Remembering is Different this Year

One WTC as I know it. So very different than it was 15 years ago today.

One WTC as I know it. So very different than it was 15 years ago today.

The morning of September 11th, 2001 I was 23 years old, sitting at my desk as usual at ANF, on the computer, working as I typically would be on a Tuesday morning.  In the background, coming though my phone on my desk, was FM96, where Pete, Jeff and Mindy were doing their morning show.  Shortly after 9am, there was a break in the program where Mindy came on and said that a plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.   Prior to this moment, I had heard of the World Trade Center, but didn’t really know much about it.  If someone had shown me a picture of the skyline of New York, I wouldn’t have been able to say that the twin towers were the World Trade Center, or really any details about them.  Shortly after, she came back on again to say that a second plane had struck the other tower.  Again, I couldn’t really put together in my mind what was going on, but of course knowing that two planes had struck two buildings, especially in a city as busy and populated as New York, this was certainly going to mean a massive loss of life.

Shortly after, my phone rang and it was Joe, calling me from another part of the building to tell me that there had been a further update, the Pentagon had been hit by another plane.  At this point, my stomach sank.  This is when the gravity of the situation began to set in and I realized that this was not just a horrible accident or a fluke, this was an act of terror, being carried out on US soil, not oceans away as they usually were, but not so far away from where I sat at my desk in Ailsa Craig.  I knew that this was big, that this would likely mean war, and that somehow, life would never be the same.

Everyone has their own story of where they were that day.  It’s the catastrophic moment of our generation.  The older generations have theirs, my Mom says that she will always remember where she was when she heard that JFK had been shot.  I’m sure that older generations still will always remember when they heard about the attack on Pearl Harbour.

For me, there will always be life before 9/11 and life after 9/11.  The weekend before the attacks, our good friends were getting married.  Joe and I were both in the wedding, and we had a wonderful time dancing and drinking, never imagining what would play out before our eyes a few days later.  I remember thinking that we will never get that back again.  Never have that “pre-9/11” feeling of freedom, the feeling of not knowing, that blissful ignorance that you have before a major event like this opens your eyes.  It has never been the same since.  It has affected the way we do so many things in life that before we just did without thinking – boarding a plane, making travel plans, packing a bag, visiting certain places.  My son who was born in 2008 will never experience that – this is the world that he was born into.  And he learns about 9/11 the same way I learned about WWI and WWII – as an event of the past that helped shape the society in which we now live.

The North Pool - sits in the exact footprint of where the North Tower stood.

The North Pool – sits in the exact footprint of where the North Tower stood.

In the weeks and months and years to follow, we have never forgotten the events of that day, and how many lives were lost, how many fallen heroes there were.  So many individual stories that we could never hope to hear them all.

This year, I will remember the events of 9/11 in a different way.  Last November, I travelled with my friend Jolene to New York City for the first time as my Birthday present from her, to attend the Book Riot convention.  It was my first time there, and we were there for three jam packed days.  I took in so much, and my list of what I want to do next time I go grew with each passing minute.  It is safe to say that I fell in love with this city in the short time that I was there.  Of all the places that I want to travel, I want to go back to New York so badly, I know I will make it happen again.  I want Joe to be able to experience the things that I did.  I want to be a part of the city again.

While we were there, we visited the 9/11 Memorial.  If you ever go to New York City, I would put it at the top of the list of things you must do while you are there.   Seeing those fountains, walking through that museum, moved me in a way that I can not fully describe.  I barely used my camera the whole time we were there, because it just didn’t feel right.  There is a section of the museum where you go through the day so to speak.  You see broadcasts of the day, there are timelines of what was happening on the ground and in the sky.  There are artifacts from the site of the WTC, they play voice messages from people on planes left for their loved ones on the ground.  There are things that were found in the rubble – shoes, glasses, notes scribbled on scraps of paper in the hopes of being rescued from the top floors of the building.  It brought everything home for me in a way that watching it on TV could never do.  It was different than visiting a WWII museum, this was something that I remember happening, I remember it unfolding.  As I left there, I remember feeling a numbness in my body, as I walked down the street and looked up and saw the new One World Trade Center, there was a quietness in my mind and I knew that I would never remember 9/11 the same way again.  It was a life changing moment.

Central Park was one of my favourite spots in the city.

Central Park was one of my favourite spots in the city.

The next day, while walking through Central Park and down 5th Avenue, it really started to resonate with me and I could see why terrorists that wanted to strike at the very heart of Western Civilization would choose New York as their target.  The city is alive.  It actually breathes.  It embodies the life and spirit and values that make our civilization what it is.  Yes, it is a financial hub, and it is heavily populated and everything else that goes with the goal of crippling a nation, but more than that – it is the symbol of the life, and the freedom we enjoy but don’t often think about.  You walk down the streets of New York and you see every type of person imaginable.  All races, creeds, lifestyles, etc.  and they all share one thing in common by being there:  in New York you are who you are, and you don’t have to be sorry for it.

So we commemorate the 15th anniversary of 9/11, and remember the lives that were lost in New York, at the Pentagon, and in the field in Pennsylvania, and remember the courage of so many that day and in the days and weeks following.  We move forward in the hopes of a brighter tomorrow, and say thank you to those that fight to protect our freedom.  Every year, on this day we take a moment to remember, to reflect, and to be grateful.

And as for you New York, we will meet again – that I promise you!

Flying home - I'll be back again someday!

Flying home – I’ll be back again someday!

The Scent of a Person

I miss her so much already.

I miss her so much already.

There’s no way around it, we all smell.  Our sense of smell is like nature’s built in time machine.  One whiff of a particular smell can take us right back to a specific time or place.  Or remind us of specific people.  The smell of a woodburning stove or campfire reminds me of my Pepere.  The smell of sawdust takes me right back to my childhood, hanging out with him in his woodworking shop while he tinkered away.

On May 30th at 4:49am, not quite a month ago, I was blessed to hold the hand of my Memere as she took her last breath and left this world to go to the next.

In my kitchen is a cabinet in the corner.  It was a present from Memere’s kids (my Mom and Aunt) on their 35th wedding anniversary.  When we moved into our house, she gave it to us.  It was the first piece of furniture to be moved in.  For the longest time, you could open the cabinet, or one of the drawers, and you could smell Memere.  At that time, it was a combination of good perfume and cigarette smoke.  It was a pleasant smell actually, and I used to smile when I went in to get my good dishes caught a whiff.

Memere quit smoking a few years ago.  At this point, I never really noticed it, but her scent changed.  It was there, when you walked into her apartment, when you hugged her or got close to her, when I sniffed something she had given me (a handbag, a scarf, etc.) but it wasn’t anything that I really paid attention to.

Now she’s gone.  And I miss her so much.  She was 90 years old, and I know that she lived a long, good life, but I still selfishly wish she was still here.  I’m not going to stomp my feet and say it’s not fair when there are children dying all over the world, and innocent people dying in acts of war or terror.  But it still sucks.  Sometimes I think that the longer a person is in this world, the more we miss them when they’re gone, because they have been a part of our lives for so long, that the void they leave is un-fillable.

After she passed, the scent that I unconsciously associated with her lingered in her apartment.  I don’t even know how to explain it.  She rarely wore perfume anymore, it’s not an “old-lady” scent, it’s just a pleasant scent that is her.  Sometimes on my lunch in the last few weeks when I knew there wasn’t going to be anyone there, I would go to her apartment on my own.  As soon as I walked in the door, the scent was there.  I would sit on the couch and cry for a while, but it was almost a soothing feeling.  Like she was around me.  Even though she wasn’t physically there in the apartment, being there with all her things, with the familiar smells, comforted me and calmed me down.

Today I walked into her apartment again.  Almost all of her things are gone.  All of the furniture has been moved out and there are just a few things left behind.  My mom has been in there cleaning, and when I walked through the door, the first smell to hit my nose was cleaning supplies.  Lysol, VIM.  Her scent is almost gone from the apartment completely.  This made me so sad.  Not that the apartment was empty, that her belongings have been handed out to those she loved, but that the scent of her, that had been so prominent in there before – was gone.  It was like it hit me (again) that she truly is gone and isn’t coming back.

I have some of her things.  A handbag, a couple of scarfs, a chair.  All of these things still smell like her, but after today I’m terrified that the scent will fade from these things too.  It already has slightly – it’s not as prominent as it was a few weeks ago.  I’m so scared that once the scent fades from these things, that it will be gone forever, and that I’ll never ever smell it again.  That the one thing that was unique to her will be gone and I’ll never get it back.  It’s not like it’s a scent that they bottle and sell, though I wish they did.

Losing someone you love hurts really badly.  The more you love someone, the more it hurts.  It’s the price you pay for love.  But it’s worth it.  Every single memory that I cherish tells me – it’s worth it.

When the Tough Times Teach You a Lesson

The silver lining is there. Can you see it?

I went to a funeral yesterday.  My sister in law lost her Dad.  He was in his 86th year, and the last year or so had been a rough one for their family.  They have gone through a lot.  Hopefully they are at peace now knowing that he is now at peace, and they can move on remembering the best of times with him and keeping him alive in their hearts.

I also received news last week that a man that I have known since I was a little girl whom I have respected and admired for the better part of my life, has died.  I knew him through work, and didn’t see him very often anymore, but he was a wonderful man, and upon hearing that he passed away, I was quite saddened.  He was a younger man, in his 60’s I believe, with a wife, children and grandchildren.  He was probably on the brink of what would have been one of the best times of his life.  He and his wife likely would have travelled quite a bit, and I imagine his retirement years would have been very full and very blessed, had he not been taken so early.

Neither of these passings effected me directly.  There are a lot of other people who are suffering due to these losses, and though they have impacted me somewhat, my prayers are with the people that are truly grieving their father, husband, grandfather, etc.

Everything in life holds a lesson though, and I like to try to take something away from every experience.  Therefore, when things like this happen, they get me thinking.  These are two different situations, yet the ultimate outcome is the same:  there are two families out there that are grieving a loss right now.

I don’t think about death very much, though I will admit that since I had my son I have definitely considered it a lot more.  I think it’s natural when you have children to think about dying – hoping you stick around as long as possible so you don’t miss anything, making plans in case tragedy strikes and your child needs to be provided for, etc.

But it is in times like this, where you encounter loss that strikes a little closer to home, that you really realize that what they say: “you can be here one moment and gone the next” is totally true.  Some day, we’re not going to be here anymore.  When I look at it this way, it makes every minute precious.  It makes wasting time a horrible thing.  It makes me want to grab on to the people I love and squeeze them tight, so that there will never be a question of how much I love them.

I try to find the good and the positive in every situation.  Maybe a month from now, when I’m stressing about something that I can’t change, that I shouldn’t be stressing over, I’ll look back on this time and remember that I shouldn’t sweat the small stuff.  Maybe 3 months from now when it’s summer and my kid is driving me crazy because it’s summer and he is bored, I’ll remember this and instead of pulling my hair out, I’ll take a deep breath and remember he’s a kid, and he’s bored, and he just wants my attention.  Maybe when my Dad cooks something in my kitchen and leaves the stove a mess because he boiled something over, I’ll remember that I’m just lucky that a) someone is cooking me a meal and I don’t have to do it, and b) someday he won’t be here to cook for me and I’ll remember this wishing he was messing up my stove again.

Life is full of tough times.  Some times are worse than others.  Some people seem to have it worse than others.  I think the important thing to remember is when tough times happen, the best way we can deal with them is to look for the positive things.  I believe every cloud has a silver lining, and there is a lesson to be learned from everything life sends our way.

Until next time.

There’s a Whole Other World Out There Kids – It’s Called YouTube

A recent conversation with a friend.

A recent conversation with a friend.

There is something about me that those who know me well will know, but I don’t think I’ve ever talked about it in this blog.  I am a total beauty junkie.  I have been obsessed since I was about 16.  I think this obsession was passed on to me from my Memere, who used to take me to drugstores and up to the Clinique counter while she chatted with the girls and tried to find the fountain of youth.  Since then, I have maintained a constant obsession with all things beauty.  Facial skin care, body skin care, makeup, fragrances, you name it.  I love it.  I can spend hours strolling through the aisles of a drugstore or the beauty section of a department store.  Sephora and Bath and Body Works are two of my happy places.

Just trying to give a bit of background here.

One thing I have never much cared about was my hair.  I grew my hair out in high school from the horrible mushroom cut that my mother subjected me to between grades 6 and 8.  Once my hair and bangs had grown out, it seemed like I put my hair in a ponytail and it stayed that way except for special occasions.  I never cared about my hair, other than the fact that it had to be clean.  I never took the 10-30 minutes that most teenage girls and women devote to styling their hair every morning.  I would wash, comb through, and throw into a ponytail. I had absolutely no idea how to properly style my hair.  I have had wonderful stylists and some amazing haircuts over the years, that looked amazing when I walked out of the salon.  Only once I got home, it would get washed the next day and go back up again.  Until about 2-3 months ago.

I don’t know if it was because I finally decided that I was 36 years old and couldn’t wear a ponytail forever, but I suddenly took an interest.  I spent some money and bought the proper tools.  I played with it.  I asked a friend for some advice.  I turned to YouTube…

Okay, it took her a while, but she finally got there…I think there’s a point coming.

I have always been the average YouTube user.  If I’m looking for a music video or an old TV show, or a particular stand up comic, I would Google it, and would end up on YouTube that way.  I never really subscribed to any channels or watched anything in particular.

So imagine my surprise when I searched for how to curl my hair with a straightener and literally hundreds of thousands of hair tutorials came up.  One caught my eye by a YouTuber with the handle missglamorazzi.  I clicked on her and my life changed forever.  I’m not even joking.  It was the start of a whole new obsession.

She has hundreds of videos.  The first thing that caught my eye was a “my shower and hair routine” video.  Seriously?  People make videos like this?  They show what products they use in the shower and for skincare and I get to watch??  Holy heck!  Wait, there’s another video here – a “what’s in my shower” video!

Let me tell ya’ll something else about myself.  This is something else that I think I got from my Memere:  I am totally one of those peek in your medicine cabinet kind of people.  I don’t actually do it, but I totally want to.  It’s not because I hope I’m going to find something private or nasty in there, I’m just genuinely interested in what you use to wash your face at night.  So these videos were totally up my alley.  She also had monthly favourites videos featuring the products and things that she had discovered or was loving that month.  Oh, and haul videos – she would go to Target, or Lush, or Sephora, and buy a bunch of stuff and then share it with her over 2 million viewers.  I honestly thought I had died and gone to Heaven.

So if there is one beauty guru on YouTube, there must be more, right?  Oh you bet there are!  I started looking in the suggestions bar and found others, and Ingrid (missglamorazzi) kept mentioning another YouTuber named Fleur.  Fleur is from the UK and is a beauty guru as well.  I started watching her videos and clicking on others from the UK like Tanya Burr and Zoe Sugg.  These girls are awesome!

So I also learned something else from watching the British girls – Tanya has a fiance named Jim Chapman.  He is a YouTuber as well, but obviously isn’t into beauty.  He just makes videos about random stuff.  He’s hilarious and a really sweet guy and he and Tanya have to be the sweetest couple on the internet.  Watching these videos made me realize that there are lots of people out there making videos about random things, and this is what they do.  This is how they make money.  Of course the exposure on YouTube has led to other things for many of these people, but it baffles my mind that someone can sit at home and make a video about things he doesn’t understand about girls and get over 400,000 hits on it.  One of those hits was me, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it!

Anyway, this YouTube obsession has shown me that there are several awesome people out there with unique perspectives on life spending their time making interesting content for everyone to see.  These people let you in to their lives, and in most cases I truly believe that what you see is what you get.  Some of it is superficial, but much of it has made me literally laugh out loud and I have seriously learned a lot from it – especially from the beauty girls.

Anyway, if you are interested in wasting an afternoon when you should be cleaning your house or balancing your chequebook, check out a few of these channels:

Beauty Focus:

Ingrid Nielsen – http://www.youtube.com/user/missglamorazzi/videos

Casey Holmes – http://www.youtube.com/user/itsbl0ndie/videos

Fleur DeForce – http://www.youtube.com/user/FleurDeForce/videos

Zoella – http://www.youtube.com/user/zoella280390/videos

Tanya Burr – http://www.youtube.com/user/pixi2woo/videos

Tati – http://www.youtube.com/user/GlamLifeGuru/videos

eleventhgorgeous – http://www.youtube.com/user/eleventhgorgeous/videos

Bethany Mota – http://www.youtube.com/user/Macbarbie07/videos

Louise (Sprinkle of Glitter) – http://www.youtube.com/user/Sprinkleofglitter/videos

Alli – http://www.youtube.com/user/MakeupByAlli/videos

Random Focuses – These people are awesome:

Jim Chapman – http://www.youtube.com/user/j1mmyb0bba/videos

Alfie Deyes (PointlessBlog) – http://www.youtube.com/user/PointlessBlog/videos

Marcus Butler – http://www.youtube.com/user/MarcusButlerTV/videos

Tyler Oakley – http://www.youtube.com/user/tyleroakley/videos

JennaMarbles – http://www.youtube.com/user/JennaMarbles/videos

ThatcherJoe – http://www.youtube.com/user/ThatcherJoe/videos

FunForLouis – http://www.youtube.com/user/FunForLouis/videos

Sawyer Hartman – http://www.youtube.com/user/sawyerhartman/videos

There are many more I know I’ve missed, and I’m sure so many I haven’t discovered yet.

You can thank me (or track me down and slap me) later. 🙂

10 Things I Want to Teach My Kid

School

Off to school to learn stuff. But there is so much that I want to teach him that you can’t learn in school.

We are only on this earth for so long.  We only have so many opportunities to learn from life, and we learn so much from our parents, and older relatives, and those that are supposed to be smarter than us.  It’s human nature.  We learn from and emulate those that set examples for us.  Those that we love, those that we trust, those that raise us.  Sometimes we learn about the type of person that we want to be, sometimes we watch them struggle with things and resolve never to have to deal with their issues ourselves.  Either way you look at it, either way it goes, it’s still learning something.

I have a 5 year old son.  I love him to pieces.  He is the most important thing in the world to me.  People come and go in your life.  But your children come from you and they will always be yours.  You will always bear some type of responsibility where they are concerned, and it is up to us as parents to do everything we can to give them a good start.  Good values, the ability to see what is right from what is wrong, and to be able to prioritize things in life so we don’t let trivial things get in the way of what is truly important.  We need to give them the tools to have good relationships, to treat people with respect and dignity, and to grow up to be aware individuals that will contribute in a meaningful way to society.

In order to do this, we need to teach them things.  By example and by just plain telling them and showing them how.  If I leave this world tomorrow if I get hit by a bus, or 50 years from now from natural causes (what I’m hoping for) or anything in between, there are things that I want to teach my kid before I go.  Lessons that I want him to learn from me, and from my example.

The top 10 things, in no particular order are:

1. Take risks.  Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.  If someone gives you an opportunity to do something, don’t stand back shaking your head because you’re scared.  Take the plunge and do things that are out of your comfort zone.  You’ll have a lot more regrets in life because of the things you didn’t do because you were scared than the things you did do.

2. Be responsible.  This ties in closely with taking risks.  Every little thing you do has an impact.  It impacts your life and the lives of those around you.  Always think about how your actions may reflect on others.  Think twice before you speak.  If it looks negative, think twice about it and tread very carefully.  Rely on your basic knowledge of right and wrong (which hopefully I will have taught you) when making decisions.  When you take the risks above, always be responsible and safe, never putting a whim ahead of your own safety or that of others.

3. Believe in something.  I’m raising you in the Catholic faith, as I was raised and your father  was as well.  I have you in Catholic school, take you to church, and pray with you every night.  This is my gift to you.  As you get older, your beliefs may change.  You may take different paths, begin believing in different things.  You may meet a girl (or boy – who knows?) that shows you a different way of life, a different type of faith, and that’s okay.  As long as you have something to believe in, somewhere to go, someone to pray to, a community to support you.  A good, solid belief system and set of values to live your life by, that teaches you to treat others as you want to be treated.

4. Look after yourself.  There may come a time in life where you may be alone.  You may move away from your family for a job or school, you may just live on your own sometime, doing your thing.  Know how to look after yourself.  Learn how to cook, how to do laundry (including how to properly fold a fitted sheet).  Learn how to properly clean a bathroom and remember to change your sheets once a week.  These are all important things that some people, men in particular (sorry guys, but it’s true!) never learn to do.  They wait for others to do it for them.  They eat out 4 days a week and survive on ramen noodles and Kraft Dinner the other days.  Learn to do things for yourself and you’ll never have to rely on others.

5. It’s okay to ask for and accept help.  This ties in with the above point.  While you should know how to look after yourself, it’s absolutely okay to ask for and accept help sometimes.  Sometimes you just can’t do it all alone.  Sometimes you just don’t want to do it all alone.  It’s okay to let someone you trust in to share the burdens life brings, both mental and physical.  There is no shame in it.  And chances are, those that love you will be more than happy to help if you only ask.

6. Never lose sight of who you are.  You will meet people in life that want you to change.  You know what?  Sometimes that’s okay.  Sometimes a change of behaviour is needed.  You’re not always right about everything.  There may be a better way of doing things.  But if someone asks you or tries to make you become someone you are not, or do something that goes directly against what you believe in, don’t be afraid to put on the brakes.  Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in and who you are and say – “I am who I am.  If you don’t love me for it, then love me in spite of it.  But don’t try to change the essence of me, because I’m worth being me.”  Healthy relationships are wonderful, but never let someone else define who you are.

7. Money isn’t everything.  We’ve all heard it before, and we’ve all rolled our eyes at it.  Sure, money doesn’t fix your problems but it sure helps to make life easier.  Which is true.  I’ve gone through financial difficulties, and I will admit – life is a lot easier to plan when you don’t have to worry so much about where your next dollar is coming from.  It’s important to plan for your future.  It’s important to be responsible enough to make sure your bills are paid and you’re saving for retirement.  But it’s also important to live life.  Treat yourself to indulgences every now and then if you can.  Have fun.  Do things.  Don’t wait until you’re 65 and filthy rich to start living life.  Live it every day and don’t have regrets.

8. Stay in school.  Education is everything.  It gives you opportunities, it opens doors.  Even when things get hard, find a way.  Finish.  If the opportunity is there, learn more.  Always keep your mind open to learning new things.  Read, read, read.  Read anything you can get your hands on.  Books, magazines, online or in print.  Worlds can be opened to you by reading, and it’s often free.  Always remain a student – in the classroom or in life.

9. Work hard and give your best in everything you do.  If you can look back and say “I did my absolute best” you will never regret not trying hard enough.  When you work hard, people see it and you go can places because of it.  Your work ethic and reputation will precede you wherever you go.  Work hard and live up to it.

10. Love DOES conquer all.  Love people.  Allow yourself to be loved.  A safe, healthy, loving relationship is one of life’s greatest gifts.  Don’t shut yourself off from those who love you, no matter how easy it may be to do so.  Sometimes love is hard.  Sometimes it’s about loving someone so much that you realize that you need to let them go in order for you both to be happy – because together it just doesn’t work.  Don’t be afraid or shy to show your love.  Love your friends, and tell them you love them.  If someday you are blessed with children, make sure they know every night when they rest their head on their pillow that they are the most precious thing in the world to you.  Give love freely, and accept it freely…….especially from your mother.  😉

Just 10.  There are so many more.  And so many more that he has taught me or reminded me of in his five years.  Maybe that will be what my next post is about.

It’s Hot People! Take your kids out of the car!

hot-sunIt boggles my mind how many reports I have seen of people leaving their kids (and animals for that matter) in their cars in this hot weather we’re having.

With all the media attention this has been getting, I am amazed that people would leave a child unattended in a car at all, for any length of time, let alone in this intense heat.  Children are dying.  Isn’t that enough to say:  “wake up sweetie, you’re coming in the store with me.”

I came across this video in my facebook feed.  I know it’s a simulation, but it brought me to tears.  It brought me to tears because this kind of thing is happening all the time!  Children are being injured, and dying all the time, and it is absolutely 100% preventable.

Please – take a few minutes and watch this video.  Please – understand that this could happen to you.  With all the abductions happening, it is unsafe to leave a child alone in any weather.  Please be responsible, please, please – do what you’re supposed to do.  You have had this child, or you are responsible for this child.  Do what you need to do to protect it.  Please.  And if you happen to be walking past a vehicle with an unattended child in it – get help.  Those few minutes could end up saving a life.