Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Dear 2013

 Dear 2013,

You have been quite the year, bringing me up and down, then back up again.

We started off on good terms, and we are finishing off on even better terms. I'm not sure I remember a year ending better than it started, before now. But I like it.

You will always represent endings, beginnings, loss, happiness and growth. Most importantly you represent change. Something I've always feared, until it came and gave me the warmest hug I've felt in years.

Your end leads to a new year. A fresh start, as so many people see it. To me, 365 fresh starts. A new dawn every day. A new chance to make each day better than the one before and to embrace what life has in store for me.

I'm grateful for having made it through your months, mistakes and all. Each experience has taught me valuable life lessons. May you find peace, settled in my mind, as I take my first of many steps forward into 2014.



Do you have a New Years post you'd like me to check out? Leave me a link in the comments! :)

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Unforgettable Nights Lead to Brighter Days

 I received complimentary tickets in order to conduct my review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Some things fade from your memory quickly, others linger. Even after almost 2 months the sound of Jethro Tull's music reverberating through the Centennial Concert Hall still follows me.

The last concert I went to before this was of the metal genre, and while I enjoyed that one, it can't even compare to the Thick As A Break 1 & 2 show. I heard Ian Anderson was coming to the city, and I was beyond excited. I had been introduced to Tull's music quite a few years earlier by an old friend, and have been listening ever since. I have a special place in my heart for music from the earlier decades.

I brought my mom with me because she appreciates the same type of music as I do for the most part, and this is one band that we agreed was a classic. After finding out that we were close to the front and center, that's when my heart really started going. I couldn't believe what I was about to see. It was an experience I will never forget.

Like pretty much everything Ian Anderson does, this was very theatrical. It's important for me to be able to feel a song. The lyrics, the mood it sets, the guitar. All of that fit nicely together on stage that night. I felt every word, every note, every beat, even their movements. They built anticipation, brought some comedy, and filled that auditorium.

Ian's performance was amazing, and true to his style. He took his famous stance, and played that flute like he had been playing since birth.  I've really not heard anything similar before. It was almost unreal, yet you knew very well that it was, because it was all around you.

Pictured: Ian Anderson and Ryan O'Donnell, Courtesy of Anne Leighton of Leighton Media. Please do not copy.

The vocalist that really captured me was Ryan O'Donnell. His voice was very reminiscent of Mr. Anderson himself, so the two complimented each other perfectly well. Even when Ryan was silent, he had a presence that completely drew me in.

I loved that each musician was given their time to shine too, because each of them are very talented individuals. The guitarist, Florian Opahle had a very bluesy quality to his playing. Scott Hammond on drums, well he rocked it. On keyboards, John O'Hara brought just the right amount of kooky. And David Goodier made his bandmates proud on bass.

 Pictured: Ian Anderson and Florian Opahle, Courtesy of Anne Leighton of Leighton Media. Please do not copy.

The encore was the stand out part of the entire thing for me. They played one of my favourites, and I knew exactly what it was when I heard the intro start. It brought tears to my eyes, but I quickly pushed those aside and went back to absorbing as much energy as I could before it was over. Every time I hear it now, especially if my mom is with me, I go back to that moment. 

There was an incredibly eclectic crowd that came out to see them perform, and it was great to see so many different people come together.You could tell that everyone there left with a new sense of respect for the music they had just heard. I don't know about anyone else, but my mom and I both left the concert hall feeling totally refreshed.

For those of you in the UK, Switzerland and Germany, be on the lookout for the 2014 Tour, where Ian Anderson will be performing the new album 'Homo Erraticus' and the best of Jethro Tull. I personally hope that they add some North American dates, because I would love to see this one too.

Connect with Jethro Tull on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

7 Things Becoming a Single Mom Has Taught Me

This is a hard post to write. Mainly because it's hard to admit to failures in life, generally. But also because sometimes it's even harder to find the successes in those failed ventures.

To back up a little, Living As We started as a way to share about my journey as I struggled to find a balance between finding me, while living as "we". At the beginning the "we" was three people. Now, Emily and I are busier than ever, finding our way just the two of us.

I never really got into much of my personal life on here. There was a good reason for that. I've wanted to try and keep this blog as my positive place. Somewhere I can go to share triumphs, discuss fears, and hopefully help a few people along the way. When a relationship is on its last legs there's not always going to be good things to say. So, I just chose to stay quiet.

Instead of being angry, I want to focus on the good that comes with the bad because being a single mom has been a very eye-opening experience. Here are some of the greatest lessons I've learned so far.

Don't be afraid to accept help. I have never been someone to ask for help, as much as I may have needed it. I always had the mindset that there was someone out there that needed help more. It's given me a lot of strength to learn that it's okay to ask for help, and taken more courage than I thought I had in me, to admit that I needed it.

Be Strong. This means so much. I'm talking mentally, physically....the works. Physically the toll on my body showed quickly. Not only does Emily's energy level seem to increase as she grows, but there is now only me to make sure all of that energy is exhausted. I've had to shift more of my focus into getting fit. Not only do I need to keep up but I need to be able to outlast her if I ever plan on getting any work done both on the blog, and in our home. I have to say that since I've started exercising I have more energy, I sleep better, feel better and look better. Emily loves it too! She joins right in, whether by hopping on my back while I'm planking or mimicking my squats.

 Being mentally and emotionally strong has become priority too. Simply because if I weren't, if I'm not, we won't make it. And that is not an option in my books. It takes a choice to be happy, to see the good in the bad, to find the positive instead of the negative. And when I can't see any of that, it means taking that negative and me turning it into something positive. It takes digging a little deeper than I ever thought possible because Emily and I deserve it.

Set a better example. We're working on our eating habits currently. I found myself asking why Emily asked for cookies, chips and chocolate for breakfast. Probably because I cared more about getting her a healthy meal. I'd forget to eat, and eventually grab for the "snacks" to hold me over. Of course she would want to do what I'm eating. In changing my habits, she's wanting to change hers. This goes for brushing our teeth, eating habits, exercising, washing hands, picking up toys, garbage, clothes...pretty much everything we do.

Own your mistakes. I am one of those people who tend to learn the hard way. Needless to say that's led to me having made a LOT of mistakes in my past. Who hasn't, right? The key has been admitting when I was wrong. All I can really do is apologize, show gratitude where it's deserved, and be a better person moving forward. That's exactly what I intend to do. Mistakes are important to make. As long as you learn from them and know not to repeat them, then it wasn't a waste of your time.

Be a better friend. Friends are something that I've not really pursued in a long time. When you move around every couple of years and suffer from pretty crippling anxiety/depression, the idea of friendship can be a daunting, fairly foreign topic. I love people (as much as I say I hate them). I love them. There are so many good people in this world. If I let all the bad peope in my life deter me from pursuing the good people that are out there, that is truly an injustice to myself and to others. I know now that I deserve friends, and that I have the ability to bring some good to others lives as well letting them bring some good to mine. Hold on to the good ones and don't let go. They are few and far between.

Be Honest. Capital H. To myself and to others. I think deep down we all know what's bothering us. I think it's a fear of the reaction and the unknown that makes so many of us bite our tongues. Just let it out people! If you know what's bothering you, talk about it. If you don't, well....talk about it! I'm sure you'll find the answers you're looking for if you start asking yourself the right questions. If you are holding something back, don't! If people can't deal with the truth, that's their problem. Face the truth, as hard as it seems. You'll feel a lot better. I don't mean be hurtful, but be honest. If you can't find something nice to say find a tactful way to express yourself. If you can change what is bothering you, do it. Even if it's a little bit each day. If you can't change it, be aware of that, and just let it go. Make that choice to put it out of your mind. Why? Because there's no point in worrying if you really can't do anything about it. Your brain will thank you. And that weight that you've been carrying around will get lighter and lighter as time passes.

Value your time. Life is worth living, and it is short. Make the best out of each day. Never take a day that you wake up for granted. Being alive is enough cause for celebration. So start celebrating your life, and make each of your days count.

I'm sure there will be a lot more along the way. But those are a few of the things that I've been grateful to learn through this time. I am finally excited to see what life holds for me and look forward to sharing as I go.

Feel free to follow along in any way you'd like (buttons are on the sidebar) if you want to keep up with my journey.  
Have you ever had to learn something the hard way?

Monday, 16 December 2013

Devils May Care- "Smoke Before Fire" Review

 Disclosure: I received the product in this post free in order to conduct my review. All opinions are my own, and 100% honest.

For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in the world of fashion. The runway, the designers, the cut of a beautifully tailored blazer, or better yet, feeling the different fabrics when you're at the fabric store!

Over these last few years, I've realized just how much the clothing you wear can impact your life. I feel like the way we present ourselves on the outside, reflects how we're feeling on the inside. For the past several years, I've just wanted to fade away into the background and hoped that no one would notice me. I didn't really care about my appearance.

The Problem?

Now I care! I can't state that enough. It feels amazing to actually want to take better care of myself.

The Solution!

Learning to take pride in what I wear. Even if it is just jeans and a t-shirt. Your wardrobe speaks to the world, visually, since you can't always address people verbally.

This is precisely why I immediately fell in love with what Jamie Greenberg created with her unique brand, Devils May Care. Through combining her experience and passion for photography with fashion, she has changed what the phrase "jeans and t-shirt" can mean to a person. Starting with an exclusive, limited edition collection of belt buckles, and later growing to include some great apparel for both men and women. 

Devils May Care has been spotted on American Idol, in New York Magazine, in the independent film Girls Against Boys and bought by celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Biz Stone, and Dean Winters.

I was sent the "Smoke Before Fire"  Unisex V-Neck Tee to review. It arrived in a decent amount of time, and came nicely packaged in tissue paper with the signature DMC logo sticker to seal the deal. I could instantly feel how soft the shirt was when I touched it, and though at first I didn't like the idea of the navy/pink colour combination, they turned out to work really well together.

I didn't get a chance to wear it right away. I wanted to save it for a night out (and as a mom that doesn't happen very often). Until then, I took a peek at the little details. The seams were strong and even for the most part. There was this one spot under the left arm where the stitching is a little off (see below). Nothing overly noticeable. I liked that instead of a typical tag, there was just the logo printed right on the back of the shirt (see above). Nothing to irritate you in that department. The graphic itself is beautiful. I appreciate the artistry that goes into taking just the right photo to use, and that each tee is individually screened.

Even though I tend to prefer 100% cotton for shirts in general, I couldn't get over how light and smooth the tri-blend (cotton, polyester, rayon) material was against my skin, when I finally did get the opportunity to put it on. It fit so well. Snug, but not tight or clingy. I wore it to a concert, but I look forward to wearing this just about anywhere. Versatility is important for me when I'm going to be spending money on pretty much anything, but especially for clothing. So far after quite a few washes, it hasn't shown any signs of aging or fading either.

You can connect with Devils May Care on Facebook and Twitter. Facebook fans get exclusive promos under the Specials tab for the rest of December! Or, for those that prefer to hear about new designs, and promotions direct to your inbox, head over and sign up for the DMC newsletter.

What do you think of the Smoke Before Fire shirt?

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Back Online...Finally! Woo Hoo!

I'm baaaaaaaaack! :)

Some may have noticed that I have been MIA for the past couple of weeks. After running into some issues with our internet services, we were left without a connection unexpectedly, for the last two weeks. 

Happy to be back and looking forward to getting back on track. After sifting through my inbox, and catching up on most of my correspondence, I am off to get some long overdue reviews up! 

The Positive Side?

While offline, I had a chance to do a lot of reflecting, and have written some articles that are pretty personal. I can't wait to share them with you guys! Stayed tuned.