Sunday, October 26, 2014

From Rags to Being True to You

I watched the most incredibly lame movie last night on Netflix called “Rags” with a twist on the Cinderella theme. This Canadian-made 2012 movie was filmed in Vancouver with New York as its setting. I couldn't help noticing that in the opening scene of NYC, they still showed the Twin Towers. You'd think they could at least use some modern footage. For a while I kept thinking the movie must have been made before 2001 until I saw them using modern Iphones and not those huge clunky portable phones of the 1990's.

This movie was a stinker, no doubt about it. It was really bad; the script, the acting and the music, but I watched it anyhow.

Like eating junk food, sometimes I’m in the mood for a fluffy teen movie where I don’t have to think too much. At least it had no calories!

The main character Charlie reminded me of Justin Bieber with his boyish looks, his goofy eagerness and singing style. GAG! *Makes a face* I’m not a Bieber fan, can you tell?

I had to rack my brain trying to find something good about the movie, (other than the father character was played by the Old Spice Guy, Isaaih Mustafa. Drool!) Those commercials are an absolute hoot. Just to sidetrack you, here is the link to one for a good laugh.

Hmmmmmmmm, *Daydreams with dreamy, goofy look on face*  

Now back to the main topic, Cathy. Where was I? *Throws cold water on face*

I would have to say the most redeeming feature of the movie "Rags" was the focus on being authentic and being true to yourself. Of course this theme has been overdone in movies to the point of being clichéd, especially in a teen movie like this one, but I still think it has value.

How many of us pretend to the world instead of showing our real selves? We pretend to like things we don’t like for fear of being scorned. We pretend to like people we don’t care for in order to be accepted as part of the cool crowd. We engage in activities we don’t enjoy or buy things we don’t even care about and go broke in the process, all to get approval from others.

As I age, I think I’m becoming more authentic and accepting of the real person I am. I’ve done that pretending routine and found it hard to keep up appearances. I didn’t like that person anyhow. She wasn’t real.

Even in middle age, I’m still on a journey of self discovery to discover the real authentic me. Sometimes it can be a painful process. Sometimes it’s exhilarating and wonderful.

How freeing it is when we can accept the whole messy package that makes us the person we are.

It’s easy to be blue
If you’re not being you,
All that pretending can take its toll
Being yourself should be your goal,
For being you is what you do best
Stay true to yourself and forget the rest!

Who knew such a lame movie could be the inspiration for a blog post, eh? I sure didn't!

© Cathy Graham, October 26, 2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

We Will Remember

Today a young reserve soldier, Cpl Nathan Cirillo, was shot and killed while guarding the War Memorial Monument in Ottawa, where I live. 

My heart goes out to his loved ones. I especially have a soft spot for reservists since I was once in the reserve myself.

This kind of thing doesn't happen in Canada, a peace-loving nation where we can walk freely without fear.

It is especially shocking to happen in Ottawa, a quiet government town. Even now, my husband's building is on lockdown and he doesn't know when he can leave. The gunmen are still wandering around and the whole downtown area is locked down. 

These kinds of things don't happen in our peaceful corner of the world. At least that's what I used to think. 

It just shows that it can happen anywhere at anytime. We are vulnerable and even more so in these scary times of extremist terrorists with a warped view of the world.

But mostly, I can't help thinking about that innocent young soldier losing his life guarding the memorial for fallen soldiers. Now he is also one of the fallen.

"At the going down of the sun and in the morning, 
We will remember him."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Talk is Cheap but Listening is Gold

Talk, talk, talk, we’re good at that
Day in day out, we like to chat,
What a noisy world where everyone is talking
Some even talk on the phone while walking,

We talk and talk without stopping to think
We talk about everything but the kitchen sink,
But listening is a more important skill.
Just close your mouth and keep it still,

Do you actively listen or wait to reply?
Do you listen patiently, do you even try?
Because conversation is a two way street
Having someone listen is mighty sweet,

Having someone listen can make your day
Much more than anything you can say,
Talk is cheap but listening is gold
It’ll keep you company when you get old,

Instead of your mouth, why not open each ear?
You’ll be amazed by everything you hear,
Listening costs nothing and is completely free
Hey you out there? Are you listening to me?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Size Matters

Today's topic for the weeklong writing festival at Write Tribe is to write about inequality for Blog Action Day.

We think we’re equal and all the same
But how you look is part of the game,
If you’re slim, no one bothers you
If you’re overweight, that isn’t true

You get charged more for an airplane seat
You get judged for everything you eat,
People make a face and look away
How dare you come and wreck our day!

How dare you come and invade our space!
You don’t deserve to be in this place,
Overweight people are stupid and lazy
Go away, you’re driving us crazy,

Worse than the shunning are the comments and jeers
Taunted and teased for years and years,
They retreat and hide to protect from hurt
They're so used to being treated like dirt,

Overweight people are not treated the same
Shunned and despised, they live in shame,
If you’d listen, they have stories to tell
They know that inequality is alive and well.

I am writing this inequality poem on the sixth day of the week-long Write Tribe Blogging Festival.
Based on Darren Rowes, Seven Days to Rediscovering Your Blogging Groove. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Frugal is Fun!

For the fifth day of the Write Tribe Blogging challenge we are writing tip posts. 

I’m always looking for ways to save money in these tight times where a dollar doesn’t buy as much as it did before. I wouldn’t say I’m virtuous and perfect at it. Like watching my weight, I sometimes slip up in a moment of weakness.

Still, being frugal can become a way of life if you work at it and change your habits gradually.


Think before buying something. Impulse buys can be foolish. We’ve all done it where we buy something on sale just because it’s such a great deal and we never even use it. Do you really need the item or is it just going to add to the clutter? Take time to consider a purchase instead of buying it as soon as you see it. Often after thinking it through, you’ll decide you really don’t need it after all.

Don’t use the credit cards so much. It’s easy to lost track of expenses with a credit card and that results in a rude shock when the bill arrives. At those high interest rates, it can take forever to pay off the bill and end up costing so much more. Try using cash more as once it’s gone, it’s gone.

I have read about people allotting cash in envelopes for groceries, utilities etc but haven’t tried that yet. I am trying to use more cash though and it does help. Somehow you think twice about buying something when you know you only have a certain amount of cash to spend instead of a credit card.

Use the library. I can never say enough good things about the library for saving money. You can get books free of charge as well as CDs and DVDs. I love being able to order books online and they send it to our little country library. It’s like having a gigantic library to access. We are so lucky to have our library as we almost lost it to budget cuts years ago so I am very grateful.

Shop at thrift and good will shops. I enjoy perusing thrift shops to see what treasures I might find there. Sometimes I find nice clothes that are barely worn for a fraction of the price of new ones. Not everyone likes the idea of used clothes but I don’t mind if it’s going to save me money. I don’t like used shoes though. I draw the line on wearing someone else’s shoes. ICK!

Join online groups to sell or give away used items. I belong to a few online groups who sell or give away second hand items. This is especially good for those with small kids who outgrow clothes and other baby items so fast that they hardly wear anything out.

Eat more beans and less meat. Not only are beans healthier, they’re way cheaper than meat.  I try and make a few meatless meals a week. They also contain less calories and less fat which is good for the waistline, too.

Make more meals from scratch. Don’t rely on packaged convenience food so much. They are usually less nutritious, contain loads of sodium and sugar and cost a lot more.

Get produce in season and go to farmers’ markets Not only is the food fresher, it’s usually cheaper, too. Also you’ll feel good about supporting local farmers.

Grow your own garden. It’s so satisfying to grow your own garden of fresh vegetables. They taste better and are so much more economical.

Don’t eat out so often. Eating out can really blast your budget and should be reserved for special occasions as it can really add up. If you do eat out, don’t order drinks or dessert as they charge a lot for them and make the bill really add up fast. I tend to have water most of the time as I don’t like pop and am trying to drink less diet drinks.

Make your own coffee and carry it in a portable cup. I like making coffee at home with my Keurig in those K cups you fill yourself. Those pre-made disposable cups they sell in boxes are very tasty but cost an absolute fortune. Also they’re not that environmental as you can’t recycle them. That said, I do buy them on occasion if I see them on sale which isn’t that often.

I must say that when I am in town I do love my Starbucks. It is my one indulgence that might be seen as a little decadent. Oh well. I don’t drink or smoke so this is my guilty pleasure.

Get rid of satellite or cable TV. We just got rid of our satellite TV as it was costing us a fortune. Now we have an antenna that works great. We have less stations than before but we weren’t watching them much anyhow.  

I’m far from perfect in my quest to save money, but have managed to make some of these tips a habit so I’m getting there. I'm also learning to be content with less.

What tips do you have to save money? I’d love to hear your suggestions. 

I am writing this tips post on the fifth day of the week-long Write Tribe Blogging Festival.
Based on Darren Rowes, Seven Days to Rediscovering Your Blogging Groove. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Links I Love

(Image from The Graphics Fairy's site)

Today's topic for the Write Tribe's week long blogging challenge is to make a list of favourite links to share. My main challenge for this is that I like so many sites, it's hard to pick only a few. I narrowed it down by deciding on ones that inspire me and help me with my creative projects.

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t just spring out of bed all happy, confident and positive.  Some days I need lots of coffee and inspiration to get going for the day.

Every day I like to look at posts from inspirational and writing sites. The inspirational sites get me into a positive mindset for the day while the writing sites help inspire me, overcome procrastination and give me ideas.

Of course there is always the danger, I’ll just surf and not get that writing done. There are just too many interesting sites out there. Guess I’ll have to find a site about not procrastinating. I’m sure there is one. I’ll have to Google it....later.

Here are some links to a few newsletters that I subscribe to:

I just love the morning posters on Queen of Your Own Life’s Facebook Page done by Cindy and Kathy. Each image depicts a vintage photo of a woman and some piece of wisdom to start us off the day in a positive mindset. Their main focus is loving yourself, having gratitude and living a life of joy. Who can’t use more of that, right?

I found out about Karen Watson, the graphics fairy through Queen of Your Own Life. Karen posts the loveliest vintage images for free download. I just love the images as I am a big fan of vintage graphics. I like to use the images on Facebook or to make handmade cards. They brighten up my day and hopefully brighten others' days, too.

Jonathan Lockwood Huie’s quotes are always uplifting and thought-provoking. Even if I don’t use them to create a motivational poster, the quotes always give me something to think about.
Positive Writer’s Bryan Hutchison writes about the fears and doubts that plague writers and he offers suggestions on how to work through them to get that writing done. I appreciate his honesty and willingness to help other writers. Right now he is offering his book "Writer's Doubt" for free on Amazon in exchange for a review and then there will be a contest later on. Definitely worth checking out.

I am writing this post about links on the fourth day of the week-long Write Tribe Blogging Festival.
Based on Darren Rowes, Seven Days to Rediscovering Your Blogging Groove. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Review of Picaboo

Day 3 of the blogging challenge at Write Tribe is to write a review so I have chose to write about Picaboo, an online photo book making company.

If you’re like me, you probably have loads of paper photos or digital photos taking up space in boxes or on your computer’s hard drive.

I decided to take on the job of being the family archivist and love to create books to capture the memories before they’re forgotten. For several years I have been making books, both conventional paper scrapbooks and digital.

I have tried many of the different photo book companies over the years such as Heritage Makers, Snapfish, Photobook Canada, MyPublisher, Blurb, Walmart and Picaboo.

I would have to say that my favourite is Picaboo, an American company.

Here is a photo book I made with about my cat, Kobie.

The main reason I like Picaboo is for the deals they offer, ease of use, quality of their books, fast turnaround and fast mail delivery.

Their software is online so you don’t have to download anything which is a much better method. The software program is fairly easy to use and they have video tutorials and helpful ideas. If you have any problems, they have an online chat helpline where you can communicate with an actual human being.

They have a great selection of book sizes and styles to choose from in varying prices. My favourite is the 9 x 11 Landscape Size as it is the most versatile for my needs and they tend to have lots of voucher sales for that size. They also have a choice between soft cover and hard cover.

There is a variety of different templates and backgrounds for different occasions such as vacations, birthdays, Christmas, Easter etc.

You can also choose templates varying the number of photos per page which is useful when you have lots of photos and only want to make a 20 page book. You also have the choice whether to add text to your photos.

There also have other products like cards, calendars, canvases, posters, photo panels and even phone cases.

They often have deals on vouchers which I snap up for future books. These vouchers have expiry dates which is a good thing for me being a notorious procrastinator.

Which reminds me, there’s a voucher due tomorrow. Good thing I’m editing my Thanksgiving photos today. 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’d better get making my book!

I am writing this review on the third day of the week long Write Tribe Blogging Festival.
Based on Darren Rowes, Seven Days to Rediscovering Your Blogging Groove. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Wise Sarah Says

Last night we were at a birthday party for Gini who just turned 50.

For a joke, some friends had dressed a mannequin to look like her and called it Sarah, after Sarah in the Bible.

There is a Norwegian legend that when a woman turns 50, she becomes a wise Sarah with experience, wisdom and insight like the biblical Sarah.

It’s true that by the time we’ve reached 50, we’ve learned a lot about life and ourselves. Of course, we still mess up and still get stuck in ways of being that aren’t the best.

With the wisdom of experience, we’ve learned to forgive, let go, grow, move on and appreciate what’s important.

Today’s blogging topic from Write Tribe’s blogging challenge is to ask a question. I decided on this one.

If you could go back in time and tell a younger version of yourself one thing, what would you tell?

I would like to give advice from Wise Sarah to my younger self.

Wise Sarah says:
  • Don’t worry so much about doing it right. It’s okay to make mistakes. That’s how you learn and grow. Even if you're scared, give it a try.
  • Love yourself more and don’t be so hard on yourself. You are amazing, flaws and all!
  • See life as a big adventure instead of an endurance test.
  • Not everyone will like you and you won’t like everyone. Just like life being unfair, that’s just the way it is. Don’t be a people pleaser as some people aren’t worth the effort.
  • Stop fretting about past mistakes or worrying about looking foolish in the future. Most people are too worried about themselves to even notice.
  • Stop being so passive and waiting for life to happen to you. Stop acting like your life is a movie you’re watching. You’re starring in the movie, you’re not in the audience. Start playing a more active role. You can make things happen by your actions and choices. You may not always be able to control what happens, but how you react is up to you.
  • Don’t let people use you for a doormat. You deserve respect. Avoid toxic people and establish boundaries with those who judge you or try to tear you down.
  • Relax. Laugh. Love. Forgive.
  • Let go of grudges, hurt and hate.
  • Have more fun and don’t take everything so seriously, especially yourself.
  • Realize that it all goes very quickly so be in the moment as that’s all there is.
  • Life is short and precious with an unknown expiry date. Enjoy it.

I am writing this question on the second day of the week long Write Tribe Blogging Festival.

Based on Darren Rowes, Seven Days to Rediscovering Your Blogging Groove.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

What I Love About Autumn

Leaves of orange, yellow and red
Bright and vibrant overhead,

Skies with clouds that change so fast
I take lots of photos to make them last,

Dogwalks in the woods, no bugs, no heat
Only leaves crunching beneath our feet,

Cats are cuddly when the weather is cold
If you’re chilly, grab a cat to hold,

Spooky creatures on Halloween
Some of the scariest you’ve ever seen!

There are many special things about fall
I could go on, but for now that is all!

I am writing this "list" on the first day of the week long Write Tribe Blogging Festival.

Based on Darren Rowes, Seven Days to Rediscovering Your Blogging Groove.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Is Fear Holding You Back?

Fear takes hold inside my brain
Barreling along like a runaway train,
Thoughts swirl around inside my head
Filling me up with so much dread,

Doom and gloom weigh down on me
The world is ending, can’t you see?
Heavy-hearted and full of doubt
How will I ever find my way out?

Often fear can become so overwhelming that it’s debilitating and paralyzes us.

I have fears of failure and change which often stop me from trying something new just because I’m convinced I’m going to fail.

Here is a good article I found that outlines some tips to overcoming fear by taking action.

Small action steps can help you move towards conquering your fear and gaining confidence. 

I know when I push myself through the fear and give it a try, I find it so empowering and I do gain confidence.

What fears hold you back from trying new things or doing something you want to do?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Send me a Letter

When was the last time you wrote or received a letter in the regular mail?

In this fast paced distracted electronic age, we all prefer to text, email or Facebook to stay in touch. Why not? It’s easy, fast and cheap.

Writing a letter on paper is more time consuming and you have to wait for the letter to go through the mail. Who has time to wait for that?

As much as I love instant communication as my Facebook friends know, I do love writing and receiving an actual letter. It’s such a treat and beats the heck out of junk mail and bills.

It’s a real pleasure to be able to hold the letter in your hand and read it again and again. Oh, I know you could probably do that with an Ipad or phone but it’s not the same. 

There’s something so tactile feeling that smooth paper and seeing that envelope addressed to you with a nice stamp, the letter handwritten or typed on pretty stationary or a special card.

When I was a kid, I had lots of penpals around the world. It was such a thrill to write to them about my life in Canada and wait to receive a letter back hearing about their lives.

Now we can instantly communicate with someone around the world which is great, too, but different. Gone is that anticipation of the waiting.

My friend, Cécile and I have started exchanging snail mail letters again as that’s how we originally got to know each other years ago after the death of my baby Laura due to forceps injuries in 1992.

In 1993, my son Rory was born and the birth went well that time. I was feeling stronger and more hopeful. This was the time the Internet was being introduced so email wasn’t that big yet. We all still had dial up and long email addresses full of weird numbers and letters. 

I was looking for a way to connect with other bereaved parents to share our feelings and offer them support. I wrote a letter to Today’s Parent, a Canadian parenting magazine, saying I was looking to share with other bereaved parents who had also lost children. Cécile was one of the many people who wrote to me telling me about the loss of her baby daughter. She offered me support for my loss and we’ve been good friends ever since, even though she lives in New Brunswick and I live in Ontario. Cecile is the only person I’m still in touch with after all these years. Our friendship has weathered the test of time and letter writing is certainly a part of the bond we share.

When I told her recently how much I enjoy exchanging letters again, she said that to her, letter writing was a way of slowing time down. What a great way of seeing it. I agree!

Often when I read back over old letters I’ve written or that I’ve received, I relive the time period again. Like a favourite song, it brings it all back again and I remember the feelings and experiences I was going through at the time.

I suppose I could go back and look at old emails and Facebook messages to relive the moment, but it isn’t quite the same thing.

A personalized handwritten letter is so special and receiving one in the mailbox is like getting a gift that gives again and again. 

I'll leave you with this famous song by the Marvelettes. I'm off to mail my letter to Cécile. Until next time!

I am participating in the Write Tribe Blogging Challenge. Thanks to such a supportive group, I have become a much more regular blogger.

I try to write a post every day. Most of the time I manage but there are days when the words don't flow or I write crap so I don't torture readers with those posts.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

This week I am grateful for....

Laurel Reagan has her weekly gratitude link where people can share their gratitude list.

I truly think this is a great practice to get into. Nothing cures pity parties and negative moods better than taking stock of everything you're grateful for.

Thanks, Laurel. I'm grateful for having you as a friend and fellow creative spirit to share with.

This week I am grateful for:

  • My bird feeders. Within seconds of putting up the feeders and filling them, my chickadee pals were back again and will be with me through the winter. It's a small little thing but I get such joy out of seeing birds on the feeder and even the annoying squirrel can be amusing to watch. I see he's discovered it, too and Kobie has discovered the squirrel so he finds it entertaining, too.
  • Getting over my dumb cold. Nothing like being sick to make you grateful when you start to feel well again.
  • Playing flute with my harpist friend Sharon in our group, Tartan and Tea, at the Morrisburg Legion on Friday night for a fundraiser for a Madagascar School. We also got treated to a delicious roast beef dinner and everyone was so helpful and kind to us.
  • The library. Laurel mentioned this on her list and it reminded me of how grateful I am to have our wonderful library and be connected up to all the other libraries in Ottawa. Since I don't have a lot of money, it's great to be able to go to the library and grab a bunch of books, CDs and DVDs. If I don't like some of them, I just bring em back. Libraries are the BEST!
  • Our new TV aerial. We got rid of our satellite TV since it was costing a lot and we barely ever watched it. Rory bought one of those "As seen on TV" aerials and it works just dandy. We only have a selection of channels like CBC, Radio Canada, TVO and a few others but I never watched many anyhow and there are way too many inane reality shows on these days. This works just great!
  • Our new band director, Dave. It was iffy if the band would have a director this year so I am grateful that we do now. It's fun to get back playing with the band again.
Have a great week, everyone and be grateful!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Happy International Smile Day and Other Peculiar Special Days

Today is World Smile Day, the first Friday of the month. 

Who knew? I sure didn't, but hey, any excuse to celebrate is fine with me.

My cat Kobie knew it was International Smile Day. Here is a photo of him smiling.

It’s also Virus Appreciation Day and Techies Day. 

Just who decides these days anyhow? I picture a bunch of zany people in a room drinking wine and eating goodies while they dream up ideas for each day of the year. 

I can’t wait for Mouldy Cheese day on October 9thThey must have been deep into the wine when they dreamed up that one. Hmm. *Looks in fridge* I’ve started celebrating early for that day already.

I’m not kidding, it’s right here, a calendar of special days. 

What a fun job thinking up special days! Where do I apply? Actually there is a page here explaining about how to create a day. 

Sounds like a lot of fuss though. On second thought, no thanks.

Techies Day isn’t a bad idea. We should appreciate all those nerds and techies who invent all these electronic toys for us to play with and help us when the toys act up which is usually quite a bit. Let’s hear it for Techies!

But Virus Appreciation Day? Seriously? Who appreciates a virus? I’ve got a cold right now and I don’t appreciate this virus one bit. I wish it would take a hike.

I think that Virus Appreciation Day is a dumb idea, especially in the wake of scary viruses like Ebola. Let’s just stick with World Smile Day, shall we?

Anyhow, back to my topic and I do have one, I really do, seriously! 

Smiles are great, aren’t they? They improve your looks better than makeup can and even make you feel happier. They cost nothing to give and yet can brighten someone’s day.

Even if you can’t speak to someone in their language, you can always smile. It’s the universal expression of happiness and good will toward another human being.

What could be better than World Smile Day? And it’s also Friday which should definitely give you something to smile about.

Well, there’s always International Skeptics Day to look forward to on October 13th. Hmmm *Rubs chin and frowns* I can hardly wait.

Do yourself a favour and give someone a smile today and you’ll both feel good about it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ode to Coffee

Oh, how I love my coffee, it’s such a treat
It makes me tingle from my head to my feet,
Flavoured coffee just makes my day
Hazelnut is a fave, what can I say?

Percolator, Keurig, French Press, or Drip?
Or how about a Starbucks trip?
Starbucks is my favourite spot
I like to go there quite a lot,

None of that Tim Horton’s Crap will do
I’m a Starbucks lover through and through,
A tall bold hazelnut will do the trick
I like to guzzle it down real quick,

The Baristas know me, it’s my favourite haunt
Before I even order, they know what I want,
I sit there and write my latest tale
Sipping my coffee and checking e-mail,

Won’t you join me at Starbucks for a cup or two?
I’ll be saving a table just for you!