Archives for posts with tag: Random Thoughts
Channeling my inner Sinead O’Connor. Someone once asked me why I wore so much make-up here. I’m not. It’s no more than usual. Only there’s no hair or anything on my head to distract you….

This woman’s experience, to be exact.

There’s been a lot of talk lately – although more of it about one man’s actions than alopecia itself. So here’s a little something about experiencing alopecia. Please bear in mind everyone who experiences this does so differently. We all have unique comfort levels, priorities, insecurities, opinions, needs, etc. etc. etc.

I’d been working at Vancouver 2010 for about three years, and there were another six months to go before Games. Vancouver 2010 is by far one of the best work experiences I have had (and I’ve been lucky enough to have many wonderful work experiences). That said, it was 3 1/2 years of constant deadlines. What made this job hard wasn’t the work itself, it was the relentless nature of it. I was part of the incredible Brand & Creative Services team, and workload just got bigger and more complex as the Games approached. There was never a down time. I loved it.

I had also been in a long-distance relationship for about a year, with a man living in the UK — which brings its own ups and downs, challenges and rewards.

I thought I was handling it all pretty well, with a regular routine of yoga, working out in a boxing gym, swimming, time with friends – all the good stuff.

Then our incredible Design Director Leo passed away from a massive heart attack – he was 39, younger than me. Leo and I sat in the same pod of four, and worked closely together on a number of pretty incredible projects – many still in production at the time. The first ten days after he passed, I found my shoulders up at my ears. Full on tension, all being sent to the top of my head.

As soon as I, and my shoulders, started to relax, my scalp started feeling funny. Then it was on fire. I noticed hair in my hands as I washed each morning. For some this is “normal.” For some it’s a daily thing to find hair in their hands when they wash, doesn’t mean anything unusual is going on. Not so for me. For me this was a clear sign something was up.

Pre-alopecia me. Hanging out with The Ladies Who Dine.

I started asking my friends if they noticed anything – could they see that my hair was thinning/falling out? They all said no. Ben, who is over 6 foot tall, assured me that all looked well from his angle (I’m 5’3″).

Still, it kept happening, and soon it was even more obvious to me that something was up.

I now had a bunch of complicated feelings battling inside me:

  • For years I’d watched my mum and her sisters have their hair thin as they aged. Was this karma for those not-so-nice thoughts I had about that? About not wanting it to happen to me?
  • Was there something seriously wrong with me? Was there a serious physical issue?
  • Was everyone looking at my head and judging my hair or lack thereof? (Yes, I am aware of the self-centred nature of this…clearly people have better things to think about than the hair on my little head…but still, the thoughts, the insecurity, the fear…it takes over at times. I am only human.)
  • “Snap out of it” I’d tell myself.

Around and around it went.

Pre-alopecia, with my sisters and mum.

After a couple of trips to my doctor, the word “alopecia” became part of my vocabulary. My first visit was too soon for it to be obvious, on my second it was clear. At about this time I started wearing cute little hats/toques every day. That’s how self-conscious I was. That’s how thin my hair was getting. I walked around in fear of losing my hat, or of having someone yank it off. I just did not want anyone to see what was happening on my head. I did not want to field questions, or talk about it. I wanted to wake up and have everything back to “normal.”

Next came the appointments with dermatologists who specialize in scalp/alopecia. The one I really wanted to see didn’t have an availability for two months. Alopecia isn’t life-threatening – there’s no sense of urgency or emergency. However, I was a walking mass of mixed emotions, afraid I’d break down if anyone said anything to me. I didn’t want to wait two months to have alopecia confirmed. I wanted confirmation so I could figure out what to do about it and move on.

I ended up seeing someone at St. Paul’s Hospital. What an experience that was… It’s a teaching hospital, and I was greeted by a medical student who asked why I as there. I explained and took off my toque. He left to get the doctor, who came in, took one look at me and said “I’ll be right back.” A few minutes later he entered the room with five students, asked them to look at me and give their opinion/guess as to what my issue was. Hell, the thought of that still makes me feel a little sick, and it’s been 12 years. A bunch of words were thrown out by the students – most of which I don’t remember, other than “Lupus.” Lupus? Come on! The doctor finally interjected, confirming it was alopecia. He then spoke about what could be done to help, the first step being injections of corticosteriods all over my head. The students left, and he proceeded to administer the shots. Mostly they didn’t really feel like anything. However there were a few spots at the bottom of my head, just above my neck, that hurt.

The doctor noticed the tears in my eyes and said, “Oh, you’re crying!” My inner voice wanted to scream “NO SHIT I’M CRYING! I’VE JUST BEEN TREATED LIKE A SCIENCE EXPERIMENT, WITHOUT EVEN ASKING ME, AND NOW YOU’VE JABBED A NEEDLE INTO MY HEAD, MULTIPLE TIMES!!! Instead, what came out of my mouth was “Don’t worry about it, happens a lot these days.” With that, I left.

Had he asked me before getting the students in, having them shout out guesses, and discussing me like I wasn’t there, I would have said yes and it would have been a totally different experience. Instead, I left feeling like I was some kind of weird, whacky science experiment.

I never went back there again. Luckily the other docter I wanted to see had an opening come up a couple of weeks later. Thankfully it was a much better experience all around.

My niece Ellie, rubbing my head. People loved rubbing my bald held, and I was very much okay with that. I love having someone play with my hair, except I don’t have the kind of hair people like to play with….so this was a nice treat.

There was now about a quarter of my hair left, and it was time to decide what to do. For the record, I have never had a thick head of hair. Having only a quarter was not a pretty sight. My hair was cut in a bob just above my shoulders, with bangs, which didn’t help either. So, what to do?

I went to a store specializing in wigs made from real hair. I tried on every kind of hair style and colour I could. I’d say it was “fun,” but it was all still too raw for me. I’d always wanted long, thick, curly hair. It was one of the first wigs I tried. In that moment I learnt why it is I do not have long, thick, curly hair. It looked ridiculous. Too much hair for my little face. I took pictures of myself with the various wigs on, which I sorely wish I still had. Unfortunately they were lost when my laptop fried the following year.

I wasn’t convinced a wig was the thing for me. Didn’t matter which wig I had on, I felt I was playing dress-up. It didn’t feel like me. And I don’t know how to be anyone other than me. The thought of feeling like this day in and day out didn’t sit well. Besides, I started every day either going for a swim, to a hot yoga class, or working out at the gym. What the hell would I do with the wig then? Certainly wasn’t going to wear it.

I’d already started contemplating just shaving it all off, but that was a scary prospect too. Me, a woman, in her 40’s, walking around with a bald head?

After talking to my long-time hairdresser Haul, he opened his salon for me on a Sunday evening, so nobody else would be there to witness this. I really didn’t want anyone to see me without my hat on. We brought a bottle of wine in order to make this as ‘celebratory’ as possible, and chatted as we always do. Then he said it was time to take my hat off and do it. “I look like I’m a cancer patient,” I said. “I’ve worked with plenty of cancer patients,” he replied. I sat down, and took my hat off. As I dialed my sister Hélène so she could “be there” as it happened (she had been encouraging me to shave my head), Haul got to work. Chitt chatty Haul was gone, and before I knew it, half my heald was shaved. As my hair fell to the floor, so did my worry, so did the stress of the the 2 1/2 months leading to this moment.

It was also a relief to see there were no strange bumps or dents or acne on my head. Seriously, you don’t know until it’s all gone!

Haul and I looked at each other, smiled, and agreed that we should have shaved my head a long, long time ago.

We also joked that he should have started with the middle of my head and given me a comb over, and taken photos. There’s no way I could have done that though – not until all the hair was gone and I was happy with the woman in the mirror looking back at me – could I have joked like this.

From a photo shoot. Shiny bald head. Baring all. This is me.

Haul had also booked a family in for hair cuts, well after he knew we would be done. We decided to put my toque back on, and when the mum and her two teenagers arrived he introduced us. He told them he’d given me just about every hair cut and colour out there (true story), but it was the first time we had done this…and he lifted my toque, exposing my freshly-shaved head. The 17-year old son said “wow, that’s sooo cool!” And with that, with the acceptance of a teenage boy, my confidence started coming back. For the record, his mum and sister also said they liked it. It’s just he was way more effusive in his reaction.

Now came the test of “wearing” this new non-hair-do daily. I was nervous as I walked into the office that Monday morning, still sporting a toque. Then my friend Julie asked me to take it off so she could see what it looked like. Julie’s reaction was so heartwarming, as was my friend Carla’s. Carla was sat at her desk, and upon hearing Julie, turned around and said “You look so beautiful.” More insecurities dropped. I didn’t wear my hat again that day.

The next morning I walked into my gym wearing a sporty Nike head cap. My trainer Richard looked at me and said “you shaved your head, why are you wearing that? Take it off.” So I took it off – hey, after years of working out with Richard, I was used to following his orders! He said I looked great, others who came into the gym said the same.

After that, the only reason I wore a toque again was temperature. It was November…you realize quickly how much heat you lose from your head when there’s nothing covering it.

My friends Terry and JoAnne throw a themed Christmas party every year (non-COVID year, of course). When Terry said he wanted the theme to be “bad hair, bad make-up” I said YESSSSS! I knew exactly what I’d do. One tip: be careful of using carpet tape to adhere a wig to your freshly shaven head. I cut out the bald area of the wig and needed to make sure it stayed. Another party-goer looked at me and said “Wow, you go all out for a party!” I didn’t have the heart to tell her I’d been shaving my head for two years. I left this party and went to another, hosted by Carla. Hers was not a themed party. Hers was a pretty party. I walked in with the comb over wig on. I didn’t know the first two people I saw as I entered, and the look on their faces was priceless. I smiled and said hello. Carla heard me and replied “Lise is here!” Then she walked around the corner, saw me and exclaimed, “Take that thing off!” Oh man, this still makes me laugh so hard.

Even though it was barely 2 1/2 months from the moment I initially noticed hair loss to shaving my head, it was a long road to get there – filled with doubts, tears and “why?” questions. The road also included a lot of support from family and friends. Friends who introduced me to others who had alopecia with whom I spoke and learnt. When I told my friend and boss Ali that I was going to shave my head because of alopecia, she sent me an email with photos of her “favourite super model, who was known for having a shaved head.” Shawn, a co-worker and friend, told me I was “rockin’ the bald look.” My friends Laura and Vicky, who looked at me in disbelief when I told them I’d gone to the wig shop, and said “Why did you do that alone? We would have gone with you!” In truth, although I took some physical steps on my own (well, ALL physical steps that is), I was never “alone.” With me, battling the fear, the insecurity, the “why’s,” was the support of my friends and family.

Even with all this support, it wasn’t always roses and sunshine. I remember looking at myself in the mirror one day, and seeing a woman with black boots, jeans, a black t-shirt and a black pleather jacket.
“Be careful,” the voice in my head said. “You don’t want to look too butch.” Whaaaattt??? No matter what, the insecurities have a way of popping back in, and sometimes with the craziest of statements.

I got used to my bald head quickly enough. And then, I lost most of my eyebrows. Weirdly, they fell from the inside out – leaving just a few brow hairs on the sides. A bald head was one thing. No eyebrows on top of that was another. I went into MAC and was taught how to draw my brows. Problem was, I apparently have a tendeny to touch my face a lot. The first time I drew on my brows and went out for dinner, I got home and noticed I’d smudged them all over my forehead. Clearly this wasn’t going to work. I just needed to get used to having no brows. Fortunately, they came back quickly.

On the plus side, I never needed to shave my armpits or legs, and it did give me the best “bikini wax” ever.

They say alopecia is an auto-imune condition, inflammation that causes hair to fall out. The dermatologist I saw for well over a year told me it was likely a gene I have, and an emotional stresser set it off. That made sense to me. My completely un-scientific explanation is that after Leo passed, I held a ton of stress in my shoulders, pushed it all up to the top of my head, and fried the inside of it. No wonder my hair fell out.

For some, alopecia comes in a spot or spots on their head. For me it was all over, and it was aggressive. For some, alopecia is a life-long condition. For me, it lasted about two years. Let me tell you, I was naiive at first, thinking that it would all come back immediately after I shaved my head. The body, however, needs time to heal.

The photo shoot I ended up doing to comemorate this time in my life led to an article in Best Health Magazine. My photographer had been in touch with the magazine about a different article and had submitted some of my photos. They chose to do an article about alopecia instead. Thank you Cathy Empey – I am forever grateful for these beautiful images.

Although my hair is back, I often consider shaving it off again – especially when summer comes. Let me tell you I LOVED my little tanned head! It also makes dealing with sweaty summer days easier when you don’t have to “worry about your hair.”

All this to say…like most things in life, alopecia is a very personal experience. Although shaving and walking around with a bald head felt right for me, it won’t for others. Although wearing a wig or hat or scarf every day didn’t feel right for me, it will for others. It’s all good – everyone needs to do what works for them, what makes them happy.

To those of you who approached me at a time when I just didn’t have it in me to talk about it, I am sorry. I did, and do, appreciate that you took the time to ask. It’s just that sometimes I got tired of answering the questions. I’m still only human.

Lastly, I really wish I’d written down all the interactions I had with strangers while I shaved my head. Not one of them was mean or insensitive. I leave you now with a few of my favourites.

Vancouver 2010 – behind the scenes at the nightly medals ceremonies at BC Place, watching them on the monitor backstage. Thank you Byron for capturing that moment for me.

1.The first time strangers said “God bless you” to me. I was producing the medal ceremonies at BC Place, and decided to go into the audience to watch. Two women sitting behind me got up after the ceremony and said “God bless you and your family.” Confused, I looked at them and repeated the same greeting. As I ran up the stairs to the concourse level and my office, I stopped and thought “ooohhhh! They think I have cancer, that’s why they said that!” You see, eventually you forget you are walking around with a shiny bald head, because it becomes “normal” to you – at least it did for me. So when these women said “God bless”, I couldn’t figure out why. It took a few moments to come to me.

2.The time I was at the Ukranian Centre with The Ladies Who Dine for perogi night. An older man (also with a bald head) came to me and asked what I did to get my head that shiny. It was so cute. Unfortunately for him I didn’t have a secret to share. I’d shaved in the shower that morning, and it was just shiny. Before leaving, he looked at me and said, “I knew it would be okay to ask. My wife and her friend said I couldn’t, but I knew it would be.” Yes. Totally fine to ask.

3.The time I was in Mexico post Games, at Bikini Boot Camp (now that’s a way to rest!). A fellow boot camp attendee looked at me and said, “Why did you shave your head?” We talked, and eventually she also asked, “Don’t you like how I just came out and asked?” Yes. Yes I certainly did. It was just a question, one borne from genuine interest. Natalie became, and still is, one of my favourite people and good friend.

4.That time I did a photo shoot, and my bestie Julie came with me “to creative direct” and lend moral support. It was a long drive out to the valley for this shoot. I had decided I wanted to commemorate this time. Like I said, I naiively thought my hair would all be back quickly. Julie not only came with me to the shoot, she came with me to pick up the cd with the photos when they were ready, and sat with me at Olive Garden as we looked through them and ate lunch. I’m so happy I have a photo of the two of us that day. That shoot also provided me with the photo I use as the banner for this blog site – it’s perfect for “random thoughts from Lise’s head.”

With Julie at the photo shoot. The support and love of friends and family – and even strangers – means everything.

5.That time I was walking through Yaletown with my friend Sheena, and a man who had been sitting at a café jumped up, tapped me on the shoulder and told me how awesome my shaved head was. He went on to say he felt it was wonderful to see a woman with the strength and confidence to do that, and that I looked great. I’m pretty sure I looked like a deer in headlights at the time — I don’t do well when surprised like that. However, whoever you were, I very much appreciated it.

6.That time an older lady stopped me in the grocery store parking lot. She said she had been diagnosed with cancer, was considering shaving her head, and wanted to know how it felt. She had to be in her mid-sixties. After asking her how she was doing, and saying I hoped all would be well, I assured her it felt great. Then she asked, “But what do the men think?” I looked at her and said, “The young men like it.” It’s true. Men my age usually didn’t say much – likely skirting it because they thought it was cancer (which is why I appreciated the actions of the man in the moment described above). She shrugged her shoulders and replied, “Well, that’s good for you….” I smiled and said, “No, that’s good for EVERYBODY.”

If you have stayed with me to the end of this, thank you so much. Hopefully I’ve given you a little insight to what it means for a woman to face alopecia.

Be well.

As I’ve written before, I love me some HGTV. And when I can’t find something I like there, you might just catch me watching something on the Food Network, or The Great Canadian Baking Show or The Great British Baking Show. I have always loved cooking – be it a main course or dessert. I think I was about six years old when I baked my first cake by myself (mum wasn’t far, but I did it alone). So I guess it’s no surprise I love a good baking show. For that matter, I also love watching Nailed It, where people who can’t bake…try. It’s so funny, and I have to give them props for attempting the crazy stuff they are asked to bake – I’m not sure I would!

A few years ago, I spent the better part of a three-day bone broth cleanse watching the Food Network. I couldn’t eat anything, but I sure could watch people cook and bake all day! No wonder I came out of that cleanse and immediately made brunch for about 20 people – even though only ten or so were actually in attendance. Oh, I do make myself laugh.

I went a little crazy with the baking when I got back from Tokyo – taking full advantage of having an oven once again. Thankfully I calmed down a bit on that one (eating too much of it myself!).

This summer, a friend mentioned the desire to can peaches — I was all in. I love peaches, and when they are in season – so amazing. So why not try to preserve some of that summer goodness for cold winter days? We looked online to see what equipment we needed, and find instructions. Couldn’t be much easier – a massive canning pot, pot-lifter, and jars – lots of jars.

Although I am saving most of the peaches for the dead of winter…I did open a jar. I must say, they are DELICIOUS! The only mistake we made was not canning enough of them. Next year, three times as much!

While working on the peaches I mentioned that I have another friend who married into a large Italian family, and they can tomato sauce every year – and I mean A LOT of tomato sauce. V was interested in doing this too, so I called A.M. to get the details on what to do. This also seemed easy enough. All we needed to get was a food mill – and more jars, of course.

When I saw these bushels of roma tomatoes at the Atwater Market I got super excited! I wasn’t going to be doing 15 bushels like A.M. though. One, let’s start with one bushel, and see how that goes.

The process here is a tad more involved and laborious than the canning of peaches.

1) Boil the tomatoes until the skin cracks.

2) Put them in a colander and press out the water (so the sauce won’t be too liquid).

3) Run them through the food mill to remove the skin and seeds. Our one bushel took four hours of food milling…manually cranking the mill for four hours! Next year I’m definitely splurging the $100 or so for an electric food mill.

4) Once all the tomatoes have been put through the mill, cook up some onions and garlic in olive oil, add the tomatoes, some salt, and let it simmer for a few hours.

5) Put some fresh basil in the bottom of the jars and fill with sauce while it is still super hot (when you put the piping-hot contents into a jar, you don’t need to boil the jars to seal them).

6) Place the jars upside down on the counter and let them sit for at least 12 hours.

There’s something very satisfying about hearing the ‘pop’ when the jars seal.

Fresh tomato sauce is now ready for pasta of all kinds. And let me tell you, it is pretty damn tasty!

I’ve been making my own apple sauce for years now. I have it almost every day with oatmeal or granola for breakfast. Normally I’d be making it every weekend. But then with all the jars I have, I thought to myself why do this every weekend? It’s apple season, get a bunch and can it!

All in all, pretty pleased with the canning this year. And looking forward to doing more of it in future.

While doing the canning, I found myself thinking that our ancestors really were on to something. Okay, I know a lot of it was out of necessity, however having the freshness of available fruit canned and at the ready for consumption during winter is just smart. Plus it feels good to make this myself and reach into the pantry to get some more once a jar is done. Next year I’m adding pears to the mix. Yes, it’s “convenient” to buy it at the super market, but it does not taste like this! It is also very satisfying to see the fruits of your labour.

Now that we are well past the canning season, and with Christmas around the corner, you know that means — time for baking! Even though Covid-19 means Christmas won’t be quite the parade of dinners and time with family and friends it usually is, you can still bake and share that love. So V and I decided that we would bake, exchange recipes and baking. Because I am in V & P’s bubble, and they are in mine, we decided to bake together. Also, I live alone, so for sanity reasons am allowed to visit someone or have someone visit. I mean, I love my own company, but even I get tired of hearing myself talk sometimes! It’s great to throw in another voice or two every now and again.

A quick chat revealed we wanted to make:

  • Chocolate Chip Butter Balls
  • Candy Cane Cookies
  • Date Pinwheels
  • Ginger Cookies
  • Lemon Cookie Sandwiches with Lemon Curd and Meringue filling
  • Caramel Candy
  • Shortbread Cookies
  • Hello Dollys

This was a two-day endeavour. Next year we will start sooner and spread it out more!

The lemon cookies are delicious – however they take a while because of the lemon curd and meringue. I strongly recommend making the curd the day before (which we did, thankfully). And although the recipe says you can make the meringue the day before too, I’m not sure I would – putting it into the piping bag when it’s a day old and has been in the fridge overnight might be a little messy and challenging.

The caramel candy – well that was another story. Day one’s batch became some awesome caramel sauce to have with ice cream. Day two saw V headed to a local kitchen shop in search of a new candy thermometer as the one we used the day before was cheap and not so good. Day two’s batch was a success. Woop woop!

Day one’s results!
A quick look at all the different items baked. Some from my childhood, some from V’s, and a few new recipes thrown in.

I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been in the same place for a while and I’m nesting – big time – but it’s feeling really great to do all of this. Makes this woman want a little house with a little land, enough for a veggie patch and hopefully a few fruit trees (what kind will depend on where I find this little bit of paradise). An old barn or church or house that needs some loving, preferably close to water, would be perfect. I know that sounds like a lot, but why not ask for a lot and see? Things to ponder…. We shall see what happens next.

Almost seven years ago I packed my belongings and put them into storage while working abroad. At that time it no longer made sense to keep a home in Vancouver as I wasn’t going to be there for a year and a half. I had no idea then that my stuff would be in storage for so long.

Having decided to make Montreal home (for now…), it was time to have all that stuff taken out of storage and delivered. Time for me to look through the boxes and remind myself what was in there. For the most part I knew what was there – it’s just that when you haven’t seen something for a while, well, it’s exciting to see it again. After all, I gave away or threw away a lot, and packed only the items I really wanted to keep.

In no particular order…here are the items I found myself most excited to see again.

Ohhhh my vacuum!

I’m not sure if it is funny or sad that I was (and am) so happy to have my vacuum cleaner again. My home has hardwood floors, as you can see. I know plenty of people prefer a broom and a swiffer or mop, but not me. To me a broom just moves dust and dirt around. I much prefer watching the vacuum suck it all up. Knowing that this was on its way I didn’t want to buy another, so I made do with a broom until it got here. Now I can vacuum to my heart’s content!

What feels like a few lifetimes ago, I worked for the Buschlen Mowatt Gallery in Vancouver. My years there saw me work most closely with a handful of artists from France, and one from Montreal. I knew these pieces were safely tucked away and one of the reasons I wanted to paint all the walls before the shipment arrived was so that I could unpack and put these up immediately. During my time at the Gallery I was fortunate enough to travel to Paris and other parts of France to visit the five artists we represented. Bernard Cathelin was one of those artists, and a generous soul. It was impossible to leave a meeting or visit without him insisting on gifting a piece, or two. I have a few framed and up on the walls, and these two are among my favourites – a little burst of colour in the kitchen, and a little café corner, which reminds me of the many wonderful times and meals shared with Bernard and his wife Régine.

Then there’s Chaki. He was really the only Canadian artist I worked with regularly, as most of my time was focussed on international artists. Lucky for me, Chaki’s studio is about a 10-minute walk from my apartment here. I always visit him when I am in Montreal, and now it’s so easy….well, when COVID-19 doesn’t throw a wrench into things…. I can’t visit him these days, but I stay in touch. Chaki recently had a show open at the Musée des Beaux Arts here in Montreal. Unfortunately it had to be a virtual opening, however the plus side of that is you can all have a look. This is important work and near and dear to someone that is near and dear to me. I won’t say any more here, as I could never do it justice.

Then there’s that one piece that I took out of a box and thought…what? Why is that here? It’s not mine….Yikes! I took and photo and sent it to my friend Sherri and asked her if she was missing her piece. Long story about how it got mixed up with mine. All I will say here is that it was a big surprise, and made me laugh. Now all I have to do is get it back to Sherri in Vancouver.

Fond memories of buying the three photos on the left with my brother J while in Merida, Mexico. An amazing city! I literally walked around a corner and almost bumped into a woman who looked exactly like the one in the top photo. Gorgeous. And the photo on the right was taken by an extremely talented photographer, whom I was lucky enough to work with on a few occasions, Rick Collins. This image is from a trip he made to Pakistan. I LOVE it.
Aaahhh, my Corrine Hunt pieces!

I met Corrine Hunt while working for Vancouver 2010. She created the artwork that was used as the design on the Olympic and Paralympic medals. We also ended up gifting the athletes a printed piece – that way if you were an Olympian competing at Vancouver 2010, you received the print in your room at Olympic Village. Then if all went well on the day of your competition, you received a medal with a crop from the print. Each medal was a different crop. Oh man the lengths we went to (just ask the designer who had to create all those crops…)! All worth it though, for sure! I finally got these two prints framed and now they are on the wall, along with another Corrine piece called Flow, that she created for my super-talented film writer and producer friend Carla, to help fund the making of her short film Bona Fide. Clearly I now need to take Flow to the frame shop to have the glass replaced with anti-reflection glass so we can actually see this piece!

And there are more pieces – more art – each with its own story. What a gift.

I am also really happy to see my kitchen stuff again. I didn’t keep a lot – good pots and pans, some wine glasses, my cutlery – you get the idea.

I’m not sure what it is about these dessert cups….but for whatever reason they just bring a smile to my face.

My Starbucks mugs – I have more, but they are at my brother’s in Germany… One day I will be able to go back for a visit, and pick them up.

Every now and then I like a little champagne (Veuve Clicquot s’il vous plait!), sipped in the old, traditional glasses.

As the quote on the package of bath salts says, sometimes you just need to take the plunge! A friend gave me these and yes, I’ve used the bath salts. I hold onto the packaging because it is beautiful, and a good reminder to be someone who takes the plunge instead of wades…

This one both warms my heart and makes me giggle. Oh to be 19 and living in London! What a year that was. I turned 20 while there, and found out that those whacky Brits like to celebrate Guy Fawkes (who tried to blow up parliament) with fireworks on November 5th. Worked well for me as it meant there were fireworks on my birthday, marking the end of my teens with a bang! As I write this, I think I should go back to London for my birthday again – maybe the next milestone one. I mean, why not take advantage of the fireworks!

After posting this photo on social media a friend called and told me how much he loved my “Duran Duran” photo. Funny, and fitting, as I taught myself how to put on eye makeup by looking at photos of their keyboardist Nick Rhodes. True story people, true story.

And that is pretty much it for the items I “rediscovered” while opening my boxes. Thanks for the trip down memory lane (or lanes….).

It seems that COVID-19 has made us pause, look, listen and reflect a little as our “normal” daily life has been interrupted, upset, stalled, sent into spiralling — some or all of that and more. Looking through my stuff intensified the reflection – both on what was, and on what might be going forward.

Most of all, it’s been another great reminder of how privileged and lucky I have been to have a kick-ass family, amazing friends, the opportunity to work in really creative industries, and to travel for both fun and work. I am humbled and grateful. #charmedlife for sure.