Songs that have left an impact

I cannot imagine a life without music.  It is a part of my everyday and the emotions that I experience because of music, are essential to my being.   God blessed me with this love and appreciation of music and I am thankful everyday for it.

There are certain songs in everyone’s life, that you will always associate with a moment – either a memory, a time period – but in some way, the song remains with you and will always stir certain emotions.

What are your 5 songs that have left a mark on you?  Can you narrow down your top 5?

My top 5 songs are as follows:

  1.  Vasinava Janato/Raghupati Paghava Raja Ram – Ravi Shankar, The Wren Orchestra- This song plays at the end of one of my favourite movies – Gandhi.  I first heard it when I was 8 years old and the beauty of the song has remained with me.  If I need to be moved and calmed, this is the song for me.  I grew up going to the Mandir and hearing Raghupati Paghava Raja Ram and singing it, but hearing this version, for me, was such a spiritual experience.  My parents both loved this song and it is one of my father-in-law’s favourite Bhajans.   It truly has everything – a beautiful melody, meaningful lyrics and beautiful orchestration.  Coming on 40 years, this song remains an important song to me.  For me – it represents my roots, my spirituality and love.
  2. They Won’t Go When I Go – George Michael – written by Stevie Wonder in 1974 – So many intersections connecting on this song, to make it perfect for me.  Written by Stevie Wonder, who I think is one of the best songwriters and musicians of all time, in the year I was born, sung by one of my favourite singers of all time – George Michael.  This song’s haunting beauty has always resonated with me.  Again, this song never fails to move me and I can listen to it on repeat non stop, without tiring of it.  I remember the first time hearing it and wishing that I could share it with everyone I loved, so that they could experience what I was experiencing, because I knew I would never be able to communicate it.  When I was younger, I dreamed of George Michael singing it to me – just the 2 of us, with a choir in the back, and big grand piano.  I had a very vivid imagination, which really sustained me growing up. That never came to be, but I was fortunate enough to see George Michael when he last came to Toronto in concert, and it was one of the best musical experiences of my life.  The song for me is the embodiment of pathos.
  3. By Your Side – Sade – This was our wedding song, but beyond this, I truly believe that this song was my pathway to finding my husband.  I fell in love with this song when it was released in 2000.  When my good friend and I went to Reading, UK in 2001, to meet up with her now husband, I brought this CD with me and I remember listening to it with them, as their love was rekindling, and becoming resolute in stating that this song inspired me to know what I was looking for in the love of my life.  It became a road map for me to know that until I met someone who made me feel as if this song was written for us, that I could accept no less.  And one of the first presents I sent to my now husband, when we first met, was this CD, because I knew that he inspired the feelings in this song!  It is a song about, for me, that represents what my husband and I feel – that we will always have each other’s back, no matter what!
  4. Everything is Everything – Lauryn Hill – This entire album is an essential part of my musical collection, but this song, it was an anthem for me and remains a song of inspiration.  My brother gave me the CD for my birthday and again, one of the best musical presents I have ever received.  He had just returned from a trip to Ottawa and after he gave it to me, I listened to it non-stop.  This song asks all of the right questions and again, the music and the lyrics speak to me personally.    Take this:

Sometimes it seems
We’ll touch that dream
But things come slow or not at all
And the ones on top, won’t make it stop
So convinced that they might fall
Let’s love ourselves and we can’t fail
To make a better situation
Tomorrow, our seeds will grow
All we need is dedication

5. I’ll be there for you/You’re All I need to get by – Method Man/Mary J Blige – What can I say – Mary J Blige has a voice touched by God and hardship.   You hear it every time she sings.  And this song again is an intersection of so many amazing things – Mary J. Blige, Motown and Method Man.  I love dancing and when I first heard this song in a Club, again, it was one of those moments where I looked around to see if everyone was as uplifted and moved as I was.  Method Man’s rapping is fierce and smooth.  Again – it is a song I requested to be played at our wedding reception because it embodies the joy of finding your true person:

Like sweet morning dew
I took one look at you
And it was plain to see
You were my destiny
With you I’ll spend my time
I’ll dedicate my life, I’ll sacrifice for you
Dedicate my life to you

Those are my songs.  You know from reading my blog, that music is an essential element in my life, as important as breathing to me.  I look forward to seeing how life amends my list going forward and what musical gifts I have yet to encounter.

But that’s just one Diva’s view.

Sleep, Sleep……

There is a story about a former colleague of mine that I have been thinking about a lot.  This colleague’s wife called in at the office and could not reach her husband.  She asked to speak to his assistant, to determine if he was in Court or at meetings and the assistant said that he was supposed to be at the office but had called in sick.

The wife started thinking all sorts of thoughts because clearly her husband was not home sick.  Her husband was not responding to any calls or emails.  At the end of the day, her husband returned home and the wife was livid.  “Where were you?  What were you up to?”  The husband, realizing that he had been caught, admitted, “I was at a hotel”.  “With who?” asked the wife.  “No one,” replied the husband.  “I just needed a day to sleep.  I needed a day by myself to sleep and not be disturbed.”  And he was not lying.  The couple had 2 young kids at the time and between work and a hectic home life, the husband reached the point where he just needed a day to himself, to enjoy one of life’s greatest comforts – sleep.

I think about that story a lot because honestly, sleep has been a luxury for a while now and moments to have a great night’s sleep are few and far between.  I once did an interview where I said that I would choose restful sleep over an expensive piece of jewelry and I stand by that.  Those that know me know how much I love nice jewelry, so that is saying a lot.

I remember seeing a friend of ours with 4 kids before I had children and just aghast about the permanent black patches under her eyes and thinking how does that happen?  Now with my own permanent black patches – I understand.  There is too much to do, not enough time for you and when you should be sleeping, for some reason, your mind turns on and sleep become elusive.  I have lost the ability to truly disconnect and shut down.

For a long time, I had baby monitors in our bedroom to monitor the kids throughout the night.  My son was 3 and I still had his going, because his bedroom was on the other side of the floor from us.  When I went for my physical that year, I indicated that I was not getting enough restful sleep.  My son is not a restful sleeper and so I would be woken throughout the night with his shuffling and re-adjustments.   My doctor finally said to me that if he was sick or needed something, he was old enough that he could make his way to our room.  She was right and it was something that I knew intellectually but needed her to give me permission to act on it.  I got rid of the baby monitor and for a period of time, I was sleeping well (the body was catching up).

But within the last couple of years, I am that person who is awake, without need, at 4am every morning.  I am not rested, and need more sleep, but my mind turns on and once it is on, that’s it.  And once the day starts, there are no breaks.  The mornings are a combination of preparing for the day, getting the kids ready, and then the day is a blur of work, and with lunch time –  a combination of business development, mentorship and running errands.  The evenings are activities for the kids, working out, getting things organized for the next day, and the cycle starts again.

Sometimes I think about amazing naps I have had in the past ….yes – that’s how much I love and miss sleeping.  When I was in residence in undergrad, I had this huge window in my room and even in the winter, the sun would shine in and warm me to every fibre of my being.  Napping with the sun warming me was blissful.  Typically on the week-end, residence was less busy and so the noise was muted, and there were few interruptions.   Those were good naps…..

But there are cycles for everything – aren’t there?  I know that right now, with young kids, sleep is something that I am having to sacrifice.  But as they get older, hopefully, I will be able to find time for sleep.

I recently had dinner with my group of girlfriends I have met through our career in law.  My one friend indicated that her in-laws decided to take the kids for the week-end and she was left, the afternoon before our dinner, with the house to herself.  Instead of working or catching up on things at the house, she slept.  She slept for 3 hours and she said that it was magical.  Those without kids are probably reading this post thinking – magical – really?  But seriously, when she described her nap and the ability to nap guilt and interruption free, the rest of us, just looked at her enviously and in awe……With everything going on in our lives, all of our accomplishments, listening to a description about a nap was like listening to someone win the lottery.

Looking forward to reacquainting myself again with you nap, sweet nap!

But that’s just one Diva’s view.

Small town girl

Recently, I had to travel to Barrie for work.  It is not that far, and throughout my career, I have had to go to Barrie many times, but typically, I arrive, attend the Courthouse or Court Reporting Office and leave.  However, my last visit was different.

There is something different about being in a small town.  Barrie is quite large, but its downtown core is quite small and quaint.  Obviously – less hustle and bustle, but also, an easiness exists, which is refreshing.  This easiness permeates your being and you find that you are less on edge and more willing to go with the flow.  At least, this is what I have found.

I attended on a beautiful summer’s day.  Seriously – blue skies, no clouds and a warmth to the air.  I was attending at an examination for discovery and my client attended, even though he was on vacation and made no complaints.   As I was driving, it was the first time in the 19 years that I have been attending, that I realized how close I was to the Lake, and the walk way around the park – how could I have never noticed this before?

Back to the examination for discovery, or deposition for those of you who watch a lot of American television.  Typically, you have a Court Reporter transcribe the proceeding and our Court Reporter was quite remarkable – she was 80 years old.  However, her hearing was going, which is not a trait one wants in a Court Reporter, but because we were in a small town, no one said anything and every time she asked us to speak up or move closer to her, we just complied.  If she would have said, Speak up sonny, I would not have been able to supress the laughter!

After the discoveries, she and I started chatting and she told me that she was going to become a great grandmother on this day.  Her granddaughter was expecting a little boy and she was hoping that they stuck to a more traditional boy’s name, rather than something too different.  She told me about her experience giving birth to her daughter 60 year’s ago at Toronto Western Hospital, the same hospital where I was born.  She said in those days, the men were not encouraged to attend at the hospital and that only the woman’s mom was in attendance.  However, the mom was not allowed in the delivery room and the woman was by herself.  Quite a contrast to when I had my kids, thankfully!  She then fast forwarded and said that since she had turned 80, she was expected to take a driver’s test and was worried about what that entailed.  She then volunteered that if she failed, then she would retire.  No remorse, no drama – just matter of fact.  Small town values.

And as we finished, instead of rushing back to the office, I decided to take advantage of the beautiful day and I parked by the lake, and I walked around.  It was beautiful and I was entertained by geese on a march and kids cooling off in the splash pad.

I then walked down their main street and popped into some stores.  It was so pleasant just to meander and browse and enjoy.

And that’s the thing – in all of the years that I have attended, why had I never taken the moment to enjoy, as I did on that day?  I was still able to get my report out and get work done that day, but I was also able to take a moment and just enjoy.  As I am getting older and with the expectations and busy, hectic schedule I have, I find that I get a lot of pleasure just disconnecting and going for a walk outside and discovering new places – it really makes me happy.  And so, I walked around Barrie, marveled at their monument to the fallen soldiers, people watched, window shopped and just enjoyed the moment.

I am looking forward to the next time I am able to do this and wonder what small town I will be in next.

Perhaps, I am a Small town girl, deep inside after all.

But that’s just one diva’s view.

Do better!

Honestly – “do better” is a refrain that has been running through my thoughts on repeat.

Yesterday, I was asked to justify whether the term genocide was appropriate for the treatment of aboriginal women.  Instead of focusing on the appropriateness of the term – DO BETTER BY THESE WOMEN!  They are targets of violence, in a systemic cycle where they do not have access to proper education, drinking water or a system that wants to see them succeed  – DO BETTER!

Yesterday, the Law Society on Ontario was under some attack for scheduling the Bar Admission Course during EID and their response was that the students could write the exam at other times in the year.  Most law firms require their incoming articling students to have written and completed their exams before starting articles.  The other times in the year do not accommodate this requirement.  The Law Society is supposed to be mindful of all of its members and students and not provide a trite response.  DO BETTER!

We are in an age where cut backs to education and healthcare are seen as the only options.  How do we expect to be a society that has a future of successful contributing citizens when we are not willing to invest in these key issues?  I can only see my family doctor about one issue at a time.  If I elect to go to a walk in clinic in an emergency, there is a possibility I could lose my family doctor.  My kids are destined to be in an overcrowded classroom where their needs and development will be ignored for the greater mass.  DO BETTER!

We live in an age where immigration and immigrants are a target of hate and taunts to go back to their homeland.  Have we forgotten that we do not have a population large enough to support our economy and need the immigrants, especially since we are cutting back on education and therefore, require the skilled work force from abroad?  The right wing uprising is a direct reaction to this fear mongering.  In Denmark, immigrants are forced to give up their jewelry to fund their health care and treatment – is that what we have become?  Where is our compassion?  Illegal immigrant children in the US are separated from their parents – I cannot imagine – and are living in camps where now their education is being cut – DO BETTER!

I honestly am scared right now for the future of my kids.  It is 2019 and in my profession, I am referred to as a “racialized licensee” a term that is more of a throwback to the 1960s than a reflection of our current times.  Male colleagues now in the upswing of the ME TOO movement, are extra careful in their dealings with female colleagues and instead, there is more division as opposed to inclusion.  I receive looks of hate just for my skin colour and appearance.  Whatever progress we made, is eroding and I worry about what the new world will look like.

But that’s just one Diva’s view……

French fries – my comfort food

I have to come to realize that french fries are my ultimate comfort food and have been for some time.  There is truly nothing like a great french fry!  It is satisfying on all levels.  They are the perfect accompaniment but are a meal all on their own also. The hot crispiness on the outside and the warm good goodness on the inside – the perfect combination!

I recently was in London for work and I stumbled across this Mexican restaurant called Dos Tacos.  Now, I love a great taco, so I put in my order for 2 carne asada tacos to start!  However, the hostess misunderstood me.  So when they were assembling my order, the cook asked whether I wanted cheese on  my fries and I was pleasantly surprised that it came with fries, so I answered yes.  He then started asking about other toppings and we realized that he was assembling carne asada fries – not tacos.  Deciding to go with the flow, he covered my fries with steak, salsa, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, sour cream, guacamole and presented it to me.  That order of fries was phenomenal!  I took it back to my hotel room and could not stop eating them!  Every bite was delicious.  And it was not just the toppings.  The fries were fresh and home made and that made a world of difference!

Have you had the garlic fries at Earl’s?  They come with a garlic aioli dipping sauce and there are pieces of garlic in the fries – they are glorious.  I have cravings for them all the time.

And the sweet potato fries at Baton Rouge – DELICIOUS!

Now – my other go to has become the butter chicken fries at New York Fries.  Who knew that butter chicken covering fries and cheese curds could taste so amazing!  They are great as a lunch meal and provide a comfort that I enjoy to every last bite!

Where did my love of fries come from?  The source of all cooking – my mom!  She used to make home made french fries  – plates of them, as a snack and all you would need was ketchup and let the games begin.  They were best hot out of the frying pan.

Being Trinidadian, another variation of these fries were to serve them as an accompaniment to a tin of salmon mixed with salt, pepper, onion and lemon juice, hot fresh rice and fresh hot french fries on the side.  Any person from the Caribbean will tell you that this is a great comfort food.  I miss those fries.  My mom had the touch when making those fries!  One of my biggest regrets is that I enjoyed my mom’s food, taking for granted she would always be here to teach me her recipes and she is no longer here.  I try to recreate her recipes for my kids, but find that something is always missing…..That will be my ongoing challenge for myself.

Funny how some childhood likes, we grow out of, but french fries have been constant for me.  They have always provided comfort and they always remind me that my mom set the bar high for the fries, and that nothing less than fresh, hot and homemade, will be accepted.

But that’s just one Diva’s view.

 

 

Everyday happiness for “me”

We should not be waiting for one big moment of happiness. It’s the little happy things we experience every day that bring real joy!

What gives you daily joy?  Is it your daily cup of coffee?  Is it your early morning workout?  Is it walking through the door to be greeted by loved ones? Is it sitting at your desk and starting off your day?

We all have certain parts of our day, which provide a moment of joy for us, and which never gets old and continues to nurture.  For me, cuddling and spending time with my kids in the morning gives me peace.  Kissing my husband good bye before he leaves to go out and telling him I love him, gives me joy.  Listening to great music in my car and pretending that I am on stage, singing along, gives me happiness.  Reading a few pages or chapters everyday of a good book nourishes me.  All of these are a vital part of my day.  When these key things are missed, my day is thrown off.  I feel like I am not complete and even though I know that are other variables on a daily basis on an intellectual level, on an emotional level, it bothers me when my joys are not present.

I am a Taurus – and we like the everyday and no surprises.  I have no problem with routine and like following the same routine, as long as I have my moments of joy.

With the weather warming up, I am looking forward to my other joy – going for walks.  Don’t get me wrong – I’ll walk in the winter, but the joy I get from a walk in the spring, summer and early fall, cannot compare.  I always try to incorporate a nice long walk into my lunch time or my days off because it just makes me feel better.

I get that from my dad.  He used to go for walks almost everyday in his later years and when I was younger, always on the week-end.  He would often let me join him on the week-ends, but was clear in saying that he was not going to slow down his pace for me.  So, I would be nearly running to keep up, but I really enjoyed those walks.  It was my one on one time with my dad and we talked about everything and anything.  He never catered the conversation to my age.  He made it age appropriate but he always ensured that we had intelligent conversations, which gave me confidence to always articulate my point of view, a trait that has carried forward in my career in law.

As I grew older, that fast pace in walking stayed with me and friends would often tease me about it but that never slowed me down.  And in fact, it contributed to my solo walks.   I think quality time by yourself is important to mental health.

I remember the last walk I went on with my dad – we were downtown and we were looking at apartments for me.  We had an appointment and were running behind but given our quick pace, I knew we would make it.  However, since I had been away at university and law school, it had been a while since I had gone on a walk with my dad and I was surprised when he asked me to slow down, so that he could keep up.  In that instance, I realized that my father had gotten older without me realizing it.  It made me sad.  We made it to the appointment, but I slowed my pace, as I am sure my dad had done on our walks together – the circle of life.

It was the last time I would go on a walk with my dad.

But my love of walking and the peace it gives me was a gift given by my dad, that continues today.  Even when we are away on vacation, I always go for a long walk on the beach and just take in the moment.  The joy of walking remains vital to me, and is a part of my everyday happiness.  Thanks dad!  These are the joys that sustain me!

 

 

The lost of art of shovelling

In the last month, here in the outskirts of Toronto, we have really been getting hit with winter, in all of its forms.  Snow, freezing rain, ice storms, freezing cold temperatures – you name it, we have been enduring it.  We live on a residential street in the suburbs, surrounded by other families.  We are actually quite lucky to have great neighbours and we have been having a block party every summer, to celebrate our neighbourhood.

While out shovelling and clearing off the cars, expect to see other neighbours doing the same and everyone engaging in polite banter.  Very Norman Rockwell….except for this.

If you were to pull up a Norman Rockwell painting about shovelling, I am certain the painting would be full of teenagers clearing the snow and engaging in a snowball fight, or something along those lines.

Not on our street.  Our neighbourhood is full of teenage kids, and after a snow fall, you never see them outside clearing the snow – the parents are doing it.  It boggles the mind!  What happened?  Isn’t this a chore designed for teenagers?

I have always loved clearing the snow.  Growing up, our driveway was 5 car lengths long and we had a walkway in front of the house that needed to be cleared.  But after every snow fall, you would find my brother and me clearing the snow and helping out neighbours also.  It was just a part of the winter experience.

For me, clearing snow provided a very tangible result which was very fulfilling.  And shovelling at night – there is something magical about it.  The snow falling on you, as you try to make a dent in the clearing of it.  The only thing I dislike is clearing the snow off the edge of the driveway after the snow plough has come through and worse still, dealing with heavy bricks of snow that have been created by the snow plough.

And there is a feeling of comradery; shovelling and seeing your neighbours engaged in the same chore.  Helping out neighbours who are elderly or are dealing with other issues in their life…. it makes you feel a part of the community.  In this day and age, where community is becoming a dying part of life, it feels nice to see it alive through this chore.  I have heard so many stories about how certain people take it upon themselves to clear the snow from many driveways in their neighbourhood, just because they can.  Those stories make me happy.

So I raised it with a family friend, who is at university and he advised that his high school program was extremely challenging and taxing and that his parents relieved him of the stress of certain chores, including snow shovelling.  And I have heard this from other parents – that the weight of the academic program is too much and therefore, parents who once had assigned chores, are taking them back, because their kids are at capacity.

But what happens when those kids are living away from home and have to manage the balance of school, groceries, household maintenance, which may include snow shovelling?  As I was advised, the high school program was so heavy and required such discipline, that in contrast, university is more manageable and therefore, finding the balance later is not an issue.

My kids are not teenagers, so I cannot comment on the rigors of high school academics, but I hope that we teach them to find balance, and that shovelling the snow is a part of being a Canadian in winter.

I hope that they have great memories in the snow, like we have had, to balance the complications that sometimes arise with snow.

I hope that they get to experience shovelling in the night, with snow falling around them, and experience the peacefulness associated with it.

I have a lot of hopes, but who knows what the future holds…..

But that’s just one Diva’s view.

 

 

Nothing has changed….

When I was an associate, I would regularly put in 13-14 hour days and working on the week-ends was the norm.  I remember that when I was an associate, I left the office one day at 6:30pm, having arrived just at 7:00pm and a partner commented, “Early day home, huh?”  I always felt that I was not giving enough, which was draining and took a toll on me.  For a variety of reasons, I changed firms, and made it my goal to become partner within a certain amount of time, which I achieved.  Again, I put in long hours because both my husband and I had decided to make work a priority so that we would not have any regrets when we decided to expand our family.

And then we were fortunate enough to expand our family and with that decision, moved out of the City and into the suburbs.  My commute was now done by train and I was on a strict schedule, given that my husband was away with work and I had to be home to resume childcare.  I was in the office everyday by 8am, but had to leave at 5pm to catch my train.  And everyday, I felt like I had to sneak out, so as not to draw attention to me.  Again, it was exhausting – that weight of guilt and that feeling that you were letting everyone down.

And so for a variety of reasons, I move to a firm closer to home.  And still, I am one of the first lawyers in the office,  but I try to be home every night for 6pm, so that I can spend a few hours with the kids, before they go to bed, or take them to their activities.  And still, one day, one of my partners made an off the cuff comment, that I was usually out of the office by 5:30pm, as if keeping track and noting that in contrast, others were usually here after I left.  Of course they are- because they usually arrive an hour to an hour and a half after I arrive.  Makes sense.  I know that logically, but the comment still stung.

That feeling that we, as women, are always being kept track of and being found less than, has remained a constant for me, not matter what stage in my career.  I was recently excluded from a meeting because it was just assumed that I could not make alternative arrangements to stay longer.  Really?  Because when I need to stay until 11pm, without dinner, to deal with settlement discussions, I am able to do that.   So not sure of the basis of that assumption.

And in this day and age of technology, I have never missed responding to a client or dealing with an issue, whether at the office, at home or at various meetings.  We live in an age where we always have to be available. So if all of those issues are covered, why does the scrutiny remain?

I will say that even though the law champions the rights of others, within its own sphere, it still remains very antiquated and backwards.  Instead of changing the work model to adapt to technology, the work model has remained static and therefore, you see a lot more movement from firm to firm, because in this day and age, people are looking for a work environment, that rewards smart work and is attune to the fact that there are other issues of importance in one’s life, such as family, caring for aging parents, health issues (both mental and physical).

There is a monologue in the movie, “I don’t know how she does it”, where a character describes that when a man leaves to deal with a family issue, he is applauded as being a a great parent and that when a woman leaves, there is a feeling of, “not again”!  That has not changed.

And although I still feel anxious leaving at 5:30pm to get home, I have no regrets.  I work hard, but I chose to have a family and they deserve my best also.  And as I work higher up the management ladder, I look forward to making the work place an evolving environment and not one that adheres to the mentality, if I had to do it, so do you!

But that’s just one Diva’s view.

Lights, Camera, Action…….

Movies are in my blood – literally.

In the early 1950’s, after Partition in India, my grandfather’s business was burnt down.  There was no insurance to cover the loss, in those days.  And so, my dad’s family fell on tough times.  The legend is that my dad was playing and singing on the balcony of the family home, when he was discovered by a director.  The director approached my grandfather, about having my dad act in his next film and my dad’s family saw a way to rebuild the family business.  My dad enjoyed the experience of making a film, but it was literally just one film.  However, he was already a movie buff before the experience and afterwards, it cemented his love for movies.

So when I was born, it was definitely a commonality between my dad and I.  I was the kid who would sit, without speaking or moving and just get transformed by the movies.  And my dad found a kindred spirit.   My dad was my main caregiver when my mom was going to College during the day, and he always ensured that movies were a part of my childhood.  We would see all of the Disney movies and I remembered the treat it was to see Star Wars in 1978 with my dad.  I dressed up for that movie, because even without seeing it, I knew that it was going to be an epic experience and I was right.

Sunday mornings in our house were reserved for classic movies on CBC.  It was there that I discovered Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor.  Saturday evenings, when I got older, were reserved for TVO and Elwy Yost’s Saturday night at the Movies.  I got to see and experience magnificent acting, directing and dialogue.  I probably did not always understand what I was watching, but I absorbed it nevertheless.

For me, it was not the celebrity that drew me to the movie, but the reputation of the movie and the quality of the movie.  And my dad encouraged me to discuss the movie, after the movie was done but not during the movie!

One of my greatest movie moments was watching Gandhi in the movie theatre.  Gandhi was released in 1982 and I was 8 years old.  My dad knew that I had already developed a maturity and appreciation for movies and he knew that I would enjoy this movie.  And so we went to the movie theatre to watch it and I kept the movie magazine from that attendance because it was so special to me.  When we went to sit down, a woman approached my dad and asked if he thought that I was old enough to watch the movie, to which my dad quietly responded, “I know what is appropriate for my daughter” and the woman left.  My dad’s faith in me, made me feel like I had earned watching the movie, and to be honest, that added to the experience.

Gandhi had all of the elements that I had learned to appreciate from watching great movies from such a young age; a beautiful score, phenomenal acting and direction, breath taking cinematography and story about justice, which my dad knew would strike a chord in  my heart.  It was the first non Hindi movie I attended, with an intermission, and I remember just being in awe and not talking much during the intermission, but still absorbing the movie.  Notwithstanding the controversy about Gandhi the man, since the release of this movie, Gandhi remains one of my favourite movies.

And I love that the memory of watching a movie, reminds me of where I was at the time and provides such great memories.  Although I had watched it before, I have such great memories watching “Gone with the Wind” with my grandmother, when she came to visit after the birth of my brother.  I remember the first time I watched The Sound of Music in our sunporch and feeling joy from the music and the movie.  I remember being riveted by Heat, while watching it at our University theatre and not breathing during the scene between Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro, so as not to miss a word.  I remember hoping beyond belief that Audrey Hepburn’s character would return back to the press room at the end of Roman Holiday and that she and Gregory Peck would live happily ever after, but it was not meant to be and I looking at my dad with the expression, “Say it ain’t so!”.  I remember Barbara Streisand confidently facing Hubble at the end of The Way We Were, and stylishly moving his hair back into place.  Realizing that Norman Bates was Mother, watching Grace Kelly dazzle both Cary Grant and James Stewart in Hitchcock movie classics.  Those moments…..they still fill me with delight and awe.

One of my greatest regrets is not having secured a copy of my father’s movie.  I worked hard on this, throughout university in the early 1990’s and have resumed the search recently, but to no avail.  I would love to see for myself, my dad’s face on the screen.  Although my father and I had a challenging relationship, his appreciation and love for movies carried on to me and it brings back fond memories when I think of the movie memories we had.  And sometimes instead of dwelling on the “not so great”, it is nice to have those memories and to remember the bond we shared and the memories we created…

But that’s just one Diva’s view!

Christmas without Mom

This will be my first Christmas without my mom.

No matter where she has been – at home, in the hospital, or for the past few years, in her long term care home, we celebrated Christmas with my mom.

In the last few years, I would get presents on her behalf, to give to the kids, and we would decorate her room with Christmas decorations.

She really loved celebrating Christmas.  We would have duck for our Christmas dinner, because we as a family found Turkey too dry.  She would make dhal puri (West Indian stuffed roti), squash, an assortment of vegetables and we would enjoy our feast.   She loved fruit cake and was known to go through many loaves throughout the holidays.

We always had walnuts and chocolates around during the holidays.

We always sang Christmas carols and she loved singing them especially on Christmas morning.  She liked receiving certain presents at Christmas – her horoscope book for the upcoming year, the farmer’s almanac for her gardening needs, slippers, bubble baths, pretty jewelry and clothes.

When we were little, we have photographs of the Christmas tree, put together upside down.  Given the way that trees looked in Trinidad, my mom found it more aesthetically pleasing to have the tree in an upside down triangle, with the wide part at the top, which allowed for more decorations.  I saw this  way of putting up a Christmas tree recently in a design book; who knew mom was cutting edge!

She made these amazing wreaths every year with fresh evergreen branches and pine combs.  They looked so pretty and she would make ones for our homes when we moved out.

She would put a lot of care in decorating the house at Christmas and I loved sitting with her in our living room just watching how the lights twinkled on the tree.  We had our favourite Christmas album that we would play when decorating and enjoying the holidays.  It was a 1970’s album of Jazzy singers putting their own spin on Christmas classics.  I miss not having that album anymore.

Mom also had a tradition of keeping all of the Christmas cards we received and used them as decorations.  She also kept all of our Christmas decorations made throughout school and used them every year.

I hope that I honour her when we decorate our house and keep her traditions going.

I hope that her spirit enjoys the holidays this year and that she is at peace.

I will miss her physically not being here, but know that her spirit will be with us.   Merry Christmas mom.

Her legacy continues through us.

But that’s just one Diva’s view.