It’s Time To Get Back To Basics…

Hello my fellow blog lovers and supporters!

Holy April showers bringing even more showers in May! Our backyard is a freaking lake ya’ll, and if these rain showers keeps going possibly an ocean!  Minus the salt water of course, but I digress. Fingers crossed that sunshine is a coming our way, our soggy yards are begging for it!

As I have been a bit home bound with this soggy weather as of late, something interesting really struck me – I think it is time for me to scale back and get back to some basics in my life.

Allow me explain…

As you all know, I am going through a bit of a transition both in my life and in my career at the moment and along with a bit of anxiety (ahhh of course you are coming along for the party aren’t you old friend)  I realize that my body and my inspiration are crying out for me to just FUCKING STOP AND CHILL ALREADY!

You see, I am one of those people that is always going at full speed.  I am definitely an all or nothing kind of woman and quite frankly my tank is beginning to run on empty!

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With having home, personal and work commitments I ALWAYS forget to schedule some ME time into my already very full schedule.  Along with this nagging cough and overall feeling of being run down, it finally hit home for me – Sometimes the best thing you can do for you is just STOP, reevaluate and bring your life back to basics – Simplify baby!

Like most of you, I am always on my smartphone (occupational hazard I know), looking and striving for more in my life, to consume or supposedly to add to the overall ‘joy’ and enjoyment in my life and for those that I care about.  But, why does this quest generally involve a piece of technology?  Why am I looking to technology or the ‘other’ for my own satisfaction, self worth and or happiness? That is kinda messed up when you think about it.

It kind of makes me think of that old dilemma of having too much choice – How much harder it is to make a decision when the choices are endless.  Same can be said for how you live or run your own life.  Having too much can just be that – Too much!

Simplifying and scaling back and reassessing is an important exercise to not only have in your business, but to implement in our day to day lives as well.  A Spring cleaning of the mind, body and soul if you will. This week, I am choosing to follow my own advice and scale back a bit and look inwards and really reassess what it is I want, how do I go about getting it and rewarding myself with some much needed rest to regroup and get ready to transition into this next phase of my life.

Tuning into my own thoughts and emotions is so important in this crazy life journey of mine.  If I don’t listen to my own inner voices how will I be able to know what it is I truly want and desire in my life – I guess this is just a natural progression from me choosing to follow my gut and see what wild and crazy ride it will take me on.  Buckle up as they say!

No matter how many new twists and turns I encounter and boy oh boy the ones I have experienced already have been doozies, I know that I will welcome my front row seat because as they say that is where the best views are!

12239651_10153572001142741_7427596871063791591_nThank you all once again for coming along on this crazy blog 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, what can YOU do to scale back or simplify your life to bring back that much needed balance and peace into your own life? I can not wait to hear your answers as I am always looking for new ways to better my life and those that I care about.

Until next time,

Love and Light I send to you always!

Dina xxoo

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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

Always Trust Your Gut…

Hello My Fellow Blog Lovers and Supporters,

What a week, full of changes and revelations. You know little miss universe will never let you get complacent, she will always keep you on your toes that is for sure!

So this leads me to this week’s blog post – Do you follow your intuition?

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I never used to, but I am learning that I must for my own happiness and sanity.

Allow me to explain…

As I have touched on in previous blog posts, I have had to battle insecurities pretty much my entire life along with having bouts of social anxiety.  I have also come to the realization as of late that I may also have empathic tendencies as well.

What are empathic tendencies you ask –

“The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.” Websters Dictionary

I know that when I am around certain individuals their energy tends to make me feel stressed out and anxious and they are not necessarily doing anything in that moment to warrant me feeling this way.  This has been a freaking HUGE realization to me and so relevant to where I am in my life right now.

I was always plagued with what felt like a roller coaster of emotion throughout my entire life, and not understanding where it was coming from, caused me to second guess my instincts and abilities. Literally felt like I was fucking crazy!

But, when I look back on my life I notice my intuition has played a huge part in my ability to truly read people.  I mean TRULY read them, where individuals on the surface seem like the cat’s meow, and I see past all the spit and polish through to their true intentions, their true core. That core is generally nothing like what they are presenting to the world.  I can honestly tell you I have never been wrong – Good bad or indifferent, I can sense it.

But, as of late I had a huge revelation.  I have not been listening to my inner voice for quite some time. I have been telling her to shut it, pipe down, go away and all of those other things.  So she has been sitting in the corner, quietly waiting for me to acknowledge her existence, every once in a while in a faint voice she lets me know that she is still there.  Not following my instincts has made my insecurities fester and manifest into anxiety, irritability and over all just not happy for quite some time now.  I would mask it, and say it is just an off day or I’m just not feeling well, etc.  But, what is at the root of the problem –  My intuition is not being answered or nurtured.

Well, I can’t ignore her any longer. I am not happy and I have to do something about it – Answer her call.  Recently, I did just that.

You see, for the longest time I had been operating in fear and survival mode when it came to my life and my work.  My life was not what I wanted it to be and I needed to acknowledge this.  I was exhausted and felt like I had no where to turn.  I was drowning.

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I finally had to take the leap and follow my gut.  She would not steer me wrong. No longer will I operate out of fear, but instead from my instincts.

That is what I have chosen to do.  I can’t reveal too much at this point, but big changes are on the horizon for me and I can not wait to jump in with both feet.  Each day really is an opportunity for change and I am choosing to make the most of this every day!

Thank you all once again for coming along on this blogging journey with me and for taking the time to read my weekly ramblings.   But, before we go, let me ask you this, have you ever gone against your instincts? What happened when you did?

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

Is the Medium Still The Right Message?

Hello My Fellow Blog Lovers & Supporters,

It is Officially Spring!  So excited to see things starting to bloom, bees a buzzing and everything in a state of rejuvenation and rebirth!  I do love this time of the year and all the new found beauty it holds.  It is like we are all waking up from our months long slumber – LOVE!

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As you all know I work in social media, recently I met with a fellow social media manager and fellow blogger who used to be a journalist and, we got to talking as we generally do, and the topic of the proliferation of FAKE NEWS going around like wildfire since the onslaught of the pandemic rise in social media use, definitely came up.  The infamous quote from Marshall McLuhan came flooding back to me during this conversation – “The medium is the message”.  This phrase not only brought me back to my Communications Degree days at Brock University many moons ago, it also made me realize that this still is a very relevant phrase today even though it was coined back in the 1970’s when McLuhan was trying to emphasize that the way we say something is more important than the words we actually use to say it.  Very interesting and profound revelation for his time.

Fast forward to today, with the onslaught of the internet and more importantly the use of social media and this profound notion has evolved even further – The medium itself has become the message.

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No longer do we consume traditional sources of information like newspapers, TV or radio; no, we instead go to the internet, namely social media to get our news.  Recognizing how their readers and viewers are consuming information, media outlets themselves have turned to social media to gather and present their own news stories.  Those of us who are too busy to read an entire newspaper, I mean let’s face it, most of us are, instead turn to Twitter or Facebook to scan the posts and possible links from major media outlets to get our fill of the days happenings either locally and or globally.

Why?

Because we are already there on social media.

In fact, when major news is breaking in the world it is usually Twitter that will break it first.  This was the most evident during the most recent Syrian uprisings where citizen journalists were tweeting and posting videos of the rioting and mayhem, giving their last will and testaments to anyone who would hear them even though the country had put a ban on all media coming in and or going out.

So what does all of this mean?

This means that the need to be immediate far outweighs the need to be accurate when presenting the hard news – ie, the unfortunate spreading of FAKE NEWS.  We don’t want to wait until a lead or a story is substantiated to break with the next edition of our favorite newspaper, or you know substantiate the accounts and statements of some world leaders who shall remain nameless – (Hint rhymes with RUMP! :P) No, instead we want it now and if you can’t give it to us, we will find the source that will and if you are not it we will leave you behind.  This leaves no wiggle room for verifying a source or a story before going to print or on air.  As a result, many and I mean MANY false ‘new-stories’ break on social media and get spread like wildfire, causing damage before the truth finally comes out.

This means the ability to connect via the internet has unfortunately replaced many individuals want or need for face to face interaction.  This means the avenues in which companies and individuals market themselves is determined by how their target audiences consume information.  This means the medium itself has become the message.

Social media is an amazing tool and should be used as just that, a tool to communicate and interact with individuals and or target audiences.  Yes, I preach this as a social manager daily – the importance of building those relationships online, but what is just as important is to then take these relationships offline into the real world where true connection occurs.

We as consumers must also shoulder some of the responsibility of this epidemic and do our own due diligence to understand that the information that is being presented and consumed by us for us has been and will be forever altered.  That is why HOW we choose to digest and consume information must change along with it. We need to do our own research when a story that we may not understand all of the facets of breaks, so that we know we are getting all sides of the story and not just a sensationalized version to sell papers.  Us doing our part as consumers and the producers of news nowadays (hello, did someone say smartphones and citizen reporters) will continuously evolve as technology and the means in which we communicate through it continues to evolve.

Where will this end up?  I don’t have those answers, but what I do know, is that I need to update my Facebook status to contemplative while I ponder the possibilities.

Thank you all once again for coming along on this blogging journey with me.  Your support and taking the time out of your busy day to read my weekly ramblings does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.  But, before I go, I would like to ask you, how do you consume your news? Through social media or from the media outlets  themselves?

I can’t wait to hear your answers!

Until we meet again,

Love & Light Always

Dina xxoo

Sometimes The Answer is Simple – CHOCOLATE!

Hello my fellow blog lovers and supporters!

Well I need to apologize to you all, I definitely spoke too soon,  last week I said that Spring was just around the corner and here we are under 30 cms of SNOW right here in Niagara!

Yeah,  sorrrrrry eh, my bad 😛

So I don’t know about all of you, but when things are crappy outside, the first thing I want to do is tuck in the kitchen and get creating – specifically BAKING!

So, I wander into the kitchen yesterday and who is already in there baking fresh bread – MOM!

Gosh we are so much alike 😛  So I asked her, “Hey Ma, what about something chocolatey?” Well let’s be honest this is really a no brainer, “ummmm YES!”

Now, the first thought that came to my mind is this little Chocolate Cake recipe that I remember had a little bit of a twist to it – Miracle Whip.  YES you read that right, it has Miracle Whip in it!  Searching through our box of hand written recipes low and behold there it was – The 100 Dollar Chocolate Cake.  Now, we have only ever made this cake a couple of times but every time I was always so amazed at how moist and chocolatey it was.

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Now I can’t take credit for this one – Our neighbour from when we lived in Dunnville back in the day is the one who gave us this recipe – Trudy Williamson, this one is for you!

As the snow was blowing outside, our hearts and bellies were getting filled inside –  Mom and I danced to country and western music as we baked and laughed the winter day away.

Gosh this brought back so many memories, all the while making new ones for me and hopefully Mom too. This was a wonderful reminder, to treasure those moments you share with those that you love, for tomorrow is NEVER guaranteed…

So without further adieu, here is the recipe for this chocolately goodness!

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100 Dollar Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup miracle whip
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 4 tbsp dutch cocoa (or whatever kind you have.  We use dutch because well, we are dutch and its what is in the house.) 🙂
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/2 package of chocolate chips (or take a couple of Hershey chocolate bars and bang them into small pieces like I have done here)

Directions

Add all of the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl add all of the wet ingredients.  Add the wet to the dry and mix until well blended but try not to over mix. Pour the batter into a greased cake pan or if you like add them into a bundt pan like I did here.  Sprinkle the chocolate chips on the top of the cake covering it evenly.  Put into a 350 degree oven until a fork or tooth pick comes out clean.  Approximately 20 minutes.  Take out of the oven and cool before removing from the pan.  Serve either still warm with a bit of whip cream or I have had it with vanilla ice-cream as well. Both are simply DELISH!

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There you have it, 100 dollar chocolate cake – a dessert that is easy to make and will satisfy anyone’s chocolate craving!

Thank you all once again for coming along on this blogging journey with me, your support and you taking the time to read my ramblings every week do not go unnoticed or unappreciated!

But, before I go, let me ask you this – What is your favorite chocolate treat or recipe?  I am always on the look out for new and exciting ways to use chocolate, either sweet or savory!

 

Until we meet again,

Love & Light I send to you always,

Dina xxoo

 

 

Today We As Women Celebrate

Hello My fellow blog lovers and supporters,

March is upon us and I and my sinuses can feel that Spring is right around the corner.  I am ready for it, how about you?

Recently, I had the privilege to attend the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce‘s  16th Annual International Woman’s Day Event in the beautiful Club Roma located right here in the Niagara Region.  As I entered the beautifully decorated ballroom filled with elegance, beauty and sparkle befitting the gorgeous women who we were gathering to celebrate- Niagara’s own Women Entrepreneurs, I was again reminded how fortunate I am to have found my tribe of like minded women entrepreneurs.  These last three years have been a whirlwind of networking, events and meeting and talking with other business owners. This foundation allowed me to enter this room not by myself but greeted with so many familiar and friendly faces that I can proudly call my tribe and more importantly my friends.  Hugs, greetings and lively small talk magnificently complimented the positive energy of the room filled with vendors and women looking to connect, inspire and be inspired.

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We were asked to take our seats so the days festivities could begin.  Ruth Unrau, focus Coach and Past Chair of Women in Niagara and lucky for us today’s MC, graciously gave her introductions and the speeches began.  Compliments, heart felt words and all around inspiration filled the room as each courageous women took the podium to present her part of our Niagara story outlining the impact of women entrepreneurship right here in the region.  No one more inspiring was the day’s International Women’s Day Award Recipient, Rosemary Hale – accomplished author and the first female to be appointed dean in my old Alma Mater Brock University.  Rosemary epitomizes this year’s theme of #BeBoldForChange; her willingness to pioneer her own path, not allowing her gender or societal prejudices to stop her from going after her dreams and her resounding proclamation that “we can and will get so much further if go it together”  solidifies that I am indeed on the right path and surrounded by the right women.

Our keynote speaker Teresa Cascioli – small town Hamilton girl who has done extremely well – Former CEO of Lakeport Brewing and author of M is for Money was the next to graciously take the stage. Through her tenacity and very strong work ethic, she was able to bring a bankrupt private company (Lakeport Brewing) and in turn sell it as a publicly funded corporation for over 221 million dollars in 8 short years. 8 short years of blood, sweat, tears and ironically gratitude.  You wouldn’t think that someone who was able to accomplish such an amazing feet such as this, would say that “working with purpose” and to remind yourself that “success is fleeting, practice gratitude everyday” would be the one of the keys to what she attributes to her success; but it is.  This was a wonderful reminder that we are not guaranteed tomorrow, today is the only certainty that we have and we need to learn to really live and not merely exist.

Being surrounded by my wonderful colleagues and being able to witness the energy and passion of our wonderful presenters, truly has made be acknowledge and realize how fortunate I am to live in the the time that I do and the region that I do, because here, my dreams CAN come true.  So many women in other parts of the world are not given access to resources, knowledge or the support and guidance of other women to let them realize that their dreams do matter – They matter.  I was never more reminded of this than I was today, in Club Roma with all of my beautifully inspiring and supportive sisters of women entrepreneurs right here in Niagara.

So much gratitude!

A heartfelt thank you for each and every one of you for just being your inspiring selves and 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 I go I would like to ask you this, what or who in your circle inspires YOU?

I can not wait to hear your answers!

Until we meet again,

Love and 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