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

 

The Self Care Sounds Of Silence

Hello My Fellow Blog Lovers & Followers!

What an unbelievable week it has been!  World events that have shaken most of us to the core, new influx of potential clients coming down the pipe while trying to fit all of that in with life, exercise, my new daily rituals and now making time for that certain special someone newly entering my life. (Yes THAT kind of someone, suffice it to say, I am dating someone and it is lovely, fun, exciting, comforting and sexy and all other things mixed in. But, that is for another blog to come down the road :P)

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What I have noticed that has given me solace in this craziness, has been taking the time to just be – present, with my own thoughts in silence.

Allow me to explain…

I FINALLY took the time and money to invest in a space that is just for me.  The basement has been an unused area of the home relegated to furniture storage and the varying layers of cat hair and dust that can accumulate in one given space. (Note: not gonna lie it’s a freaking shit tonne!)  Bought a TV and stand and relocated the furniture to create a very cozy and intimate seating area that is both inviting and clean from my countless hours of dusting, vacuuming and removing unwanted stuff.  So clean that Rachel Epp of Misses Clean would indeed have been proud of my cleaning expertise! Rachel, If you are in need of any cleaners just let me know 😛

But I digress…

So I know what you are thinking – “Dina so you created a freaking TV room, big deal, hardly blog worthy my dear!”  That on the surface I would have to agree with you, but what I have noticed is my level of impatience and anxiety has dropped since.  When you are an adult back living with your parents, having a space you can retreat too is even more significant for your over all well being with not only yourself, but with your parental roommates as well.  Inevitably, you are going to get on each others nerves whether its who left the toothpaste lid off, who didn’t put their dishes in the dishwasher or having to watch the same episode of Murder She Wrote for the 100th time (no seriously, that struggle is real)  Having a space you can retreat too allows your to sit with your thoughts, think, reflect or just escape into the cinematic world of an Android box.  All of this has allowed me to just exhale and well just BE.

Always being on, especially with what I do for a living has left me in a heightened state of alertness – brain always moving, thinking, strategizing, analyzing and well as a result exhausted with little to no patience left for anyone let alone those whom you live with and love.

Being able to just sit with your thoughts in silence, not analyzing them or working through them but instead just allowing them to be, definitely  is a practice I need to work on. I started this meditative practice with my recent yoga study stint with Yoga Truly but due to my old coping patterns creeping back in along with finances, I unfortunately have taken a short sabbatical.  But, when I did allow myself to breathe and just be, this wave of calm and peace would fall over me. I miss this.  I never knew how much until now.

We are all so busy just trying to get through this thing called our lives that we forget to take a moment, to breathe and truly allow ourselves to just LIVE!

Taking time for your own self care is not selfish, it is necessary for your overall well-being. Sadly, for most women like myself it has become something we have just taken for granted we will do once sometime or someday is taken care of first.

Having this little space has taught me that my time for self care is now.  Sometimes you just need the sounds of silence to remind you.

I encourage you to find your space whether they are at home, a local hangout, coffee shop, park bench or hidden hideaway. Take these moments of silence and allow yourself to hear your own deafening sounds of well being and stillness so you to can learn to live a truly extraordinary life filled with calm and beauty.

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And who doesn’t want that right!?

Thank you once again for coming along on this blog journey with me, your taking the time to read my weekly ramblings and your continuous support does not go unnoticed or unappreciated. But before we go, I would love to know, what do YOU do for your own self care?

What activities or practices do you participate in to give you a state of zen and self care?  I can’t wait to hear your answers!

Until then, love and light I send to you always,

Dina xxoo

My Greatest Life Lesson Was My Greatest Failure

 

Hello My Fellow Blog Lovers & Followers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do I still have days of feeling not so confident?

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

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

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

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

Until we meet again,

Love & Light I send to you all,

Dina xxoo