Falling

Even Grover is ready for fall!! :-)

Even Grover is ready for fall!! :-)

It’s fall now…my favorite season. :-) The sights, the smells, the crispness in the air, the excitement of things to come…I love it all. :-) While most folks associate spring with new beginnings, I’m more inclined to think of fall as a time for fresh starts: a new school year, a new wardrobe, new notebooks and pens (I’m such a nerd), and new changes. This year, I’m really embracing this idea – I’ve had the flooring changed on the stairs and in the playroom upstairs, the kitchen/living room/dining room are being painted, and the house smells like cinnamon, pumpkin and apple candles. I’m hoping to go and do some winery tasting tours in the nearby Hill Country in the next month or so, and I would love love LOVE to find an apple orchard to pick some apples and make fresh apple crisp. :-) (anybody in the area know where I can go?)  I’m so excited for the pumpkin patch to open, I want to go to a corn maze, and I’m hoping to check out Lost Maples State Park, to actually get to see changing leaves!! Imagine!!! :-) Bring on the fall!!! :-)

Last year's pumpkin patch picture...can't wait for this year!!

Last year’s pumpkin patch picture…can’t wait for this year!!

I’ve been really trying to cut back on the hours that I spend at work lately – this past week wasn’t my best (it was Homecoming weekend, so I had a ton of responsibilities – and a miserable cold which left me feeling like crap and sounding like Kathleen Turner), but I think I’m in a much better place than I was last year. I’ve been having more time to see friends, I’ve been getting out for some lovely meals, and I’ve been feeling happier and not so overwhelmed. I’m feeling so much more settled at work, as if I’ve finally caught up and am no longer required to run around like a headless chicken all the time. This coming week will be my one year anniversary at my new job, and I’m so excited to celebrate! :-) I’m so happy to have had this amazing opportunity in the first place, I’m super excited that I haven’t screwed up too terribly badly (although that probably depends on who you ask), and I’m so proud of the good things I’ve managed to accomplish. I am so lucky that I get to work with some truly fantastic people every day, and this job has introduced me to some majorly amazing people that are changing my life. :-) I’m so very, very lucky. :-)

Pretty :-)

Pretty :-)

Whats your favorite season? What are you most looking forward to this fall? :-) I hope you can find time to do the things you want to do…and let me know if you want to join in on my pumpkin patch/winery tour fun! :-)

xxx

 

Handful

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Mindy Kaling is my spirit animal. I straight up LOVE her, and think that she – and her amazing work – are everything. Love her. I watch “The Mindy Project” religiously, and am SO excited for the new season. I love the completely adorkable personality of her character Dr Mindy Lahiri, and I’m well aware that should I wake up in a sitcom tomorrow I would probably end up being pretty much like her: well-intentioned, at
times clueless, in possession of the cutest and quirkiest wardrobe ever, somewhat scattered but very awesome. :-)

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Mindy was on Howard Stern’s show this week talking about the season premiere (it was on Tuesday on Fox – I can’t wait to watch it this weekend!). I’ve not heard the entire interview, but I did catch bits and pieces, and I will listen for the rerun this weekend. What I did hear was brilliant, though, especially when Howard was asking her about her love life, and expressing surprise that she’s still single. She answered with quite possibly the very best answer EVER: “I’m a handful….I don’t think I’m for everybody.” Profound, eh? I have said this exact same thing about myself in the past – I’m a handful, and I’m certainly not for everybody….and there’s nothing wrong with that. Mindy went on to explain that her career success has required her to be really forthcoming with people, asking for what she want, and being very independent of spirit – while great traits for career success, not always the best for relationships. Holy shit do I get this!!! I am always telling people what I want at work, expressing my opinions, and stuff like that….but I know that’s hellaciously annoying to a poor unsuspecting man. It’s hard to find that balance, eh?

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I love this for about 15,621 reasons, but for this one most of all: she is who she is and she makes zero apologies for that. None. Zip. I love it. Of course, this type of unapologetic confidence is probably somewhat beyond me (I’m Canadian, I apologize for EVERYTHING, whether it’s my fault or not), but I love the idea of being who you are and owning that. Becoming more comfortable in my skin has been my favorite part of getting older – I make my own decisions these days based on what I want, not on what some potential theoretical man that I may have in my life at some point in the future might think, which I did for WAY too many years. For example, I used to stick exclusively to blue and green for bedroom colors and sheets, figuring what dude will be down with pink??? However, thankfully I’ve come to my senses and decided to do what I want: see Exhibit A –

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That’s right – bright pink wall, ridiculous pink sheets (that are insanely comfortable)…and a disco ball on the ceiling. My bedroom? A den of fabulousness. I work such long hours, I don’t get to be home a lot, and I have really embraced the idea that my home needs to be my sanctuary, my happy place. I think I deserve that, don’t you? :-) I’m working really hard these days on making some changes to my home, and making it reflect who I am now, and the environment that I want to spend my time in. :-) I know….I’m a handful. ;-) But I think Mindy would approve. :-)

xxx

 

PS: Mindy wrote this in her first book – it’s awesome, and SO true:

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Spanish Walk

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I love going to Tapas bars – and not just for the excellent sangria. I love Spanish food, I love sharing things around the table and trying bits of everything…and I always feel like meals eaten this way facilitate good conversation and fun times. I clearly put too much thought into this kind of stuff, but…oh well. Whatevs. Anyway, I visited San Antonio tapas restaurant and bar Espana recently – and had a gorgeous meal! I’ve been here a ton of times, but it’s been over a year since my last visit…and I can’t think of a single reason why I’ve stayed away so long. It was delightful!! Here’s a couple of pictures of the place:
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My obsession with light fixtures continues...I'm SO the daughter of an electrician!!

My obsession with light fixtures continues…I’m SO the daughter of an electrician!!

Let’s talk about the food! :-) (it’s really no wonder that my caboose isn’t narrow…I love food, I love going out to eat great meals, and I have such an appreciation for taste and flavor. Oh well….I’d rather be happy than skinny ;-) ) I ordered my first sangria as soon as my arse hit my seat – and I didn’t look back. First up was a cheese and spinach dip served with chips – the cheese used in this masterpiece was manchego….meaning I was a happy girl. :-) Manchego is YUM. :-) I had a piece of an Espanola pizza made with manchego again (happy happy) and some gorgeous Serrano ham, chorizo, and fresh tomato. It was lovely, but not the highlight of the meal. Here’s the manchego and spinach dip:
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Next up was a hot sampler, which included paella, tortilla espanola, albondigas (which are meatballs smothered in a garlic white wine sauce with fried potatoes – these things were the absolute bomb, no lie….AMAZING!), croquetas (crisp fried shells with a creamy center of cheese and Serrano ham), and pollo al jerez (beautifully cooked strips of chicken breast and green olives sautéed with sherry). I liked a lot of stuff on this platter, but the real deal was the final item – the meat and cheese platter. It was a beautiful mix of manchego cheese, Serrano ham, chorizo, and a third meat (which reminded me of Italian soppressata), with grapes and apple slices on the side. I LOVED this! :)

 

The hot tapas sampler :)

The hot tapas sampler :)

 

Mmm....cheese...meat.... :)

Mmm….cheese…meat…. :)

 

All in all, yet again another lovely meal (I eat like a queen some days, I know….sorry) – the atmosphere, the food, the people, the sangria. It just couldn’t be beat! Hope to see you soon at Espana! :)

 

xxx

Big Time

How do you define success? Is it the amount of moolah in your savings account? How about the value of your stock portfolio? The German car that’s parked in your garage? How about the casa to which that garage is attached? All of those things are nice (some of them are REALLY nice), but does having them equal success? What does success mean to you?

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There’s a lot of work to be done when it comes to feeling personally successful. Since the very definition of success is different for each of us, this battle is so intensely personal. For example, the family structure that the Wee One and I have is by no means conventional, but it works for us. Some people may look at the fact that she moves between our home, her father’s house, and my parents on a regular basis as problematic, however it has provided her with a really good foundation. She is a lovely, well-mannered, sweet little thing…and she seems to be very happy. Her smiles and kindness towards those around her are great indications of my success to me – she’s turning out pretty well so far. Let’s cross the fingers that we emerge from the teenaged years relatively unscathed!! ;-)

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Other folks define their success solely by their careers…which I think is narrow, but to each their own. I get asked from time to time what my ambitions are. Generally, I think people are trying to ascertain my desired career trajectory (which is cool that they care)….although I don’t really have a good answer for them. I have all sorts of ideas of jobs that I think would be groovy, but I love my current school so much that I never want to leave. Instead, I tell them that I want to spend my life being the kind of person that people will have good things to say about. Being kind and treating people well matters more to me than just about anything. The thought of me being an asshole is just not something that I can accept. Now, don’t think that I’m some sweet Pollyanna who is a doormat and a wallflower rolled into one ball of insipid fun. I can – and do! – definitely stand up for myself, but I try to do it as politely as possible. I believe that regardless of what I achieve in this lifetime, the most important things are being a good person, and raising an even better one. Everything else is just gravy. :-)

Some people care a whole whole lot about owning stuff….it’s kind of that old strange mentality of he with the most toys wins. Do you agree? While I think it would be super- nice to own all the finest things that I could ever possibly want, I know that thinking is highly impractical. Nice things are nice to have, don’t get me wrong….but they don’t matter nearly as much as people. I think that remembering the things that are important in life –  your family, your friends, your Boo, your spirituality, your home life – are the things that make you successful. :-)

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I don’t define success by having a busy and productive life, either…if I did, then I would be San Antonio’s version of Bill Gates or some other Titan of industry. I’m aware that I’m a bit more of a go getter than the average bear…but I don’t think I’m too terribly unusual. Are you a super-busy person? Do you like being that way? Or, do you prefer having very little going on in your life?  I am a super-busy bee, which is pretty much how I roll, but locating like-minded people can be TOUGH, friends! Do you know how bloody many people are kinda lazy? Content to just sit there, see how it goes, let life happen to them? Way too many, friends….trust me, I seem to find all of them. What ever happened to ambition? Motivation? Getting shit done so that you can make your dreams come true? I just don’t get it. Life will go on, friends, whether you want it to or not. Rather than being a passive passenger, wouldn’t you prefer instead to be an active actinger? ( so not a word, but it bloody well should be) I find this to be such a huge issue, and I’m not sure why. I am not in charge of somebody else’s destiny, any more than they are responsible for mine. I need to do me – and let them do them. It just bugs me. Apparently I need a hobby. Perhaps I should take up knitting? ;-)

I think that when it comes to contemplating success, it may be time to reshape our thinking. There’s been articles recently on the optimum salary for happiness…have you heard about this? It’s not $500,000 or even $250,000 (nice though that would be!)- it’s $75,000. A nice chunk of change, yes? But not as high as I’d have thought. You? Researchers have found that anything above that amount provides negligible happiness, and often more headaches. You can read that study here…I’m fascinated by it. :-). 

All of these things can lead to success, depending on how you look at it. I think they real key is determining what matters to you, figuring out the things that you need to feel happy and successful, and then planning and working like a mo’fo to make sure you achieve them. Good luck – I know you can do it! :-)

Xxx

Working Man’s Cafe

I saw the movie “The Hundred-Foot Journey” recently, and pretty much loved it to pieces. Have you seen it? It’s probably not for everybody, but if you, like me, love France, French culture, food,  Bollywood, and korma sauce – then you’re going to totally dig this movie! :-)

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The reviews for this one have been largely mixed, with most everyone criticizing the simplistic nature of the story, and hammering the director for taking the easy route with the tale. While I agree that it wasn’t the most thought-provoking movie I’ve ever seen, it was visually stunning and completely sweet and pleasant….and, considering the amount of things that I have going on these days, sometimes sweet and pleasant is precisely what the doctor ordered. The movie is about an Indian family that moves to Europe for a fresh start following a fire that destroys their beloved family restaurant, and kills the family’s matriarch. They end up in a beautiful French village, and decide to open an Indian restaurant across the street from a Michelin star, Classic French restaurant run by Helen Mirren. Much hilarity ensues as Mirren tries her hand at sabotaging the competition, the father of the Indian family fires back with his own bag of tricks…plus, there’s lots of really yummy looking food. I found the movie to be visually stunning, and thought that the performances were all solid as well.  Helen Mirren is always wonderful, and the rest of the cast rose to the occasion as well. The village they shot in reminds me so much of some of my favorite places in France, and I was left feeling wistful for the dog days of summers past spent sitting in a cafe on the town square, drinking wine and coffee, watching the world pass me by. Did I mention the food? ;-)

 

I fancy the hell out of a chicken korma, naan bread, and mango chutney right now!! :-)

xxx

On An Island

I bought this dress in April:

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Pretty, eh? It’s from Peter Som’s DesigNation collaboration with Kohl’s – I actually bought a few frocks when that collection was released, but this was by far my favorite. Sadly, I don’t look like the beautiful model in that picture up there, but….there’s something kind of magical about that dress. Whenever I put it on (I wear mine with a belt cinching the waist), I seem to somehow feel better about myself – which, in turn, leads to an absolute ton of compliments. I don’t know that the dress is particularly flattering on me (I have eyes, I know what I’m working with), but apparently I feel like a sexed-up glamour puss when I put this on, because I work it like nobody’s business and I hear so much positive feedback on how great I look. I’m not talking just catcalls from horn dogs, but real compliments from people…it’s interesting. I guess it just goes to show that when you feel good, you look good. When I put this dress on, it’s insanely comfortable (like jammies comfortable), yet it does a fab job of showcasing my boobs, emphasizes the waist, and flows nicely due to the super-high slit in the front. I find that when I wear it, I imagine that I’m back on a Greek island, making my way through the winding streets of Crete or Mykonos again, smelling the salty air and taking in the blazing sun. When I’m wearing this dress, the slightest breeze will pick up the edges and blow it around delicately, yet somehow I don’t seem to suffer as many wind-dress-ass situations as I usually do. It’s magic, I’m telling you!! :-)

The really important takeaway from my strange little story about my dress is the importance of doing what makes you feel good…and how that feeling good will transfer  into other areas of your life. When I feel good about myself, I think I look better, and I approach the world with an open heart and mind. I’m kinder, more patient, and more accepting of those around me. I feel like I’m more fun to be around when I’m feeling good about myself, and I feel decidedly more confident and capable in my job. There’s really no limit to what we can accomplish when we are feeling good about ourselves, so….why is it so bloody hard to sustain? Why do I (and a zillion other people) spend so damn much time beating ourselves up and being such haters about ourselves when we should be our own biggest cheerleaders? It’s baffling to me, yet I’m one of the biggest offenders of this particular sin around. The other day, I was speaking with someone and in typical me fashion, I was insulting myself. I’ve done this my whole life, thinking it makes me cute and quirky and in possession of the most charming self-deprecating sense of humor. It does not. What it does is make me sound like a real arsehole who is fishing for compliments like it was my bloody job!! Pathetic!! Grr!! I must have been in rare form that day because as I was pulling in the driveway at home, I received this text message: You know what? You need to stop having your opinion of yourself and start using mine: awesome.  Nice, eh? I know…I am really lucky to know so many good people. :-) But it’s true…I do need to learn to change my attitude, to be more positive about me and the space I take up in this world. I need to be my own biggest fan.

 

And I need to wear that dress more often. :-)

 

xxx

Shiny Happy People

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I’m all about happiness – I’ve generally been described as being a very happy person, and I value optimism, positivity, and happy in people so much. I have a hard time with people with a raging case of grumpass for no reason whatsoever…I just don’t get the point. Isn’t it so much easier, more fun, and just so much more AMAZING to greet the world with a smile on your face and in your heart? I think so. :-)

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I read the coolest thing online the other day – the Pope released a list of 10 tips for becoming a happier person…how friggin AWESOME is that? So. Great. Here’s the list:
1. Live and let live
2. Be giving of yourself to others
3. Proceed calmly in life
4. A healthy sense of leisure
5. Sundays should be holidays
6. Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people
7. Respect and take care of nature
8. Stop being negative
9. Don’t proselytize; respect others’ beliefs.
10. Work for peace

Great stuff, eh? I am so on board with this list it’s not even funny. Wouldn’t the whole world be better if we just lived and let live? If we kept our big noses out of each other’s business and really adopted the philosophy of ‘you do you, I’ll do me’? I think so. I don’t particularly enjoy when people try to get into my goings on, and I frankly lack the time or interest to interfere in the dealings of other people so…we all just need to mind ourselves, and we will be so much better off. As well, it does the soul a lot of good to remember the adage ‘what other people think of me is none of my business’. Wise words, those.

Another one that speaks (hollers) to me is #8 – stop being negative. I love this, and you should, too. There is entirely too much negativity in this world, and way too many bad attitudes. Turn on the news these days and you will be inundated with negativity, people doing crappy things to each other, and just general depression. There is far too little optimism around us, and I truly pity the children of our world today…what kind of bleak future is waiting for them? It makes me sad. My little peanut at home is such a sweet pea, and it hurts my bloody heart to think of how the world will try to kick her around. Hate that. :-( If only we could find a way to somehow flip a switch and make the world more optimistic….it’d be great, yes?

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To me, being happy doesn’t seem to be rocket science, and ought to be something that most of us can achieve with relative ease. However, I came across a great article entitled “10 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Incredibly Happy”….perhaps it kind of is rocket science??? ;-) Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Here are 10 science-based ways to be happier from Belle Beth Cooper, Content Crafter at Buffer, the social media management tool that lets you schedule, automate, and analyze social media updates. http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/10-scientifically-proven-ways-to-be-incredibly-happy-wed.html

1. Exercise: 7 Minutes Could Be Enough

2. Sleep More: You’ll Be Less Sensitive to Negative Emotions

3. Spend More Time With Friends/Family: Money Can’t Buy You Happiness

4. Get Outside More: Happiness is Maximized at 57°

5. Help Others: 100 Hours a Year is the Magic Number

6. Practice Smiling: Reduce Pain, Improve Mood, Think Better

Smiling can make us feel better, but it’s more effective when we back it up with positive thoughts, according to this study:

7. Plan a Trip: It Helps Even if You Don’t Actually Take One

8. Meditate: Rewire Your Brain for Happiness

9. Move Closer to Work: A Short Commute is Worth More Than a Big House

10. Practice Gratitude: Increase Happiness and Satisfaction

Quick Final Fact: Getting Older Will Actually Make You Happier

Don’t you just loooove this? Me too!!! I am particularly loving #2, 3, 5, 6, 7, and 10. I’ve had major insomnia issues for years, and I know that not sleeping makes me feel tired, grumpy, and mildly homicidal. Sleep = Awesome. :-) #3 is my favorite, because nothing compares to time with my Muppet. Nothing. I value every moment we have together, and there just aren’t anywhere near enough of them. Being with her centers me, and reminds me of what really matters in my life – her and our life together. I got in to Education because of #5…helping others makes me happy. I think that part of this comes from my small town upbringing where things didn’t happen without volunteers – I wish I had more time to help others. If I could, I’d go to hospitals and hug and cuddle new babies every day. Wouldn’t that be just the very best? :-)

I smile a lot – last year, a member of my staff referred to me as creepily cheerful. I only smile when I mean it, and I’ve never been fake – but smiling does indeed make me happier. :-) I do a lot of #7 – I plan pretend trips all the time (I could find out that I was leaving for Bali this evening and be totes ready to go as I’ve planned that trip so many, many times. Hopefully one of these days! ) I feel so happy when I do this…it’s fun to dream and imagine, yes? :-)

Finally, practicing gratitude….I have always believed in the importance of embracing an attitude of gratitude. Think of how lucky we are to be alive today, with all of the conveniences and amazing opportunities around us. Yes, we have challenges now that previous generations have never had to go through…but we also have so many more opportunities than any other time in history. It’s a bloody great time to be alive, don’t you think? We need to act like it. I know that there are at least a million things that go on every day that we could complain about, but….what’s the point? Isn’t it easier to focus on the positives, accentuate all that goes well around us…and let go of the crap. It’s as simple as that – Just. Let. Go. Of. The. Crap.

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Soooo…..how happy do you generally feel? What makes you happy? I can’t wait to hear from you!! :-)

Xxx

 

 

Monterey

I recently visited downtown San Antonio restaurant The Monterey for the first  time…and I cannot wait to go back!!! What a FABULOUS experience!! Have you been? If not, and you are local, RUN there now….you will thank me!! :-)

Yaaa!!!! The Monterey!!!

 

First, let’s talk about the ambiance….it’s such a cool place. There is outdoor seating, which is really quite pretty, but there was no chance in hell that I was going to sit out there, as south Texas is currently hotter than the surface of the sun. Instead, I got a wee table in the corner, with a view of the place. It’s not terribly large, but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in quirk and charm. There are tons of cool pictures on the walls, and the symphony of color is welcoming and exciting, all at the same time. I felt like I was home, and I can guarantee that if I lived closer, that place would be my Regal Beagle, and I would be Jack Tripper! :-)

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Now…on to the reason for the season – the food!! I started with an appetizer of house-made pickles….random, I know, but the palette wants what the palette wants.  Believe me, your palette is going to so want to try this!! I received a plate with a trio of pickled goodness – kimchi, curried pickled pineapple, and pickled watermelon rind with black peppercorns and anise. I’m aware that these probably don’t sound over-the-top appetizing, but they absolutely are! I’ve never had kimchi before, and the flavor was surprisingly pleasant, if a bit salty. The pickled watermelon rinds were fabulous – who knew? (Apparently the peeps at The Monterey) The real winner was the curried pickled pineapple….sweet and spicy simultaneously – bloody mouth magic is what that was!! Awesome!!!! :-)

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Here’s a couple of items from the entrée menu – the first is a brisket burger with umami cheese. I’m not entirely sure what umami cheese is, but I totally intend to Google it – I’ll get back to you. The burger was really, really juicy and flavorful – and the fries were simple, and outstanding. I will have to return here with the Wee One – she’s a lover of good fries. :-) Another entrée I tasted was the seared beef shoulder with shallot chimichurri, and a salad on the side. The meat melted in your mouth (for real), and was perfectly, simply seasoned. The vinaigrette dressing on the lovely salad (major eye appeal on that bad boy – it looked beautiful) was outstanding, and I remain hopeful that someday that dressing shall run out of my taps when I turn on the faucet. So. Good. However, the real star of this dish was the shallot chimichurri. No lie, when I  die I want to be buried in a tub of that stuff, so I can spend eternity just chowing down. It was THAT good. Yum. :-) Here’s more pictures:

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Overall, The Monterey is a super-lovely place to meet friends for drinks (their bar menu is out of this world, and remember I’m Canadian, so I know my way around a bar menu! ;-) ), a really great spot for a romantic dinner, and just an all-around great place to eat some damn amazing food!!! :-) I can’t wait to go back….let me know if you want to join me!! :-)

Xxx

Thinking Out Loud

This is how people should feel about each other when they are in love:

Click video to hear this song performed live

When your legs don’t work like they used to before
And I can’t sweep you off of your feet
Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love?
Will your eyes still smile from your cheeks?

And, darling, I will be loving you ’til we’re 70
And, baby, my heart could still fall as hard at 23
And I’m thinking ’bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe just the touch of a hand
Well, me—I fall in love with you every single day
And I just wanna tell you I am

So honey now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
I’m thinking out loud
That maybe we found love right where we are

When my hair’s all but gone and my memory fades
And the crowds don’t remember my name
When my hands don’t play the strings the same way
I know you will still love me the same

‘Cause honey your soul could never grow old, it’s evergreen
And, baby, your smile’s forever in my mind and memory
I’m thinking ’bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe it’s all part of a plan
Well, I’ll just keep on making the same mistakes
Hoping that you’ll understand

But, baby, now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
Thinking out loud
That maybe we found love right where we are

So, baby, now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Oh, darling, place your head on my beating heart
I’m thinking out loud
That maybe we found love right where we are
Oh, baby, we found love right where we are
And we found love right where we are 

 

 

Don’t you just love this song? Me, too…”kiss me under the light of a thousand stars / place your head on my beating heart”? Come on…that’s magic, that is. Love. :-)

I hope you’re finding love right where you are. :-)

 

xxx

Remember Me – Reposted From September 11, 2013

This post originally appeared a year ago…but I thought it fitting to share again today.

 

Never forget.

xxx

 

Every year on the anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, I think about where I was when this event happened. I had moved to England during the summer of 2001, and I was about a week into my new job at the loveliest Middle School in all the land. I was so happy to be there, and I was really loving my adventure – and then the world changed. It was strange to experience a life-altering event in a different part of the world, so far from home and my family…so many people in the UK would hear me speak, assume I was American, and offer condolences or say something nice to me. However, I also experienced a lot of hatred from people, telling me that those on ‘my side of the pond got what we deserved’…such ugly words. It was such a time of turmoil, with people either banding together in a show of tremendous unity, or drawing even further apart. The evening of the 11th, I sat with my roommates  (two guys from England and a girl from Germany – I didn’t know any of them prior to all of us sharing a house together) on the couch in the living room, watching the atrocities unfold before our eyes…horrified by what we saw. One of my roommates – Nick – was a paramedic, and his heart was breaking for his colleagues in New York….the pain was visible on his face. My other roommate, Matt, worked in London’s Financial district, and his company had sent him home early that day as a safety precaution…he would have the rest of the week off work. We ordered pizza from one of the remaining neighborhood places that was open (most everything shut down around us), and the three of us sat on the couch, for hours, under blankets, eating pizza, and watching in silence. The guys took turns holding my hand, but we hardly spoke…because there seemed to be no need for words. It was a night I – and pretty much the rest of the world – will never forget. I lost touch with Nick and Matt after I moved out of that house, but I’ve never forgotten them and the kindness that they showed me that night. I was 27 years old, by myself in a foreign country, without any family nearby…thousands of miles from home – the world seemed to be under attack, and I felt frightened. The calm, quiet kindness of these two virtual strangers helped make me feel safe, and restored some order to my life. Isn’t the kindness of strangers a beautiful thing? :)

I wrote about the town of Gander, Newfoundland last fall, but I felt that today was a good day to repost this story – here you go:

I, of course, love the Canadian angle to the movie – it makes me proud to know that in a time of crisis, Canadians can be counted on to help…that’s kind of what we’re known for. Canadians have long been part of peacekeeping missions around the world, but they don’t tend to make the global news – which is probably the way they like it. That’s one thing I love so much about the homeland – Canadians do all sorts of amazing things for people around the world, but they’re pretty low-key about it, not tooting their own horns or requiring much fanfare. Canadians show up in droves whenever there is a crisis (Haiti, Hurricane Katrina – you name it, they are there), and the prevailing attitude seems to be that of course they would show up to help – that is what you do. I love that. :) One of my very favorite stories of Canadians doing awesome things is the tale of the town of Gander, Newfoundland, and how they welcomed 6595 refugees who were stranded during 9/11 and couldn’t return to the US until air space issues calmed down. As 38 planes rerouted and landed in Gander, the town sprung in to action: schools and halls became emergency shelters, residents invited people to their homes for showers, warm beds and meals, people offered the use of their vehicles, pharmacists filled prescriptions from all over the world at no cost, businesses emptied their shelves of food/clothing/toys/necessities, banks of phones were set up to allow people to call home for free…this little town of 10,000 reacted in such a way that I doubt the refugees will ever forget their kindness. (if you can believe it, so much food was donated by the gorgeous Newfie people that it risked going to waste…doesn’t that just fill your heart with a bucket load of happy??!) The coolest part is that when the people of Gander received a bunch of media attention about what they did, most of them got rather embarrassed, as if the fuss was totally unnecessary – one resident was quoted as saying, “I feel like, why all this attention? We only did what anybody would do to help these people.” That is the very best part of all. :) There has been a book written about this amazing and awesome event – “The Day The World Came To Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland“…I haven’t read it yet, but I definitely intend to. :) One reviewer described this book as a story about humanity’s finest hour…what a beautiful phrase. :)

:)

 

We must never forget. Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. – Edmund Burke

xxx