I'm sitting here this morning, about to take the dogs for their morning walk, looking outside at my office window at the grass that desperately needs to be mowed and a garden that needs someone with some imagination and brawn (clearly not me). I have a whack of work that I need to finish today and yet I feel so content, so at peace.

I was trying to figure out why. Is it because I've been taking my Black Cohash again? Any woman over 40 should know what I mean by that. That is a possibility. But I think it's not all. Although, trust me that stuff is like gold to me.

Life is far from perfect. My husband still annoys me to no end half of the time, there are still way too many animals in my house, so much work to do, not enough money in the bank and yet ...

Over the past few years I have changed. A lot. It really started almost twenty years ago. Coming clean with my past - letting the chips fall where they may. Ending a bad relationship and the decades long pain and suffering those particular choices brought along with them. Those choices aided in losing my paternal family, my married family, my church family, most so called friends, everything I owned, and my marriage. I was as alone as alone could be. But, I had stood up for myself for the first time in my life. The freedom that brought was huge. But the pain and loneliness soon took hold and dragged me to the bottom. I had despair that I thought would never leave. I lost my spark. I lost my ability to laugh. I lost my soul. I felt abandoned by everyone, by God and by those that I thought loved me, but in reality didn't. Would I change it? No. As awful as it was, I wouldn't. Because through that I have found myself. My real me.

Turning 50 is really an amazing journey. You get to a point that you don't give a rip what anyone says anymore. You're going to do what you do. You're going to take care of you and the people that you love, but you're going to take care of you.

I've come such a long way and I am so thankful for that. Losing the people from my past has been the best thing for me. People that are in your past are not in your present for a reason. I am truly free. There is no toxicity in my life. My friends are real friends. I have acquaintances and I enjoy their friendship. But I have those that I care about deeply and we are there for each other in a heartbeat. They are my true friends. My family is small. Very small. And that's the way I want it.

I am acting again. I am singing again. I'm writing again. I may be old. I may be well past my prime, but I still have a lot to offer.

I am taking care of my body. News flash - I've lost 10lbs! I joined SparkPeople and it is the best for me! I'm logging my food and liking it! Yes, you need to re read that. I am logging my food and actually liking it. SparkPeople has an amazing way of taking the focus off of calories and on to your health if you let it. So I worry more about a balanced day rather than how many calories I am eating. I eat the way I always eat - just not like a lumber jack (which I always said was the problem). That's it. No dieting - God no. Just eating healthy and within a healthy calorie range. I've even figured out how to make it work during birthdays and Easter. Have I actually "figured it out" for real????? God I hope so.

I can feel at peace knowing that God knows my heart and why I did what I did two decades ago. God knows the truth and that's enough for me. I've stopped fighting. I know there are those out there who have gotten away with their 'deeds' so to speak and the abundance of lies or at least it felt like that to me. I had this feeling of being unheard. So many lies said about me that I thought no one knew the real truth. It was like no one cared. People who would brush it aside or say, So? Just forgive Cayla and forget. That irritated me to no end and still does. People are so naive when they say that. Then one day recently a thought came to me - I know that God is the biggest and best prosecutor there ever could be and that it's OK for me to just let it go. I don't need to hang on to my old life any more. For the first time in my life I am truly free.

Why my life has taken the twists and turns that it has I will never know. My plans are not God's plans that's for sure. But I have learned so much and I am who I am because of it. And when I was alone, God was always there with me. It may have been a still small voice, but he was there.

So here I sit surrounded by life and I am happy and content. Why? Because life is so good. I am surrounded by those I truly love. I'm doing what I was created to do, wherever that may lead. I've found some balance. I take time for myself and to spend it with my friends. I'm continuing to grow as a person. And I'm turning 50!!!

Yes life is good.

The Charlie Brown Tree. It's quirky like me!
_I love Christmas.

It's a time of family, love, giving and peace. I love what it represents. I love what it brings out in people. I love the decorations and the festivities. 

This year we chopped down our own tree. Our Charlie Brown tree. I love it!

I love bringing out all of my sappy Christmas albums. I love baking shortbread with my daughter. Shopping for the perfect gift. Filling the Stockings. Decorating the tree. My awesome Turkey. My mom's puke green jellied salad that I make every year. Eggnog. Singing in the choir. New pajamas and "It's a Wonderful Life" on Christmas eve. I love Christmas!

Here's what I don't love. Black Friday. Commercialism. Over buying of toys and gifts. Advertisements of Cars and big ticket items as Christmas gifts. Christmas decorations in October. Stop already.

There is however, a more disturbing trend that irks me to no end. The trend has been around for a while and is growing. Political correctness. "Happy Holidays". "Merry Xmas".  Holiday trees. Stores not putting up any Christmas decorations at all. Personally I'm sick and tired political correctness.

I have news for all of you. Christmas is a religious holiday. It is. Whether you believe or not. Whether you like it or not. It is. Why so offended by that? The original story of Christmas is beautiful. It is celebrated all over the world. Christmas is about hope, peace, love, and giving. All wonderful things. It brings out the best in people. Why squash that? Why take Christmas from those who do believe? How dare we? How awful of us to even think that we should. If you are offended by someone saying "Merry Christmas" to you, whether you are Jewish, Muslim or an Atheist, you need to get over yourself. Period.

I do not get offended when someone says "Happy Hanukkah" to me. Why would I? In fact I feel honoured to be included in something so important to the Jewish faith. I don't get disgruntled at Chinese New Year. I say "Gun Hay Fat Choy" and eat Chinese food and sometimes go to China Town to watch the festivities. And I don't have a drop of Asian blood in me. Really I don't. I am impressed by those from Iran who honour Ramadan and fast for a month. That's an impressive feat if you ask me, I can't seem to go more than a couple of hours without food and water.

Then why oh why has "Merry Christmas" become so Taboo?

I realize there are a lot of 'Christian' idiots out there. The Teletubbies are not gay. Morons like Terry Jones burning the Koran. Some Christians preach hate, legalism and are an embarrassment to anyone who is 'normal'. They can be anti-drink, anti-makeup, anti-movie, anti-Halloween. They are fire and brimstone. Dance with snakes. The Bible thumpers. You know the ones? The ones who if you're talking about a turkey dinner turn it into a Christian statement somehow or other. Who's Facebook status, that if you read them every day you'll have read the entire bible in a year. Remember Jimmy Swaggart? Pat Robertson can make me cringe with some of the stupid stuff he says. Honestly, the man needs an edit button. And Jim Baker? Ha. He was the butt end of jokes for years. He's still on the air you know. Selling something or other to help us all through Armageddon. Christianity is full of stuff like that. That said, there are also Jewish zealots, and certainly Muslim zealots. I am not fond of what China stands for. Are you? And I've heard some mean spirited, rigid Atheists in my life time. Oh on a related note, since I'm ranting, I have to point that "Atheists" have a belief. Their non-belief is a 'belief' and they can be just as pushy and preachy as a Jehovah Witness on your doorstep. That I've witnessed first hand.

But I digress. What I am trying to say is there are idiots everywhere. In every culture. In every city. In every country. In every religion. In every 'non' religion. The world is chalk full of morons.

Back to the subject at hand, why has "Merry Christmas" become so Taboo? I allow everyone their freedom of speech. I allow other cultures and religions their time. Why are we as a culture not allowing Christians theirs? We have no right to cut them down. This is an important time of the year for them and we slap them in the face, undeservedly so, every time we say "Happy Holidays" and my personal favorite "Merry Xmas". Who do we think we are? Why is it that we protect everyone else but Christians are fair game to persecute. And yes, we in North America persecute them. We shut them down continually. Now, like I said there are a lot of idiots out there. They are fair game. But just as we should not hate every Arab because of 9/11. We shouldn't hate every Christian because of religious baboon like Terry Jones. My apologies to baboons.
_Why oh why are we wanting to squash something that is so beautiful in its roots in the first place? Zealots and religious fanatics aside, the Christmas story is beautiful. It should be told.

Here is something radical - it should be told to our kids. I mean It is a part of our culture as Canadians and as Americans. To those of you who say, "What? I'm not telling my kids a lie." Well, first off it's not a lie. Jesus was a real person. Second, it is the true meaning of Christmas and the root of why we celebrate. Third, you don't seem to have a problem telling them that Santa Claus is real. And fourth, our Country/s was birthed with this. It is a part of who we are as a Nation. Like it or no. It is.

I will not have my culture taken from me. We have so little. I will fight for that freedom tooth and nail. So please. Do not say Happy Holidays to me. Do not say Merry Xmas to me. That offends me. A normal (or semi normal) person.

And to all of you during this beautiful time of year - Merry Christmas and to all a good night, or good morning or - well you know what I mean.


This is Mac. Handsome boy that he is.
I have a farm. Actually I don't but I feel like I do. I have two dogs, three cats and a bunny named "Bunny" that is so big I swear she is crossed with a Kangaroo. All that is missing is a horse and some chickens and I'd officially have a farm in the suburbs.

My house is relatively small and we all jockey for position. It's bedlam. But it's my bedlam and when it comes down to it I wouldn't have it any other way.

Today I'm going to talk about Mac. Mac is our golden lab/shepherd cross. He's 18 months old and a very sweet boy.

When I think about it I have a lot of similarities to a dog. I would love my day to be made up of sleeping, playing and eating. I like my belly scratched and if you scratch a certain place by my shoulder blade my right leg jumps. But that's where the similarities end. I'm not a fan of drinking from the toilet, eating kibbles or performing a stupid trick to get dessert. And I would never, ever jump into the ice cold ocean to go after a stick, that's just dumb.

Mac on the other hand loves all of those things. Mac almost runs you over getting to the bathroom after hearing the toilet flush. Nothing like fresh cold toilet water to quench your thirst. He is the master of a number of dumb tricks all for a kibble. Cats on the other hand just get the treats they don't have to work for them. They are so superior, but again I digress. Mac thinks nothing of jumping into the ocean after a stick. As a matter of fact it is one of his favorite things to do!

Like most dogs, Mac loves to play. He picks up a remnant of a toy (most of his toys are completely destroyed and he likes it that way) and will either drop the slimy thing on your lap or on the floor by your feet. And then he stares at it. Body tight. Incredible focus. Ready to pounce with any slight movement from you. It can be quite annoying. He does it when you're in the middle of a movie. Typing a blog, or interestingly enough actually working. He is a persistent thing. He will stare at that 1/2 of a ball for 10-15 minutes without flinching. Sometimes he'll gently pick the toy up again and drop it back in your lap, just in case you didn't notice the first ten times. And then back to the stare. He doesn't take his eye off the toy. He doesn't notice the noise around him. Nothing. All focus is on the toy. I used to joke and say "I wish I had his focus." or, "I wish I were that persistent." and after a while I stopped joking about it and actually thinking it.

You see this is what typically happens. He is either told in a firm tone "Mac! No! Now go lie down." to which his shoulders will slump and he'll actually sigh, pick up his toy and sulk away for a while. Or option two - I'll look at him, I sigh, and pick up the toy and throw it. Toss, bring back, drop. Repeat, a hundred thousand times.

The thing is even if he gets rejected, he's back at it a half hour later looking just as perky as he was the first time. And if he does get his way, he's back at it a half hour later looking twice as perky as he was the first time.

Mac is persistent. His focus is amazing. He wants me or anyone else with two legs to play fetch with him. That is his goal. It is his daily goal. It is his life goal. He does not give up. He doesn't take no for an answer. And the thing is he doesn't get his way right away, but he does get it eventually. Oh and before anyone say's poor dog. Trust me Mac is well taken care of. He gets 2 long walks a day. Plays on the beach in the morning with me, afternoon with hubby and night with the family. He has the ball thrown for him a couple times a day by any of us. And when Lauren is home she takes him and the pup out for a jog. Trust me he's spoiled.

In thinking about Mac and his incredible persistence I had to ask myself how often do I give up after rejection or failure? All the time I'm afraid. If I were as persistent as Mac I'd be thin and I'd have an acting and singing career. That's the truth of the matter. Sadly I am consistently inconsistent but I'm working on it. And I learned that from a dog. Go figure.

No matter what you apply it to - whether it's changes to a more natural lifestyle, fulfilling dreams, your family life, marriage, career - be persistent. Have focus. Never take your eye off the prize just like Mac. That's what I'm trying to do. Be more like Mac - except for maybe the toilet bowl thing, and the begging - I don't beg.

You see? You CAN teach an old dog new tricks and my dog taught me.