Wednesday, 21 September 2016

A little one for my darling Daleeds

The first time I met Dalida we were at a music festival
I thought she was pretty and was jealous because she had a Swiss accent and was exotically foreign (and was short, skinny and tiny like me)
That first day, we danced till the bars in the valley closed. We had to go back to different hotels with our lads, so we stayed up texting for the rest of night.
The second time we met, we blew everyone else off. It was just us against the world. She ended up staying at my house for days.
We both agreed on the first-second day, that we were worried it would be awkward. The first day we met we were so high on life, so connected to the music. We worried it was all a whimsical fantasy. It wasn't.
On that first-second day we showed up dead sober on life and were instantly hooked on each other again.
English is her third language. She speaks five.
She lived in New York through 911.
She fled the Bosnian genocide when she was 9. She lived in a refugee house for a few years.
I met one of her friends from the refugee house. It was interesting - they both said, we're not sure if we're friends or have a lot in common - but we have a bond and unwavering trust.
I have no said comrades.
When I asked her about Bosnia Herzegovina tonight, tears came to her eyes. She said people are saying there may be another war. She shook.
I cannot imagine fleeing from my home and leaving all the people behind that she did.
I look at her face as she speaks. She's goddamn beautiful.
We have both x'ed out numerous people for lack of commonality and even more based on trust.
She makes me laugh when she doesn't understand what I'm saying (because English is her third language)
She makes me feel ignorant (in a i still love myself despite my lack of perfection kind of way)
She is perfect
I'll never forget those hot and sticky summer nights, holding hands and laughing on the white sand beach with the warmth of a bonfire and the light of the moon
Rolling around in the sand
Not caring that we were knocking over our already warm beers.
I won't go on more because I'll come off like a pervert (all those who know me are now laughing hysterically)
...but she is...perfect.
We share the same blight.
We cannot receive.
She graduated first in class, in another I came third.
Would you believe me if I told you she runs one of the top Swiss Banks? (she does).
I remember the day she left.
I may seem emotional to people who don't know me or see me in the day to day.
I'm not. At all.
I'm emotional in the sense that I love so deeply. People tell me day in and day out that they feel so calm and nurtured around me. I give off a strong emotional vibe...because I truly, honestly love.
but I save my tears like a Mormon saves themselves for their wedding night (with their first 'spouse')
...for the people who are worth it.
Well, when Dalida left, we were standing outside a seedy Robina tavern, and I broke down.
Ugly sobs.
The ugliest.
I choked through the snotty tears the words: Dalida - this doesn't happen everyday. People like us don't always get to meet. These connections aren't common. I. Don't. Know. When. I'll. See. You. Again.
I felt ashamed for being weak.
I felt scared because I truly did not know when I would see her again.
Life comes full circle
I don't generally feel like I 'need' people in my life.
But at this time I do. Dalida arrives in the nick of time.
And yes, that is a nuance for all the uncourageous, opportunist Calgarians who cower and stammer with unsure feet at the stead of mount pleasant...waiting...for nine years...for the goddamn recycle man.
Dalida said she was looking on social media for me weeks and months ago to tell me she was arriving. She said it felt strange she could not find me, but was busy and let it go.
She said right before she left, a message popped up on her phone. It was me saying where are you, I feel kind of alone.
I need her now
Our ship has set sail
We'll call it The Harlequin
I feel evil for stealing this future time with her, so we both can heal
My Darling Dalida
Our time in Australia has just begun
It started with a long browse of the wine selection
Talk of the best Australian wineries (and our distain for Australian cuisine)
and photos of our favourite courses from at least 2 star Michelin restaurants
It also started with tears from the past
the stories from people who share our opposite blight
Those people who take and cannot give
Those people who have a sleuth of sticky cobwebs that grow between the bones of their inner ribs and the grey matter of their minds, to their terrifyingly grey countenance.
I do not suspect any reader knows what I am talking about it.
Isn't this a story about a girls trip afterall?
Our reunion has not ended yet, but it will smashingly.
My darling Daleeds. Thank you for showing up, conveniently, in my time of need.




Thursday, 30 June 2016

June

Last month I focused on change.
Each year I have a mantra I repeat to myself all year.
For some reason my 2013 mantra kept echoing in my head.
Routine. Consistency. Sustainability.

June was a big month.
I've had a steady yoga practice for several years, so the accomplishment was not the number of days I practiced yoga.
It was the way I practiced yoga.

At the beginning of June, I became aware that my life had become well and truly derailed.

I realized that I wanted to change. I needed to change, but I didn't know how.
It's hard to find the courage to change and it's even harder to sustain changes.
Nonetheless, I decided the place to start was where I found myself most days anyway, on the mat.

In the past, I would dedicate my energy throughout every yoga class to someone I felt needed it. While I worked through the Asanas my brain would tap out and I would work through someone else's chakras and focus on spiritually healing them.

Each class this month, I made a concerted effort to only focus on myself, my chakras and my spiritual energy.  It was far more difficult than I imagined. 
I cried at different points of many yin classes. I just hoped that the instructor and my peers would think that spending five minutes in pigeon pose made me abnormally sweat...from my eyes.

As the month comes to a close I have proven myself right again.  
There is nothing that yoga and mediation cannot fix. 
The core of who I am has woken and shifted; and I can't wait for July.



Friday, 24 June 2016

Arbitrary Thoughts for the Thoughtless

Maybe becoming my friend is like the kiss of death.
The last time I saw DR was in the hot sticky summer of 2014 in a penthouse hotel suite on Bloor. 
The lads were running around the hotel like hoodlums till all hours.
I was nestled in between a thick white duvet and silky sheets.
From a deep sleep, I was rustled to semi consciousness by a tickle on my nose. 
The photos in my head were fuzzy and I thought I heard 'Natt, Natt I'm leaving. I want to say goodbye.'
My nose crinkled from the feathery touch of his finger, I muttered go away and rolled to one side.
The next time I heard from him... well he had went to sleep, he never woke up and died.
When I returned home in the summer of 2015, we made the long drive to see old Bill Robinson.
As we pulled up to the drive way Bill & his friend stood up and waved from  inside the enclosed glass veranda. 
I thought, Bill's a busy man! His friend was probably scheduled in for a few hours before we arrived and is on his way out now. 
We walked into the veranda, greeted with warm hugs & donuts.
I was about to say, hey Bill, where is your friend? Instead, my gaze turned to look down the long hallway that led to the end of the house and I went for a meander.
As I drifted down the hall, turning my head from side to side into the rooms, I realized.
Bill was saying hello 
DR was saying goodbye



Here is a link to DR's blog: http://arbitrarythoughtsfromthethoughtless.blogspot.com.au/

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

I'm obsessed with my dad

I let most people I meet know that if they’re going to be obsessed with me, they have to be obsessed with my dad too.
The people who know already know my dad and me don't have to be told.  They’re already obsessed too.
He started small. He liked to hunt, so grandma made him eat the kill.  It ended with endless days of eating duck sandwiches for school lunch.
He’s worked his whole life. My first nanny and I used to play a game called grand central station.  So many people have always wanted to talk to my dad… legal matters, favours, church matters, favours…In the game grand central station, we would start the clock and when the phone rang, the timer would end.  It would sometimes be seconds between phone calls and the house never got to rest more than five minutes before someone would call looking for Lockey. Generous to a fault people close to him would say. I hated it. Why couldn’t he say no to the beggars, abusers and the relentless.
He would leave the house at 4.30 am to beat rush hour into downtown and most nights we would be in bed before he got home. Despite the minimal hours we’ve spent together, I never once thought that I was unloved.
The man is totally socially awkward. He still pats me on the head when I’ve done well and one time when I started crying, he pulled out his wallet and tried to hand me his credit card. The thought makes me laugh and cry all at the same time.  The love this man has given.  
He seems aloof and distant to most people, but I know that mama and us are always first on his mind.  I was lucky enough to have him as my first Principal. He’s a nationally recognized lawyer and runs another full time business. Everyday was filled with abnormal hours, the grind and chaos.  He’s completely non-domestic. He doesn’t know where anything in his own kitchen is. Each day I would bring him lunches to work, he would leave the dirty dishes on my desk instead of in the work kitchen (and since I adore him I would gladly clean them).  After five days of work, he barrelled through the door with two heavy flats of sparkling water and another flat of organic, gluten free, vegan snacks.  He said, Natt, I saw you’ve been bringing sparkling water everyday, this way you don't have to go get it all the time. The weird crackers were just a guess because he'd heard that organic, gluten free and vegan was popular now.  My heart melts.  It’s amazing that through all his life deadlines, bottom lines and hard lines he picks certain things that are important to him.  I am blessed.
I could write an entire book about the intricacies of Lockey's mind, but in the interest of time, I’ll just share one small chapter out of his book of adventures. 
Chapter Aught
My Papa used to take me on hard trails 
I'm talking saddle soars and dropping dead each night after a hard 10 hours on the horse and days upon days of bathing in freezing mountain lakes, wearing the same clothes, stringing all the food up in a tree at night, smokey campfires and just …freezing
We ate bears meat, the fish we caught and froze at night in the snowy Waterton tundra 
He let me be one of the guys 
He didn't mind that I was tagging along
One day a horse kicked me in the head 
Her name was Grace and I know it was an accident
She didn't mean to and she felt bad
I still remember the sound her hoof made against my skull
It was like those stars, springs and sounds the bugs bunny characters saw when they got whacked
My second flash was dad piling snow on my head. It was cold I think
Third flash, riding down the mountain in oblivion & pain
They told me after it was a four hour ride out. It seemed like five minutes 
[In my adult life, I can only imagine my dads' shear panic]
Fourth, stumbling into grandmas house in Lethbridge. She put her hand over her mouth, there was blood running down my head and all over my waist long golden locks. My green eyes were wide and dilated from the concussion
I was soaked from the snow
Fifth - bathtub with grandma by my side and an endless stream of tears
Then... Oblivion 
But that wasn't the trail ride I was taking about 
I guess that ride just shows I've always viewed horses the same way I view the ocean 
I respect the power they hold
I'm talking about the trail ride when dad saved my life. Thinking about it now, it was probably the second time he saved my life...
There’s an ugly scar on my left hand
He'd given me a new, half broke, young horse
It was her first time in the mountains 
I was maybe 14, but I was good horses
I remember so clearly, something scared her
She ran straight into a dead tree and then tried to run back 
The only trouble was my hand was bone deep in the dead tree and another thick black branch was strapping me into my saddle
Dad jumped off Falling Leaf (his favourite horse) 
There were three other men on the trail with us 
They just sat on their horses with their eyes wide while tears welled up in mine
They
did
nothing
I turned my head to see her back feet slipping on the shale of a treacherous mountain ledge
I couldn't move from the saddle 
The blackened twisted tree branch that wouldn’t give seemed to permeate across my left leg, through the saddle, down the cliff and into my deepest fears
I watched dad barrel to the tree. His arms and body shook against the trunk of the tree 
Her feet were dancing on the shale 
It would've been a long way down 
Dad dug deep 
The entire tree snapped and I was free 
No one could believe he broke an entire tree down. It was all the talk around the campfire that night
I can't believe no one helped him 
They just starred like that jackass donkey
No on else helped me 
It was only him, my pops 
He's told me four times in my life that he's proud of me 
I live for those moments 
Really live 
I hang onto his every word 
And there are many 
He's a talker like me (even though we’d both rather just take a nap over socialize)
He loves a good fish tale 
I know we can be overwhelming for people 
Especially when we're together 
But I like that we're a lot 
I would rather be a lot than a little 
We haven't been on a trail ride for years together 
But it seems like a good time for us to venture out on the next one 
I can hardly wait 

Thursday, 14 April 2016

The Reality We Make

When I first received news that my colleague and I, along with two of our clients were going to the Marie Claire Women’s Networking Event, I had a negative reaction.

I thought, I hate women’s rights and equality bullshit.  I can’t deal with women (or any group for that matter) who choose to dwell on their past of oppression and how unfair the world treats them. There’s no utility in that and not everyone in that group was or is necessarily oppressed. 

It can even be argued to some extent, that oppression is a psychological construct.  There was a psychological study I came across in my undergrad that found women created the glass ceiling with their beliefs. In the actual universe of the women who participated in the study, there was no data to suggest that men had been or would be treated preferentially to them.

I’ve never seen a glass ceiling in my career. I’ve never stepped foot in an interview or an office and thought that because I was a women I would be treated in a lesser way.  If someone is getting paid more than me, they’ve worked at the job longer, work harder or have more experience.  I had a job once that I had to ask three times before they gave me a raise.  When they denied my request the first two times, it never crossed my mind that my request was denied because I was a woman. I just thought they were cheap assholes (and they were).

My beliefs started at a young age. They sprung from two pieces of advice that were given to me by the greatest person alive, my dad Lockey. 

He would say to me, ‘you know Natt – the women in our religious group are a problem.  They get married right after high school and start pumping out kids.  By the time they're 40 all the kids are gone, they have no education, they’ve never had a real job and they're a drain on the economy. I don't want you to be like that.’

My mama would stand in the kitchen by the stove with a saucey wooden spoon and giggle. She would say, ‘if this is oppression, bring it on. I love it. I get to stay at home with my five kids, visit with my friends and go shopping and golfing whenever I want. I like being oppressed.’  

My dad kept making her go to school until during her third degree she received a job offer from the college.  Dad made her accept the job and so at 55, my mother entered the work force for the first time.  I asked how it was going recently and she whined and said, ‘oh I hate it, I have to work hours that I don’t get paid for’.  I smiled and said, ‘welcome to the world.’

The second piece of advice my pops gave me came from someone close to him.  His childhood best friend lost her husband to cancer. She was left with a pile of medical bills and four young boys to raise. She had worked as a teacher, but hated it and was too depressed to go back (understandably). Lockey would say to me, ‘you see Natt, even if you do everything right in your life, you have to have two or three jobs that you can do well and be paid well for. Never rely on anyone else to pay for you.’

That’s when the days and weeks of career brainstorming and back and forth begun.

I came home and said: dad, I’m going to be a pianist and also play in a band.

He said: you won’t get paid anything.

The next day I said:  okay, I want to ballerina.

He said: you know they peak at 18 right?

Me: Lockey, I’m going be a massage therapist.

Lockey: Do you know what they actually do?

Me: Hire me to do interior design for you.

Lockey: Not until you have a bachelor’s degree in interior design (I used to always come back to the hotels / condos to see the interiors changed in the ways I told him to change them)

Me: I’m going to be a clothing designer. If I show you a business plan will you front me?

Lockey: No… and that’s a tough industry, good luck!

Me: I’m not going to work. Life isn’t about hard much you know and how hard you work. It's about who you know and how good you look.

He gave me a blank stare and walked away.

Me: I might be a psychologist.

Lockey: do you really want to listen to people’s problems all day? At least become a psychiatrist, so you can prescribe drugs.

After months and years of my father comically and gently guiding me to my destiny, I called him on Christmas Eve when I was alone at Kicking Horse. I said: Lockey, I applied to all these law schools and just found out that I’ve been accepted to all of them. I guess I’m going to go to law school.

He said: I think that’s the right choice for you.

Three years later, I had found a career and colleagues that I adore. But, I also found myself unhappily campaigning and champagning at the Marie Claire Women’s Networking Event. 

They played a nice video at the start that rehashed the days when women weren’t allowed in bars, they weren’t allowed mortgages, they didn’t have access to the pill and currently, they lose jobs to men and they don’t get paid as much as men.

Here is part of the problem  (I'll only address one because there are a thousand facets that perpetuate the idea of female oppression in the first world, aside from that glass ceiling indoctrinating propaganda bullshit video Marie Claire was pushing)… women want to be treated equally and receive equal pay, yet they also want to take six months to a year off for maternity leave.  I have yet to hear of a man taking six months to a year off for paternity leave under normal circumstances.

There has been a great initiative that started in Europe where governments have imposed legislation that requires a certain percentage of women to be on the board of executives / directors for all corporations in that country.  The numbers show that many of those companies are out performing companies that don’t have women in their boardrooms (http://epublications.bond.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1026&context=cgej).

However, at the end of the day – if an executive of a company elects to take six – twelve months leave, what use are they to the company?  When Lockey was 40, he was offered a six-month sabbatical (paid leave) to reward the years and hours he’d put into his firm.  He didn’t take it. And neither would I, especially not for a baby.

The amount of time one should take for parental leave has been a hot topic in my office as of late. The general thought is, if you would like to have a baby and be a top executive (male or female), you shouldn’t be taking more than two weeks leave.


The Marie Claire dinner pressed on.  The video was the worst part. I sat down at the table, turned to the pretty blond woman next to me, put my hand out and said, ‘hi I’m Natalie.’  She smiled, shook my hand and laughed, ‘I’m Natalie too’.  She was a self made business woman who specialised in bubble bath products. Naturally, we’re now best friends and slowly, at that moment in time, my attitude began to change.

The speakers were actually very impressive.  There was no mention of oppression or a struggle as a woman in the corporate world.  They simply gave frank accounts of hard work, pulling in the numbers and how it happened for them.  Their stories made me excited for my own story of corporate success to continue unfolding.

I found out one of our clients had worked for Yves Saint Laurent before coming into the property industry. She offered to take me shopping and style me any time. Who am I kidding? I adore being a woman. I love coming into a work situation, looking like a lamb … standing in front of judging, closed minded people and then blowing them out of the water.

I don’t ever expect to encounter oppression or unfair treatment in the workplace, because that’s not the realty I create for myself.  All in all, the networking event was eye opening.  I learned to accept myself in two parts: my nature is to adore, love and obsess over tan lines, hair extensions, make up, cosmetic procedures, clothes, pretty sparkly things, lipstick, nails, tarot cards and accessories (I want to say biodynamic, but I'm not even sure what that really means). My drive is to obsess, sweat and bleed over solving complex legal problems, developing that innovative idea, billing mad money and that day when I’ll finally make partner.