TRUTH OR DARE

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My friend Chris Thomas over at On the Light Side of Gamification posed some questions to me on my post Game called life. If you haven’t read the post check it out and you will see why he asked me these questions. I encourage everyone who reads this post to answer the same questions. Even if you are shy about posting the answers I think that they will really help you if you truly desire to be happy. I am a firm believer that everyone has obstacles in their lives but sometimes the biggest obstacle to our own happiness is the person we see when we look in the mirror. The happiest people in the world are those that build bridges and “get over it!” So take five minutes to truthfully answer the below questions, you may be surprised about what you learn about yourself.

I am listening to Mozart piano Concerto No. 23 while I type this. The grace and lightness of the piano is helping to even out my late night 711 coffee high.

If you don’t know what Gamification is don’t feel bad, neither did I before I became acquainted with Chris. In short Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics to engage users in solving problems. Gamification is used in applications and processes to improve user engagement, return on investment, data quality, timeliness, and learning. You can learn more HERE

Chris is an enthusiastic, engaging and conscientious young man. I am pleased whenever he visits Dancing In The Rain and leaves me imaginative comments. He has endured and overcome a lot in his young life and he is someone I admire. Chris has been very supportive of my blog so I was pleased that he posed these tough questions to his audience and to me directly.

I think we all need to be idealists and realists. Idealists when we think about our aims and about the world we define our aims on. Realists when thinking about the steps we need to do to get there. You see, Idealism without Realism is dreaming and Realism without Idealism is dry, uninspired, never innovative, never leading to a better world, simply good work. Only by dreaming and breaking down your dreams to realistic steps you will really make a difference and enjoy a meaningful activity -Chris Thomas

HERE GOES

1.What are my personal aims?

My personal aim at the moment is to find a good balance in my life so that I give as much to myself as I do everyone else. Therefore I will be happier, less stressed and accomplish more of the things that are important to my me and my well-being! I would like to be more active, take care of our money better and finish something that I started years ago that is very dear to my heart.

2.What are things that I like to do?

I love to spend quality time with my family, read and write and invest time in the relationships that bring me joy.

3.What are things that I don’t like to do?

I do not like to put the laundry away, wash floors, pick up after my kids constantly and I don’t like to tire myself out getting stressed about these things. I also dislike driving in roundabouts (rotaries, traffic circles) which makes driving certain places a challenge because they intimidate me and I will avoid them whenever possible!

4.What am I good at?

I am good at writing (I believe) I find being honest very freeing. I am also good at supporting people and things I care about and putting people at ease in stressful situations.

5.What am I bad at and do I want to change something about it?

I am bad at keeping promises I make to myself due to my terrible time management and I am making efforts to change! I am also bad at hole punching which my former boss and friend likes to remind me. I have no desire to change this because I never desired to me a master hole puncher and every time she punches a hole in a piece of paper she will think of me fondly.

6.When do I feel happy?

I feel happy most of the time but mostly when I have fulfilled my commitments and everyone around me is pleased and happy.

7.What is it then that makes me feel happy?

Being present in my life, managing the details so that everything gets done and my family is satisfied and I am content. Spending time with family, friends and writing!

8.Is there any chance to trigger the reason for that happiness more often (e.g. by changing your workplace, join your working place community (or found it) or invest more time in a particular spare time activity)?

There is definitely a chance for me to be happier more. I need to be accountable to myself, keeping promises I make to me, managing my time better so that I get to do all the things I want to do and saying no to things that I do not have the time to take on. Being productive makes me very happy but I often let my noisy brain slow me down. I often plan too many things at once resulting in me getting emotionally tired!

9.When do I wish to change something and why do I think this change is impossible instead of trying to go for the change?

I don’t think anything is impossible. The word itself says “I’m Possible”, Audrey Hepburn Quote. As I said above I am my biggest roadblock. I need to hold myself accountable for making the necessary changes to make all the pieces of my life fit together like a completed puzzle. I have made some steps, the biggest one was quitting my job 15 months ago but there are other changes that I need to make. I am fully aware that nobody is responsible for my happiness but me!

10.When do I blame others and could I not do something about solving the problem myself if it is that important to me?

I try not to blame others for my problems except if they are not contributing their share, therefore making my job more difficult. I have high expectations and I feel a responsibly towards things (for e.g. my volunteer work) I think this is a weakness for me because I sometimes bite off more than I should be comfortably chewing and inevitably my “time management” goes out the window.

Chris’s original post HERE

THE IN CROWD

TASTE OF EDMONTON 2013

The time has come, I am no longer a part of the in crowd. They allow me to hang out with them at mealtimes, probably because I make them the meals. Sometimes they endure my sarcasm and my attempts at hip humor but one by one they disappear because I am apparently not as cool as them, except when i am baking or handing out money. You know the time is going to come but nothing can prepare you for it. One day you are all of the sudden on the outside looking in. My teenage daughter now prefers the company of her friends.

Look at me. I made chocolate chip pancakes and bought all your favorite snacks. I’m cool, ask anyone. In fact I was cool before it was cool to be cool.

My daughter now comes as a package deal. She no longer wants a quiet night in front of the tele while I stroke her hair. Nights in front of the tele include four texting teenagers and I generally am not invited to hang out.

So now i am going to smother my nine year old Haley with all my love and attention. She still thinks that i am the best date in the world and can’t imagine a time when that will change. I know it will, it is inevitable, but right now i am content to stroll hand in hand with Haleylujah at the Taste of Edmonton, enjoying the sunshine and eating treats till our bellies are full of goodness and our hearts are full of love.

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Too Close for Comfort

I have personal space issues. I am not sure when it began or how and why it progressed because I don’t remember always being this way. By nature I am an affectionate person and some people can bust through my bubble pretty easily but sometimes contact with people feels invasive. If you are among my closest friends don’t feel offended or worried that you may be smothering me. We both know that after a couple of drinks I lose my filter so chances are I would have said something sarcastic like “Are you trying to kiss me? You would have turned red and blurted out “No” and I would have said “then take a step back because I can see your tonsils when you talk and it is freaking me out!” I have on occasion though endured my discomfort for the sake of someones feelings. I always thought this was kind and mature of me until my friend told me she slept with a guy she wasn’t the least bit attracted to to avoid hurting his feelings. So, in some cases honesty or at least removing yourself from the situation is the best thing for everyone.

Last night I took my girls to the movies and I was happy because we had the entire back row to ourselves, or at least that is the way it began. Moments before the show people are filing in and crawling over me to get to seats. Thankfully there was still an empty seat separating my oldest daughter and her friend from the youngest and I, and there were two open seats beside us. I was so content I ate a box of glosette raisins before the movie even started. I was anticipating the entrance of Will Smith in tight pants when some late arrivals filtered in. Never mind that there was five empty rows to choose from, they sauntered up to our row and hung out awkwardly for what seemed like an eternity while they decided if they were going to sit there. I wasn’t about to give them an invitation or look welcoming or anything. Looking back on the situation I should have let out a guttural growl and told them that the seats were taken. Again the movie had already started so it was annoying to have them stand there and then even more annoying when they decided to shimmy their way into the seats squished between people who were already comfortable. Did I mention there were five empty rows? My mature voice is talking to me and it says “Michelle take a deep breath and enjoy the movie!” I try, I really try but the man is quite large and his arm keeps grazing me and I can feel myself retreating, mentally trying to make myself smaller He is a heavy breather, he sounds like he has been on a ten-mile jog. I am looking straight ahead and doing my best to focus on what I came for, enjoying a movie with my daughters. The smell of movie nachos hits me before they hit his mouth. They are loaded with jalapenos and dripping with cheese sauce. This guy is ravenous. He begins shoving them in his mouth handful after handful, barely taking the time to chew between deposits into his hungry cave. There is cheese sauce dripping off his chin but he doesn’t wipe it. He continues to stuff the nachos into him and I am sure he is going to barf on me. His labored breathing is ten times worse now. It sounds like at fat man on a treadmill. I am doing anything I can to focus on something else. Occasionally he snorts a little, I assume to avoid choking. In my head I am picturing my mother stuffing a butterball turkey with stuffing and she fills it and fills it until the turkey explodes all over me. My head starts to tingle and I pull my hair back tightly into a finger ponytail. Sometimes adding some sort of pressure to my body can help me refocus. I am literally feeling like bugs are crawling on me but I know this will pass. That triple extra large order of nachos cannot last forever. It feels like eternities have passed since this man sat down beside me. I sympathize for anything or anyone who has ever been trapped in a cage for I imagine that this is how they must feel, or dogs on leashes unable to run free. Now I am imagining myself in a wide open field with nothing but green grass below my feet and blue sky above my head. I am barefoot and running with my arms above me basking in the open air. The man puts his Nacho container on the floor. Surprisingly it is not done but he needs a drink. He takes a large swig and then burps and loudly clears phlegm from his throat. I want to be back in my wide open field but now I picture the heavy breather with nacho cheese smeared on his face chasing me through it. He takes another drink, every time he lifts his cup his arm hits mine. He burps again and this time the smell hits me immediately. Spicy jalapeno cheese burp. I jump out of my seat like it is on fire and dive into the seat beside Morgan and her friend. Within seconds the tension subsides and I am free to enjoy the movie.

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YOU HAVE ISSUES- Top Five Most Bizarre people

My day started with a news feed full of the negative, mindless ramblings of an old acquaintance who is convinced the world is out to get her sits around all day on Facebook fueling and feeding her own drama and misconceptions about what life is, was, should and will be. It certainly got me thinking about the wonderful and positive people that I have in my life and even those who are not so positive, but I love you anyway because I see a spark of hope and hope is fantastic.

I thought of my colorful friends past and present, like Woody Allen written characters, perfectly flawed and real, finding their way through trials and errors in this big bad world. If everyone on my friends list (real and Facebook, Twitter, WordPress etc…) were exactly the same life would exist in one very dull shade. I prefer to live life in BRILLIANT color and therefore I try my best to find a good and common ground with everyone I meet.

I am working extremely hard to become less judgmental, and in doing so I have realized that meeting people from other planets can be as simple as having a conversation with that frazzled bed-headed lady in the fleece Betty Boop pajamas in the slow-moving line at Wal-Mart. Opportunities for growth are all around me, in every pink fuzzy slippered, haphazardly dressed possibly from another dimension person. Tolerance and patience are key. However there are times though when I say “Woaaa, hey, this person is too fucked up for me” Unfollow, unfriend, unlike, whatever it takes to stop the madness.

All things being relative I was thinking of an old friend who considered himself an artist of sorts and used to make pictures with his own blood. That is a little creepy and messed up. So brace yourself because this shit is about to take a weird turn around the cuckoo bush. I found some of the weirdest people I could find and I am going to share them with you. Don’t thank me yet.

1. Jennifer Weigel is an American “multi-disciplinary, mixed media artist” who makes art using her own crimson wave (period blood), urine and toenail clippings. Her previous work consists of pressing her bloody vagina onto watercolour paper, and her most recent piece is a self-portrait painted with her menstrual blood. Ick! (Courtesy of Thought Catalog, Find out more http://thoughtcatalog.com/2013/i-make-art-out-of-my-own-period-blood/

2. Kailash Singh, from India is known as the world’s most smelliest man and he has not bathed in over 38 years. Find out more at Oddity Central, http://www.odditycentral.com/news/worlds-smelliest-man-hasnt-bathed-in-38-years.html

3.Everard Cunion , An odd man who couldn’t find a life partner so he married a doll. The fun never stops. Find out more http://www.odditycentral.com/news/man-decides-he-cant-get-a-real-woman-settles-for-realistic-looking-dolls.html

4. Wang Xiaoyu- China’s upside down Kung Fu barber wanted to add some innovation to his list of skills. He cuts hair upside down and can stay that way for up to 20 minutes. Find out more http://english.cctv.com/20090520/110140.shtml

5. Dennis Avner -The Cat Man or his preferred native American name “Stalking Cat” spent a significant amount of money on body modifications to make himself resemble a Tiger. Find out more http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stalking_Cat

SO BIZARRE

The world is but a Merry-Go-Round

What goes up, must come down

People are high, people are low

People are a mess wherever you go

How about a grin. just bare it

You can act or you can sit

Enjoy the ride or

Ride with the tide

You be as crazy as you dare

I’ll be sane but meet you there

I’ll cross my heart, while you hope to die

I will never look you in the eye

In a world that’s odd you’re not so rare

Your mind is like a springtime fair

The joys of a mind forever free

You’ll never be as weird as you wish to be

  Michelle DeBay

MURDER AND THE MIXED TAPE

Every mix tape tells a story. Put them together, and they add up to the story of life.” ― Rob SheffieldLove is a Mix Tape

We all know that Video killed the Radio Star but the murder of the mixed tape was swift and malicious. Society killed the mixed tape and society should be ashamed!

Many of my young memories are tied to the production, giving, receiving and listening to the mixed tape. In the good times, bad times, sad times and fast times, in every season, for every reason we could count on the mixed tape to help express our feelings.

I am about to watch Perks of being a Wallflower for the first time and I hear there is a mixed tape scene so I am excited for that. In the meantime I called my husband to see if the mixed tape I made for him had any impact on our budding relationship fifteen years ago? Some strange man answered and said he found the phone on the ground. Groan!! I should have asked the stranger with my husbands cell phone his thoughts on the mixed tape but he sounded a little scattered.

I LOVE the part in No Strings Attached when Ashton Kutcher makes the period mix for Emma. BRILLIANT!!

The Actual Period Mix 

1. “Evenflow” – Pearl Jam
2. “The Tide Is High” – Blondie
3. “Red Red Wine” – UB40
4. “Sunday Bloody Sunday” – U2
5. “I’ve Got The World On A String” – Frank Sinatra
6. “Muddy River” – Johnny Rivers
7. “Bleeding Love” – Leona Lewis
8. “Here Comes The Flood” – Peter Gabriel
9. “Red Rain” – Peter Gabriel
10. “Waterfalls” – TLC
11. “Red Red Rose” – The Weepies
12. “Red Tide” – Neko Case
13. “Why Does It Always Rain On Me” – Travis
14. “I Love You, Period” – Dan Baird
15. “Just A Girl” – No Doubt
16. “Here Comes The Rain” – Eurythmics
17. “Everybody Hurts” – R.E.M.
18. “Stormy Pinkness” – They Might Be Giants
19. “Time To Flow” – D-Nice
20. “Blood Is Thicker Than Water” – Wyclef Jean featuring The Product G&B

Guys this is some good thinking!

I am off in search of retribution for Mixed  Tapes everywhere. Over and out :/

Even a Jackass like me-The Accidental Gardener

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Yes that’s right I said it, any jackass can do it, even me. I used to think that gardening was reserved for people with a special and sought after “green thumb”

I always envied the blooms of my grandmothers flowers. Especially the wild pink roses with that intoxicating  scent that whispered summer.

I convinced my younger cousins that though we may never have “green thumbs” we could be the producers of great perfume. Armed with the spirit of the young, crumbled wild roses from the bushes that lined Grammy Millers lane, her plastic pepsi cups and some tap water we were passionate about capturing that earthy, heady smell for all to enjoy. I am quite certain our parents didn’t share in our enthusiasm but Grammy Miller graciously held out her wrist batch after batch to test it, told us it smelled glorious and encouraged our thriving ambitions.

Years later when my mom started gardening I would help her weed but took very little interest otherwise except to casually appreciate the beauty or smell of her blooms. I would often make fun of her for no longer taking pictures of her children but taking countless pictures of her flowers (we do turn into our mothers right!)

When we bought our first home I was excited to build on the landscaping that was started but it turned out to be a dying, overgrown mess. We opted that first year to clean up only and as a quick fix to the fast growing country weeds we put a thick plastic sheet down and mulched over top around the hedges in the front beds. This proved to be a nightmare when we attracted a den of snakes that would mingle underneath the plastic where it was toasty warm, slither across my walkway and get inside my front door. I had a huge property that would have been a gardeners dream but my fear of snakes paralyzed me from ever attempting to enjoy it.

We bought our house in Edmonton a couple of summers ago. They had a vegetable garden planted and mature fruit trees and herbs but very little perennials. The difference between perennials and annuals always confused me and it now confuses my daughters. They are anxious for the quick color fix that annuals bring but in my advancing age I think there is more to learn from sustenance and longevity and it has been a fun lesson in patience for all of us.

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Alas my love of house plants spilled over to the outdoors. I actually have some indoor  tropicals that I move outside in the summer, it strengthens them and sparks a fall/winter growth spurt.

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I had a daydream one day about a rose garden path, or it may have been an envious longing while looking at a gardeners magazine my husband bought me to read during a long road trip.

I was told by countless people that roses were difficult but my childhood love of roses and my lack of good sence prevailed. I did however not want to spend a lot of money in case my venture failed miserably.  I opted for bare root roses which had no foliage whatsoever.  I started them on a windowsill in late April. I planted them after the lost frost, using our own rich soil, some compost and a little peat moss. I planted the roses a little lower then the rootball to keep them warm and put beside each one a fertilizer spike from Rona. Each day I filled my coffee press with warm water, leaving my used coffee grinds in, I stirred and watered my roses with them. Most of them bloomed that first year in July. Being an accidental gardener I didn’t cut them back or cover them in time and when I came back from my late October vacation we had already had two snowfalls. I just crossed my fingers and they all came back except one.

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When my granddaughter Gracie was born I bought her her own rose bush. I tended the young root rose inside till after last frost. It didn’t occur to me not to plant the bush in the same location as the failed bush or at least to use new soil.  I am admittedly not a girl with a “green thumb” just a girl with a garden spade and a dream.

The rose seemed to shock immediately. It’s delicate limbs turned from brown to black. My initial thought was to yank it but because I had labeled it Gracies rose I wanted to dedicate some time to it. Daily I cut back a tiny bit more of the limbs. I scratched the bottom close to the root and noticed green beneath the surface so I felt hopeful. Twice a day I fed Gracies rose bush strong black coffee and I am proud to say that she is doing well. I am so excited to see her bloom next year.

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My daughter and I planted the other side of the garden path this year with beautiful pink drift roses and lavender.  This year I will cut them all back and cover them. I figure if I can do really well with minimal effort why not up the ante?

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I urge anyone who appreciates a nice garden to try your hand at gardening.  I find myself planning next year and for years down the road. To call me a gardener would insult actual gardeners. I am just a girl who would rather plant and tend flowers then do laundry.

It is very satisfying to watch a plant erupt from underground to full bloom, raised by the motherly love of me and the sun. Where nature meets nurture.

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Happy gardening friends!

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Growing “Older” Gracefully-A celebration of timeless beauty

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” 

― Sophia Loren

The girls and I were at the spray park today, cooling off from the sweltering Canada Day heat and what I observed was an abundance of women determined to NOT grow old but in turn they looked just that. There really is something to be said for growing “older” gracefully. By that I don’t mean letting yourself go. I mean dressing appropriately, not using so much make-up that it settles into your fine lines, actually adding to the years you are trying to cover up, and keeping it natural. With age comes wisdom and people that have the wisdom to embrace their years can teach us all a lesson. I was thinking back to some of the women I have admired and envied over the years and how their addictions to plastic surgery and holding on to youth have been anything but kind to them.

Remember Melanie Griffith in Milk Money? She was just naturally beautiful and she exuded  happy confidence. For years she had an on again off again romance with hunk Don Johnson and when that romance finally fizzled Melanie found solace and love with Spanish heartthrob Antonio Banderas. Perhaps trying to keep up with Hollywood elite young beauties was too much because sweet, fresh faced Melanie is a shadow of her former self.

Melanie in Milk Money

Melanie –Growing Older Gracefully

Melanie Before and After

Priscilla Presley

In 1959 Iconic Elvis Presley met Priscilla at a party in Germany. She was 14 at the time but appeared much older and made quite an impression on the King. She was truly one of the most beautiful women in the world. I can understand the desire to stay youthful and I can only assume that a little nip here and a tuck there turns into an obsession until there is very little left to work with. Priscillas pretty face does not even show a glimpse of who she once was and should now be. 😦

Young Pricilla

Growing Older Gracefully

Plastic Surgery Gone Horribly Wrong

Mickey Rourke

He was so sexy and seductive alongside Kim Bassinger  in 9 1/2 weeks. Vanity is devilish!

Victoria Beckham

There is nothing POSH about this disaster. Your hunky husband may play soccer but I am sure he didn’t intend for you to put balls on your chest!

Darrel Hannah

Like a fish out of water something has gone terribly wrong with my favorite mermaid

Heidi Montag

Of Hollywood’s the Hills fame, young Heidi, born and raised in Colorado intends to become a walking barbie. One thing is for certain, she is plastic!

The true beauties are those that embrace their age like Helen Mirren, Susan Sarandon, Meryl Streep, Sheryl Crow, Halle Berry, George Clooney, Sting, Diane Keaton, Bruce Springsteen, Julianne Moore, Diane Lane, Annette Benning, Richard Gere and my FAVE Jamie Lee Curtis. These are the men and women we should be looking up to. Healthy bodies, healthy faces and healthy attitudes about aging. Aging is inevitable but the way you age is a choice. Cheers to Growing older gracefully, in mind, body and spirit.