Let me tell you about the chair. But to do that, I need to tell you a little bit about last night, and why we had to run out of our hotel room here in Toronto this morning.

Last night was the Mirror Ball for Look Good Feel Better and As I’ve mentioned (and if you know me online, you’ve probably noticed), I both blog and work with So, we were fortunate enough to receive an invitation to the Mirror Ball this year. It’s a really big gala that raises funds for the programs. This is the stuff that helps ladies receive complimentary cosmetics when they are going through so much, and gives them a place to share stories and feelings online.


ChairWe were at the Mirror Ball and it was goooooooddddd fun. After catching up with the other awesome bloggers and behind-the-scenes lovelies, my favourite aspect of this ball (along with the appetizers, ambiance, buzz, fancy clothes, drinks, and delish food) is the silent auction. Silent m backside! That auction room is busy with people looking over the products on auction.

Let me dip into my memory and share some of these things:

Luggage – starting bids were around 20-100 dollars. Those are tempting numbers, particularly since our luggage is on its last days!

Loads of kids stuff. No thank you.

Kitchen goods and home wear from the Bay. Including a lovely scarf Zsolt and I were tempted to get into a bidding war over, but since it’ only worth 20 dollars in the first place, we didn’t bother.

Cosmetics galore!

Trips to here and there (not needed, through the train trip across Canada sounds cool).

Random stuff: There were puppies, a lawn mower, some giant plush mushroom…

Anyhow, I’ve been anticipating this auction from the moment we were invited. However, while it was time to browse, we started talking to friends and just skipped the entire showcase. Suddenly the lights are flicking on and off, signalling everyone to go out to the dining room.

No way! Zsolt and I are rushing around looking at stuff and mostly dismissing everything. Then somehow, we bid on a random sweater (which was cosy as a cloud in heaven) and the luggage. Then  we go to the amazing dining room and begin the meal. Except this year, everyone seemed auction obsession (which is a good thing, since it all goes toward the charity), and so the whole table is flipping through the little book of auction stuff. Zsolt and I decide to flip as well. That’s when we see a listing for an orange and cream chair for 20$. BAM! Before you can say, “Actually, we shouldn’t” the Zsoltster had bid on it! We’re in for 20 bucks on a chair we have no way to transport back to Ottawa.

And the auction goes on, and on, and on… and no one bids against us to take it away.

End of the night comes – and we’ve won the chair!


We hadn’t even seen the chair. And I can’t even tell you why we bid. It just kinda happened. We were struck with silent auction fever . . . maybe they put something in the food . . . maybe we should just take this as a warning to never go to Vegas—our self control is not up to the challenge.

Anyhow, we go and pick the chair, and it actually turns out to be quite nice. (We didn’t win the luggage, but we, again, didn’t want to go into a bidding war over the pieces)

So we take this chair up to the hotel room, and figure we’ll sort it out tomorrow morning. Everything will be a okay.

Skip to 12.30 pm the next day, and we’re waking up – thirty minutes late for checkout. I have never seen my husband jump up from the bed so fast. He is part zombie, part productive-robot. We are literally throwing things into our various bags, hoping we don’t get charged extra as we sneak out the door.

You know, I am going to divert the blame and say this was the fault of the Royal York for having such temptingly thick curtains in their rooms. It was dark as night when we looked at the time, and I was half buried in a pile of feather pillows.

We get our stuff together, and just as we are about to make a quick exit we remember, we bought a freaking chair last night, and there it is in our room! So here is the dilemma: we took the train to Toronto, and as I learnt about half an hour later, VIA rail won’t let you take furniture onto the train.  Sooooooo….. after walking around Toronto for a while with this random chair, we have this conversation:

I say to Zsolt, “Let’s ditch the chair.”

He says to me, “But we can’t ditch the chair. I’ll feel bad since it’s such a good chair.”

I give in, cause I know it would make him feel badly, and it is a good chair.

So, one taxi ride later – going deeper into Toronto – (the taxi driver fleeced us as he could smell the desperation off of me. It was hard to find a driver who would accept a chair in his car)  we rock up to a friend’s house in Toronto and are asking him to please accept the chair into his home until he next drives down to Ottawa, which he very kindly does.

Therefore, in a month or two, the chair will come make its way to our apartment.

We made it back to the train on time, and now we are rocking and rolling toward Ottawa. The Mirror Ball was such a good time, and it was a pleasure to stop working for the night and just have fun. There was good company, good food, awesome fashion, and late-night dancing. There was also a chair.

And that is the story of that 🙂

The end.

How to STAND OUT during chemo and beyond

I don’t know why I’m writing about this today, except that last week I met and chatted with a women who is going through chemotherapy. We met in a coffee shop, and while it’s clear from our chatting that there is much going on with treatment and life, I couldn’t stop thinking how lovely she was looking; she undoubtedly stood out from the coffee shop crowd, and it was largely because she choose to be striking with her clothes and makeup alongside with her bald head.

All of this made me think back in time, as I realised, “Geez, like this beautiful lady (she has a name, I’m just not using it here), I really stood out after chemo with the bald-to-short hair.” Which led to other thoughts like, “Should I cut my hair short again?” (NO!) “Didn’t I promise myself to be fabulous ever moment possible once my body had recovered?” (YES!) “Maybe I should write a post about standing out.” (Which I’m doing right now.)

Here’s the thing about chemotherapy – it knocks you on your ass. And frankly, if you decide to leave your home, which is rather inevitable during treatments, you will attract attention even if you’d rather be invisible to the world.

Let me say it again. You will attract attention.

And after treatment there’s still months upon months of very short hair. Once again, you will attract attention.

But is that a bad thing? If you are going to stand out, then why not do it on your own terms? And hey, why not use the months following chemo as a practise trial for standing out for the rest of your life? Let it be a warm-up for becoming a spectacular presence in your everyday life – a unique energy people can’t help noticing.

Personally, this is a big challenge for me since I grew up being the too-tall-for-the-boys constant wall flower. But the more I try with things like pink glasses, big blue rain boots, funky jackets, pretty clothes, blond highlights to come . . . the easier it becomes. No joke, practice makes this easier, and really satisfying too. Every wall flower wants to be noticed.

Therefore, I present to you, with an invitation to add your own ideas in the comments: Five ideas for standing out during chemo (i.e. whenever you can manage the energy) and beyond!

1. Find some beautiful accessories, e.g. scarves, bracelets, statement necklaces, earrings. Remember, scarves are not exclusively for your head – these can be worn around your neck as well. The lady in the coffee shop wore a beautiful combination of a pale pink scarf wound around a gold thread scarf. The result was so complimentary, I just kept looking at it and thinking how pretty she looked.

2. Smile at people. If they are going to be looking at you, look back at them. Smile, nod, say hello. I’m not saying you need to stop and converse with everyone about cancer or whatever else is on your mind that day, but smiling makes you instantly more relatable. It’s the universal ‘hello’ and everyone is better looking with a smile on their face.

3. Invest in an interesting and impeccably flattering piece of clothing, make it different from the crowd . . . you could snap up something from a local designer, or search a vintage shop for some old-time charm. If you don’t have the energy to shop, no worries – just keep a general eye out, and in the meanwhile look for daring pieces in your closet you’ve never had the guts to wear before this moment in life. (But obviously wanted to, cause how did it end up there otherwise?) Maybe it’s a jacket that’s tailored to your curves, maybe it’s an asymmetrical dress or shirt – I don’t know. All I know is it should be well made and different from anything else you’ve been seeing on the streets.

4. Embrace the short hair . . . at least for a while. I had mixed feelings about my short hair, but while it was there – I tried to style the blond curls (throw-back to my baby hair) sky high like Kramer from Seinfeld. Why not? Having pixie short hair is such a unique experience, and it instantly marks you from the crowd as a daring individual. Instead of hating the hair – love every second of your re-growth, from punk-rocker shaved to Natalie Portman sweet. . . you will stand out with that short hair, so make the most of the experience.  (Speaking of which, I really need to get some highlights put in. I’m aching to go BLOND again!)

5.Embrace colour. Please resist the urge to hide behind black or grey on a daily basis. Okay, I agree that black and muted tones can be very flattering . . . but if you want to be striking, find colour that flatters your skin tones. Couple darker tones (if that’s your comfort zone) with pops of coral, strong blue, light pink, oranges & reds with with blueish tones, green or yellow. Combine those colours with your statement piece, and lady, you’ll be smoking hot – and not because of the menopause!

I have this blue jacket that I wear whenever the weather allows . . . it’s cut quite uniquely, has polka dots and is rather flattering. People say to me often enough, “oh, you’re the girl in the polka dot jacket. I’ve seen you before!” You bet your ass they have. Chances are they’ve seen a lot of people before, but not everyone stands out.

You are fantastic, you are alive, you are YOU. So I reckon take the attention and twist it in your favour. Everyone deserves attention, why not use now to practise how to be present and seen? It’ll get you off to a running start for all those lovely and healthy days to follow treatment.

And that’s my two cents about that!


Picture day in Toronto

Okay, I’m here at my cafe and ready to write. The weather outside is bizarrely fine considering it’s still March, and I’m dressed in an outfit that my husband would 100% hate (I look like a neon pink hippie). So, the time has come to relive yesterday in the written form, and it involves owl eyes, bright yellow dresses, and throwing flowers in the air.

Doesn’t that sounds quite idyllic. Actually it was a photo shoot in Toronto (not exactly idyllic, but still good fun) for the Look Good Feel Better 20th anniversary magazine, Lives Affected by Cancer. As mentioned, I’ve written an article for the issue that dips into the impact of cancer and treatment on a couple’s love life, which is huge, freaking huge, and ripples out into everything, then ripples back in upon itself . . . like some freaking never ending cycle of crabbiness and – !!!! A man in the cafe just unleashed a hurricane from his mouth – Where was I? Oh, it’s a difficult situation that hardly ever gets discussed. So we’re discussing it.

And it’s a tricky concept to photograph as well. But wisely the art director choose to work with the idea of flowers and lightness – and hey, how brilliant? While sex is SEX (Wohoo!), it’s also sweetness, gentleness and romance. Flowers are very appropriate.

So yesterday morning I go up way too early and joined the art director (I so want to say his name, but lately I’m not really sure if I’m able. Am I able?) as we took a cab across Toronto and arrived at the studio. We initially arrived at the wrong studio, a few buildings down and only realized this upon knocking on the wrong apartment door, which sheds some light on how tired we felt.

But eventually we made it.

Unlike the first photo shoot for Glow, this place had a completely different vibe. Firstly, it was empty except for the photographer and her assistant. Secondly, it was a huge space. Big windows and 30 foot ceilings, white painted everything and pillars so large I couldn’t wrap my arms around them. Why, why, why don’t they make these buildings anymore? It was magnificent.

People began to trickle in. And in. And in. Seems to me these photo shoots are highly complex – not to mention the editing and planning of a magazine. The magazine designer was explaining how much work went into the project, and it sounds nearly endless. No wonder every little job needs to be considered, and it’s incredible to watch them integrate their roles like clockwork.

So we stared with makeup and a lovely man helped me look natural, fresh and beautiful. He took the curlers to my lashes and gave them a good pinching (during which I was frozen – mannequin like), then added mascara and a tiny bit of shadow at the edges of my eyes. Sexy! Yet sweet. Way more make emphasis than I’d ever dare to use, but the result was striking.

And then came the dress. Think of something from the 1960s that a woman would wear to lunch out with the girls . . . think lemon drops and traces of white flowers . . . think about Jackie Onassis and Audrey Hepburn. That was my dress.  (It was too large so they clipped it at the back, and I wore my hiking socks since they weren’t photographing my full body. Ridiculous yet comfortable.) The makeup artist (and he was certainly an artist) touched up my lips with a bit of pink that popped against the yellow.

And then the shooting began. Goodness me. I am NOT a model – it makes me wonder, why is it easy to look interesting and friendly in front of the mirror at home, but when people are watching and the camera pops, and someone says “Happy! Be happy” . . . why is it suddenly so darn awkward?

But I did my best. The previous Glow shoot photographer had me saying, “Ha ha ha!” so I tried it here : “Ha ha ha!” And then other people started saying “Ha ha ha!” along with me . . . we were all standing there saying, “Ha ha ha!” and it was quite surreal.


Surreal, but fun. The makeup artist came over and fixed my hair constantly, thank goodness for that because often times he’d give me little tips on how to move or what to do with my legs which was really helpful.

Along the theme of flowers, I threw petals into the air, picked at a bouquet, and smelled the chrysanthemums. It was all very light and fun. Really fun, despite my nerves.

And then there was the video. Talk about uncomfortable! You see, during the shoot not everyone came round to watch – just the photographer, the prop stylist, the clothing stylist, the assistant, the makeup artist and the designer. There were a ton of other people hanging around too. But with the video EVERYONE had to watch.

Basically this video is going to be shown around the web and at events. It’s about Look Good Feel Better and Facing Cancer Together – my particular bit was mostly about blogging and the online community. (Hello community!)

Therefore, the light switches were flipped off and spot lights were turned onto my face (“Good lighting” assured the makeup artist, which somehow made me feel comforted – not that lighting worries had ever entered my mind . . . but nevertheless, I felt better.) and everyone had to be quiet. No mobiles. No moving. No talking. No light (except for the spotlight.)

So basically it was impossible to not watch the filming. However, while the idea intimidated me, the actual execution was alright. When bright lights get shot into your eyes, the watching crowd disappears.  Hopefully I was coherent – sometimes I’d use the wrong word and catch myself about ten seconds later, way after the sentence had passed by and couldn’t be corrected. But whatever. It was the real, second-guessing, me, and I reckon that translates okay onto film. (Or at least, I hope!)

The truly remarkable thing about this photo shoot was how smoothly it ran. With so many people criss-crossing one another, and so many aspects of the production collected in one room – it’s a miracle of good planning and professionalism that the project ran so smoothly. I’m truly impressed with each person in that room and the role they played.

Despite being nervous – totally nervous – about getting my photo taken . . . it was great to be in such a capable crowd, and supported 100% by their kindness and vision for this magazine. The upcoming issue of Lives Affected by Cancer will be hitting stands (as an insert in fashion magazines – how exciting) come next August. Judging by the way things went yesterday, it’s going to be an outstanding issue.

Sometimes you get lucky, eh, and get to be part of something great. Yesterday was something great, and I know Look Good Feel Better and Facing Cancer Together are programs that certainly deserve greatness.

So keep an eye on those newsstands. But don’t let this weather trick you, it’s not August yet.

P.S. I met Michael Carrera – blogger at Facing Cancer Together and personal trainer extraordinaire. But you know what, I’ll write more about that later, because I feel quite strongly about the usefulness of getting a physical trainer post chemotherapy, and it deserves a separate post.