Healing through fitness

I decided to sign up for an intro to Pilates course. Holy hamstrings it's tricky. I'm no stranger to quad burners and lunges, but try lowering your leg half an inch off the floor while your spine stays aligned and you do a combination of kegels and deep breathing. It's ridiculously hard.

It's also amazing. It combines the muscle grinding of my cardio and weights classes, with the mental relief of yoga.

To be clear, a gym bunny I'm not. I'd way rather be having afternoon tea or reading a good book on my sofa. But I find that exercising is the best thing I can do when my mood is low. I'm surprised the gyms are not busting at the seams right now to help us with our collective misery. They ought to be offering a discount.

When I started this habit, I went to bed wearing my gym clothes. That way, I had no choice but to go as soon as I dropped the kids at school or risk looking like a sloth all day. Now, it's more ingrained. I've inadvertently ended up at the gym when intending to run another errand since it's all on autopilot now.

When I read the quote above by Danielle LaPorte, I think about the mind over circumstances required to exercise when in a funk. I get it. I get it. I get it. But I maintain it's also the best thing you can do. It's an excellent first step. Just put on a t-shirt, leggings, and shoes. Join a class. Stand at the back. Do what you can.

And, when you have the energy, chat to the others at the back. A lot of them are there for the very same reasons. I've found more spiritual soul sisters at the gym and yoga studio than in any formal place of worship I've tried.

I'm also looking for new types of exercise: barre, yogilates, jumping up and down. Do you find exercise a help or a hindrance? What do you find works for you?

Comfort for Monday

Today, I felt like doing this.


But a friend of mine from high school always reminds me how Mr. Rogers urges us, in times of trouble, to look for the helpers. There are lots of helpers. The ACLU has raised $24 million so far (they normally raise $3.5 million per year) and so many people are doing what they can to help. Focusing on the helpers - and being one of the helpers - is one way to not let this get to you. Ann Douglas also offers an excellent guide on how to preserve your sanity when the news is so very crazy. It's well worth your time to read it.

I find that it's important to get out and do normal things. Perhaps it's wishful makeuping but I find it helps to make an effort when I feel like crawling back into bed. I went to my step class and, after a hot shower and hot rollering my hair, put on my coziest sweater. It's bliss with sleeves.

I've also been applying calming essential oils from NuWorld Botanicals that I received in a swag bag at Kit and Ace's S/S17 fashion show. It's very calming.

I then sat on the phone with Apple for 4 hours. One might think that this would make one lose faith in humanity, but they were awesome. This all started on the weekend when we were at Apple getting my daughter's phone fixed. I mentioned to the genius bar person that my iPhone never sends my photos to my Mac because I seem to have 2 iCloud accounts and they told me they would fix it.

Engineering is on the case now. And I have the email and phone of a real life senior person who has committed to getting this fixed, which is something that's been on my To Do list for years. That's pretty great customer service.

On the weekend, I made the decision that while I love second hand case goods, my allergies do not allow second hand soft furnishings since they can contain unknown cat hair and dust. After almost a year of being allergic to my gorgeous second-hand Barrymore sofa, in spite of professional cleaning, I decided to order something new. We went to Cornerstone Interiors in Cambridge and found what we needed. I ordered a sofa from Decor-Rest in a grey textured velvet and a Rowe chair in this gorgeous fabric:

We also decided on a new extendible kitchen table since we vary from 2 at dinner to 9, depending on who is home and I do not want to look like the Duggars unless we are feeding a crowd.

Right now, I'm Desire Mapping the heck out of January.

I love how Danielle Laporte focuses on soul goals rather than to do lists. It's a great way to plan one's year. I need to build in some new volunteer activities. Ms Serena is slowing down and I miss working with her clients as regularly as I had been. I've also abandoned the novel for the time being as I need a writing project that brings me out into the world instead of drawing me into my head. It's key for me right now. Laporte is a big fan of adjusting your To Do list from time to time. I've started to work on another project that I think will take me in a better direction.

I hope you are engaging in radical self care and are surrounded by helping types. Keep your chin up, peacocks.

No Words

I find that there are simply no words for what is going on in the world right now. As a Canadian, I feel very helpless. It seems that there is nothing to do but watch or, in my case, not watch since I have to be very careful not to let this topple me entirely. I'm fighting pretty hard to see the world as a kind and benevolent place: some weeks are tougher than others.

One small action is to make a donation to ACLU - who are fighting the good fight - and Habitat for Humanity - who provide shelter from the storm for everyone who needs it.

Here are the links:

ACLU (US and Canada)

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity Canada

Keep safe and protect your hearts.

Shop It Saturday: Thinking About SS17

Happy Lunar New Year! I love a new year whenever I can get it. I spent a bit of today doing some Desire Mapping.

Yesterday, I attended a little fashion show at Kit and Ace in Oakville to showcase some of their spring and summer line. I love their lightweight scarves and sweaters. Very pretty. They also had a sweet silk tank and cami that was channeling Chanel big time. I wonder if I could get away with it as outwear in July...

The whole thing got me in a spring and summer mood.

I'm obsessed with the Alexis lace dresses they have at Holt Renfrew. They are mighty spendy, though.

Anthropologie has some cute lace pieces that give a similar look for less. I have yet to spend my Anthropologie gift card that I received for buying the first candle of Black Friday (yes, that's a thing.) I might have to pop into our local store and see if these look as good on the rack as they do online.

Happy Saturday!

To hug or not to hug, and designing our ocean retreat

Well the Ladies of London were discussing hugging. Are you a hugger? The Brits seems to feel that hugging is a ridiculous thing. They blame the Americans for the touchy feely. Are you a big hugger? I'm not, but I'm trying to me more of one.

I am in the midst of some spring decorating. Our dear Serena has been sick with ear infections and breathing trouble and that always makes me worry. Plus, we just found out that Sable, the sweet little donkey who we help care for at the Donkey Sanctuary, passed away. Her adopted mother Pansy was with her right until the end, but it's terribly sad. We are all in need of a little cheering. And sprucing up one's environment always helps.

Since moving in almost a year ago, we've done very little: just new appliances, and renovating the shower in one of the bathrooms. Since we already know that this is not our forever house (once we no longer need 6 bedrooms, we will be back in a century home: hopefully somewhere other than Stepford, and hopefully overlooking water) I don't want to invest a lot, but it needs a little zhushing. I need some cheap and cheerful accent pieces and I thought I'd give Wayfair a try since everyone seems to think it's the bees knees.

I'm starting with the rug for the mud/laundry room. I decided that this would be a cute rug by the back door.

We have a lot of wood and leather at our Stepford home and I find that jewel tones help break it up. I'm curious to see the Wayfair quality as the prices are terrific. 

If I like what I see, I may be furnishing the Ocean Retreat this way. The Ikea in Halifax does not open until the fall of 2017 so it may be too late to Ikea-ify the place since we will obviously want it furnished this summer. I am already starting to gather some decorating ideas. 

It's super cute. And very in keeping with Lunenburg, which looks like this. 

But I like an ocean house to look like like Erica's beach house in Something's Gotta Give.


I like cream, soft gray, and beach glass blues. My now-sold family cottage was decked out in Benjamin Moore Bavarian Cream, which is such a heavenly colour and showcased the water instead of the inside of the house. 

I don't want anything to take away from the ocean view.

I think I might do something similar, but given that I've only seen the place once, for just over an hour, I need to see it again before I commit to any plans. This is by far the most spontaneous thing Mr. SxSW and I have ever done so it's uncharted territory. 

Not sure what the plans are for the weekend. I hear there is snow up north so we might head off in search of that. My daughter has her first backed-up-by-a-band vocal performance this weekend. She has a beautiful voice and I have no idea where she got it from. I swear, they must mix in some talent DNA at the fertility clinic because she sure as sugar does not get her singing from me. 

I hope y'all have a great weekend. 

Wellness Wednesday: Bad TV

Whenever I am in a funk, I turn to bad tv. I've never been much of a television watcher and I went years without watching it at all. During the early days of my divorce, however, whenever my children were with their dad I'd watch Rock of Love Bus with Bret Michaels. No matter how grim things seemed, at least I was not on a bus filled with strippers, competing for a man who - according to one of the girls - had his hair glued into his hat.

Source: Wikipedia

I refuse to put my beloved Ladies of London in the category of bad tv (anything with a British accent is instantly elevated, no? What else explains Downton Abbey's positioning as high brow: it was basically Coronation Street in costume as far as I'm concerned.) But RHoBH: that's so bad it's great. Watching former soap stars and child actors scrapping it out in Chanel boots is very healing. Boy George makes the occasional appearance. It's all good stuff.

It forces me to relax. Typically, when I watch tv, I gravitate towards documentaries and am forever taking notes. When I read, I read to pick something for the book club or hone my craft. It's only when I watch bad tv, with no intrinsic value, that I can just enjoy. The trick is to watch it mindfully, without working at the same time. It's key to really focus on Lisa Vanderpump and her dogs: Giggy in particular.

Source: Daily Mail

My current favourite Housewife is Erika Jayne, a singer/video vixen who is my age and did not release her first Dance Club single until she was 36. Since then, she's had 9 chart toppers. That's pretty motivating, no?

She and all of the ladies give me #gymgoals. They are all my age or older and look fabulous. They also motivate me to dress up. I was at a kids' volleyball tournament last night and instead of yoga pants wore smart jeans, jumping boots, a leather blazer, a Boss tuxedo shirt and a giant scarf. And of course, I brought my sidekick St. Louis, who is the new patron Saint of this blog.

Do you have any safe vices that keep you sane when you are having a down day? Love to hear what works for you.

Gnocchi, pilates, and DBT

I hope y'all had a good weekend. It's nice to get back into routine after all of the busyness of the holidays.

I filled my weekend with positive things like yoga, good food, and dinners with friends. If you live in Stepford or Lorne Park, you'll be happy to hear Capra's Kitchen has opened on Lakeshore across from the decent Homesense. Massimo is cooking so go now before the masses discover it. The gnocchi is amazing.

I've started taking an intro to Pilates class. Everyone in the world who is attractive seems to do Pilates so I thought, what the heck... After the first class, my shoulders feel looser and my hip flexors no longer hurt. It's like an hour long massage. I think I'm going to like it.

I've been struggling a little with re-entry to Stepford after our cruise: I think it's part of PTSD's charming gift basket. I am not the kind of gal to embrace set-backs and I've been doing some research into treatment. Apparently, a lot of people are using dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) with great success and on the weekend, I had made a mental note to get some more information this week.

Yesterday, I was in Costco and decided that I had time to wander the aisles instead of running through like a madwoman attempting to win Supermarket Sweep. I wandered the book aisle and don't I see, nestled among the Danielle Steeles, this book:

What in Holy Hanna is a DBT book doing in Costco? Did the Mississauga store switch their book order with, I don't know, Costco Fort Bragg? Costco tends to serve the masses: are this many people struggling with this? I was stunned, but tossed the book in my cart along with Martha Stewart Living magazine, a potted orchid, and yet more organic chia seeds. (Do you have something you regularly over-buy? For us, it's peanut butter and chia seeds. We must have some past-life lack in this area!)

Last night, I started reading the DBT book and it's interesting. DBT seems to be a type of cognitive therapy that helps you take some of the emotion out of your view of the world. I don't know if any of y'all are Eckhart Tolle fans but it reminds me a bit of The Power of Now, which helps to differentiate you from your thoughts.

The DBT book starts with some self-care techniques to help get you out of a pickle and helps you gain some perspective through mindfulness techniques. Then it layers on some thinking techniques, where you balance the rational brain with the emotional one to come to more reasonable conclusions than fight, flight, or freeze. Basically, it's an exercise in critical thinking and I recognize a lot of the elements from my own book.

Apparently, I've simply been too busy stuffing French Bulldogs into Goyard bags and watching Ladies of London to realize that the tools I've used in business could help me deal with my life. I plan to do a lot more research, as well as a bunch of practical things, in this area.

I'm also doing a bunch of positive things like taking the pretty drive with lake views to my gym rather than driving on the industrial street with the strip club to save 30 seconds. I'm going to try the adult colouring book thing (that sounds a bit strip clubby!) since it proved healing on the silent retreat.

My interview with Mama Lee, an Iris Apfel-like octogenarian who lives on a cruise ship, is live on 1010ParkPlace. Join us next Tuesday for the 1010 book club. Caroline Leavitt is in the house, discussing her novel Cruel Beautiful World. She's filmed a little video for us too.

I hope 2017 is treating you well so far. And if not, I hope you have some plans in place for turning it around. I'm going to share my journey here and hopefully what I discover might help you too.

Words of wisdom and Wellness Wednesdays

Ahh, more words of wisdom from Ms. Caroline Stanbury. It's true, isn't it: one is never itchy in Gucci.

I loved this week's episode of Ladies of London. Kudos to Marissa for coming forward about her struggle with post natal depression. As long-term readers know, I started blogging over a decade ago during my struggles with PPD. We've made a lot of headway, but it's still a bit taboo.

I'm going to kick off a little feature known as Wellness Wednesdays to highlight some of the tools I'm using to help me get well. I know a lot of you who have made your way over here are also in a season of midlife renewal, so I hope it might help you too.

I write a lot about Cheryl Richardson, whose Art of Extreme Self-Care session I attended years ago at Kripalu. There is an online version through Hay House that I'd recommend if you are the type of person who gives your energy to others, often at your own expense. If you are on a budget, you can read her book, The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time.

I love her My Daily Affirmation Cards: A 50-Card Deck to keep me on track. I think they are the prettiest of the affirmation cards on the market as I prefer good photography to oddly drawn gnomes and such.

I'd love to hear what works for you so feel free to join the conversation.

Excellent TV and a Royal Connection

I returned home from our cruise to a DVR full of excellent television. Ladies of London, RHOBH and Nashville.

I think the reason I so love Ladies of London so much is that I'm a secret royal. I just discovered that, according to family lore, my great great grandfather was the illegitimate son of the Duke of Devonshire's son. My great great grandfather attended public school - something his single mother could never have afforded. And when he married, the Duchess of Devonshire paid for his bride's wedding dress. The dress hangs in a museum near Chatsworth.  Why, I'm practically Debo! Do you think that this entitles me to stay at Chatsworth whenever I'm abroad?

Now it all makes sense: I'm illegitimate royalty. My royal blood goes unacknowledged. No wonder I'm the way I am!

Preaching to the choir: in spite of my pedigree, I spend my time stuffed into a tote bag in Stepford! 

The little kids and I went skiing on the weekend while the Mr. had his youngest at a hockey tournament. We stayed overnight and, holy hello, it's still a lot of work. Thankfully the resort served up the best chili ever and that makes up for a lot. Plus, we watched Best in Show and ate Hickory Sticks. It was nice bonding time.

I'm currently reading Ann Patchett's Commonwealth. Boy, oh boy, it's good. Highly recommend. And, of course, I hope you are reading Caroline Leavitt's Cruel Beautiful World: A Novel. We're bookclubbing it at 1010ParkPlace.com on January 31. It's won a zillion awards and it very readable so I'd love y'all to join the fun.

I hope you have a lovely week ahead. I plan to do some budgeting (what fresh hell) and meal planning (fresher hell.) And I need to start shopping for the Lunenburg House. I think I'll be knee deep in Ikea at some point this spring. All hail the Allen Key.

We need a name for the Lunenburg house. I'm thinking Luney Bin as a working title. What do you think?

Stay safe, kittens...

The Wedding Post

So, I'm a Mrs. now. Actually, I've been so for a few weeks. We did the whole secret wedding thing like the Hollywood kids do. Just kids, my parents, and the minister.

There are no photos of the actual event. Lesson learned: if you have something really important to document, hire someone. Thankfully, we hired a fabulous photog for our New Year's Eve celebration so there are lots of pictures of that.

I wore the Club Monaco Brionia dress in navy with feathers. I wore it with a black half birdcage veil like Jennifer Lawrence wore at the Met Ball a few years ago.

After, we went to a local restaurant. They have a curtained-off section so it was nice and private.

Since we had organized a wedding for New Year's Eve, we decided to not tell anyone and simply surprise them at the church. The minister was happy to do a renewal of our vows.

I'd planned to wear a traditional gown but decided over Christmas that I hated my wedding dress.

It's a nice enough dress, but even with the vintage YSL Le Smoking jacket I had, it looked too bride-y. Thankfully, I'd bought it off a sample rack so I had not invested too much.

On boxing day, I scored a gold sequinned Badgely Mischka dress and an Adrienne Landeau knit jacket at Saks at Sherway. I wore it with a Jennifer Behr Gold headband.


Photo: Tara Muhlberghuber

I was going for a gold Gatsby-esque vibe. (The hats are NYE party favours provided by our DJ but they suited the overall look!)

We got married at St Jude's Church in Oakville. The wedding had a small hiccup when the minister was pulled over in a RIDE program and breathalyzed. Perhaps the collar made him look suspicious! Thankfully he was sober as a judge and sent on his way and we were only a few minutes late.

The reception was at Harding Waterfront Estates. I used to babysit for the grandson of the woman who built the house so it was a nice connection.

Plus, the house is apparently haunted, which you know I love.

It was a super fun night. No speeches. No rubber chicken sit down dinner. Lots of fun food. And six mini wedding cakes.

At midnight, we had fireworks. Because the town owns the property, we had to use a professional fireworks company. Spendy but very worth it! They shot fireworks over Lake Ontario.

Right after midnight, we snuck off to the King Edward hotel.

The next day, we got the kids established with the grandparents and headed to Miami on the 2nd. We stayed at The Redbury, which is a fun place in South Beach. If you have a chance to stay at an SBE hotel, do. They are very nice and a super good value.

Then we boarded our cruise ship: the Crystal Serenity. I Instagrammed our adventures. The only cruise I've taken before this one is on Disney. While it was wonderful for the kids, it's not my cup of tea. Crystal takes cruising to a whole new level. Single malt scotch, sushi by Nobu chefs, lectures on Brexit and Trump, Magic Castle magicians, movies, West End and Broadway performers, afternoon tea. They even had poppyseed strudel: my favourite. Our itinerary was Miami, Cozumel, Belize City, Costa Maya, and Key West.

And the service! Several of the crew seemed to know my name. They literally would not let me lift a finger and made sure my champagne glass was always full.

Every day there was a new fun cocktail. They had St-Germain. Obviously I was in heaven.

Did I mention the poppyseed strudel?

There were ports, although honestly, we rarely left the ship. We've been on a zillion beaches and wanted to take advantage of the warm weather on the boat. We stayed on board and had massages and glasses of good wine.

The only excursion we took was to see monkeys in Belize. I love monkeys but had a less than satisfactory experience with them in Thailand. This was the monkey redemption tour. We saw Howler monkeys who live in a protected preserve. Thankfully the zoom lens on my camera was working well since we were not allowed to get too close.

It was a magical week of luxury and pampering. The ocean always makes me so very happy. It's hard to get back to the real world.

I'm now focusing on my writing, and getting the Lunenburg house ready for the summer. Last year was quite rough in many ways so I'm focusing on some self-care. Exercise, good food, meditation. Over the break I read Hi, Anxiety: Life With a Bad Case of Nerves and Wishful Drinking. They left me with the clear message that I need to get my anxiety under wraps. I'm reading The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith and am re-reading The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time. My mantra for 2017 is Rise Above. There are a lot of turkeys out there and I really don't want them to bring me down any more. I need to focus on the good eggs in the world, and on my family, and my work. I need to focus a lot more on the things for which I'm grateful. Over time I hope the good drowns out the bad. The house by the sea will be playing a key role in my healing, hence the blog name change.

I hope 2017 holds out a lot of promise for you too.

Christmas Traditions: The Nutcracker Ballet

Every year, I take my daughter to see the Nutcracker. (I took my youngest son once, but he loudly complained that there was too much dancing...