A story behind each banner image

I’ve added more images to my rotating header (what I especially like about this WordPress theme – aside from just a clean look). I have now 16 images that randomly rotate and appear at the top of my blog each time the page is refreshed.

Each of them have a story of their own:

Regal Princess at Antigua port

Antigua sunset

Antigua and Barbuda – Our last port during our 2016 Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Regal Princess. This was a new port for us. We took the excursion to Sting Ray City and snorkeled over the coral reef and with the giant rays. We were fortunate to catch the sunset from our balcony. We watched the sun disappear behind a mountain peak.

Old Montreal

Old Montreal – During March Break 2016, we stopped in Old Montreal for one night on our way back from skiing/boarding in Mont Sutton. I hadn’t been back in over a decade and it’s just as beautiful as I remembered it to be.

mason jar chandelier

Magog, Quebec – These mason jar ceiling lights caught my fancy as we left the Microbrasserie la Memphré for the first night’s dining choice during our Quebec ski/board trip in March, 2015)

Third Street Promenade - Santa Monica

Third Street Promenade – Ah Santa Monica. My third of four visits – and hopefully I will return again and again. This was taken December 2014 during my first business trip to the head office. Each night, after dinner, I would walk the pier and Third Street Promenade. There was always live music which fit the mood of the beautiful Christmas lights.


Santa Monica Pier – I always stop and watch the indoor carousel every first visit to the pier. I have bad timing though – seems that whenever I go, the carousel is closed for the day or has been rented out for a private event. I simply just love old-style carousels.


Frozen – I took it the morning of December 22nd, 2013 after a freezing rain storm which had swept across our city for the past couple of days. It finally did end sometime later that day but the ice stayed for several days after, causing major blackouts throughout the province. Some people were left without power for 2 weeks. Red Cross set up camp at local community centers where we went to donate water and food for those who could not stay home (no heat – they would have froze to death). The branches were so heavy from the ice, one of our trees in the backyard split in half and our patio is had been  completely blocked off from part of that tree.


Rue D’ Baga – Snapped from our Port Orleans resort streets while we stayed in Disney World earlier this year. The street name was called, “Rue D’Baga” which was where our room was located during our February 2013 vacation.


Sea shells – This was from our last full day while visiting Ada and Hoa in Vancouver (while they were still living there) in the summer of 2012. The sea shells were dangling from the deck just outside this little place called Go Fish. best fish taco’s ever!


The Roundhouse – Another photo from our Vancouver 2012 trip. We snapped this photo while just Doug, Chaeli and I were exploring randomly on our own through areas of downtown Vancouver – Gastown, water front and where this photo was taken, Yaletown.


Neys Park – Our first time using our little old trailer! We took a road trip to Thunder Bay in 2011, tugging Doug’s late grandfather’s trailer back, while stopping at Neys Provincial Park to camp out for one night. It was a beautiful park but way too cold to enjoy once the sun set. I was glad it was only just for a night before we drove to a nice, warm motel in the Souix.


Rain on windshield – Taken during our little day trip to Niagara Falls on our 8th wedding anniversary. Yes, it was a rainy day but actually, it made for a nice, quiet day since not many people were traveling through the Niagara wine route.



Killbear Park – The next two photos were taken during our summer camping trip of 2010 in Killbear Provincial Park. Hobbes was only 3 1/2 months old and had only been with us for three weeks. And what happens? He encounters a black bear!


Peacocks – This particular image of three proud, male peacocks, was taken when we went to the zoo with Tai, B and their kids, M & E. It was their first trip to the zoo as a family. All the kids look so different now. I am favouring this one at the moment because of the beautiful, intense blue.



Northern California – These next two goes back to 2007 where Doug and I did an anniversary trip to San Francisco, Monterey Bay and Carmel. The trip also doubled as an excuse to visit friends who just had a baby girl. The above photo is part of the 17 Mile Drive, followed by another taken along Highway 1’s coast.


letters no. 2 (new years resolutions)

[on-going documentation of new year’s 2014 resolutions – sub-section under letters]

Dear A. & A.,

This morning, I took Hobbes out for his morning outing and it was just too cold for me. With the wind, we are hitting -25ºC today which isn’t what we are used to here in Toronto. I actually like winter, but this is colder than I would like it to be! Burrrrrr!

Hobbes doesn’t mind, though. His fur is very thick and curly. When the wind blows he jumps around in it all happy.

Yesterday, Chaeli had her first tryout for the Varsity Co-Ed Badminton team (grade 4 to 6). She has her second tryout session next Thursday morning so we will let everyone know if she moves on from there.

It is hard for people in her grade level because they are up against kids much older and who have been playing badminton for a while. But that’s okay. We told Chaeli to just try her best and more importantly, to have fun! Because if trying out for a sport isn’t fun, then what’s the point?

She did have fun, she said. A lot of fun and is looking forward to next week’s tryout.

Chaeli’s school is also celebrating International Day next Friday. They have to bring some type of food that represents where they are from. In the past, Chaeli has brought things like Italian meatball to represent Grandma’s Italian side and Tatty-Scones to represent Papa’s Scottish side. This year, we think she will bring some Chinese deserts to represent the Chinese side of my side of the family. She will probably where a Chinese outfit customary to what girls use to wear in China (and still do on special occasions).

Anyway, attached to this letter is also a recipe I would like to pass on to your mom and dad. It is a no-fail recipe we enjoy making a lot. Please tell your mom and dad to substitute the chorizo sausage for Italian sausage if they can not get a hold of that type of Spanish sausage (here in Toronto, we would have to go to a special butcher to get them).

Hope all is well! Stay warm!

Love, Auntie Shy.

random chaeli updates

i know my last bit of posts have all been pretty deep – and very much about me.

the intention of this blog was for me to document a variety of aspects of my life as well as just an escape for creativity and fun.

and so… some random updates on my offspring!

  • we woke up at almost an hour earlier today (5:30am) because we had to be at school before 7:15 am for chaeli to change and get ready for her varsity team tryouts. what is she trying out for? co-ed badminton. i’m not at all sure where this interest came from but both doug and i thought it was a great idea. the catch, however, is that she is trying out against kids from grade 4 to 6. most first time grade 4 students have a difficult time making it since they are up against bigger and more experienced kids. but doug and i had told her to just try her best and have fun. i’m sure if it was for alpine skiing tryouts, chaeli would probably be jumping at the chance – but badminton is not her main focus so this is just for fun. and she did have fun, as i learned after picking her up from school.
  • walking around her school, i was amazed at all the team canada, olympic posters hung on many of their hall walls. every corridor i turned had 2 to 5 of these massive posters, each one focusing on one of our olympic athletes. between them, were class projects, each focusing on a different athlete and their sport. they even were pulled out of the class to watch the last half of the women’s gold medal game and the men’s semi-final game against the US. on certain days, they got to ditch their uniform and come in red and white colours to support canada. chaeli’s class focused on the Dufour-LaPoint sisters. quite fitting as she’s now quite the skiing addict:


  • she is reading the secret garden; therefore, i am too, which makes this my third book in my new year’s resolution of ‘ten books.’ my mind has been distracted though, so it’s nice to be able to ask her about the book whenever i require clarification. and i think she gets a kick about knowing more than me as she is completely giddy at times to help me out when i’m confused about how some characters connect.
  • chaeli has this book about learning how to write in code and other ‘secret agent’ stuff. it includes an invisible marker where the words appear when you shine a black-light pen on it (included with the book). she’s been passing doug and i these messages in code (similar to pig latin) and we’ve been decoding them so we can answer her questions. yes – it’s a long way to something as simple as, “do i have time to read before bed” but i have to admit it’s also fun.
  • i suppose a quick update on hobbes is in order. a few weeks ago, we were having hot pot at my aunt’s and uncle’s. we left the table where the leftover hotpot sat in the centre to sit and digest in the living room area. i have no idea how long hobbes was being sneaky for, but basically, i got up to go to the kitchen for something and caught him standing on his hind legs on one of the centre dining room chairs, front paws digging into the plastic table sheets, which basically moved and gathered where the hot pot was, and lo-and-behold, his entire head was right in the pot. who knows how much he ate – but i gathered it was a lot. the next morning up to mid-afternoon, i was taking him out on the hour due to a crazy case of diarrhea. i would say, “serves him right!” but it was me who suffered along with him since i had to be the one to clean up after him. thank god for snow – you can at least use the snow to pack up the mess.

artificial nocturne

I’m just as fucked up as they say
I can’t fake the daytime
Found an entrance to escape into the dark
Got false lights for the sun
It’s an artificial nocturne
It’s an outsider’s escape for a broken heart

the past.

my memory takes me back to when i was about chaeli’s age – 10 or 11. there i was sitting in the kitchen of our old house. my father, standing there beside me – hovering over me.

math. it stared back at me. numbers. something that always confused me.

he was talking impatiently, asking me to solve the problem. but i couldn’t. i barely could see the problem from the notebook anymore. and as i sat there, sweating and staring in silence, his voice started to get louder… and more anxious.

fear started to creep in as i desparately stared harder and harder – hoping, praying the answer would come to me.

there was a long period of silence before a thud was heard.

i don’t know if that thud came from his hand hitting my behind, or when i landed on the kitchen tiles after flying off my chair and under the kitchen table.

the pain of the impact his hand made on me was very real and very scary. but i was in so much more pain from not being able to please him. not being able to solve that math problem.

why couldn’t i solve it? was it true? was i stupid like he’s told me i was before?

why couldn’t i have just solved it?

the present

we’re sitting at my aunt’s and uncle’s place after dinner.

my uncle has diabetes type 2. just like me though he’s had his for 25 years. but he’s managing it. and i go to him, and my aunt as she’s been a big part of helping him manage it, for not just advice and knowledge…. but mainly for support.

and for empathy.

empathy has become a theme in my therapy sessions. i have learned that my childhood lacked empathy. and as a result, i give myself very little empathy – and through that, i have a lot of guilt. mostly from things i had no control over. it is this pain from this inner turmoil – this guilt – which has caused anxiety over every decision that i make, not just in the present, but struggle of past decisions and fear of making wrong decisions of the future. everything i do, i fear if it’s the best way.

the best way – my mother always made me see what was the best way. if some one hurt me at school, i was told which was the best way to have avoided being in that situation. if i planned to take the public transit downtown, i was instructed to the best way. on my best friend’s wedding day, when i was maid of honour (which was with such great honour, i might add, as it was one of the best days of my life), i was told my hair was not the best way for the day. the list goes on.

my father – he never told me what the best way was. he just expected me to know and i suffered his wrath if i simply did not know.

basically, a lot of people/parents will give a statement of empathy such as, i’m sorry you are going through such pain, BUT…

the ‘but’ usually negates the empathy. and that’s okay to some extent. we care and love our family and friends so much that we want to fix their problem, forgetting that the first reason they came to us was not for a fix, but simply for empathy. as humans, we’ve probably all made this mistake.

the issue with me, however, was that it was rare, in the past mostly and sometimes in the present, where i even recieved that first startement of empathy. and so, a lot of what i came home with, my problems, my struggles, was made apparent that i was responsible for everything. not accountable in some way, shape or form, but completely responsible. even if it was not my doing, somehow, i could have prevented it.

and so, i sat there at the dining table expressing my concern over my glucose levels as for the past 2 weeks, there were very high spikes i could not account for (nothing changed in my diet or exercise – yet, my levels would got up sometimes as high as 3 units after a similar lunch i had 2 weeks before with very normal readings afterwards).

i was very upset, i mentioned. and frustrated.

my dad then interjected and told me, “yeah, but, you have to take control of your sress and not obsess over this.” it wasn’t what he said. it was how he said it – a manner that expressed, this is your own-doing. there was frustration in his voice – and while i understand now that it’s his own anxiety and worry over my health, that he has no time for empathy and just wants to fix my problem for me, i was just so angry at him for not being more sensitive.

and so i responded, “yes, well, easier said than done.” in other words, okay… thanks for the piece of unwanted advice. perhaps you would like to tell me HOW to do this since you seem to have all the answers?

he was not happy with my one liner. and started to raise his voice, arguing with me that he KNOWS it’s not easy, etc. i ignored him then and returned to my conversation with my uncle who was, at least, giving me the reassurance and support i was searching for.

all the time, i thought to myself, if i wasn’t so depressed, i would be laughing. here is a person telling me to take control of my stress and yet he’s arguing with me and stressing me out even more. how is this helping, i wonder?

the summary

the above is simply an exercise of my thoughts from this past week, which links to what i posted yesterday.

i understand it is up to me to tell my parents how i require the support yet at this point, i’m not sure i’m ready to try this step as it would be a very big step. anyone who knows my parents, would understand how big it is.

the issue is that i could tell them but they would either argue back and say that they’ve always been supportive of me. or that they simply would refuse to reflect on their own path of self-improvement due to what i had already mentioned in my previous post, their lack of self-awareness.

the above video and song by metric, is a song that is close to my heart at this moment. i do not know exactly what the intentions were behind the meaning of this song, but it seems to mirror how i feel these days.

the trick with therapy

my last therapy session was good – very good. we did a lot of digging. so much was uncovered that i added another session between this last one and the next one which i had planned for early may.

i figured, before the session, that i would be ready to go every couple of months as planned. but as soon as i got home, i emailed the lovely, friendly receptionist (they chose a good candidate to take care of business in their office) and asked for another session between now and then. so about 5-6 weeks appart between each sessions.

this was my own decision and my therapists never puts any pressure on me as to when i feel the need to return. everyone is differnet. some people need to go weekly, some monthly and some, just go ever other month or so for a “tune-up”. some need more time to process the information and put it to good use before the next session. and some require the frequency to be more intense because it helps with the motivation.

i chose to make it sooner than later because i feel we’re at a crucial part of this digging.

it’s tiring, though. and painful. what i mean is that old wounds were open. i went home and for the past week since i saw my therapist, have been flooded with painful memories of my childhood. memories not forgotten but simply put away or off to the side.

there was some frustration though… these are memories i thought i was over. things that have been dealt with. i want to move on with them. i thought i had moved on from them. but the reality is that these things from the past are still here in the present. perhaps they are disguised in different shapes and forms, but they are very much still here. either metaphorically as the culprit of my anxiety/depression issues. or, evern more painfully, embedded in my current relationship with my parents.

now, as i mentioned already, i do not want to hold any ill-feelings towards my parents of my childhood. which is probably why i am frustrated with these haunting memories that have caused so much emotions.

but the truth is that, perhaps, my frustration lies in our relationship at the present moment. and i’m aware now that something happened between my father and i this past friday, just a couple of days after my therapy session, which angered me and opened up the flood gates to some of these horrible memories.

it’s a reminder – when something happens in the present, it automatically links, for me, to the past. and until i deal with my personal demons – and learn how to handle my current relationships – this will always be the case. at the least, through my progress in therapy, i’m able to link this cause and effect relationship.

it’s tricky – to be strong enough to go through all this digging, opening old wounds and NOT go to that dark place where it’s easier to just point fingers and blame them and think, you did this to me! this is the way i am because of you!

i don’t want to go there but during the most painful parts of these past few days, the temptation was there. but what point would that be? it would be vengeful and spiteful – and that will not help me in the end. plus, i know my parents just didn’t know any better way – they were raised in probably a harsher and/or more abusive way than how i grew up. and part-way through my adult life, i could see there was regret on their part.

the best thing i can do is to try and deal with this – and move forward. i’m lucky, very lucky, to be more self-aware of what is going on inside of me. unlike my parents who still to this day struggle with the concept of self-awareness.

i use this ability of mine to make sure i be a better parent to my own daughter. because i don’t want to put her through what i went through – i don’t want to pass on this anxiety/depression issue to her. i hope she has a future of much greater freedom than this type of inner prison i’ve been trapped in for decades.