Regrets I’ve Had A Few

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Just like the song says, “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again too few to mention…..la, la….la, la, la”. We’ve all had at least something that we wish we had done better, or not said, or not done at all. At this point in my life, I am prone to reflect back and wonder “what if” I had made different choices.

So many of the decisions that I made throughout my life were based on other people like my parents, my friends, my husband, and yes, even my children. That’s not to say that they were to blame for my choices because they had no idea what went on inside my head. I, alone, am responsible. In all honesty, my family and friends were very supportive of me. So, why did I always feel I needed to put them first?

After all these years, I have come to the conclusion that it was my self-confidence. I somehow made decisions that were safe because I was afraid to let anyone down. Never mind that I was letting myself down. The signs were all there if I had cared to open my eyes. Every once in a while, I would step outside the accepted proverbial box, but then I would give in to pressure.

When I was in high school, I told myself adamantly that I was not going to get married, and at the first opportunity, I was moving to a large city. Well, I did get married, and I still live in the small city where I was born. I could easily have changed those decisions, but I didn’t. I was pretty much one of the last of family and friends to walk down the aisle. At the time I remember questioning my decision, but went ahead because I felt it was expected of me. How foolish!

Now, before you start to think that I regret everything in my life, I assure you I do not. Many good things came from those decisions, like my two kids. They are my world! But what if, I had decided to become a writer like I had always wanted. Or what if, I had moved to the south of France or Italy like I had always dreamed of doing.

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Would my life have turned out any happier or more fulfilling? I will never know.

I do know you can’t go back, but you can decide to take charge of your future and do it your way. I am glad that with age came self confidence. My hour glass still has enough sand in it to enjoy.

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So what do you regret? I know there is something.

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

 

 

Ahhh! Spa!

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For Christmas, our kids gave my friend and I a gift certificate for a day at the wonderful Elmwood Spa located in the heart of downtown Toronto. The gorgeous building built in the late 1800’s was originally home of the Y.W.C.A. The exterior has been beautifully restored to its original condition while inside houses four floors that are a mix of the old with modern aesthetics. When you enter, there is an immediate sense of calm that pervades the reception area.

Our reservation was to begin at 10:00am and we agreed to meet at the Elmwood since I was driving in from just outside the city. A drive which would normally take me 45 minutes stretched into double that time due to morning traffic and after searching for parking, I found myself scrambling to get there on time. I needed this spa day more than ever at this point.

We checked in immediately and were escorted to the change area on the second floor to doff our belongings and don their wonderful white robes which would become our uniform for the day.

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First on our agenda was a facial. Our personal technician guided us to the treatment room. While relaxing on the warm bed, my face was scrubbed, waxed, plucked, squeezed, massaged, steamed and lubricated. During the treatment the technician also massages your scalp. When it was time to leave, I peeked in the mirror by the door to find my hair standing on end like an oily mop. Any attempt to tame the mess was in vain, but luckily everyone wandering the halls looked the same, so I felt right at home.

Next on our schedule was lunch, so we headed up to the 4th floor. We chose a seat outside on the patio in the shade. The warm breeze felt lovely.

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Included in our package was a three course lunch. I chose a beet, arugula and goat cheese salad to start. This was followed by a NY sirloin steak with sautéed parsnips. Delicious! For dessert, I chose warm pumpkin pie with cinnamon whipped cream. It was lovely to relax and eat at a leisurely pace. I was very surprised to see almost an equal number of men and women; some were couples, but many were alone or with a friend.

After our leisurely meal, it was massage time. Surprising to me was the fact that most of the masseuses were men. The room was dimly lit and soft music played in the background. As I lay on my very full stomach, it was clear that the timing was not ideal. I eventually settled in and thoroughly enjoyed the experience which was enhanced by the scent of lemongrass that I had chosen for my oil. A second head massage left me looking frightful, but I couldn’t have cared less.

Lastly, we headed back to the second floor for our pedicures. Our technicians were so much fun and we laughed the entire time. Screenshot_2018-08-02 Elmwood Spa (Toronto) - All You Need to Know Before You Go - UPDATED 2018 (Toronto, Ontario) - TripAd[...](1)

We gave our newly polished toes some time to dry before heading for the change room.

It had been a truly, lovely day. Everyone needs a day like this every so often just to be pampered and cared for. So, remember to take some time for yourself. You deserve it!

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

 

 

 

Bucket List

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On the small bulletin board in my home office hangs a yellowed and dog-eared sheet of paper. It’s my bucket list.

Not long after my husband died, almost forty years ago now, I sat down and made a list of all the things that I had ever wanted to do or try. Some were very simple, while others required a lot of planning. Some seemed ridiculous when I looked at them written down, but I decided they should remain on the list. Some shocked me. My paper filled up quickly, but I continued to add items as they came to me. It gave me a sense of direction that I needed at that time. It made me feel secure for some strange reason. Bucketlist

I had become a single parent virtually overnight, and I remember feeling almost paralyzed by fear. I knew it was time to put my “big girl” pants on. Three people were depending on me…. my two kids and I.

There is a quote from “Dead Man Walking” that comes to mind, “you had better get busy living, or get busy dying…..”. My bucket list got me busy living again. It gave me goals beyond just the routines of everyday life. I had something to look forward to accomplishing and I really needed that. Besides, my kids needed a role model.

Making the list was fun actually. It made me really think about myself for the first time in many years.

First on my list was “Graduate from university”. I had been taking courses over the years, but it was time to buckle down and get this important item out of the way. And so I did. The fall of that first year of many changes, I graduated from Trent University with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. It felt amazing to look into the audience and see my son and daughter clapping for me.

Well, that was the first of a long list of items and at my first opportunity, I marked it off as completed in yellow highlighter. 20180726_134828As I accomplished each thing, I marked them off as well. As you can clearly see, there are entries that are as yet unmarked, but I’m working on them, and it is very gratifying to see how far I have come. I continue to add to the bottom when a thought strikes me.

So, then, do you have a bucket list? If not, take the time to sit down with paper and pencil and make your own list. It might surprise you the things that turn up on it. They do not have to be grand and complicated, just significant to you. TheBucketList

 

 

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo 

Everything Aches!

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I’m an early riser. It has become my habit when I first open my eyes in the morning to lie flat on my back and take stock of the aches and pains that emanate from various parts of my body. Anyone watching me would wonder what on earth I was doing. I lift and bend various limbs to see what is new or different. Sometimes, I am pleasantly surprised to discover that a previous problem seems to have resolved itself.

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It used to always be my right knee that gave me the most discomfort, but with continuous use of cannabis cream (I use it religiously.) , I no longer feel the throbs consistent with the arthritis in that joint. I am currently plagued by pain in my left shoulder. So, I am trying out various products from the arsenal in my medicine cabinet.

This week, after a tug of war with my 177 pound St. Bernard, I am treating lower back pain. I really should learn that if she doesn’t want to move, she won’t move. I am always the loser in this battle of wills.

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I am quite aware that the aches and pains that I am experiencing are just another reminder that I am getting older. Among my group of friends, there are knee replacements, and hip replacements aplenty. It started me wondering why these surgeries are so common place today, and the wait time for doctors doing these procedures is long. I think back to when I was much, much younger and these kinds of operations were virtually unheard of in medicine.

How did our parents and grandparents and those before them cope with these ailments? My mom, in her eighties, was still maintaining her large home and garden, roller skating twice a week, and occasionally going downhill skiing in the winter. Were they made of better stock? Or were they simply more active during their lifetime than people are today? Has technology robbed us of our physical health? 2a78e38dd433824c51357eb0c258e02e

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I have come to the conclusion that it is a combination of many things, but I guess the proof will be in the younger generations. It will be interesting to see the outcome because as you have heard many times before “use it, or lose it”. I think there may definitely be something in that old adage. So get off your sofa, and phone, and computer and at least go for a walk. You may meet some new friends and discover a whole world of fun just beyond your front door.

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

A New Chapter At This Age?

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I am looking forward to reading the new book by Debbie Travis called…..

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Most people who know me are unaware that I am a dreamer. I can admit it now at this point in my life. I may be wrong, but I think most people see me as someone who does not take unnecessary chances and someone who likes to know exactly what is happening in her life at all times. Secretly, I like that they see me that way. It reassures me.

When I finished high school, I had grandiose dreams of becoming a fashion designer and owning my own business. I worked in retail for a couple of years and saved every cent. One day while taking the bus to work, I noticed a “For Rent” sign in a store window. I got off the bus and walked to the real estate office nearby that was advertised on the sign. I was 19 and had never had a business conversation in my life. Two hours later, I was the new tenant of that dusty, old property.

My family was shocked when I told them what I had done, but they pitched in and helped me clean-up and paint. I worked day and night to get the business up and running. My plan was to design and make ALL the clothes. I opened “The Misfit” in a few short months.

I was so proud of my accomplishment, but the small, blue-collar city where I lived was not ready for my sense of style. Two years later, I sold the contents of my business to another young entrepreneur. It was time to start a new chapter.

Now what? I saw an ad in our local paper. Air Canada was hiring flight attendants. I had never even been on a plane before, so what could go wrong? I applied, went for the interview, and a month later, I was heading to Montreal, Quebec, Canada to train.

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That’s me on the right!

That job that sounded so glamorous, and exciting was hard work, and I loved every minute of it, but life sometimes throws you a curve ball. I fell in love and got married. The job I loved did not work well with married life, and I had to make a choice. My marriage won out in the end, and I found myself once again starting a new chapter.

After several brief turns at a variety of retail positions, I decided to go back to school. Teacher’s College to be exact. It was definitely a last minute decision, but it seemed to be a good fit for married life and raising children. Unlike most teachers, I had never had a burning desire to work with kids. I had never even liked to babysit. Well, to my surprise, I discovered that I quite enjoyed working with primary grade students. Their enthusiasm for learning made the job very rewarding and I managed to remain at this job for 32 years.

After retiring from this long chapter of my life, most people assumed I would sit back and relax with my new found freedom. But I wasn’t ready! So, I volunteered at the local hospital and art gallery, did a short, seasonal stint at Chapters/Indigo, and took a position working with adults who were getting high school credits or their GED. These jobs filled my time and made me happy, but there was this burning desire in the back of my mind that had been there for as long as I could remember. I had always wanted to be a writer.

There was really nothing to stop me. All I had to do was write! Well, that sounds simple, but every writer also wants to be published. I took a few writing courses to improve my skills and network with other writers. Then I discovered “Chicken Soup For The Soul”. I submitted my first story to them. As I slid the envelope into the mail slot, I felt very vulnerable. It was like sending a part of me off to be judged. A few weeks later, the editor called and said he wanted to publish my story. I can’t even describe the feeling, but I have been submitting stories ever since.

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My latest story is in this year’s Mother’s Day collection.

No, they do not all get chosen. Rejection is just part of the business, and I have learned to deal with it.

So, have I finally written all the new chapters in my life? Absolutely not! I actually have some new plans in the works, but I will save those for another post.

How about you? What new chapter would you like to start working on in your life? Don’t let your age hold you back. Think of all the life experience you have had to this point. Use it and write a new chapter for yourself.

 

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

Shop ‘Til Your Fingers Cramp

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I have always loved to shop. I admit it. I used to pour over sale flyers and advertisements on a Saturday morning with my coffee. Now, I simply use my Flipp App on my phone to check grocery prices and other items for my home. I can go several weeks without ever stepping inside my local Winners store. That is unbelievable! So what happened? Is it my age? Do I not care about what I am wearing anymore? Is there no extra money left from my pension to make frivolous purchases? None of these apply!

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I always noticed those ads that appear frequently on my Facebook news feed, but I never really payed them much attention. I would simply scroll on by. Then one day, an ad for twinkle lights caught my attention. Yes, I said twinkle lights. The picture of a garden alight with these teeny,tiny bulbs looked so beautiful, AND they were solar. I had never seen them in any store in my city. I was truly intrigued, so I clicked on the site.

There they were. Beautiful strands of 100 lights for a mere $19.99. I had to have them. So, throwing caution to the wind, I began to fill out the order form. I discovered that the more you ordered, the better the price. When I got to the payment section, I started to rethink my actions. Should I give out my credit card information? I mean after all, I knew nothing about this company except that they had something I really wanted.

I noticed a PayPal option. I had heard of it. I knew it was touted as the safest method of payment, but I did not have an account. Those lights kept twinkling in my mind. If I wanted them, then I was signing up with PayPal. The process was so simple, even I had my account set up in a matter of minutes. My twinkle lights were paid for with just a click of the mouse and before I could log off my computer, notification arrived in my email to confirm my purchase.

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It was all so easy. Now all I had to do was wait for my parcel which came in a matter of days. The lights were exactly as I was hoping and I love looking at them every evening as darkness moves across the sky.

And that is how easily I became an online shopper. Since then, I have purchased shoes and clothes, accessories and jewellery, tech items and more lights. The transactions are so easy, and I can do it any time day or night.

Now I am by no means suggesting you become a shopaholic. The same restrictions apply whether you are in a store or on your computer. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. I am simply suggesting it is the way of the future, and there is no need to think you can’t handle using the technology. Who would ever have imagined that you could shop all over the world from your own home? And just think of all the wear and tear on your feet. Save them for doing something more fun like dancing.

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Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

Woof, Meow, Squawk!

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I am an animal lover. I grew up with dogs and have always had one, but never did I appreciate them enough for what they brought to my life until I became older and lived alone. Despite the muddy paws, fur balls rolling across my floors, hair stuck to everything I own, and drool dampening my surroundings, I could not imagine my home without one. 

I am currently sharing my house with the massive fur baby above. Her name is Lola and we have been living together for almost 5 years. I’m not sure what it is about large dogs, but I seem to be drawn to them. Lola is of course a St. Bernard, but I have also shared my home with a Bouvier de Flanders and an Old English Sheepdog.

This is Columbus. 173154_1524523612_609273480_n I rescued him from the Humane Society several years ago. He was labelled not adoptable because of aggression issues relating to abuse. We were together for exactly one year when he randomly attacked me and sunk his teeth into the side of my face. He had to be put down. I held him and cried as he crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. I think of him all the time and wish I could have helped him more.

Sometimes an animal will come into your life in an unusual way. Such was the case with FUI_01Fui Fui who came here from the streets of Hong Kong. I learned about Fui Fui through a strange trail of connections. To make a long story short, Fui Fui’s mom was having to move, and she could not keep him. His story broke my heart, and I volunteered to take him in to live with my Bouvier, “Sydney” and I.  The transition was difficult for everyone, but especially Fui Fui. He suffered from separation anxiety. One evening when I was out for a couple of hours, he almost chewed through the door looking for his human. However, this story had a happy ending. His mom missed him so much that she decided to take him back and make other living arrangements. I had to give up Fui Fui, but I gained a new friend.

Although my pets have been dogs, I know people with cats and birds feel the same strong bond. Animals seem to know when you need them. They make you laugh, and they make you cry. They take away loneliness like nothing else can. It is amazing how they are using dogs, and occasionally other animals, in nursing homes. I think it would be beneficial to have resident pets in these places for the people who need to live there. Animals are proven anxiety relievers.

There are several other pets who have touched my life like my furry grand pup, Stella, the Newf. A sweeter soul has never lived.

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And then there are Tuesday (I think she has used up her nine lives a couple times over.),

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Miles, who takes time to smell the flowers,

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and Sideways, better known as “Baby Girl”. These three are my grand cats, and they all are rescues from the streets of Toronto.

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So, whatever your preference, enjoy your cat, dog, bird,or whatever. They are only in our lives for a short time, but the love and joy they bring us lasts forever. 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo