Shades of our Sisters was an event held on Thursday June 21 at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. This event happened (intentionally or not) on National Indigenous Peoples… More
Today it is my pleasure to host guest blogger Melissa Howard. Melissa believes that every suicide is preventable. After losing her younger brother to suicide, she felt compelled to create StopSuicide.info. By providing helpful resources and articles on her website, she hopes to build a lifeline of information. Please take the time to click on material that is hyperlinked.
Mental health is an enormously important issue. Unfortunately, there will be times when one’s mental health goes through adverse changes, subtle or overt, that can have a significant impact on quality of life. If unaddressed or overlooked, it can develop into thoughts of suicide. Being aware of the symptoms is critical to knowing when to seek out support and start healing.
When to Seek Help
It’s hugely important to be vigilant when facing any sort of emotional downturn, even more so if there’s a family history of mental health issues. The impact it can have on your life, work, studies, and relationships can escalate quickly if not addressed, and may lead to thoughts of suicide and self-harm. Symptoms will vary by person, but there are usually common signs that indicate it’s time to seek help. You may find yourself disinterested in things that once gave joy, or even avoiding friends and family. There may be a loss of focus or unexplained crying. You may no longer feel you have the energy to work or study and may even find the act of getting out of bed quite overwhelming. These feelings of listlessness and fatigue can affect every aspect of your life, potentially leading to isolation and a sense of hopelessness. It’s essential to seek professional support, especially so if symptoms have persisted for weeks. Seeking help can be a terrifying prospect, but it will provide immeasurable relief and help treat whatever you’re dealing with. There will be crisis lines, and doctors should have information on what sort of services, such as therapy, are available to you. Such support can provide you with a lot of the tools to help you get better.
Keeping Up Wellness
When you’re facing serious mental health issues, self-care can be incredibly difficult, leaving your physical and emotional well-being neglected. No matter what help you’re receiving, it’s still important to find ways to look after your own needs. Self-care can be very basic, but truly essential. Showering, eating healthily, and staying hydrated are some invaluable things you can do to achieve this. Of course, maintaining an exercise routine can be challenging, but the positive effect it can have on self-esteem and mood can be significant. Opening up is something else that can also be truly beneficial. When facing emotional downturns, it can be easy to withdraw and try to get through everything privately. But if you do have someone in your life that you trust, tell them what you’re going through. Try, also, to stay active, whether that involves a quick walk or hanging out with friends, it can be a welcome change of pace. Another thing to consider is a safety plan. This could contain trusted numbers, emergency contacts, affirming words, and treatment techniques.
Suicide and Addiction
When faced with any downturn in mood, such as depression, it can be tempting for some to alleviate symptoms by taking substances. They might seem like an escape, but that is usually fleeting, and they quickly exacerbate the symptoms and worsen long-term mental health. Substance abuse can also have a harmful effect on relationships, creating more isolation and loneliness, if that is already an issue. This can quickly result in a habitual coping mechanism that can lead to addiction. As substances can remove inhibitions and impair judgement, it can also intensify suicidal thoughts. Research has shown substances to be a major risk factor in thinking about, and attempting, suicide. Indeed, one in three suicides occur under the influence of opioids or alcohol. Addiction, thankfully, is a treatable condition, and recovery itself helps improve mental health.
Don’t feel alone. You do not have to face what you’re going through by yourself. Sometimes it may not seem like it, but these feelings and thoughts are temporary. Thankfully, whatever the cause, it will be treatable, and remember to practice self-care as it will help you manage what you’re going through.
Image Courtesy of Pixabay.com
We made it! Winter is slowly retreating and while some years there has been the odd cameo appearance of snow in April, we can only think positive. Positive that now it’s the first day of Spring, Spring will be sprung!
It’s funny how your attitude towards the changing seasons evolves as you get older. As a child I remember feeling sad when it seemed that winter would be wrapping up. I would miserably watch as our favourite outdoor rink would slowly melt into a puddle, saddened that skating would soon be over for the year. Rain was boring and only seemed to bring mud and worms. As a child the beauty of the changing seasons was insignificant to me.
Fast forward a few years, ok many years and the pending arrival of Spring brings me the utmost happiness. Spring represents change and a fresh start. Grass is greening up; spring tulips are slowly waking up and poking their heads through the soil. Leaves begin slowly budding and the air is alive with the promise of new beginnings.
New beginnings can present themselves in many different forms at this time of the year. This may be the time to consider setting some new goals. How about starting that spring cleaning and decluttering that you’ve been putting off? Or maybe you have some personal goals that you would like to set and begin working on. Why not start that program of healthy eating that you’ve been thinking about? Or, begin that new exercise program and ask a friend to participate with you? Take the photography class, cooking class or even join the reading club you keep hearing about. Whatever it might be, we all have the ability to start something new – and it’s right at our fingertips. The freshness and newness of Spring provides a perfect environment to begin.
When the opportunity to attend a Pow Wow was extended to me, I jumped at it. I have been keenly interested in Indigenous culture for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, there was little to no teaching about Indigenous culture throughout my school years, even during my University years.
Fast forward 30 years and it’s pretty awesome to see all the education available and awareness with regards to Canada’s first residents.
I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was excited and eager to learn and take a lot of pics!
The Indigenous Studies Students’ Union at the University of Toronto held their second annual Honouring Our Students Pow Wow on what happened to coincide with the St. Patrick’s Day parade downtown Toronto. Again, another reason why I love Toronto. Outside you have a bustling parade lining down the street with music celebrating Irish tradition while just a few feet away in a gymnasium is the cultural experience of an Indigenous Pow Wow. Co-existence and acceptance in such a large city restores my faith in humanity. I did not attend the first one, however it was apparently overwhelmingly busy that they had to relocate to a larger venue for this year. I can’t even begin to imagine how busy it was last year because as soon as we set foot in the gymnasium this year – it was busting at the seams!
The upper level of the gym had delicious smells of traditional Indigenous food wafting throughout the entire building. On the lower level along the perimeter of the gym were countless booths with items for sale. From t-shirts, traditional Indigenous jewellery, to moccasins, shawls, dream catchers and so much more. The colours and intricate details were mesmerizing to look at. While wandering about, we took the time to stop and chat with many of the sellers about their products. It was so nice to know that all these vendors were local sellers with a lot of their own handmade goods. I was excited to purchase a handmade bracelet and my daughter’s friends purchased countless earrings!
I was struck by a t-shirt that read “Canada’s first landlords”. An incredibly true statement. Unless you’re Indigenous, you’re an immigrant to Canada.
We took our seats just in time for the formal part to begin. We listened to directions from the Master of Ceremonies who provided background information, with regards to which groups were drumming or dancing. He also reminded us when picture taking was allowed as the Grand Entry along with certain prayers and songs are sacred.
I looked around and I was struck by all the beautiful and colourful garments. Many of the singers and dancers participating were dressing in their regalia extremely close to us, so we were able to see the intricate details and beading on the garments. It was so cool to see the colours, feathers, jingles etc. I was shocked by how many different symbols and Indigenous communities there are across Ontario alone.
When the Grand Entry began I was amazed. To say that this was an amazing start to the Pow Wow is an understatement. It was an incredibly moving, emotional and powerful part of the Pow Wow with participants, carrying flags, led by military veterans.
What I enjoyed most was watching families of all ages participate in the dancing and singing. There were little babies dressed in handknit moccasins to toddlers in beautifully quilted scarves to adults donning belts with hundreds of eagle feathers. I learned that the eagle feathers are so significant in Indigenous culture, as it is the highest honour one can get from an elder, as the eagle flies closest to the sun and the Gods. The more they have on their belts the more respected and honoured they are in their community.
It was an amazing day and so much more then what I expected. I knew that a Pow Wow was a traditional event involving singing, feasting and dancing. But, after attending my first Pow Wow, I learned that it is about so much more. It’s about, tradition, family, love, respect, history and friendship.
I’m already making plans to attend my next Pow Wow.
How often have you saved a certain outfit for a special occasion? I’ll bet more times then you can count. There have been many times over the years that I have been guilty of doing the same.
Now I’m not sure if it is the wisdom of growing older, or just the overall appreciation of life, or a little of both. But in recent years I’ve learned that being mindful of the present and living life to the fullest is more important now than ever.
There is never a need of a “special occasion” to go somewhere or do something. When the staff at Maison Blanc day spa asked my daughter and I what we were celebrating, I didn’t hesitate in answering: Life. I loved seeing them break out in smiles and nod in agreement.
For the afternoon my daughter and I donned our make-believe crowns and attended a catered High Tea that was a lovely addition to our afternoon of pampering treatments.
Ordinarily, we have attended High Tea exclusively for special occasions. I decided that life itself was a special occasion and so was spending time with my daughter.
We were asked to come early so that we could relax and enjoy our High Tea. We were warmly greeted by the Spa Director and shown to a private room for our tea. The table setting was perfect and the arrangement of our sandwiches and desserts were so pleasant and classy on the tray. Tea lights added such a classy touch that made us feel that we were transported to Paris for the afternoon. The atmosphere was perfect.
We loved having the time to chat and eat before our services. The staff at Maison Blanc went out of their way to ensure that we had everything we needed, checking in on us frequently throughout the afternoon.
It was a relaxing afternoon from beginning to end.
Don’t ever wait for a special occasion! Pop that bottle of champagne, wear that new outfit, use your special china. Because life is meant to be lived.
This month, is the 50th anniversary that Canada opened her arms and welcomed my parents and myself. It would be amazing if I could just remember what that was like, I was a baby and the nervousness and excitement of it all was obviously lost on me.
With changes to legislation regarding who could be admitted to Canada, the 1960’s saw a wave of immigration. Canada welcomed smiling faces from a variety of countries ranging from the lush green landscape of Ireland, to Africa, India, England, the West Indies, South America and many more places. Thankfully, my parents and myself were among these new immigrants that landed on Canadian soil. I can’t imagine how exciting yet scary it must have been for my 20 something year old Mom to have left the only home she has ever known with a baby and husband. Or for my Dad, to be bravely leading the way to a new and better life.
Let’s be honest, most people would probably say that they live in the best Country in the world. I would of course agree with them, if that Country is Canada.
As a child I had the opportunity to embrace and experience the diversity represented among the people of this country. Growing up, my classmates were from different Countries around the world. The excitement of learning about their cultures, visiting their homes and quite simply calling them friend was wonderful. We were different, but we had one thing in common and that was the fact that we called Canada home.
I’m incredibly grateful that my parents made the best decision to choose Canada as their home. I often tease my Dad that I wish he had chosen a warmer Country, but truth be told I love this Country! I could list at least 100 reasons why Canada is a wonderful place and why I am grateful to be living here, but I instead I will try to sum them up into three reasons that make Canada great:
- From coast to coast, Canada is simply beautiful. Every single province has its own beauty about it that makes travel memorable. For example: British Columbia has the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, the Calgary Stampede in Alberta, and the easy going friendly and down to earth nature of Maritimers and the amazing abundance of fresh seafood.
- Often envied, our healthcare system is something I am always grateful for. While it isn’t perfect, it is better then some equally developed Countries.
- Racism is a word that is far removed in the vocabulary of Canadians alike. Sure, it exists (hey – nobody’s perfect) but on Canadian soil it is far less threatening and aggressive than in other countries. It is not nearly as corrupt as some other neighbouring countries.
Thank you, Canada, for all that you have brought to my life, excellent education, the start of my own family and a future that continues to shine a beacon of bright light.
This year I have celebrated a pretty exciting birthday. Happy Birthday Maryse’s Pieces!! You are officially ONE YEAR OLD!
Shortly after my 50th birthday I wondered where all the other 50 something year old women were in cyber world. I was interested in hearing other perspectives on what they were experiencing now that they were in the 50’s club.
I began by looking around on Instagram. I was happy to see that there existed an abundance of other women like myself who were celebrating the 50’s, in fashion, in writing, in food, in religion, in basically any way that appealed to them! Without a moment’s hesitation I created a more social and public account while still maintaining the privacy around my other account which was strictly for family and friends. I was surprised to see the interest and “likes” my pictures generated on my public account.
Friends and family encouraged me to start a blog. I had no idea what I was gong to write about or even what I would name it. I could talk your ear off but…write? I was unsure about it. Through research and Facebook groups, I got to know other bloggers who advised me to find a niche and go from there. I remember thinking a niche? As in, write about only one area of me?? That would be like telling me to talk just a little bit. I couldn’t quite do that, there were so many pieces of me that deserved equal time in my blog. As a Wife, Mom, Daughter, Sister, Aunt and Friend. I had more roles in my 50’s then ever before, and I wanted to share them all!
So, my blog was named “Maryse’s Pieces” and almost immediately I had subscribers and followers! I was floored. I thought that my target audience would be women aged 50 and over, but I was pleasantly surprised that my stats consistently showed a demographic both of men and women, 30 years and older. Here I was worrying about being a boring old lady writing meaningless posts!
The support of my blog has been enormous and has come from all sources. My family has been behind me every step of the way, my sister Holly took pics, gave advice and opinions. My daughter was forced to proof read my posts (and still does), she also receives a constant barrage of photos to review to help me decide on the perfect one. Together, they both provided important initial feedback to help me create the casual tone that I wanted in my writing. They quickly let me know if I was sounding too essay like, or too much like a novel. My husband, happily reads my blogs and I will always receive positive feedback from him.
Friends have continually supported and cheered me on, not just by the customary “like” on Facebook but also by sharing my blogs. I love receiving texts and messages from so many of them who tell me they can relate to something I have posted.
In the coming year, readers will on occasion read a different side of “Maryse’s Pieces” through my posts, as I strive to cover a variety of topics that are requested by different people. I have also decided that this year, I will start publishing posts from fellow guest bloggers!
Thank you for helping my first year be as successful as it has been. Please keep reading, sharing and above all I love hearing from you – so keep your messages coming!
The best is yet to come xo
Winter can be a long process in Canada, the days are short, and darkness comes early. Heading to the movies, socializing with friends and dining out becomes the way of entertainment during these frigid months. This is when the foodie in me tends to come out!
Toronto’s Winterlicious is an exciting time when restaurants offer lunch and dinner price fixed menus. It’s the perfect opportunity to try out new restaurants or visit old faithfuls.
This past Saturday, Hubby and I chose to visit Oliver and Bonacini Café Grill in Bayview Village. As many of you already know the O & B restaurants are some of our favourites. Hubby and I have began dining at one of their first restaurants Oliver’s in the Eglinton area some 30 years ago.
Winterlicious can be an incredibly busy time for the participating Toronto restaurants. We usually brace ourselves for the rush at reception but at the same time I look for the professionalism that should still be evident despite the bustle. We were not disappointed. The ladies at the front welcomed us with big smiles and a friendly Danny introduced himself and took us to a beautiful table in the back by the window. He took pride in telling us that on that particular night they were the second busiest restaurant in the city with Canoe in first place. Another O&B classic restaurant. Amazing so far!
Danny advised us that our waiter was Arshia. Arshia came over promptly and brought us water while we perused the drink menu. He gave us an appropriate amount of time to come back and take our drink order and food order as well. He was incredibly energetic and interested in how we were finding everything all weekend. His attention to accuracy and details as well as his pleasant personality contributed to a lovely evening. Arshia is perhaps one of the best waiters we have ever had in that particular establishment. Well done!
Casually elegant, the cleanliness of the dining room and upscale décor are perfect. A wonderful atmosphere for lunch, tea, dinner or even private events which can be held in their private room. Despite the business of Winterlicious the staff contributed to this atmosphere with their bright smiles and hellos.
The restaurant was currently running a promotion with Estrella Damm beer, according to the menu when you ordered one you received a ballot to enter a contest to win a trip for two to Spain. Enticing! I’m not a beer drinker so Hubby ordered one. I was intrigued by one of their featured drinks LA DOLCE VITA. Comprised of Argento Cabernet Sauvignon, triple sec, orange juice and lime. Surprisingly though our drinks took quite a while to arrive. That was a bit disappointing because with the absence of a bread basket we were left with water to simply sip and wait. When our drinks arrived, Arshia apologized and explained there was a backup at the bar. My feature drink was very good.
Appetizers– Both of us ordered the crispy curried potato pierogies with cilantro lime yoghurt for dipping. It arrived quickly at a great temperature and was delicious. The curry did not over power the taste which was a concern for me, delicious!
Hubby ordered the Tuna Poke Bowl, it was beautifully presented and tasted amazing according to him. He found it very filling which was interesting because you would think based on looks it was just a salad with tuna, not so! Consisting of: avocado, sticky rice, cucumber, pickled ginger and sesame seeds and tuna. There was egg and we are convinced some sweet yam or potato as well.
I ordered the rigatoni verde. Described on the menu as having kale pesto, oven roasted cherry tomatoes, zucchini, edamame and grana padano. The size of the serving was huge, it arrived at an excellent temperature and was beautifully presented. It was yummy and the sprinkling of edamame throughout the dish made it so much fun to eat. The only criticism I had was that the pesto had just a bit too much oil. Other then that it was a tasty dish.
We both decided on the Baba Rhum with Chantilly. As always dessert is the crowning glory of any meal and we waited with anticipation. The Baba Rhum was a cupcake with chantilly cream decorating the top, we eagerly dug in to find that it was dry in the inside and the outside edges were hard, it was disappointing. When Arshia came by to check on us and get our thoughts we explained our observations and showed him the hardness on the outside of the cupcake and the dryness inside. He was disappointed by this, but he did not want us to leave dissatisfied, so he hustled back with the other two desserts on the Winterlicious menu for us to try. The Aged cheddar dish with spiced raisin compote and cranberry and seed toast. The cheddar was good, and the spiced raisin compote was perfectly spiced and left you wanting more! The cranberry and seed toast that accompanied this dish was perfect. He also brought us the Artisan black forest cake, which was moist and delicious. A solid ending to our dinner.
I would give this visit 8.5/10 marks lost for not receiving a ballot for the contest, an unusually long wait for our drinks and lack of bread basket as well as a disappointing experience with dessert.
Let’s face it, us ladies love the idea of an awesome manicure, pedicure or body treatment in a real spa like environment. While I am a huge fan of St. Anne’s Spa in Grafton Ontario, it’s not a place I can get to on a regular basis. Still, I craved something similar in a day spa.
Late last year I realized that my needs had changed with regards to the type of environment I needed for manicures, pedicures and body treatments. I was at the point that craving this type of environment was something at the age of 52, I felt I deserved. What was I looking for?
- A quiet spa like atmosphere
- Happy, highly professional and knowledgeable estheticians
- Pampering from the minute I walk in the door, while waiting for my appointment, and during my appointment
So, I put out the word and asked around, I tried out a few places. Many places consisted of staff speaking different languages while providing services. For me, that’s a NO. Or loud music and blow driers and hair cuts happening a mere few feet away from me. Another NO. One place consisted of pure gossip, all about other staff members and owners. NO. At other places the spa feeling was just lacking. Another NO.
At long last my daughter received a recommendation and was told about Maison Blanc Day Spa located right in Whitby! What? Right downtown in our hometown? My daughter booked an appointment and had an amazing experience. Her shellac manicure was beautiful, and her experience was top notch! She returned a few weeks later for a manicure and pedicure and was blown away by everything. They had an extensive list of services offered even body treatments! She told me that it was time for me to visit this spa.
This past Saturday I booked a nail polish change for both my daughter and myself. I was curious how we would be treated with this very simple and inexpensive service that I booked.
From the moment we entered the Spa we were greeted by friendly smiling faces. Our coats were hung, and boots put away and we were given comfy slippers to wear! I was totally surprised. A simple finger nail polish change and the pampering was already outstanding. We were taken to a cute seating area and offered cappuccino, tea, lemon water or cookies. Impressive. Get this! It wasn’t make your own, they made it for us!
At appointment time we were introduced to our estheticians who were working out of a spotless, airy and beautiful room. Both ladies showed us different lines and colours of nail polishes. I was impressed.
Application of our polishes was expertly done, and conversation was pleasant. The atmosphere was relaxing, and we enjoyed our service immensely. No gossip, nothing about their personal lives, no language barrier, pampering and professionalism was all we experienced!
I don’t typically review somewhere after booking such a small service, but that in itself represents the irony. Regardless of how small the service was, the staff at Maison Blanc Day Spa, treats you professionally. Big props to the owner and staff, I have pre-booked services already for my next two visits! Hope to see you there!
My family loves pulled pork tenderloin! This tender lean meat is a joy to cook with and I love making it because I know it’s a healthy filling dinner. Check out my recipe below and give it a try, you’re going to love it!
2 lbs pork tenderloin
2 large onions diced
3 pieces of garlic
3 tsps. black pepper
2 tsps. salt
2 tsps. red pepper
¼ cup soy sauce
3 tbsps. Worcestershire Sauce
I bottle General Tao Sauce
Preheat oven to 300 degrees
Using lime juices and water, rinse out the pork tenderloin and set aside
Rub salt, black pepper, and red pepper onto the pork tenderloin
Add minced garlic
Add Worcestershire sauce, soya sauce and ¼ bottle of General Tao Sauce
Mix thoroughly, I prefer to get right in there and rub all the ingredients in with my hands
Once the pork tenderloin is fully seasoned place in a covered roasting pan with approx. ¼ cup of water, and put in oven
It is important that the tenderloin is allowed to slowly cook approx 2-2.5 hours
Check frequently and baste with juices in pan, it may be necessary to add a little bit of water
During the last 45 minutes add the remainder of the general Tao sauce and baste frequently with pan juices
After cooking, the pork will easily come apart with a fork
You can serve this yummy pork on a tortilla, a bun or simply on its own which is what my family loves. I usually make scalloped potatoes and a tossed salad to go with it.
“I solve my problems and I see the light, we got a loving thing we got to feed it right. There ain’t no danger we can go too far, we start believing now that we can be what we are… Grease is the word.”
I got you singing, didn’t I? Possibly evoked some memories of fun times singing songs from Grease over the past few decades? The original Grease is an iconic movie that most of us grew up watching. John Travolta and Olivia Newton John succeeded in making us feel as though we were a part of Rydell High. So, I was super thrilled when my daughter purchased tickets for us to see Josh Prince’s Toronto production of Grease at the Winter Garden Theatre!
Review of Grease
The Winter Garden Theatre is absolutely gorgeous and just the opportunity to visit it was exciting! I was particularly excited that my daughter purchased a VIP package that included wine for us! Does she know her Mama or what?
Slightly surprising was the confusion among staff at the Winter Garden on how to direct customers, control crowds and answer basic questions. Anyway… The musical itself was enjoyable with excellent props, costumes—pink ladies and t birds in their familiar jackets. We sang along to all the songs we knew so well, surprisingly there were a few that we didn’t recognize. That kind of threw us, when it comes to remakes I do like some of the basics to still be there.
Along the plot line, there were a few things that confused me, the break ups and getting back together between Sandy and Danny was unclear, numerous and nothing like the original. There were also frequent mooning moments by characters and a bit of vulgarity that I don’t recall from the original. Don’t get me wrong I know this is 2017 and all, but could we not keep to the actual events in the movie? There was a lot of dancing, hence yes it’s a musical but at times it seemed as though there was too much. Almost as though the choice was made to have more dancing and singing then dialogue.
In addition, I wasn’t totally convinced of the chemistry between Danny and Sandy. Disappointingly, that should be the first thing that the audience feels. Let’s face it, John Travolta and Olivia Newton John had it! Casting of the two main roles is paramount in my opinion. All in all, It was a pretty good attempt by a young and energetic cast and I was happy that a few Canadians dotted the cast.
Review of the Day
My daughter went out of her way to make the day special for me, even by making my fave breakfast that morning- pancakes! We got ready, dressed in our pink ladies’ jackets, scarves and 50’s style sunglasses, I have to say we looked amazing! We were pretty stoked for the musical, and my kind Hubby happily gave us a ride downtown. I think he regretted his decision within a few minutes of being in the car because we immediately launched our Grease play list and much to his disappointment we sang every single song all the way downtown!
Upon arriving at the theatre, I noticed a few pink lady jackets and a few poodle skirts. We were complimented by many and one amazing lady even thought that my daughter was my sister! God Bless her!
Our seats were an amazing choice by my girl, smack dab in the middle of Orchestra, just where I like it! We sang and laughed at the jokes. A gentleman behind us asked if he could take a pic of the back of our jackets- pink lady crests. We obliged of course feeling like celebrities…hehehe!
At intermission we took professional photos all dressed up which was part of our VIP package and enjoyed our wine.
I loved spending the day with my daughter and quite frankly Grease the Musical was simply a backdrop to the memories I made with her that day.
Grease the Musical Memories made with my Daughter