New Beginnings

But he who dares not grasp the thorn should never crave the rose

Ann Bronte

GetAttachment.aspxIt’s been far too long since I last posted, so this is my promise to myself, that I  once again find inspiration. The past year has been a trial for me and this blog has helped me learn about myself,  what I value, and what I love. It has made me realize the experiences that make me happy, and how can I create more of them within my life.

The last time I posted I was frustrated and tired. I was burnt out from a job and dissatisfied with my life. I realized it was up to me to  make a change and so I resigned from my job. I won’t say career because who knows how I’ll reinvent myself.

For the first time in months I’m sleeping through the night. I’m smiling and laughing again. After months of  a creative block as dense as granite, I’m beginning to feel I want to write again.

So how does Ann Bronte’s quote fit in with my new lease on life? It’s always about a risk. There are risks in life, risks in love, risks in finances, but if you’re never willing to suffer the prick of a thorn how can you hold that rose?

My decision to change my life’s path was not an easy one, but I already feel better for it.

Love and Healing

Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.

Hippocrates

 

thEight years ago my husband was diagnosed with a rare cancerous tumour within his abdomen.

After meeting two years before, we were still in the honeymoon phase.  While we planned our life together, fate was stealing him away. I refused to believe it. I wouldn’t accept it.

It was eight years ago today that my husband was released from the hospital. A tumour ‘the size of a soccer ball’ was removed from his abdomen. Now I won’t be so pompous to say that denial and positive thinking healed my husband.  Absolutely not, it was a damn good surgeon and a hell of a lot of prayers that gave him a second chance.

I’d like to say we put it behind us, but we didn’t. We may have worn our Livestrong bracelets and participated in cycling events. We may have linked arms with fellow survivors and family to rage the battle against cancer, but we also wasted time we’ll never get back worrying, what if ? We succumbed to the fear of uncertainty. That fear is a very bleak place.

I don’t want to dwell on the feelings of anxiety and hopelessness that this sickness brings. What I want to share is that it gave us a perspective. Life, love and family is a precious thing. To share these three things with someone else is the greatest triumph you’ll ever have.

It’s interesting how that event reshaped our lives, and changed it for the better. My husband left his job but found something far more fulfilling. After he changed his path new opportunities emerged and continue to come forward. He found the time to explore dreams that he’d put aside to chase an idea of success. Ironically, the more he focuses on his passions the more success finds him.

As I go through my own uncertainties in life, I reflect back on my husbands journey. Every day he grows stronger and brighter than I’ve ever known him to be, and I love him more and more.  We don’t’ know what will happen over time, that is the mystery of life. What I do know is that time is precious, and should not be consumed worrying about the unpredictability of life.

At this moment in my own life I feel exhausted every day. A job which once gave me tremendous enjoyment and satisfaction now leaves my body feeling strained and mentally burned out. I have my own dreams and am blessed with a loving husband to support me. If I trust his example, who know’s where my life could take me?

Hippocrates was criticized for too passive of an approach to medicine. He believed disease was not a punishment from the gods but a reaction to environmental stress, diet and living habits. He prescribed rest, believing our bodies have the power to rebalance themselves. A very interesting concept, and I wonder how he would view our world today where 40.8% of people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lives and 70% of Americans take prescription drugs.

 

 

Spring

Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.

Rainer Maria Rilke

photoAfter a blogging hiatus I noticed this little cluster of Crocus’s the other day. It reminded me of why I started a blog in the first place. To feel love’s inspiration ever day.

Do you ever have times in your life when you feel completely consumed by chores, obligations, and committments. When the needs of your families, work, and home demand you to jump on a treadmill and try to keep running.  It’s no wonder that in stressful times, couples begin to fight. We can only stretch ourselves so far and run for so long. Eventually our bodies become tired and stressed, and we become edgy and cranky. Not a great way to live a happy life.

I don’t have advice to give you on slowing down,or balancing your life. I think these things just happen. Life is busy at times but if you ever feel particularly anxious and I know I do. Just remember that life still moves forward. Spring will always come.

These Crocus’s were just so beautiful. They sit below the ground all year, and then only have a brief week or so to show the world their glory. I couldn’t just walk by, so I stopped and took a picture. I was late for my next appointment but you know what? It really didnt’t matter.

Bring in the Spring

Oh, wind, if winter comes can spring be far behind.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

GetAttachment.aspxIf the cold winter is getting you down why not bring the spring into your home.  This is the perfect time of year to take a few cuttings from a few of your favourite spring bloomers and bring them inside for an early show.  It’s easy to do and can be achieved with a number of shrubs and trees.  The trick is to find plants that bloom before their leaves burst forth.  By the end of January or early February most of the buds on these early spring flowering plants are fully formed and just waiting for a little warmth to open.  By taking a cutting, bringing it into the warmth of your home, and placing it in water, within a week the cuttings will begin to bloom.  Shrubs that work best are Forsythia, azalea, beautybush, crab apple, flowering quince, magnolia’s, and pussy willows.  Fruit trees such as cherries, pears, and apples can also be forced but since they bloom a little later in the spring they are better cut when their buds have swollen such as at the end of February.  It’s fun to just experiment.  So if  you’re doing some winter pruning see what you can discover.  The best part is you get a gorgeous display of flowers and the reminder that even in the bitter cold spring is always on it’s way.

What could I say to you that would be of value, except that perhaps you seek too much, that as a result of your seeking you cannot find.

Hermann Hesse, Siddharta

GetAttachment-5.aspxI always find January is a great time to clean out your cupboards.  If your house is anything like mine it’s unbelievable how much clutter you can accumulate over a year.  So every January I pick a day and begin to clean.  It’s a great feeling, and quite liberating when your done.  It leaves me with the feeling I’m ready to tackle a new project.

What does this have to do with romance?  Well interestingly enough in this years big clean, I made a discovery.  Almost a year ago, I thought I had lost a necklace that my husband had given to me when we were vacationing in Greece.  It wasn’t an expensive piece of jewellery, but I’m sentimental and it had meant a lot to me.   I looked everywhere for it, and it seemed as if it had disappeared.  I was convinced that the chain had broken, and I’d lost it on the street somewhere.  As I said it wasn’t expensive, a tiny black pearl on a silver chain, but I was devastated.  Perhaps, my emotional response was triggered by the fact that the couple we had been vacationing with in Greece, had broken up.  When I lost the necklace my husband and I were in a bit of rough patch as well.  I suppose I didn’t want to think my loss of the necklace was in any way symbolic.

I finally gave up trying to find it.  I resigned myself to the fact it was gone.  The year went on and the natural ebb and flow of our relationship continued.  If the seas had become a bit choppy, the gusts subsided and we began to move forward again.  In fact every time we wether a storm I believe we become a stronger team for it.

So this January when I went on my cleaning spree, I couldn’t believe my eyes when in the back of a drawer, I found a little cloth bag.  You can imagine what it contained.  I’m sure I looked in the drawer, and not once but several times.  I don’t remember tucking it away there, and do not know why I would have.  Since I’d never confessed to losing the necklace I know my husband wouldn’t have hidden it either.   For whatever reason, when I was desperately looking, it was never found.  Like the quote by Hesse perhaps we need to stop seeking so much.  Maybe when we stop searching for objects, ideas, or desires, we can allow what we seek the most to find us.

Happy New Year

We don’t accomplish our love in a single year as the flowers do…

Rainer Maria Rilke

How many of us wake up on New Years day with a resolution, a goal, a change we want to see in ourselves?

th-4When I reflect back on 2013 there have been challenges but there have also been celebrations.  I started this blog as an exercise to write, but  I’ve been amazed how using romance as an inspiration has enhanced my life.  It’s fascinating what happens when you truly search for the positive rather than focusing on the negative.  Who knew all those therapists out there who’ve been teaching cognitive therapy were right!  I’m happier and more content than I’ve ever been.   I see doors opening for me that a year ago I didn’t know existed.

Looking ahead to 2014, I know there will be hurdles to overcome.  Life is always filled with unexpected obstacles, but I hope by continuing to focus on romance, I’ll find strength in love and continue to grow.

If you’ve made a resolution or set a goal for yourself, I wish you great success.  If you find yourself becoming discouraged just remember that we have a lifetime to bloom.  The obstacles that get thrown at us may feel like setbacks, but may actually help us develop into stronger and more beautiful people.  Our aspirations should not only fulfill us upon achievement.  If we focus on finding happiness in the process maybe we will have a better chance of finally sticking with that New Years Resolution.

Here’s to 2014 and may it be a fantastic one!

Bring on the Bubbles!

Come quickly, I am tasting the stars

Dom Perignon

With New Years coming up I thought it fitting that I should confess  to my adoration for Champagne.  I think like the famous monk   i’ve quoted, I was in love from the moment the bubbles first hit my tongue.  Fortunately, I have discovered a few inexpensive sparkling wines that do a decent job at captivating your palette.

So first of all here’s some savvy lingo!

Champagne VS Sparkling wine To be called Champagne the wine must come from this region in France.  A sparkling wine from any other region including another french region is just that, a sparkling wine.  The great news is that several other areas make sparkling wine in the traditional champagne method and can be just as tasty yet inexpensive.

Method Traditional or Method Champenoise Wine is fermented in stainless steel or oak.  The first fermentation produces a bubble free wine called vin clair.  Next the vin clair is blended from different grapes, regions, and vintages into a cuvee.   A sugar yeast solution is added, the cuvee is bottled and laid to rest on its lees (dead yeast) for a minimum of 15 months.  As it ages, bubbles and alcohol are produced from the sugar and yeast.  The longer the bottles age the smaller the bubbles become and the higher the quality.  After the aging the wine maker uses a process called riddling to extract the dead yeast into the neck of the bottle and removes it.  A caged cork is placed on the bottle, and it is ready to be sold.

Tank method or Charmat method The sparkling wine undergoes its second fermentation in stainless steel tanks rather than the bottle and is then bottled, corked and ready for sale.  Although it is the method used for higher volumes of sparkling wine it does not mean that it is an inferior method.  In fact some aromatic sparkling wines such as an Italian Proseco or Muscato actually benefit from this method because there is less contact with the lees, resulting in the preservation of the fruity nose.

Vintage A term used when a particular years grapes were of such high quality that the winemaker has chosen to include only that years vin clair in the blend.

Non vintage A blend from the vin clair of different years.  This again does not suggest it is inferior.  In fact the great houses all make a non vintage champagne that can even exceed their vintage champagnes in quality but because it is not restricted to a single vintage yield it is usually a better value.

Cuvee A term used to describe that the juice has come from the gentle pressing of the grapes which in the traditional method extracts the best juice.  Most Champagne houses pride themselves in using only the Cuvee.

Taille The remaining pressing of the grapes which the extracted juice tends to have coarser characteristics.

Brut The term refers to the level of dryness to the wine.  Brut Natural is the lowest with less than 3 grams of sugar per litre, Extra Brut has 3 to 6 grams, and Brut has 6 to 12 grams of sugar.

A Few to Try

thVeuve de Vernay  14.99

This is a french sparkling wine, pale straw in colour, fresh and fruity.  This is my house bubbly, perfect for mixing for cocktails, or on its own.  Like cream and eggs a my fridge would never dare to be without it!

th-1Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne Rose Perle D’Aurore  26.99

This one’s for the ladies, so men pay attention when you want to impress someone.  What could be more feminine then a pink sparkling wine.  This wine is from the Burgundy region of France and offers a hint of strawberry in the mouth with a clean finish.

th-2Pol Roger Cuvee de Reserve Brut  65.99

The famous french magazine La Revue du Vinde,  recently listed the house of Pol Roger number 2 in their revue of the top 50 houses of Champagne.  This was also the house chosen to be served at the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.  It was the house favoured by Winston Churchill who was famous for his words ‘Remember Gentlemen it’s not just France we are fighting for it’s Champagne’.   This wine is truly elegant with flavours of Brioche and nut and almost mushroomy to the nose.

th-3Louis Roederer Cristal Brut  277.00

Cristal is the most sought after Champagne in the world.  It was originally created for Tsar Alexander the II and to this day the house still makes it according to the strictest criteria selecting only the best grapes from the vintage, village and cru (area of vineyard) .  It has a golden hue, with the texture of the lightest foam and silk, while it seduces you with tastes of white chocolate and caramel. This is Champagne at it’s best, truly elegant and refined.

Sparkling wines are exciting bottles of luxury and fortunately are available in every price range.  If the Cristal seems a little extravagant, just remember we may not all be able to jet set off to some exotic location or buy a Rolls Royce, but I believe that at some point in our life we all should have an opportunity to taste the stars!

Happy New Year!