh you know, same old, same old, death, destruction, falling economy, who is Lindsay Lohan screwing.” Charlotte replies, “Cool” They both awkwardly turn way from each other.

The bus ride is bumpy and filled with smells that should only be manufactured during wartime in a top secret facility and not coming from within the human body. Finally, Charlotte sees her stop and rings the bell. She gets up and begins to walk to the front of the bus, suddenly out of nowhere George slams on the brakes and Charlotte goes flying and lands in the sturdy lap of an attractive, dark haired, dark eyed well-dressed man. The man is texting; Charlotte is now sitting on said phone. “You gotta watch that first step she is a doozy” Charlotte sheepishly says with an awkward laugh. The man just blankly stares at her. Just then, the phone wedged underneath Charlotte’s butt and the man’s lap rings. Charlotte casually reaches underneath her posterior and yanks out the damp cell phone and hands it to the man, “Gives new meaning to butt dialing huh” Charlotte says with a nervous laugh. The man gives Charlotte an awkward smile. “Can you get off of me now, I have to take this” Charlotte grabs the pole and rolls herself off of the man, pulls down her skirt and staggers her way to the front of the bus. George is laughing. Charlotte glares and mutters “Dick” George continues to laugh, “Watch that first step now, it can be a doozy” and continues to laugh. Charlotte mocks George with a fake laugh and exits the bus. She looks down at her watch, “Shit I am so late!” Charlotte proceeds into her flailing chicken run.

The blaring and piercing ring of the alarm clock awakens Charlotte from her much needed slumber. Charlotte looks at the clock and decides to throw it across the room. Charlotte rolls over onto her stomach and mutters into her deflated pillow, “Dear God, it is too fucking early!” Monday’s always come too fucking early.

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Thank you all once again for coming along on this blog writing journey with me and for taking the time to read my ramblings each week – That does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.  But, before we go let me ask you this – Have you just felt like you were just a ‘hot mess’ in your life?  How did you deal with it – What are you own tips and tricks to help us fellow hot messes out?

I seriously CAN NOT wait for your answers!

Until next time,

I send you Love & Light Always,

Dina xxoo

Sadly, #MeToo

Hello, my fellow blog lovers and supporters, this week’s blog, we go deep, raw and have the much needed conversation that sadly we still need to be having – The topic of sexual assault.

OK take a deep breath and here we go…

If you don’t know who Harvey Weinstein is or what controversy he is embroiled in currently, then you really have been living under a rock.  He is the Hollywood Executive that has been accused of countless sexual assaults and rapes that span decades.  Sexual assault in Hollywood, is sadly not a new phenomenon.  Hollywood like many industries is indeed ‘male dominated’.  Trying to earn a spot or a name for yourself is an uphill battle to say the least.  “Only 7% of all film directors in the top 250 films of 2016 were women.” – Hollywood Reporter

So trying to work in a sea of men within this industry, who by their very nature are driven by power, greed and entitlement, it really isn’t shocking that countless women were subjected to the misogynist and criminal behavior of such a man as Harvey Weinstein.

For me – the more enlightening fall out of this scandal is how pervasive this ‘rape culture’ is not only in Hollywood but in society in general.  This point could not be more clear than with the hundreds of thousands of #MeToo hashtags that popped up on social media globally, showcasing all of the women who have been subjected to this behavior in their past, present and hopefully not their future.

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I too am included in this far reaching group of brave women, who tragically have been conditioned to accept that this is “just how things are” or “do you really want to open yourself up to scrutiny if you report this?” or as in the case of Hollywood, fear of reprisal or being blacklisted to never work again, ending their careers before they start.

When we have a section of society with such pervasive power over another – Abuse of power will always evolve and rear its ugly head.

When I look back on the COUNTLESS and I mean COUNTLESS times that I have been subjected to this behavior, I am appalled and heart broken.

  • From the young age of 9, being fondled by a 65 yr old family friend.
  • From being told at the tender age of 12 that “I would make a good wife one day, cause I had a nice set of baby hips on me.” (he was in his 50’s).
  • To the son of a boss I had in a local restaurant I worked at, feeling it was his right to grind up against me while I washed dishes, (I was 15).
  • To being a first year university student, being humiliated and reminded what my place was as a woman by a male professor and male student all because I tried to stand up for myself in class.
  • To the countless catcalls (the latest one was last week) or being called ‘Bitch’, ‘Cunt’, ‘Fat Ass’, ‘Slut’ because I didn’t react how they wanted to their advances.
  • Being told I could just be so much prettier if I learned to smile more.
  • To have a car full of 20 something yr old boys continuously circling and passing by me as I walked home, screaming obscenities, threatening to jump out and ‘take me for a ‘special’ ride”.

Finally the countless times I had a drink ‘accidentally’ spilled on me so the gracious suitor could ‘help’ me clean myself up – groping, smacking, hissing, intimidating me all done because they all believed they were entitled too.

So when I say I am saddened but not shocked you can probably understand why.

This incessant behavior groomed me to:

  • Watch what I am wearing
  • Be sure to not go out by myself late at night
  • Don’t get drunk when I go out
  • Never leave my drink alone
  • Never jog with headphones in
  • Never park in parking garages
  • Always walk in well-lit areas
  • Don’t make eye-contact
  • Never make eye-contact

And so on and so on…

All so as I don’t appear to be ‘asking for it’.

Staying silent and accepting that this is just how things are, condones and allows this despicable behavior to continue, fester and spread – Mutating into the epidemic that it clearly has become – Cut to the countless #MeToo stories we are bearing witness too today.

Staying silent and not telling my story until now means that I helped to perpetuate this disease and for that I am truly sorry. I will own that. I will own my complacency.

However, once you have truly been awoken – You can’t simply go back to sleep.

Today, I say No MORE!

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No more sitting idly by and not saying something when I witness off colour jokes, misogynist comments, intimidation, humiliation, bullying, catcalling, unwanted touching, groping, raping, assaulting.

NO FUCKING MORE!

As a woman, please know it is not your fault, it has NEVER been your fault when you were victimized, harassed or assaulted.  To the men who have or think they want to participate in this unspeakable misogynist and entitled behavior – This shit is gonna end.  We’re fed up.  You’ve been warned and you will be held accountable.

On the flip side, to all the men who have been loving, supportive and respectful to women – We salute and encourage you to continue to be the beacons of what REAL men are and pray that you will choose to speak up when you bear witness and choose to raise your sons to be compassionate, good hearted and respectful members of the human race.

I know we have a long way to go, but, having this conversation and bringing it out of the darkness of denial and into the light, is such an important first step. And I for one am ready to leap, are you?

Thank you all once again for coming along on this blog writing journey with me.  Your support and taking the time to read my perspectives each week does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.  But, before we go, let me ask you this – How will YOU join the movement to say ‘NO MORE’ to sexual assault/harassment in your communities?

Please leave your comments in the space provided below, so we can continue to have this much needed conversation.

Until next time,

Love & Light I send to each and every one of you especially my #MeToo sistahs,

Dina xxoo

 

 

 

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

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