Music therapy (and a smoking hot collage of some of my high school photos).

Isn’t it amazing what music can do to you?

Cleaning the house on Sunday afternoon, turning on YouTube and I found a batch of 90s videos.

Wow.

Feelings invoked when I was 16, feelings of love and happiness and confusion and general teenage angst and melancholy and pure unadulterated joy – basically how I spent the next couple of hours.

Music videos I remember watching with an old friend, bands I associate with my first boyfriend, the summer song that was playing everywhere when I hung out on the beach, no job, no school, no responsibility beyond making sure my younger brother and I ate something and basically stayed alive.

At the end of these few hours, I felt lighter, happier, more focused and more equipped to tackle the rest of my day. The endorphins released, coursing through my body and giving me a general feeling of euphoria free of drugs, food, drink – just pleasant memories of first kisses, late night friends and those powerful random moments that made up my teenage years.

I hope that those memories, however buried, stay with me, so that no matter what is happening to me, mind body and soul, I can turn this music on and remember being 16 and – although incredibly unsure and self conscious in literally every way – passionate about everything and invincible. Youth isn’t wasted on the young as long as you can tap back into those feelings.

The next time I am feeling down, overwhelmed, unsure and I feel myself looking towards one of those other external sources to give me pleasure, I am going to remember how today made me feel. And I will turn on the music, and the associated images, that I cut my teeth on; I will lose my bad feelings and I will allow the nostalgia to wash over me, and remind me of the power of music.

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I’m 40 – woo hoo?

I am a St Patrick’s day baby. Every year millions of people are raising a glass for me 🙂 of course, they don’t know it but that’s ok – doesn’t make the celebration any less heartfelt for me.

This year, on St Patrick’s day, I turned 40. That’s a milestone number for sure. Not quite considered over the hill, but certainly not young anymore (hence my cake).

The year I turned 40 is the year that I started my layoff from my job of 16 years.

The year I turned 40 is the year that I started blogging.

The year I turned 40 is the year that I feel like I should really try and figure out what I am going to be when I grow up.

How do you know? There are lots of people who have known since they were children exactly what they want to be. They know how they want their life to look at different stages, and work hard to accomplish this.

I still don’t know.

One of the courses I took this term (something else I am doing the year I turned 40) was Business Law. Man, I loved that course. I learned so much – when I turned in the exam my professor told me that she really felt I should pursue something further in either that field, based on how I did in her class, or in another degree course. So do I want to go back to school for something in the legal field? Or change my focus entirely?

One of the courses I took this term was a Financial Management course, working towards the Bookkeeping Certification I have been taking on part time for years – that teacher gave me her card and asked me to call her to talk about taking on some clients. Exciting, right?

I started blogging – and I love it.

I want to write poems, I want to write articles, I want to blog.

I want to stay home, cook dinner, keep my house spotless and be the perfect stay at Home Mom and Wife (cue the pearls and happy curtsey).

I want to do everything and be a master of it all.

So right now I will keep on keeping on, and if you see any jobs available that will let me work from home, exploring the legal field while doing bookkeeping and writing passionate poetry and the occasional article while cooking dinner, walking my daughter to school and cleaning the house, just give me a call 🙂

My loud voice. My any voice.

Sometimes, we have something to say, but we can’t find the words, or the way to say it.

Sometimes, it’s a big thing that needs big words, but all we can find are small ones, ones that make us feel small and weak.

Sometimes we just need a loud voice. Sometimes we just need any voice.

We had my daughter’s 7th birthday party last weekend at a Taekwondo centre – the kids all had a blast. They learned how to break some holds, do some kicks and a few other physical moves.

But what they learned about the most, and what made the most impact on me, was learning about their voice. Taekwondo isn’t about fighting, it’s about resolving conflicts without using violence, and one of the best ways to do that is to use your voice. The instructor told the kids that if someone is picking on them, the most powerful thing they can do is use their voice and tell them to STOP – LEAVE ME ALONE! Be loud, be sure of your words – because your voice is the most powerful weapon, the most powerful tool you have at your disposal.

It really got me thinking.

How many times should I have used my loud voice, hell, my any voice, to say something?

You know what, I don’t deserve to be talked to that way.

Yes, I should be paid more money for what I do.

Stop doing that.

Leave them alone.

Leave me alone. 

I know the answer.

Just let me speak.

But I don’t use my loud voice, my any voice, often enough. And the instructor was right, it is the most powerful weapon and tool I have. And I am going to start using it. To say what I want, what I need. I can’t blame others when I don’t speak up. But I am going to work hard to not stay silent anymore. I am going to find my loud voice, my any voice, and I am going to use it. I am going to use it for myself, and I am going to use it for others.

Because if I don’t use my voice, no one else will, and I will lose my voice.

Because I want my daughter to hear me use my voice, and know that she can use hers too.

Because my voice is powerful, and my words will move mountains. And yours will too.

Be happy you have a glass.

We all have those days. Or we don’t.

You wake up late because you were deeply asleep and slept through your alarm, or you kept hitting snooze, or you didn’t fall asleep at all because your brain won’t stop or the pain won’t stop and you’ve been up forever and as the sun comes up the reality of your day hits you and you want to cry. And you do.

You didn’t buy milk or you left it out and it’s spoiled and the kids want cereal with milk and you can’t get their lunches made because you don’t have the right lunch meat or you don’t have any lunch meat, and you burn the last waffle you found buried in the freezer and you want to cry. And you do.

You can’t get to work on time or you don’t have a job to get to on time or you stay home with your kids (mom or dad) and just literally nothing is going right and you want to cry. And you do.

You’ve been diagnosed with cancer; all those dizzy spells and problems concentrating weren’t just a prescription change, and suddenly you have a brain tumour and need treatment (well, not actually suddenly, it’s been there for years and why you and why didn’t you know sooner and what can be done and tests and treatment and stares) and you want to cry. And you do.

You lost your house, you’ve lost your purse, you can’t pay your bills, you’ve lost your way. You’re struggling and you want, no, you need to cry. And you do.

But won’t you don’t do is stay crying. You cry. And then you stop, and you get up, and you make the lunch and you do the work and you get the treatments and you find somewhere to live and you keep working through because you don’t give up.

You are allowed to be upset. Because no, life isn’t fair.

You are allowed to cry and be sad and say ‘This isn’t fucking fair!’

You just aren’t allowed to stay in that frame of mind. Because no matter what you are going through, mental illness or cancer or homelessness or not enough food in the house or kids that won’t stop crying or no job or any of it – believing in yourself, faith in yourself will help you get through. And that starts with being grateful for what you have, and mustering up the strength to look on the bright side, wherever it may be. It isn’t always easy and I don’t always want to but I’d rather look for something to smile about than something to keep crying about – because I know I’ll find what I’m looking for.

It won’t make it go away, no. But if you have to get up in the morning and face a shit day in a shit place (physical, mental, emotional), what better way to do it than with a smile on your face. Life is a bit of a bear, a beast, a bitch – it can wear you down if you let it. Don’t let it. Cry. And then stop, and get up and keep going.

I told my husband that I am a ‘glass half full’ kind of person – he stopped me and said “No, you’re a ‘be happy you have a glass’ kind of person” – and I like that just fine.

Lots of people don’t have a glass; I’m happy to have one.

Rabbit Ragu!

 

So, I don’t cook. Or at least, I didn’t cook before. I am incredibly lucky to have a husband who loves to cook, a father who loves to cook (and gives us freezer meals all the time) and a mother-in-law who loves to cook and send home plates for us.

So I was fairly well insulated against the cold, harsh reality of fending for myself in the kitchen. I like to bake, and am pretty good at it – but cooking was the WORST.

And then I got laid off, and am trying to figure out the Stay At Home Mom thing, and cooking seems to be a big part of that (cooking, cleaning and finding stuff that neither my husband nor daughter can find regardless of the fact that they tripped over it on their way out of the room).

So I got started – as mentioned before, we have an Instant Pot which I cannot say enough good things about; I love that thing, especially while I am learning!

Last week I was presented with my greatest challenge to date – rabbit. We tend to be on the frugal side when it comes to food, so when I found a 50% off rabbit at Loblaws, I had to buy it. Into the freezer it went – until husband decided that Friday was the day, and amongst his suggestions as to how to prepare it, was Rabbit Ragu. Well, I just had to do that, it practically rhymed!

Jointing – Do you know what that means? I didn’t – until I watched a very informative video from one of Jamie Oliver’s chefs, which was so helpful (but I need to stop watching these on my phone – the screen times out, it’s super small and I had to keep squinting – was that the front of the rabbit or the backend?) and I did it! I did it all!

Browning the rabbit in a fry pan while vegetables sautéed in the Instant Pot, I had this nailed. I felt like Martha Stewart or June Cleaver (except the money and attitude, respectively – what? You know June Cleaver had attitude, right?).

Well, all that is the exciting cooking part – afterwards I made pasta, broiled some crusty ciabatta buns, and dinner was served.

Oh, my personal rabbit prep tips (now that I am an expert) for the Instant Pot – I used white wine vinegar and chicken stock instead of the dry white wine called for, and extra veggies all the way 🙂

Delicious – and a personal triumph.

If you’re interested, the recipe can be found at – https://www.krumpli.co.uk/instantpot-rabbit-ragu-with-orecchiette/ I used a penne pasta but next time will definitely do the orecchiette!

So, I don’t mean to brag, but…

So, I don’t want to be ‘that person’ bragging like this – but this is a big deal!

It’s my 5th week in school, and for the first time I was able to successfully navigate from Building H to Building K following the corridors INSIDE THE BUILDING! Basically, for the first 4 weeks I had to walk outside (not always fun or easy in the freezing cold here in Brrrrrrie Ontario) because no matter what I did, I ended up going in circles, and ending up in literally the same exact spot.

Like, you know those people who just know which direction they’re going, not matter what? You can tell them to go left or east or by the way the crow flies, and they nod and just go? I hate those people (I am married to one).

I get lost in my own kitchen – I put the measuring spoons in the junk drawer instead of the utensil drawer last week. We’ve lived there 10 years, and the measuring spoons have never once gone in the junk drawer.

I also tried to put the cheese with the pots and pans but I think that was a different issue altogether.

Every Thursday is school day for me, at Georgian College, where I wander around and some of the people think I’m a teacher, some of the people think I’m someone’s mom and the other people, those just like me, know I am a continuing education student who is just pretending she knows where she’s going. As in, yes, clearly I intended to walk in a circle past you 3 times…

Hence my issue. On the first day I followed 3 girls leaving my first class – they said they were headed to the library, and just to follow them. But I didn’t look at landmarks, I just walked. Big mistake – huge!

So the second week, I started on the trek, and ended up back at my classroom. I tried again and ended up on a different floor (better I thought) with no access to the walkway (so it was worse). So I walked outside and walked around the building in the snow.

The third week, I was ready to find my way through the corridors (but not willing to ask for directions or help – I was old enough to be their mom, I was NOT going to ask them for directions).
I left the classroom, smile on my face and a song in my heart – following the crowd, walking and… ended up going in a circle, and next to a window where I could see the walkway I needed to get to. I gauged where it was, turned around, used my extensive brainpower to determine how to reach it, and OH FOR F**KS SAKE how am I back at the classroom again! So I went outside.

The forth week, I didn’t even try, I just went straight outside – but I FINALLY got smart. I went outside, went to the library, and then walk BACK to the first classroom. AND I DID IT! And I stared the whole way, at the twists and turns and forgotten mittens and misplaced coffee cups that landmarked the way. Like a climber on Mount Everest, I would use the dead bodies and forgotten waste to chart my way.

Of course, I forgot that Georgian College has excellent custodians and those landmarks and refuse would be long gone by the time I returned the following week… but it was OK – because I had retained enough basic detail to do it all by myself!

My 6 year old daughter is going to be so proud of me.

Next week – I attempt to visit a mall by myself. Stay tuned for the missing person report.

The Infrequent Flyer and the Cream Cheese Incident

My husband travels for work all the time – he is gone generally half the month, every month, flying all over the US. His travel used to take him to Central America or China, I am much happier having him closer!

He is so used to travel that very little excites or phases him either in an airport or in a hotel. Those little things that just delight me (little shampoo bottles, clean sheets that I didn’t have to wash and someone else making my bed!) don’t get a rise out of him at all.

Now, he loves traveling with me – because from what I understand, it is very boring to fly alone all the time, and traveling with your crazy wife, who literally rambles on constantly about everything she sees, just has to share every cute meme and joke she finds with you and tell you again about how much she loves you, is much more enjoyable.

Now, of course, as I (wifey) am not as experienced a traveler as hubby, clearly,  I do tend to do things complicate air travel, like wear the multiple laced shoes (which must be removed and scanned lest I smuggle something like a kinder egg into the US), pack too much for a one night stay away, try to check a bag (the horror!) and generally just make other poor decisions for air travel.

But apparently it is still better than flying solo*

*following are the two special exceptions when flying solo is preferred by Hubby

1 – When the flight is overbooked and, because he travels so much and has platinum status, he would be bumped up to First Class… but as he is ‘stuck’ with his wife he can’t take advantage (there is only ever one seat available in that case which would have to go to him, and he ends up having to say no…)

2 – Going through Customs. Hubby has a NEXUS card, so he keeps his nose clean and doesn’t have to put himself through the tedium and torture of Customs each time he flies. However, when he travels with wifey, who does not have a NEXUS card, he must suffer the indignities alongside me.

Now to the Cream Cheese Incident.

One of those things that delights me is free food. I can’t pass it up. I will try it, not buy it, sample it, rate it, if it doesn’t cost me a penny I will be right there. Continental breakfasts, lunch meetings, hook a sister up.

Lounges at airports offer such delights.

And because hubby is a traveler with special status, he has lounge access.

I didn’t even know these lounges existed – the entrances are always somewhat hidden off to one side to help hide the entrance to the kingdom. They are lovely places. Free food, beverages, alcoholic pick me ups, magazines and, in the case of the Toronto Air Canada lounge, some of the funkiest red/purple retro style seating you’ve ever seen.

To gain entrance to one of these mythical realms, one must travel enough to earn the points (exhausting!), have a spouse or son-in-law who travels enough to earn the points (Thanks hubby, and You’re welcome, mom) or have enough money to basically buy your way in (but that’s just life, right?).

Now, on to the Cream Cheese Incident.

When we travel, I always get a bagel with cream cheese when FREE (the always important favourite part of travel for me 😊 ) so as we were in the Lounge heading back (soon we hoped), I did as I always do – I got my bagel, and I got two packets of cream cheese. I indulged in the delicious bagel, and used up one package of cream cheese, and left the other in my sweater pocket (for what possible use I have no idea, but another one of those endearing facts about me is I hoard too).

Our flight was ready, we moved along into the dreaded Customs line. I was so proud of myself, I’ve been learning with each trip – I have on boots with only one long zipper, coat pockets were empty, purse contents minimal and ready for inspection.

Everything was in the bin to go through the X-ray machine, lastly I took off my belt and walked through the scanner – BEEP.

I go back, confused, and go through again – BEEP again.

The security agent approaches me with a blank look on her face (she’s seen the likes of me before), and the wand – hubby is of course almost fully shoed/clothed again and is watching me with interest.

The wand goes over me:

BEEP

“What do you have in your pocket ma’am?”

“Nothing” I say as I reach in and pull out… Cream Cheese…

She looks at me, I look at her. I smile, trying to look as naïve and simple (see “devoid of duplicity”) as I am.

“Whoops” I say, trying not to make eye contact with hubby who is shaking his head and clearly wondering why he’s still with me (been together 15+ years, he’s stuck blissfully in love) and how he can now pretend he doesn’t know me.

The woman chooses to take pity on me and my ineptitude – I move along and take with me another valuable lesson in navigating the airport – previous lessons included no, you can’t take that water bottle with you and air travel sucks (that last one was provided by hubby, I still don’t believe it).

So, advise from this Infrequent Flyer is: travel with a spouse who keeps you smiling and distracted, take all the free food you can, don’t wear shoes with laces and don’t take cream cheese packets through Customs because they set off the BEEP thing and you will be beyond embarrassed and your hubby may try to leave you there.