Thursday, June 28, 2012

Grandma Love is the Best Love

Dear Claire,

There is something very unique and special about the love of a Grandmother.  Growing up I was lucky to have this special love from my Nani (that's your Grandma's Mom).  Although I  loved my Grandma-Pomeroy very much, I had an exceptionally close relationship with Nani. 

I am so grateful for all the time I spend with my Nani!  When I was a little girl she would take me to McDonald's for chicken mcnuggets (a real treat!), buy me water paints and paper dolls (my favourites!) and always let me look at all her old pictures (my most favourite thing in the whole world to do!).  I would ask her all sorts of questions and she would share with me all her stories of growing up, getting married, having her children, and all the things she learned along the way.

As I got older, we spent our time together differently, I would help her clean her house, take her out for lunch or shopping, and talk on the phone (she loved celebrity gossip!).  What I felt most from Nani was unconditional love.  She wouldn't lecture, or nag, or offer advice when it wasn't asked for.  As your mother, I reserve the right to do those things.  I will lecture, nag, and offer advice (hello! I'm writing a whole blog of un-asked for advice!).  I will do these things and still love you unconditionally; it might just not always feel that way.

I hope that you have a special relationship with your Grandma Pomeroy;  there is so much you can learn from and with her.

She can teach you how to sew, quilt and smock.  How to cook the best lasagna and spare ribs.  How to bake the best apple crisp, cherry-cheesecake, and short-bread cookies.  How to make jam, preserve pickles and beets.  How to plant the most beautiful garden and how to perfectly arrange flowers in a vase or bowl.

But the true learning will come from the conversations you have while doing these things together.

You can ask Grandma about living in Vanessa and Tillsonburg and what it was like going to a one-room school house!  Ask about the witch who ran the store where she bought candy from.  Find out what it was like living on a farm and all the animals they had.  Ask about going to Huron Park and what subject she liked the most - she'll even tell you who her favourite teacher was.  Find out how she burned her leg and had to wear pants all summer so that her parents wouldn't find out what happened.  Ask how she met Grandpa and why she couldn't drink alcohol at their wedding.  Ask what Mommy and Auntie Andrea were like as little babies, children, and teenagers.

Ask, ask, ask.

I promise you, these will be the best conversations you ever have, and you'll look back one day and be so grateful that you had them.

Love you non-stop,

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fearless Woman #2 - Maya Angelou

Dear Claire,

To me the definition of a "fearless woman" is not a woman without fear.  In fact, she is a woman with many fears, but she is strong enough and brave enough to conquer them.

One fearless woman that all people (man or woman) should aspire to more like, is Maya Angelou.  Her list of accomplishments is too long for this blog but include publishing six autobiographies, five books of essays, numerous books of poetry, and is also credited with a long list of plays, movies, and television shows.  What a talent!

Being a female writer alone does not make one fearless.  What makes Maya so special is that she writes about her own life, and nothing is harder to write about, than one's own experiences.  She is willing to share her humiliations, her faults, her failures, her poor choices, and all that she learned from them.  As if that is not enough - she's African American!  An African-American Woman, willing to write her truth during a time of deep and unforgiving racism; now that is fearlessness.  

Many women, especially those who are "proud" and "strong", would never be willing to share their stories.  Never admit their wrongs or the wrongs committed against them for fear that others would judge them.  Maya shows that this type of opening-up is what makes a writer, and a woman, proud and strong. 

Did mommy mention that she writes some of my favourite poems?    Here are some for you to enjoy:

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.
Maya Angelou

Seriously? You're either a runner or a heel - you're not allowed to be both.

Dear Claire,

There are very few pieces of fashion or trends that I truly despise.  You may choose to embrace these trends just to spite me and I will accept that. It's true however, that I will cringe every time you walk out the door into public.  And I will cringe a second time for all of the innocent eyes that are laid on you in some ridicuous get-up.  And I will cringe a third and final time for your future eyes that will one day look back at pictures of yourself and want to cry.

The one thing I will forbid you to ever wear is the platform running shoe. This shoe is wrong on all levels.  It makes no sense.  It is unattractive.  It doesn't look right with pants or a skirt. It is neither here nor there.  It's the equivlent of wearing a clown wig all day on your feet.  They should be collected like the books in "Fahrenheit 451' and burned in the town square.

Please honey, promise mommy you'll never wear these??? Please?

Love Mom


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Put Your Best Face Forward

Dear Claire,

Sometimes it's easy to forget what a beautiful face you have.  Please allow me to remind you - you have a beautiful face, one of the most beautiful in all the world.

How to keep it that wonderful way?

#1.  Keep your face out of the sun.  Play in the sun, read in the sun, and relax in the sun but always wear sunscreen and a hat.  Seriously, while all your friends are frying their faces off out on the beach, keep a hat over yours, and within only a few years you'll be able to tell who has sun damage on their skin.  Sun causes some pretty ugly things - brown spots, wrinkles, and moles that can become cancerous. Which reminds me...don't even think about getting inside of a tanning bed; orange is best left to sunsets and lillies, not on your face.

#2. Do what a professional tells you.  I've been pretty lucky with my skin, all I do is wash it with Dove moisturizing soap and then put on some Pond's face cream.  Unfortunately that means I don't have much advice to give regarding a face-washing regime.  So if you have problem skin, don't ask me for help, just ask for a drive to the nearest professional and we'll do whatever they say!

#3.  When it comes to putting on make-up, less is more.  Choose one feature (your favourite one) and focus on it.  For example, if you love your eyes, put on some great shadow and mascara, and then go a bit easy on the lipstick. If you try to make all your features stand out, you'll end up looking like a clown.

#4.  Most important - smile with your mouth and smile with your eyes.  Nothing is more attractive than happiness, so show yours with a great big smile and let your eyes shine with the same joy.

Love you gorgeous!

These pictures should terrify you....

These pictures should inspire you....

Friday, June 22, 2012

Be Smart and then Be Smarter

Dear Claire,

Life is funny, in that just when you think you have something figured out, it goes and changes.  Fashion is like that, hair is like that, and bigger things like religion, the environment, our government, your values, the way you feel about yourself, and the way you feel about others, will always seem to be changing.

But don't worry, I figured out what the most intelligent thing you can ever say is.  It's simple, it's easy to remember, and it's only six words: "I changed my mind about that". 

People who change their minds are the most brilliant of all people.  People who change their minds are gathering more information all the time.  These people are listening to the opinions of others and seeing how they might fit with or challenge their own.  They are constantly reading books, magazines, and articles about topics that interest them.  These people are happy and proud to admit that their old way of thinking has changed - it means they're growing.  It means they were smart, but then they became smarter.  

It is silly people who never change their mind. These people will argue something to the death and not take a single thing away from the other side to reflect on.

Thinking is something anyone can do, RE-THINKING is the true challenge.

For example, when I was ten years old, I thought that 'The New Kids on the Block' were going to be the next Beatles.  I changed my mind about that.

When I was fourteen, I thought that we should just print off endless amounts of money so that no one would be poor.  I thought that people living with AIDS should be sequestered so that no one else would catch it.  I thought that we learned history so that we would make the same mistakes.  I believed in the death penalty.  I changed my mind about all of those things.

When I was sixteen, I thought that loyalty was the most important quality a person could have.  I changed my mind about that.

When I was twenty-one, I thought that parents were just too over-protective and worried way too much about their kids.  I changed my mind about that too.

I also thought a lot of things were going to be really easy in life and instead they turned out to be pretty hard. 

In life, don't ever let your mind become stagnant.  Don't be embarrassed of the things you used to think, and don't ever be afraid to admit you were wrong.  Whatever you think today, you might think differently tomorrow - and that's they beauty of being a person.

Love Mom


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

In the Navy

Dear Claire,

When it comes to fashion, there are very few things that will stand the test of time.  A little black dress, fitted white t-shirts, and a khaki trench coat are about the only things you can bank on being in style every single year.

If you want to look gorgeous every season, regardless of the trends, ensure that your wardrobe has a few key pieces in navy blue.

Navy blue is the most undervalued colour!  Wear a navy suit instead of a black one, you'll appear more chic and stand out next to the thousand women all in black. 

The best thing about navy blue is that it is a great colour for accessories.  Hair bands, belts, and scarves all look fabulous in navy.  Navy blue sandals with white capris...hello Jackie Kennedy on a sailboat!  Floor length navy gown with martini in hand...Audrey Hepburn is that you?!  

Navy also flatters any hair colour; it will look great whether your hair is brown, blond, or red.  Navy will even do wonders for your complexion, black often looks harsh and creams may "wash you out"; navy will brighten your face beautifully.

Casual navy blue may be the best of all!  White and blue striped t-shirts for the sailor summer, navy shorts flatter any figure, and what is cuter than a navy cocktail dress with tiny white polka dots?? Nothing.

So join the navy doll, and you'll be a beauty every time.

Love Mom

ps - one blue leather is puke-worthy so skip the leather bags and shoes

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Express Yourself

Dear Claire,

For some odd reason some women can't stand it when another woman is successful.  They call her a bitch, say she's controlling, and will say and do anything to knock her off her pedestal.  Don't be like this!  Be a cheerleader for other women and enjoy their successes as if they are your own.  This way, when it is your turn in the spotlight, other women will be praising you.

Fearless Woman #1:  Madonna

Hello - if there is a woman who is known by only her first name then she is some to aspire to be like! The thing about Madonna is this - you may not like her music, her videos, her clothes or shows, but this is a woman who demands respect. She always knows what she wants and she goes for it, whether she is nineteen years old or fifty.  She pushes boundaries even though it may make some people uncomfortable.  She asks questions that some people don't want to answer.  She's not afraid to discuss religion, politics, or sex.  She is the driver of her dreams and her goals and that is why she's been able to accomplish so much. 

Be your own version of Madonna and the sky's the limit kiddo!

Love Mom

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Dear Claire,

One day you will get to enjoy the fun and excitement of going out to bars, dancing, meeting new people, and making great memories with your friends.  This fun is probably going to involve alcohol.  The best choice I ever made when it comes to alcohol was discovering this fantastic drink: Vodlka and Water with two Limes.

Reasons this is the best "drink":

1. Your hydrating yourself with water as you drink!  Hello fun and goodbye headaches and hangovers!

2. This drink has almost zero calories so you won't be gaining weight or getting dehydrated from all the sugar in typical "girl" drinks.

3. Your lips won't be stained some unattractive colour from drinking too many 'Blue Lagoons'.

4. You can switch to just plain water with limes and no one will even know you've stopped drinking.

Love Mom

Ending a Relationship - Tip #1

Dear Claire,

At some point you'll probably be in a relationship that you no longer want to be in.  Ending a relationship is not an easy thing to do, especially if you still care about the person and don't want to hurt them. Here's a tip to ease this process:

Always "blame" yourself for the relationship ending.  For example, "I can no longer be with you because I want to be on my own/need space/want a change".

As soon as you "blame" the other person, you're giving them a chance to say they'll change.  Even if you're ending the relationship because the guy's a jerk, boring, cheating, or all of the above, still blame it on yourself.  You'll know the real reason for ending the relationship and he won't have the opportunity to try and convince you that he will change.

Nothing is worse than listening to someone desperately explain all the ways they're going to change so that you can stay together.  Avoid this conversation at all costs.

Love Mom

Friday, June 8, 2012

Reading - The Mind's Food

Dear Claire,

In life you will learn that there are very few things you can truly call your own.  Everything is shared, communicated, and spilled out into the world at record pace.  It is during a time like this, that is even more crucial to find something that is yours and yours alone.  Reading can be this escape.

Reading, and a deep love for books, will be one of the greatest gifts you can indulge in.  Through reading you will learn about far away places, places just around the corner, and places that only an imagination can create.  You will learn about people who are like you, people who you want to be, and people you wish to avoid meeting.  You will also meet yourself.  You will find characters you feel so close to and understand so completely that you will wish they were real so that you could ask them questions, seek advice, and share a part of yourself with them.

Reading will teach you to empathize with others, to feel types of pain that you've never actually experienced, and to want to reach out and help those who need it.
Reading will teach you joy, to be so thrilled for a character and to want that same joy for those around you. 
Reading will teach you freedom, it will encourage you to travel, seek adventures, find new people for your life, and to know no limits for what you can accomplish.
Reading will teach you to imagine, to believe that a made-up land is completely real, so real that you can picture yourself there just as clearly as you can picture yourself here.

Growing up and growing older I have loved so many books, here are some of my favourites that I hope you'll read too:

Underground to Canada - Barbara Smucker
Starring Sally J Freeman as Herself - Judy Blume
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing - Judy Blume
Witches - Roald Dahl
The Diary of Anne Frank - Anne Frank
The Bridges of Madison County - Robert James Waller
A Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
Stranger Music - Leonard Cohen
The World According to Garp - John Irving
Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
Harry Potter - J.K. Rawling (I've only read the first one so we can read the rest together!)

There are SOOOO many more - can't wait to read one with you :)

Love Mom

Monday, June 4, 2012

Living On Your Own

Dear Claire,

One of the best things I ever did was live on my own.  I actually lived on my own for three years in three different cities!  During these years I learned a multitude of things about myself.  I learned that you can quite happily live alone and never be lonely.  I learned that it's wonderful to only have to clean up after yourself.  I learned that it's fantastic to have peace and quiet and equally fantastic to have a group of friends over.

Most importantly, I learned that I can do my own grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning.  That I could pay my bills, set up my phone, internet and cable, and move my own furniture around whenever I wanted.  I was completely independent and although I made some mistakes along the way, they were my mistakes, and I learned from them.

I learned, above all else, that if for any reason I had to live on my own again - I could, and that is a great feeling.

So at some point live with strangers (who may eventually become your friends), at some point live with friends (who may eventually become strangers), and at some on your own because you will always be you.

Love Mom