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! ūüėõ

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 ūüôā

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 РOne woman even told me that she was excited to have her wedding here in the Fall РJust 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! ūüėõ

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! ūüėõ

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 РNot 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 РLow 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 РJoanne 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 РDecorated 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 ūüėõ

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 Рwhy 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 Рhow 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 Рa 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 ūüėõ

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do I still have days of feeling not so confident?

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

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

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

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

Until we meet again,

Love & Light I send to you all,

Dina xxoo

The Pillar & Post – Niagara’s Hidden Gem

Hello My Fellow Blog Lovers!

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

Boy did we make the right choice!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until we meet again,

Love & Light I send to you all,

Dina xxoo

 

 

America I Have Some Questions….

Hello Blog Lovers,

Another week has come and gone and here we are well into November and not only the weather but the times they are a changing. ¬†OK, let’s address the elephant in the room, the US Presidential Election took place yesterday. ¬†The 45th President of the United States is Donald Trump…Yes you read me right Donald FREAKING Trump!!! ¬†I have one question for you America, ummmmm WTF!!!!

I am still utterly gobsmacked like most of us, but outside of that I have some thoughts that I think need addressing, so here we go…

Has America become so used too or complacent with misogyny, racism, hatred and feelings of superiority in the Us vs Them scenario that these qualities in their leader are not only accepted but expected?  Is it a sign of a Clint Eastwood takes all spaghetti western like mentality that everyone finds so attractive?  Please America fill me in?

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Is it that the mere thought of having a woman as the leader of the free world so horrifying for you that you would rather put up with a ‘man’ who represents all that is repugnant with the sub sections of our modern day culture than have to experience the mere indignation that a WOMAN be in charge?? ¬†I mean come on she might nuke North Korea or Russia if she has a hot flash or is PMSing right???

Just when I think we have come so far, I am reminded about just how many steps we have fallen back. ¬†They say this election was the all about ‘looking for change’ in America, but was it really? ¬†Is having a white middle aged narcissist in charge really a big change for you America? Or is it a twisted like comfort for many as it is a scenario they all have all come to know and understand so well? ¬†Does the name George Bush ring a bell?

Was having a black president so far out there for you that you would do anything to get back to what you know and understand even if it is through the hands of having a reality star, lier and criminal as your leader?  Please America enlighten me?

Trust me, I am not the only one wondering this…

But, I am a positive person and I choose to see the good in this whole election, yes the GOOD, hear me out.  For the first time in our lives we were able to witness a woman have the opportunity to run for the Leader of the free world.  Do you not understand how AMAZING and INSPIRING that is!?  I mean not that long ago, women were not able to work outside the home, own property, or even vote and today we got to witness this unbelievable act when, Hillary Rodham Clinton, leader of the Democratic Party, ran for the position of President of The United States on Nov 8, 2016.  Not gonna lie, that gave me goosebumps!

Like her or not, she represents all that we are striving to achieve in this world, at least what I am trying to achieve; acceptance, and equality for all no matter race, religion, sexual orientation or gender.  Equality is just that, it means for ALL. Immigrants included!

I choose to honour this day by taking my Mom to see The Fighting Days this afternoon.  A play that reenacts the suffragette movement with Nellie McClung as the main character. Going back in time to celebrate one of our greatest victories we were awarded here in Canada, when the brave women in Manitoba were the first ones to win the right to vote.  A right that we as women have not taken lightly given the events we just witnessed yesterday.

Well, it is out of our hands now and like the rest of the world we will have to wait and see what is going to come out of all of this.  As they say, careful what you wish for America, you may not like what it turns out to be like.  Not just for you but for all of us, as we sit and wait on baited breath to see what the global effect of this election will be.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my ramblings every week, that is always appreciated and does not go unnoticed. ¬†But, I prefer to leave this on a positive note and ask you all what is the most inspirational thing you have witnessed that motivated you to create change in your community? ¬†I can’t wait to read your answers!

Until next time,

Love & Light I send to you always,

Dina xxoo