Can you be a Tourist a few Blocks from home?

tourist

I love to travel around the world and often start planning my next trip while traveling on another. I was lucky enough to visit family in Israel in April then have a bonus few days to be a tourist in London with my husband and kids. And in a few weeks, to celebrate our anniversary, David and I will be in Scotland for a few days (details coming in July!).  But as I plan all these fabulous trips I sometimes lose sight of the great things to see and experience in my own city. Not only my own city, my own neighbourhood.

I had the opportunity to play tour guide to a good friend of mine this week who was visiting from Western Canada. Adam actually lived most of his life in Toronto and moved with his family to Kelowna ten years ago. He has taught me so much about architecture, heritage homes and walking through old city neighbourhoods. It’s hard to find even a small part of the city that Adam hasn’t seen.

But I found one, just a few blocks from my home.

I have tried to be a tourist in my own city as often as I can, discovering beautiful hidden gems like Spadina House, for example.  But sometimes it’s more than about just one house – it’s a whole neighbourhood, of houses, trees, a park and even a pond.

I am referring to a small, private enclave in the heart of Toronto called Wychwood Park.  It was created late in the 19thcentury as an artists’ colony and named after a town, called Wychwood, in Oxfordshire, England. The area was rural and the city grew up around it. There is even a creek that was damned to create a large pond, in the centre of the neighbourhood.

Taking a walk through this neighbourhood on a beautiful spring afternoon is my idea of heaven. Deep in Wychwood, surrounded by spectacular homes, two-hundred-year-old trees and even a pond, on the edge of downtown Toronto, is something special. You can’t even hear the noise of the city with all its hustle and bustle.

And Adam, the guy that knows everything about Toronto, its neighbourhoods and heritage homes, had no idea this special place existed. We walked slowly on the quiet streets of Wychwood Park then continued our tour through the wider area, with so many more beautiful streets.

tourist
We had to take a selfie in Wychwood Park

Our tourist in my own city afternoon was capped off with a visit to the delectable Dutch Dreams. This place is more than just your basic ice cream parlour. You will find the usual basics like chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. But there’s also fun flavours like caramel turtle fudge, moose droppings or Hawaiian delight.

We each chose a single scoop in a sugar cone. At most ice cream parlours that’s all you get. But not at this place. Adam was a bit overwhelmed when his “single scoop” cone was topped with fresh fruit, whipped cream and even cotton candy. Yes, he ate the whole thing. So did I.

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Adam happily tackled his ice cream!

I just loved being a tourist in my own city again, really in my own neighbourhood. Living in the heart of the city I am surrounded by gems like Wychwood Park. Adam, when you visit Toronto again in a couple of months, let’s find another.

It is Your Duty to Vote

vote

I feel privileged every day that I live in a free, just and democratic country. I take nothing for granted in my life, and when it is an election in my city, province or country, I take my privilege to vote very seriously.

As I write, it is late afternoon on Thursday, June 7th. It is election day in the province of Ontario, and it’s been a hard fought (sometimes nasty) campaign. I am not going to use this space to share my opinion on which candidates or political party would be better for the province of Ontario. I don’t support any specific political party and choose who I vote for very carefully. Whether it’s at the municipal, provincial or federal level, day to day I am non-partisan and support candidates and elected officials for various reasons.

Again, who I actually voted for today is not relevant here and I am not sharing my choice. What is relevant is that I voted. I always vote. It always amazes me that so many people in countries like Canada choose not to vote. Whether your candidate of choice wins or loses, I believe that all citizens who are the age of majority are obligated to cast a vote.

For example, only 52% of eligible citizens voted in Ontario’s last provincial election back in June of 2014. Federal election turnout was better three years ago when 68% of eligible voters cast a ballot. Media reported “higher voter turnout” after Toronto’s 2014 election, which saw 60% of eligible voters participate.

Why should we be satisfied with a turnout of 60%? Shouldn’t we strive for 100% participation, or close to it? If someone can’t vote on election day, there are ample opportunities to cast a vote before. Or remotely. Our democracy doesn’t just encourage us to vote, it obligates us to do so.

I remember watching the news about 15 years ago when open elections came to Iraq. This was a country that was under brutal autocratic rule for years. There was no such thing as open, free and fair elections for the people. Iraq was still a dangerous place after the regime was toppled. Democracy was in its infancy. And there were elections.

People waited in line for hours, and many of them risked their lives just to cast a vote. Polling stations and those long lines were often attacked. Scores of people were killed. But they had to vote, or at least they had to try. I remember reading the stories and watching on TV and was in awe. The ability to vote was so easy for me, living in an established democracy like Canada. How could I not always vote? How could every Canadian not always vote?

And yet many do not. I hope the voter turnout increased today from its previous number of just 52%. The provincial government in Ontario is going to change today. Many people will be happy and a large number will be angry. But in my mind, unless you voted you do not have a right to complain about your government. The person for whom I cast my vote may or may not win. The party of my choice may or may not be in power tomorrow, . but I participated in the process. And I always will.

**That’s my grandfather, age 97 (98 in a few weeks!) voting today. He is someone who taught me the importance of voting.

To be Blessed with Good Health

health

I don’t take anything for granted.Every day I am grateful for everything I have. Some things have come easily for me and to me while at times I have also struggled. Over the past couple of weeks I have seen a number of people close to me – family and friends – accomplish, overcome, succeed, struggle and even sometimes fail. I have felt a mix of emotions as I have experienced great joy and great sorrow, all on the same day. At the end of a very busy and eventful weekend, I feel blessed for good health.

I received a call early Friday afternoon from my daughter’s school that she had a low-grade fever and seemed lethargic. She had to go home. Kids get sick. It happens. No problem. I brought her home, she flopped onto the couch with her iPad and I quickly threw together a batch of chicken soup in my trusty Instant Pot (makes THE best chicken soup, full of flavour in 30 minutes. I’m serious.).

The soup perked her up a bit, but my husband noticed a strange white pimple-like item on her right knee in the early evening. I will admit I didn’t notice it earlier but decided to check it out. Indeed, there was a rather large white circular item in the centre of her knee, surrounded by a red circle. The knee was swollen and warm to the touch. I quickly put two and two together and realized my daughter had an infection of some kind.

What do I do? It’s Friday night. She has a fever. Something is going on in that knee. I chose the paediatric after-hours clinic. It had a 60-minute wait, but I decided it was my best bet. We waited. And waited. Finally, my daughter was seen by the paediatrician.

He looked carefully. He asked her to bend the knee in different ways and he touched it to feel how sensitive it was. I watched and noticed the slight fear on his face. He was worried. Something was wrong. He looked at me and said that it was probably only a surface infection, and it probably had to be drained. But he also wanted to make sure it wasn’t in the knee joint or a sign of something else. He wanted us to go straight to the emergency room.

By this point it was 10:30 pm. My daughter was exhausted, didn’t feel well and was in pain. The swelling was getting worse. I decided to go to the community hospital and not downtown to the Hospital for Sick Children (the paediatrician suggested this), and we were on our way. Two levels of triage and registration then a waiting room. At 1:00 am my daughter was seen by an excellent emergency room physician who determined that it was just a surface infection. The knee was drained and she was put on antibiotics.

We arrived home at 2:30 am, and I crawled into bed. It was a long night, but my daughter was fine. All evening I had horrible thoughts swirling through my head. Did she have some flesh-eating bacteria? Was this white pimple just the tip of the iceberg of something terrible like leukemia? A hospital waiting room is a bad place to have time to think.

Which brings me back to why I feel blessed for good health. My daughter is fine. She is healthy. It looks like she had a mosquito bite that she scratched and became infected. A seven-day dose of antibiotics will fix everything. But I don’t take her health for granted.

I only had a few hours of sleep Friday night and woke up relatively early Saturday morning to participate in our neighbourhood’s annual yard sale. My family decided to do a bake and lemonade sale and donate all our proceeds to a local charity (luckily, I did my baking Friday afternoon). Not everyone is as lucky as I am to have a wonderful family in a beautiful neighbourhood, blessed with good health.

It seemed poignant to me that my daughter was the most enthusiastic about our bake and lemonade sale. She limped outside and sat proudly at our table. She was a natural at selling and upselling, and we sold out. My son squeezed the lemons for our fresh lemonade and the baby, well she just acted as our cute mascot. We raised $128 for a wonderful organization called ISAND – Integrated Services for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

Today I feel blessed. Good health for sure. A great community. And smart, insightful doctors at my local clinic and hospital. It was a busy, eventful weekend. And we are all fine. And healthy.

How do you Share Good News?

news

Let me begin by stating that I have no news to share today. But over the past couple of days I have thought a lot about how we share good news, whether it’s personal, private or public. Sharing bad news is a whole other category, and I don’t want to focus on that today. Do you become excited when you share good news? Agitated? Scared? Nervous? Happy? It’s a mix of emotions, depending on what you want to tell people, and it fascinates me.

As I write this, my two-year-old daughter, Miss Nessa, my little Miracle, is sitting beside me. It’s late at night and she is wide awake and very busy. One would think that after a busy day she would be very tired. But this child has more energy than a sales bin of Duracell batteries. She is watching one of her favourite TV shows, Dora, belting out the “Map” song.

She had a busy day because today was her second birthday. As I wrote one year ago today, Nessa is why I believe in miracles. I was told almost three years ago that I would not be able to have more children, and yet she is here today beside me, wriggling around like a crazy person.

On this, her second birthday, I am reminded of the day back in November of 2015 when we told her brother and sister that she was on the way. I don’t know what compelled to me to record it, but I’m glad I did. How do you share the news with your children that they are about to have a little sister? Art? A letter? A gift? We decided to have a conversation with them. Take a look…

 

It didn’t go quite as well as we had planned as Matthew wasn’t too happy about getting another sister. He ran to his bedroom, with tears streaming down his face. He looked at me and said, “We are getting a dog. And it’s going to be a boy.”

Fast forward six months to May 26, 2016. When my kids saw their new little sister for the first time it was love at first sight. Maybe the sharing of the news didn’t go so well, but today she is most definitely the love of their life.

So, it brings me back to my original question: how do you share good news? With technology at our fingertips today, good – and bad – news spreads rapidly. A video taken in Toronto can be shared on YouTube with millions of people around the world in seconds. A few words on Twitter like “person XXX is pregnant” or “the name of the new royal baby is Louis” is seen by many people in an instant.

But that’s the public side of sharing good news. What about when it is more private or personal? Is it easier to share good versus bad news? How do you tell your boss that you got a new job and that you are giving your two weeks’ notice? Did you ever stand in front of your parents and tell them you are moving to France? How do you tell your best friend that you are engaged and that you want her to be your maid of honour at your wedding?

When it comes to sharing good news with your children, I highly recommend pulling out the iPhone and recording whatever it is you want to tell them.  Everything you expect them to say when you share the news will not happen. They will surprise you. And amuse you. I will never forget the day we shared the good news that Nessa was on the way. Or the news that she was born. Or that she turned two, and she smiled from the moment she woke up until she went to bed. If she ever goes to bed.

Sing Like Annie

sing

I share a theatre subscription with my mother. We have been attending live theatre together for many years and have enjoyed dozens of shows. Live theatre, musical theatre in particular, can be a transformative experience. For a few hours, as you sit in the dark theatre, your body and mind are transformed to another place. It is quite an amazing feeling. Even though what I see before my eyes is not real life, I always chuckle when the actors suddenly break out in song. When you are faced with a difficult decision or want to express your emotions to your friend or foe, do you begin to sing?

I started to think about this last week when I went to see the show, Annie. I didn’t have to do a Google search to figure out the plot and had seen the movie and various other live versions so many times that I could mouth the words to half the scenes. It was obvious to me when the big numbers would happen, like Tomorrowor NYC.

But still, I was so amused when President Roosevelt, surrounded by his close advisors, looked at them and firmly told them, “Sing like Annie!” Imagine if that’s how we lived our lives. If you can’t make a decision or don’t know how to express your feelings, just sing.

Imagine yourself at work one day. You are in a big brainstorming meeting. The group is frustrated and disagreeing on which direction to go. Then you stand up and belt out….

The sun will come out
Tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
There’ll be sun!

Would your boss stand up and sing beside you? How about your disgruntled colleague who never smiles? Maybe the eager person who has been gunning for a promotion. But would it really ever happen?

How many men, once they are ready to take the big step to express love for a woman? Okay, there are probably a few of them who would get down on one knee and start to sing a corny love song. But most of the time, I doubt it. And would a woman answer in song as well and they would sing a beautiful duet? Wow, I’d love to see that.

Somehow it is perfectly natural in a play to break out in song. Would Jean Valjean’s soliloquy be the same if he did not sing Who am I?  Could the Reverend Mother have expressed her feelings about Maria in the Sound of Musicif she didn’t sing Climb Every Mountain?Even in a movie it just wouldn’t be the same. How else could Elsa have made the decision to live on her own and be her true self if she didn’t belt out Let it Go?

Some would say this is simply an expression of art and that I should just let it go. Theatre is designed to be a transformative escape, to take the audience away from everyday life and give them a special experience. It’s not meant to be real. People don’t really break out in song in the middle of the office or if they are down on their luck. But, it’s fun to day dream about what life would be like if they did. I will have to think about that some more. Maybe I should sing about it.

A Royal Wedding is a Complicated Baseball Game

royal wedding

I slept on the couch, in front of the TV, on Friday night. Okay, I didn’t really sleep, but I was on the couch. I didn’t want to miss a moment of the THE Royal Wedding of the year across the Atlantic Ocean, and it was easiest to just park myself on the couch all night. I am happy to admit that I love all things royal, no matter which royal family it is, and this event was not one to miss. A few days later, as the streets of Windsor are cleaned up and the journalists and tourists have gone home, we are left to analyze and discuss the latest royal wedding. What do I think? A royal wedding is a complicated baseball game.

You probably won’t find this comparison anywhere else, but please, allow me to explain. This connection came to me on Monday afternoon, during the celebration of Her Majesty, Queen’s Victoria’s, birthday in Canada (also known as Victoria Day). As I sat with family, watching our favourite show, House Hunters, we of course discussed our thoughts on Saturday’s wedding.

From outfits (and hats) we loved and hated to which celebrities were invited to asking why the only member of Meghan Markle’s family in attendance was her mother, the conversation flowed easily from topic to topic. Then we moved on to the new title bestowed upon Prince Harry and his bride – the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Is a Duke the highest honour that can be bestowed upon the English aristocracy? What are the other titles? Where do Earls and Barons fit in? If a Duke is invited to dinner, does he get served soup before the lowly Baron? Is it true that Ms. Markle had to wear a specific shade of nail polish because of the rules of a royal wedding? What did the seating plan mean during the ceremony?

The questions go on and on when you dig deep into the intricacies of a royal wedding. Each step, each moment and every word are steeped in a mix of tradition and rules (even though I know Ms. Markle added her own modern twist here and there). It made me think: this is just like a baseball game. There is a seemingly endless list of rules, mixed in with ancient traditions. There are few people who are true experts on all the rules of a royal wedding or a baseball game.

Has a baseball player ever married a member of the British royal family? Now that would be neat! Imagine bringing together the detailed, intricate rules of baseball with those of a royal wedding. I can’t even imagine where to begin.

A baseball game is filled with statistics. How many baseball players have hit a triple, in the bottom of the ninth, left handed? Name which pitchers struck out at least 20 players in one game. How many times has it happened in baseball history that a second baseman hit a homerun during a game then pitched the 12thinning? Think of some crazy statistic, and it happened in a baseball game.

How many royal weddings have happened over the centuries? Too many to count I’m sure. But when you have dozens, if not hundreds, over centuries, rules are created and statistics have been collected. How many royal brides have been pregnant? Do most royal grooms where an army uniform? Have any big name guests died at a royal wedding? What is the most popular chapel used for royal weddings? Like a baseball game, the statistics are endless.

Okay, so a royal wedding is a bit more formal than a baseball game. Baseball players don’t wear a white tie and tails. But at both events there is a prescribed uniform for all participants. The Archbishop of Canterbury does not preside over a baseball game, chanting prayers, but I promise you, many a baseball player is crossing himself and saying a prayer before a key pitch. Loud, cheering fans? Check. Paparazzi photographers? Check. An exclusive group of people who are part of the inner sanctum? Check. Hats? Oh ya, check.

On first thought, a royal wedding and a baseball game may seem worlds apart, with nothing in common. But when you go deeper and do some thoughtful comparisons, they really are so alike. So, the next time you stay up all night to watch a royal wedding, put on your favourite baseball cap and remember to say, let’s play ball.

One Year Old: Happy Birthday Kinetic Motions

one year

One year of blogging. Wow. And I have loved every moment. I created and launched this blog, Kinetic Motions, one year ago today. It really was a dream come true. For ten years I considered and dithered. Then I took the leap. So, today’s post is in honour of Kinetic Motions. Happy birthday!

So much can happen in one year. When I registered this domain back in February of 2017 I was lost. I had a 9-month-old at home with me full time and I didn’t know what steps to take next in my career. I felt like I was at a crossroads and had to make some decisions. But I wasn’t quite ready to act.

I did know that I had many ideas swirling in my head. As I experienced the everyday happenings of life, in my gut I just felt like I wanted to write about them. I needed to find a vehicle to share the sights, sounds and smells of everything around me.

How could my blog be created? Where to begin? I bought the domain, http://kineticmotions.ca, then what? Thanks to my brother, who not only is tech savvy but also kind and generous with his time and resources (thanks Neil for the server space!), Kinetic Motions started to take shape. With WordPress as a base, I chose a theme, developed pages, threw in some photos and began to feel that I could really do it.

In March and April I almost gave up a few times. Web development and basic technology don’t come easily to me. What seemed so easy to do on some websites I read was impossible for me. I took two steps forward and one step back.

But I persisted. This blog was sitting deep in my head for ten years, and I wasn’t going to give up. I was too close. With further help from my brother and sheer determination on my part, I launched Kinetic Motions on May 17th, 2017. I promise you, it was no coincidence that I chose the 17thof the month. There is no debate – 17 is the BEST number.

One year later I am proud of my creation. I have done what I set out to do: to have a space where I can think, reflect, discuss, debate and just write.

I had joked that if only my mother read my blog that it would be okay with me. I created this space for me, and I was proud of that accomplishment. But then people started to click and comment and send me personal messages. Family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances started to tell me how much they enjoyed reading my posts – that I write about topics that we all think about and that I write in a way that they can relate to.

Your feedback has energized me to keep writing, with new stories and musings, and to think about where Kinetic Motions will go next. One year in, my love of writing has grown beyond anything I could have imagined, and I am excited for what may come next. I invite you to join me for the ride as Kinetic Motions turns one today. An exciting future is ahead.

The Life of the Party

party

Over the past year, when people hear that I have a blog or if they quickly peruse my posts, they often ask me, “Are you a Mommy blogger?” While I have nothing against these talented ladies, my quick answer is always, “No, I am not a Mommy blogger.” Kinetic Motions is about my musings. I write about what I see, experience, hear and feel every day. Sometimes the topics are serious or heartfelt and sometimes they are absurd and light. I admit that I do write about my children often, but come on, they provide such quality material. Case in point is my topic for today’s post: the children’s birthday party.

We have all been to many a birthday party throughout our lives. We were all children once, so don’t shake your head and tell me you haven’t been to your fair share. If you are a parent, you’ve made many and probably attended more than you care to count.

I hosted my daughter, Julia’s, birthday party this weekend. I believe that some people think I am crazy while others are in awe that almost every birthday party I have ever hosted for my children, over the past 11 years, has been in my home. In fact, all except one of Julia’s birthday parties have been at home.  It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.

So, what’s in a birthday party? How complicated does it have to be? Is it enough to throw a bunch of children in your backyard, feed them a store-bought cake and hand them a loot bag on their way out the door? Yes, it is. The kids don’t know any better and would probably have a blast with bread and water and a cardboard box.

But it’s not enough for me or the birthday parties I host. Again, some call me crazy and others are in awe of the time and energy I put into each birthday party for each of my children. My husband and I often reminisce about some of our best – and worst – birthday parties. I can’t say I have learned any lessons from successes or failures. Some make me smile while others make me cringe.

The key to a great birthday party is to give the children a great time, but also take them off their parents’ hands for a few hours. That doesn’t work as well when kids are little and their parents have to come too. So, for the little guys, I always say, entertain – and feed – the parents too.

While I know they serve their purpose, I highly dislike children’s play places. They are almost like birthday party farms, where the children are herded through like animals. They follow a basic formula, with an activity first, followed by a snack like pizza or hot dogs, finished off with birthday cake. It is most definitely a prescribed formula, and it works for many parents. Kids always love these, but again, I still believe many kids would be happy climbing inside a cardboard box with their friends. They are great for some, but not me.

A level up for a birthday party is a more organized activity, which requires a parent to spend much more time putting together. It can be a karate or dance class, laser tag, an art studio, or for the older kids an escape room. These activities can be costly and the kids definitely love them. But again, they are just not for me.

The best parties I have ever hosted for my kids have most definitely been in my home. Don’t think that doing this is simpler or easier. It is not. It is definitely cheaper, but it’s a ton of work. And well worth it. We invited Matthew’s music teacher to run a class in our basement for his second birthday. Number nine for him was pizza, cake, sports and wildness in the backyard, followed by the original Star Wars movie (watched on a VCR!) and sleepover with all the boys from his class from school.

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Matthew’s 4th birthday party was not at home, but there’s no way any reptile was stepping into my house.

My pride and joy was Julia’s 7th birthday party last year, which was a formal high tea. The girls decorated tea cups and hats, decorated cupcakes, had their nails done then sat down to real high tea. I served them scones with clotted cream, party sandwiches, strawberries and cream and even English tea in antique tea cups. The kids came dressed up for the occasion and participated fully. David even dressed up as a butler. I will admit I may have had more fun than my own daughter.

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our semi-formal family at Julia’s tea party
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The table at the tea party
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It’s always fun to be silly at a children’s tea party

And this past weekend was the latest birthday party in our home. It was a simpler affair, with apron painting, followed by pizza making and cupcake decorating. Then the kids munched on chips and their cupcakes as they watched the movie, The Greatest Showman. Dinner, the pizza they made, was served in the backyard, as they ran around like wild animals, and of course the event was topped off with yet another one of my original homemade cakes.

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Celebrating with cake at Julia’s party this weekend. It’s not a party without her “twin” cousin Emma.

My house was a mess. I was exhausted and could barely lift my head on Sunday evening. But I’ll do it again. And again. Like in two weeks, when Nessa turns two.

What If all we had was What If?

what if

What if. These are two words we say all the time. We use these two words for both positive and negative outcomes, for creative expression or terrible consequences. They can be connected with changing our future or going over the past. What if. It makes me think.

Our car got into a minor fender bender last week. No one was hurt, well except our car and the other guy’s. I immediately asked myself, what if we had left home a few minutes earlier? What if I had decided to keep the baby home that day and not bring her to daycare? What if my husband understood that looking in his blind spot when changing lanes was a good idea?

My son, in a moment of 11-year-old rage directed at his father, broke our bathroom sink faucet last night. The faucet probably was on its way out, but brute force definitely sent it over the edge. Again, I said to myself – what if I hadn’t told my son to take a shower at that moment? What if my husband didn’t snap at his son? What if my son just took out his rage on us by yelling and not acting?

Those are two small examples where I asked that two-word question over and over, but every day it crosses my mind. Sometimes it’s something minor, almost petty. What if I left my house just five minutes earlier, then I wouldn’t be stuck behind this garbage truck? Or what if I put my umbrella in my purse this morning and didn’t get soaked on my way home from work? What if I had turned left instead of right and not snagged that great parking spot?

It goes on and on, and for the most part the outcome is not that significant. Leaving a few minutes early or changing my mind does not affect my life too much other than maybe add some stress or bring a smile to my face.

But there are other what if questions I ask myself that are much bigger and most definitely have turned my life in one direction or another. I guess you could say that for almost everything we do, if we had not the acted, sometimes at that exact moment, our lives would be markedly different.

Back in 1999 my husband and I lived in Israel for about 6 months, early in our marriage. I applied for a number of Masters of Journalism programs across the US and chose a top-rated program in broadcasting at New York University. We moved to New York, where David worked and I went to school. What if I didn’t go back to school and we stayed in Israel? And what if I chose American University in Washington DC instead? What if we stayed in New York after I finished school instead of moving back to Toronto?

Did I make the right choice for my career path, years ago or more recently? Is Toronto the right city for me to live in and raise my family? What if we chose a different neighbourhood to live in or a different school or camp for our children? What if I didn’t give David a second chance, back in 1995, when I first met him (when he was drunk) at a “Beer Bash?”

If all I did was ask what if all day every day I would never be able to make a decision or live my life. And lately, I will admit, I have been asking that question too often. I have been questioning my choices and my decisions, and it often leaves me frozen on the spot. At times I have been overwhelmed, but thanks to some wonderful family, friends and colleagues, I am pushing through.

I need to turn what if into something positive and a vehicle to drive me to action. What if I contacted some old friends or work colleagues to just catch up and get some inspiration? What if I signed up for that spin or yoga class? Or what if I invest more energy (dare I say also money?!) in my beloved blog, Kinetic Motions, and see where it takes me? What if I focus on all the positive in my life and not all the tasks and stress that bog me down?

Writing this post helps me turn my attention from questioning past actions and choices to focusing on what is next and the great things I can do with my future. If you read all the way to the bottom, thank you, kind readers. Your support is much appreciated.

Could that be Spring I see Outside?

spring

Today is May 9th. I think spring has finally arrived in Canada. I’m not the first person to think about this or write about this. We all know about climate change and the crazy weather patterns we continue to see and experience around the world. I’m just happy that spring has arrived. Don’t get me wrong – I love the winter and all the outdoor activities that come with it. But, there is something special and fresh I always feel in spring. It took us a little while to get here. And now I am thrilled that indeed spring is here.

I am not a gardening maven and I’d say I have something between a green and a brown thumb. Maybe olive green? For me, one of the surest signs that spring has arrived are the green tips and buds that appear in my garden. It is nature at its best, with that perfect shade of green that pushes through the thawing, brown garden bed and from the branches on trees.

As each day goes by, the green shoots grow taller and bigger and other colours appear. I have tiny purple flowers now all over my front yard (which may be somewhat invasive and yet also beautiful) along with some red and yellow tulips (which are always swiftly consumed by the local squirrel population).

Last week my favourite tree started to bloom – the magnolia. I don’t have one on my property, which is just fine with me. They are all over my neighbourhood and during the first week of May every year I love exploring and looking at this most magnificent tree. The flowers are a gentle shade of pink that makes me smile. But this tree only blooms for a week or maybe two. We hit the height of the blooms a few days ago, and the flowers are already falling off the trees and lying on the ground. I don’t mind that I don’t have one as I don’t have to clean up all the petals.

spring
A blooming magnolia tree on my street.

And speaking of outdoor cleaning, well that’s another sure sign of spring. No matter how much garden clean-up we do in the fall, when the snow and ice finally melt in the spring, our yard is a mess. I am blessed to live in the city on a large property. We have a big backyard, with huge hundred-year-old oak trees and a seemingly endless length of garden beds. Enough leaves fall on our property each year to fill about 50 garden bags.

Throw in massive wind storms which blew dozens of sticks and branches everywhere and it’s hours of cleaning for us each spring. My husband has abandoned the interior of our house the last few weeks to spend every free minute in the backyard cleaning up leaves and sticks. And he’s still not finished! Spring is beautiful, but it’s definitely synonymous with cleaning!

One headache I do experience every spring is the mess that is my front lawn.  As I wrote about last May, I dream of a green, thick, lush front lawn every spring, and so far, no luck. Last year we hired a gardening company to get rid of the grubs and re-seed, and by the fall our front lawn was a mess. In April, as everyone’s front lawns began to grow, we got a patchy mess, with more grubs and more raccoons. That’s right, those pesky raccoons once again pulled apart my lawn.

This year I’m trying to fix it on my own, and so far, no luck. I raked out the dead grass, aerated the area and sprayed a huge amount of grub-eating nematodes everywhere. I’m planning to lay a fresh layer of grass seed today. I will water it diligently, maybe apply some fertilizer and try to keep weeds away. And those grubs too. And the raccoons. If I fail, I will have to come up with a new plan next spring.

Today the sun is shining and my thermometer says it’s 21 degrees outside. I can take that. Actually, I think that 20-22 degrees Celsius is the perfect temperature and a sure message to us all that spring is here.  Welcome to the warmth, the greenery and the colours. I love it.