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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July? How about JOY-ly!

Why hello August! You certainly came out of nowhere!

I guess that happens when one has as joyful a July as I just did. Practicing daily gratitude is so grounding for me. Taking in a whole month of gratitude at once is the best kind of uplifting! Here we go!

July got off to a great start! What could top a Canada Day shared with my Toronto Blue Jays and 21 friends who accompanied me to a game? 22 friends perhaps? Just kidding! Even though the Jays lost and we all ended up with either heat stroke, sun burns, heat rash and/or sweat in unmentionable places, we had a blast! Follow that up with a BBQ and ice cream cake on my condo's roof top garden with neighbours and soon-to-be-newlyweds Bey and Ricardo and their friends. I'd say we all hit a homerun that day.
Ameera and I melting at the Jays Game on Canada Day.

The first week of July also brought me a great new co worker who has been an absolute pleasure to work alongside! She's already got me signed up to go Tree Top Trekking in September to continue my pursuit of getting high. I had to draw the line today when she invited me to a 5K Zombie Obstacle Course. I am honestly flattered that she would want to share her weekend time with me since we see each other all day but she lost me somewhere around the mention of running and blood.

That same week many of us from the YMCA of Greater Toronto took part in the YMCA Relay for Strong Kids on the Honda Indy track. What a fantastic event!
My volunteer partner Bryan and I at the YMCA Relay for Strong Kids.

I also got to celebrate two special people who turned 40 this month! Melanie, who knows my heart so well, let me take her to dinner even though we were complete prunes from spending way too much time in the whirlpool. Read about her thoughts on turning 40 here.

Naheed also turned 40! He invited everyone over for a party 3 short days after moving into his new home. When I saw the six pack of Fanta in glass bottles, I became giddy! It might as well have been my birthday! Lucky me, on another July night, I got some one-on-one time with the birthday boy. Later that week, he and his boyfriend also treated me to a home cooked brunch with the most delicious pancakes!
Fanta in a glass bottle! A glass bottle!

My Vegas crew reunited this month over yummy poutine at the W Burger Bar. Bestie confessed that he watched Glitter in the theatre...twice. You gotta love him! And I do! So much so that I scored a date with him the next week for sushi!
Bestie - mid confession and drunk on sweet potato beef poutine...

Speaking of poutine, one of the most important days of the year happens in July. That's right! You guessed it! NATIONAL FRENCH FRY DAY! (Way to go US of A for recognizing this day. I dream of a world with an INTERNATIONAL FRENCH FRY DAY...) June 13th marks this celebration of Mother Nature's gift to me in my most favourite of its fried forms. Pity it only comes about once a year.

After a joyful National French Fry Day, I got the opportunity to attend a birthday party for my favourite Canadian living in Lusaka, Zambia. This is not an easy place to win in my heart people...after all I know approximately THREE Canadians who live there.
Here are the other folks who were invited to the party.
Clearly, I was the youngest at heart of the birthday party bunch.

Ethan turned six and invited me to his Build-A-Bear-Workshop party. I even got to build my own friend.
Sungura (Swahili for rabbit) and I. He's no longer parading around nude -
I bought him a Toronto Blue Jays uniform.

A highlight this month was my second annual Soup Sisters experience. Last year, 20 of us kicked off National Volunteer Week with my first Soup Sisters event. After a night of teamwork, great food and doing good, I was hooked. This year, 25 of us pooled our energy and spirit to crank out 96L of delicious soup together in just a few short hours!
My Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers.

Having Fridays off this month, I took a quick trip south of the border with Mom, Minaz, my favourite Canadian living in Lusaka and his Mom. These folks put in motion the words "shop 'til you drop." I worshipped the Archers at Target. As you do when you are Canadian.

Dinner dates with Erin, Munira, Ameera were a treat this month. Funny enough, now that I think about it, all three dates included the devouring of green dragon rolls. DELISH!

My Dad also turned 65 and we celebrated with a fresh and tasty Middle Eastern meal one evening followed by a perfect day by the BBQ. So happy that the Ladaks who were in town from Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania joined us too. Could it be a coincidence that the week after my Dad turned 65 he locked his car keys in the house and his house keys in the car at the same time? How curious.
Dad and Kahzmir and an ice cream cake with a very short shelf life.

This last weekend in July was definitely special. I kicked it off reuniting with my MBSR teachers at Women's College Hospital for a refresher course. Deanna and Thora came by the Harbourfront to play at the urban beach at the HTO Park. Ameera and I followed that up with massages at the Elmwood Spa. She then put up with me crying throughout the Opening Ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympics which we watched on mute while out at dinner. (That right there is a good friend.) Karim, Minaz, Faiza A and I also caught the Cirque de Soleil: Michael Jackson Immortal show and had a blast being reminded of the messages of love for one another and for the Earth that were so prevalent in Michael's music.
Eleven month old Thora and Deanna.

I said good bye to July today with Kimberly, mani/pedis and my favourite bean burrito from Quesada. What an amazing month! Joy-ly, I love you!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

My Blate in Chicago

When I first started blogging, I was really just looking for a place to record my daily gratitude and the moments in my blessed life that make me happy.  I had no idea that blogging would lead me to meeting and making memories with so many terrific people.

I can't remember how I first came across Meghan's blog The Perfect Compilation Tape.  I do recall that she made me laugh out loud under the glow of my laptop, that I think of her whenever any "Housewives" show is on and that I now use the word "amazeballs" after having read it on her blog.

I was in Chicago for a conference last month and was lucky enough to score a blate with Meghan.  We met up the day the conference ended while I was on a high from a trip to Target and trying not to melt in the crazy city heat.  Meghan and her hubby Mike along with new friends of mine Adam and Julie went to the US Cellular Field to catch the Chicago White Sox hosting the Chicago Cubs .  (Disclaimer: I promise that if I've met you through blogging and should we ever have the chance to meet in person, it doesn't have to be at a baseball game even though my track record might indicate otherwise.) Meghan was as hilarious and witty in person as she is on her blog.  Her one liners and quick observations had me in stitches and it was so nice to be able to spend a little bit of time with her in the city she loves so much.

Meghan and I trying to look cute even though it was hawt as heck.

The Cell is beautiful contrast from Rogers Centre in Toronto.  The open air stadiums in the US are perfect for watching the sun go down above the field.

The Cell by day.

The Cell by night.

Meghan, Mike, Adam and Julie also indulged me in a Chicago version of Ground or Mound. Here is our splendid kitty.

It was nice to see the lovely and former Blue Jay Alex Rios in action.  As ever, he was easy on the eyes.  Yum!

But by far the highlight of the game was Carl. This kind man with a knapsack filled with blended strawberry margaritas was so fun and friendly.  

Watch and learn as Carl demonstrates his super cool margarita machine in action.

And when he found out I was visiting from Canada, Carl presented me with a baseball on behalf of all of Chicago.  What a sweetheart!  Of course, I had him sign it for me. After all, he was the only real celebrity at the game.

We spent the last few innings of the game watching this disgruntled Cub's fan express her inebriated self in all her glory.  She was blissfully cursing for the most part but it got kind of ugly near the end of the game.  Thankfully her child was recording it all and putting it on YouTube...for posterity I am sure.

This perfect evening was topped off with some neat fireworks at the end of the game.  It doesn't matter how old I get, I am a sucker for fireworks.

You make a great blate Meghan!
I hope we can do it again soon!