Monthly Archives: July 2011

I Can Move My Own Stove…To Clean Behind It

A friend of mine asked me “T, what ARE you looking for in a guy?”. I thought about it – about the things I want and don’t want and I realized that it’s a lot of the same things that my girlfriends are also looking for. So this poem is dedicated to us, ‘Renascence’ women (as I was described by a fine gentleman last night), who CAN do it on our own, who ARE doing it on our own, and are shaking up the traditional ‘role assignments’ of men and women but really, we are seeking a MAN.

T

***

To the next man who approaches me,

There are a few things I hope you see.

No, this list is not all-inclusive,

But please don’t lose it.

*

I can move my own stove,

in order to clean behind it.

So I don’t need muscles or a pretty boy

To move furniture or carry groceries.

I have a job and my own place,

So I don’t need your money and I won’t invade your space.

But know that I am not a bank or a hotel,

Please call your boy if things aren’t swell.

I have degrees and I love to read,

I have a brain and I am not afraid to speak.

I don’t need a man with a PhD,

but he needs to stimulate my intellect more than the p…..

I can cook well and keep the house clean,

I do not mind doing laundry,

Or cooking things you like which I don’t even eat,

But never forget that I am NOT your personal maid or chef!

I’ll cut everything off quickly if my standards are not met.

*

Oh, you want to know what my standards are now?

They’re pretty basic and simple, I think –

Be honest, stay real and respect me –

That is my standard for us to just exchange words.

If we’re both lucky enough to want to try more,

My standard for that is really simple actually –

Our vibe will determine it all!

*

The last point I need to make,

Is actually quite delicate –

I AM A WOMAN.

My body, my mind, my soul, my spirit are all feminine.

My name is not ‘mama’, ‘baby’, ‘sexy’,

unless you ACTUALLY know me.

And even then, remember – I have a name,

and I’d appreciate it if you used it to address me.

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S.E.X.

Please note this blog entry is for the mature and grown.

I wanted to discuss sex in the context of the importance it plays in relationships but also draw on some of the differences in the experience of sex for men and women. I am a straight woman so I can only write about heterosexual sex, although I do think that some of this applies to gay and lesbian sex as well. Also, I am writing this with the knowledge that my mom reads my blog, and that once she reads this one, I will be receiving a phone call from her much sooner than I normally would in our weekly discussions of my writing… What I’m saying is: I think this discussion IS important.

It has been my observation that there is a certain stigma attached to the word sex in our society. Not in the display of sex, as we are bombarded with it visually in almost every source of media, entertainment, fashion, internet and advertisement, but simply the word itself when it comes to its discussion in a public forum. Yes I understand that people talk about sex but seldom do people really talk about sex.

Let’s face it – sex is just as important to women as it is to men. Yes we view, interpret, experience and approach sex somewhat differently but that physical stimulation and connection with another person is very important to, and highly valued by, both sexes. From the many private yet interesting and informative conversations I’ve had with my male and female friends about the topic, there are some key misunderstandings/misinterpretations AND important commonalities I’ve identified.

S.E.X. is NOT just intercourse:

Perhaps our views of sex change with each generation, but I can definitely say with a great amount certainty that the most important part of sex, for most men but especially for women, is NOT intercourse. It really is everything which stimulates the body and the mind in a sexual and sensual way. Often, our upbringing directs how we should and do view sex, however I personally believe in using experience in our individual interpretations and allowing ourselves to explore…. And really how would anyone know what you do privately?

S.E.X. on the first date or shortly after establishing a connection:

According to many of my male friends, this usually tells them that the girl is ‘easy’ which some men interpret in a variety of ways, like: “She’ll ‘give it up’ anytime I want ‘it’.”, “I don’t have to do much to ‘get some’.”, “If she ‘gave it up’ so easy to me, she probably does with everyone.”, “Not the girl I’d date or be in a relationship with.”, “New ‘booty call’!”, “She doesn’t respect herself.”…..

According to my female friends (and my opinion is included in this) how soon a woman (notice no mention of “girl”!) engages in sex with a man (notice no mention of “boy”!) after meeting him has nothing do with ‘being easy’ and everything to do with an established connection. That means that most of the time, women go with what feels right to them and they’re not on a timeline of any sort. If a woman feels a connection with a guy on the first date and decides to go there with him, it is actually a sign of her knowing what she wants and likes. A woman (again notice no mention of “girl”) does NOT have sex with a man because of his social status, financial stability, the kind of car he drives, etc. It is all based on how they feel with that man (again notice no mention of “boy”) and if they are ‘into’ the connection established. (Gentle reminder that this is a discussion on sex, not relationships.) Hence self-respect, willingness of a woman to ‘give it up’, what the woman is looking to give or what she is looking for, play no role in her decision to (or when to) engage in sex with a man.

The experience of S.E.X.:

It is my understanding that the experience of sex for men is based mainly on physical and visual stimulation. Some may say that this is common knowledge but I’d like to leave some room for individuality. Even with that being said, I stand by the word “mainly” in the first sentence.

The experience of sex for women however is primarily emotional. I am not saying that women have sex only with men who they have some sort of an emotional attachment to, nor am I saying that physical and visual stimulation is not a big part of her experience of sex. What I am trying to point out however is that a satisfying and pleasurable sexual encounter, for a woman, lies in what she feels internally – about herself, how a man makes her feel, the connection they have formed, how they ‘vibe’ – just as much as what she feels physically. As a result, I’d like to highlight that sex is a huge investment for women simply because it goes far beyond the physical interaction.

The approach to S.E.X.:

Although this ties to the above discussion on the experience of sex, I do think it is worth discussing the approach to it as well.

Due to the differences in the experience of sex between men and women, during the process of initiation of sex, certain things may be more favored by one but not the other, hence there needs to be a balance between say romantic vs provocative approaches to sex. (Of course, this is all very individual and I am not trying to take away from that by using generalized or stereotypical statements as examples.)

On the other hand, through the discussions with my friends and personal experiences, I’ve learned that there are certain things that are greatly appreciated by men and women in their sexual partner’s approach to sex. I will only list them: passion, spontaneity, variety, newness, unexpected, fun, organic.

The importance of S.E.X. in a relationship:

I have a personal belief that as much as two people have to be ‘in tune’  on an intelectual, mindset, energy, lifestyle, common interest, religious views, emotional, and other connecting levels, they also have to be sexually ‘in tune’  for a successful and long-lasting relationship. I’ve seen this work both ways – relationships which shouldn’t continue, do so as a result of two people being ‘in tune’ with each other sexually, and I’ve also seen relationships end, as a result of two people not being ‘in tune’ with each other sexually. The thing is, love doesn’t make a relationship but sex, depending on how it’s experienced, can either ‘make it or break it’….

On a more positive note, I’ve also learned that a great sexual connection in a great relationship can enhance and elevate it to a level which most love stories told and written, and romantic movies made, attempt to bring to life.

Hope you’re enjoying great S.E.X. but keeping it conscious and safe!

T


One fall day….

…in October of 2010, my friends and I went to the Toronto Zoo. I was very excited – it was my first visit to the zoo here and I had wanted to go for a long time. The weather was lovely that day – warm, sunny and dry. We had a great time walking around, seeing different animals and learning something new! We even went out for sushi after the zoo! 😀

My lovely friends drove me home after our sushi dinner. (I live downtown and my friends a little bit east of there. My neighborhood is fairly safe and quiet and, despite the fact that just a block from my building is an area which provides a hangout spot for some interesting characters, I really do love living here.) En route, I asked to be dropped off a few blocks away so that they avoid the construction madness close to my building which was interfering with traffic. I was also in the mood for a little stroll after sushi. As we approached the traffic light at the intersection where I was to exit, it turned red. After expressing my gratitude for the day and the ride home I got out of the car, and realized I was also grateful for the warm sun rays that were still reaching me despite summer being long gone. In reflection of that moment, I would use the word ‘content’ to describe it.

I may have walked no more than a few minutes when I saw a young man walking in my direction. He was quite slim, dressed urban but not flashy, a bit shorter than me and he looked a little lost. Although I wasn’t expecting it, I wasn’t surprised when he stopped me. I thought he might ask me for directions to wherever he was going but instead he said, “Excuse me, I just got released from jail, I’m really hungry and I don’t have any money. I was wondering if you would be able to buy me something to eat. I would pay you back when I can.”

I had to take a moment to reflect on what he said and on what he was asking of me. A young man, who was just released from jail, was asking me to buy him a meal. If there was ever a reason for a woman to be scared of being mugged or to be skeptical of communicating with a stranger, I was facing it. And yet there was something in his eyes – a pain intermixed with a lack of ego and a sense of truth and realness – which, without any hesitation, had me reply something along the lines of: “You won’t pay me back as I probably won’t ever see you again, but what do you want to eat?”

He suggested McDonalds and I immediately said “Hell no!” in my head – I have never eaten nor will I ever feed someone processed foods with no nutritional value. Instead I said that it was kind of far and out of my way but that there was a Tim Horton’s still open which was closer. (I admit I don’t eat food from Tim Horton’s either but I figured he could get something somewhat wholesome and unprocessed. I also thought that it would be at least a little bit better than the food he was fed in jail.) Although hesitant, with great humbleness he agreed to my proposal.

To my best recollection, this was our conversation as we walked side-by-side to our destination. Please note that I shortened it for the sake of space and that for me it felt like I was a Big Sister to a kid and this was us hanging out.

ME: How old are you?

BOY: 18 (I think that’s what he said)

ME: Why were you in jail?

BOY: This guy messed with my sister and I went and took care of it. (He said this in that it’s-my-responsibility-to-protect-my-sister tone.)

ME: How long were you in jail?

BOY: Nine months. (Not a happy reply. No sense of pride.)

ME: And do you think that what you did was worth going to jail for?

BOY: It wasn’t but it was what I thought was right. (Said with head down.)

ME: Remember that the energy you put out is the energy you’ll get back. Pause. Where are you going to go now?

BOY: I was told that there was a shelter around here. I am going to spend the night there and then go to the labor office first thing tomorrow morning and register for any work I can get. (A glimmer of hope and excitement in his voice.)

ME: Do you have any family?

BOY: I do but they don’t live around here. (I found out that his sister was in Mississauga.)

ME: Why don’t you go and stay with them?

BOY: Well I would go stay with my dad but he lives in Jamaica. (There was a sense of longing and sadness in his voice.)

ME: What about your mom?

BOY: She has her own life – a new boyfriend now and other kids and I don’t feel welcome there. (Said with an undertone of anger and acceptance.)

ME: Did you finish high school? Do you have plans of going somewhere after that?

BOY: I have a few more courses to take but I do want to go to college or university. (A glimmer of hope.)

ME: Good. You need to do that.

We walked into the TH’s and stood in line to place his order. I told him to order anything he wants and I was prepared to spend money on a few meals. After all he was a hungry and straight out of jail. To my surprise he looked at the cashier, who had already given us a few confused glances, and said “Could I please have a donut and a water?” As my heart was breaking after hearing those words I turned to him and said “No. Order FOOD. Whatever you want – sandwich, soup, chili, anything. You need to eat a meal.” He looked at me with these eyes which were now filled with disbelief and gratefulness and asked “Are you sure?” I confirmed and he expressed a sincere thank you.

The cashier suggested a combo or something as I stood there feeling completely humbled by this young man. From the interaction we had up to that point I realized that before me stood a soul in pain, who lacked parental guidance but knew right from wrong and displayed greatness which I hoped he would understand as he grows, lives and matures. Strangely (or not?) I felt socially responsible to encourage and support his growth journey.

I paid for his order and the cashier gave me a confused look. As he disappeared to get the food I turned to the boy and without any thought or rehearsal of it in my head said: “Go back to school and finish it. Educate yourself to enable yourself to do more. You can do it. And don’t forget that the energy you put out is the energy you will get back, so keep it positive. Good luck tonight and on your job search tomorrow.”

With the smallest of smiles and eyes which were filled with intense emotion he confidently said “I will go back to school and I will do more. Thank you very much for this. One day I will pay you back.”

I’m pretty sure I said “Pay it forward” as I rushed out before tears started falling down my face.

I felt gratitude and humbleness for a few different reasons. The first was for the fact that I trusted my gut instinct when I met the boy and that it was right. The second was for the fact that I was able to help a stranger and pay forward what many people have done for me and my family over the years, in many different ways. The third was for the fact that he chose me to be a little rainbow in his cloud for even a few minutes…

I remember walking into my home and thinking how amazing it is that I have a roof over my head, parents who were still married to each other and who I could reach out to anytime if need be. I also had food in my belly and I was living my life. I was enjoying the fruits of my labor – eight years of post-secondary education which resulted in a great job that enabled me to have a place I call my home and allowed me to not only afford the basic necessities of life, but also to experience more – different restaurants, concerts, travels….all the things I love which feed my soul.

I think about him sometimes. I hope that he is well and happy. Someday, hopefully, he will know that unexpectedly yet incredibly, he humbled and moved a woman who was on her own growth journey at the time, that one fall day in October of 2010.

T

Note: I have shared this experience with only a handful of people thus far. Writing about it took me right back to that day and it humbled me all over again. I hope that the story you just read leaves you with nothing less of appreciation for what you have and for what you are able to do in helping others…even if for a moment.


The Power of Words

I suppose this is my tribute, as well as a reminder, to all teachers – as we grow we often remember your words. I happen to be blessed with some beautiful encouragement and inspiration.*

*****

Mrs Dostanic, my home room teacher in Bosnia (grade 1 through 4) once told my parents during a parent-teacher interview, “Tamara is like a cat. No matter what height she jumps from, she’ll always land on her feet.” I’ve carried her words with me my entire life and I remember them every time fear shows up.

I dug out my old yearbooks and read through some of the comments people signed. (It was lots of fun – many laughs!) I chose to share some of the comments written by my teachers because many of them motivated me to follow through with whatever I was doing, time and time again.

I hope that every teacher knows that they are some of our most important rainbows.

T

* Words are very powerful. You never know who is listening to what you’re saying or who is reading what you’re writing, just know that your words will be heard or read by someone. 

*****

If you have any inspiring words someone once wrote or said to you, please share! I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

(Click on the image to make it bigger)

Mrs Matty was my Gr 8 home room teacher. I felt like she always looked out for me.

In Gr 8 I joined the Karaoke club and Mr West was the teacher advisor. I still sing happily...just off key!

Mrs Rutkowska was my Gr 9 French teacher. Unfortunately, I did not continue learning French...but I do think I've kept a good energy flow.

Mr Steponas was my geography teacher. I remember he had a strong sense of awareness of worldly events and people around him. I definitely made this one of my standards.

Mr Johnson, my chemistry teacher, was the toughest, grumpy-est and feared by all students...well, except for me. I will always ♥ him and remember him for being an original.

By Mrs Hume, the school librarian. I remember shedding tears when I read this. I carry these words with me and remember them often...


Amazing. Incredible. Soulfood.

I would describe my life as interesting. Every day brings something new – a lesson, a memory, a different point of view, a reflection – and I welcome it all with much gratitude. June 28th, 2011 was no exception…

My thoughts upon waking: Tonight is the Sade concert! Sade tours once a decade and her music has helped me through some rough times. AND I love music and I love going to concerts! I bought the tickets last October, before I went to India, for this much anticipated event. I’m going with my friend D. who loves Sade as well, and I’m very excited! I have my outfit together – off-the-shoulder black cocktail dress paired with my Michael Kors heels. I have a busy day ahead of me – go to work, hit the gym, then get ready for the concert! Whoohoo! I am excited although I didn’t sleep very well last night. My neck hurts and I see that I have messages to check on my phone.

I got ready for work, boiled a few eggs and left my house around 7am. I checked the messages on my phone as I walked to the elevator. One was from my aunt who currently resides in Bosnia, informing me that my grandfather had ended his short battle with colon cancer last night. I phoned my youngest aunt while walking to work. We spoke about her, my dad’s and their oldest sister’s departure later that evening for my grandfather’s funeral in Bosnia. We also discussed the importance of living life and not allowing certain things to stress us out. We had a similar discussion last week as one of her friends (whom I also knew) passed away suddenly, while at work, at the age of 50. The conversation ended with us agreeing that we need to live life to the fullest and do what makes us happy. When I got to work I emailed my dad after failing to reach him on the phone.

As the day went on I thought if it was appropriate it was for me to go to a concert of one of my favourite artists knowing that my grandfather passed away the night before. I talked to my friends, I talked to my mom, I even had conversations about it with people on Facebook and Twitter, and it was unanimous – I was to go to the concert and enjoy it.

My friend D. and I met up at the Air Canada Centre, and as her cab took her to the wrong entrance, we ended up walking in after John Legend was already on stage.  Our seats were in section Floor Left, row 13, seats 3 and 4.*** As we were ushered to our seats, sitting directly behind me in row 14 was my friend M! I hadn’t seen her in a VERY long time (her and I worked at a clothing store for some time, years ago but we keep bumping into each other randomly) and it was really lovely being around another person (who I knew!) who has a great energy. (I might not have mentioned but D. is really cool peeps!) We thoroughly enjoyed John Legend’s**** performance and I caught up with both M. and D. before Sade stepped on stage.

As you will see from the videos I took (links posted below), Sade’s concert was absolutely amazing…incredible…pure soulfood. I loved every second. It is so refreshing to experience an artist perform live and instead of a huge stage production (i.e. dancers, crazy  special effects, etc), the use of lighting and simple video projections which complimented the music, enhanced the entire concert experience. It is hard to describe what I mean, but I do think you’ll be able to appreciate this from the videos.

After the show was over, before I even left my seat, someone tapped my shoulder. I turned my head and met the gaze of a man who said: “I came all the way from Nova Scotia to watch the concert and my camera broke. I noticed that you were taking a lot of pictures and I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind emailing them to me.” Of course I said yes, and he handed me a piece of paper (he was well prepared!) with his email address written on it. I carefully put it in my clutch and bid him goodnight.

D. and I said goodbye to M and off we went in hunt of a taxi. Our taxi hunt was a challenge (imagine the number of people who just attended a sold-out concert and were also trying to hire one) so we decided to walk a little ways in our search. Five minutes later, a lady approached me and said “Excuse me, but were you sitting in row 13?”. I confirmed and she said: “I was watching the pictures and videos you were taking with your camera and you must share them! Upload them on YouTube or something!”. I told her that I plan on doing just that and I offered to email her the links once I’ve done so. She gave me her card, thanked me and we bid each other good night.

After getting home, I was filled with so many different emotions but sadness wasn’t one of them. Yes my grandfather was gone but I work in healthcare and I know what cancer means – great pain. Although death is never a happy thought, I was not sad as I knew that he was no longer suffering or in pain. People grieve in different ways and mine was a celebration. A celebration of life. In addition to all of that, I was also able to give to complete strangers. I felt incredibly grateful to have life and to be living. And this could be my own way of making myself feel better, but I think that my grandfather would not have been upset in how I celebrated his life…

As I promised to the two strangers who approached me, I’ve uploaded the videos I obtained at the concert and I’ve made a slideshow of some of the pictures as well. You’ll have to excuse my shaky camera work – I did my best! I hope you enjoy my compilation and I hope that you’re living your life.

T

***The October morning of last year that the Sade concert tickets went on sale, I had to be at the Indian consulate to apply for tourist visa for my then upcoming trip to India, and D. had to be on the road, so neither one of us would be near a computer. Thankfully I have great friends! My friend E. booked the tickets for us online and got up early that Saturday morning to do so! E. is often one of my rainbows in the clouds and I’m thankful for him and his friendship always. 

****I was fortunate enough to have attended John Legend’s concert at Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto in 2008. His live performances are incredible.

Sade in Toronto, Parts 1, 2 &3

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WxvrFmjtMU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=As7KopRduO8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEDM_KzJeWM

Slideshow of the pictures taken at the concert – unfortunately some of the picture quality was lost in compiling the video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIcVUHlV1eA


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