Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Interview with Girl Warrior Mel Baird.

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Today we raise our fists high and put our hands together in celebration of our Feature Girl Warrior, mobile makeup artist Melanie Baird, a woman of character and the quintessential example of what true beauty is. For over two decades, Mel has brought her unique style to over 1000 weddings; to popular television shows, including Canadian Idol, Canada’s Next Great Chef, and Kool Countdown; the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games Closing Ceremonies; countless magazine features, editorial and print ads, music videos, CD covers, movies and commercials; plus, a finalist on Canada’s Next Top Model; BITE Beauty Founder Susanne Langmuir’s Movember Sephora Video; and Lieutenant Governor Judy Guichon’s official photo.  

What makes you a Girl Warrior?

As a female business owner, it’s my ability to connect with women. I love getting to the depths of our Souls with talking and healing. Spreading my light and helping make the world a better place however I can.

We love your Feel Good Campaign. How did that come about?

I have been doing makeup on women for years and helping them feel better. Many clients have gone through cancer treatments and I would teach them how to do makeup to look and feel better. It became my passion. As I did more and more I wanted to make this a staple. I get the most joy helping people, and this merged my two passions. So myself, and Danielle Bennett King, do hair and makeup every month for a woman going through treatment or hard times.

What has been your biggest challenge – personally or professionally? 

Professionally I would say my self-doubt/anxiety! If I don’t know how to do something well I tend to not feel comfortable trying. I can be hard on myself because my personal standards are very high.

What obstacles have you overcome and walls have you broken down?

I would say my anxiety and fears; they can hold you back. I loved makeup and taught myself how to be a makeup artist the old fashioned way – through books!

What would you say to your younger Girl Warrior?

This question makes my eyes tear up. I have SO much I would of loved to say! But mainly to not worry and all of your hopes and dreams do come true. Keep being you and have an open heart and beautiful things will happen.

What would you say to future Girl Warriors looking for inspiration?

Be true to who you are. Listen to your Soul. Feed your Soul. Work on inner growth because that is the key to happiness and abundance. Everything in your life will get better when you love yourself. You will be a beam of light! I try to teach this to my 18- year old daughter, especially by leading by example.

Who is/are your Girl Warrior hero(s)?

I am constantly inspired by strong women who help others. Women are nurturers and are powerful. We teach love. Also, any woman who saves animals or run rescue organizations are my heroes too.

What’s next?  

To continue doing what I love and makes me happy. To keep growing as a person. Doing makeup. Laugh, travel, enjoy life, animals and my family.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

 That’s always a funny one for me. For my career I feel I am exactly where I want to be. So then I think of other areas. I am very happy in my marriage and being a mother. So maybe travel more, do more yoga, work a bit less and spend more time with my father who recently moved here.

What message would put on your t-shirt?

There are two I love:

  • “Character is built through adversity” – Unknown
  • “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s Soul remains unawakened” – Anatole France

If you have someone you would like to nominate for Mel’s “Feel Good Campaign” please connect with her. In her words, “We would love to beautify and empower them.”

Connect with Mel on Instagram @mel_baird_makeup; through her Facebook page Melanie Baird Makeup Artist or her website http://www.melaniebaird.ca

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Sunday Morning.

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Hey E Baby

I was thinking about that Sunday morning

Just after we bought the house

It was November and the rain

Was pelting on the window

All dark and dreary outside

So you put our first log in the fireplace

I made coffee just for the two of us

You were hanging photos of the family

Framed in black and white

And all those paintings from the artists

Who had passed through our lives

My Barbara Lewis CD was playing

Baby I’m Yours

The sweet soulful sounds

That have the power to break your heart

You took my hand

And we danced around our new living room

You sang the chorus into my ear

While I cried into that soft spot

On the side of your neck

Hey E Baby

I think those were

The best two minutes of my life.

 

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: 20 Things to Love About Yourself.

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At the end of November my beautiful daughter-in-law (DIL) sent an interesting Facebook message to my two daughters and me. This message was actually a challenge. It was something she herself had been challenged to do in her fitness class that week, and one that she found extremely difficult. When I read that, my first thought was that “if this incredible young women finds a “fitness” challenge difficult,” then I’m dead meat. No way Jose. Not going to happen for this Old Broad (OB). Then when I read “the challenge” I was even more convinced that this was something I could not do.

What was so challenging about “the challenge”?

Everything. Why? Because it requires that you take a long hard, uncompromising, honest, candid, truthful and LOVING look at yourself. Both physically and non-physically. And come up with ten things for each that you like about yourself. I’m not even talking love here. Just, like. A little nod to one of your more redeeming attributes, a mere mention of some cute little trait or charming characteristic. You know the thing I’m talking about. That endearing eccentricity that your family mutters under their collective-breath at family gatherings, “There it is.” We all have those, right. But as my DIL said in her note, “It’s amazing how in 2 seconds you can name a million things about family, friends and even people you’ve just met, but to name 20 things about yourself is HARD!”

She’s right. It’s easy-peasy to find 20 things about someone else that are admirable and praiseworthy, both physically and non-physically. But try pointing the lens back at yourself and it is damn near impossible. At least for me.

But this is a new year. And I’ve decided that this is the year that I will challenge myself more. Go out on that fragile limb and do things. Face uncertainty head-on. Take some risks. Do things a little, or a lot, differently than I have in the past. Some of these things I know are going to scare the shit right out of me. And at my age this could seriously happen.

Other things, I’m going to do because they’ll be good for me. Like eating more vegetables and less meat, especially the stuff that causes the unnecessary death of cute animals. This is a dilemma for me because I think all animals, and many plants, are cute. And if you think I’m being facetious, check out Marimos. They are freakin’ adorable. So are Baby Lichens. Then there’s Venus Flytraps. Not all that cute but extremely interesting. Like the dark-haired girl wearing uncool glasses in a roomful of Barbie’s with big boobs. I can relate to the V-Flies.

And then there are those things I’ve been putting off for years, decades even. You know the things, the “I’ll do that someday” stuff. All the stuff you make excuses for, that possibly involve some kind of weird time and space continuum. I have no idea what that is but it sounds like it may apply here, and very likely every aspect of my life to date. But I do plan to make a heroic attempt, and at the very least, confront some of these things that I’ve been putting off and maybe quite conceivably, should all the stars line up just right, get around to it. Perhaps.

As for the 10 physical things and the 10 non-physical things I like about myself? I haven’t a clue. I only know that it will require me to be as kind and loving with myself as I am with others. I will need to be as gentle and gracious, understanding and big-hearted, caring and compassionate, forgiving and magnanimous to me as I am to you and you and you, and the person I’ve just met. For this is all the great big important stuff that is at the very heart of “the challenge.” Maybe, just maybe, that’s why it’s so difficult.

And as my wise, witty and wonderful DIL said, it’s easier to come up with these things about someone else then it is about yourself. So I thought I’d do it for her.

10 Physical things that I LOVE about my DIL (in no particular order and just for starters):

  1. Big beautiful smile
  2. Gorgeous hair
  3. Killer abs
  4. Cute freckles
  5. Dazzling blue eyes
  6. Tiny waist
  7. Artistic hands
  8. Infectious laugh
  9. Melodic voice
  10. Magnificent fit figure

10 Non-Physical things that I LOVE about my DIL (in no particular order and just for starters):

  1. Loving-kindness
  2. Generosity
  3. Compassion
  4. Thoughtfulness
  5. Gentleness
  6. Intelligence
  7. Creativity
  8. Humor
  9. Courage
  10. Warmth and wonder

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: How I Learned to Meditate.

boo on the rocking chairI learned to meditate while Ma was dying. If she had died suddenly. Or in another place. At a different time. I’d probably have a different story to tell.

As an enduring student of yoga, I made countless attempts over the years to learn the nebulous art of meditation. But I just didn’t get it.  Stilling my mind was impossible. Sitting cross-legged for anything longer than a minute or two just about killed me. Om aside, staying focused on ‘nothing’ was a ridiculous premise at best. Stopping the endless chatter inside my mind was frustrating.  All of it made me uncomfortable. Pain, pain, pain. That was my mantra.

I also tried meditating while in the corpse pose. This just put me to sleep.  Within minutes I was dead to the world. A gaping mouthed drooling transcendental disaster.

Ma used to say that God works in mysterious ways.  I didn’t get that either.  I’ve always expected God to be more direct.  Obvious. Straightforward.  Shoot from the hip. Strike with a bolt of lightening. Flood the earth. And part the seas. Regardless of their color.

Who knows. Maybe Ma and I were talking about different Gods.  Despite all those Sunday mornings sitting side-by-side in the ass-numbing wooden pews of Christ Lutheran Church. Hers was an enigmatic deity filled with paradoxes, parables and puzzles. And with an inexplicable and absolutely unfathomable approach to running things. Mine was simple. He/She spoke my language. Read my letters. Understood the complexities and subtle nuances of the word fuck. And why it was part of my daily vernacular.

Then Ma had a heart attack.

I thanked God for not striking her dead instantly.  Which He/She most certainly could have, especially if He/She was in a particularly angry mood on the morning of Ma’s heart attack. Remember all that scary shit from the Old Testament?

Instead we got another 18 months to enjoy Ma’s presence on Earth. And what a gift that time was.

Most of the last six months of her life was spent in a hospital, on the West Coast.  She came for a visit a few months after the heart attack and never left.  By this time The Old Man was living, and I use this term loosely, in a dreary Senior’s home back in Northwestern Ontario.  They died 5 weeks apart, and 3 thousand miles away from each other.  They hooked up in heaven though. At least that’s what I believe. That notion brought me comfort then. It brings me comfort now. Then, I’ve always liked stories with happy endings.

We held vigil by Ma’s bedside. 

ma + aimee + abbyAt times there were enough of us to form a small crowd. We clustered around Ma’s frail sheet-draped declining body. Her little flock of fragile birds. Still hungry to be fed. We took turns holding her hand. We laughed. Cried. Prayed. Told stories. I’m guessing there was nothing unusual about our good-bye time with Ma. We weren’t the first family to experience this.  But this was our first time. Our first rodeo.

My heart was fractured. Armor chinked. Equilibrium faltered as the earth beneath my feet shook. I was standing on a fault line with nowhere to go. With my lifelong safety net lying in a bed dying.

This was also a time of transformation.

My favorite time with Ma was when it was just the two of us.  Not just because it was precious mother-daughter time, which was slipping rapidly and elusively away. But because it brought me peace.  In the midst of family chaos and emotional gut-wrenching wringer days, this quiet alone time with Ma became a place to escape. A safe haven. A sanctuary. It was the sheltered harbor where I moored my heart and allowed my spirit to rest. Next to hers.

It was in this quiet place that I learned about God and his mysterious ways. It was during these soft murmuring twilight hours that I learned to meditate. Ma taught me everything I needed to know about the stuff that mattered in life. This was no different.

Hours would pass. Time had no meaning. I sat next to her bed in the clinically designed hospital chair, with the hard vinyl seat and wooden arms.  The type fashioned for short visits and good posture. Neither of which applied in this situation.  But it didn’t matter.

Very little was said during these visits.  Words were no longer necessary.

I watched Ma sleep. The gentle rise and fall of her breath against her flannel nightgown. The stillness of her body.  Her peaceful repose. It soothed me. Ma had always been able to comfort me when I was hurt.  Nothing had changed in that regard.

I slipped effortlessly into rhythm with Ma’s breathing. Inhaled. Exhaled. I closed my eyes. I let the world drift away. There was no dying. There was no living. There was just being. Ma. Me. God.

And with the ease of a soaring eagle, I was meditating.

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter. Flying with the Dog.

IMG_4225In the years before my knees healed, and running was an impossible dream, I used to walk my dogs. First Andy, then the lovely Miss Coco. And most recently, my silly, endlessly amusing, ginger-cookie pal, Rusty.

With the world outside muted and my family resting serenely in the arms of Morpheus, there we were. Just a woman and her dog. In the ephemeral hour just before dawn.

It was a sweet time. A gift straight out of heaven. Peaceful. Quiet. Undisturbed. A writer’s blessing.

It was a time cherished. Held dear. Revered and coveted. The whispered hush before the busyness of the day began. Before E’s alarm went off.  The kettle plugged in. Shower turned on. Before the Today Show announced another incomprehensible tragedy.

We walked the same circle route every morning. At that hour, I was a creature of habit. So were my dogs. But Rusty, in particular, was painfully predictable. You could bet money on him.

He sniffed every blade of grass. Peed on every shrub. Squatted and pooped in all the same spots. I carried a fistful of white plastic grocery bags to scoop up after him. It was all part of our daily dance. I loved every minute of it.

On one of the last mornings that Rusty and I walked together, I had a bittersweet and profound experience.  When we got to the bend in the road, the glorious spot at the crest of the hill, I caught a glimpse of eternity.

The lights below flickered like halos as the world awoke.

At that moment I wanted to fly. Spread my arms. And take off. Rusty has floppy ears that were engineered for flight. I have big hair.

We can do this, I thought.

I stopped and looked out at the sublime sunrise and thought how lovely and endless these days were. Filled with the promise of forever.

But they aren’t of course.

I thought of my mother. My dear Ma. And how this breathtaking orange colored sky would have inspired her to paint.

What a view. Oh God, what a divine view. Tears came unexpectedly.

One day, if I’ve done this right, I will be the memory. I will be the gentle tear brushed from the cheek of one of my children.

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: This Year I’ll be a Better Me. Or not.

IMG_3906I’m not big on resolutions. New Year’s or otherwise.  But I do want to be a better, kinder, gentler me. More loving. More magnanimous. More heart. More soul. More La Bamba.

And what better time to start a self-improvement regime than on January 1 of each year.

Fresh starts, heroic efforts and good intentions aside, odds are I’ll be a kaleidoscopic mixed bag of goodies and baddies this coming year. Just like last year and the year before that.  And the year before, before, before. You get the picture. For this is the enigma that makes living sweet and interesting. Irresistible and delicious. Inspiring and auspicious. I could soar with the divine Messengers of God. Or grovel in the mud with the Prince of Darkness himself. Who knows. That’s the intriguing part. The ride. The rock. The roll of this thing called life.

But let’s imagine for a moment, I was big on resolutions. Picture me sitting at my computer on New Year’s Day typing up an entire year’s worth of aspirations, desires and goals.

Categorically they might go something like this:

Spiritual:

I’ll be more spiritual. Or not. I may just float this boat into the sea of iniquity. Not intentionally. That’s not me. But I might drift off-course from time to time. I’m human.  Shit like that happens. Most days though, I’ll continue with my daily letters to God. I love these intimate conversations. They’re a bit one-sided at times but they do make me feel better. A daily emotional dump into the neatly lined pages of a Hilroy notebook is remarkably cathartic. Good for the Soul.  I’ll work on being kinder and more loving to everyone, even those who are difficult to like, much less love. I’ll pray and open the eyes of my heart.  I’ll listen with compassion and empathy. I’ll tread lighter on the earth. I’ll work on my awesomeness. Maybe even turn myself into sauce.

Physical:

I’ll be more physical. Or not. At times I’ll laze around, eat rubbish and binge-watch every season of Sons of Anarchy or Breaking Bad, even though I already did that last year.  Some resolutions are worth repeating. There will be other binges as well. Like too much turkey and cranberries at Thanksgiving. Too many bottles of alcohol-free wine. Oh, the shame of it all. But there will be redemption. I will continue with my daily practice of yoga because it still manages to keep me somewhat limber.  And without going all Zen on you, it’s a conduit to my higher self. I like that place in me. I’ll walk the winding country road during my lunch breaks. With every twist and bend there’s a brood of hens or flock of sheep that delight me, no matter how many times I see them. Similar to how I feel about my children. I’ll also keep running every morning. Learn new things from the hill. Or maybe not. It might simply be one steep mother of a hill that I have to drag myself up to get home.  Sometimes a hill is just a hill.

Family:

I’ll spend more time with my family. Or not. It’s entirely possible that they don’t want to spend more time with me. They do have lives of their own. So there’s that. Wonderful lives that have nothing to do with me. Hard to believe I know, but true. But still, I’d like to see more of them. And, this includes my extended family and friends. You and you and you. Sadly, I’m guilty of being socially lazy. I’m the sloth of the soiree. But I can do better. I vow to do better. We’ll meet in places other than Facebook. I’ll get off the couch. Turn off the reruns of SoA or BB and hook up with you dear ones. We can chat over tea in a coffee house. Go to a concert and lose our hearing. Attend a poetry reading at a used bookstore. Dance our asses off in the middle of the street. Sing our own Coke commercial. It doesn’t matter what we do. It’s about the familial connection and glue. I’d love to spend all kinds of crazy-time with you, deepening the bonds of family.  What about you?

Work:

I’ll work harder. Or not. Maybe I’ll work smarter. Or not. Truthfully, I don’t even understand what that expression means. Sounds like motivational mumbo jumbo. I’m smart. I work. I do my very best. Every day. But most importantly, I show up. That’s critical, I think. Especially when you work with other people who are counting on you. It’s a pretty simple philosophy. One that’s always worked for me.  And if you enjoy the work you do, then bonus. And if not, take a look inside. The wisdom dwells there. But first you gotta show up.

Play:

I’ll play more. Or not. I have no idea what that means either. Do I go out and frolic in the sun? Run through mud puddles? Roll around in the dirt. Fly a kite? Play Cards Against Humanity?  Join an organized sport?  Ride a bike or a scooter?  These all sound like legitimately fun things to do. I might even give one or two the old College try.  But most likely, I’ll carry on doing the things I’ve always done for fun. Write. Read. Play music. Sing in the shower. You may find these activities horribly dull. I guess at the end of the day, or year, we have to define our own fun.  And as Nike says, just do it.

Financial:

I’ll be more wealthy. Or not. Bottom line, I don’t care. I’ve never been driven by the money. Why start now? It gives me heartburn just thinking about it. I prefer to do the things that delight and amuse me.  Tickle my fancy. Capture my imagination. Challenge my status quo.  Some of those things pay fairly well and keep food on the table.  Others don’t pay a cent. But I love doing them just the same. Maybe even more. Like writing this blog, for instance. I’d be a penniless beggar if this was how I made my living. But it brings me enormous pleasure and joy. It’s gratifying beyond my wildest expectations. And if these things, these heavenly intangible things, were currency?  I’d be a millionaire. Ten times over.  And that’s good enough for me.

There you have it. Words to live by? Could be. Words of wisdom?  Possibly. Words worth repeating? Maybe not. You tell me.

Now back to reality. The big reason I don’t do resolutions is that I can’t keep them. Why would I set myself up for failure?  I can’t take that kind of pressure. Can you?

So rather than engaging in all forms of frenetic doing, accomplishing, goal setting and achieving, I choose to relax into the year. Let it unfold organically. Bask in the wonder and glory and pleasure of it all. Smell the roses and the coffee and the intoxicating aroma of life. Embrace the git and grime and messiness. Revel in the perfectly miraculous humanness.

No doubt, I’ll trip over myself along the way. But I’ll enjoy the tumble for it’s not the end of the world. A fall is just a fall after all.

I encourage you to do the same. Pursue the things that you find worthwhile. That add meaning to your life and to your tribe.  Be mindful that it isn’t always lofty or profound or life-altering. But it is essential. Take time to sit still and do absolutely nothing. For it’s in moments like these that you get to know the wonder of you.

Now go on.  Give yourself a big fat passionate hug. Tell yourself you’re beautiful. Glorious. Loving. Full of awesome sauce. There’s no one else in the universe quite like you.

Then resolve to tell someone else to do the same.

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Not the Marrying Kind.

1452388_10153580945835113_784035814_nI’m not the marrying kind. Even though I’ve done it two times. That’s the enigma.  It’s a mystery even to me. My personal paradox.  The thing is, it’s not even that I don’t believe in marriage per se.  I think it’s a fine enough thing to do, and anyone who chooses, should have that right.  No matter what.  I’m just not sure it’s something that really matters to me.  Despite having done it twice.  I’m ambivalent at best.  It’s a Sunday morning quandary.  I for one am positively stumped.

To say the two wedding ceremonies were as different as night and day, the East and the West, Chopin and The Clash, would be a monumental understatement.

The first time, I stood next to my betrothed in the muggy cramped claustrophobic office of a Justice of the Peace in the far reaches of northern BC.  There were warning signs right from the get-go that I chose not to heed.  Like my absurd fear of small spaces, yet there I was getting married in one.  Then there was the JP, who was missing one of his thumbs.  And the piece de resistance, he was wearing a burgundy leisure suit.  His name may have been Ron.  I don’t remember, which is probably a good thing.  Best that I don’t remember all the intimate details of that day.  Some situations and events are better left in a foggy haze.

By contrast, the second time with E was on top of large rocky hill with sweeping 360 degree views of the city and the ocean below.  The clouds, the sun and the large expansive sky, a natural backdrop.  Sheltered by ancient Garry Oaks, we were married by our beloved minister, surrounded by our beautiful family and friends. There was much music and laughter in the summer air.  It was lovely and romantic.  Well worth the twenty year wait.

But as wonderful as that was, it was nothing compared to T and D’s wedding last weekend.

Perhaps I was seeing through the eyes of a mother, who loves her son dearly.  Or maybe it had something to do with how much I adore his beautiful sweet “Lady”.  But the sight of these two dear ones exchanging vows stopped my heart.  Took my breath away. Brought tears of joy.

All this vow taking over the past two years got me thinking about Ma and The Old Man. They were together for over fifty years yet they never married.  They had their reasons.  We didn’t talk about it much.  For a long while, Ma carried a truckload of shame. Then there came a time where the legalities didn’t matter much anymore.  When she was finally free to marry The Old Man, she chose not to.  Perhaps the truth is, she wasn’t the marrying kind either.

No, they never said I do, in any formal way. Never took it to the alter.  Not before God. Nor anyone else. But they did take it to heart, made promises and vowed, in all the ways that count.

I do love you.  I do cherish you.  I do respect you.  I do honor you. I do want to be with you above all others.  I do want to spend all the days of my life with you. I do want to be there by your side through sickness, health, good times and bad.  I do want to hold you close to my heart and keep you forever in my soul.

They may not have been bound legally.  But they were willingly united for life by the things that matter most. Commitment. Loyalty. Honesty. Faithfulness. Dependability. Steadfastness. Devotion. Trustworthiness. Kindness. Gentleness. Compassion. Generosity. Tolerance. Acceptance. Forgiveness.

And above all else.  Love.