Monday, April 30, 2012

Spring's Downs & Ups

It's been a while since I've put finger to keypad and I guess that's mainly be due to general busy-ness, both in real terms or where my head has been.

Before I begin, I want to dedicate this blog to my dear friend, Helen Greenaway (nee Cocking), who died at Bradford's Marie Curie Hospice in March. Words cannot describe how sad I was to learn that the cancer that Helen fought with such determination for over two and a half years had finally overwhelmed her. Helen brought sunshine into the lives of all those who knew her and she will be missed terribly by her husband, family and friends. In her honour, I will be taking part in the Sporting Life 10k here in Toronto on May 13. My colleagues and I are raising funds to send children with cancer to Camp Oochigeas so that they can experience a fun time this summer. If you would like to donate to show your support, please visit: Thank you for your generosity.

As well as doing some training for the 10k, I undertook a short photography course in March to learn more about photographing animals. I had a super day at the Toronto Zoo and spent the entire day there from the time the gates opened until they closed. It's so huge, I still didn't get to see everything but I did enjoy the opportunity to explore and capture the animals.

I really enjoyed the opportunity to get out as I'd been a bit fed up with being cooped up inside. I had an awful bout of the flu following my return from Russia and on top of that my apartment was flooded due to a neighbour's washing machine leak. My floors and walls were damaged and had to be ripped out with huge drying machines brought in which created a large amount of dust and dry air. All has now been repaired but just those few days dealing with the fall-out of my little flood made me appreciate what my parent's went through with their whole house being flooded and reconstructed.

Life of late has had a few happy moments and, indeed, a few laughs. I spent a very amusing night out with friends seeing the Scottish comedian, Danny Bhoy, live in concert. He's very popular here and my Canadian friends were quite shocked I'd not heard of him before. I also enjoyed seeing the National Theatre's production of War Horse on stage. The puppetry was amazing.

Probably the highlight of all the entertainment I've seen recently was seeing Oprah Winfrey in person. Along with a few of my colleagues, I managed to get tickets to see Oprah's Lifeclass being filmed here in Toronto. We left work a bit early thinking we'd get there ahead of the rush and get our seats. How wrong we were! When we arrived, the line stretched for 2km already. It took us two hours before we finally got to our seats at the back of the hall. There were 8,500 people seated in front of us! Before the show was broadcast live, we listened to four short, but thought-provoking, lectures by Deepak Chopra, Iyanla Vanzant, Tony Robbins and Bishop T.D.Jakes. The theme was on forgiveness.

Eventually, the queen of chat shows came out on stage. Some of the audience were hysterical.  I mean, I like Oprah but I thought the screaming, wailing and shaking was a bit OTT. Oprah, herself, was very professional although, to be honest, from where we sitting she looked a bit like a green pea on the stage. Thank goodness for giant video screens. All in all, it was a fun experience...although I'm still wondering how come I didn't come away with a new food processor, car or trip to Australia. Oh well...I know it was only an oversight and forgive you Oprah!

Last week, I flew up to Montreal to attend a three-day work conference. I decided to stay over and managed to avoid the rioting students to enjoy a day exploring the city. It was my second trip to Montreal as I'd previously visited during the Jazz Festival a few years ago. This time I was able to to see some different areas. I walked down Mont Royal, did a bagel taste-test comparison in the Plateau, shopped on Rue St Catharine and sniffed French cheeses at Atwater Market. Montreal's a lovely city and the French-ness makes it feel like you're getting a taste of Europe while still be in North America.

So, as you can see, it's been a couple of months of ups and downs but that's life - we take the rough with the smooth and life rolls on in it's merry way. I'm doing a meditation course at the moment, which I'm finding quite...erm...challenging. However, I keep being reminded of how important it is to focus on this moment, as it is the only one we truly know we have. With that in mind, here's to living in the moment!