Great weekend activities around Montréal: A nice walk in the Oka park

A lovely afternoon in the park…

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Don’t we look lovely here?

The morning started out nice enough. Dear husband was in a nice mood so I told myself “Fabienne what better moment to suggest a nice little walk in the park than now”:

Me: “How about a quick shower followed by brunch and then a nice walk in Mount Royal park?” dear Husband agreed at the first  two and barked at the “walk in the park” part.

Hubby: “What’s with you and that park, it’s turning into a real obsession, you know?”

Me: “Well, we all have our little obsessions, don’t we? Plus I like it because we can get a good workout with the stairs. It adds some challenge”. But apparently not everybody is looking for a challenge on a nice Saturday morning. Some people rather stay in bed. shocking I know…

Hubby: “How about the other park, the Centre de la nature?”

Me: “No, I prefer Mount Royal? The other one is always full of moms and toddlers and babies and strollers and flies, etc”.

Husband: “Well, they need fresh air too, you know. But I suppose they could stay home on weekends to give you more room to wiggle! How about Oka Park?”

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We got ready in record time, got through brunch and made it to the park in record time. I am at my happiest in nature and with plenty of sun. The Park Oka is such a nice gem. From where we live it’s about 45 min drive. There’s an entrance fee. There’s also the beach on the other side. The last time we went to that beach was in 2014 when we first met. How time flies…. I’ve seen couples with babies and small children and I am not sure how much of a good idea it is but I suppose if they’re used to it there should be no problem.

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An insect repellent of some sort is mandatory as well as proper hat and sunglasses. Lots of annoying and vicious mosquitoes. For those obsessed with hitting their 10000 steps a day, you’ll be served. With the mosquitoes hurrying you, you’ll have no problem hitting that goal. In fact, you might even set a new record…

Once we hit 5000 steps, I suggested to dear husband that we start retracing our steps. Dear husband assures me with the confidence of a pioneer:”We just need to keep going and we’ll hit the end of the park and get to the parking lot”. Since I am not good with direction I trust him. 7000 steps later, we hit the end of the park except there no exit. We had to cross the entire park again in the opposite direction to get to the exit or whatnot.

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Upon learning that cold truth, my sense of adventure failed me and I found myself haunted by visions of people stranded on deserted islands and dying of thirst and hunger. To top it all off a suicidal mosquito decides to flap its little wings straight into my right eye.

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Initially I worried we wouldn’t be able to hit 10 000 steps but with our “misfortune” we made it well past 14 000. The sun was already going down which seemed to bring out the most vicious breed of mosquitoes. But thanks to the help of  these “lovely” mosquitoes, we made it rather quickly to the other end of the park, just under an hour.

On our way back we stopped by the Magasin de l’Abbaye d’Oka. We bought some cheese and saucissons. They have all sort of delicious little goods up there. In my book a stop at this Abbaye either before attempting the Oka park or after is simply mandatory. Life is about balance: Cheese with 10000 steps:)

It was a very enjoyable walk. Lots of fresh air. We highly recommend. Bisoux!

 

Timeless summer outfits: What to wear when you look tired

My favorite summer outfit is a combination of blue and white. This is a combination I particularly affectionate on mornings when I need to look bright and perky but feel tired and worn out.

“…When I dress in blue and white I literally feel like the star feature in a toothpaste commercial…”

 

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At the beginning of summer I had a photoshoot done by a professional photographer and let me tell you I now have a new level of respect and admiration for people whose full time job involves “posing”…the whole story will be for another post with pics to boot…

“The combination of blue and white can make you look like you spend your day surfing and munching on dry fish and blueberries. It can also make you like a tax collector.”

I remember coming to the shoot location and the lovely photographer asked me:”So what’s the story behind this shoot?'” and I am like: “Story? What do you mean!!?”. She replied: “Well , yeah what do you want to say with the shoot?”. Well, I thought to myself: “Look at me, I am pretty…?”. Unfortunately I couldn’t say that out loud. She sat there patiently waiting with an encouraging smile. When it became clear that I was struggling, she then offered: “Well, why did you chose this specific outfit this morning?” I thought for a little bit then I said “Well, because I find blue and white so fresh and clean, you know when you feel tired and you have to be up super early on a Saturday for a shoot (By the way I felt like a real model saying that :))”. Needless to say she had a point. There is always a story.

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Nothing says fresh and bright-eyed like the combination of blue and white whatever material you chose although I do have a soft spot for blue denim and white tee. Of course depending on your complexion you can chose to replace the white tee with either an of-white or cream colored one but white will work with most complexions. When I dress in blue and white I literally feel like the star feature in a toothpaste commercial.

These two accessories have become my go to for summer either layered as shown here in the pic below or as stand alone.

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In the pic below I chose to break the blue and white with a floral jacket to add a bit of sophistication to the entire look. On a side note I absolutely loved these braids and it’s a shame I took them out.

IMG_7582_resizeWell I hope you enjoy reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. I always feel so shallow when I say stuff like that 🙂 Talk soon!

When I don’t feel like writing, I read these quotes:

Hi peeps just want to share with you a few quotes that have been keeping me sane for the past few weeks: Hope you enjoy them as much as I did and refer to them often. Here we go:

On not feeling like writing and waiting for motivation to kick in, this quote is my all time favorite:

“You are never going to feel like it. Ever.”

Mel Robbins

I used to think if a book is beautifully written, it is automatically guaranteed to be published until I read this quote from Ginnie Sayles

On putting the work necessary to be fulfilled: Pursuing meaningless goals while meticulously avoiding putting in the work in order to find true fulfillment for your true hear’s desire. In other word trying to escape your own good:

“When we are afraid to pursue our true heart desire we hide out from ourselves. We hide out in jobs that are not really who we are and that are not fulfilling. Oh, we may fill up our lives with lots of interesting ‘activities’ and interesting people and we may enjoy all of them on some level but by and large a deeper ‘core’ satisfaction is missing.” Ginnie Sayles, How to write a book in 3 weeks

 

”…Publishers are not in the business of publishing books, they are in the business of making money. The sooner you accept this truth, the less confusion you will have about writing books..” Ginnie Sayles, How to write a book in 3 weeks

It is easy to forget that far more than talent, good writing is a skill that can be developed if you have enough passion for it. At times when I feel I am not skilled enough or good enough a writer and I get discouraged, I read this quote:

…”A book can be brilliantly written but if publishers think it will not sell at a profit, then it will not get published, no matter how beautifully written it is is. Conversely , a mediocre manuscript—-or even a trite one—-that has a good market (people to read it) ready and waiting—will be published immediately. That is because publishing houses have a staff of editors who can whip a mediocre manuscript into shape in no time and sell it. This knowledge should make you feel better! Why? because it means that you do not have to write a masterpiece—which means you can stop prejudging your book as not good enough—-because it does not have to be good enough, just marketable. “

Ginnie Sayles, how to write a book in three weeks

When I need to put failure in perspective:

“…Not taking a a risk is dangerous because we risk never knowing the joy of fulfillment…….Hiding out from ourselves deprives us—and in the end not taking a risk to be who we are is the only true risk, the only failure….”

 

Showing up imperfect: Getting back in the saddle

“We must not let the perfect be the enemy of the good”

Voltaire

I have been MIA on this blog for quite some time now and I must say getting back in the saddle is definitely not easy…especially after stopping for what feels like ages. Well, 5 months and a few days to be exact. With that being said, there isn’t a day that went by without me missing this space that I have created. There isn’t also a day that went by that I don’t curse myself for starting it in the first place and constantly asking myself why oh why did I have to get involved in blogging (throws hands up in the air, Greek tragedy style)

“It is  better to show up imperfect than to retrieve into an early grave with perfection as the sole companion.”

As a Libra if there’s one thing I do best is study the pros and cons until I lose all motivations to do anything.  I overwhelmed myself by making things more complicated than they should be until I became paralyzed with thoughts of not being good enough. You see, I had managed to convince myself I needed to hit the ground running. I had forgotten that nobody truly hits the ground running and that baby steps matters. Instead of keeping track of my progress, I kept track of my shortcomings. A true recipe for disaster. As time passed I couldn’t bring myself to get back in the saddle but I couldn’t bring myself to quit either. It was like being frozen between heaven and hell. Naturally, once I’ve driven my husband to the brink of suicide I suddenly come to a “realization” which in my language means I have a melt-down usually scheduled around the time dear husband is trying to relax after a 60+ hour work week ( I truly married my soulmate…). While it is not easy to maintain this blog, I have discovered during these past few months that it is even more painful not to.  Dear husband has truly been instrumental during these few months of absence gently and relentlessly coaxing me into action. Not a day goes by without me thanking God for him.

So  for what it’s worth, I am back and hopefully for good 🙂 One thing I know for sure: It’s  better to show up imperfect than to retrieve into an early grave with perfection as the sole companion.

Thanks for passing by 🙂

On being a woman and the uphill battle with body hair….

“…Being a woman is worse than being a farmer – There is so much harvesting and crop spraying to be done: legs to be waxed, underarms shaved, eyebrows plucked, feet pumiced, skin exfoliated and moisturized, spots cleansed, roots dyed, eyelashes tinted, nails filed, cellulite massaged, stomach muscle exercised. The whole performance is so highly tuned you only need to neglect it for a few days for the whole thing to go to seed. Sometimes I wonder what I would be like if left to revert to nature – with a  full beard and handlebar mustache on each shin….”

Currently reading Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’ diary and I almost died of laughter when I read that quote.

How many times have we, as women, asked ourselves the same question as Bridget? I have often felt as if I am fighting a losing battle in which my body hair holds all the winning cards. In fact, when it comes to body hair my husband and I often have these type of conversation:

Husband: “Going to the doctor?”

Me: “No, why?”

Husband: “Well, your legs are smooth and you’re all shaved and everything…”

Me looking at him intensely trying to remember why I ever married in the first place.

Husband: “These days you only shave when going to the doctor.”

Me: “That’s a lie, I shave regularly!”

Husband: “Except in Winter… Are you trying to grow your own fur?”

Me: “Oh shut up!”

“…I just can’t help but associate laser hair removal with images of a possessed Light saber angrily swinging above my precious and very private body parts….”

At that point, since I wanted to remain married I chose to ignore the man. After all, being single again would undoubtedly mean — and this time around the clock — more waxing, shaving, tweezing and plucking than ever before just to get back in the saddle as quickly as possible.

But really why is body hair okay for men and borderline disgusting for women? When you stop and think for a second, it is actually pretty twisted to want a fully grown female body to be free of all body hair?

“When I think of all the time I spent plucking out every single hair off of my body, I could have easily earn another degree”

Of course I could also go the laser hair removal route but for some reason I just can’t help but associate laser hair removal with images of a possessed lightsaber angrily swinging above my precious and very private body parts…

Whatever reasons pushed us into such behavior in the past, I am sure it’s all over now. Still most of us keep plucking away. Why do we women keep doing this to ourselves? Do we do it because we think it’ll make us more attractive? Do we do it because it has been done for so long that it has now become the norm in our society? Do we do it to fit in? God forbid we’re part of the select group of women proudly sporting a mustache on the planet (Insert shivering outcast emoji here). I am quite sure culture also play a big part in the equation…..

The mystery remains said the woman who’s about to shave her legs and many other sensitive body parts for the millionth times…..

THE SADDEST ART CLASS I EVER TOOK

“What we often call art or see as magic usually hides a debilitating amount of work.”

I’ll never forget the day I attended my first drawing class. I know it sounds like I am about to relate a death scene but I can’t help it. I’ve always wanted to learn how to draw but somehow never got around to it. In retrospect considering how long it took me to actually set foot in an actual art class I am forced to recognize that maybe I just wanted to indefinitely entertain the idea of drawing. Nevertheless the day of the class I was so excited  I could hardly wait to leave work. In fact I spent so many hours daydreaming about it I actually forgot to buy art supply and had to borrow a sheet of paper from a couple of lovely classmates. I could already picture my drawings leisurely hanging on every wall of our little home with friends and family deeply impressed and throwing around sentences like “Oh my God, you did that? You are so talented” with me trying really hard to fake that deep layer of intelligent detachment usually required from famous show dogs. Sadly those happy dreams were to be savagely crushed.  I was the first one to arrive and found a stern-looking little lady arranging class materials. I prayed to God she was just a very helpful student and not the actual art teacher I’ve fantasized about about the entire time.

“The art teacher looked more like a retired math teacher from the 50’s.”

You see I was either expecting this:

Idris-Elba
“What an art teacher should look like…”

OR this:

Why can’t my art teacher look like this…

Prayer unanswered. The art teacher looked more like a retired math teacher from the 50’s.

“…She asked us to draw a second shoe…. I ended up drawing something that couldn’t possibly come out of a healthy human mind…”

Moving on to the actual setting. The classroom was located at the very end of an extremely long and impersonal corridor. This corridor was so bleak it could easily qualify as a star feature in a big-budget horror movie. I was clearly not expecting pictures of grand masters hanging down the walls but a couple of students artwork could have added some much-needed appeal. The classroom itself was a very large and cold-looking room with class materials heavily piled up in a remote corner. There were big windows but a tall and dull building was blocking the view.  A large and square table sat in the middle of the room like a sacrificial stone in a dark dungeon.  

More details on the teacher. There was no whimsy, no magic at all in the way she dressed. I mean you’re an artist for God sake! Do something out of the ordinary even if it is just wearing your clothes inside out! Her look and matter-of-fact behavior was a giant slap to my tortured artist spirit. If you’re short of ideas at the very least throw a can of paint on your shirt, forget to wash it and wear it the next day. I was open to the possibilities of meeting a free spirit but what I had in front of me did not in any shape or form represent my idea of what an art teacher should look like.

“I blame those movies featuring stylishly starving artists lugging around big portfolios that look like they’re smuggling giant pita breads.”

She took the magic out of the entire thing. I felt slightly rushed. I mean I thought we were going to do some theory first like talking about the grand masters and possibly crack the mystery behind Mona Lisa smile but sadly that was not to be. She reviewed the class material and put us to work right away. Isn’t art supposed to be magic or something? Or maybe the magic only happens after years of practice. But then again isn’t it always like this in real life? What we often call art or see as magic usually hides a debilitating amount of work.

As practice, she asked us to pick a shoe from a giant shoe pile and try to draw it. I somehow ended up with a drawing of the magic school bus. She asked us to draw a second shoe. This time around, setting all dignity of manners aside I rushed to the shoe pile and literally jumped on what to me looked like the simplest shoe style of all time. A classic pair of kitten heel pump. I still ended up drawing something that couldn’t possibly come out of a healthy human mind. And yet, each time, she would take a long look and say the same words “keep going, you’re close”. I must admit a couple of family member did try to warn me but I didn’t listen. I hyped myself up by thinking I was naturally talented. I was looking for shortcuts and found none. The advice people offered seemed so simplistic that I chose to ignore it.

In the end, I was forced to realize there were great discrepancies between my idea of what an art class should be versus the real thing.  By the end of the class she said something that profoundly resonated with me. In essence she told us that ‘As in any creative process, when drawing an object there is always a choice even if purely unconscious made by the artist on how to best render the said object based on what the artist is trying to say”. I guess that’s what makes art so subjective. It is always a reflection of oneself. Even when we choose to render our deepest emotions, we still feel the need to put some kind of order into the chaos. The very fact of picking up pen and paper automatically forces one to streamline the process. Although you won’t see me exposing my chef-d’oeuvre in any gallery any time soon I am happy to report I did manage to learn something…after all….:)

Don’t be shy dear readers and do share your budding or tortured artist experience:)