Clothing Swap Parties

girl with clothes

Is your closet busting out with clothes you don’t wear?  They don’t fit, they’ve gone out of style or you really shouldn’t have bought them in the first place?  Does it seem a shame to just let them hang there taking up valuable closet space?

Do you need a good excuse to get out of the house in the evening?  Are you starving for some adult conversation, preferably with some like-minded ladies?  Would it help if there was wine and cookies?

I can solve both of your problem in three words.

Clothing Swap Party.

About four years ago my friend Randi invited me to my first party.  I had no idea what to expect.  My instructions included cleaning out my closet and bringing any and all clothes that I no longer wear.  Any clothes left at the end of the party would be donated to charity.  Bring a beverage and a snack to share.

Okay.  I’m in.

Once everybody arrives at the party you lay out the clothes that you have brought in piles.  We do tops in the den.  Pants, skirts and dresses in the living room.  When it’s all set Randi says go and it’s up to you to find your treasure.  It’s shopping really.  Except whatever you choose is free.  Everybody has there own shopping style.  Some of us hang back and check out what others are looking at.  Some dive right in and are trying stuff on before you know what’s happening.  Sometimes you have to be quick though or you might get caught in a challenge.

A challenge occurs when two people want the same piece.  Each party must try on the desired item and the rest of us get to decide who gets it.  I know what you’re thinking.  That’s not fair…or very nice.  So far no punches have been thrown and no friendships lost over a challenge.  We are all respectful and kind.  Of course, if something you try on just isn’t right we don’t let you take it home.  We do, after all, have to see you on the schoolyard at pick up the next day.

piles of clothes

Conversation is always interesting at these events.  Put a dozen or so moms in a room, drinking wine and eating chocolate and just about any topic is fair game.

“At least twice a night”

“What? Sex?”

“God no.  The number of times my daughter gets out of bed every night”

“That shirt would be like boob floss on me”

“At least you have boobs to floss”

“Who brought fruit?  Oh no wait, there’s chocolate on there too.  Never mind”

I personally have picked up some amazing pieces over the years.  In fact I wore a pair of American Eagle Bermuda shorts today that got at a party two years ago that I love.  Last fall I picked up a black padded vest (on a challenge) that is now a staple in my winter wardrobe.  I even scored some great work shirts one time without even going to the party.  It helps to have friends who know what you like.  I’ve gotten jeans, boots, workout gear, hats and some fabulous shirts.

There are so many great reasons to start having or attending clothing swap parties.  There’s the social aspect.  It’s a night out with good friends a lots of laughs.  There’s the financial gain.  Free clothes.  Need I say more.  And lastly there’s the knowledge that whatever isn’t taken is going to charity.  It’s what my daughter would call a win win win. I would call it one of The Best Things in Life.

Advertisements

What Does it Take to Motivate People?

trail 1

If you could eat and drink and not exercise, yet still stay healthy….would you?  “Umm ya.”  I’m guessing is what most of you are saying. Well you can’t, so you need to find some form of exercise that works for you and that you will stick with.

For the past eight or nine weeks I have been going to a trail based boot camp run by my friend Donna.  Just for the record, I do not do the 6:00 am class.  I drag my sorry ass to the 9:30 am class.  So what motivates people to get out of bed and go to a workout, outdoors, occasionally in the rain?  Maybe the first time would be easy, but what would bring people back week after week?

I’ve spent 33 hours in a van with Donna.  Twice.  And I would be happy to do it again.  Both times she has passed a sweaty slap bracelet on to me with a smile and encouraging words. She has also told me to “suck it up bitch” when I’ve whined about running up a hill.  She’s one of only a few people who know that if I put my hand up while I’m running it means don’t talk to me I’m not having fun right now.  It’s called giving them “the hand”.  We can laugh about it now.

Fitness has always been a part of Donna s life and in high school and university she joined any team she could find.

“I found strength in belonging to a team and my self-esteem was created through my success in sport.”

100 steps of death

That feeling of inclusion and teamwork is evident in the way she runs her boot camp. Yes we are all moms, but we are all at different fitness levels, some have injuries and some are brand new moms with a totally different set of needs.  “She is always on top of alternative exercises for those with injuries – and keeps the class moving a good pace!” One bootcamper commented.  Her energy and enthusiasm keeps you going and before you know it the hour is over and your are done your workout.  Sometimes you don’t even realize how hard you have worked until the next day.

Donna originally wanted to study marine biology and has a BSc in Biology from the University if Windsor.  But living in Windsor, next to the Detroit River, didn’t do much to inspire that career. In 1998 she moved out West and entered the Exercise Science program at Langara College with the end goal being a kinesiology degree at SFU.  But, as often happens, life changed course and she found herself working as Head Brace Fitter at Paris Orthotics.  For the next nine years, after obtaining a diploma in Prosthetics and Orthotics from BCIT, she would work in the orthotics industry.  In 2006 she became a mom and focused on raising two active boys.  With more time on her hands now that her boys are older she has started a series of trail based boot camps.

“I find group training to be a lot like belonging to a team.  You can lean on members to help you stay motivated to continue your fitness journey.  There will always be someone in the group that helps challenge other members and I myself, find motivation through these members as well.”

cates bootcamp

We live in an area with an abundance of great trails and scenery and Donna has developed a program that has us sweating up and down those trails using rocks, trees and strategically placed water jugs full of water.  We have done plank with owls swooping over our heads.  We have conquered the 100 steps of death.  We have crawled like crabs in the sands of Cates Park.  We have challenged Old Buck and lived to tell about it.  We have laughed and we have commiserated over sleepless nights and school yard drama.  And we have sweat.   A lot.

“We laugh and have fun, I see progress in many and I love to show people that finding a place and time to exercise can be easy!”

With three time options on three different days Donna’s sessions accommodate lots of moms. Not everybody wants to go to a gym or run by themselves so this is a great option.  “No matter what you’re ability or fitness level, Donna makes sure everyone is getting what they need!”  She is a strong believer that staying fit and exercising is just as much for your mental health as it is for your physical health.  Her approach is educational and she is constantly introducing new exercises to challenge us.

“We love Donna – she rocks…even if she’s making us carry them up hills…LOL!!!”

So back to my original question.  What would motivate people to get out of bed and workout outside?  Donna would.

Educational, inclusive, naturally gifted, motivational.  Just some of the words fellow boot campers have used to describe our fearless leader.  “It also never rains during Donna’s boot camp…must be her super natural powers! LOL

The Best Thing in Life would be having Donna’s boot camp available to everyone!

Noah’s Ark

noahs-ark

I think that Noah had it right when he marched those animals on to the ark two by two.  And not just for the obvious reasons.

Some animals like turtle doves, swans and wolves hook up for life.

Given the numbers, I’m sure there were some tense moments on the ark.  Even the best of partners, given extended time in close quarters, will start to rattle each other’s cages.  Good thing it was a relatively large boat.  But how would they have felt if they had made the trip solo?  Lonely, unsatisfied and a bit of a third wheel as all the other animals would be with their mates.  Sure it would be fun for a while.  Footloose and fancy free on a trip at sea.  But soon they may have found themselves wanting some company.  Maybe just somebody to sit and share some hay with.

Some animals like dolphins and Bonobo monkeys only come together occasionally.

Bonobo monkeys, for example, are amongst a handful of animals (including humans) that have sex recreationally and for social purposes.  I have this image of a large hairy monkey coming onto the ark on his own and siding up to the bar trying to buy the llama a drink.  Hey, we don’t know maybe the ark had a bar. We just don’t know.  Anyway,  I would imagine the monkey would have found it pretty hard to find somebody he was compatible with on that wet journey.  Not to mention that pretty much everybody already had a buddy to buy them a drink.  Although, being that type of monkey, maybe he was okay with it.  Some are.

I have realized this week that I am not like that monkey.

I am a fairly strong independent women and I am used to being on my own a fair bit, but I need a partner and I’m not afraid to admit it.  My husband has been working on a huge event and I am immensely proud of him but it has meant that he has been away much more than he has been home in the last six months.  It’s not just that I miss him.  It’s more than that.  This last while I have felt restless and discombobulated. Like something just wasn’t quite right.

I would have been happy to go on Noah’s little cruise so long as I had a partner.  I would not want to go through life as a solo traveler.  I like having somebody to laugh with, argue with and cuddle with.  I like knowing that I don’t have to make decisions on my own.  I am happy that I have somebody to share my hay with.  Yes, both kinds of hay.

Is it human nature? Or are some people more like the monkey than the turtle doves?  Which are you?

TBT – The Godmother

This is my godmother.  Her name was Faith Mahwinney and she was a lovely sweet woman. I remember her being like a little bird and smelling like roses.  She loved a good giggle and always wore heels.

When my parents first came to Canada in the mid-fifties they were introduce to the Mahwinneys and the older couple basically adopted them.  I can only imagine how hard it must have been to be newly married and living in a new country with no family of your own.  It must have been reassuring to have a nice couple to help them out and act as surrogate parents.

baptism

When I was born my parents chose Faith as one of my godparents.  Traditionally three godparents were chosen but I think that with a lack of close family they decide two was enough.  That is her holding me on the day I was baptized.  I still have the little gown I wore packed away in tissue…..somewhere.

Do people still have godparents?  I feel like it is a bit of a dying tradition.  Traditionally godparents are appointed by parents to provide spiritual guidance for their godchildren.  They are present when the child is baptized and make a promise of renunciation, faith and obedience in the child’s name.  In the past it was required that godparents be baptized themselves but the Anglican Church has waived that requirement in recent years.  Frankly I’m not even sure my godparents went to church at all.

Since we only went to church on the big days. You know.  Christmas , Easter and Thanksgiving.  It was a bit more about tradition than wanting us to have somebody teach us about God, but really, it’s a lovely tradition.

Generally speaking godparents are chosen for their interest and ability to nurture the Christian life and faith of the child/adult whom they sponsor.  I can’t say that I ever discussed God with either do  so in that respect she may have not lived up to the bargain.  But in other ways she knocked it out of the park.

Every Christmas we would all get dressed up and go to the Mahwinneys house on Marine Drive for tea.  The grown ups would sit in the living room and have tea and we kids would hang out in the dining room with our own tray of goodies and lemonade.  She made the most amazing cookies and treats and we each had our favorite.  My favorite was the coconut strawberries.  I have no idea what was in them other than coconut and sugar but they were shaped into little red strawberries and holy crap they were good.  My brothers favorite was very thinly sliced home-made brown bread slathered in butter and my sister loved the butter tarts.

After her husband passed away Faith moved into an apartment.  I would go and visit her on my own then as I was older.  She was getting old and frail and didn’t hear well but she still wore heals and smelt like roses.  She would putter around that apartment overlooking Ambleside making me tea and chatting about the people she had met in her new building.  She would always walk me down to the elevator when I left and remind everyone that we saw that I was her goddaughter.

faith

I was twenty-seven when she passed away.  I helped to spread her ashes over the rose garden outside her church.  She may not have guided me spiritually but she taught me a lot by always being polite and ladylike.  Traditions can take many forms and that makes them one of the Best Things in Life.

Barbed Wire and Untied Shoe Laces

barbed wire

Over a year ago I left my job for a number of great reasons.  You can read about them here.  It’s been an amazing fourteen months but every once in a while I find myself re-reading that original blog post.  What is my thing?  And why is it so damn hard for me to find it?  I feel as if I’ve come to a point where I am no longer making progress on my own.  If I want to move forward I need a new approach.

So I went to see a friend yesterday.  Okay that’s not entirely true.  I went to see my therapist.  Yes, you heard me right.  I went to see my therapist.  Who, over the past ten years, has become a “friend”.  So, partly true.  She has helped me through way worse stuff than this over the years and always seems to zero in on exactly what is tripping me up.

I did, for a moment, think twice about writing this post. That perhaps it was too personal.  That it would leave me a bit too open and exposed.  But then I thought, “Hell, there must be other women in my position?”  I can’t be the only fifty something mom trying to figure out where she fits into this world.  (Or maybe I am)  Also, I’m not one to hide under a rock.  So here I am, baring my sole to you as I did to her.

A few weeks ago I went on a girls weekend.

A weekend away with four friends that I have known for well over ten years.  All with kids and all successful in interesting careers.  An accountant, an engineer, a speech pathologist and a marketing consultant.  Over the course of the weekend I began to feel……directionless.  Don’t get me wrong, I can hold my own with this crowd but I just felt like I could be doing more with my life.  As they were.  That I had more to offer than yoga and renovating the bathroom.

The week after that trip I had a very vivid dream.

I was in an art class at a university and the professor had asked us to start work on a project. The project was to represent our life.  He wanted us to make some notes in point form (sometimes my dreams are very precise).  As I worked away on my notes the teacher walked around the class and made comments on what we had done so far.  As he leaned over my shoulder he grunted and said “No, you can’t do that. It’s too boring.”  But it represents my life, I said.  “I know.  It’s boring.  Make it better”.  He said.  What the hell?

So I took these events and laid them out to my “friend” and asked her to help me.  She walked me though some exercises and made some observations and suggestions.  Within minutes she had figured out what she thought was holding me back.  I told you she was good.

And here is what I walked away with……..

We go through life thinking we have handled things from our past. Things that we think are behind us and dealt with.  Sometime they are.  Sometime they aren’t.  Sometime they are lurking in the shadows with a roll of barbed wire, hell-bent on keeping us from being free.  Sometime we think things are unimportant and dismiss them as irrelevant.  Like an untied shoe lace that will eventually trip you up.

I have some work to do in the next few weeks but I am confident that I can, with my “friends” help, figure out what my thing is.  This week the Best Thing in Life is knowing when to ask for help and having a resource to go to for that help.

untied shoe laces