Versatile Blogger Award

versatile-blogger-award

There is no bigger compliment than receiving acknowledgment from fellow writers.  The Ink Owl has nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award which I am so appreciative of and I hold this nomination in the highest regard-Thanks.  Please head on over and check out The Ink Owl to discover his contributions of fiction, fantasy, and real life.

Blogs that I feel deserve the same respect and acknowledgment are listed below, each of these blogs has their own unique blend of content and offer a wide assortment of quality writing.

  1. Orlando Espinosa – need inspiration and motivation? Here’s your man;
  2. The Road to There – another great site for empowerment, inspiration and a personal journey to enlightenment;
  3. Adventure 57 – Well written and visually stunning;
  4. Mirror & Soul – Life from a mom’s perspective, positive thinking at its best;
  5. Be Like Water Production – Little of this with some of that in the multimedia world;
  6. My Five Experts – Need help blogging? Great informative content;
  7. Altered Nature Gyotaku – Blog with artistic flare;
  8. Follow Your Arrow – Follow her path and journey to help your own;
  9. Sparky Jen – Another positive thinker with wisdom to share;
  10. The Watts – A glimpse into the life of a young family with very informative posts for raising kids;
  11. The Nostalgia Diaries – A look back in reflection, good for the soul;
  12. Positive Mindset 2017 – Simply positivity, see for yourself;
  13. Thoughts and Afterthoughts – Free thinking and beautiful poetry;
  14. Food Fit Fun – Loads of information on healthy living;
  15. PalHachi – Nice blog with great use of visual elements.

These are some of the more deserving examples of what my blog community can provide for a world of readers waiting to discover them. Each one of the contributors that I have listed above has written their way into my daily routine and I’m sure once your click on their links for yourself, you will find the same. Great job to you all and I feel each one of you are deserving of the Versatile Blogger Award, keep blogging on.

SEVEN THINGS ABOUT ASH

  1. I don’t always refer to myself in the third person;
  2. I love to bike;
  3. Leave no pun left behind;
  4. Gym rat;
  5. Not writing gives me anxiety;
  6. Was raised by my grandparents;
  7. Favourite author is Neil Parischa.

I am grateful to The Ink Owl in recognizing me for this award and I’m glad to pay it forward with my thoughts and feelings of some of my fellow writers that share their stories each and every day.  It takes a lot to put yourself out there and share pieces of ourselves with the world and for that I commend you.  Never stop writing and never not sharing because your audience is waiting.

Thanks, Ash

“Forget Me Never”

(I thought I’d share this poem that was taken from a journal of mine, it was written July 26, 2006.)

Forget Me Never
by Ash

Forget me never;
Forget me not.

Times we loved;
Times we fought.

We walked alone;
We walked together.

Forget me not;
Forget me never.

 

Pain in the Ash

I’ve been nursing a real bad neck as of late, I have no idea what might have caused it, all I know is that it’s been nagging me for awhile now. It could be the gym, quite possibly from shoveling or maybe it’s the way I slept, something has been causing me to slow turn my head for the past two weeks. I was never one to just tolerate the pain so I have been doing my best to rehab it as much as possible, so far, though, the pain keeps coming back.  Over the years I’ve  accumulated my share of bumps, bruises, and broken bones but with time I healed and the pain all went away, I always bounced back 100%.

This neck thing does bother me a lot, but I’m still doing everything I normally do, there’s a discomfort but I manage the pain enough to get through it. To aid in my recovery, I’m using the help of the gym, heating lotions, stretching and my doctor has prescribed me some pills too but I only take them when I absolutely need to (not a fan).  I have resorted to a more physiotherapy like approach when it comes to my gym workout and I make sure not to overdo it which is important when you are rehabbing any type of injury. Best not to push it and make something worst.  If you sit at a desk all week like I do it’s good to take some time during your day to work out your strained muscles, working in front of a monitor can wreak havoc on your posture and can also make an existing injury flare up something fierce.  I try to pay attention to how I am sitting to alleviate some discomfort created by slouching or hunching over at my desk which I’m guilty of from time to time.  Heat has seemed to provide me with the most relief; I have been using a magic bag and a heat rub to loosen the tight muscles in my neck. When it comes to our bodies, we know ourselves the best and we all respond to treatment differently; some of the things that I have suggested are things that you can try for yourself.  I do want to point out that if you are experiencing pain on any level, it’s best to consult a doctor and then with that advice you can start your road to recovery.

Dealing with pain is awful; my stepfather had to live with pain each and every day for about a five year period not long ago.  He injured himself on the job and was faced with a future of surgeries, painkillers, and extensive rehab that even then provided no absolute surety that he would get back to his old self. I saw that man who is by far the strongest man I know concede that he was at the mercy of chronic pain and on his darkest day cursed everything and wanted to quit. I earned a lot of respect for people suffering in chronic pain because of the hell my stepdad had to endure during his recovery. Because of his will and the support of the family, he’s completely back to himself today but for awhile there, he was doubtful that he would ever truly be rid of the pain entirely.

Staying healthy is a challenge, we try our best to take care of ourselves but sometimes the unpredictability of life proves that anything can happen. We break and bleed all the time, as far back as our days of bumping into corners and falling off our bikes, we are all too familiar with the feeling of pain. Now that I’m older it’s becoming apparent that I may not fix as easy as I used to, I need to do my part but I also need to accept going to the doctor when something doesn’t feel right. I know people who avoid the hospital at all the time which actually puzzles me, why?  Ego? Denial? I can’t answer that question for anyone but myself but I hope my dialog has made you think about how important it is to look after yourself.  We have friends and family that love and depend on us so we have to think about them too, they matter and so do you, don’t forget that. My neck got me thinking and this post was just my way of exploring my thought…next time I make a post though I promise it won’t be so much of a Pain in the Ash.

 

The Streets are Paved in Cold

I watched a movie earlier tonight, “Cardboard Boxer”, not bad of a film.  It starred Thomas Hayden Church and Terrance Howard, and it focused on the homeless.  Watching the main character Thomas Hayden Church fight adversity and survive his way through day to day life on the streets got me thinking.  A few nights ago I went for a walk and later wrote about it, I blogged about how cold it was and how much I hated winter.  It’s true, I was just “vent writing” and emoting my true frustration with how I felt about the dark days of winter.  No question about it, that night was cold, sooo cold, it was bitter and there was snow everywhere I looked.  As I walked along my body was in a full contraction from the brisk night air, I couldn’t help but think about how people who live on the streets do it.  Imagine having no place to go and having to try to find somewhere warm to sleep every night of your life, not only that you have to feed yourself too.

We witness this all the time, we pass by the usual suspects every day on our lunch breaks that give us their best pitch Monday through Friday to score just a little bit of change.  As soon as that interaction of just a quick yes or no is over, you move on with your life.  We go back to discussing what plans we have for the weekend or how good our workout was that day, the question of where you were sleeping tonight never entered your thoughts.  That night as I walked I thought about it a lot, I was freezing, yes I was wimping out a bit too but I was content knowing I had a warm home to return to.  I asked myself what I would do, what would be my gut instinct, could I be capable of the lasting a night like that on the street?  Probably not, but it humbled me knowing how fortunate I was and how my problems just don’t seem as important anymore.  I look out the window and I see a driveway that needs to be shoveled or I see a hinderance to my morning commute, I can’t appreciate the challenges they must endure each and every day battling mother nature.

The next time you pass by someone who could use some help, do so, give them a chance.  Yes, I know, how can you be sure where the money is going?  So many questions rush through your mind during that microtransaction, it’s milliseconds, we are quick to judge.  We can stand there all day morally debating if we should but we already know the answer to that question.  How much do we waste each day on the simplest of pleasures that we enjoy, ask yourself again, can you afford to give?  I bet the answer is yes, we just try to find answers for saying no, like we have something to prove.  We honestly don’t know where we will find ourselves in life, there are peaks and valleys in every dynamic.

That night made me realize that sometimes I do take life for granted and I do have it good but sometimes I think otherwise.  I have a roof over my head, a job that I go to from week to week and a family that love and care for me.  Appreciate the fact that you have cable and that the internet exists, a trip to the store takes 5 minutes by car, we got it pretty good.  Give of yourself, help out at a soup kitchen, donate your used clothing, do whatever you can because at the end of the day if you give back to the people that need it the most it can slowly become the only change they might need.

Weather or not?

I went for a walk last night and boy was it cold, the air was crisp, the snow made crunchy noises under my feet and my face kept seizing up on me, ah winter.  Didn’t matter what the temperature was, I determined to get a walk in, it was a beautiful night so I threw on a few layers and took off.  I kind of fast walked at first which warmed me a little, then when I passed the point of no return I had no choice but to see it through.  As I paced along kicking the scatter chunk of ice I thought, we are nowhere near the end of the winter season and it is really starting to get to me.  I’ve lived here on this island for my entire life and you would think by now I would be used to the cold Atlantic Canadian winters but that is by far the polar opposite (pun intended).

Yesterday morning we had 30+ centimeters dumped on us which we all had to wake up to and to add to that, had to do so on Monday morning-gross.  Yeah the 5:30 wake-up call from the neighbor’s idling snowblower is always an indication that there was shoveling in my future, it was about to be a “morning”.  Feeling robbed already of my weekend I turned over and made a cave with my pillows complete with a tiny hole with a perfect view of the alarm clock.  Lying there defeated by mother nature along with a severe case of the Mondays, I started doing the math in my head of the steps between getting out of bed and sitting at my desk.  On the verge of facing the harsh reality that I had to move my lazy butt and very close to leaving the sanctuary of bed when all of the sudden, my face started buzzing.  It was a call from my co-worker, she was calling to tell me that work had a delayed opening, yes…there is a god.  There’s no better feeling than looking outside at winter punching everything in the face and then being told that there’s no work, how old am I again?  With the anxiety of white-knuckle traffic and snow drifts lifted off my shoulders I returned to the blanketed abyss because it’s a snow day.  Well, it was more like a snow morning but like I said, after losing the weekend and on top of that a Monday morning, I’ll take it.  (Ash 1 Winter 0)

Oh yeah, I hate not having sidewalks. (Ash 1 Winter 1)

Round Here!

I was sitting down the other night staring outside my living room window with a drink in my hand and the way it looked outdoors reminded me of what it was like at Christmas time in the small town where I grew up.  It was the second time that day that I started to think about home actually, I walked to the store earlier that evening and had the same reminiscent feeling come over me.  The snow had just fallen and the street lights had this orange tinge to it, the atmosphere was thought provoking and I began to flashback to another time.  As I trudged along I began to think how walking was a huge part of how I celebrated Christmas, one tradition that I really enjoyed was going door to door to have a few drinks and spend time with friends and neighbors.  It didn’t matter either what part of the town you lived in for everywhere was within walking distance and there was no need for a drop off or cabs like you have to accommodate for in the big city, nope it was two legs and a heartbeat that got you to where you needed to be.

I had a lot of good ol’ times at Christmas with my friends but one friend in particular was always by my side and that was Willie, he was my best friend and pretty much anything thing that I did, he was always a part of it.  Every night during the holidays the phone would ring and it would be Willie wondering if I was ready and if he should leave his house to come down to my grandparents where I lived.  I ‘d tell him to get his butt down here and within minutes of hanging up the phone he would come strolling  in all decked out in his Christmas best grinning ear to ear in the best of moods, although he knew I was there he always asked anyway – “Is Ash here?”.  My grandmother would call out to me and give him the ceremonial “sit down Willie my dear; you’re not a stranger now are ya?”  He would then slowly proceed to take a seat at the kitchen table acting like it was his first time he had ever visited; he was always his bashful self when it came to my grandmother.  Once I finished getting ready I too also took a seat at kitchen table, “my spot” as it were and all was in now in place.  My grandmother, god love her, would already have a pre-purchased six pack stored covertly under her bed for such an occasion, she seemed content when we spent time together and she especially enjoyed the fact that we were there, it was like company for her too.  Our nights always started at Nan and Pop’s place and once we felt like moving on my grandmother would make sure we had our hats and mitts (“yes nan we do”) and see us to the door where she would leave us with “stay out of trouble and be careful”.

It took us no time before we were sat at another kitchen table being poured a drink of our choice and being ushered to take off our coats and stay awhile.  All the homes were nestled together on the hillside so once we ventured on from one place there would be someone else bellowing from their patios for us to join them; this would go on all night.  Yarns were spun and good times were had by all, Christmas spirit was in abundance and no doubt our glasses stay filled the night through.  Small town life has a different feel to it; everybody knows who you are and what family you came from and after twenty minute of drilling you with questions regarding your upbringing you could pretty much clue up your family tree in one sitting.  There was no traffic in site, the houses had Christmas lights which illuminated the pathways just enough to show us the way.  We were always met with a Merry Christmas or a Happy New Year by all whom passed by and we would often pick up a strangler or two nowhere near done with their night of festivities, the more the merrier we’d say.  There was a sense of belonging no matter where you went, everyone felt like family and would make sure to offer a spare room or the couch if things got a little too fuzzy.

Every year for many years Willie and I would do this and it was a tradition that we kept alive for much of our young adult lives.  When I think back today it makes me feel good that I had to the chance to spend some quality moments with someone who was very near and dear to my heart, someone like Willie.   Looking back in hind sight and especially now that he has passed on I’m very thankful that I had gotten the chance to be friends with such a wonderful guy who I miss every day.

Willie was also good friends with my uncles as well, so whenever we were together there was a good chance that one if not all my uncles were there too (I had five).  Never a dull moment with them around trust me, they would torment us and call us light weights when it came to drinking and every now and again we would get body slammed into a snow bank for no apparent reason at all.  There was no point in retaliation either because it only came back worst then the first time around but it was all in good fun and that was the genuine theme when we were all together was to “have fun”.  They ‘re all a good bunch of guys who have created beautiful families of their own and I miss hanging out with them like that, it seems like it was a lifetime ago but the memories are just as vivid as if it had happened only yesterday.  Stop and think about that someone that you miss spending time with and if they are still reachable and a part of your life then call them up and go spend time with them, it’s the perfect opportunity this time of  year to do it.

As Willie and I got older we migrated from just going door to door to visiting the local watering hole, the “Hook N’ Line”, which at the time was owned by my parents so most nights we’d wind up there.  A huge congregation of familiar faces filled the room as we escaped a cold winter’s night; it was like walking into Cheers on TV where everyone knew your name.  There was always an energized atmosphere about the place with people laughing, carrying on and a game of pool usually took center stage as people young and old alike would try for bragging rights in an impromptu on the spot Christmas tournament.  The pub was all decorated, music was festive, the place was packed to its capacity, a prime opportunity to see some of your old friends and catch up.  There were some good times that we had back then at that quaint little bar, for the most part it seemed like the whole community was there all coming together to celebrate the holidays by sharing stories and drinks until the wee hours in the morning only to do it all over again the very next evening.

So the other night as I looked outside it was no different than most nights but for some reason it struck me differently, I was gifted with memories of Christmases past, it was nice.  I remember those days fondly and in retrospect I’m grateful to have been asked to be a part of so many peoples’ lives in celebrating Christmas in small town Newfoundland.  I was welcomed into their homes to share in their joy which I sometimes miss but we all have to move on which may mean leaving home behind to find a life for ourselves somewhere’s else.  No matter where that journey takes us we can always look back, we may not be able to recreate the past but the past is a big part of who we are today and how we continue to celebrate the holidays.

It’s true, we all have loved ones that are no longer with us, for me they include some that I have mentioned in this post.  It makes me sad yeah, but it also makes me feel good that I have memories that they will always be a part of, that night while I walked to the store or while I looked from my window might have been a gesture from above that they too are missing me.  Just take inventory of what makes you happy and use that to celebrate who you still have in your lives, eat good food and share great stories while keeping their spirits alive and those traditions going.  If you feel lonely during the holidays maybe it’s an indication that you need to get back in touch with someone or somewhere, the solution may be just as simple as picking up the phone or knocking on that that door and I bet there’s a friendly face waiting on the other side maybe thinking the very same thing.  I leave you with a simple thought that whether it’s a kitchen party, a drink with a best friend or a pub full of friendly faces, the only thing that should be on anyone’s mind during Christmas is “who’s got the next round?”

Cheers

 

Nick of Time

I’ve made it to tibbs eve, the shopping is done, it’s snowing outside and I just poured a drink-Merry Christmas everybody.  People were hustling and bustling at the malls,traffic created some white knuckled moments, and there’s a turkey keeping my fridge door from shutting all the way, all sure signs that Santa is soon coming to town.  Everyone I saw tonight looked relatively happy as they buzzed around putting final touches on the last of their holiday lists.  Sales at every turn, “excuse me” was the phrase of choice and I even passed a lineup of cheerful kids waiting for a photo op with the man in red himself all just in the “nick”of time.

There’s so much that needs to be done before the big day and it’s only now that I got the opportunity to make a blog post and ironically also in the nick of time.  I had to make some sort of post for the conditions are all there.   There’s a blizzard outside, the tree is beautiful with all those lights, gifts are being wrapped and christmas music has created the perfect atmosphere for me to write.  An atmosphere that makes me think back on old times trying to recall some of the things that I did as a kid to celebrate the day before the eve of Christmas.  Memories of happy times and how for that one time of year family was first, food was plentiful and the world seems to stop, even if for a few short days.

People are winding down their workloads, shutting off their lights and punching out for some well deserved quality time with family and friends.  Gathering together and enjoying each other as much as possible, eating, drinking and just creating special moments with the people we love, I love this time of year.  Life throws so much at us, it allows us to become distracted from what matters the most.  To get time like this to forget all that and just focus on our closest bff’s and the kinfolk are times to be celebrated-embrace it.  My grandmother loved Christmas, she loved people and with her, there was no such thing as too many, everybody was welcomed no matter what.  She was in her glee when there was a constant roar in of conversation in the kitchen and drink of whiskey in her hand, that smirk on her face when you questioned what was in her glass would guarantee to make your heart smile.

Miss somebody? Christmas is famous for that as well unfortunately, this time of year can remind us of that void in our lives but that’s ok  because we need that too.  Sure it sucks reminiscing about a time that no longer includes a certain someone, but for the time that they were around I bet there are some unforgettable Christmases that were spent together.  I miss my grandparents, my uncles and friends a lot at Christmas time but thinking about them also makes me feel at peace with the fact that are gone but am reassured that they will never be forgotten.  They will be forever a part of me and this time of the year brings that out the most.

Like I said, it’s the day before Christmas eve and I’m sure there are traditions that you’re recreating right now with the people you love and spend time with.  Card games, marathon gift wrapping, and shed parties are only examples of all that tends to happen on a day like today.  One example I guess is the last minute shopping tradition, the one that I was a part of earlier, well, at least I know that I am not the only one, it’s not on purpose I promise.  Any traditions you keep? Anything that has to happen for you or Christmas just don’t seem the same?

The weather is horrible too, Santa’s sleigh would have come in handy on night like tonight.  That said, now that I’m inside looking at the snowfall, it does give me a very festive feeling inside.  I have always wanted to have snow on Christmas, it just doesn’t have that same feel to it without a slight dusting of the white stuff.  I went for a walk a few nights ago and the snow had just fallen and  you know, with the Christmas lights it  completely made me feel all nostalgic.  I couldn’t help but think about what it was like for me as a kid when I too was going to bed early and hoping I was good enough to make the nice list and Santa was going to bring me that GT Snowracer I wanted so badly this one year.  Last week my little nephew was visiting us (he’s three) and I got the chance to see  a glimpse of what Christmas means to a kid whose enchanted by the spirit of the holidays and it showed me once again that is truly all about the kids.

So I leave you with a wish of a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, I thank you all for reading my blog, I appreciate every view, like and follow.  I started this blog not knowing if I would be this far invested but I am starting to realize that I enjoy sharing with you my thoughts and feelings about the world around me.  Have a safe holiday and all the best in the 2017.

Merry Christmas

Ash

 

Because Your Gift, Your Gift is on My List

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and I would imagine that panic has started to set in for some, while for others, maybe not so much.  No matter where you look there are trees beautifully decorated, extravagant displays fill store windows and Santa’s waving his way through street parades.  All constant reminders that we need to start to think about crossing people off that list of ours because time is getting short.  Each day that goes by the bargains start to dwindle and merchandise will be soon become scarce, I urge you to get out there now and start shopping, no seriously go.

One tool in any disciplined shopper’s arsenal to beat the holiday anxiety would be to create a Christmas shopping list.  A Christmas list can reduce a lot of stress this time of year because once complete you can then start a strategic plan of attack, just getting it down on paper would definitely make you feel a little better at least.  These lists help us prioritize the given with the maybe, the easy to shop for with the not so easy to shop for.  Your list will grow and so will the anxiety, those names with blanks spaces by them will probably make you stress out but keep moving forward because each year your gift creativity might be challenged, but it’s Christmas so challenge accepted, right?

I’m sure you have made little notes of subtle hints and clues left by friends and family over the past few weeks and months.  These hints I hope have not fell on deaf ears with you around, the best gift-giver in the world as you rush to the list and scratch down as many ideas as you can hoping to find that perfect something and lock it in.  It’s no easy task playing Santa every holiday season, well, Santa’s helper that is, there’s a lot of thought that goes into creating a Christmas of ooo’s and ah’s.  Finding that perfect gift brings a huge sense of satisfaction, it’s a huge weight off your shoulders especially when it’s a rare find or that item that everybody seems to want this year, you even rush to wrap it right away.  Nothing like leaving the store beaming knowing that all your hard work had paid off, you did it, you found that perfect something and it only took you three hours standing in line and a few elbows to the face to do it.

Christmas lists are ever-changing with people getting added, some not making the cut this year and those who will never leave your list no matter what and is starting to become too difficult to shop for by the way.  BIG gifts, small gifts, joke gifts and the special gifts, they all started with some sort of list, a collective inventory of who gets what and why.  Whether it was a mental note you made or you went elf level and Microsoft Excel’d that sh*t, either way they likely started with a “list”.  When do you make your list?  When do you start to write down names alongside the ideas, some ideas with circles around them, some might have underlines and some may go as far as having a circle with an underline. We constantly jot down and scratch out little notes to ourselves as the holidays draw near,  all of us moving toward the same goal, surviving Christmas.  We scramble to get stuff done with our crumpled paper in hand and after losing two pens already we trudge along thumbing our lists.   So many list categories of which include fundraiser gifts, the boss gift, and of course the “Secret Santa” gift, all with their own micro budgets and all with their own degree of difficulty.  One thing to remember though, is no matter what, the lists are all scared, no peeking or you will ruin the surprise.  There’s a code of silence and an agreed upon mystique about what is asked for and what is given.

It would be sacrilege to make a post about lists and not include children.  Let’s face it, if it weren’t for the children and their handwritten pleas to Santa to reward a year of being good there would be no need for lists.  There is nothing better for the soul then reading a letter from a child caught up in the wonders of the holiday season.  The happiness of seeing your kids opening their gifts on Christmas morning is what captures the essence of gift giving and the smiles on their faces is what makes Christmas all worth it. 

There are a lot of emotions surrounding the holidays and some of those emotions might be of sadness, we may have lost loved ones or moved away to another part of the world.  Christmas can and will bring some of that, but why not use Christmas to help others in need, take a second and maybe add someone new to your list that are struggling or going through a real tough time.  Make them a part of your own holiday tradition, they might need a little joy to turn everything all around.  It’s easy to get all caught up in what we need or want but remember there are those who are less fortunate, those who struggle everyday let alone Christmas.  If you do have the ability to pay it forward then write that on the top of your things to do.

It’s December 7th, 2016 and it’s full on Christmas, people are freaking out and some are thinking about doing some baking this weekend because their done, all their lists are behind them (insert bitterness here).  If you are like me you might be somewhere in the middle, knocked out a few but there is still a way to go.  The count downs have begun but it’s still no need to go full on panic attack that you left everything to the last minute, there’s still time.  I have had the occasion where on one Christmas Eve I passed a man with no more that 20 minutes left to shop say to a friend of his in passing that he had nothing done, crazy…or in my opinion selfish.  Leaving your shopping to the last-minute will only bring on bad appliances, way too expensive jewelry and another bad sweater that dad seems to never wear, a gift should come from the heart and with a lot more thought.

Questions like “how’s your shopping going? or “Are you all done?” are usually the second or third thing that is mentioned when I talk to people these days and with that comes that internal dialog of what’s left on my lists.  No doubt that Christmas has a way of creeping up on us, we sometimes show shades of our inner Grinch and resent the holidays but if you think about it, it only comes once a year so we should embrace it.  Enjoy the time with your family, have that drink with your colleague because we only get one day a year to “Christmas and chill”.  There’s bound to be some obstacles and moments of stress but that’s where we need to help each other make it the best Christmas yet both giving and receiving.  So if you have a list or need to make one then go ahead because your gift, your gift is on my list, of the best things in life.

I know, bad Hall & Oates tie-in with the closing…

😉

 

 

“Hold Me Clothes and Never Let Go”

I’m not sure why but the other day I thought about this jacket that I use to wear all the time when I was in my twenties, it was brown leather with a seventies style to it, very Donnie Brascoish.  I swear it felt like it was made specifically just for me, I loved it and only got rid of it a couple of years ago.  A brief history about this coat, back in the day my best friend Danny and I would visit the local thrift store on a weekly basis, it was a part of our roommate routine.  We’d both spend hours combing through old vintage clothing hoping to score some new digs, well…new to us at least.  Sifting through racks upon racks meticulously choosing what we liked, there were some hits and even more misses, the harder we looked the more gems we’d find.   One day we were both determined to score what we thought was the pinnacle of all university student thrift shopping and that was the “vintage jacket”.  It was our main objective and it wasn’t going to be easy because at the time retro jackets were a trend (we totally started it by the way).  After trying on what seemed to be every jacket they had for sale and on the verge of giving up there it was, in perfect condition, not a blemish on it and even had all the buttons still intact.  I quickly called dibs and as soon as I put the coat on I knew it was mine, fit like a glove in a very jackety way, best find ever.

(Crazy fact about the coat is that in the inside pocket there was a movie ticket stub that was issued in 1977, the same year as I was born and only 10 days off my birthday.)

Like I mentioned it was just a couple of years ago that I had to say goodbye to the old potential heirloom for it could not just hang there anymore serving no purpose.  Finally the jacket had run its course for any need that I had for it,…it was a very sad day, I said goodbye to an old friend.   I relinquished it back to the realm of thrift store purgatory where someday it might catch the eye of another retro jacket connoisseur and give someone else as much use as it did me.  That coat saw me through some of the best years of my life and when I think about it, it brings back a slew of memories.  I held on to it for as long as I could, I’d try to convince myself over and over that someday I would wear it again, someday, no seriously it still fit.  Who was I kidding?   The jacket made me look like a baby in a two sizes too small sleeper, I was clearly in denial, after a few moments alone with the coat I said a few words and placed the jacket in the goodwill bag then ran to my room crying.  No I didn’t cry, well maybe a little, it was dusty in the room.  No I was actually very happy that I donated the jacket back to where I had gotten it from some years ago, it had gone full circle and who knows where it might turn up next.

I bet as you’re reading this you too can recall some item of clothing that you held on to maybe a smidge too long and well past its closet expiry date.  I remember pairs of sneakers where my pinky toe holes gave away the colour of my socks and ball caps having sweat stain rings but it didn’t matter because of the perfect curved peek.  Looking back at my jacket, that cap and those shoes, it kind of, in a way acts like a synthetic journal quickly flashing up thoughts and memories which are forever attached to them.  There are chapters of my life that can be chronologically profiled with the help of some of my wardrobe, stages of my life that can be cat-walked down a ramp as my voice narrates in the background.  If you were to look through your closet now, is there anything that you just can’t throw away?  Are there items that have stood the test of time because you couldn’t bare parting ways with it or maybe the emotional attachment that it may hold?

Clothing can carry sentimental value for some of us, I still have to this day a dress shirt, t-shirt and suspenders combo that my grandfather use to wear.  It hangs in my closet and from time to time when I’m digging out something on a daily basis to wear I pass it on the hanger and instantly start to think about him.  My grandfather must have had twenty of the same combination of that dress shirt, t-shirt, and suspenders trifecta.  He certainly loved to rock the flannel, and  when I pass by it at the end of my shirt rack each morning I’m glad in this case I held on to the past.  I kept my grandfather’s ensemble because when I look at it, it makes me happy and when I think of him that’s how I picture him and he’s rocking the flannel as only he could.  We get these emotional attachments to the clothes that we wear because quite frankly and as funny as it may seem the clothes has been there with us the whole way.  That one suit we had straight out of college that helped us make it to interview after interview, that dress that has seen itself go from maid of honour duties to a night on the town, how something as simple as what we wore on a certain day can have so many emotions attached to it.

Emotions are one thing but people also care about their identity when we decide to put something on.  Clothing can also become synonymous with who we are, I knew a guy in high school who always wore a ball cap and he just became known for the cap, then there was the parachute pants girl, turtleneck guy…the list goes on.   I’m sure most of you can remember someone based solely on some item of clothing that they wore all the time or maybe there’s someone who you know now.  I was briefly known in political science class as the guy in the green puffy vest, yes I said “puffy”…moment of silence for the  90’s puffy vests .  Ok let’s forget the puffy green vest but my point is that certain clothing can define who we are or who we were.  I grew up playing sports and every time I put on a jersey as a kid it felt like something I would be doing for the rest of my life.   That phase came and went just as many did after, but when I see a jersey now or even get to try one on it takes me right back to the good ol’ high school days where sports consumed my life.  If you take a look at who you are today as compared to whom you were there may be similarities and I’m positive a lot of differences.  How has you’re style changed?  Has it changed at all?  Were you once a t-shirt and jeans guy and now it’s nothing only suits or maybe you’re a girl who wore nothing but black in college but now anything else is the new black.

I hope I was able to make you think a little bit with this post, sometimes when I think about something stuff just pours out.  The jacket meant a lot to me sure, but realistically it was more like a time capsule that took me right back to then and there.  So trust me, go through that closet or clean out your dressers, there may be some stories waiting for you to recreate all over again.  That coat that I bought and the day we spent at the thrift store was a day I will never forget, and a memory like that will always be worth more than the clothes on my back.

 

Merely Christmas Everybody

Remembrance Day is here and….if you haven’t already noticed, Christmas is also making its way from our subconscious to the conscious pretty quickly. It was not but the first of November when I started to see little glimpses of the holidays pop up all around me. The TV was full of toy commercials, stores all in a mad frenzy getting their Christmas displays front and center and in plain view.  Just the other day I even saw a neighbor down the street inflating a snowman on his front lawn, OK…the snowman is a bit much in my opinion but no matter what I think the holidays are out in full force.

Like most, I don’t really like to think about Christmas until after Remembrance Day but I know there are many people out there that can’t wait to start preparing their lists for another marathon of gift giving and the chaos that it brings with it.  I think we all should take the time to remember those that have given their lives and continue to give their lives for our freedom instead of allowing the thoughts of Christmas to overshadow their sacrifices.  If it were not for those sacrifices we wouldn’t have the freedoms we have today, it would be whole different world that we would be living in and that’s something that we should never forget.  Once the 11th of November gets the attention that it deserves we can all then focus on the upcoming festive season but let’s just ease into it shall we?

Not sure you feel the same but no matter where I turn these days I see Christmas already becoming mainstream with the commercials, the tv specials and my inbox at work slowly filling with invites and save the dates.  Office chatter begins to sound like to-do lists, water cooler talk fills with “started your shopping yet?”and tickets and fundraisers finally give my pocket change a purpose.  There’s no turning back now, if you have a inner Grinch then prepare to release the Kraken.

I have to admit that the holidays do bring a certain feel of anxiety for me, an anxiety that may not be warranted because no matter what, Christmas will show up and like each year before, I get through it.  That said, the thought of lists and budgets still start to dance around my head, and the radio countdown on the morning commute telling me there’s only seven more weeks to shop is very stress inducing, not going to lie.  As in years past, the promise was always to get an early jump, that seemed very practical in theory but here I am once again wishing my time back.  No matter how many times I tell myself that next year will be different, I end up in the exact same state of mind year after year, creature of habit indeed.  How can we really avoid not thinking about it anyway when it’s been thrown in your face earlier and earlier each year.  It’s hard enough to slow down in our crazy lives we don’t need to start thinking about how poor January will be the last week in October.

I don’t mean to convey that Christmas should come at a huge cost but we have to admit it does comes with some costs and we do need to be creative with balancing the books for December.  It must be really difficult for parents who find this time of the year hard to be able to get through a day without feeling the stress of affording to pull off Christmas.  This day in age there are so many things that kids want that come with a huge price tag, parents must really feel the pinch, I really don’t know how they do it.  I’m thankful for being able to provide the things required to make a happy christmas for my family, I can’t imagine what some people must be going through right now facing the same challenge.  It must be hard with all the constant reminders that I wrote about throughout this blog and if I ever have the opportunity to give back to someone in need, I do so as much as I can to hopefully help them achieve their own special holiday.  For the last two years I have helped with a huge community dinner and seeing the looks on those kids faces as they were given a gift directly from Santa with their names on it was all the reward I needed.  It was very humbling and I was happy that I had the chance to give back in a way like providing a hot meal and gifts at Christmas time.  Witnessing the reactions of the kids and seeing the parents with joy on their faces is really what the season is all about.  If you have the chance to give back I encourage you do so, you’ll get to meet some good people and be a part of something full of “feel good”.

The holidays have a different effect on all of us, we all have our own memories and feel a certain way when this time of year rolls around.  It’s a fact that Christmas, unfortunately is driven commercially and that’s why we see it so  much and so early each year.  Big corporations beating each other to the punch and tiptoeing the fine lines of what’s too soon to run their holiday campaigns.  One of the common things that I hear regarding the early jump on Christmas is the response of “not before Remembrance Day” I completely agree we that, some seem to agree as well, some say they don’t care and some say “why not both?”.  So like everything, we all can agree to disagree but individually we can make that choice for ourselves.

Time flies for sure, I just wrote in my post before this one that October was here and gone, I’m posting this today November 11th, 2016 and Christmas is like my car radio says, seven weeks away.  Everybody take a moment and realize why today is a holiday, take a moment and google some of the reasons we have the freedom to blog, post, and instagram.  Our world exist because they fought for what was right, they fought for a free world and they fought for our future and still continue to do so.  Let’s not forget and do so in your own little way, there is plenty time to put elf on the shelf and plenty time to talk gift cards.

When tomorrow comes we can all start to embrace the oncoming season of greetings, so go break out the boxes marked front porch lights and tree stand(new one), determine who makes the Christmas card list this year and who doesn’t.  Go ahead and start that holiday wish list, make sure to dig out some old recipes you keep promising to make each year and don’t, why you’re at it click some of those Christmas party responses you’ve been avoiding for a week now-it’s time.  My friends tomorrow we can all go to our respective corners and come out to take on the holidays as best we can but remember it’s “Merely Christmas Everybody” so play fair and let’s have a good season.