DREAMIN’ OF NEON DREAMS

Events/Shows, Uncategorized
ME WITH NEON DREAMS

This post is dedicated to Neon Dreams and those who dare to dream.

I only discovered Neon Dreams (www.neondreams.ca) a day before Tyler Shaw’s concert at Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts, when I got the concert reminder notice and saw they were one of the opening acts. Craig Stickland was the other opening act. As most people would probably do these days, I did a quick Google and started to dance, clap and snap my fingers the moment I listened to their song, About You. Take a listen below.

What’s bonus? They are Canadian!

I am like a big kid at these concerts and LOVED the opportunity to meet all the artists (Neon Dreams, Craig Stickland and Tyler Shaw). My daughter knows I am a suck and teases me about it. This morning, she was like…Adrian…haha!

It was really great chatting with Frank and Adrian about their musical inspiration; and learning what a kick-drum is lol!

Neon Dreams

Neon Dreams is made up of Frank Kadillac (singer and Eukele player) and Adrian Morris (drummer, guitarist, etc.). There is just something really special about this duo. Watching them on stage was almost a surreal experience. I found it difficult to pinpoint exactly what it was that made me feel the way I do. So, I kept thinking about it…

This is day 3 after the concert and I am still trying to figure it out. I guess it’s a vibe…

But here’s what I did come up with:

  1. Their music is fresh and has an upbeat vibe. What a difference to listen to ‘happy’ music instead of sad love songs.
  2. Frank is totally charismatic and approachable. His smile is heart-melting 🙂
  3. On stage Frank was totally commanding the crowd – we could all feel the energy in the audience. Everyone was having a good time.
  4. In terms of arrangements, the drums were close to the stage (versus in the back) – which really showcased Adrian.
  5. I have always been a huge fan of the sound of drums. Adrian is the best and coolest drummer I ever met. He was just part of the drums. I never heard the array of drum sounds (I didn’t know drums make those sounds) that he played, so it blew me away. He was just bouncing around and crossing his arms to bang the cymbals on the opposite side with amazing power and ease. Adrian makes it look so easy – just for fun I tried to cross my arms the same way, but they are so stiff! What’s a bit embarrassing, he probably noticed me staring at him, because he pointed out that I was in the front row lol!

Here are 2 of my other fav songs so far:

In this thing called life, we never know who or what might inspire us – but it’s important to have an open mind and just go where the wind takes us. Thanks Neon Dreams for giving my brain some stimulating new tunes. Cheers!

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9/11

Uncategorized
9/11

Depression

Every year around this time I get really depressed. Not just because I will be a year older on September 11th, but I am reminded that humanity has manifested itself into a complete monster. There are daily reminders as well that our world is in chaos and trouble (Amazon rain forest fire, wars between individuals and countries, death and torture of billions of animals for our food, and on a micro-level: individuals bullying others – need I go on?).

The Attack

The 9/11 attack took place in 2001 in New York City, USA. I remember the day so clearly, because it was my second day at work in a new city and my birthday. One of my colleagues had a portable radio on and she called everyone over when the news came in. It was so unreal to hear that the terrorist planes crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center – killing about 3,000 people.

september 11 attack
Photo credit: http://www.businessinsider.com (See link below)

https://www.businessinsider.com/haunting-photos-from-september-11th-attacks-2016-9

A lesson learned?

There is no doubt that humans are geniuses (as evidenced by everything they have managed to create: from inventing the telephone, cars, airplanes, modern science fighting disease and resuscitating the dead and so on) – yet, there is the evil side – greed, corruption, jealousy, hate…

As much as I would like to believe that humanity is fundamentally good and can change – looking at current world events such as the burning of the Amazon rain forest and mass destruction of earth’s inhabitants and the earth- I am not optimistic at all.

But I am just one person…

While you might think that one person cannot effect change – it is not true. There is a ripple-effect that can create positive changes. We are all part of the collective whole.

In this thing called life, we all need to do our part to preserve the earth for future generations. We need to be kind to each other. We need to recognize that animals are here with us and not for us. We need to stop consuming material goods that create the landfill and drain the earth’s resources.

I leave you with just one image: picture all the digging below the surface of the earth (gold, metal, minerals, etc.). Eventually, the top will cave in…

How to break our emotional tie to food

Fitness and health, Life, Uncategorized
photo of freshii juice bottles
Freshii cold-pressed juices
Part of the 3/5-day cleanse
(you can buy at Freshii, but some Walmarts may carry them too)

Breaking an emotional tie to food, is NOT a ribbon-cutting event!

For anyone who is an ’emotional’ eater (or a closet eater) like myself – you will totally get this post. Think – munching down a whole bag of chips and/or box of cookies in just one sitting…all without much thought. For myself personally, I eat when I feel stressed or bored.

The guilt that follows is incredible. Yet, it’s a vicious cycle. You feel stressed, inhale the snacks, say you won’t do that again and guess what? YUP…it starts all over again. Not only is your mind affected – but your body as well. Most normal people gain weight when they eat over-processed junk food.

So, now the cycle becomes more complicated very quickly:

  • You eat junk.
  • You gain weight.
  • You feel like crap.
  • You eat some more because you feel like crap.

Well, breaking our emotional tie to food and re-programming our brain is REALLY hard. Probably one of the hardest things that we ever need to do. I know because I worked on it for almost two years. I was lucky that I managed to breakdown part of my insatiable need to stuff my face. Still working on it because it’s a life-long process for me.

How did the tie get so strong?

Long story short, if I psycho-analysis myself, it started when I was just a kid. I learned that if I wanted to eat something, I could eat unlimited quantities. My grandmother allowed me to eat steak after steak because I liked the taste. It didn’t help that we worked at my parents’ convenience store with tons of candy, chocolate, chips, popsicles, etc. at our fingertips. Anyway, needless to say, I had lots of cavities and gained too many pounds. As I was growing up, I was made fun of for being fat. The lack of confidence and stress continued the negative cycle of over-indulging.

Break it down!

My very first blog back in November 2018 was about my experience with the Freshii 3-day juice cleanse. I would say this was the ‘beginning’ test of my willpower. I chose the 3-day cleanse because I knew I could not survive for 5 days.

So, how?

I highly recommend trying a juice cleanse. One of the guys at Freshii said he managed to quit smoking after a 5 day cleanse. It really helps to reset your brain. Mind over matter.

It was really, really hard. But I did it. My mental willpower could barely stand up to the overwhelming want to grab and eat everything. It was so hard sitting with people who were eating food while I was cleansing.

I know we all have our stories why we are “psychologically” dependent on food. But I do believe that occasionally, we just need a re-set. Something to test our strength and ability to control what we eat – and indirectly, take control of our lives. I say this because I believe an underlying issue for a lot of things in life (for me weight gain) is about not feeling like we are in control of our lives. Working at getting to the root of the problem is also recommended.

That was then, this is now

Recently, I decided my body needed a boost of nutrients and a rest from eating solid foods. I have followed a vegan diet for over 8 months now, so the extra attention to my meal planning and preparation has helped to fight off my food’s mental grip on me.

I decided to do the 3-day cleanse again, but slightly modified. Basically, I drink 3 juices (breakfast, snack and lunch) and eat a generous salad for dinner.

I am on day 1. This time around, I have absolutely no issues with drinking my juice in lieu of eating solids. It’s a breeze taking a juice instead of a meal. I don’t even need to think about what to eat! I am also enjoying the feeling of not over-eating – especially at dinner.

Tomorrow is another day

I envision myself getting a badge or token for job well done. But the reality is, it’s another day of resisting the urge to conquer the bag of Lay’s Original chips (my fav BTW).

In this thing called life, you have to treat yourself as a pet-project. Try different things until you find something that works for you. Good luck on your own quest to cut the ties…

The Roads Connect

Life, Uncategorized
jelly fish

It may sound weird – but it just dawned on me this morning when I was driving my son for his early a.m. workday, that “the roads connect”. I mean both literally and figuratively. I was picturing myself driving and everyone else on the road for that matter. And then I visualized a satellite view of us all from above, looking like frantic army ants. Anyway, long story short, there is an extensive network of roads all the way across our Earth; and where roads are not possible we can fly, take a boat, etc.

The thing is, we might just drive back and forth on the same roads our whole life. The paths are available to us, but we decide whether or not to take them. In life, this translates to a much deeper meaning…

So the question is – do we:

A) Maintain status quo?

B) Travel the path less traveled?

I encourage everyone to take a closer look at their lives. While we may feel we are part of the rat race, it’s good to remember that we can occasionally find a route of escape from the box.

In this thing called life, we can be the jellyfish swimming in the vast depth of the ocean (unfortunately the one pictured above was held in captivity and may never see the ocean again). So same thing goes for us – can we escape?

A secret? How to conceive a baby.

Fitness and health, Life, Uncategorized

This post is for those of you out there who may be struggling to have a baby. P.S. I am so sorry it took me so long to share this.

a secret: how to conceive a baby

I have been thinking of how to spread the word, since I learned about it in university. I took a course about sexuality and sexual health (sociology as my major) and during one of the classes, my professor spoke about the biological process of conceiving a baby. It was so very logical to me after that. And my proof that the ‘secret’ works (maybe luck, maybe not?): 3 kids on first try lol. Keep in mind that I am not a doctor, so this blog is written in very easy to understand terms. 

Over the years, I heard about so many people trying to conceive but without luck. Yet, it’s not something people are open to talk about (understandably), and it definitely not exactly a conversation that I feel comfortable to talk about unless someone wants to listen…

Biological process in a nutshell

As you probably all know – to make a baby, you only need one sperm to fertilize one egg. The problem is that following ejaculation (by the male), there are millions of sperm fighting to swim to the female fallopian tube. Like survival of the fittest. The strongest sperm will likely experience victory. But how can you help the process?

The secret?

Ladies – have an orgasm during or immediately following ejaculation. The biological function of an orgasm aids to neutralize the acidity in the fluids.

 Very simply, the environment that the sperm swim in is acidic and neutralizing the fluids helps to increase their chances to survive the journey. Logic right? I thought so too!

But how do I do this?

Ladies – use your imagination. The means does not matter – just the ends!

No guarantee…

I cannot guarantee that this will work, as there could be other biological issues surrounding ones inability to conceive. Or could also be stress, lifestyle, etc. causing issues. But I do believe that it’s definitely worth a try before investing in expensive infertility treatment or giving up. And seriously ladies, if it doesn’t work – at least you had some fun!

P.S.

Once pregnant, here is my extended theory for a making a happy baby: have many orgasms. The body releases the ‘feel good’ endorphins during the process and thus in turn = happy baby!

Here’s a link to CBS News for some interesting info about sperm:

https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/sperm-15-crazy-things-you-should-know/

In this thing called life, learning new information could be the solution…

Oh, and I would love to hear from you if this works for you!

Interview with childrens’ book author, Kelly Charleson

book reviews, Interviews, Uncategorized

This post is dedicated to my new friend, Kelly Ann Charleson, who took the time to DM me on Instagram — pointing out that we are both children book authors, plus HUGE fans of Matthew Good!  On top of that she has the same name as my daughter and has two sisters as well!

photo of childrens author kelly charleson
Photo credit: Kelly Charleson

Kelly Ann Charleson is the author of “If I were a Dinosaur”, and The Woodland Series: “The Deer”, “The Den” and “The Socks”. She is a passionate writer and illustrator. Kelly is originally from Australia, but now lives in Ottawa.

You can follow her on Facebook: Kelly Ann Charleson and Instagram @kellyanncharleson

Below are the links to her current four books:
https://www.blurb.ca/b/9334245-the-socks
https://www.blurb.com/b/9337555-the-den
https://www.blurb.ca/b/9311692-the-deer
https://www.blurb.ca/b/9337490-if-i-were-a-dinosaur

Kelly’s story

I am very lucky to have the opportunity to interview Kelly, as she is one busy lady! 

I wanted to share Kelly’s story, because she is so genuine and has such a lovely message behind her books.  As well, her stories are not ‘typical’ – three of her books deal with difficult life issues written in a way that children can understand and relate to: such as miscarriage in pregnancy/loss of a sibling (The Deer), living with an auto immune disease (The Socks) and loss of a parent/adoption (The Den).

Me: Recently, you posted a copy of an ‘old treasure’ – a book titled: “Kelly’s Holiday Story Book” on Instagram.  You wrote: “Looks like I’ve been an author/illustrator from the start.”  It’s amazing what children are capable of creating on their own, if left to their own vices.  I find that these days, kids don’t have a lot of down time -just a chance to sit down and be creative.  I remember spending my childhood engaged in creative play and drawing, but my own kids don’t really like to read (think electronics!).

So, what exactly motivated or inspired you to begin writing and illustrating for publication?

Kelly: I’ve known for years that someday, I would like to be a foster mom, so until I’m in a position to do so I’ve joined a few groups so that I can learn more about the reality of it all. One thing that stood out to me was the amount of parents asking for recommendations of books that deal with issues relating to foster care and adoption, and how few fictional resources there were to meet those needs. Initially, I was making books for the little ones in my life just for fun, but once I realized that there is need for these very niche, touchy topics to be addressed, I decided to create The Woodland Family series, and started making my books available to a wider audience.

Me: It’s hard enough to be a self-published author and your book content is very unique.  I asked you why you included a full free preview of your books on blurb.ca, and you replied that you wanted to “make sure that any child who could benefit from reading one of my books is able to access it, whether or not an adult can buy it for them.”  That is ABSOLUTELY amazing! So, with this in mind, what are your plans to reach your target market?

Kelly: Once I start taking my books to markets, libraries, schools, etc., I’m hoping that the exposure and word of mouth will help the books to find the children who might need them. In addition to that, I hope to continue teaming up with local organizations that are relevant to the topics covered in my books. I really enjoy supporting worthwhile causes, so if an opportunity for working together to bring attention to an important issue arises, I’m more than happy to go for it. My latest book was loosely based on a local project, and we’ve both been able to see some of the impact that partnership has had already, which has been really exciting.

Me: I learned about your books because of your DM through Instagram.  Do you think that social media is a helpful venue for you to market yourself and your books?

Kelly: At the very least, it’s great for networking. I created an Instagram account to promote my work, but have found it to be more a place of community and support than a marketing tool. It’s great seeing all of the other authors on there, and sharing/receiving tips and encouragement.

Having said that, hash tags do seem to attract people to the themes of my books when it’s something the individual has a personal connection with, and I’ve found Facebook helpful for advertising and promotion. I am rather oblivious when it comes to any social media platforms outside of those two!

Me: I saw online that the first book you wrote “The Garden Thieves” is no longer available.  Can you explain why?

Kelly: The Garden Thieves was originally written a year prior to publication under the title Princess Akeeba and the Night Thieves. The first edition was created as a gift for a little girl who I loved very much, and I re-designed the illustrations of the book as a part of my grieving process when I lost her. Removing the book from circulation was a tough decision, because I really liked the book, but ultimately I realized that it was an important step in that process for me.

Me:  I am very sorry for your loss and hope that your book has helped you heal.  I love that you allow people to contact you with special requests for book topics (a note at the end of each of your books).  For “The Deer” – you mentioned that you were asked by a mom to write a book about miscarriage, after she suffered the loss of her baby and didn’t know how to explain to her son why his sister would not come home. 

There are so many sensitive issues that we might experience early in life, so I am thrilled that you have found a way to address them in your books using very simple language and illustration. Reading, “The Den” brought tears to my eyes – children not feeling ‘loved’ because of a new addition to the family.   I believe that life is uncomplicated from the view of children, so parents paying more attention to the ‘baby’ is equal to them no longer being loved.  But in real life, this is not true at all, yet it takes growing up to learn this.

I have two suggestions for book topics: 1) death of a parent/sibling 2) divorce of parents.  I have seen the impact on friends/family who experienced these traumatic events as children.

That being said, are you working on your next book?

Kelly: Thank you for your feedback – those are definitely important topics, and I’ll see what I can do with them.

I’m taking a bit of a break over the summer (I can’t believe I ever took sunshine and warmth for granted! Living in Canada makes me want to LIVE outside between April and November…), but I’ve started putting some notes together for the next stand-alone book. I’ll be diving back into my counselling study notes for this one, but it’ll be an easier read than The Woodland Family books, in more ways than one!

Me: Kelly, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions.  It’s been great learning about your creative process and hopes of helping children deal with real life issues.  I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours!

Kelly: Thank you so much, Monica! It has been an absolute pleasure interviewing with you.

In this thing called life, you never know who you might touch with your words.

In loving memory of my grandmother

Uncategorized

My grandmother just passed away at age 88 this past Monday, May 13th at 4:45am in the morning. She is survived by her daughter, son-in-law, three granddaughters and five grandchildren.

It has been a while since I last posted, so long that I actually forgot my login password for a bit. On top of regular life (work, kids, chores), I have extremely busy with the 42-day challenge that I joined at Anytime Fitness (3 times a week workouts), working on my novel, and most recently, going to see my grandmother in Montreal.

If you believe in fate

As fate would have it, I had planned a trip to see my grandma on May 18th. I ended up cancelling my trip because my kids were very busy that weekend. Then I got a text message from my sister, letting me know that she got a call from my grandma’s nursing home. Apparently my grandma had a fever for a couple of weeks but was stable. The issue was the she stopped eating and she was unresponsive. I re-booked my trip, and took off by bus the next day.

Childhood

My grandmother raised us when we were children, while our parents went to work. Yet, I cannot say that we were very close (probably due to language problems (we spoke mainly English while she spoke Cantonese) and the conflict between our mother and grandma). She lived in a nursing home in Montreal for at least five years, so us grandchildren tried out best to visit her as often as we could.

Her last two days

It’s really hard to write this post without tears. I have been crying at random times this whole week since her passing. When I remember how truly lucky I am that I spent the last one and a half days of her life with her. On top of that the last day was Mother’s Day.

The first day, she was totally unresponsive. She could barely open her eyes. She could no longer speak and I had trouble to make her laugh using my ‘techniques’ that would have worked the last time I saw her.

On Mother’s Day, she opened her eyes and stayed awake and was super-aware the whole day. She even ate the full bowl of soup and peach fruit puree! She was able to follow a stuffed animal with her eyes, and she watched me the whole day.

After the nurses helped to change her clothes, I saw she wore a nice pink flowery shirt. I told her that she looked so beautiful and she smiled the biggest smile that you could ever imagine.

I told her that we all cared about her a lot, that she didn’t need to worry about us, and that she could ‘sleep’ if she was tired.

My novel

My grandma was the first person (other than myself) to hear my manuscript. I am about half-way through the manuscript. I told her I loved to write and hoped to finish my book this year. Even though she doesn’t really understand English, she listened and watched me the whole time. She showed no sign of tiredness at all. My novel is essentially a fictional story but based on her life. I believe in my heart that this was her bedtime story, because the next morning she left the earth.

My final thoughts

My grandma passed peacefully in her sleep. With her passing, I experienced a flood of emotions: sadness, happiness, regret and guilt to name a few. Sad that I will never see her physical person again in my life; happy that she was not in pain when she passed; regretful that I didn’t get to see her more often; and guilty that I didn’t really get a chance to know her.

In this thing called life…

  1. Grab life by the horns. Don’t let the moments pass by.
  2. If you want something – GO FOR IT!
  3. Treat every day like your last – live with no regrets.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Life, Uncategorized
image of two hearts
Love is in the air?

For those of you celebrating Valentine’s Day today…

Whether you are celebrating the day with a new or old partner – remember that sometimes, it is just the little things (like a nice gesture: scraping off the snow on your car windshield) that make you feel special and cared for. Sure, flowers may be REALLY nice…hint, hint!

Anyway, still busy putting the final touches on my book…

Wishing you renewed love and friendship!

Life’s too short

Life, Uncategorized

From egg to flying bird in just a few weeks

As I get older, I really appreciate that our time on earth is limited. This time is further limited because of disease, environmental toxins, work-related accidents, road accidents, etc.

The lifespan of birds is generally shorter, but nature has a way to speed up development for survival. For example, the beautiful blue robin egg and baby birds (pictured above). The eggs hatched and within a few weeks, the baby birds learned to fly. The robin built this beautiful nest in my blue spruce tree in my backyard last summer. Just a peer between the branches and we could capture one of mother nature’s most beautiful creations.

I reflect on life every day and have compiled a list of top 6 actionable things (some of them may seem similar, but it is the philosophy/attitude behind each one that makes them different)

Top 6

  1. Live every day like it’s your last.
  2. Live with no regrets. If there is something you want to do, just do it.
  3. Don’t think. Just DO!
  4. Carpe Diem (my fav latin phrase) – Seize the day!
  5. Don’t make yourself an overwhelming list of to-dos. Just complete one thing at a time so you feel like you have accomplished something.
  6. Do something that inspires you.

In this thing called life, time does not go backward, so make every second count.