WHO IS
ARLETTE?

July

01

Good Times


I’m a child of the 70’s…or precisely, one born in that final year of the “Make Love, Not War” era (let’s not ponder how ancient that makes me, d’accord?!). I don’t have many mementos of my everyday toddler uniform from those times, save for a picture of a two-year old me sporting a red tee and matching bell bottoms (complete with a yea high ‘fro) as I stood next to a giant wrapped box that almost eclipsed me in size. But with the 70’s being fashion’s “comeback decade” this season and music festivals presenting themselves as ideal stomping grounds for psychedelic wares, revisiting the idea of fashion that expressed peace and freedom does make for a bold statement in these times desperate for positive change.

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In recent years, my wardrobe has evolved into mostly structural and monochromatic pieces; but regardless of my new penchant for minimalistic wares, I must ALWAYS have prints in my closet: I just feel incomplete without them, especially since they take the guesswork out of “elevating” an otherwise generic-looking outfit.

Over the weekend, we had lunch with friends in Trinity Bellwoods, one of Toronto’s most beloved neighborhoods thanks to its eclectic and vibrant scene. Knowing that we’d be headed to the area informed my outfit choice for that lunch date: printed flare trousers obtained at a “ridonculous” price, as well as a perforated suede halter top reminiscent of Soul Train’s ‘Let The Good Times Roll’ disco craze. And although the temptation to go barefoot among park loungers and sunbathers seemed enticing, that’s where I drew a clear line in the sand: if style is a subjective matter, I like for my “matter” to include some level of sophistication and mine came in the form of buttery-soft leather wedges to complete the look. Il faut savoir doser les choses, quoi!? (“level things out”, my digital-aged hippies!) #parksplintersnomore

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Bob Dylan sang it best: ‘The Times, They Are A Changin’ and we’re certainly witnessing this in many aspects; but in some weird paradox, the times are also “recycling” themselves, making the old new again (and none more so than in fashion).

What does one leave in the past and what does one take into the future?

Popular matter or subjective matter?

While the powers that be in fashion work on deciding the next trends, I’ll be out there today like my fellow countrymen and women, lounging and sunbathing, enjoying the freedom this country affords me to be just ME…either barefoot or in my disco-inspired sky-highs!?

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Happy Canada Day to all of you who love this country and call it home — We Are The North indeed and so darn hot, might I add, that even Mr. West knew his daughter couldn’t have gone by any other name!? #boom #wentthere #ProudCanadian

Avec amour,

– A

 Photo Credit: Wil ‘Only1O’ Orellana

June

21

Like Father, Like Daughter } Father’s Day Edition


“So fathers, be good to your daughters; daughters will love like you do…” – Daughters, John Mayer

He didn’t know what was awaiting him: how his heart was going to open up bigger, wider and further than he’d ever allowed himself to feel until this day. But I gave him fair warning…

What does a man know about himself and the women in his life until a daughter enters the fold?

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Of his mother? He owes her much for her unconditional love and sacrifice; but any semblance of the sinister Oedipus complex one may imagine is not part of his DNA.

Of his ex-girlfriends? They ought to fall back. Not a single one can claim to have ever gotten this kind of unshakable commitment out of him, even when they believed they had him “sprung”.

Of his wife? Far from a rival. Until now, the love of his life appeared to have all the elements of what he sought in a woman…until the one stemming from his bones — “the flesh of his flesh” — made him discover the earth below him, the sky above him and the fire within him.

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She’s his angel, his #1; together, they’re intertwined in a universe where a man, until he meets a daughter, doesn’t fully grasp the extent and limitless possibilities of his love and desire to protect and nurture the minute he lays eyes on HER.

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“Like Father, Like Daughter” goes one of the many variations of the saying. In the Orellana Clan, the evidence of this, it seems, is in the growing number of stills that pepper our family Instagram account, where matching bun shots, Sunday selfies and short video clips of their resembling faces are the modern day Kodak moments of Daddy-And-Me dynamos.

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The hubs is celebrating his first Father’s Day today and it’s one he’s spoken about wistfully over the years as if the chances of it ever coming true were as grim as Command walking Olivia down the aisle!? #ohsnap #noshedidnt #Scandalmetaphor

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But here we are: 8 months later, adjusting to this new normal dictated by a bubbly Daddy’s Girl whose father already dreads the idea of her going on dates, moving out or away or (eek!) getting married. Calling him back to earth (and present day!) is alas part of this lady’s daily list of B-generated duties:

Breastfeeding…Bathing…Banishing baby snatching fears

But I digress.

I love the sheer force of this growing bond and welcome it with the same intensity that it took me to recognize that their love is no threat to our own. It’s a different kind of love — that of a man who got fair warning, and when push comes to shove, handles his daughter like a BOSS!

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Happy Father’s Day to all the men who hold their families down and to the Heavenly Father who loves us unconditionally in a way that surpasses all understanding…

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Avec amour,

– A

Photo credit: Cindy ‘WhoIsArlette’ Orellana

June

16

Stop and Smell The Roses


I’m always impressed with bloggers who diligently keep their followers in the loop on a daily basis: whether through bite-size accounts of daily going-ons via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, or through beautifully detailed blog shots, they hold themselves accountable to a higher standard than the often heard “I’m-a-blogger” hyphenated title. I admire them because I recognize that to have passion is one thing, but to hold fast the discipline to write every day is quite another.

Blogging EVERY…SINGLE…DAY?

Rain or shine?

Nature’s Hail or Hail Mary?

Running through meadows or riding the crimson wave?

Yeah, totally failed in that capacity thus far, although not entirely from a lack of interest or things to say…

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Life happens so fast that I often have to stop to take it all in, be in that moment and be fine with the notion that many things are for my own curiosity and not necessarily the world’s (which is something many of us have a hard time digesting — blame it on the #SocialMediaMadeMeDoIt disease). But that is a choice each one of us must make for themselves based on personal motivations.

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But ‘Life Lately’ in these parts has been light, fun, full of surprises…and flashing before my very eyes. With summer officially at our door, I’m eager to see how people in the Dot roll. As I continue to spruce up Casa Orellana, I remain on a quest to befriend the city that is now home, keeping my eyes peeled to opportunities to see, hear and do. I made a trek to the monthly Toronto Flower Market on Saturday to snag myself a bouquet of my all-time favorite blooms and to “stalkarazzi” regular folks in their element. The stereotypes of what big city folks are often perceived as could seem like characters from a Cindy Chupak novel:

Casually-chic moms pushing cherubim-looking tots in designer strollers followed closely by their beefed-up husbands dressed in their Saturday Golf best;

Proud dog owners parading their adorable and well-behaved furry friends and exchanging dog-rearing tips with like-minded animal lovers;

Young professionals scouring every kiosk with their girl squads or BFs while touting graphic print totes in one hand and steaming hot cups of organic coffee in the other;

Garden enthusiasts drilling vendors on floral terminology sounding far more like a long-lost Swedish dialect than gardening speak;

Recognizable lifestyle bloggers snapping the chic floral displays with shiny DSLRs while looking the picture of Topshop perfection;

Little Mami exchanging knowing glances with other babies in an understanding ‘Look Who’s Talking?’ manner as strangers’ voices rose to high-octave Baby Babble…

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What would this bestseller be called? ‘Hipsterville’ or the ‘United Nation of Cool, Cooler and Coolest’?

I kid. Just peeples going about their business on a Saturday the way any good neighbor would.

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Taking in the pulse of the city as the temperatures rise and seeing it morph under a bright blue sky, out on the streets, as bodies move past shops and people, and in and out of mazes and moments? A pleasure then, a pleasure now and a pleasure always.

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Here’s to curiosity winning the game from time to time, party of one or party of all…

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Avec amour,

– A

Photo credit: Cindy ‘WhoIsArlette’ and W. ‘Onl1O’ Orellana

June

09

Body Electric


Seems like everywhere I turn lately, rock hard abs, sculpted arms and chiseled chests are the stuff of dreamy IG feeds where the donut sun doesn’t shine. From Hannah Bronfman‘s plethora of daily workouts so hardcore they’ll have you reaching for the crying emoji, all the way to my BFF’s cupboards replete with organic goods, I find myself wondering whether every bite that enters my mouth doesn’t rightfully classify under ‘Fat Trap’. The notion that there can be no gain without pain is one I’ve avoided on and off for years, for no greater reason than the fact that I simply do not enjoy working out the way some people do.

Do the happy endorphins kick in after I’ve “Madonna’d” myself to sweaty disgrace? Yes.

Do I feel a sense of accomplishment when I’ve pushed myself beyond the limits of my weak limbs? Certainement!

But after all is said and done, where does all that machismo bravado disappear to the minute I leave the confines of Body Electric laboriousness?

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With summer around the corner, the pressure to develop a Video Vixen body reaches its apogee and although for some, this serves as motivation to “regulate” one’s deplorable habits, in others, it triggers a rebellious stance against unrealistic expectations that are more socially-driven than personal. The ones in favor of the latter argument often bring up the rise in popularity of an ample BUM-BUM as The New Ideal, thanks in huge part to Beyoncé, Nicki, Jennifer and Iggy singing the praises of bigger posteriors; many will say that this is reason enough to embrace a new beauty ideal as opposed to the one being shoved down our throats by mainstream media. I, myself, have found myself on both end of the spectrum: one minute, loving my “Bubble Butt” as it sat comfortably in the tiniest pair of Guess jeans, and the next, reading up obsessively on cure miracles that could whittle it down to Mommy Butt territory, aka “Pancake” Booty.

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But we’re not here to lead a Voluptuous vs. Thin war. Let us consider, instead, the more pressing matters at hand, namely health and self-esteem. When fitness becomes a priority and is the catalyst for being sane of mind, keeping illness at bay and lifting spirits up, they often clarify other areas of our lives, bringing forth productivity, activity and good ol’ happy. And let’s face it, no law in the natural world will ever be against such positive benefits.

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BFF and I attended a SWEATBox session last weekend that was hosted by fitness expert and social media phenom Dawn Archer during her recent visit to the city and it was not only an energetic and fun session, but it also inspired me to get back into caring for myself on a much deeper level (and by deeper, I mean going above the “walk everywhere” minimum requirement). My pores cried every last bit of their sweaty tears as I jumped, gyrated my hips and  shook what my momma gave me to no end. In that moment, I thought to myself that perhaps the beasts that are my growing hips, my bulging postnatal muffin top and the overall sluggishness that attacks my every senses from time to time CAN AND WILL be extinguished if I find it in me to get passed my aversion for fitness. For now, Dawn Archer, you won this one…

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I wish I could state for the record that all this hard work went the way of the Fitness Champ Hall of Fame, but you would be led astray — we promptly followed up all this Body Electric fun with a visit to the Mac ‘n’ Cheese Festival (Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Doritos and sriracha? #fingerlickinggood) and a quick trip to Bloor West for dessert. Sadly for salad bars everywhere, no remorse ensued.

What can I say? I’m a work in progress…

Avec amour,

– A

Photo credit: Cindy ‘WhoIsArlette’ Orellana

May

09

We Orellana Girls | Mother’s Day Edition


“Oh, my sweet girl, you made me work!” I cried out, as beads of sweat and tears ran down my face and my midwife placed my daughter’s tiny body on my chest. At last, she was here: my Little Mami, the one I’d prayed for without ceasing for two years.

Sophia: Greek for “Wisdom; wise”

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As I look at my little girl today, 7 months of sugar and spice and everything nice, her once undefined newborn face replaced by almond-shaped eyes, a button nose and a wide toothless grin, I still cannot believe that she’s mine. It’s quite a mystery to look down at a face that resembles parts of your own, to observe some of your mannerisms and quirks replicated by another and to never tire of being called by the one word that sounds sweeter than the lyrics of your favorite jam.

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As we’re gearing up to celebrate another Mother’s Day, I realize that the holiday itself should not be construed as egotistical boasting for one’s prowess as a purveyor of life; it’s the tale of a tribe, a diverse clan of caregivers that extends past the uterus that births us. After all, if physiology alone dictated what makes a mother, which argument could we use in favor of the countless children who are abandoned, neglected or rejected? This is why I love the example I grew up with in the Haitian culture, where we’re brought up to call our mothers, grandmothers, aunts and community neighbors “Manmi” (Creole for Mom) no matter who they are, showing our reverence to the many ladies who positively impact our lives every day.

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Whether they’re versed in child-rearing after bearing the brunt of multiple births; faced with the demanding adoption process by choice or necessity; or holding fast the hope of conception in spite of many failed attempts, miscarriages and diagnoses that often try to discourage them from going any further, “Manmies”, in whichever form they come in, are our first examples of unconditional love, courage and sacrifice; and to me, that’s essentially the way I hope Mother’s Day could be viewed and celebrated by the population at large.

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I often think about what my relationship with Sophia will look like in the future, only to remind myself that I ought to focus on the here and now and pray for a relationship that can get passed strife, disagreements and disappointments, that will thrive in acceptance and mutual respect, and that will blossom in love. And when I pass and Sophia goes on to have a daughter of her own, my wish is that whatever we will have cultivated over the years that was memorable, noteworthy and life-changing goes on to imprint itself into her own relationship with her daughter and grow tenfold.

“Oh, my sweet girl, you made me work!”

“Yes I did, but I was worth it, no?” I imagine she’ll say one day.

Indeed, wise girl, indeed…

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Happy Mother’s Day to all you lovely “Manmies”!

Avec amour,
– A

Photo Credit: W. ‘Only10′ Orellana

May

04

Arlette Chez Colette


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Spring is turning out to be quite something and my grill is shining brighter than the sun’s rays. Two of the major highlights from last month that still have me in a gleeful mood include my Little Mami saying “Mama” for the first time (which she now uses religiously to keep me whipped!?) and finding the #OClan’s new home!

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With the move fast approaching, we find ourselves living in all of my favorite home decor spots lately like permanent store fixtures, and with so much to be done (and the fact that I’m the not-so-patient type), it has been both thrilling and overwhelming. If I could have it my way, my new home would be set up with all the bells and whistles in a single day; but alas, I fall short of those Heiress Tree Dollars and must pace myself, learning to set the place up little by little like the “Get Smart” money manager I try to be (although, admittedly, doing so feels as refreshing as drinking vinegar). But what can I say? Old habits die hard, but so will my money if I do not learn to manage the cheese like a diligent mouse (the fact that I would use a rodent metaphor at all should totally make all of our heads explode right about now).

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In an attempt to get out of my own head for a while and focus on my recent blessings rather than the tiresome work another move will entail, I made a weekday lunch reservation for me and BFF who, turns out, had her own cause for celebration. After exploring the mani-pedi circuit a few times, enjoying a much-needed day of relaxation at the spa, twinning it at the AGO and churchin’ it at each of our respective iglesias in recent months, I wondered to myself how two girls with well-documented voracious appetites, as well as a love of “showing up and showing out”, could remain within “casual hang” territory when this city is brimming with hot restaurant destinations!?

Leave Olivia to her business; I got this…#BFFadventuresFixer

Turns out, all we needed was our first trek to the famed French-inspired Colette for a middle of the week meetup that saw us toasting to the Good from our Great God and provided me with plenty of inspiration to get back to the grind with quite a few ideas for the new place and life in general. I was so enchanted by our surroundings that I penned the following little poem about who I imagined “Colette” would be in the flesh…

There is a secret which I know

Beyond the white doors, where one must go

As the ocean’s hues collide with soft sand dunes

And the sun’s bright rays meets the afternoon.

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There she sits, composed and solitaire,

“She’s French”, I hear them whisper,

Furtive glances, thoughts laid bare;

Despite her calmness, rages a deep fire

She is aware of herself, of that innate power.

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Intriguing, alluring, breathtaking…

Her crimson lips sealed, breath in her eyes;

Her pump gently tapping the marbled tiles,

Sweet cadence surrender, born of nine lives.

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I wish to know her, I now observe

Crowning myself in her cloth, a heart to preserve

Subtly, comes a winking nod,

French women, dare I say, are favored by God.

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There is a secret which I know…

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Beyond the white doors, where one must go…

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Stars impassioned by her presence…

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Oceans and dunes colliding in quintessence…

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Let them whisper; elle n’en fait pas une tête…

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She knows her worth; she is Colette.

Avec amour,

– A

Photo Credit: Cindy ‘WhoIsArlette’ Orellana

April

26

Be BeYoutiful…Being You


“BEAUTY BEGINS THE MOMENT YOU DECIDE TO BE YOURSELF.”

“YOU KNOW WHO’S BEAUTIFUL? READ THE FIRST WORD.”

“NEXT TIME YOU THINK OF BEAUTIFUL THINGS, DON’T FORGET TO COUNT YOURSELF IN.”

“BEAUTY IS WHAT YOU FEEL ABOUT YOURSELF, NOT ABOUT WHAT YOU SEE IN THE MIRROR.”

With all this talk of feminism and female empowerment in the media and society at large today, such call-to-action reminders would seem obvious to a generation brought up in the “Selfie” Age, but to 23 women faced with dire circumstances that have left many of them broken and helpless, those same reminders could very well mark the road back to self-love.

I should know: I was once the victim of verbal and physical abuse at the hands of a boyfriend for four and a half months and the damage caused led me to retreat to an unforgiving mental prison that took me longer to escape than the length of said relationship.

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For one year, I felt unworthy of love because I had been told that I was nothing and that I should consider myself lucky that any man would pay attention to me at all. For one year, I replayed the events of the first time his clutched fist hit my face or the time his finger grasped my neck tightly, leaving me bewildered and terrified beyond words. For one year, following the demise of that relationship, I wished for the one thing I believed would end my mental suffering and my broken spirit: death.

But God had other plans…

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As it is often said in church when one overcomes their trials: “Your test will become your testimony.” Although only a few people in my life knew of the above confession until now, I always felt in my heart that I should consider the weight of what I had been through so many years ago and what it signifies to be a woman in today’s world. Whether faced with abuse, divorce, layoffs, poverty or other obstacles, when one is given another chance at life, giving back is imperative and I felt the time was ripe for service, which is why I decided to volunteer at The BeYoutiful Project.

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The brainchild of Gina Pomone, The BeYoutiful Project, a community-based initiative assisting socially and economically disadvantaged women, is the kind of event I wished existed a decade ago when moral, financial and spiritual support was all I prayed for. Having held the first event last year to rousing success, Gina and her enthusiastic team of volunteers, supporters and sponsors hosted the project’s second event this past Saturday, where 23 women enjoyed a day of pampering comprised of personally-assisted shopping, beauty treatments, catered food and entertainment.

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I have asked Gina to share her impressions of the project today, the unexpected surprises she’s encountered and what the future holds in all things BeYoutiful.

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A: How has the second year of the project differed from the first?

G: I wanted to cast a bigger net in the community this year. In addition to partnering again with Community Outreach Canada,  I reached out to the Pregnancy Care Centre and the Scarborough Women’s Centre.  I also personally invited one women upon the recommendation of her young daughter.

Also this year, I received donations from as far as my hometown of Montreal, more corporate donations and support.  I had to incur some extra costs compared to last year, but God provided the resources and every single bill was covered.

I also wanted to increase the monetary gift to the women from $35 to $100 this year and as you know, the monetary gift was a $100 gift card for groceries.

I think the success of last year and its impact ‎has created a little buzz and people from all over are interested in partnering with me on future projects.

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A: What pleasant surprises did you experience during this year’s event?

G: I can’t say it’s a surprise because this is a project God laid on my heart to do and when He is in it, nothing should come as a surprise, but two women gave their heart to Christ that afternoon! It’s incredible knowing this little project had such a life changing impact on these women.

What stood out for me, and I still tear up thinking about it‎, is the moment the woman I personally invited looked at herself in the mirror after getting her hair and makeup done. She could not believe what she saw and it was like she was blind and saw her reflection for the very first time. I think she finally realized that she truly was beautiful. We both could not hold back our tears!

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A: What do you hope to witness in the coming months or the next year with The BeYoutiful Project?

G: My dream for the project is for it to be mobile so that I can take it across Canada and beyond. ‎I also hope that we made a difference in the lives of these women, that it gave them that little extra boost of courage to move forward with their lives and to realize that they are valuable and that God has a plan and a purpose for their lives and that when they look in the mirror, they see and believe that they are beautiful.

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As I placed a single laminated quote in each one of the changing rooms that I was tasked to stage at the event, one particular message jumped at me:

You are BRAVER than you believe

STRONGER than you seem

SMARTER than you think

and twice as BEAUTIFUL

As you’d ever IMAGINED

A fitting message 10 years in the making and not a day late…

Avec amour,

– A

Photo Credit: Cindy ‘WhoIsArlette’ Orellana

March

29

The Return to #WMCFW (or The Tale of Mother Guilt)


Although there’s much cause for celebration when a child enters one’s world, there’s also the reminder of the things one must oftentimes give up (or put aside temporarily) to assume their parental role. In between caring for a newborn, guiding a teenager and being a supportive wife, I’ve tried my best not to lose sight of my own wants and needs and have sought to strike that elusive “balance” that women often make mention of in conversation: that ‘One Woman Show’ magic act titled The Tale of Mother Guilt.

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My balance, unfortunately, doesn’t come courtesy of the ‘Nanny-All-Day’ brigade the way many celebrity mompreneurs rely on their Mary Poppins to keep their tykes in “joie de vivre” bliss as they go on to build empires (my Playdate Platinum card sadly cannot seem to cover the premium portion of that membership). But regardless of the logistics, I count myself blessed to have an ally who understands my need for a “time-out” every once in while so that I may go feed my curiosity and creativity and come back stronger and better for it. World MasterCard Fashion Week ended yesterday and although this was only my second season, I was thrilled to return to the tents, especially now that proximity and time off work are no longer an issue.

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I’ve been paying close attention to the happenings of Canadian fashion for years: from the reception of new collections, to the newly heralded kings and queens of the catwalk, all the way to the street style darlings who keep us running reblog marathons on Tumblr. But above all, what keeps me engaged (other than each designer’s inventive runway take) is the “observation study”: the plethora of styles, faces and candid moments and realizing the irony of it all: despite the aura surrounding that world and the bravado scrawled across many faces, all who are present appear far more like school-aged children on their first day of grade school than fully assured adults.

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There is a sense of hesitation, of fascination: first, with others, and then, with this specific moment in time as publicists run around seating VIPs, industry insiders and sponsors, photographers congregate to the pit and guests pile in to fill a space to the brim. All this energy builds up, hangs in the air and keeps us guessing as to what we’ll be witnessing in the coming minutes; observers become observees. But then the lights go down, the musical notes rise and all eyes collectively transfix that shiny catwalk, where for less than a dozen minutes, hopes and dreams of speed, shock and self will take flight…crash…die…and be reborn.

In that moment, the cool kids, the misfits, the high society priests, the rebellious convention knockers, the money makers, the broke hustlers all mesh, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation and social economic status — fashion is the one and only definitive thread running through each one of our stories.

Wake up kids
We’ve got the dreamers disease
Age 14 we got you down on your knees
So polite, you’re busy still saying please
Frenemies, who when you’re down ain’t your friend
Every night we smash their Mercedes-Benz
First we run and then we laugh till we cry
But when the night is falling
and you cannot find the light
If you feel your dream is dying
Hold tight
You’ve got the music in you
Don’t let go
You’ve got the music in you
One dance left
This world is gonna pull through
Don’t give up
You’ve got a reason to live
Can’t forget you only get what you give
Four a.m. we ran a miracle mile
were flat broke but hey we do it in style
The bad rich
God’s flying in for your trial

This whole damn world can fall apart
You’ll be OK, follow your heart
You’re in harm’s way
I’m right behind
Now say you’re mine

Fly high
What’s real can’t die
You only get what you give
Just don’t be afraid to leave
Health insurance rip off lying FDA big bankers buying
Fake computer crashes dining
Cloning while they’re multiplying
Fashion mag shoots
with the aid of 8 dust brothers Beck, Hanson
Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson
You’re all fakes
Run to your mansions
Come around
We’ll kick your ass in!
Don’t let go
One dance left

– You Get What You Give (New Radicals) –

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 Avec amour,

– A

Photo credit: C. ‘WhoIsArlette’ Orellana

March

09

(What’s the Story) Mommy Glory?


Here’s my statement of the day: I’m LOVING maternity leave – it’s the business, son! What’s not to love about having days to yourself in the presence of a little one who stares at you adoringly, coos joyously, burps (or farts!) loudly in ways that prompt you to laugh or feel embarrassed, and relies on you so completely and without reserve that you could never imagine not loving them wholly? To me, that’s what motherhood is all about and it’s a role I feel at home in, no matter how the world chooses to rate a mother’s contribution to society. Since leaving Ottawa, my daytime party of two with Miss Sophia has grown into a ride-or-die trio with hubby on weekdays and further grows into a Quatro Dynamo with The Kid on the weekends. We fill our journées with play time, scheduled naps, breakfasts, lunches or dinners out on the town, shopping, museum visits, IRL dates with social media friends, IG moments, and when the day finally wounds down, evening events or intense catch-up work for Mommy and Daddy once la princessa has succumbed to slumber.

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The 2001 “New Mommy” I was then didn’t jive well with maternity leave: the days seemed to go as fast as a snail running a marathon. The solitude, coupled with the sudden slowdown in pace, lack of sleep and demands of a little person whose needs I couldn’t decipher without words, drove me to curl up in a ball on my kitchen floor in complete baby blues desperation. And although I later grew to appreciate this new presence in my life and made peace with the less-than-perfect fantasies of cradling a cute ‘Mini Me’, I found myself longing for the working world and went on to act on that impulse 6 months into The Kid’s existence. Certainly, I loved my child, but I loved grown-up time more, and given that I hadn’t figured out how I could reconcile then made me feel like I was continuously strapped to an ‘F’ bomb (Fatigued, Frustrated, Failing and a Fraud!). I couldn’t imagine how my two worlds could coexist harmoniously when I was the only 21 year-old I knew who bore the eclectic “Girl Scout” badge of wife, mother and fun-having/club-hopping dancing queen.

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The 2015 “Mommy Again” that I am now has a new appreciation for what constitutes this journey that is motherhood: not only because trial and error are great teachers in and of themselves, but because I can forgive myself the things I couldn’t grasp with enthusiasm then, be it the solitude or the responsibility. What should have been a year of me marveling at this little person during my uninterrupted time in ’01 was intercepted by my haste to escape what was out of fear and boredom. But this time around, the awareness of time and its worth, and most of all, the regrets one stands to face when they’re not willing to slow down and ponder the beauty of a moment, are what make me see this maternity leave in a different light than my 20-something self.

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There isn’t a day that goes by without the gratefulness of waking up to a little girl who smiles up at me brightly, unaware that her actions from the previous night have me shooing away the Fatigue Monster’s taunting come morning; or the greetings of this man of mine who fixes me breakfast and a mean cup of java and who reminds me that I mean the world to him and our kids; or the 5-minute shower I get to enjoy to be with my thoughts as water washes away anything unworthy of my mind space; or the impromptu outings at any moment, for anything, to meet anyone, without that rushed feeling that plagued me most of my life and made me feel like I would never manage to get anything done well (or at all!) no matter how much I tried. Thankfully, I do not adhere to the Stepford Wives Club: nothing in that bastion fits “my wife/mother/fun-having/crib-bopping/dancing queen” self.

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Yes, maternity leave has me singing a different tune this time around: that of a snail running its marathon however slow it wishes to, but who remains on-the-go nonetheless, knowing that it’s time well spent to learn to love perfectly in an imperfect world.

Avec amour,

– A

Photo Credit: C. ‘WhoIsArlette’ Orellana.

March

03

Sweet as Candy


A girl knows she’s officially landed when she receives her first invitation of (hopefully!) many social events in the Big City; luckily for me, this is one instance where the saying that “one never forgets her first” doesn’t conjure up regrettable memories in the vein of “losing it to some guy named Junior with bad breath in the back of a van at a Guns N’ Roses concert…”, but I digress (although I admit that the writer in me has never felt more grateful for cinematic metaphors and quotable moments).

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This “first”, the Hard Candy S15 media preview at the swanky Cosmopolitan Hotel Toronto, was a well-spent couple of hours that temporarily made me forget our collective angst against dreadful Old Man Winter and gave me a nice reprieve from mommy duties. The suite that welcomed blogging darlings and press certainly rivaled Katy Perry’s colorful SuperBowl half-time show in cheerful, electric hues reminiscent of early 90’s color explosiveness (Saved By The Bell collage-y prints, Vuarnet fashion, Caboodle kits…); yes, a time that was positively wondrous for the TNBC generation before the decade took a turn to dirty, somber Grungeville.

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As it is commonplace at these sorts of events, details are de rigueur in keeping attendees in good social graces: from the signage of the brand’s social media accounts with ‘call-to-action’ hashtags, to the test-drive of the latest makeup and lacquers, all the way to the complimentary makeup retouches and manicures by a team of Hard Candy beauticians, and savory and sweet nibbles and wine aplenty, everything came together like a well-oiled machine…except this well oil-machined brought the experience up a notch thanks to a spectacular view of la grande ville‘s hustle and bustle seen through the suite’s giant bay windows, a remarkable spectacle if there ever was one as the night fell upon the city. Those are the kinds of firsts one can count themselves lucky enough to experience once in a while, in addition to unleashing the 14-year old inside on a “Rebecca Bloomwood/Warm-Butter-Sliding-Down-Hot-Toast” high.

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Having suffered from a terrible bout of acne and hyperpigmentation most of my life, I often felt that makeup felt both like a worthy solution and a torture device as I tried to cope with my predisposed skin condition. In my teens, applying makeup often left me feeling apprehensive, while nail polishes left me darn right frustrated (which would explain why I consider professional manicures and pedicures my ultimate indulgence and no longer bother to “nail down” the self-application technique). All in all, makeup served as a shield from hurtful comments rather than an enhancer, and when all was said and done, it didn’t nearly cure me of my insecurities; it only exacerbated them! But with my maturing skin now making way for wrinkles and kicking my unsightly spots to the curb, I realize that it always boiled down to perspective: I can either roll with the punches knowing that nothing, good or bad, lasts forever, or I can throw punches, fighting myself to the death for a life that has been more than forgiving of my imperfections.

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As I stared down at the oodles of “face magic” goods staring back at me, I imagined what it would be like for the ‘teenage me’ to be here in this moment, not overthinking the process or the outcome, and just allowing herself to play, marvel and paint herself pretty, getting a bite of that Hard Candy…so I let her out to play, finding her relaxed, silly and smiling as she snapped a #selfiestick pose wearing her new favorite lipstick: ‘Wanted’. I’ve decided that she’s allowed to stay indefinitely; Ms. Hepburn was right: “Happy girls are the prettiest”.

Many thanks to Esther Garnick, Jessica Denomme and the lovely ladies of EGPR for giving this girl a memorable ‘first’.

Avec amour,

– A

Photo credit: Cindy ‘WhoIsArlette’ Orellana

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