Nov
29
2013

Everyone Is Entitled to an Opinion

BUT NOT EVERYONE WANTS TO HEAR IT

Everyone Is Entitled to an Opinion

We’re not only living in a world of excessive oversharing thanks to Facebook and Twitter, but also one in which espousing our opinions — whether wanted or not — has become second nature.

Thanks to the accessibility of social media, it’s never been so easy to be opinionated, however this overbearing trait seems to be spilling over to our outside voices as well.

On a recent cold day a friend of mine gave up a frustrating battle of trying to get her daughter to keep her hat on.

She would slip the hat on her child’s head and the toddler would fling it off again. This repeated itself a half dozen times until the girl’s mother gave up.

Surely her daughter would soon realize the benefits of wearing the warm and snuggly offering and see the light.

But, it didn’t take long for a nosy passerby to take note of the girl’s uncovered head and make a sweeping judgment about it.

In a loud voice he said he “should report her” because her daughter wasn’t wearing a hat.

“What did you say?” I asked.

“Nothing.” She was taken aback, as one is in these uncomfortable and intrusive situations. 

My friend’s story reminded me of when my son was a newborn.

He was a colicky baby and one day while waiting for the subway a woman told me quite confidently that the reason for his crying was because he was too cold. She was certain of it, she said.

A little while later while waiting for a transfer train, another woman approached and told me, quite confidently as well, that the reason my baby was crying was because he was too hot.

And finally, after we’d boarded the next train, a third woman came up and told me he was crying because he was hungry.

Thanks, everyone. Helpful. Only it wasn’t. 

What they didn’t know (because they’d never met me or my baby before) was he was impossible to get down for a nap and would stay awake for an insane number of hours and was constantly exhausted and cranky.

Sometimes though, all you can do is sigh.

Sigh at the fact your child refuses to wear her hat. Sigh at the fact people are giving you stink eye because your baby is crying in public and there’s nothing you can do about it. 

And sigh at the fact strangers feel entitled to tell you what they think, feel, and sometimes how to parent.

Well, guess what? Most folks don’t want an opinion unless they’ve asked for it.

Thing is, just because everyone has an opinion, not everyone has an informed opinion. 

We’ve mistakenly been conditioned to think we’re all experts, even concerning subjects we know very little about and people we don’t know at all.

Sure, it makes sense for all of us to button up and wear our hats and mittens in the winter, but perhaps we should also remember to button up our traps as well, no matter the season.

Then again, that’s just one woman’s opinion (and if you ask me, I think you should take it with a grain of salt). 

Nov
27
2013

'Tis the Season of Comfort and Food

CRAVING WINTER CARBS? THERE ARE REASONS FOR THAT

'Tis the Season of Comfort and Food

So, the season is upon us—the season of comfort and joy and carbs.

As I write this, I am wolfing down leftover cheese-stuffed pasta with Alfredo sauce and a grilled cheese and bacon panini sandwich beckons.

These are the things that make me drool when the winter months arrive.

The other night, I was craving salty potato chips and the only thing preventing me from devouring a family-sized bag was the cold trip to the corner store to get them. This was after a pretty solid day of eating; the kind of day when no matter how much you consume you just didn’t feel full or satisfied.

After a summer of salads, light sandwiches, and a rigid fitness routine, all bets are off. I am like a bear storing up for winter, craving an endless amount of carbohydrate-heavy deliciousness.

Comfort. I want comfort, in the form of a heaping plate of spaghetti with big, fat meatballs, cheesy chicken Parmesan, thick, wintery soups, and homemade mac and cheese. Seriously, I could happily tuck myself under a toasty blanket and eat mac and cheese for days. Don’t judge me. I know I am not alone.

If you’re among the cold weather, carb-craving crew, there are reasons behind the sudden urge for a gooey plate of nachos, pepperoni pizza (just writing the word pizza made my belly grumble), rich pastas, stuffed baked potatoes, and loaves of fresh buttery baguette.

Carb-heavy foods temporarily work as a mood booster by raising happy hormones such as dopamine and serotonin. See, they’re not so bad, right?

On the downside, after the blissful high of sugar wears off, we’re hit with a low that leaves us hungry yet again.

And the even darker side—all of this yummy noshing can lead to weight gain. Sigh. But it just feels so good, like a little reward for surviving gloomy, grey days that cause our Vitamin D (also known as the sunshine vitamin) levels to dip.

Yet, too much of a good thing is unhealthy. We know that. 

But for now, I can’t resist. For the next couple of weeks, I am declaring a free-for-all. I’ll still keep my running and weight-lifting schedule, but I am going to eat like no one’s watching. Yep. That’s what I am going to do.

Then of course, I’ll return to a more sustainable way of living and eating. After all, no need to eat my way into a new jeans size.

Meantime, if you have any must-try, comfort food recipes to share, send them my way! Happy eats, folks. 

Nov
14
2013

How I Met Prolific Writer Stephen King

AND THE FAMOUS WRITER LEFT ME TONGUE TIED

How I Met Prolific Writer Stephen King

Stephen King

It will forever be known as the day I met world-famous writer Stephen King at the Royal Ontario Museum.

I first heard of Stephen King when I accidentally stumbled upon the film version of Carrie playing on TV as a child.

When my parents found me frozen in front of the boob tube watching the bloody terror unfolding before my eyes, I was in pretty big trouble. I instantly knew that I’d discovered something really great; my parents’ reaction was a dead giveaway.

My admiration for the author travels beyond his massive library of fictional works, among them Misery, The Shining, Cujo, The Shawshank Redemption, and The Body (which was adapted into the film, Stand By Me), and over to my nightstand where Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft sits at this very moment.

See, I’d recently finished reading it for the fourth or fifth time on the fateful day our paths crossed. I say fateful because for me it was, although I am quite sure that in the world-famous scope of Mr. King’s existence, our run-in was a non-event for him.

My husband, baby, and I were just leaving the ROM lunchroom when a very tall, slender man with slightly hunched shoulders—a man who happened to look an awful lot like Stephen King—held the door for us while his companions wandered on ahead. 

It is at this point in the story that you'll begin to understand just how cool I am.

I saw the man and stopped dead in my tracks. "You look exactly like Stephen King,” I said to the fellow patiently holding the door.

“Yeah, I get that a lot,” the man responded as I stared unblinkingly at him. Yes, that's right, I just stared and stared, mesmerized by a man I believed to be Stephen King. 

His voice was also recognizable—affable, smooth, comforting like a glass of warm brandy.

My heart began racing and I could feel words jumbling up in my mouth. If I were to speak just then, I am certain my voice would’ve sounded as though my tongue had become tangled in cotton balls.

So instead, I stood there with my jaw agape while I studied the man’s features. Maybe he thought I was a crazed fan, a la Misery’s demented character Annie Wilkes (played eerily well by actress Kathy Bates), or perhaps Stephen King was just hungry and wanted to be on his way, but whatever it was, he decided to extend his hand to me.

“Nice to meet you,” he said taking my hand in his and affirming what I already knew—that the prolific writer was in our midst.

“Oh … my … God,” I sputtered. I was a deer in headlights (well if a deer caught in headlights happened to be sporting a big goofy grin, that is).

My inside voice started screaming very loudly ‘OH MY GOD! I am meeting Stephen King. I am meeting Stephen freaking King!’

Thankfully my outside voice remained in silent awe. Cool, right? RIGHT? Mr. King (who was in Toronto to open the International Festival of Authors) literally took the words out of my mouth. I was spellbound. 

Finally I released the man's hand, allowing him to reunite with his wife and daughter in the lunch line, which is exactly where I tracked him down a few minutes later. Honestly, it wasn’t as Annie Wilkes as it sounds.

This time, I had located my words and was able to tell him just how much his memoir meant to me. I admitted that I returned to it often.

“I didn’t think anyone read it four times,” Mr. King said.

“Well I did,” I said, which is akin to admitting you may just be one of the biggest nerds on the planet.

He was gracious. He thanked me. But what I had really hoped to do was thank him.

What I meant to say was that if it were not for him, I might not be sitting in my cozy writer’s room today with the curtains drawn and door shut behind me. It is here that I come to write every single day, a ritual that is at once simplistic and complex, and wholly inspired by the words and wisdom of Mr. Stephen King. Yes, the one and only Stephen King. By the way, did I happen to mention that I met him once?