My Thanksgiving Prayer

IMG_2471As I sat in church today letting my mind wander into my happy place, I thought about all the blessings in my life: family, friends, a great job, an array of footwear… Yes, I’m lucky to have the lifestyle I do and the people in my life who continue to support and inspire me each day.  So, in honor of this beautiful fall day I decided to compose my very own little Thanksgiving prayer.

Dear God,

Thank you for my legs that traveled many miles this weekend to and from the grocery store, to every floor in my house with vacuum in hand and the countless laps I made around my kitchen.

Thank you for my arms that carried the 15lbs turkey in and out of my car, up and down two flights of stairs and into the roasting pan where it now sits in my not so clean oven.

Thank you for my tongue that licked every knife, fork, spoon and spatula covered in whipped cream, cranberry sauce and gravy.  My taste buds praise you.

Thank you for my hands that chopped, diced, sliced and de-boweled the bird whose breast I will thoroughly enjoy later this evening.

Speaking about breasts, thank you for mine. They look good in an apron.

Thank you for my freakishly small ears that listened to Adam Levine belt out “Just Like Animals” as I wrapped my turkey in Canadian bacon.

Yes, thank you, God for fantasies and for never urging me to become a vegetarian.

Thank you for my eyes that see the beauty that surrounds me each day and the small bits of Lego that lay haphazardly in the middle of the floor awaiting my feet.

Thank you for my lips that never grow tire of kissing the foreheads of my children, for I know they are the best part of me.

And thank you, Lord for my heart that continues to beat, which is a sure sign that I’m alive!  May I always listen to it and follow where it leads me.

Amen

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Interview with an Author: Janice MacLeod

In February 2014 Janice MacLeod released her third book entitled, “Paris Letters”.  What started as a daily journal soon became a memoir of self discovery and love.  Janice shares with me how she managed to leave her corporate job in California with just one suitcase in hand and board a plane to Paris to fulfill her live long dream of becoming an artist.

IMG_6572Me:  Janice, in your book you share with us 100 things that you did to save up enough money to quit your job in Santa Monica so that you could travel Europe without an income. What would you say were the top three tips for saving or making $100 per day?

Janice:  First, I decided to declutter my home, starting with my underwear drawer. I threw tons of stuff away and sold the rest.  I also learned to say, “no” to dinner parties, to drinks after work with colleagues, to anything where I would find myself spending money on things I didn’t need.  Being a curator of your own memories is an art.  Do you really need five sweaters when you wear just one?  I learned to let go of all the excess and kept just what I absolutely needed.

Me:  What made you decide to quit your job in advertising and leave California?

Janice:  I was unfulfilled by my job as a copywriter and on the brink of burnout.  All I seemed to do was work and it was taking over my life.  Something had to change.  You get to a point where you live life and accept what is miserable and see what God brings your way.

Me:  You met Krzysztof shortly after you arrived in Paris.  He knew very little English and you were still learning the French language.  How do the two of you communicate?

Janice: We speak Franglish!  Sometimes I will be telling him something and I can see it on his face that he doesn’t understand so I try to keep things really simple.  We rarely fight because we just don’t have the vocabulary to express ourselves in that way.  We use a lot of hand gestures!

Me:  In your memoir, you talk about the Parisian culture, especially retail. How is it different from North America?

Janice:  When you enter a clothing store in Paris you don’t touch anything—that’s considered rude.  You chat with the employees and allow them to pick outfits for you.  The women who work in these stores look at your frame and choose the styles that best suit your body type.  The same goes for hair.  Paris is about finding beauty in everyone and everything.

Me:  How did the painted letters, known as Paris Letters, come about?

Janice:  After touring Europe I returned to Paris to be with Krzysztof.  I spent my days painting scenes around the city and writing letters to my family and friends.  At one point though I knew I had to find a way to earn money if I was going to continue this lifestyle and that’s how Paris Letters started.  I would paint a scene, let’s say, a water fountain, and then I would write a letter on top of it.  Within a few weeks I was sending out 50 letters.  Today, I mail 700 letters a month.

Me:  What inspires you?  How do you come up with fresh ideas each month?

Janice:  I usually take a lot of pictures of different parts of the city at different times of the year and record what I was doing that day, how Paris felt, the sights, the smells, the sounds, and then I go back and paint watercolor pictures from my photographs.

Me:  How do you balance promoting your book and Paris Letters with your family life and desire to travel?

Janice: I’m a memoirist and introverted.  I can’t do the very introverted art of writing and painting when I’m doing extroverted activities.  I limit the time spent on public appearances and set aside specific times, usually in the morning, to work on my writing.

Me:  What can we expect from you in the future?

Janice:  I definitely want to write another memoir; hoping for something along the lines of a trilogy.  Paris Letters will continue but Krzysztof and I want to see other parts of the world so perhaps a “Travel Letters” will come about.  For now though, I’m going to keep experiencing life and writing in my journal.

Me:  Talking about journals… What do you do with them when you’re finished? You live a very low maintenance life style.  All those notebooks and papers must start to build up.

Janice:  I burn them!  You’ve got to learn to let go and move on.  Live for the day!

Me:  Spoken like a true artist!

 

To learn more about Janice MacLeod or to purchase her memoir or subscribe to “Paris Letters”, please visit her website http://www.janicemacleod.com

 

Paris Letters

What would you do to live an artist’s life in Paris? Or more importantly, what would you be willing to give up in order to live in one of the most romantic cities in the world? For author and world traveler Janice MacLeod, the answer was simple—everything.

Janice, a native of Norfolk County, recently attended two local book club meetings as well as a book signing at the Port Dover Public Library. “Before I arrived in Paris, I was living in California, working as a copywriter in an advertising agencIMG_6569y. I was thirty-four, single, lonely, feeling unfulfilled by my job, and on the brink of burnout. Something had to change.”

Thus began a one year crusade of what Janice likes to call, “my little and big acts to save up or not spend $100 a day.” Her plan back in 2010 was to save enough money so that she could quit her job and live the same way for one year without work. In her memoir, “Paris Letters”, Janice shares her money saving tactics, starting with, cleaning out your underwear drawer!

“Being a creator of your own memories is an art,” she replies, when asked how she managed to quit her job and leave California with only one suitcase. “You’ve got to learn to let go.”

Within a few days of arriving in Paris, Janice catches the eye of Krzysztof Lik, a handsome butcher who works across the street of a café that Janice frequents during her stay. It doesn’t take long before the two realize they have more in common than just a love for Paris. “You’ve got to release the anchors of your previous life,” says Janice, reminiscent of the moment she spoke to Krzysztof, who at the time could not speak English. “Magic really does happen.”

After months of living and artist’s dream of painting local scenery, exploring the city by foot, enjoying all the pleasantries that Paris has to offer (including the Daniel Craig look-a-like, Krzysztof), Janice was ready to share her love of writing and painting with the rest of the world. Her idea was to publish monthly letters about her adventures in Paris on beautiful watercolor scenes that she had painted of the city. Within weeks “Paris Letters” had 50 subscribers. Today, over 700 people from around the world receive a painted letters from Janice and for one moment get to experience the city of love through the eyes of a remarkable artist.

Since the release of her book, Janice has been busy promoting her memoir and continuing to write letters from Paris. “The wish I had in January 2010 has come true. And along the way, I found the lovely Krzysztof. I am an artist!”

When asked what the future holds, Janice replies, “Paris Letters will definitely continue but I want to see more of the world so perhaps a “Travel Letters” may be in the works. I’d also like to write another memoir but first I need to live the experiences necessary to create another book.”

In the meantime, Janice and her now husband, Krzysztof, have left Paris with just three suitcases in hand and plan to explore the likes of Calgary, Alberta. “He loves the mountains,” she laughs, “so what better place to live than Alberta!”

 

To purchase her memoir or subscribe to Paris Letters, please visit www.janicemacleod.com.

Back to Blogging Baby

It has been approximately one year since I walked away from my computer and said, “Good bye” to the world of blogging.  The decision was not made in haste nor was it something that I truly wanted to do, yet I knew it was something I needed to do.  You see, as a writer, one tends to spend a lot of time caressing his or her pen, watching the ink form into beautiful (and not so beautiful) words across a lined sheet of paper nestled in an spiral-ringed journal.  It takes time to reflect on one’s thoughts, record them, and eventually share them with the rest of the world in the form of a blog.  For a time, I wrote everyday, blogged every week, and read a novel every month.  But I soon realized that while I was sharing my life on line, I was not continuing to live it.  Thus, I took a one-year hiatus from writing in general.  Almost.

While I did not blog, I did sneak a few little entries in my journal; a guilty pleasure I couldn’t part with.  In May 2013 I decided to toss the pen aside and try something new.  I began with looking at myself in the mirror and deciding what I needed to change.  And like many women my age the first thought that entered my mind was my body.  I began running 4 times a week, joining a competitive swim team, lifting weights and doing crunches in the bathroom before bed and watching how much food entered my mouth.  Next, I decided it would be a great time to try something I only did in the shower—sing!  I joined not one, but two choirs and auditioned for a musical.  Although I had a minor role in The Drowsy Chaperone, I got to sing and act to my heart’s content.  The world of theater is both liberating and frustrating.  Actors can most certainly be high maintenance and rehearsals are long.  Very long.

I continued to teach (because giving up my day job was not an option) and in the evening I tutored high school students in math.  They got the help they needed and I fulfilled a weird algebra addiction I happen to have.  In between running my kids from piano to swimming, I met with my book club Lit Chicks, participated in The Extreme Warrior, ran a few 5k fun runs, taught myself some new chords on my guitar, coached volleyball and soccer, joined a women’s soccer team, taught a summer literacy camp, and worked as a photographer at a number of events.  Needless to say, my family and friends think I’m crazy and I would have to agree.

That being said, I also think crazy people have a lot to offer this world.  I’m addicted to life and the people in it.  I thrive on a busy schedule and I’m most content when I challenge myself to learn new things or meet new people.  Blogging is a way for me to share that love.  It’s an outlet, and I dearly missed my Davis Discussions this past year.  The pen is back in my hand, my journal is open, the computer is on.  It’s back to blogging, baby!

Chad and Stacy

Chad and Stacy were bIMG_0582orn one winter afternoon from the minds of two quirky kids—my very own offspring.  Pulled from the depths of an unorganized Lego bin, Chad and Stacy became part of the Davis family.  As if representing the alter ego of my son and daughter, these two figurines had daily spats, enjoyed riding in the car, joined us for family meals, and as seen in this photo, watched movies and ate popcorn.  I’ve found Chad in my bed staring up at me with those anime eyes of his and Stacy has been known to hang out in the cup holder of my truck.  They seem to make their way into every family function and have voices and opinions of their own.

Over the past two years (yes, they are that old) I’ve learned to embrace Chad and Stacy and their square robotic legs. They are a product of my children’s ever growing imagination and a source of humor in our household.  They represent the psychological growth of a child’s brain as they learn about the world and their surroundings.  I can only imagine what Freud would say if he were still around today.  He would have a field day with my kids!

While I wait for that pivotal moment when my son and daughter decide that the imaginary world is no longer of interest, I will continue to love Chad and Stacy as one of my own—removable head and all!

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: A Lit Chicks Perspective

IMG_0457“Who will look after me when I’m old?”

Deborah Moggach, author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (previously published These Foolish Things), attempts to answer this question through a series of interconnected plots depicting the lives of several pensioners and their children.  Set primarily in Bangalore, India, the story delves into the harsh realities of aging.  The characters (aged 60+) suffer everything from loneliness to impotence and seek refuge within the walls of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel— a run-down retirement of sorts for British pensioners.

Most Lit Chick members found Moggach’s writing, poetic and eloquent, but some of us had difficulty keeping track of all the characters and their respective family members.  We all agreed there was a certain mystical element to Indian way of life, excluding the extreme poverty and child labor, of course.  The author further entices her readers through the descriptive language used to describe the sexual prowess of Indian men.  Hmmm…  A definite thought to ponder!

For the most part, I enjoyed the book, regardless of the hanging story lines, unnecessary attention to secondary characters, and questionable attention to eunuchs.  To her credit, Moggach included some thought provoking quotes taken from Buddhist teachings at the beginning of each chapter.  These, I felt were most interesting and I often found myself saying, “Yes, that is so true!”  Here are some of my favorites:

“We are what we think, all that we are arises with our thoughts, with our thoughts we make the world.”

“What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow:  our life is the creation of the mind.”

That Buddha was one smart dude and he never had any issues with his weight!

Back to the book.  It’s a good read and yes, the Hollywood version of the story starring Judi Dench and Maggie Smith can be viewed on Blue Ray and DVD.  But like always, I highly recommend reading the novel prior to watching the film—that goes without saying!

 

 

Fat Cat

Meet Nipper, one of Canada’s fattest cats.  Weighing in at 30lbs, Nipper resides in Walsingham, Ontario with proud owners David and Deanna Davis.

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