It IS all about me

How have you been faring during these days of pandemic lockdown, friends? We’ve been very lucky in that we’ve had the means and ability to hunker down and wait things out, and after seven weeks, the fear is no longer as pervasive as it was the first little while.

Being home and pulled from our usual routines has left me with a lot of unexpected time on my hands. I might have used that time and excess energy for domestic chores (okay, probably not that), or honing my photography skills, or even blogging. In fact, what I have been doing is dedicating several hours most days to my latest obsession: tarot cards.

tarot cards

You didn’t see that one coming, did you? I certainly didn’t. I’d never held a tarot deck before I bought one for myself on a whim, and never had a reading done. I knew of the cards, and had a vague understanding that they were something like a fortune-telling parlour trick. What I didn’t realize is that what they are is in fact that elusive manual to life that I’ve been searching for all these years, a road map to better understanding of myself, my relationships, and the world around me. No, really! Hang on and let me explain.

Have you ever done one of those tests that help you understand your personality type? There are workplace ones with colours, and of course the Myers-Briggs personality types. There are zillions of online quizzes to find out “how employable are you?” or “what’s your life purpose?” or “where will you find your soulmate?” We can’t resist these types of assessments because as humans we seek meaning – some of us more than others. I’ve always been a seeker, looking for order in the chaos and meaning in the randomness of human existence. I think that’s why I was so instantly and obsessively drawn to tarot cards. I see in them the universality of human experience and more importantly, where I fit in to the great cosmic puzzle.

There’s a fun quote in Good Omens about how you can’t see London when you’re in Trafalgar Square, a much more fun interpretation of not being able to see the forest for the trees. The tarot cards use archetypes, the languages of symbols and numbers and colours, and simple illustrations of the wide spectrum of human experience to give us that wide-angle perspective so we CAN see London, as well as Trafalgar Square, and maybe even most of England, too.

Leaving the existential angsty bits behind, what does one actually DO with tarot cards? I use them for mindfulness, for personal insight, and to get in touch with my intuitive inner voice. I do NOT use them for fortune telling. Over the last little while I’ve come to see tarot cards as a powerful and useful tool, but I do not believe they can predict the future. I think they can help us understand ourselves better, our motivations and behaviours and blind spots. I think they can help us understand those around us, too – colleagues, spouses, kids, and friends, in the same way that knowing your colleague may be a “yellow” when it comes to problem solving and communicating, but you are a firm “blue” and you need to find a way to overcome those differences to work together. Tarot gives us insight into the things that make us human, and therefore helps us better connect to other humans, and to ourselves.

When I found out back in 2010 or so that I’m an ENFP in the MBTI, it rocked my world. I literally titled my blog post talking about it “This explains everything!” Knowing my Myers-Briggs personality type gave me a fundamental understanding of my behaviours, motivations and ways of interacting with the world. It truly changed my understanding of myself. Almost instantly with tarot, I felt the same sort of light bulb moment of clarity. And when I started getting deeper into the tarot, I felt like I did when I launched the blog 15 years ago: “this is crazy, my friends and family are never going to understand this weird behaviour, but this is something I must, absolutely must, do.”

One unexpected gift from the tarot has been mindfulness. Each day I draw a card and think about how the energy of that card has or might manifest itself in my day. The result of this has been a few quiet moments when I ask myself a question we almost never ask, but I think we really should: what did today mean? How often do we pause to think about what happened in a day, what went well and maybe not so well, and how we might do better the next day? Wasn’t it Socrates who said that the unexamined life is not worth living? These tiny moments of mindfulness are to me the equivalent of a gratitude journal, giving the seeker in me a chance to take that step back and breathe and take a look at that bigger picture.

I’m sure most people who have held a tarot deck haven’t become instantly obsessed, and many of my friends have talked about digging their deck out of storage as they listened to me rave about my new passion. Rather than indulging in a passing curiousity, I’ve gone all-in on my tarot passion. First I launched an Instagram account to journal the card of the day (and let me tell you, that felt an awful lot like the Project 365 photo-a-day whim that culminated in me being a professional photographer!) And when that wasn’t enough, I created a blog and website about learning tarot, too. You guys, I’m not kidding: o-b-s-e-s-s-e-d. Not wanting to pester my friends too much peddling my readings, I started doing free readings on a tarot site and quickly racked up more than 25 readings with an average rating of 4.7/5 stars. So now I offer those on my website too. It’s called Rideau River Tarot, inspired by the river that I see every single day as flows around the island we live on here, but also because water is the element of tarot linked to emotion and intuition, and because curtains are an important symbol in tarot and Rideau means curtain. Mystical and practical, which is more or less how I’m approaching tarot. And Tristan drew the tarot suit icons for my blog header!

Rideau River Tarot blog

Sort of crazy, right? But it feels so right, like when I started out on my bloggy journey all those years ago, or the Project 365 photo journey. I only wish I’d discovered tarot earlier in the game – but at least I’ve had an excess of time on my hands during our pandemic life pause to fully indulge my new passion. I’ve been reading books and listening to podcasts, doing research and of course playing with the cards. I’ve written blog posts about books and resources for learning, about MBTI and tarot, and about ways you can use tarot cards that aren’t divination, including as creative writing prompts, for mindfulness, and even to help you generate random encounters and characters for your D&D adventure. I’ve got SO MANY ideas! And one of these days, I’d like to start offering lessons and workshops, something I found surprisingly lacking here in Ottawa.

After months of debating whether and when I should come out with my quiet obsession, I’m here to share it with you. So, what do you think? Are you already someone who enjoys using tarot cards? Are you interested in learning more about tarot? Do you have any tarot resources to share? Do you think I’ve lost the plot entirely? 😉 It’s okay if you do. People thought I was crazy with the silly blog thing a decade and a half ago, when blogs were solely for tech geeks and lovesick 14 year old girls. I have this feeling that tarot is the next yoga, about to move from fringe to mainstream culture, and I am here for that.


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It’s been about six months since I published a blog post, and in the year before that I only posted a handful of times. I’ve been wondering: is it time to shutter the blog? The kids are too old for me to write about them now; their stories are their own to tell. I used to summarize the theme of the blog as “raising a family in Ottawa” but I feel like the lion’s share of that work is done. And while photos have sustained the blog for the last few years, I don’t feel like I have enough to say about taking them anymore, at least not enough to keep the blog interesting and relevant.

So, is there value in me blogging any more? There’s a cost to consider. It’s not overly expensive to host the blog, and I host my photography site off the same domain, so that’s not going anywhere. More problematically, it’s been a while since I updated the look and especially the functionality. Google tells me it’s not particularly mobile friendly. I can’t even remember half the ways I hacked the code over the years and my eyes glaze over every time I think of making any changes to it. And now Flickr has a new model where the thousands upon thousands of images that I had hosted for free going way back to 2005 will now cost about a hundred bucks a year to keep, or else I’ll have a blog riddled with broken links and lost images.

Turning 50 has been a big year for me, and I have new things that I’m interested in now. I’d like to blog about my new knitting addiction (make all the things!) and I’ve been exploring Tarot cards. I’d like to have a place to talk about the food I’ve enjoyed making, the ways I’m expressing my creativity through making things, and how satisfying it is to be a woman on the far side of 50 who has figured out so many of the very same things I whined about when blog and I were both younger and less sure of ourselves.

I don’t even particularly mind that I’m likely to be talking to myself. The heyday of the blog, a dozen years ago when Lucas was the Player to be Named Later and I was up to my ears and sinking in the quagmire of parenting three under six with a tribe of online friends and followers has long since passed. I don’t mind talking to myself – I do it all the time! I’m just not sure if I’m invested enough in the idea of continuing to do the kind of updates and maintenance that I really should do. Oh technology.

I guess I’m not quite ready to say goodbye, or even see you later. Maybe I’ll just putter around here for a while, without any pressure or expectations from myself, and if I decide I’m going to keep on keeping on, one day when I’m full of energy and enthusiasm I’ll look into overhauling the works. If a girl can grow and change and mature, her silly old blog can follow suit, right?


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A lot of amazing things will happen in 2019. In July, Beloved and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary, and then in August I turn (gasp!) fifty!

I wanted to do another photo challenge to mark this amazing year, but another 365 photo-a-day project felt too ambitious. A 52-week photo challenge is perfect! And I liked the #Dogwood52 photo challenge because each week has a prompt, and I figured that would keep me from being lazy and maybe push my boundaries a little bit.

Right off the bat, I was stumped. The first weekly prompt is ‘take a picture that tells us who you are, without actually showing your face.’ I’ve been thinking about it for days. How to tell the story of me in just one photo? Mom? Writer? Photographer? Friend? Collector of vintage crap? Lover of books and grunge and spicy food? And then it occurred to me to include ALL THE THINGS!

#52in2019 #Week1

It’s me in 50 items! I like that some of them serve double and even triple duty on facets of my personality, like the photo books are family AND photography, and the Monty Python card deck says I’m equally happy playing cards or riffing about how your father was a hamster and your mother smelled of elderberries.

And yes, the blog is in there too. I haven’t forgotten entirely how to blog, but I might be a little rusty. Here’s to getting a little more practice in on that, too, in 2019.

It’s going to be an awesome year. Let’s do this!

What would your collage about items that tell the story of YOU have in it?

#dogwood52 #week1 #dogwood2019 #52in2019


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Like many of you, I’ve been listening to The Tragically Hip all week. Radio station CHEZ-FM in Ottawa played nothing but Gord Downie songs for a week, and even rebranded as GORD-FM for the week. When they returned to regular programming, I started gathering up all the Hip music I have collected over the years on various CDs and mixed tapes and cassettes to rip them into iTunes once and for all, as I only ever seem to listen to music on my iPhone and my Mac any more.

It’s been a while since I used the little stereo that sits forlornly on the credenza, to be honest. I use the radio function sporadically, but couldn’t even remember until I checked if it even had a CD player. When I took a closer look, I could see that it clearly had a CD function – but getting a CD into it turned out to be a bit of an endeavour.

Like most mini-stereos of its vintage, it’s black, with very faint silver text describing the various controls. I peered at for a while, poking various promising-looking buttons, (indicator #1 that I am one million years old – I can no longer make out the text on the buttons on the stereo) and even tried to pry the lid open. It resisted in exactly the sort of way that indicated if I were to force it, I would probably regret it. (Indicator #2 that I am one million years old – I can no longer remember how to open the CD player.)

Resignedly, I pulled open the cutlery drawer in the kitchen to grab my nearest spare pair of glasses. (Indicator #3 that I am one million years old – I keep sets of spare reading glasses stashed all over the house.) I was finally able to find the “push the magic spot” spot that opened the lid on the CD player, and insert the CD, and even make it play. (Indicator #4 that I am one million years old: at first, even though properly inserted, the CD would not play and I was >this< close to waiting for Simon to come home to help me with the technology when I realized that it was simply not plugged in.)

If anybody needs me, I’ll be sitting here blasting the music of my youth at full volume, not because I can’t find the volume switch but because I haven’t got around to fulfilling my prescription for a hearing aid yet.

Does anyone know when I got so old?

2017-10-25 14.48.15


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I‘m standing in the hair products aisle in the drug store and I finally lose patience trying to read the label on the deep conditioner (%$#@ tiny print!) and I stomp over to the cheapie reading glasses and find the +1.25 that my optometrist recommended a few weeks ago for a back-up pair. I also have a prescription in my purse that I just haven’t been motivated to get around to filling because while I know my eyesight is deteriorating, it’s mostly fine and probably not worth the hassle of glasses. Hah.

I stick a pair on my face and first look into the smudgy little mirror and laugh at how owlish my eyes look, but then I glance down at the deep conditioner in my hand and actually say “holy shit!” out loud because of how clear and legible the print is. I have to take them on and off a few times to confirm the difference is as dramatic as I think it is. It is. I walk over to the books and I can’t believe how crisp everything is, and how sharp the edges are, and how IN FOCUS everything is. I don’t have to zoom my arms back and forth to find the fine plane of not-as-blurry-as-otherwise or hold things angled toward the light or any of the other tricks I’ve been doing completely unconsciously.

So I plunk down the $10 for them and now I’ve been walking around the house marveling at all the things – my Blackberry, the newspaper, a can of club soda, OMG my computer!! All the things have an astounding lack of fuzziness that I just can’t get over – as long as they’re closer than arms-length, that is. Any further than two feet away with the reading glasses on and everything is even more blurry than the up-close stuff is without the glasses.

The real test comes at bedtime. I turn on the lamp, crawl into bed, grab my Kindle and slip the glasses on. Usually, I turn the Kindle on and wait patiently for a few minutes while my eyes struggle to resolve the text, and then once I get the first few words resolved I can plunge on and make out the rest. I’ve already boosted the font size a couple of times and if I make it any bigger, I’m only going to get about four words on a page. I glance at the text and am gobsmacked all over again. I can read it right away!

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 7.29.28 AM

Damn. I honestly had no idea how bad it had gotten. I can barely wait to see how things will look through actual prescription glasses now! If you need me, I’ll be wandering around the house, examining everything from a distance of 45 cm or so to see what I’ve been missing all this time.


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Photos of the day: Rainbow hair!

by DaniGirl on April 13, 2016 · 6 comments

in It IS all about me

I have never coloured my hair before, partly because I’ve always pretty much liked my hair colour, and partly because I couldn’t really think of a colour I would like – except maybe more red. And, the idea of having to worry about roots and maintenance just made me not want to bother. However, when my friend Lara got rainbow unicorn galaxy hair, I knew I had to have it. I mean, one colour – pfft. I want ALL THE COLOURS!

I did a bit of research and stumbled upon “oil slick hair” which was exactly the effect I wanted. Subtle hits of the same shiny greens and blues and pinks that you see on the edge of an oil slick on the driveway. What could be more glamourous than that?! And then I found out about ballyage, which basically means that only a piece of the hair shaft is coloured, so it mixes with your own colour and you can easily grow it out.

So, all the colours and none of the work? HELL YES!

We started by bleaching streaks out of my natural colour. Whimper. Also effective at blocking government mind-control drones.

2016-04-12 11.54.22

After about half an hour, the amazing Suzanne at Studio Me washed the bleach out and set to the hard job of reselecting the bleached bits and carefully painting the colours on them. We were originally going to go with five colours, but Suzanne thought that might be a bit too much. (Hello, foreshadowing!) So, we dialled it back to “only” pink, yellow, purple and teal.

*gulp*

As she worked, I couldn’t help but notice that she seemed to be selecting WAY more of my hair for colour than I had expected. I’d showed her a reference photo with subtle tendrils of colour peeking out of brunette hair, but as she worked I had the sneaking suspicion that this was going to be way more than a subtle tendril or two here and there. But, in for a penny, in for a pound, and YOLO, and carpe diem, and OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?

All the girls in the store went nuts over the colour as she pulled off the foils and started washing my hair out. By that point, I was afraid to look.

She sat me down in a chair to cut my hair and pulled off the towel in a big reveal. “Oh phew, I thought, “that’s not bad.” It was my natural chestnut brunette with hints of colour. Then she started blow drying it and I watched as the colours got brighter, and brighter, and brighter.

tendril

By the time she was done styling it, I was laughing and crying at the same time. “That is INSANE!” I kept saying. The colours were SO over the top. Crazy chunks of turquoise beside neon pink. She finished drying it, and I loved it. LOVED IT!

hair1blog

It is by far the craziest thing I’ve ever done with my hair. Apparently, your 40s are the years you embrace all the things you were too timid to do when you were younger.

I gotta admit, I left the shop both loving it and thinking that maybe I’d go home and shampoo my hair three or four times, just to nudge it down a wee bit on the day-glo colour scale. But by the time I got home, I was totally in love with it, mad colours and all.

Got my hairs all colourful!

The boys thought it was awesome, too. Lucas’s reaction when he saw me after school was perfectly delightful – he was so excited! And if you ever want validation for choosing rainbow hair, just show up for after school pick-up and listen to the Grade 2 girls go crazy over it! “Oh wow, look at her hair!” “That’s Lucas’s mom. Your hair’s so pretty, Lucas’s Mom!” “Wow, look at the COLOURS!” It took 35 years, but I am finally cool among the elementary school set.

This morning I’m suffering from a bit of a hair hangover. I admit to being VERY alarmed when I simply rinsed it in the shower and unleashed a veritable torrent of dye into the tub, but I’m told that’s normal and there is still PLENTY of colour left. I have a crazy day of back to back to back meetings today, so it will be interesting to see everyone’s reaction. Conveniently, today is the International #DayofPink to support diversity and stand up against homophobia, transphobia and all forms of bullying, so I’ll say that’s what motivated me and I just got a little carried away!

So – what do you think??? 😉


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Spring fitness tune-up and a review of the TomTom Spark fitness watch

27 March 2016 Me, only better

In May 2014, I wrote a post lamenting the fact that after six weeks of walking, exercising and conscious food choices, I had still failed to lose a single pound. Not too long after that, I started using My Fitness Pal to track not only exercise but food choices, and started making slow but steady […]

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In which I not only stalk Chef Michael Smith, but convince him to FaceTime with the boys

25 February 2016 Ah, me boys

It’s been nearly two years since I first wrote about stalking my culinary hero, Chef Michael Smith. Since then we’ve been to his Flavour Shack in Souris several times, and for my birthday dinner last year we splurged on an incredible family dinner at his new FireWorks restaurant at the Inn at Bay Fortune. And […]

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Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary to Granny and Papa Lou

19 February 2016 It IS all about me

As it goes, 1966 was a pretty interesting year. The first episodes of Star Trek and Batman aired on TV, and the Oscar for Best Picture went to The Sound of Music. Truman Capote published In Cold Blood, the US Food and Drug Administration declared “the Pill” safe for contraceptive use, NASA launched Lunar Orbiter […]

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Christmas traditions FTW: The reindeer rant

6 December 2015 Happy holidays

I have lost track of the number of times I’ve recycled this post, but it somehow just doesn’t feel like Christmas until I’ve shared it again. Besides, with a new job and a new circle of friends, there’s a whole new audience to edumacate about this most important Christmas factoid. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to […]

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