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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Happy Tears!

These 60 seconds have had me in happy tears every day since the Olympics began. I think of my parents (with baby boy Karim born along the way) immigrating to Canada 37 years ago.  Thank you Mom and Dad for the strength and roots you gave us - here.



If you work in advertising or marketing at Tim Hortons, I believe you owe me some new mascara.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Perpetual Bounce Circles the Sun!

My blogging, Dollarama, snail mail and literary enabler Sheba authors a blog that turns 1 today!

Click on the photograph below (taken by Sheba) to check out her space:

Monday, February 22, 2010

B is for Book Club

In continuing with my Alphabet of Gratitude, I take a look at the letter B.
B is for Book Club!
I used to be part of a book club that met for three years.  We called ourselves the Pageturners and our entire membership was employed by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.  Together, we read 30 books, had a poetry swap, celebrated weddings and welcomed two baby girls and one baby boy.  Over the years, we genuinely wished each other the best of luck at new jobs even though it meant that eventually it became harder and harder for our book club to continue meeting.  We read our last book together in December of 2008. 

My friend Sheba moved back to Toronto this summer with her family. One of the things she missed most about Brooklyn was her book club.

Each of us was missing the bond, the connections and the sense of community that a book club brings into one's life so in September of 2009, we formed a new book club.  Sheba invited her longtime friend Marta.  I invited Krista, a special co-worker from my days at YES.  I asked Naaz to join us.  She and I reconnected ten years after we had both been camp counsellors at Camp Marifa.  I also asked my friend Sylvie to be part of the club.  She and I work together at Surrey Place Centre and often talk about books.  I asked Makeda to join us too.  Growing up, we lived on the same street, just one block away from each other.  We've known each other since I was in grade one and she was in grade two!  Makeda and I asked Lori, a friend from high school and our newest member, to round out the club.  And so began a new book club that has since met monthly with six books under our belt with hopes of many more.

This month, we read Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture.  Krista and her family opened their home to us and we watched Randy deliver his 2007 lecture, the catalyst to the book.  Randy was living with pancreatic cancer when he delivered his lecture and passed away 10 months later leaving behind important lessons on achieving childhood dreams for his wife and three young children.  Being one who is very much in touch with my tears, I used two Kleenexes for this meeting.  The reaction to the book and lecture was mixed.  The conversation that followed was diverse, funny, heart felt and thought provoking.
People often ask me wide-eyed and with wonder, "What do you do at book club?"  "What do you talk about?" "What happens?" "Who says what?"

Men, especially, seem to nod their heads in confusion over the need for a club to talk about books.  I heard that Sheba and Marta's husbands want to start their own pamphlet club.  Apparently, a pamphlet is all they think they can manage to read.  Funny!

It's quite simple really.  We talk about the books we've read.  We discuss plot lines, characters, our likes and dislikes.  Our intention is to pour over a book BUT when you are part of such an outstanding group of women there are other benefits that naturally start to spill over... 

A few meetings ago, we started swapping books.  Everyone is invited to bring books they've read and no longer want to hold on to, to share with the group.  Here's a look at what was on the swap table this month. 

Book club is a community we've created for ourselves.  Krista invited us to help the community at large by bringing donations to help support some local organizations.  Look below at what we are able to gather!
Krista sent us this email today to let us know how we did... 
"ladies!
you guys ROCK!  i have sorted through all of the bags and boxes and am more than a bit overwhelmed.  we have three large piles of donations and every one of them is going to THRILL the recipients.  
the youth shelter seldom receives men's clothing and will be stocked for mini giveaway toiletries for a number of weeks. 
the women's shelter is going to have some women with much higher spirits as they put on jewellery, shoes and perfumes that they normally would never have.  
the teen mom's shelter is about to get an influx of teen girl stuff and baby's toys that will make digging through their sharing centre a truly fun experience for mom and baby alike.
thank you sooooooooo much!  i can't tell you how many people are going to be touched by this."
So what do we do at book club?
     We talk, eat, laugh, disagree, agree, eat some more, talk some more and laugh some more. 
What do we talk about?
     Books of course but also whatever is on our minds.  Sometimes we talk about things that have nothing to do with books. We go off on tangents.  We share recipes. We talk about other books. We gush about our families and most importantly - we listen to each other throughout it all.
What happens at my book club?
      Eight smart, kind, caring, generous women from various walks of life share common experiences through reading, sharing, listening and laughing.
Happy half year birthday 416bookclub! I am so grateful for each and every chapter we've read and shared together. Here's to volumes more!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Feeling Olympic

In my last post, I quoted a line from Love Actually.  Today, I credit the movie Cool Runnings for my post's title. In the movie, Doug E. Doug's character Sanka says "I am feeling very Olympic today.  How about you?"  His optimism and enthusiasm are so genuine making it one of the most memorable moments of the movie.

The 2010 Olympics are in Vancouver, Canada.  Canadians like me are feeling patriotic, energized and excited!  Check out my mischeviously endearing nephew Kahzmir in his Olympic gear.

 
The Olympics bring out a passion for sport, a respect for all people and a yearning to connect with friends and strangers all over the world.  It's a unifying time across the globe.

For as long as I can remember, my cousin Aashif has been a huge fan of sports and the Olympics.  Over the holidays, I spent some time with him along with my cousins Farah, Alida and Zahida.  It was a visit filled with celebrating and supporting each other.  Aashif was making some positive changes to his lifestyle after a set back to his health.  A newly married Farah told us about her first months of wedded bliss and her inner debate about changing her last name.  Alida told us about the bullet proof vest and helmet that greeted her on her first day at her new and rewarding job in Kabul, Afghanistan.  Zahida made a valliant effort to stay awake for the conversation, tired from endless hours of studying for exams in her first year of Med School in Dublin, Ireland.

The conversation then turned to this:

Every year my cousin Aashif and his wife Yasmin create these amazing gingerbread houses with two of their nephews.  This year, they decided to honour the Olympics and created a snowboarding hill!  (I'd like to point out that I am typing this post and watching Maelle Ricker snowboard to GOLD for Canada!  Woohoo!  Darn Olympics just ruined my make up!)

VANOC folk, please note that the model is not to scale.

Here's a closer look at the hill built from Rice Krispies and covered in fondant.  There is candy floss at the bottom of the hill to give the illusion of freshly fallen snow. 
Aashif printed and cut out each and every one of these flags.  
Who knew he was so crafty?

These snowboarder ornaments complete this work of art.

As I watch the Olympics this year, I am reminded and so appreciative of a perfect afternoon I spent with family.  I'm also thankful for just how small the world can be and grateful that I have the tools and technology to keep in touch with family and friends all over the world while feeling connected to a community that is bigger than that of where I live, work, play and dream. 

GO CANADA GO!

Friday, February 12, 2010

A is for Arrivals

Alphatudes by Michele Wahlder is set to be released in March 2010.  Wahlder explores gratitude through the 26 lovely characters of the alphabet that make up gorgeous words like friendship, compassion, and zerbert.  (That last word would be a perfect bingo in Scrabble but sadly it has not graduated out of the urban dictionary.)  These same letters band together to create melodic phrases like "I love you" and "Mom, I need a hug" and "Would you like fries with that?"

My friend Tez has just started a new blog and is embarking on her own Alphabet of Gratitude.  We talked about it late one night while discussing love, family, lip gloss, cheetos and our friendship with each other.  Read about her first post on apostrophes. 

I'm going to take a stab at my own run through my 26 literary friends.

So to begin...
 
via Babble n' Blog
 A is for Arrivals.

My brother Aneez (another A for whom I am ridiculously grateful) once told me that he loved to people watch at the arrivals gate - in any airport.  I think of him each time I see the airport montage scenes in the movie Love Actually.  It's the scene where you hear Hugh Grant's voice (as Prime Minister of England of course) saying "Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport." 

The arrivals area is a fascinating study in human behaviour and love.  I can only really remember greeting loved ones at the airport and here's what I notice about myself: 

  • I always have a book with me.  I tend to show up early when meeting others and to pass the time, I'll get a few pages read here and there.  You will never see me reading at the arrival's gate.  I'm too excited to do something self soothing like reading.
  • For some reason, the anticipation of waiting to connect with a loved one makes me feel as though I have to disconnect from everyone around me. Kinda strange no?  I feel as though no one could have more longing than I.  How could they?
  • I do everything humanly possible to get a great vantage point so I can see my loved one the moment the doors swing open and they burst through the gate.  If it's crowded, I'll find someone shorter than me.  Park myself behind them.  Take a deep breath. And wait.
  • At the same time, I need my space.  Who knows how long I will be waiting with eagerness? However long it'll be, I need to have room to tap my toes, sway from left to right to left and back again.  It's the Arrivals Gate Dance. I choreographed it myself.
  • I also do this thing where I avoid eye contact with every other person in the arrivals area.  However, I secretly cheer them on and am so happy for them if their loved one arrives before mine.  I often catch myself smiling at the very people who I try to distance myself from just as they are on their way out the door. 
Even though I can be a complete dork while waiting for loved ones at the airport, it's nothing short of uplifting when someone's flight lands and they are greeted with a sigh of relief, a hug that lasts a few seconds longer than usual, a goofy smile, high pitched hellos (in any language,) choked laughter and tears, beautiful flowers, kitschy ballooons or homemade signs.  (Valet signs can even do the trick!)

Aneez once came off his plane from England holding a sign that said "MOM?"   Thank you Motabhai for teaching me to see the arrivals gate in a whole new way.  It is a place filled with longing, love and promise.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Old School - February 5, 2010

Ten things today that confirmed that I am the luckiest girl in the world.

1. 6am - Woke up and found an email from my Tez waiting just for me!

2. 6:15am - Played a "q" and an "x" in my Scrabble games this morning.

3. Rachel Awes' heart pulp blog entry.  Makes me think of my Munira.

4. Eating a big juicy orange for breakfast that dribbled down my chin.

5. Making plans for Family Day...

6. Vistaprint items that arrived in the mail. I wonder when I'll need another hit...

7. Tried pumpkin seed butter for the first time...not bad.

8. Quick morning and lunchtime chats with Sheba.

9. Catching up with my Suzie after a week of telephone tag.

10.  Stopping by Nathan Phillips Square to give Shafik a hug.  Staying to watch him dance his heart out.  With Terry. And seeing this beautiful art.  (Okay that last one was four things!  So thankful!)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Old School - February 4, 2010

Ten things I am grateful for today:

1. Began my day sending off some snail mail.  Can't wait for dear ones to get their mail!

2. The half an hour this morning somewhere between 9 and 10am when the sun was shining so brightly through my office window and onto the back of my neck that I think I got my first February sunburn...
 
                                              via NutrionInk

3. Five minutes to go on the elliptical and I was ready to call it quits when Jann Arden's "You are Everything" blared through my iPod and gave me a second wind.  Yes I like to work out to sappy love songs.

4. 20 minutes in the steam room.  Bliss. 

5. My naturopath Dr. Mubina Jiwa and her awesome advice, encouragement and guidance throughout the day today.

6. Shooting the breeze with my Mom.

7. Getting a mango smoothie recipe from Krista.  How did I get so lucky?

8. Impromptu dinner down the hall with my neighbour Diana.  I always leave knowing I am loved.

9. Treating myself to Toronto Symphony Orchestra tickets.

10. Going to bed with Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes....

Sweet dreams everyone.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Shopping bag wisdom

I forgot my book at home (Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes) and my iPod was juiced out.  I turned to my neighbour on the Bay #6 bus and read her Lululemon bag.  (I don't care for the store but the bag is cool!)  There was one phrase on it that I've been thinking about ever since...

YOUR OUTLOOK ON LIFE IS A 
DIRECT REFLECTION ON HOW
MUCH YOU LIKE YOURSELF

I think about the people in my life who inspire, challenge and amaze me and this rings true.  They have mastered self-love and in turn face the world with their heads up, arms out, eyes hopeful and hearts open.

I love letters.  I love words.  I am huge fan of quotes.  I get so excited when the exact right combination of letters and words melt together to form the perfect lyric or when a few simple words placed in a certain order makes me stop and think.  Is there a piece of prose, a quote or a lyric that has made you stop and think?