Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Who's in a name?

A new life is about to begin: mine.  I've decided to change my name and go back to my maiden name.  I never really wanted to change it in the first place but felt both a 'wasband' as well as societal pressure to do so.  It will never change again.  Yet, I still feel like I should hyphenate it, somehow go with both.  Is that crazy? How will anyone know who the hell Stephanie Lafond is?  No one I work with; no one I've slept with (that might be a good thing, depending on the side of the story you chose to believe), none of my friends, not even my children. (Come to think of it, that might also be a good thing.) Part of me feels like I've lost my identity, so as I now know to do, I will take it slow and ponder for a brief while before completely moving forward.  The other half of me is excited at the possibilities of reinventing myself with a new-again name. That side that wants the fresh start that began a few years ago, to move to the next logical step. A new me is revealed, sort of thing.

So much is wrapped up in a name though, isn't it? Especially a last name.  Take Trudeau.  How can you ever emerge from the weight of such a famous name?  Even if you aren't related but had that last name, wouldn't everyone you meet ask if you were related to Pierre?  Then there's Justin, that gorgeous (at least to me) man in his early 40s, whose hair I'd beg Sophie to let me run my hands through.  (What's with bald guys in my life?...other more important attributes, I guess...)  His father's foe will forever haunt him, even though Pierre and Justin are completely different people, individuals, whose primary outward link to one another is their last name.  Those foe who lived while his father Pierre, the 15th Prime Minister of Canada governed, primarily remember the debt that his government racked up for our nation or perhaps his handling of the October Crisis through the War Measures Act. (A relative to the Patriot Act, for those non-Canadians out there.)  However, what they should be focused on are the enormous, progressive, and undoubtedly radical but forward-thinking ideas and beliefs, that he would ultimately embed in our culture: bilingualism, keeping Quebec in Canada, the Charter of Rights, separation from Britain.  Many of the principles that guide our generation and those of our children, liberalization of divorce, abortion and homosexuality laws, are owed directly to him.  I, for one, am OK with climbing out of a sea of red ink, if it means that we are a progressive nation, hell bent on human rights, individual choice and keeping the "state out of the bedrooms of the nation".  For many, Pierre Trudeau in fact had no first name, that's how important his last name was to his identity.  I grew up with a mother who was very much a part of Trudeaumania, not Pierre Trudeaumania.  He was Trudeau; always has been. (Well, sometimes, when it was just us, she would call him Pee-hhierre, but even then, I could tell by how she batted her eyes, that it was but a serious crush.)

Now it seems, perhaps as his way of marking his own new ground, and claiming his own identity, Justin Trudeau often promotes himself with the simplicity of only his first name, Justin.  Understandably, he too wanted a fresh start, not to discount in any way the past, rather to recognize his individuality, his fresh ideas and ways of thinking.  A new Trudeau is revealed, sort of thing.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Wow, time sure does fly!

Skiing in Vermont.  Weather wasn't very good but the skiing and family time were terrific.
Doing Christmas cards on teh beach in Cozumel.  Believe it or not, they were mailed approx Dec 15th and were received by family in USA mid-Feb and Canda about 2 weeks later!!!

Dinner out.

By the end, I had to cover up.  Not complaining at all but can only take so much sun.  Here, the weather was gorgeous!

In Septemeber 2010, I did a 30 day Yoga challenge at Samatva Studio.  I absolutely love it and and hoping to try other studios and be a convert for life.  It has enhanced my life like nothing other than my parents, and being a parent.


Graham played competitive volleyball both at school and on city league this year, so that kept us busy with weekend tournaments mostly in Toronto.  Mostly as a setter.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Summer 2010

It’s All Fun and Games
Dog Lake  The morning after.......
It has been so long since a blog post. I often sit and write posts for the blog and letters to people in my head when I am day dreaming, and especially while on holidays. Problem is, it can take months to make it onto! Finally, on a gorgeous late summer morning, post Hurricane Earl downpour, I am once again inspired to give an update.
Graham and friend on the tube!
Graham the kneeboarder.
As I write this, I am in a small village called Battersea, about half an hour north of Kingston, ON. Dog Lake is connected to the Rideau Canal system, and I have rented a cottage for 5 days over the Labour Day weekend. The boys have various friends coming throughout the time, and the weather has been beautiful so far. The boat has had lots of use for tubing and kneeboarding; I get so much pleasure watching the kids have fun on that boat. On Thursday, I ventured out to try kneeboarding: I got up the first time, and then after a very successful run, got cocky on the second, and decided to jump a wave….. like the boys do….wipeout! It’s now two days later and I am paying for my stupidity. Neck is stiff and back is aching. It’s so hard to admit that you aren’t a teenager anymore isn’t it? So Franky and I are cuddled up on the couch, covered in a blanket on this early Saturday morn, while the four teenagers present, sleep.

Let’s go back 2 months. Father’s Day weekend began what would be a crazy month for me. For 18 months, there have been many scenarios of where to live. In mere days, the universe set my course, and finally laid out what feels like the right plan. I moved from one of my rental properties to another, after long-time tenants vacated, and my apartment rented in 48 hours. This home is much better for us, and the layout will permit a lifestyle that I was missing; that of having all of us on one floor as well as a place to entertain guests, both inside and out. It’s amazing how much you can miss a yard/courtyard when you don’t have one. A large deck is being built that will provide space for coffee and paper in the morning, or room for a summer party, which is already planned for later this month. As I feel evermore settled in my new home, I am reminded again that we don’t need the big house, fancy car and every new electronic toy to be happy. (I think I do need to travel though, and books and friends….)
Mark, Steph and Scott on North Sea in Niewpoort, Belgium
At the height of my exhaustion from a quick turnaround of homes (one week from start to finish), good friends stopped by in mid-July to invite me on a boat trip in Europe (gotta love THOSE kinda friends, eh!?). Ten days later, I was in Amsterdam, a beautiful city of canals and cafes, bicycles and 20 year olds (we know what they were there for…). Alone for a few days, I explored the shops, the Canal Bus system, the Concertgebouw and the odd café. My one regret: gorgeous leather shoes for 175E, the likes of which I never did see again.
That was followed by 4 days in Baarle, then a week on Le Boat, where we toured Ypres, Brugge and Nieewporte. This trip was a perk in exchange for writing an article for Canadian Yachting Magazine, which will appear sometime next year. ( I didn’t write it, but Scott will be.)
Ypres Commonwealth Cemetary
Aunt Stephanie and Rachel
After those two weeks, I returned home to the Civic long weekend, where I met up with the Sole gang at our annual family reunion. We stayed at the gorgeous Rawley Resort on Georgian Bay. They were all even happier to see me, when I pulled out the big box of Belgian truffles. With great gusto, Grandpa, Jim and Kevin went off to the nearby LCBO to get the best bottle of scotch. Apparently, the chocolate was just not the same without the scotch! (YUCK!) This is the first year that EVERYONE was there is a very long time. There also, not to be outdone by teenagers or a 50 yr old, I jumped off a 20 foot high boat!

Summer is a very quiet time for me at work, so rather than fight it, I decided long ago to just ‘go with the flow’. It makes for lots of opportunities to get caught up at home, with the kids, and with visiting. It also gives lots of time for both long vacations and a day here and there to enjoy the beach or go to a museum, eat out on patios or have a beer with a friend.

It’s also a time to watch your children grow up in front of your eyes: Graham is 5’9”, an inch taller than Ben now, and both much taller than me. They are both in high school this year, each excited and scared for the change in schools. Graham attended the Stratford Shakespeare School this summer. Together, we saw Christopher Plummer show us, once again, why he is one of the best, in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Ben worked full-time, learning many things; the value of money, how to save for post-secondary and a MAC computer, how to use a nail gun and especially about why we need an education and to find something we love to do in life; hopefully by combining the two. He had two weeks off (this week being one of them), so we enjoyed a couple of days of golfing with Poppa and exploring colleges, and now the cottage.

Ben and a friend
This fall, I have plans to be in Toronto to see the Dalai Lama and am off to Halifax to visit my best friend for a long weekend. Unfortunately a conference in Arizona waspostponed for November, so maybe I can fit in NYC again? Who knows what the future will bring. For me, this quote that I read today on Twitter is powerful, and so true of many people I know: Fears keep you from change. Fear of failure, self-doubt, anxiety. Take a deep breath and stand up to them.—Hanns Oskar-Porr

Movies I’ve seen: Nothing too intellectual here.....The Expendables (Stallone still hot at 64!), Eat Pray Love, Toy Story 3D, Amelia (well then there’s Richard Gere…better not comment on him…might embarrass myself), Primal Fear, Henry V.
One of many bridges in Amsterdam near where I was staying.

All the best.  May try to do a small book review next....

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My Friend Dave

Friend? Can I call him that? Really?

As I walked to church, bundled in my leather coat, neck swathed in my cashmere "Irelandseye" scarf, from a recent trip to that inspiring nation, I came across Dave. He was standing in front of MacDonald's, looking cold, with his hands tucked into his dirty coat pockets, as they often are when he is standing along Princess or Montreal Street.

"Hi! How are you?"

"Good", I responded.

'Good'; that's my usual response, always said with a smile. (Dave and I are neighbours of sorts.) Normally, I immediately regret having quickly walked by and not asked him the same. This day, perhaps because it was Sunday, I don't know, I turned, and said:

"How are you?"

"Good!” he said enthusiastically.

I wondered how he could possibly be good, as I continued past a spa, Tim Horton's and the Asian Grocery Store. I was just left thinking: if he's good, then I need to snap out of it and stop thinking about all the things in my life that are not perfect, or that keep me up at night. As I walked on, feeling smug for having engaged in a rare two-way conversation-of-sorts with Dave, I began the motion of crossing to the other side of the street, just in time to walk past several homeless men, who by 10am, have to be out of the Harbour Lights Shelter where they've just slept in a warm bed. What did I do? Imperceptibly, I hope, I jerked my body back to the north side of the road, so that I wouldn't have to walk past them. (I always feel so conflicted in these situations.) Instantly, I felt ashamed, knowing that my simple 'how are you' back at Dave, a few moments before, had brought a wide smile to his face. Within minutes, having arrived, I looked up, and the sign at the road in front of my place of worship, on this Sunday, said: "The best vitamin for a friend is to B1."

Somehow, in that moment, it felt like a scolding.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Winter fun!

A January trip to New York City meant meeting a few friends, some online connections, some not...To the right is Bettina.  We'd had lunch at The Spotted Pig in Greenwich Village, where this picture was taken....a massive burger that neither of us could finish.  Bettina graciously took Monday off to visit, after a weekend of skiing in Vermont with the New York Swiss Ski Club. We tried to make a ski weekend work for both of us but we could never quite get in sync. Next year!  After a long walk through the Meatpacking District and along the new High Line Park she patiently waited for me while I sorted out my return ticket fiasco.  Thanks again girl, and I hope all visa issues are soon sorted out; Dumbo just wouldn't be the same without you

Although, I didn't get a pic with her, I met up with Heather from the Break-Up Cookbook.  We had coffee at Tazza on Henry St, in Brooklyn Heights, and did what women do the first time they meet: shared the pain of lost love! I came home and cooked my favourite Thai meatballs, picture and all, and have yet to submit it to her site because the sauce in the pic is a pukey orange colour.  See.....

The other major cool event of the weekend, where people are concerned involved a double date, set up by Mr Claude.  He and his wife Martha, introduced me to Rex.  I won't bore you with all the gory details, suffice it to say that once again the food and company were wonderful!  Rex is a regular at a place called the Noodle Pudding and they treated us like royalty.  We waddled out of there and over to Jack the Horse Tavern for a drink and great conversation.

Throughout the weekend, I went to see Placido Domingo in Verdi's Simon Boccanegra at The Metropolitan, just wow....that's as deep as I can get.  Saw an Off-Broadway production of Our Town 3.5/5 and Earnest in Love 5/5, ate or had a drink at One if by Land, Two if by Sea, Cafe Loup, and bought more used books on Atlantic Ave.  The rest of my time was spent walking across the Brooklyn Bridge between Dumbo and Greenwich, and pretending like I lived there!

Before and after NYC, were visits to Rhode Island to see my sister and her family.  Rachel and I got to have fries at McDonald's, go to Chuck E Cheese and I was asked to be Matthew's Godmother. We had great chats and it was nice to spend time with my sis and her babies!

Early in March, Cantabile Choirs had the privilege of hosting, Mr Bob Chilcott for our 2010 concert series. After a beer at The Pilot House, it was decided that I should indulge Bob's appetite the next day, for sushi. So we did just that, and I had the pleasure of getting to know Bob, and of hearing his many experiences conducting choirs around the world, primarily with youth singers. The boys also got to spend time with him, and to get to know him on a level that cannot happen during rehearsals. It was indeed a special honour for all of us, and I hope, the beginning of a lifelong friendship.

During the March Break this year, we went skiing in Mont Tremblant.  Good time was had by all!  It was great weather 5-11C the highs every day, and morning skiing was awesome.  You will see from the picture that Ben broke his clavicle on his first day out.  As I visited the medical centre and drove by Quintessence, it was hard not to remember the tragic accident of Natasha Richardson there one year ago. 

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Passages from a book to share with you

These are passages that I read in a book called, Shifting Sands by Steve Donoghue. Interwoven into the book is his story about crossing the desert as a young man, and rather than use the usual comparison with climbing mountains, he compares life's experiences to those of crossing a desert. Very interesting. Some of the passages would make more sense if you'd read what came before, but you will get the just and I recommend his book for something different, yet of value, in the self-help dept. Of course, I was thinking of myself, and where I'm at in my life when I chose to highlight these, however, you may find something that touches you wherever you are at, at this moment in your journey.

All the best, your nomad, Steph

Acceptance, even direction can emerge from within if we can just be with ourselves for a while.

The right kind of support helps us be alone. A terminal patient can face the aloneness of death with a friend or even a stranger such as a hospice volunteer by her side.

Often, in the desert of marriage, we lose ourselves in the other and forget who we are.

When we step away from our campfire, things happen that we can't predict or control. That's one of the reasons why we stay in painful situations; at least they're predictable. They're less frightening than the darkness of the desert. We stay in jobs that are boring or stressful. We endure unhappy relationships. We cling to the familiarity of old beliefs and attitudes that we're ready to outgrow. One belief that keeps us close to the campfire is that we need to be prepared for any experience away from the fire. We want to take our flashlight and hunting knife along.

Ducking is a desert technique (from sand storms). Sometimes the ducking we do is around our campfire. The sparks are flying, but we put on our safety goggles and huddle even closer to the familiar pain. Our health is failing, but we ignore the warning signs. Our relationship is loveless, but we don't try to change anything. This type of ducking is called DENIAL. It keeps us close to our campfire when we really should be stepping away. The trick is to know when to duck. The essential question to ask yourself is this: Does ducking this blow allow me to go deeper into my desert or does it stop the journey?

Her misplaced guilt was a classic example of a false border. She had a false belief that blocked her from living the life she desperately wanted. Sherrie could not look her border guard in the eye. She was terrified. She once admitted that the shame of leaving her parents would be worse than dying. And yet, she was dying by staying.

When we consciously cross a desert, we become nomads. Not only do we know how to cross our specific desert, but we've also acquired a deeper understanding of life itself. Pause and reflect on what you've learned. Just as you may have needed a nomad's support, now others can benefit from your hard-won experience and wisdom. Take the time to integrate your experience, weave it into your life, and share it.

Finally, when a desert ends, we need to question the compass heading we've been following and determine if it's still relevant to our lives. If we do not notice that the desert has ended, we risk following a compass heading merely because it's habitual and not because the direction has meaning.


Friday, January 1, 2010

Now I'm a painter and decorator!

Over the Christmas holidays, I have set about finishing the summer renovations in my office that began at the end of July.  Yes, that's what I said, the end of July, when a wall was taken down!  (Hey, when you're getting things done for free and doing them yourself, that's the way it is.),  I cancelled my trip to Rhode Island because I couldn't face another day living with the mess and chaos of what had become my daily surroundings. (I'm going in a few weeks.)  It was presentable for clients; some would say that it looked like a busy, professional office.  Problem was, I knew that behind my desk and around my feet were boxes of files that I refused to put away until I'd found the time to dig through them properly.  Shredder here I come!  (BTW, does it get better than Neil Young's Harvest Moon album?!  That and red wine should have me up half the night again!)

It's been 2 and a half years since purchasing this building and I still hadn't found a proper mirror for the office bathroom, and had procrastinated on wallpapering and adding the final touches.  I've promised myself many things these past months, and among them was that I would head into work on January 4th, 2010 with, at least, a clean slate where my daily surroundings were concerned; I desperately needed to adjust my Qi (pronounced Chee); my space needed aligning in every sense of the word.

This a picture of one of the drywalled corners, which I sanded and remudded once since my brother-in-law Randy put the drywall up.

To the left, along the door, was the major mudding spot.  Between the door frame and the light switch, all along the doorway, was a hole caused by installing a new jam, and hanging the door, which Randy did to perfection. It was too small for a piece of drywall, so we used meshing and plastered on top of it.  This required at least 5 sessions of plaster or mud, followed by sanding.  Every time you do this, your room is destroyed with a fine mist of white powder.  It's just not something that you can do on any day, because you have to have time to clean again before clients come in!

Unfortunately, I downloaded a program called Double Twist to use with my Blackberry, and it has screwed up my photos.  I am really peeved about this because I had some great shots to post.  Hopefully, in the days to come, I will somehow be able to retrieve them from that damn program and put them back into other photo folders.  Here is what I can get as of Jan 1:

version 1


        version 3

Back wall:
version 1

version 3

Ah...... and here is the bathroom final shot because that's all I can retrieve!

It's amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it!!  Hopefully I can post the one of me sandwiched between the wall and toilet!  At the very least, it'll be good for a laugh.  (Now, Bon Jovi's Make a Memory is playing;  I did, I did make a memory, John.)  BTW, the mirror was a gift of love from my step-dad for Christmas.  It hides an ugly fuse box.  Now, mom, I have a 'professional' bathroom...thank you for the measuring!