The perfect first snow

Yesterday was the first proper snow we have had for 2023. We did not have any snow during the Winter break and our kids were disappointed because they love playing in the snow.

But yesterday when the snow hit, it hit. My husband I cleared some snow before picking up the kids from school, as I worked from home, but the wind was high and it was challenging making any inroads clearing the snow. We decided to tackle the major snow removal after dinner. I was also excited to wear my new snow pants that my husband had purchased me, which provided great protection in the snow – love them (fashion is always a part of my experience)!

By the time we went out, it was around 9pm and we did not want to disturb the neighbours with the snow blower. We decided to shovel the snow ourselves. And that was quite a work out. The snow was perfect for snowballs – perfectly packed, but quite heavy. So the snow removal was quite a workout. We received about 15 cms of snow, and it was heavy and a lot. But it was actually fun clearing the snow. It was just my husband and I and I referred to it as our “date night”. We worked in tangent, tackling each area until it was done.

There is something very satisfying about clearing snow. You instantly see the results and if you catch the snow before it becomes icy, then the snow removal can be quite steady and continuous. By the time we were outside, the wind from earlier had stopped and it was actually not too cold. I actually took off my gloves. It was the perfect winter night. There is something magical about a night like that.

When we finished, I decided to take advantage of the perfect packing snow, and threw some snow balls at my husband. This resulted in a mini snowball fight, which still causes me to smile. It was pure joy.

When I went inside, one of my daughters, dressed in her penguin onesie (it is very cozy) decided she wanted in on the fun. She put on her boots, but rushed out without a coat because she did not want to miss out on the snow fun. I quickly transferred my coat, hat and gloves to her and off she went to throw snow at her Papa. And I rushed inside to get my phone and capture the moment. Their laughs filled the air as they threw snow at each other, pushing each other into the snow and making snow angels.

I have spoken about rejuvenation before, and this was one of those perfect moments that I will cherish forever, which filled me. Unplanned, joyous fun! It was perfect.

The joy everyone experienced, was the perfect end of our first snow day. We will never forget it. You would never know that Winter is my least favourite season!

But that’s just one Diva’s view.

Anne of Green Gables – loyal!

I was in grade 5 when my teacher decided that she would start reading to us from this Canadian classic called Anne of Green Gables. Typically when the teacher would pick a book to read to us, it was not my cup of tea, and I would multi task during the book. But this book was different. I was captivated once she started reading it and really looked forward to the next part of the story everyday. I had already been a fan of books about young girls in Canada, including the Booky series by Bernice Thurman Hunter and this was another viewpoint about life in Canada’s past.

When I learned that this was the first in a series of books, I was so excited. I would get to learn of Anne’s next chapters? I immediately started getting the books from the library and devoured them. For Christmas, I requested my own copies of the books because I loved them so much and would read them over and over again.

And when I learned that there was going to be a TV movie starring Canadian Megan Follows, I was so excited. I watched that first night of part 1 with laser focus. And I have to say that it was perfectly cast. For those of you who have never read the books, Anne is an orphan, who is accidentally sent to live with an older brother (Matthew) and sister (Marilla) who had wanted a boy to help at their farm. But they decide to keep Anne and the love and bond that grow between these 3 is so beautiful. Matthew is played by Richard Farnsworth, who was perfectly cast as a quiet, introspective but kind man and the casting for Marilla had Colleen Dewhurst in the role and she was perfection. Prickly, but kind hearted and loyal. Whatever I had imagined reading the books was manifested in the casting. The cinematography in PEI is perfect and it captures the Town of Avonlea perfectly, with its supporting characters.

It left such an imprint on me. I watched all of the sequels starring Megan Follows and even if the last ones deviated a lot from the book, I still enjoyed them. Even though at surface level, I did not have a lot in common with Anne, I think that anyone reading the book who feels like a bit of an outcast growing up (being the only South Asian in my group of friends) and is trying to figure their place in the world, will resonate with this character.

And the books are magical for me. You see Anne developing her own confidence, and her own life with her children and husband and the magic that she weaves for them using her imagination. It was highly comforting for me. Aspirational.

And during the pandemic, I thought it would be the perfect time to introduce it to my kids. I honestly thought that they would have the same reaction that I did, and was deeply disappointed when they could not connect with the material. Instead, they teased me because they did not understand my connection with the story and the characters and I gave them fantasy up!

But it still remains near and dear to me. We had to move my books off site while we were doing some renovations, but I am looking forward to finding all of the books in the series and re-reading them again.

Something to look forward to. The restorative powers of re-reading old favourites (see my post on Rejuvenation!)

But that’s just one Diva’s view.

#AnneofGreenGables

Relaxation and Rejuvenation – the search!

We had friends over for lunch the other day, and one of the guests asked what our family was going to do over the Holidays. I replied, as I am sure many would, by stating that I was looking forward to time with friends and family during the Holidays, some projects around the house and relaxing. I think it was a pretty standard answer that many shared. But then my friend replied with a great point – how are you going to rejuvenate during the holidays? Mic drop. We all had an Oprah “Aha” moment when she said that.

Relaxation and rejuvenation, although often said together, are two separate things and how was I going to rejuvenate during the holidays? And this leads to an even more fundamental question – what rejuvenates me?

And that caused us all to think about a number of different things during lunch. What relaxes you? Can you fully relax during the holidays? NO!!! Do we build time into our schedule for rejuvenation? What rejuvenates you

The traditional definition of Rejuvenation is:

  1. the action or process of giving new energy or vigor to something.”plans for the rejuvenation of the area”
    • the restoration of a youthful appearance to something.”experts in the art of facial rejuvenation”
    • the action of restoring a river or stream to a condition characteristic of a younger landscape.”they were instrumental in the rejuvenation of the river”

For me, when I think of rejuvenation, I think of something that fills my spiritual cup and gives me the ability to take on the next set of stresses and challenges. It revitalizes me.

Great – I know what it is, but what are my seeds of rejuvenation? And this really stumped me. What causes me to feel like I am replenished?

One of our friends instantly responded that wood working is what rejuvenates him. He likes to go into his work space and transform a piece of wood into something beautiful and useful. And I can understand how that would rejuvenate you. It is creative, it is transformative and it is primal, in the sense that it is just you and your skills.

It has been weighing on my mind since our lunch – what rejuvenates me? And so I spent a lot of time thinking about it. And I came to the following conclusions:

  1. I love having an amazing discussion and creating a great sense of dialogue. When these moments happen, I truly do feel fulfilled because I feel that as a result of the discussion, I have learned something, and in part, I have also educated and that sharing of ideas is very fulfilling to me. However, I am at the point in my life where life is busy and those moments of sitting down with friends and family and having intellectually fulfilling discussions are not as common as they used to be. And also, it is like catching fireflies in a jar. You cannot manufacture those moments. When they occur, you just have to enjoy them fully.
  2. I am fulfilled when I spend time with my family doing a shared event. When we go on walks, tobogganing or sit together and play games or cards. Watching a movie with snacks. Their presence and the joint feeling of contentment during these shared experiences really gives me joy and I am very protective of these times. But again, these moments do not happen as frequently as I would like, because of how busy life is, but knowing how fulfilling they are to me and my well being will make me push for them to happen more frequently.
  3. Music really does rejuvenate me. Finding a new song, or creating music either by playing or singing it, really does cause my soul to feel whole. When my dad would listen to music that he loved, you could see how it transported him and you could see that he was having an out of body experience enjoying the beauty of that moment. Just writing about it gives me chills. And I have to say that there are certain songs or pieces of music, that just cause such emotion, and are truly moving.

Runners up were working with someone on a shared goal either at work or in life – that partnership provides me with a lot of of contentment. Another runner up was dancing. It think that dancing is self explanatory in its rejuvenation qualities.

And rejuvenation for me is feeling moved. Feeling that immense contentment. That enjoyment. That feeling of being full. But it clearly is an ongoing pursuit, because I am sure that at each decade in my life, different things brought me fulfillment and at this stage in my life, this is what works for me now. But, now that is on my radar, I will be more aware when I am having a moment that fulfills me to note it down for the future, when I am seeking a moment of rejuvenation.

But that’s just one Diva’s view.

#rejuvenation #fulfillment

Traditions

When I was growing up, my mom had a unique tradition at Christmas. Aside from putting up the tree upside down (read previous blog post), my mom would keep all of the Christmas cards we had received over the years and would use them to fan out underneath the tree in lieu of a tree blanket. I had never seen anyone else do this. It became a big part of Christmas because I would often sit underneath the tree and pick out cards and read them. This would often open up a discussion about old family friends or people that my parents had in their lives that we did not know. I really enjoyed this tradition. It allowed me to learn about my parents and I was fascinated to learn about their stories and lives before us.

So when we moved into our family home, it was a tradition that I continued on. However, instead of placing the cards under the tree, we place the cards to hang from our window blinds.

We decorated the house yesterday for Christmas and we had a lot of fun. Christmas music, the Santa Hats, reindeer headbands – plenty of snacks – it was great.

And while everyone took a break from the decorating, I took some quiet time for myself to decorate with our Christmas cards of the past. It is truly is a special time. There were cards featuring photos of babies who are now grown kids, lovely messages from teachers, family members and friends. Cards between my husband and myself, reflecting on the past year. But especially special for me is finding cards from my mom, before she lost the ability to write, with sweet messages that only she could write.

Those mean a lot and it feels like my mom is still with us, celebrating, at least in spirit. My mom loved the holidays. She loved fruitcake and decorating the house. I miss my mom at Christmas a lot. She loved to sing Carols and make beautiful wreaths.

I hope that I can pass on the legacy of the cards to my kids and that when they are older, they will have this tradition of my mom to carry on.

But that’s just one Diva’s view.

Happy Holidays!

#traditions #Christmas

Edit

It has been an interesting few years with everything going on in the world. One of the things that I am personally loving is the ability for people to call out racism, sexism and intolerance more overtly. It has transformed people’s behaviour…. let’s be honest….to a degree.

However, the flip side to this is that I often hear comments within the corporate world, that those in a position of privilege, feel that they have had to curtail their communications with people, because they do not feel safe speaking openly… any longer.

I have to advise that this comment makes me laugh. It just does. It appears that there is a tool that many of those in a position of privilege have not had an opportunity to develop – the ability to edit! Candidly – those in a position of “not being privileged” have had to edit themselves on an ongoing basis for their entire lifetime and it has just been a skill required to succeed. So come on privileged individuals – you too can learn the ability to edit.

Now if you are new to the use of editing, let me explain what it is and how to use it.

Edit – a change or correction made as a result of editing.

to make changes to a text or filmdeciding what will be removed and what will be kept in, in order to prepare it for being printed or shown:

So basically, changing or correcting what you were about to say, before you say it! Does not sound that hard, but if you are used to saying whatever is on your mind, then this is a skill that will need to be developed and exercised.

Now I know that it must be challenging for those in privilege, because for a lifetime, the ability to say whatever you wanted without consequences, has been a right that has been used with impunity. However, the recipient of many of those consequences, have had to practice the tool of editing, in replying or not replying to these comments. For example, I was once on an elevator with a senior partner and he turned and asked me out of the blue, why there was such poverty for the South Asian community within the GTA (of which I am a member) and what was the basis for this? Now without my editing skills, I would have responded with a very abrasive response, likely leading to my immediate or eventual dismissal from the firm. However, understanding the repercussions of such a response, I responded using my tools of editing myself, by asking him where he was basing this information on and advising that this had not been my experience and then gracefully exiting on the next available floor cutting the conversation short – the power of being able to edit.

So here are some tools to assist in learning the power of editing:

  1. Not everything you think, needs to be shared vocally. Sometimes keeping your thoughts to yourself, so that you do not offend or antagonize, makes the world go round easier.
  2. The racist, sexist and offensive jokes of yore, do not need to be replayed today. Perhaps you felt fine making those comments in the past, in the environment you were in, but now, those jokes do not go over well. So if you are missing those days, the solution is to replay those moments in your mind and use your power of editing, not to reshare those moments – a win win for all.
  3. Lastly – the corporate world is not your home family room. Things that you might feel comfortable discussing or saying to family of friends, in the comfort of your home, do not need to be shared in the office environment, especially, if it is going to make those at work, uncomfortable, hurt or made to feel less than.

These are my tips for editing, to those not familiar with it. For many of us, the power to edit, has been engrained into us, since we were young i.e. not to respond whenever someone calls you a Paki, or not to turn hostile when you are told that South Asian women are just not as attractive as other races etc…

We have been taught how to diffuse a situation, not antagonize and use our ability to edit what we would actually like to say, into something that may educate, something that does not make the discussion confrontational or using the power of editing to keep quiet, and wait for another moment, to take bring a balance back to the situation.

But that’s just one Diva’s view.

Pretty Peonies

My mom was an amazing gardener. She had a green thumb. In our yard growing up, the previous owner had landscaped an English rock garden, which my mother made beautiful every Spring, Summer and Fall. She grew a variety of vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, spinach, hot peppers, zucchini etc..) But she had a gift for beautiful flowers and plants. Her roses were stunning. Her plants thrived. But my favourite flower were her peonies.

Every late Spring, we had an abundance of peonies in a variety of pinks. I used to walk home everyday for lunch when I was in elementary school and my mom would often send me back, after lunch, with some peonies in a bouquet for my teacher. A very idyllic childhood memory.

But she always saved some for me, because she knew how much I loved them. She would always pick a few for my bedroom and I would sleep with the sweet smell of peonies in my room – I loved that smell. If you have never smelled a peony, I urge you to find one and experience it. There is a sweetness to it that just makes you want to smile. And I loved the beauty of the colours of the peonies. We had some pale pinks, and then some vibrant pink and red ones – just stunning.

When I got married, I had hoped to have a bouquet of peonies, but they were not in season.

However, every Spring, while my mom lived in our house, she would send me home with bouquets of peonies. I enjoyed them until their delicate petals fell and they lost their smell.

I have always wanted to plant peonies when we moved to our house. However, we kept discussing doing some major landscaping and I did not want to plant and risk the peonies not transporting well.

However, the first pandemic Spring, my husband had peonies delivered for Mother’s Day and I was so excited for the kids to experience the smell and my love of peonies in the Spring. The kids would stand close to the bouquet to experience its beauty. Those closest to me know how much I love peonies. A friend for my birthday got me a peony smelling candle and I have been savouring it.

Late last Spring, I happened to be at a local garden centre and they were selling the pale pink peony flowering plant that my mom used to have, on clearance. And so on a whim, I bought one.

I cleared an area in our front, around a tree and I planted my peony. I babied that plant, willing it to bloom. And to my utter surprise, it bloomed. And I was so happy. It was like my mom had come to re-visit me, through the flower. It was one of the highlights of last summer.

And yesterday, when I was doing some yard work, I looked to my peony and saw that it had started growing. My peony knew that it is not Spring for me, without its appearance. And even though our Spring has been a mix of unseasonal hot days, followed by cool days and tornado winds, my peony will soon appear and it will provide me with the promise of happiness and stirring great memories of the past.

Peonies to me are the perfect way to welcome Spring.

But that’s just one Diva’s view.

Never gonna give you up!

I have been very blessed to have grown up with a variety of music. At home growing up, my parents played everything and anything. My dad made a point of playing Bengali and Hindi music. My mother grew up singing a lot of traditional English songs (a legacy from her colonial education) and her favourite was Danny Boy, which we played at her funeral.

At school, I was blessed to have teachers who made sure that we sang and heard great music – old R&B, classical, gospel, pop, country – you name it – we sang it or listened to it. And I have to say that I can still sing all of those songs – they became engrained and a part of you!

And that’s the beauty of music. It transports us in so many ways. It takes us back to a moment. It allows us to get lost in its beauty. It allows us to remember our first introduction to that song – it is a very intimate relationship.

But a song that has stood the test of time for me, is quite a startling revelation. When I was in Grade 8, our class went on a school trip to Quebec City. I was so excited to go because I had missed previous trips. I was rooming with my best friend and 2 close friends and was just so excited. My best friend really loved this song by Rick Astley called “Never Gonna Give You Up” and we sang it a lot on the bus ride to Quebec and while we were there. I even teased her about having a crush on Rick.

Fast forward many year’s later and I was watching season 2 of Ted Lasso, which has quickly become a favourite, especially throughout the pandemic. There is a funeral scene where the congregation sings this song, as it is meaningful for the bereaved family and even though it was a sad occasion, the song bonded everyone attending the funeral. It was such an odd, but perfect choice and the song quickly resurrected itself in my memories.

A couple of day’s ago, I was blow drying one of my daughter’s hair, after her shower. Whenever I blow dry, I sing to myself, as it keeps me occupied while dealing with their beautiful long hair. And so as I was blow drying, “Never Gonna Give You Up”, popped into my head and I started singing it. And without pause, my 10 ten year old daughter, joined along, singing with me, the entire song.

It was one of those utterly perfect moments; one where you are so happy and are able to share your joy with someone else that you love – there is nothing like it.

I had never played the song for my daughter and I was surprised that she knew all of the lyrics. When we finished our blow drying session and the song, I asked her how she knew the song, assuming she had heard another version from a Disney movie or show that she watches. She told me her teacher plays it every time it is someone’s birthday in her class and she has grown to love it.

Full circle moment. The gift of song. The power of music and the importance of music at school. I was happy on so many different levels. It will always be a special song to me, but now, even more so, because of the memory with my daughter. Looking forward to the next time this song pops into my life – you never know!

But that’s just one Diva’s view.

#Nevergonnagiveyouup #Powerofmusic #TedLasso

Farewell Blackberry

I held out as long as I could. And I kept waiting for this mythical new Blackberry that was scheduled to be released in 2021. But when I reached memory overload and spent each day emptying the cache for my various apps to be able to operate my phone, I knew that it was time. And so I made the plunge and bought a new phone, which was stressful because I did not know which one I would like, because none of them have a PHYSICAL KEYBOARD!!

But I purchased my phone. It looked pretty, but empty, like it was missing something….like a PHYSICAL KEYBOARD!

And so I called my cell phone provider to make the switch. A very nice woman answered and I explained to her what I wanted to do – make the switch. And since everyone else surrounding me have been mocking me for my Blackberry and asking me when I am going to make the change, this woman’s remarks were unexpected, to say the least.

She started with reviewing my history of phones and listed all of the various Blackberrys I have had. It was like a eulogy for my past relationship with Blackberry and I did not stop her. I listened and remembered all of the different incarnations of Blackberrys that I have had. She then asked what phone I was switching to and when I advised her, her response, again unexpected, was that I was not going to deal well with the switch and couldn’t I make my Blackberry work for me? My heart started racing – if even my cell phone provider was stating that this was a mistake, what was I doing????

Nope – I had to do this. I had been losing photographs and having issues receiving emails, so the change had to be made. And so, even with her voice in my ear (literally and figuratively) I made the change. And so began my smartphone relationship without a physical keyboard.

And that lasted about 1 week. And when I realized that a touch keyboard was not going to bode well for me when I had to type long and accurate messages, I bought a small keyboard that I can connect to my phone and provides me something similar to what I had before.

But I don’t use the keyboard all of the time and when I sent a message to a friend asking her how she and her son reacted to their COVID shots….the message she received as a result of autocorrect was “How are you doing after your sh#ts?”

I miss you Blackberry!!!

But that’s just one Diva’s view.

Street gang; How we got to Sesame Street

Yesterday, I stumbled across the HBO documentary about Sesame Street and my heart was full. For those of you like me, who were born in the 70’s, Sesame Street was a huge part of my life. Watching the documentary about why it resonated and the purposeful manner in which it was created, added to my love of the show. Those characters, both real life and puppets, remain in my psyche today and it was so nice to revisit them in such a meaningful way. And the documentary really emphasizes something we are purposefully advocating today – representation matters.

Even though there were few South Asians on the show, there were many Black and Latino characters, and as a child, those were the characters I loved. Gordon, Maria, Susan, Luis – they were comforting to watch. People had accents, like in my world and there were different skin tones, just like in my family.

My childhood was pretty structured. There was a period of time, where my mom was going to school and my father was working nights. He took care of me during the day. As an engineer by training and in personality, our days were pretty regimented. We had 1 car growing up and my mom attended the Humber College campus on Lakeshore in Etobicoke and we lived in Mississauga. My dad and I would drop off my mom at school and then my dad would take me to a park – down by the lake, High Park, the forks of the Credit Valley – you name it, my dad took us. And it was a brisk walk – not play time only. Exercise would make me strong, was the belief. But when I tired out, my dad would prop me onto his shoulders and continue his walk. Unfortunately, I was pretty mischievous as a child and in the winter, while on his shoulders, I loved to pull his hat over his eyes. Caused me giggles. I never felt safer than when I was up on my dad’s shoulders. We would then return home for a big breakfast, and then the day proceeded to schedule. Bath time, Mr. Dress Up and Sesame Street on TV, lunch and then nap time. I was always learning something in the afternoon – drawing, math, English, music – you name it. Then it was time for the switch – mom came home and dad left for his job as a security guard. Like most immigrants, it took time for him to finally receive an engineering job.

And watching the documentary, took me back to that time in my life, where my dad was a big part of my life and where our bond really grew. He really took care of me and would do my hair (for the 70’s – a big deal) and introduced me to the world and expand my horizons. I am blessed to have those days and memories to look upon. And just as explained in the documentary, he would sometimes watch Sesame Street with me, and I enjoyed that the best, because it felt like another shared experience.

And now, with the 3 kids of my own, when they have down time, they love to chill out and hang out with my husband and I. Whether it is watching a movie, cooking or playing games – they like it better when it is with us and when I reflect on my childhood like I did last night, I appreciate why, even more.

And watching the Sesame Street documentary – I felt really fortunate that I had those role models on TV growing up – they made a difference to my life. Ask any of us from that era and we know the number counting song, can sing about Rubber Ducky and understand the pain of feeling different being “green”. Thank you Sesame Street for providing such a great foundation and example which has so positively influenced the world today and especially myself – it makes a difference!

But that’s just one Diva’s view.

#Sesame Street #HBO #representation matters

Look like a stewardess

I was recently taking yet again, another professional profile photo. The photographer was great – good attention to detail, provided good direction and overall stated, “present a professional and approachable image – one where a client would be interested in retaining you”. That worked for me.

But then another individual in the room piped up, “Look like a stewardess!”

I understand that this person was trying to condense the direction being provided by the photographer, but in this day and age, is that the direction we want to provide to our female lawyers, let alone our female partners? Because, and I know you know what I am going to say, the direction of looking like a stewardess would never be directed to any of the male lawyers taking the photo. In fact – I would be curious to determine what concise term was used. Was it, “look like a Boss!” or “look powerful”?

Seriously – why hasn’t there been an evolution in the business world? In order for someone like me to attract the attention of a client with my profile photo, I have to look a certain way? In fact, even the direction regarding how to dress for the photo was puzzling – no bare shoulders!!

Well – having just finished Marie Henein’s book, “Nothing but the truth”, where she ridicules such requests for photos, I decided to dress in the manner in which I was comfortable and in keeping with my brand. And in some of the photos, my bare shoulders were showing. But that’s ok, because in taking the photo, I decided to channel my inner Beyonce, Marie Henein and …..my mom. Because my mom would have been loud, confident, stylish and perfectly herself. And really, in the end, many times, we are a manifestation of our parents’ dreams. Especially for my mom, her life was decided for her because of her family dynamic and she really had no control about major decisions in her life. But she wanted a different life for me. One where I had control over my being and could make decisions for myself and direct my life.

And so I channeled that energy into my photo. Whenever I take a professional photo, I always wear a piece of jewelry given to me by my mom. This time – it was my earrings. It makes me feel like she is a part of the photo.

And as an aside, the look of the flight attendant in today’s modern world has been changing. Many airlines are now embracing a more comfortable uniform for their flight attendants and no longer do they have to look uniform but can represent a diversity of ages and backgrounds. So – perhaps that was what was meant with the direction, look like a stewardess? I like to give the benefit of the doubt.

But that’s just one Diva’s view.