The Thing About Red

July 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Purge continues.

I’ve been silent for a while in the WordPress blogosphere but that doesn’t mean I’ve fallen off the Buy-Not bandwagon.

On the contrary, it’s been almost eight months! Eight months since I stopped shopping like the duds on a runway model’s back were going out of style while she strode the Catwalk. Imagine!

My track record isn’t perfect, but I did manage to clear my Visa and balance my books – which felt stupendously liberating – and if it weren’t for Tax Time, which kicked me like a proverbial gutter rat back into the red, I’d now be enjoying beautiful solvent freedom from encultured debt and throwing all kinds of cash toward my favourite charities and future retirement. (That’s the goal anyway:)

Okay, it’s confession time: back in February I saw a red sweater in Banff that I thought would be just PERFECT for an upcoming Groupon photo shoot which I bought almost a year back. Of course, because I couldn’t buy the sweater, I wanted it even more. Yet strong-willed as I am, with all the might I could muster, I put it back on the rack and hung tough. Then my beloved boyfriend saw the anguish in my face and bought it for me anyway. I seriously doubt I’ve ever loved a sweater more.

Then March was my birthday month and Mom sent me cash to buy “something nice for myself” and didn’t this just ever-so-sweetly circumvent the game rules for my year of spending austerity?! Before I could figure out what to do with the money that wasn’t self-serving or indulgent, I spotted a red summer blouse in a Whyte Ave. boutique that spoke to me with hypnotic legalese, and, well, that was that.

I have worn it a ton, and feel devilishly unprincipled and libertine every time! Regrets, I have none, ’cause don’t you know it’s my favourite go-to blouse in my closet, and since it’s summer and I love dressing up for a dinner or drinks on the patio that’s no small, frivolous thing. ♥

And then, finally … there were the Spanish Mary Jane shoes, in April … which I fatedly set eyes on one Tuesday, when against my better judgement I accompanied my fashion-forward friend Trish on a shopping expedition for her new spring wardrobe.

Do you know what it’s like to have the image of a pair of sweet little wedges WEDGED in your brain, day-in and day-out, in the midst of a politically and morally imposed period of SHOPPING ABSTINENCE??

Needless to say, I coerced my boyfriend into being an accomplice to my iPurge transgression on the grounds that I would spend the exact same amount on him if he’d only swipe his plastic and buy me the damn pumps already!

Amused, and silent, he played along with the little ruse, and although I feel unconscionably cute in my new red shoes every time I wear them out, I do recognize that this time it was plain, old, unmitigated cheating, and I feel terrible about it. Kinda. Sorta.

But what do they say about quitting smoking? Sometimes you have to butt out a few times before you’re truly through with the filthy, addictive habit. I’m all about second tries. Practice, practice!

And besides, a girl doesn’t see shoes like that everyday. So sometimes a shopaholic diva needs to preemptively strike, make a deal with the Devil and pay penance by discarding a few pairs of shoes at home later. (For what it’s worth, I donated six or seven pairs of old summer pumps to Goodwill). So I am absolved.

Now, let go of your judgement, Dear Reader. Aren’t my shoes lovely, and won’t I just wear them for yeeeeeears to come??

But what’s with all the RED?!

A psychotherapist would have fun with that one – although it probably doesn’t take one to figure it out.

RED is a colour of passion and creativity. My favourite colour. And part of who I am, folks, is a girl who loves expressing herself through fashion, and, in case you hadn’t guessed, through words:)

It’s taken me a while to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, but now I think I’ve got it: sometimes we buy to make ourselves feel better; to fill a void, quell a loneliness, boredom or sense of inadequacy and separation.

Other times, though, it’s an honest-to-goodness well-earned reward or treat; a celebration of who we are, a way to articulate outwardly to our selves, and the world, the personality that shines within. I guess I shine red.

The real sin, anyway, I think, is not wearing what you already have. These days I can actually push hangers apart in my closet, and I truly enjoy what’s there.

So, now that I’ve cleared my conscience and survived half of my summer holidays without loading up on senseless souvenirs and succumbing to token binge shops, I am ready for the home stretch.

Yes, I fully intend to continue my iPurge until the end of 2012, and next weekend I will even be “giving back” to the Edmonton and Area garage-sale community by hosting my very own official iPurge garage sale. Come on out! I’ll be selling lots of junk and treasures cheap, so if you want to check out my hoarder’s heap ‘o’ stuff email me and I’ll send you the deets. As always, thanks for reading. It is a joy to write.


Flowing with Flow

August 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Among the 1000s of Ways to be Happy, here are a few – from my vacation, so far:

1. Dipping my newly pedi’d toes in mom & dad’s backyard fountain. Ahh, how cool water cleanses …

2. Photographing water bubbles, autumn leaves, swimming algae, rocks … and more rocks … on Lake Ontari-ari-o;

3. Hangin’ with a bunch of awesome ladies at The Canadian Cancer Society’s women’s cancers fund-raiser, Hope and the City, at Zu Bar in Burlington, ON;

4. Visiting my friends Bry & Carrie and their little sweet pea, Airlie Leah Jones:

5. Yoga on the rocks on the shores of downtown Oakville;

6. Afternoon patio lunch meeting with my friend and client, Rob Price, working on edits and ideas for his irreverent blog, Bob’s Etiquettes … to be published in book form in Summer of 2012! Seriously cool;

7. Downtown Oakville squirrels, shamelessly dining on Garbage Day detritus … ergo delights;

8. Blueberry Cheesecake French Toast Casserole. Found the sin-less little recipe in Clean Eating Magazine. It was love at first bite:

9. Family time with Rod, Dad, Suz, Mom – and Misha;

10. This beautiful day – may I flow with it, and be free from attachments, longing, and – always – loving. Grace first. No matter.

Epi-blog: Yoga Deck Play

11. Holy-sh%*-I-can-do-it!-asana … but how did my arms get sooooo much more tanned than my legs?!

3rd Annual Fall Soul Yoga Retreat!!

July 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

I imagine that no one – including me – reeeally wants to think ahead to the fall … but I am already in creative planning mode for the 3rd annual Fall Soul Yoga Retreat … and believe me, you are not gonna want to miss this one!!

Take time to relax, play and get your yog on with me this September 16 to 18 at the serene, secluded and beautiful wilderness River Lodge – just 45 minutes from downtown Edmonton.

I am feeling so inspired these days by the heart-centered Anusara teachings of Ryan Leier and Tahnee Fournier – and the deep, quiet transformative practice of “yin” yoga, which is the perfect complement to a strong, heat-building “yang” practice.

It’s all Yin-Yang, baby!

Let’s balance, flow, be warriors, play outside of the boundaries, get quiet, let go, soar, shine and yog together this fall (and it better be a warm one).

Treat yourself to a soul-inspiring weekend of flow & yin yoga, delicious & nutritious fresh food prepared – with a generous sprinkling of love – by my friend (and my former editor at the Sun) guest local red-seal chef and award-winning cookbook author, Sally Vaughan-Johnston.

Come and you’ll enjoy relaxing in tranquil surrounds among conscious community, tons of yoga, organic-wine tasting, guest spa services and much, much more. (Spoiler alert: word has it Sally will be doing an Eastern smoothie cleanse demo, offering samples and sending us home with recipes!)

Check out the retreat deets on my website and/or the FB event page.

If you’ve got any questions, don’t hesitate to email me at or call 780-974-8401

Namaste, friends.

Behind the mask

June 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Ever stopped, during that almost imperceptible pause between your inhale and exhale, and just for a sec, caught a peak at yourself?

I mean the Real You. Not your ideas about how or who you are; nor your notions of how others see you, or imagine you to be.

You know: the full, unabridged, unfiltered, raw, wild, pure, essence that’s you – a totality far greater than all of its constituent blood, bones, consciousness, blooms, scars, unopened buds, thoughts, feelings, philosophers, faith. Emptiness.

The you on the toilet … in that split-second after waking up … on the other side of a closed door … as a sun sets … or while watching credits roll at the end of a movie before house lights go up.

That guy or girl you see staring back at you from behind a mask; the all-knowing unmask-able eyes that call you Home.

You hear – a strangely familiar soundless voice – and before you can think a thought, speak a word, or even exhale …

You just are; seamlessly. Kansas.

Read more @YegNews

Happy 101

June 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

Happiness is not happenstance.

It’s a conscious choice, an attitude, a practice, a way of being in the world.

And anything worth doing is, usually, a little more difficult.

For example, it’s hard to be super-elated and grateful during the low times. I know, ’cause I’m wading through the muck of a separation. I won’t dredge you through the drama or details … but I do have to say, that if you put in a little effort, you’ll find lovely bits of joy and grace everywhere.

I am looking for lotus flowers, ’cause I hear they thrive in dung heeps.



Take the rain, for instance: Isn’t it beautiful how so much grey can give rise to so much green? Last weekend a girlfriend and I went to see the new Woody Allen flick Midnight in Paris at the Garneau. I was wearing a blue-and-white knit beret for the occasion. (Mais, oui!) It was raining and I didn’t have an umbrella. I don’t own an umbrella. And I don’t ever intend to.

A stroll in the rain is oh-so-Parisian. The puddles and showers are a cool summer soak for your sandalled tootsies. A torrential downpour sweetens sadness.


So does friendship. If you let good people get close to you, they are usually there when you really need them. It’s so simple, but exquisite. You don’t have to be alone, unless you want to be.

The love I’ve received recently in the wide-open arms of my own make-shift Ya-Ya Sisterhood is like ‘some kind of duck’ cuddling up in the swells of a heaving Atlantic. Not my analogy. Wish it was. It’s from the amazing poem The Little Duck by Donald C. Babcock, which appeared in the New Yorker on Oct 4, 1947.

So I guess the moral of the story is: when life sucks, bob like a duck in Earth’s bathtub – and you’ll be peachier than keen. And clean.



Sweet solitude can’t be replaced by a stadium full of Ya-Yas. We can reach out to others to help ease the burden, but unhappiness is a pain that you cannot give away. My dad told me that. Isn’t he smart? Our pain is all ours –  and it sticks around, whether we face it, or not. Don’t let pain harden and set before dealing with it. Denial and avoidance can eat up days, months, years.

“Understanding and self-acceptance are the way to real happiness,” says guru-papa.

Sit with your pain while it’s still soft, if you can. You can.

And have faith in sunshine.

Salvador Dalí, Woman at the Window (Muchacha en la ventana), 1925

Yakety-yak, don’t go back

June 2, 2011 § 3 Comments

When you’re down in the dumps, ever notice how the world’s gravitational pull seems to get stronger?

Your feet become cinder blocks. Your shoulders and head droop like neglected house plants. Even the sweat and tears required to move your couch-bound arse from Point A to Point B cease their melancholic symphony of streaking and cascading, and instead drop like raging torpedo rain pellets, hell-bent on making it back to the Earth.

When you feel like a yoked yak, hauling an inhumane burden, it’s probably because – you are.

But your days of being a Yak-in-the-Box can be over.

Life is not always fair. People are not always good to each other. Things don’t always go the way you imagined; in fact, they hardly ever do.

So say it: “I am a yoked yak down on her luck today. But I quit.”

Then do it: take a load off. Literally.

Dump the baggage. Stop agonizing. Refuse to hold your bovine self captive any longer. It will do wonders for your states of mind and heart – and greatly improve your social life; after all, nobody likes a grunting ox.

And, according to The Ox Files, you are an intelligent, likable creature with a highly developed sense of sight and hearing. So why not tune in?

Lift your lid and look around … then find something – anything – to smile about.

Besides, yaks are kinda cute when they smile. (And who knows who or what you might attract!)

And it’s the fastest way to make an otherwise below-average moment a bit more momentous.

Here are my top three smiles today:

1. An apple a day: Driving along 112 Ave. eating an apple, I glance to the left, two lanes over, at the exact moment that a girl, about my age, also eating an apple, glances to her right.  We look at each other, mid-bite, and burst into laughter.

2. Heart and sole: A downcast gaze has its advantages; you really start to notice people’s shoes. My friend Sandy’s new soles (and matching socks) fit her personality perfectly. I think her feet are smiling too;)

3. Yak-inspired poetry: when was the last time you wrote a haiku or limerick … just ’cause?

I cringed and smiled while bringing these into the world:

There once was a Himalayan bovine, named Jack.

Who was stricken with panic attacks.

He threw off his load

And the sherpas kowtowed

To the unyoked yak who unpacked.


Got bovine burdens?

Ditch your pack off cliff’s edge, Yak.

Himalay’n echoes

Hope I made you groan or smile – even just a little. Now, I’ll shut my big yak. Sorry… couldn’t resist;)

Magic moments

May 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

This Hail to Kale Salad is so good … I could cry.

Nothing like replenishing your Vitta-mins and crawling back on the health & balance bandwagon, especially after a few too many Hail Caesars the night before.

Nothing like a good garage sale – or three – on a bummed-out Friday afternoon, beating the after-work rummage crowds to the best, used loot.

Ha-ha. Ha-ha-ha.

I found a big $1 old-school chalkboard at a garage sale that had the words “I love my family,” etched by a child’s hand into its wooden frame. Got a little misty.

Also bought two old, beaten wood vintage crates for five bucks a piece that I plan to fix up and stain, then use for flowers or magazines.

Projects. Holy Mother of Martha Stewart … I love projects. And projects love me; I know, because I feel the love – and lose myself in gluing, sanding, painting, planting; emptying, the love floods in and bathes and licks my wounds like a sweet, loyal puppy.

Love the love. And love those little laughs, light moments, random joys that pop up unexpectedly in your dark day – like the one I had at my expense this morning at the gas station:


Domo Attendant: Good morning. What will it be?

Jenn: (Sleepily) Can you fill it up halfway? (Yup. Halfway)

Domo attendant: I’m sorry, I can’t do that. (Bemused smile).

Jenn: (Looking a little stunned, as the blinds go up.) Right. Okay.  (To self: It’s not like you can see inside my tank … and know how much is in there!) … so… could you put in … uh … about $20?

Domo attendant: (Smiling, and starting to double over laughing): That, I can do! (Running with the joke, while gassing up) … Yeah, it’s not like I’ve got x-ray vision or something … like I know how much gas is already there ….

Jenn: oh-my-God … that’s so funny … total blonde moment … bet you’ll enjoy telling that one to people today;)


To me, it was priceless. Laughed until … I cried. Magic moments like this make everything okay  …  if for a moment or two.

Today, wrote on my new, old chalkboard this William Blake quote: “He who kisses the joy as it flies lives in eternity’s sunrise.”

Disembodied voice: “And a moment or two are no small thing, Chicken Wing.” (In case you’re wondering, that’s my “Highest Self” talking; she likes to call me “Chicken Wing.” Don’t ask.)

As I drove away, with a full tank, I took a sip of my giant two-litre Gatorade and, as I glanced in the rear-view mirror, I caught  a glimpse of a sparkly, wet glimmer in Domo Girl’s eyes too.

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