You Know the Election Has Reached a New Level of Crazy When…  

In a post this time last year, I shared my love for Halloween.  It’s not so much that I love this holiday, but more that my kids’ anticipation and excitement over this day is downright infectious. There is normally a month-long lead up to Halloween which begins as soon as the first decorations go up in the neighbourhood.  We live in an area that embraces Halloween with a passion.  Some homeowners go all out with their decorations.  And, I must confess, it has forced us to up our game every year as well.  

My kids love picking out their Halloween costumes.  I am not particularly adept in the sewing or craft department, so I normally let them choose a costume online.  This year, they dressed up as Harry Potter and the Queen of Hearts.  Pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself!

Between the Halloween parties at my kids’ schools and my own observations while trick-or-treating with them last night, I was astonished by the number of young kids dressed up as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  And by “young” I am talking about the under 12 set.  I might be wrong, but I don’t have similar recollections from the 2008 or 2012 US elections.  Certainly not in Canada!

And this got me to thinking…  How is it that we have reached a point when even young children can see how ridiculous this election has become?  I am sure it has something to do with the fact that Donald Trump is beyond caricature with his strange hair, orange colouring and outrageous views.  I know that every time I have the TV tuned to CNN and my son sees Trump on the screen, he asks how it is possible for someone to be that colour.    He also typically utters something like “Trump’s an idiot”.  And I chuckle.  But frankly, it is downright scary!  

I worry what it means to my impressionable eight-year old son to see a racist, narcissist running for the most powerful office in the world.  And I am terrified that Trump’s sexist views and deplorable treatment of women could have a negative impact on my daughter’s self-esteem.   Donald Trump is no better than a schoolyard bully and I fear that, were he to become President, children would feel emboldened to repeat the horrible things they hear coming out of Trump’s mouth.  

With only one week to go, I am honestly terrified by the potential outcome of this election. I recognize that Hillary is not perfect.  She comes with some baggage.  But, I believe with everything in me that she is the right person for the job.  She has proven time and time again that she’s the only candidate with the necessary experience and temperament for the role.  

Halloween is a holiday for kids.  It is the one day each year when children are granted permission to stay up late, dress up and eat unlimited (!) amounts of treats.  Yes, there are certainly scary elements associated with Halloween.  I just hope that we will soon see an end to Donald Trump’s scary, destructive and divisive ways – and that we will be able to look back at the Halloween costumes of 2016 with a laugh.

You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks (Or, At Least, I Hope You Can!)

I’m sure most of you clicked on this link, expecting me to say something about our dog.  While it is true that our now 10-month old puppy has many, many things left to learn – not the least of which is that electrical cords are not chew toys!! – the “old dog” to whom I am referring is actually me! (Note to my brother:  Don’t EVER attempt to call me an old dog!).

Towards the end of the summer, I found myself eating lunch with my son after his power skating camp.  We were sitting adjacent to the ice and noticed that a woman was taking a private figure skating lesson.  At some point during our lunch, my son asked me “why is that old woman taking skating lessons?”  Needless to say, I scolded him and corrected him for the “old woman” comment (if for no other reason than the fact that she was about my age!).  But I then went on to explain that skating lessons aren’t only for little kids.  “It’s never too late to try something new”, I said.  I tried to convey that it was pretty amazing, but I’m not sure that my son bought it!

It has been a couple of months since that lunch, but the conversation has stuck with me.  I was reminded of something that I read in Elizabeth Gilbert’s (of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic fame) blog:  “if you’re not dead yet, you’re not done yet”.  She talked about the advice that her 73-year old mother had given her – that you should seize as much life and joy and adventure and learning and novelty as you possibly can, regardless of age.  Elizabeth’s mother had issued a gentle warning not to fall into the trap of letting your life get smaller as you get older.

This conversation with my son was a bit of a wake-up call.  I have to admit, I am often guilty of falling into old patterns.  There is comfort in the familiar.  I tend to do the same cardio workouts – running and spinning; as a family, we visit the same restaurants over and over; and I even take the same route most days when walking the dog.

Something I know to be true of myself, at least from a professional standpoint, is that my greatest learning and development has always come when I have stretched myself and gone outside of my comfort zone.  I have to believe that this would hold true in other areas of my life.  And yet, it feels that I have let go of many of the aspirations that I once had.  For instance, I used to think about getting my private pilot’s license, taking a photography course, running a marathon, becoming a spinning instructor, relearning French…  the list is long.  I’m not sure that all of these aspirations still hold true today, but I do know that I want to live a big and full life.  And I think it is virtually impossible to do so without plunging into the unknown and daring to take on new challenges.  So that is exactly what I am going to do.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted!


“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” – Hunter S. Thompson


Feeling Grateful

This Thanksgiving looked quite different from celebrations of years past.  In recent years, we have celebrated Thanksgiving at the cottage, surrounded by lots of family and with plenty of food on hand.  This year, I decided to try something different… I escaped to New York for the weekend!

Before you start thinking that I am a terrible wife, mother, and general family member, let me explain…  My son had a hockey tournament this weekend and all of my daughter’s usual weekend activities were cancelled due to the holiday.  It seemed like a perfect – and rare – opportunity to try something new.  So my daughter and I jetted off to the Big Apple for a short getaway.  We had a wonderful weekend – American Girl brunch, the Met, Cirque du Soleil and lots of walking and shopping.  AND, my son’s team won their tournament.  To top it all off, the four of us were still able to enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving dinner (purchased ready-made from a nearby store) together last night.  It was so good, it actually made me wonder why I have ever gone to the trouble of cooking a big turkey with all the fixings.

Thanksgiving brings with it the opportunity to reflect on our lives and give thanks for our good fortune.  As my daughter and I walked the High Line (a NY first for me… how did I not know about this beautiful walk?) over the weekend, I was filled with happiness and gratitude.  At age eight, my kids are entering a new stage in their lives.  They are little people, with distinct personalities.  They are funny and entertaining.  And I thoroughly enjoy spending time with them.  But, above all else, I am so very grateful for my children’s happiness.  They are both at excellent schools where they are thriving.  They are involved in activities that they love – for my son, it is hockey, soccer and x-country running; for my daughter, it is synchronized swimming, ballet and x-country running.  Their schedules are insanely busy, but are driven entirely by their interests and passions which makes it so much easier to get them up in the morning and get them to where they need to be.

I recognize that life can change on a dime.  Today’s happiness could lead to tomorrow’s misery.  With kids, it doesn’t take much – a mean comment from a classmate, a lost game, a bad practice, or a cold.  As part of my attempt to eke out more happiness from life, I am concentrating on living in the moment.  Today, my children are happy.  And I choose to focus on that!

I hope you all had as wonderful a Thanksgiving weekend as I did!

Is “Happy Enough”, Good Enough?

I am writing this blog from our cottage on a beautiful summer day. It seems ridiculous to even utter a phrase like “happy enough”, much less to question it. I should be perfectly content with life. But then why don’t I feel that way?

Before I continue, let me say that I am generally a “glass half full” kind of person. I don’t want to mislead anyone into believing that I am unhappy or depressed. Not at all!  It’s just that, more and more, I find myself questioning whether it is possible to be a “glass three-quarters full” kind of person.  Or, asked another way, is it possible to squeeze more happiness out of life?

I left my job just over a year ago. For five plus years, I worked as an executive recruiter. Before that, I spent years working as a management consultant. I was so insanely busy that I didn’t have the time to question whether I was happy. And even if I had, I’m not sure that I would have had any time left over to do anything about it. Sometimes I wonder if that might not have been a good thing. Too much navel gazing can be dangerous. Having said that, I have come to realize that I had been following a formula that had been ingrained in me from very early on: work hard – become successful – be happy. I enjoyed my roles, and derived great intellectual satisfaction from them. But was I happy? Truly happy? I’m not so sure…

One of the things that I have learned since leaving work is that happiness is a journey, not a destination. In theory, this makes complete sense to me. However, I am finding it much harder to put this into practice. Yes, there are many things that I want to accomplish. But all of the old guide posts that I used to rely on are missing – no boss to be accountable to, no colleagues to push me along, and no performance reviews to tell me how I’m doing. It’s just me trying to figure things out.

On days when I am not feeling quite as happy as I should, a wave of shame sometimes washes over me. My kids are happy, healthy and thriving. My family and I want for nothing. I have the freedom to pursue my passions. And I have a wonderful, caring husband who works hard at a job that he loves to make this fantastic life possible for us. So what is my problem? I fully acknowledge that it is ridiculous to question my happiness – and I certainly shouldn’t share this sentiment with others! I know that other people have real struggles that undermine their happiness. I sometimes worry that it will take a crisis for me to realize how good I once had it. Needless to say, this thought is both terrifying and sobering!

Like many women of my age, I was influenced by Oprah growing up (say what you will about her… but I love Oprah!). I well remember when she pivoted from being a regular – albeit hugely successful – talk show host to being a self-help guru with her “aha moments”. Happiness, and more specifically, how to achieve lasting happiness, was central to many of her episodes. This has definitely stuck with me.

After a lot of soul-searching and some false starts, I have finally landed on a plot for my fiction novel. It centres largely on the idea that people take different paths in their pursuit of happiness. And more often than not, the traditional path is not the one that wins out in the end.

I share all of this, because “happiness” is my new obsession. In the last few months, I have bought and devoured about a dozen books on the subject. It is interesting to understand both the science behind happiness and the ways in which people achieve it. As I renew my focus on writing, you will be hearing a lot more from me on this topic.

In the meantime, I wish you all a day filled with happiness!

The Thrill and Agony of Overnight Camp

“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body” – Elizabeth Stone

I have some vague recollection of having previously heard this quote. It might have even been before I had kids. But let’s face it… no one approaches having kids with a full appreciation for what this means. Otherwise, human beings would cease to procreate altogether.

This week, I have had a real taste for what it means to have my heart go walking outside my body.  Our almost eight year old daughter left us last Saturday for her first ever week of overnight camp – sob!

Let me back up a bit… About 3 months ago, a friend told me that she had signed up her daughter for overnight camp and that she was nervous because her daughter wouldn’t know any of the other campers. I told her that I’d check with my daughter to see if she would be interested in going to camp. I was not prepared for her response, which was a very enthusiastic YES! And that’s all it took. The horse was out of the gate. She was hell bent on going to overnight camp.

As it happened, there was no space left in the camp where my friend was sending her daughter. But I did a bit of research and discovered that there was space available at a camp that our nieces and nephew had attended – conveniently located within a 30-minute drive from our cottage. Our nine-and-a-half year old niece was also interested in going to camp. Unfortunately, we learned that they would be in different cabins due to their age difference. But no matter, it meant that our daughter would know someone else at camp.

For the past couple of months, our daughter has spoken enthusiastically about her upcoming camp experience. In contrast, I had a sense of foreboding every time the topic was raised. I could never quite put my finger on why. It might be that I, myself, had an awful overnight camp experience. I attended “French” camp at a young age and still bear the emotional scars from the ordeal. It could also be that there was a cool factor associated with the die-hard camper set that I never quite related to. Either way, I knew that I did not share our daughter’s excitement for this experience.

This past week has been strange… It has been wonderful to spend some alone time with my son. Given that we have boy-girl twins, my husband and I have historically adopted a divide-and-conquer mentality which has often meant that he paired off with our son, while I was with our daughter. So this dedicated time together has been special. But I would be lying if I said that I felt at ease with our daughter’s absence. I am acutely aware of this hole in my life, even though I understand that it is temporary.

Before leaving for camp, our daughter began the negotiation process for next summer. She wanted to know whether she would be allowed to go for two weeks or even a month. I am not proud of this (especially because I pride myself on not judging other people’s parenting decisions – I truly believe that we all do the best possible job that we can), BUT I will admit that I am guilty of some judgement when it comes to overnight camp. It always seemed to me that parents who send their kids to camp for a month or more must be using camp as a way of offloading their kids. It never occurred to me that these kids love their camp experience and beg to go for multiple weeks.

A year and a half ago, our daughter suffered from separation anxiety. We had made the decision to put our kids in different schools and while our daughter initially seemed fine (even enthusiastic) to be separated from her twin brother, it clearly was not playing out the way we had hoped. She was particularly clingy to me, even displaying anxiety when she didn’t know where I was in our house. So I am astonished by her newfound independence and desire to attend overnight camp. I am at once terrified that this is a sign of things to come and fiercely proud.

I have received several pictures of our daughter throughout the course of this past week (we learned just before our daughter set off for camp that our 21-year old niece would be working there this week). In each one, she has a huge – and genuine – smile on her face. I know in my heart that she is having a wonderful time. I need to prepare myself for the upcoming negotiation. I have no doubt that the campaign for next summer will begin the minute our daughter gets into the car. It won’t be easy, but I know that I will need to find a way to gracefully acquiesce to her demands.  

The Intersection

I recently stumbled on an image that gave me the wake-up call that I have been needing these last few months.  It is a Venn diagram (the geek engineer in me loves anything that can be explained mathematically!) depicting two circles: “things that matter” and “things you can control”.  The intersection of the two circles represents what you should focus on.

It wasn’t until I really looked at this diagram that I realized that I have been spending a lot of time agonizing over things that matter greatly to me, but over which I have little to no control.  And something clicked!  I need to shift my focus if I want to find lasting peace and contentment.

My husband and I recently lost a friend to cancer (sadly, she is the second friend that we have lost to this horrible disease).  It is heartbreaking.  She was truly one of the most kind-hearted, upbeat, lovely people I have ever known.  When I least expect it, my mind wanders to her children who lost their mother at far too young an age.  Or to her husband who is left to pick up the pieces and figure out a way to fill the gap.  I let myself wallow in these thoughts.  Does this matter?  Of course it does!  Nothing matters more than the health and well-being of our family and friends.  But, can I do anything about it?  Unfortunately, no.  As much as I might want to, I cannot eradicate disease.  All I can do is take the best possible care of myself and my family and hope and pray that disease does not visit us.

If you read my recent blog on Donald Trump, you know that I am not a fan (to put it mildly).  I honestly believe that, as President, he would be harmful to the United States and to the world at large.  I let myself get sucked into watching CNN and can feel my blood pressure soar.  Does this matter?  Yes, in my mind, it matters greatly that a narcissistic, racist, fear-mongering man could sit in the most powerful office in the world.  But, can I do anything about it?  Not likely…  I can share my opinion and hope that it forces people to think, but as a Canadian, there is very little that I can do to impact the outcome of this election.

I also spend a significant amount of time thinking about the lives of my friends and family members.  Are they happy?  Are they making decisions that will send them down the right path (the right path for them, that is)?  Does this matter?  Heck, yes!  Next to our health, happiness is what matters most in life.  But, can I do anything about it?  Yes and no.  I can certainly offer my opinion and, more importantly, my support.  At the end of the day though, it is really up to each individual person to figure out their path to happiness.

I could go on and on.  It seems that I have been spending a lot of time lately worrying about things that I can’t control.  So here is what I know to be true…  I can control:

    • my thoughts (my attitude, my emotions and my focus)
    • my actions
    • my reactions
    • the energy that I put out into the world

I cannot control:

    • other people’s thoughts
    • other people’s actions
    • other people’s reactions
    • nature (the weather, illness, disease)

This might all seem obvious.  And it is.  But I know that I am not unique in worrying about things that are, essentially, out of my control.  And while it is impossible to stop this worrying altogether, I really want to try to focus my energy on the intersection of the things that matter AND the things that I can control.  With this in mind, I am going to try to be the best possible version of myself that I can be for my family and my friends.  And hopefully this will be enough!

Body Image – and a Thank You to my Mother

There are some things in life that can’t be fully appreciated until you experience them for yourself.  This is especially true of parenthood.

For instance, I could never figure out how my parents knew that my brother and I were about to start fighting before we actually did.  But now I know that it is related to the frenzied state that overtakes your kids just before someone gets hurt.  I also recall my Mom once telling me that “you are only ever as happy as your least happy child”.  This never resonated with me until I had kids.  But now I fully grasp the startling truth behind this statement.

I recently saw something on Facebook (see below) that made me reflect on my upbringing and what I want for my daughter.

Body image is a tricky issue for girls. It seems to me that this is especially true today.  The internet and social media often serve to undermine a girl’s self-confidence.  Let’s face it, if you search long enough, you will no doubt find evidence confirming that you are the wrong height, weight, hair colour, eye colour, skin colour or “type” – take your pick.  Given all of the forces working against girls, a parent’s role in instilling a positive body image is critical.

It never occurred to me until I had a daughter that my mother never, ever (not once) mentioned weight in my presence while I was growing up. She never talked to me about her weight or appearance, or anyone else’s for that matter. While we certainly ate well at home, my brother and I had our fair share of treats too. We were also encouraged to try out different sports. But food and sports were never talked about in the context of weight or appearance.

There are a million thank yous that I have never relayed to my parents. So let me take this opportunity to say one specific thank you. Thank you, Mom, for instilling in me a healthy body image – for letting me eat chocolate chip cookie dough and chips; for encouraging me to skate and ski and play softball, tennis and soccer; and for teaching me everything I need to know to do the same for my daughter.


How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one: Don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works.

Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight.

If you think your daughter’s body looks amazing, don’t say that. Here are some things you can say instead:

“You look so healthy!” is a great one.

Or how about, “You’re looking so strong.”

“I can see how happy you are — you’re glowing.”

Better yet, compliment her on something that has nothing to do with her body.

Don’t comment on other women’s bodies either. Nope. Not a single comment, not a nice one or a mean one.

Teach her about kindness towards others, but also kindness towards yourself.

Don’t you dare talk about how much you hate your body in front of your daughter, or talk about your new diet. In fact, don’t go on a diet in front of your daughter. Buy healthy food. Cook healthy meals. But don’t say, “I’m not eating carbs right now.” Your daughter should never think that carbs are evil, because shame over what you eat only leads to shame about yourself.

Encourage your daughter to run because it makes her feel less stressed. Encourage your daughter to climb mountains because there is nowhere better to explore your spirituality than the peak of the universe. Encourage your daughter to surf, or rock climb, or mountain bike because it scares her and that’s a good thing sometimes.

Help your daughter love soccer or rowing or hockey because sports make her a better leader and a more confident woman. Explain that no matter how old you get, you’ll never stop needing good teamwork. Never make her play a sport she isn’t absolutely in love with.

Prove to your daughter that women don’t need men to move their furniture.

Teach your daughter how to cook kale.

Teach your daughter how to bake chocolate cake made with six sticks of butter.

Pass on your own mom’s recipe for Christmas morning coffee cake. Pass on your love of being outside.

Maybe you and your daughter both have thick thighs or wide ribcages. It’s easy to hate these non-size zero body parts. Don’t. Tell your daughter that with her legs she can run a marathon if she wants to, and her ribcage is nothing but a carrying case for strong lungs. She can scream and she can sing and she can lift up the world, if she wants.

Remind your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to use it to mobilize her beautiful soul.

Wo(Man’s) Best Friend

My husband and I have sworn up and down for years that we would never – and I mean NEVER – get a dog.  We are a busy family.  Most weekends we are all off in different directions.  And, we like to travel.  We could never make room in our lives for a dog.  But over the holidays, something changed…  While in Florida for Christmas, we met our friends’ 6-month old mini-poodle puppy. And our hearts melted!  She was adorable and sweet and affectionate.

After the holidays, everyone resumed their busy schedules.  But I couldn’t stop thinking…  A dog…  Could we do it?  Was I being crazy to think that we could make it work?

I spent a couple of weeks mulling the idea over in my head.  When I finally opened up to my husband, his reaction was hysterical.  It started with:  “Are you kidding me?”, and was quickly followed by:  “I just want you to know, I do not pick up dog sh*#.”  Priceless!

A few days later, I made the colossal error of casually floating the idea by the kids.  BIG MISTAKE!!  No sooner were the words out of my mouth than the kids started chanting “we’re getting a dog, we’re getting a dog“.  It was a done deal!  The kids were already starting to research possible dog names.

Shortly thereafter, I visited a breeder to look at a litter of mini chocolate Australian Labradoodles.  I had never heard of this breed before – apparently they are part Labrador, part Poodle and part Cocker Spaniel (I am still trying to work out how you incorporate three dogs into one breed…).  Anyway, I am told that they are smart, affectionate, trainable dogs.  AND they are non-shedding – a very important quality!

With only ten days to go until this adorable little puppy (who we have named Bailey) invades our home, I must say that I am feeling equal parts excitement and fear.  I have absolutely no doubt that we will all quickly grow to adore this little beast.  But I also know that, as the primary caregiver, I will bear the brunt of training this puppy.  As one friend so eloquently put it, this experience will bring me back to the “dark days of newborns”.  For anyone with kids (or puppies) you know exactly what I mean by this – that awful “we’ve made a big mistake” feeling!

Fortunately, I know that the puppy stage is short-lived.  In a few months (provided that all goes well at our puppy training classes), we will have an adorable, loving dog.  The great thing about dogs is that, no matter the situation, they are happy to see you.  They greet you with enthusiasm each and every time you walk through the door.  Dogs hand out pure love, asking very little in return.

I, for one, couldn’t be more excited for little Bailey to join our family!

One Canadian’s Perspective on Donald Trump

Those who know me well will appreciate that it was just a matter of time until I wrote this blog.  My feelings surrounding Donald Trump’s candidacy are strong to say the least.  And given that Trump is continuing to make gains in the polls, and with the Iowa caucuses just two weeks away, I couldn’t keep quiet any longer.

I am a rational person.  I understand, in theory, that there are two sides to every argument.  However, I draw the line on certain subjects – gay marriage (frankly, I reject discrimination or prejudice of any sort), gun control, habitual tardiness…  I have a very hard time engaging in conversation on these topics because it is almost beyond my comprehension that there is another side to these issues. To be clear, I am pro-gay marriage, pro-gun control and am a “5 minutes early” kind of person.  I am also, decidedly, anti-Donald Trump.  Furthermore, it is unfathomable to me that, with the facts in hand, anyone could support Trump.

Let me provide a bit of background information as foundation for my position.  The following is a sampling of direct quotes from Donald Trump since announcing his candidacy in June, 2015:

On Mexican immigrants:

  • “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…  They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems to us.  They’re bringing drugs.  They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

On his proposed wall with Mexico:

  • “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border and I will have Mexico pay for that wall.”
  • “…thirty-two meters of impenetrable concrete lined with electrified razor wire and protected at the base by an eighteen meter deep moat filled with iron spikes.”

On Muslims:

  • “They’re not coming to this country if I’m president.”
  • “Total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
  • “There is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population.”

On African Americans:

  • “There’s no such thing as racism anymore.  We’ve had a Black president so it’s not a question anymore. Are they saying Black lives should matter more than White lives or Asian lives?  If Black lives matter, then go back to Africa.  We’ll see how much they matter there.”

All of this fascist and racist rhetoric from a potential leader of a country whose national ethos is the “American Dream” – a set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility for family and children, achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers.  In a speech last year, Donald Trump declared that the American dream is dead.   I reject that notion.  But I believe with every fibre of my being that the dream will die if Trump is elected!

I would like to point out that with German ancestry from his father (Trump’s paternal grandmother and grandfather were German immigrants) and Scottish ancestry from his mother (his mother was a Scottish immigrant), Donald Trump epitomizes the American immigrant experience.  Furthermore, his first wife, Ivana, was born in Czechoslovakia and his current wife, Melania, was born in Slovenia.  Trump asserts that he would allow the “really good people” into the country.  Presumably, we are expected to believe that his family members all fall into this category.

I have asked myself many times how it is possible for someone running for the most powerful office in the world to say such blatantly hateful things.  Perhaps more surprising though, is the fact that he often backs up these claims with false evidence – e.g. “I watched in Jersey City, N.J., where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down” (referring to Muslims celebrating the destruction of the World Trade Center).  Or worse yet, the fact that when challenged, he refers to his poll numbers as evidence of his worthiness.

I want to make it clear that I love the United States.  In my years as a management consultant and an executive recruiter, I worked extensively in the US with my American colleagues.  My husband and I also have a house in Florida – a home I fondly call my “happy place”.  It is truly staggering to me that one of my childhood friends (who happens to be Muslim) could be prevented from joining me and my girlfriends on our annual girls trip to Florida if Trump were to be elected president.

I choose to believe that Trump’s popularity in the polls is due to the fact that he repeatedly says outrageous things that garner media attention.  Surely his supporters aren’t paying attention to the actual words coming out of Trump’s mouth, but have instead been dazzled by his fame.  Because if we really live in a world where people support these outlandish claims, then I am very, very fearful for our future.

It might surprise you to learn that, as a Canadian, I lose sleep over the idea of Trump as president.  I can’t help but think of the impact on my children’s lives.  I firmly believe that Donald Trump will spawn decades of hatred in the world.  His remarks are careless and callous – and certainly do not exemplify what we should expect from an intelligent and informed world leader.

Consider for a moment, Trump’s treatment of his fellow GOP candidates.  He has been quoted as saying the following:

On Ben Carson:

  • “It’s in the book that he’s got a pathological temper.  That’s a big problem because there’s no cure for that.  You don’t cure these people.  You don’t cure a child molester.  There’s no cure for it.  Pathological, there’s no cure for that.”

On Carly Fiorina:

  • “Look at that face!  Would anyone vote for that?  Can you imagine that, the face of our next president.  I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on.  Are we serious?”

On Jeb Bush:

  • “Jeb Bush has to like Mexican illegals because of his wife.”

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what a bully looks and sounds like.  I shudder to think how Trump would respond to other world leaders challenging him.  Is this really a man that we want in any kind of proximity to the nuclear football?

I believe that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.  As a Canadian, my ability to impact the politics of the United States is pretty minimal.  Having said that, I felt that it was important to share my views.  Perhaps this blog will influence one person, or cause another to dig a little deeper into Trump’s campaign platform.  So let me be as clear as I can:  Donald Trump is a fear-mongering, racist narcissist who will cause irreparable damage to the American ideals (liberty, equality, democracy, individualism, unity and diversity!) and to the world at large.

And with that, I have said my peace!



The Year of Yes – and No

The arrival of a New Year is an opportune time to reflect on the year just gone and set resolutions for the year to come.  I didn’t really plan on writing a blog about my resolutions…  I feel like they are a private thing, best shared with those closest to you.  But then I stumbled on something that got me thinking.

I spent last week in Antigua with my husband’s family.  We were a “discreet” group of 21 people – pretty hard to miss us! There was lots of time by the pool and at the beach (with a few umbrella drinks consumed for good measure). In other words, plenty of time to read!  I poured through Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s latest book, The Golden Son – a great book, with rich, wonderful characters.  If you haven’t picked it up yet, I highly recommend it!

Anyway, I got to talking to my nieces about their books and learned that one of my nieces was reading Shonda Rhimes’ book, Year of Yes.  The basic premise of the book revolves around Shonda’s sister telling her:  “You never say yes to anything”.  As a result, Shonda committed to saying “yes” to everything for one year.  I haven’t personally read the book yet, but that doesn’t really matter.  The idea behind the book is really the point.  And it got me thinking…

My basic default is to say “yes” to most things in life.  I hate to disappoint people, and so I take on various commitments, often without much thought – yes to being class parent for both kids’ classes, yes to various other roles at their schools, yes to charitable commitments… the list goes on.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy many of these things – but not all of them.  And I often find that having said “yes” to so many things leaves me with little time to dedicate to other pursuits.

Given this, it would seem reasonable for me to say that this should be the Year of No.  But that wouldn’t be the right answer and it would be an inaccurate description of my life.  Because, truth be told, I also say no to some things because I feel uncomfortable or nervous.  There are various social commitments that intrigue me, but I worry about not knowing other people or feeling out of my depth and so I tend to decline them.  It’s only after-the-fact that I realize that I missed out on a great time and the opportunity to meet new, interesting people.

So, with all of this said, I have landed on the following for 2016…  This year, I want to be more mindful and reflective of my decisions.  Where I once would have said “yes” without any thought, I want to pause and perhaps say “let me get back to you on that” before making a final decision.  And I also want to push myself outside of my comfort zone to consider invitations that might make me wary, but that will undoubtedly be a positive in the end.

Happy New Year to you.  I hope that you are as excited as I am by all that 2016 has to offer!