Thursday, December 16, 2010

Forget your car - Winterize YOUR HAIR!!!

Outside of my girl M. Renee's  lovely spot in Harlem

We've hit below zero in Ottawa, and while winter doesn't officially begin til next week, enough cold spells have hit the region.   I straightened my hair (shout out to Kidst at L'attitudes in Toronto's Eaton Center!), which has kept me looking and feeling good for more than a week now (though sweat, rain, and snow have now become my worst enemies).  It won't last forever, and I'll be going back to my curls next week.  Thought I might share a few tips for the curly girls who are keeping their hair smooth and healthy throughout the winter woes:)

For minding naturally curly hair

  • Products - Pantene Conditioner and Mousse (for Curly Hair - Dry to Moisterized), Tresseme Flawless Curls Hair Lotion
  • Procedure - I comb my hair (in the shower) maybe once a week. Also, I wash it once a week too, but condition it every morning. Every morning, I let the conditioner remain on my hair while I shower - a good 10-15 minutes. Really massage it in, and the natural curls/ ringlets start to take shape. Don't comb it - this will separate the curls, and sometimes makes it frizzy. After rinsing it out, squeeze any extra water out. Then i part my hair in 4 sections, and massage the mousse in - a dollop per section. Then let it air dry - takes 30-45 minutes to completely dry.
  • If you don't want to condition every morning (and who would - in this weather?) put a bit of Tresseme Flawless Curls Hair Lotion throughout her hair to keep the curls from becoming dry.
For straightening the hair
  • I just straigtened my hair, and it's great for the winter! I went to a salon in Toronto (as soon as I find one here in Ottawa, I'll be sure to let you know), and asked for a blowout and style. She took a blowdryer and brush, and straightened my hair (it was huge afterwards!). Then she took a flatiron to it, which made it so much more manageable. I can do it myself, but I love to get pampered! All you need is a blowdryer, a really good flat iron, and some hair oil for moisterizing.
  • Every night, I sleep with sponge curlers in, and all I do in the morning is take out the curlers and give my head a good shake - easiest thing in the world!
  • This will last for 2 weeks - till I wash it, and then I'll go back to the naturally curly look.

Got some tips?  Share 'em!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Your hair is your glory

I just indulged in Chris Rock's "Good Hair" last night (I know I'm a year late - but it was on sale at Blockbuster!), and I thought it was great - it was hilarious, but disgustingly truthful at the same time.  Weaves cost upwards of hundreds, even thousands of dollars?!?!?!?!  Who knew?  I freak out over a $75 cut and blow-out. 

I've always known that black hair care was big business, but I was disappointed to learn that most of the income generated by our crowning glory doesn't remain in our community.  It makes sense now - even in Ottawa, Canada, the only store in my downtown neighborhood that sells black hair care products, weaves, and wigs is Asian owned and operated. 

I was happy with the film as a comedy, but it gave minimal closure.   If Mr. Rock ever creates a sequel, I'd love to see a bigger focus on natural hair.  There's such a range of dreads, threads, curls, twirls, ringlets, and waves - the women with the natural crown swere gorgeous, but I just don't think there were enough of them.  I guess since the natural process doesn't generate as much cash, it doesn't warrant enough film coverage.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

For Colored Girls - Loved it! Still have some critiques, though.

No, this wasn't my theatre troupe.
It's one from Burbank, CA - but I bet they rocked!

As I dutifully noted on my Facebook profile,

My love is too THOROUGH to have thrown back in my face!!! Tyler Perry, you did something special. For Colored Girls - it's for girls of all colors, men, mothers, fathers, sisters, friends, boyfriends, husbands, healing, laughing, celebrating, and rejoicing. See this film, please.
I think it's our responsibility, though, to think about things we digest.  It's not complaining about the film at all - but I do want to exercise my critical mind.  If I could pick apart ideas of the film for conversation, it'd go like this:
  1. I didn't like how religion was represented.  I thought the few spots of humor were reserved for Whoopi's character, and I don't like that religion was the only source of laughter.  I also don't like how the god that Whoopi's character worshiped was unfamiliar.  I'm a staunch Christian, and my Hindu boyfriend noted that Mr. Perry had it this way as to not offend any particular religion.  I can dig it.
  2. I don't think Janet's character broke down enough.  A catharsis HAD to happen, and for me, her character was too porcelain, and remained that way.  Crying does not mean breaking.  I've broken, honey, and it ain't that cute!
  3. I don't think there's enough positive real life promotion of this movie and its themes.  I'm not in the US right now, so there might be some things going on that I don't know about.  BUT - I do know that when Sandra Bullock's movie came out (the one where her family adopted the black youth), they did a fantastic job of TODAY show interviews that made meaning out of the movie.  If Mr. Perry is going to put out dirty laundry (black men who rape, abuse, and are on the down-low), there HAS to be someone who is out there to speak on these issues in real life to elicit a call to action.
  4. I don't think enough older women were in the movie.  Phylicia, Whoopi, and Loretta did their thing, but there was a place for a really wise woman worn by the years.  The boyfriend thought it'd be Whoppi, but she turned out to be ja-crazy!
  5. I hate that they cut out the "I'm outside YOUR CITY" medley.  This made the choreopoem applicable to everyone in the audience, and made you want to move to the end of your own rainbow.  Why couldn't they just keep this?!?!?!!?
I'm gonna think about this sommore. 
Love, hugs, and good energy to all!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I got friends in great places!!!

Ever have a ride or die kinda chick?  I think Nakia would be mine.  We've been friends for gosh....17, maybe 18 years? 

I remember when she pulled my 15 year old shyness to Kevin Brown (my first love, admiration, and absorption) at the park bench at the Island Rec Center....I was so timid that I ran away - and I ran HARD!!!!

I remember when she screamed with me as I hit the tree at the Burger King when I was 16 and dented the back rear door on my mom's Tracker.  Oh we wuz scurred!!!!

I remember when she healed me through my 20-something year old stupidity over LeJuano, and I laughed her through the blind date I tried to coordinate with her and Otis (that never happened, by the way!).

So my ride or die kinda chick wrote the sweetest post on my Facebook on the Friendship application (click the link if you come across it!) and totally made my day.  Thought I'd share it with the Wonderland...

ally? u mean my homegirl since grade school? u talkin bout the red girl w the wavy hair tht use to ride out in the tracker? that girl that use to stay up all night w me laughin abt the name Otis, & the blind date u tried to set me up on? the girl almost had me fightin in the club in charlotte, the chick tht has truly been my friend for as long as I can remember? yeah, I knw her, y wassup?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

For Colored Girls - Was this my dream deferred?

Picture Thomas Dale High School in Chester, VA - 1998.
Charmaine Crowell White, my then theater teacher, opened my world to Ntozake and gave me a piece to read from this renowned choreopoem, and I spoke lovingly about Toussaint L'Overture -

This is Ms. Crowell-White (in the middle),
Ms. Davis (Keith's mom - he's a singing theater wonder!)
and I in 2007. 

LADY IN BROWN  de library waz right down from de trolly tracks cross from de laundry-mat thru de big shinin floors & granite pillars ol st. louis is famous for i found toussaint

but not til after months uv cajun katie/ pippi longstockin christopher robin/ eddie heyward & a pooh bear in the children's room

only pioneer girls & magic rabbits & big city white boys

 i knew i waznt sposedta but i ran inta the ADULT READING ROOM & came across TOUSSAINT my first blk man (i never counted george washington carver cuz i didnt like peanuts)

still TOUSSAINT waz a blk man a negro like my mama say

who refused to be a slave & he spoke french & didnt low no white man to tell him nothin not napolean not maximillien not robespierre

TOUSSAINT L'OUVERTURE waz the beginnin uv reality for me

the poem goes on, and tells a very vivid story about imaginary friends and heros.  I took that piece to about a dozen or so forensic competitions (AKA speech and debate!) and won every time.  Was the Virginia State champ in poetic interpretation with this piece!!!  I loved Ntozake (my very first e-mail address was!  I recently changed the password, as it was Shange:)

It's a huge dream of mine to be in theatre and present works that are meaningful and that resonate with the soul.  I'm not sure how far I am on that path, but that's where I was in 1998.  I've gotten caught up in the rush of day-to-day life and my (current) career that I forgot about my art. 

I know Janet, Phylicia, Whoopi, Kimberly, and the crew will be stunning - and that their fame will  bring heightened visibility to Ntozake's amazing piece and her talent as a writer, novelist, and author.  I just wonder if I had stayed on the path of my passion, could I have helped - in any way - could I have helped Mr. Tyler with bringing this to the masses?  Have I missed a calling of some sort? By chasing what I think is an intended career, am I discouraging possible paths that
I was born to take?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Global Community Philanthropy Initiative - to launch in May 2011!

A group of about 15 community foundation leaders from around the world will plan the GCPI event in May 2011, which will explore the future of community philanthropy globally. Practitioners from the Global Fund for Community Foundations (GFCF), the Transatlantic Community Foundation Network (TCFN) and WINGS-CF will continue to examine how the work of community foundations can best be supported globally, especially how the core work of community foundations and their supporting networks in areas such as convening, peer learning, development of tools and resources, and granting can be joined up through existing global programs such as those represented by participants and perhaps others too. They will also provide some advice to Community Foundations of Canada on shaping an agenda for the GCPI segment of the CFC 2011 Conference.

While a number of community foundation leaders, practitioners, and participants in the three networks will be invited to attend the GCPI meetings on May 14-15, everyone at the CFC Conference is invited to attend the launch of the GCPI, which will be celebrated on the eve of the conference (May 11, 2011). We hope to see you there!

See for more details!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Who's the Cutest Doggie on the Block?

Oui Oui could be in the Island Packet's 2011 Calendar!!!! Dog-Lovers, Animal Enthusiasts, and Lowcountry folks, vote for Oui Oui, and you can make a contribution to an amazing fundraiser!!!!  I'm super dooper excited!!!!

The calendar itself will be a fundraiser for animal service organizations in the Lowcountry South Carolina area.  If you've got a few spare dollars, please cast your vote and contribute to a very pet friendly cause!

Care to vote online?
1. Go to :
2. Find Oui Oui (#42)
3. Enter in the number of votes:
        20 votes for $5
        40 votes for $10
        60 votes for $15, and so on….
4. Scroll up to the top of the screen and click on the red VOTE button

It's so exciting - he's already in 26th place (out of 80) and we hope to get him to the top 12 to have his own "month."    A million thanks to you for voting!!!

ciao y'all!

When Saving becomes Agony

I'm not spending frivolously. I'm not spending frivolously.I'm not spending frivolously. I'm not spending frivolously.I'm not spending frivolously. I'm not spending frivolously.I'm not spending frivolously. I'm not spending frivolously.I'm not spending frivolously. I'm not spending frivolously.I'm not spending frivolously. I'm not spending frivolously.

That's the truth, you hear me?!?!?!?

So as part of the 8 Weeks of Awesome Challenge, my financial challenge is to have AT MAX 2 unplanned purchases each day.  Here are some of my well thought-out unplanned purchases that kept me within the challenge:
  • A taxi cab ride to the doctor's office.  (Hey, I was running late, and I like to have my time with the doc!)
  • Only 2 bags of pre-peeled shrimp that were on sale at Hartman's (they were $4.99!!!!  Pre-challenge, I would have stocked up on these suckers)
  • A donation to the Island Packet to vote for my dog to win a spot in the 2011 calendar (Place 20 votes for only $5!!!  Oui Oui is #42 at The Island Packet
I was used to indulging in my every whimsical purchase, but now I can only keep a running list of things my heart desires.  If it occurred to me Pre-Challenge, I'd be off to Chapters to buy $96 worth of Lonely Planet books.  NOW, I can only buy 2 things, and usually only if I need them.

I was also thinking, with the occasional "spoil myself with delightful charms" feeling that I get, I'll limit the actual purchase to once a week. On Fridays.  So far, my Wish list includes black & brown pairs of tights, a couple of white sweaters, a Mercedes 560 SL (not occasional, btw - more like once in a lifetime!), some Dave Matthews CD's, gold lip bloss, some gold hoop earrings, a big boxy coat, some cinnamon Schnapps, some flowers, and some DVD's of the Cosby Show (any season).  Can't wait for Friday to come!!!

ciao, y'all!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Eight Weeks of Awesome begins again!

I am excited (and relieved!) that another Eight Weeks of Awesome is underway.  This has been the most motivating way to help me build a healthier, more organized, and overall happier life- it's GREAT - be sure to take a look at the blog!!!

The idea is for a bunch of us (around 20 friends) to put $25 in the challenge, and aim to win the whole pot.  We have to do a certain number of strength and cardio sessions per week, and meet a nutritional and financial daily goal.  Oh - and there's the mind and body requirement too, which is 90 minutes of activity per week also. Whoever logs in the most wins the kit and kaboodle

Daphna and Jill, two very detail-oriented ladies here in Ottawa, started the challenge last December, and I've been really good with it so far!  At first the challenge was getting all those workouts in a week, then the nutrition part was added, and now a financial goal is part of the daily log. 

They say that 21 days of doing something builds it into your routine, and since the challenges started, I floss, wear sunscreen, eat at least 5 fruits and vegetables, and meditate DAILY!!!!!!  It's been a gradual learning curve, but it's given me such balance - it's wonderful!

My nutritional goal for this challenge is to eat at least 1 gluten-free meal per day, and my financial goal is to allow myself no more than 2 unplanned purchases, also on a daily basis.  This is REALLY tough.  I was at the grocery store, and wanted to buy soooo many things - but because they weren't on my list, they weren't planned.  Uffa!  I did buy a bottle of salad dressing, which kept me under my limit.  This also goes for unplanned "drinks with friends" (no more than 2 drinks, or 1 drink, 1 food, or 2 foods and a water!, gum, coffees, magazines, a medium soup from my favorite soup shop (my weakness), makeup, and stuff on sale at Shoppers, our chain convenience store.  They had Aveeno lotion on sale yesterday, but looks like I have to plan in order to buy more than 2 bottles each day.  I won't need that much lotion, but I like to buy in bulk!!!

Anyhoo---will keep you posted on how the challenge goes.  Here's to keeping a nutritional, healthy, and financial focus :)

ciao y'all,

Friday, October 1, 2010

Mountain Climbing (or heading up on a Gondola....)

Talk about a grand ole time.  I just got back from a speedy trip through Alberta, one of Canada's western provinces (just north of Montana).  It was an awesome trip!  I started in Red Deer (think Texas cowboy town), ventured into Calgary (an urban center known for the annual Stampede in July), and then drove over to Banff and Lake Louise (just gorgeous!). 

The Banff excursion was way too short.  I'm not a skiier, so going in September (when you can still wear short sleeves and bear it!) was ideal for me.  Banff is the kind of place where you can go, get to know the locals (shout out to Jeff at the Elk and Oarsman!), and really get into the nitty gritty of lovely places.

Hope to head back next year!

Lake Louise (about 45 minutes from Banff)
Bow Falls, just beyond Banff Ave.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Some fool STOLE MY JOY!!!!

Y'all, somebody stole my JOY!!!

I don't know if it was the Scotia Bank lady when she told me I couldn't open a Canadian Credit Card unless I had $1,000 cash to secure it (cuz I'm not a Canuck).

Maybe it was the insurance company, who probably won't reimburse the $115 expense for holistic treatment because it's well...holistic.

Maybe it's the Solomobile crew that won't replace my irritable cell phone that keeps shutting itself off (now they want to verify the date of purchase before they give me a ticket number to get it replaced.  They screw up the paperwork and now I can't have a 100% continuous phone call?!!?!?!?)

Maybe it was my beloved Polar Bear who snuck my joy in his back pocket when he moved to Toronto a month ago. 

At this point, I don't care who stole my joy, but girlfirend is on a mission to get my *ish BACK! 

  1. First, I'm going to thank God for my blessings.
  2. Next, I'm gonna acknowledge the good spirit of my friends Karo in Italy and Jami in Atlanta, who were somehow moved by the universe to reach out at this exact point in timeand send me some snail mail (filled with warm, loving energy) which I adore!!!!!
  3. Next, I'm going to belly-dance.  Fo FREE at a place in Byward Market tonight.  I can't wait!
  4. Also, I'm planning the Polar Bear's B-day gift....that's keeping me really busy!!!!
  5. I'm gonna re-program my goals.  I've gotten off track a bit - professionally, I'm not as focused as I was say, a year ago.  I need to get that lined up again.
  6. I'll also focus on drinking water.  It seems to wash away all the funky energy on the inside.  I'll get a soothing colonic, too......that will HOPEFULLY be reimbursed by the insurance company:)
  7. I think I'll hit up some nicely minded bloggers and send supportive comments their way.  It's a lonely universe out here!
  8. I'll also think creatively about what I can do for my Mom when I see her in a few weeks during a much-too-quick visit home.
Would love to add to my list, especially after the week I've had. How do you commit yourself to joy?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mosque at Ground Zero?

The news and those that own it are back at it again.  Skewing reality and emphasizing the irrelevant is what they do best, but this is a polarizing debate that we just don't need - and the media is feeding it to us like crazy!

Whether or not the 15-storey building should be constructed - I really don't have the background to answer.  I do think that New York's Lower Manhattan is not the place, and this is not the time.  Maybe it should be in a different part of the city. Maybe it should be considered at another time.  Not when we're still steeped in war; not when financial uncertainties halted the re-construction of the gaping hole on the site, and not when some soldiers are coming home from the war against terrorism and others, unfortunately, will not. 

I get that's not a will be an Islamic Community Center.  I get that it's not on the hallowed site of Ground Zero.  It's a few blocks away.  I get that it's private property.  I understand - logically - why it would make sense for a group to construct a building for the community that it serves, and I also understand the legal right for them to do so....but it just doesn't feel right, and the argument around it is causing much more damage to the American psyche than the building itself. 

9/11 changed everything - not only for the US, but for the world.  Airline policies, security measures to enter a country, even attire that Muslim women wear  - perspectives in the way we live have ALL all changed since that dreadful day.  It's certainly altered life for those living in New York City, and especially families of the 3,000 victims who died. 

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the cleric leading the project, is causing more damage than good.  For someone to have spent a lifetime promoting interfaith understanding, peace and tolerance, I'm quite surprised that he's leading the plans of such a highly opposed project.  This isn't the way healing happens.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Me, Him, and Chippin Down de Road in North America!!!!

For a young chica from South Carolina, mannnnnnnnnnnn, this has been one MAJOR Caribbean summer!!!!! My guy (this amazing man-sample of a dude) - who happens to be a flag-flyin' Trini and I have been enjoying the Caribbean parades, concerts, dancin', and chippin' down de roads of Ottawa, Toronto, and next....... New York City!!!!

Ottawa's Caribvibe in June

Toronto's Caribana in July
Big People Fete

Read more here.....

Monday, August 16, 2010

27 Reasons Why You Should Never Have a Job

Just came across this article 27 Reasons Why You Should Never Have a Job, and I love it!!! I'm pretty happy where I'm working, but I know that transitions happen, and for the next gig, I'd love to explore working for myself.

I'm so excited about the idea of consulting ( baby!)'s a marvelous way to work with a variety of people, travel, and get involved in different projects.

After I've gotten a bit more expertise, a larger network of potential clients, and some financial security behind me, I'd really like to take the step out on faith and go solo.

I loved this article because it highlights 27 reasons that could inspire working for self (ie - not having a job). Some of my favorites are:

5. Unlimited vacation.
Face it, two weeks of vacation a year is a crime. Whoever decided people should work 50 weeks out of the year was absolutely insane. How this was adopted as an industry standard is beyond me. When you create your own business, you can develop a more flexible vacation schedule. 25 weeks a year? Go for it!

11. Freedom to be a leader.
Jobs are built around conformity, that’s why everyone is expected to wear ‘work appropriate clothing’ that they purchased at J. Crew. What does conformity do? It makes it possible for upper management to keep the lower levels in line, on task, and compliant. When you opt out of having a job, it frees you to be a leader. A leader has to stand out, and have vision. A leader has to show people the way by telling the truth as it is. The truth is that business casual isn’t something you have to subject yourself.

Read more here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ex-Inmates Dilemma.....

Just reading through the NYTimes article Cleared, and Pondering the Value of 27 Years.  I'm not sure how much play this story is getting in the US, but it hasn't been on the news radar here in Canada (not that it should be....), but this story really touched me for a variety of reasons. 

Imprisoned for the past 27 years for a rape crime that he did not commit, Michael A. Green is in the process of clearing his name and thinking about whether or not the offer of $2.2 million is worth the past 3 decades of imprisonment, abuse, and nonexistence in the functioning world. 

For me, this "offer" and injustice strikes all the wrong chords...and reveals a lot about our flawed judicial system.....
  1. There is no amount of money that can compensate for a lifetime (at the very least, mine!) of living in prison....and Texas' offer of $2.2 million (would it be taxed by Texas as well??!!?!?) is almost a slap in Michael's face. The state of Texas has committed a HUGE injustice here, and I really hope Michael has a no-holds barred attorney to file a massive lawsuit. 
  2. The article mentioned that Michael was offered a 5 year term if he had pled guilty.  How can a justice system offer a sentence of 5 years in exchange for the admission of guilt.....but force a sentence of 75 years to the same man for the same crime when he says he's innocent?!?!!?!?!?!?!?!?
  3. And what about the victim?  I'm sure she's quite upset at having identified the wrong person for the crime - but there's no justice for her because those who raped her 27 years ago cannot be charged because the statute of limitations has expired.
  4. On the same note, I'm just there some type of accountability in place that victims have to consider (like a penalty of some sort.....) when pointing the finger?  I sympathize with the victim, whose emotions were probably running very high, and she wanted her rapists behind bars...I totally get that.  But, when identifying someone once or twice in a lineup is all that a victim has to do to put someone behind bars for 75 YEARS, I'd hope that the victim is pretty sure....or that the law protects those who may be falsely accused for a crime they didn't commit. 
  5. What is the state of Texas doing to ensure Michael's safe, comfortable and well-supported return to a highly technological functioning society, 27 years after he was removed?  Is there a therapist, life coach, or support system that the state is putting in place for Michael...or are they satisfied by merely writing this off ?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

10 Signs to Keep Him? Not convinced on this one....

(love Will and Jada!)

Just saw this list here of 10 Signs He's a Keeper, but dang, it's rough to work with!

Here's my take on the list (which, by the way, reflects a different set of aspirations than mine for a partner), and here's why:
  1. He's responsible - Does he remember to do things that a grown, adult person should be doing (paying bills, maintaining the home, etc.)? Are life's responsibilities distributed equally between the two of you? And if he doesn't remember, does he react well when you remind him?
  2. He's reliable - Contrary to the list, I don't believe you can run to a guy with all of your problems. Isn't that what friends, family, colleagues, and therapists are for? My take is....does he respond well to the problems that he's supposed to solve?
  3. He respects you - duh. This is a non-negotiable - it's not a sign that I should keep him! Pleeeeeeassse.
Finish the list here. 

Fashion Intervention 101

Over the weekend, us gals got together (we've humbly dubbed ourselves the PPC - Purple Power Center...sort of our she-woman alter egos.....) and had the first of what will likely be seasonal fashion wardrobe interventions. 

Our gal Ezzie (also my spunky funky roommate) is tremendously gifted with a diverse selection of garb - very colorful, feminine, with a bit of artsy hipster flare.  Unfortunately, she's suffers from what most women go through each morning....what to wear?!?!!?!?!?!?!?!? 

So we set aside some time on Sunday to have a Fashion Intervention.......

First, brunch!  Jamie and Becky came over to a wonderfully healthy brunch of bagels, smoked salmon, and scrambled eggs.....delish!

Then the intervention began. 
  1. Ez and I had laid out her entire wardrobe in the living room.  Dressy tops hanging on a clothing rack, casual tops folded and laid out store-style according to color, skirts and pants laid out on the couch (solids arranged separte from patterns), 10-15 pairs of dress shoes in the corner, and an accessories station set up on a nearby table. 

  2. The girls had 20 minutes to piece together as many ensembles as possible, keeping Ez's objectives in mind (dress like she's an architect from Paris, encompassing a sexy and rock n' roll feel, and incorporating brilliant color and pattern combinations).

  3. Next, we had the pleasure of watching our gal strut her stuff in 40+ ensembles that we had assembled. It was GREAT!

Talk about an awesome way to spend a Sunday....
with friends, fashion, and lots of FUN!

Take a look at more photos here

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bringin' my own bottle!

And have a perfect glass everytime - for sure!  During one of the most awesome weekends, ever, the Polar Bear took me to an amazing BYOB restaurant in Montreal (best mussels, by the way!), and he came equipped with my FAVORITE Barolo and a backup to keep us sipping during our extra long and lovely date. 

I just found a really cool website listing all the BYOB restaurants in Ottawa, along with a few tips on their FAQ page: 

Don't bring homemade wine - the government only allows people to bring commercial wines to restaurants.

Know how much the restaurant charges - some places will charge you a higher corkage fee to discourage you from bringing your own wine. Don't hold that against them because maybe they have invested a lot of money in an amazing wine cellar.

Know if they charge by the bottle or by the size of the bottle - some restaurants will charge you $10 a bottle no matter what size; some places will charge you more money for larger bottles. (ie: a 750ml would be $10, 1.5L would be $20, and no, unfortunately, they won't charge $5 for 375ml)

Remember, no PST is charged on corkage fees - at least there is only one tax, which helps you save a couple more bucks.

Offer your server a taste - not all restaurants are going to allow their servers to have a taste, but if they do your server will love it! Tip: If you don't like the wine you might want to let your server know before you offer them a taste.

Don't bring fortified wine - fortified wines (ports, sherries, etc) are not allowed as part of BYOW.

Ask for "bring a bottle buy a bottle" - while this is very rare it is great to find! Some restaurants will wave their corkage fee if you also buy a bottle from their list. Makes for a win-win situation, you get to bring a wine you love, the restaurant sells a bottle from their wine cellar.

2010 Goals - An Objective Check-In

Making life good GREAT is one of life’s daily adventures, and I’m super ja-crazy (my good friend Jamie’s term for being super enthusiastic about some thing, some one, or some idea….) about lists – they tend to keep me in line.

Earlier this year, I figured out 10 things that I wanted to do in 2010 that would bring me joy, happiness, and satisfaction and I made a list (check it out – to the left). I’m not the best at goal setting and keeping, so I thought I’d do a check-in…..

1. Read more books than I did in 2009 - Score on this one!!!

2. Spend more time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6. – Ummmmmmm…….not so much, but I may get to teach a children’s dance class in the fall. This will keep me above water on this one!

3. Relearn flute playing – Nope. This one didn’t pan out.

4. Visit 5 new Canadian cities – Not too bad….I can add Kingston, Minton, and Mississauga to my list!

5. Meet more bloggers – SCORE! I reached out to 2 bloggers in Ottawa and may be able to set up a blogger meet up in the city. Plus, I’m guest posting on a fellow blogger’s wonderland. What fun!

6. Watch the Godfather series – I’ll have to wait till a long autumn evening on this one.

7. Finish Chinese 102 successfully – Another zero.

8. Master flossing daily – SCORE! I’m up to twice a day on this one!!!

9. Start a women's investment group in Ottawa – Well, I really tried on this one, but I think I may have an alternative….I’m part of a fitness challenge, and for the next challenge, we’re going to build in “Financial Health” as part of the challenge. We’ll see how this develops.

10. Save $4000 USD for a social sabbatical – I promise I’ll do better on this one - but I AM saving better, and smarter...let's call this one a tie :)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Perks at Work

I'm soooooooooooooooooooo excited.  Work, as I realize from time to time, is the bomb!!!!  I'm in my 2nd year at a great organization that works to promote and strengthen community philanthropy around the world.  It's an awesome org with cool colleagues, and I'm really fortunate that they picked me outta lil' old South Carolina to be involved in this fabulous work.

I've done bunches of presentations, and for those of us in the non-profit sector hustling to get our research recognized, it's really awesome to be asked to present formally - especially within a forum that encompasses more than philanthropy!!!!!  It's great for the field (recognition outside of the community of our work), the organization (glad that the World Assembly is in Canada - home to the org that I work for) and especially me (great chance to network, learn about what's going on in the world, and enjoy Montreal)!!!! 

Do let me know if you're in town!

ciao for now!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Smile at the The Delicious Life!

For the past few years, I’ve developed a bunch of mantras, mottos, sayings, and reminders that bring to mind all the blessings that we have when we just look. Some have been long forgotten (like bad shades of lipstick and shoes with uncomfortable heels:)  Others have stayed, and become a huge part of what brings joy to my life, purpose to my day, and a balance to everything that life demands.

Take a peek….maybe you can identify with some, and hopefully, you can add your own!
1. Pray consistently – One thing that offers tremendous strength is prayer. I’m a lifelong Christian, and my boyfriend…Hindu. One of the things that unites us is our prayer. Together, we pray over food (we both looooooove to eat!). In my personal space though, I pray for what every my spirit is hungry for. Lately, I’ve ended my prayer by asking for 3 blessings: a blessing on a loved one (like traveling safety for my Mom, who is in Tanzania on a mission trip), a blessing on an unfortunate group (like those impacted by the rains in India), and a blessing on my life (like finding direction). There’s so much empowerment that comes from prayer, and it gets my day started on the right foot!
2. Live a life worth writing a book about – And I’m trying! I’ve been journaling since I was a little girl, and have lots of torn notebooks to show for it. There was purpose in my madness…..when I feel really defeated sometimes, I’ll pick up a journal, read an entry from a year ago, and feel so invigorated (almost immediately) about how far life has brought me.

3. Dress for the job that you want – I work in philanthropy at an office in Ottawa (love the job, by the way), and while I’ll likely stay in the field, I want my career to somehow encompass more creativity. So that’s how I dress – with color, ethnic richness, and funky silhouette. While I try not to pay too much attention to external fashion trends around me, the way you dress yourself is indeed a presentation to the world….and says a million lovely things about you!
4. Wake up slowly – This I learned from a 3 year old cutie pie that I used to babysit. Whenever he’d wake up from his nap, he’d always say that he’s waking up slowly. I’ve adopted this to characterize the way I greet the day. Allowing 5-10 abundantly empty minutes between you being married to the bed and you standing upright is such a great way to transition into the morning. Usually looking at the sun is enough….then my brain starts working, and gets excited about the day.

5. Try to make someone else smile – Nothing brings more joy than knowing that you could bring joy to someone else. Usually, a “Good Morning!” in the elevator in my building is enough (quite usual in my southern hometown…not so much in Ottawa…yet!).

What are some of your mantras/mottos/reminders about living the good life?!?!!?!

ciao y'all!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Summertime....and the Living WILL BE EASY!!!!!

Gosh I miss the days of old when summer was really summer.   A time to take off from school, assignments, responsibility, and life in general.  Now that I'm a grown-up, I really miss the relaxed laziness of summer.  I don't even know what it IS to have a lazy summer anymore!

Work is nonstop...I can't take off from how can I capture the essence of summer in the context of adulthood?!?!?!!  I'm just coming down from the high of one of the world's funnest celebrations (Caribana in Toronto!!!), and I want to build this FUN state of mind into my week. 

I can't lie - I do find traces of summer in my weekends (a trip to the cottage, a few cookouts here and there.....), but I really want to find more happiness in this limited season that we have.  I made the mistake of planning my big trip to California earlier this summer, in June. I kinda wish I had planned it for August - sort of something to look forward to throughout the summer, know what I mean?

Celebrating summer in Ottawa.....this is going to be my quest.  I've got some ideas....if you've got a few to add, please let me know :)

  1. Buy popsicles and eat them on the patio.
  2. Take an hour-long boat ride on the canal.
  3. WALK on the canal.
  4. Hijack my friend Daphna's pool for an afternoon.
  5. Take more walks outside (especially in the morning, if I can.  It's too muggy around sunset).
  7. Go dancing.
  8. Ask around about who is having a cookout (we can't have a grill on our outside property.  REALLY WACK!!!!!
  9. Dress in lighter fabrics.
  10. Have some summer dinners.

Hope to hear more ideas from ya!

ciao y'all!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My best writing....

Oprah. Deepak. even Tupac - have all written and spoken about living the best life.  It seems, though, that talking about living the best life has been reserved for adults - those who have been through it, know about it, and are ready to do it over again, and do it better.

As I was growing up, I read voraciously (and still do) about how to improve my life, joy, spiritual strength, financial balance, career, etc. The pleasure is searching for writers whose views and goals are somewhat aligned with my own.  As a teenager and young adult, that was very difficult.

I'm huge on tips, tools, and lists....oh - and journaling, too!  Been writing since I was a young girl, and I'd always had it in my head to do something good with my journals.  The ideas are still coming together, but over the weekend I had an uplifting revelation:  to write the book that mothers will give to their daughters.  And, in some cases, this book will also be the book that daughters will give to their mothers.  I've been working on the content for years....just narrowing it down (in my own head) to what could be the most nourishing.

While a hardback edition might not even see the light of day, this is a soulfilled intention, and I'm gonna get started!!!  Wish me luck :)

ciao y'all!

My favorite holiday is........ CARIBANA!!!!

Seriously, folks.....if you're anywhere remotely close to the
Metro Toronto area next August,

It was beyond amazing....
good music, good peoples, good food, and good times.

I'm hoping to catch the fete in NYC in September,
but this year's Caribana festivities will be tough to match!

Photos come courtesy of my girl Angie Singh.

Good times, honey.  Good times!

A Haiku for the Polar Bear

I hope that you know
When the morn' greets and wakes me
You, again, are loved.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Young Traveler

And by young travelers, I don't mean the under 12 year olds who must fly under the supervision of air attendants (though I do appreciate the security that this can bring to parents!)

I'm thinking more of the advantages of studying abroad, and sharing (and learning!) more about how these amazing programs can really build a life of travel.

Read more here....

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Long distance lovin'

Week 2 of the long distance courting.....and I've got to admit - it's tough!!!

The Polar Bear and I got to spend time together on Friday, and it was great - just not long enough :( 

I've been chatting with some close friends who are involved with great guys, and they are also separated by distance.  Not quite sure how most of us cope with it, but here are a few tips that have helped me get started.  Hope they are helpful!!!

  1. Set aside some time each day to talk, e-mail, or touch basis.  For us, 10:00 works really well - great chance to wind down, chat about the day, and wish each other sweet dreams:)
  2. Build structure in your own life.  We had the chance (when he lived in town) to spend time together on a whim.  Now that we have a different reality, I've found new, structured ways to spend my free time.
  3. Plan a monthly meeting (if you can).  If it's available to you, schedule some time each month (a weekend, a day, an evening) for the two of you to get together.  We've got our weekends mapped out for August and September, and it's so reassuring to know when we'll be spending some face time together.
  4. Be romantic from afar.  There are soooo many things to do to show amor to your guy from a distance.  For me, I love sending postcards weekly.  For him, he digs sending texts each morning.  It works out quite nicely!
  5. Think long term.  I'm at a phase in life where the grown up is kicking in, and I want to be serious about my future.  While I love dating, I love love even more, and it makes me happy that he and I talk seriously about the short and long term future.  For now, that would involve staying in Canada a bit longer, which I think I can swing:)

ciao for now!

Friday, July 23, 2010

This weekend......

This is going to be the best weekend ever!!!

I'm gonna see the Polar Bear in T minus 6 hours...
Headed to the cottage with the Purple Power Center girls tomorrow morn....
And about to go by the flyest shoes ever.....
REALLY...I've waited ALL day in courageous self-control.
They were $139..marked down to $117
(which isn't really a sale, especially with the killer HST tax here in Canada).
Then they were marked down an additional 40% off.


Have an awesomely abundant weekend!!!

ciao y'all!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chasing love...even if it lands me in Canada

The exchange rate of living in Canada just went up.  Way up. 
Emotions are at peak value these days :)
Continuing the saga (and joy!) of cross-border love,
Here's my short story....or novella, as it may turn out....

I chatted a short while ago about how I met the Polar Bear online. 
It was a GREAT introduction (click here for the background),
and we totally hit it off...and been going strong ever since.
Best thing since blueberry muffins (which I absolutely LOVE!)

Then....some news.....
He had been on the job hunt for a while, months, actually
had some successes, but nothing really GREAT panned out...
until he had an interview last Tuesday (a week ago, can u believe it?!!?!?)
in Toronto
And on Wednesday, he got the job offer.
This was fantastic, deliciously sweet music!

Until I heard that there was one stipulation.
He had to start immediately.
On Wednesday, I bawled, brawled, and cried till I was sore
(all over pizza and pinot grigio).
On Thursday, I pulled it together
and started the Exel sheet listing all the stuff to get done before his move.
(Such an A-type, right?!!?!?)
On Friday, I rolled over the big suitcase.
On Saturday, we took pictures of his house to post online
(hope he gets some tenants soon!!!)
On Sunday, we had a beautiful breakfast and planned the rest of our weekends.

I'm not the biggest fan of long distance relationships.
Too lonely.
Too expensive.
Too worrisome.
But love's not easy - if it were, everyone would have it, right?

So, for now, he rests his head in Toronto,
but, more importantly,
 he rests his heart with me.

And that's alright.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chasing love...even if it lands me in Italy.... (Part 2)

So excited to hear from Jeaneen again!  Check out Part 1 of her romantic story here.

I'm sitting on the floor in my bedroom and yelled out to my mom. “MOMMMMM! Can you watch my cats while I go to Italy for a week?” “TO ITALY!!!” , she screams. Then out the front door she goes. Uhhh!! was that a yes or no answer.

Today has finally come! I'm getting ready to pack my bags for my spring break vacation to Italy. I was so excited and nothing more. I jumped on the plane from DCA to JFK Airport with no problems. I met a guy from Milan and his jazz band members that wanted to scoop me up right away. I'd talked to him most of the way to Italy. When I landed it was drizzling in Milan. I'd went through the check point, got my passport stamped and grabbed my luggage. I went to the restroom before proceeding through the double doors. Staring in the mirror I suddenly freaked out!!! “WHAT IF HE IS A SERIAL KILLER!! OMG! What am I thinking, GOSH! You're so stupid.” Then I thought to myself well... he is short I can take him! So after I'd scared the crap out of myself, I'd walked through the double doors where everyone was standing waiting for their friends and relatives. There he was on his tippie-toes with big brown eyes waiting for me. AWWWW!! SOO CUTEE!! I'd rushed to him and hugged him before I got a closer look at him. He was so adorable. I could just put him in my pocket and run off, but wait a minute... I thought to myself he is really short! So he only asked me two questions in the airport after the long hug. “Are you ready for rain?” of course not and “Am I tall enough for you?” LOL!! of course I told him yes!!!

So here we are together, finally, with 12 days ahead of us. I met his family and friends, which were very nice to me. We'd actually gone to a lot of places and I'd seen a lot of things I've never saw before. We had so much fun together, but I think the funniest part for me besides the X-rated ones (wink), was the club. I was dancing and he had no clue what to do with me so most of the night he stood in the corner with his drink and index finger on his lip like Austin Powers but he was my Mini Me. His friend told me that booty shaking was not in the translating dictionary so that is probably why he didn't know what to do. Here I am with a guy that says all the right things and we can share all the enjoyment and excitement. Do I really want to go home after these 12 days and what happens after this? I had little time to even think about it. To me, he was perfect.

The final day is here and we both pretended as if it would never come. The ride to the airport was long and quiet. I'd told him please don't cry because I would start crying. I look so ugly when I cry and I don't want him to see that. Hahaa! We gave each other our last kiss and he walked up the stairs with his hands in his pocket and his head down, so sad. I felt exactly what he felt. Tears were pouring down my face watching him leave me. I was crying for 8 hours off and on in the airplane. I didn't stop crying until I got home. I had to figure out how to be with him.

After the trip we talked as much as possible. We talked about how we could be together and try having a relationship with each other. In September, I'd finally graduated from college.
In December, I'd packed all of my bags, gave my cats away and moved to Italy.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Worldboarding Memory #9 - Honolulu

Traveling is such a huge part of my life and work (Red Deer, here I come!!!), and I am absolutely in love with it.  Whether it's to Toronto (pics from this weekend's Afrofest 2010 are coming soon) or Latvia (Riga is really the bomb, y'all!), each place is such a jewel with soooooo much to offer. 

I was in Honolulu last year, and as with each trip, I really tried to build in my list of criteria - stuff to check off to make sure I get the best out of every trip.  One of my mantras is DO IT ALL!  On vacay, that's not always possible, but this list helps keep me grounded.  It helps me to do a smaller number of things, but enjoy the substance of the place, its people, and its traditions. 

  1. Art/culture - I stopped into tons of galleries, which often feature the best of a town's up and coming artists.  Also paid some homage at Pearl Harbor - it's actually memorialized quite beautifully.
  2. Nature - Enjoyed mucho tiempo en la playa.  How else do you really see spending island time!?!?
  3. Adventure - See my humble attempt at cliff diving.....the smack on the tummy was worth the thrill!!!
  4. Athletic/Fitness - The stairs at Diamond Head State Monument were a killer!!!
  5. Nightlife - This is always the easiest to cross of the list!
  6. Relaxation - I had a spa day at the Kahala Hotel, and it was just amazing.  Lots of hotels around - check the timing of your trip for special deals!!!
  7. Live Music - The Polynesian Cultural Center is an obvious choice, but I still enjoyed!
  8. Local Food - Stopped by a church yard for some local barbeque.  It was a fundraiser, so I stuffed my mouth for a great cause!
How about you?  I'm curious to learn about new ways to make the best of trip-hopping.  Would love to hear about your travels and adventures!

Ciao y'all!

California Dreamin'

Back from an AWESOME Pacific Coast Venture, and it was such an amazing time.  It started with the surprise of my life...running into my good friend Tori (now living in North Carolina) at the San Francisco airport. 
Best way to start off the trip!

The first stop - Golden Gate Bridge
It was kinda foggy that day (chilly, too!). 
Glad I packed in layers!

On our first day driving down the Pacific Coast highway, I got attacked by stationary biting nettles.  Felt like an army of bees!!!!

(Note to self: 
next time, wear the jeans that I over-packed).

First day in LA - and Rodeo Drive it was!

The block is incredibly small, but there were enough cafes and restaurants to keep us busy. There's a shuttle now that takes you all around Beverly Hills.  It hadn't started while we were there, but if you go, check it out here.

It was a total accident (I wanted to exchange a dress from Zara) that we happened upon
The Grove, an outdoor shopping plaza that was just beautiful.  A trolley runs the length of the plaza!


We made our way back up the coast to
San Francisco, where Fisherman's Wharf kept us very well fed!  Instead of taking the 8 hour drive back up the Pacific Coast Highway, we cheated a bit and took the less lengthy California Route 101.  Not quite as scenic (but there are some glorious mountains to behold!), but worth the savings in hours!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Why blog?

I started blogging in January of 2010 becuase I had something to say about Haiti.
I had some beef with how the philanthropic community was (not) responding to the devastation of the earthquake there.

I was pretty disturbed, but I'm so glad to have found blogging as a

Now, I blog a lot more often and around a lot more than just philanthropy.

I blog to:
1. meet interesting poeple all around the world
2. inspire (and be inspired by) creative humans (especially women!) doing their THANG
3. see beautiful things, places, ideas, and people conveniently
4. get my stuff out there (writing, experiences, expertise) so that it could have the energy to  possibly
lead to something bigger
5. help me lead a more interesting, provacative, and adventurous life
(I used to say I wanted to live a life worth writing a book about.
Now I say, I'm living a life worth blogging about!!!!)
What came out raw has blossomed into something lovely.
Many thanks to all the beautiful bloggers
(and upcoming ones too, Missy!)
who inspire me.


ciao y'all!

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