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.

Mirror Ball 2011

Last Sunday morning about 8.00 am, I woke up totally buzzing with Mirror Ball, and I was like, “Catherine, you’ve got to write about this, now.” But then another part of me couldn’t even see straight since I’d stayed up till 2.00 am the night before, and Zsolt was beside me in bed still 100% asleep. I’ve tried before to type my thoughts out while he sleeps . . . but it causes him to wake up grumpy.  This is a shame since there’s no better time to write than when inspiration hits, but the thought of click-clacking too early and his reaction was enough to make me say, “Catherine, wait a little bit.”

Therefore I am today, Wednesday afternoon, at Starbucks. Not the local library, not the basement of my parent’s house, not Tim Hortons (for sure not  – that place is crazy)  . . . but Starbucks, with my green tea and laptop out. I feel very productive and stimulated (thanks to the jazzy Christmas music in the background) and ready to recount the weekend.

Okay, for anyone who doesn’t know – because if you don’t work in the Canadian Cosmetics, Fashion, Media industries, or live in Toronto, (or read any of Sherry Abbott’s or @cancer2gether’s tweets), why would you know? I never knew until told . . . Anyhow, for those of you who don’t know, the Mirror Ball was originally named the Look Good Feel Better Ball, but was recently rebranded to incorporate Facing Cancer Together. 🙂  This is a gala that raises funds for women with cancer. And wow, they raise funds in a big, big way.

So the party started around 5.30pm, though I didn’t roll in till 6.00pm (and Zsolt about 6.30pm, I left him upstairs in the hotel while Chantal took us around and showed us (i.e. Katie, Terri and me), where we’d be standing during our testimonials).  The event was held at the Royal York in Toronto, which has a fascinating history tied into the Fairmont chain and being connected to the wonderful Canadian Pacific Railway. When I see a Fairmount in Canada, I think about the history and roots of our country – the formation of not just colonies but a country, you know? People had a big vision when they began to unite Canada – and I admire big ideas (with positive results).  Anyhow, our history isn’t all puppies, kittens and choo-choo trains, but nevertheless visiting a Fairmount fills me with the fuzzies. So that was cool. Though I still wish they had free wifi.

After the technical bits of seeing where we’d talk, Zsolt and I grabbed our silent auction machines (handheld devices for bidding and donation making) and began to walk around the hall. Amongst the donated products (decanters, hammocks, paintings, Canada Goose outfits, wines, holiday packages, laptop chargers) a vaudeville theme was happening. Flappers seemed to be everywhere, and then there were the mimes (Scary? A little), contortionists, and so on. Mixed in with waiters serving drinks and savoury treats, Zsolt and I had quite a good time walking around seeing how much people bid on various items.

Oh yeah – quick aside, Zsolt wore his beautiful charcoal suit originally purchased for our wedding, and I wore this strapless black dress originally purchased for a PWC Christmas party (like 6 years ago). Going strapless with a prosthesis is slightly tricky and involved several safety pins strategically placed, but I think I pulled it off. And I wore heels, but barely . . . with the help of Zsolt’s arm and a decision to ‘walk very slowly, all the time, no matter what’ I wore heels. My mom knit my shall, and it received several compliments.

And alongside this lovely silent auction and party was the Twitterball. Did you catch that, by any chance? I was assaulted with a Ipad to give a ‘hi & hello’ to the Twitterball participants, so hopefully pulled that off okay. You know I would have loved to have gotten in on the tweeting, but have no means of social media’ing’ when away from the laptop. That will soon be corrected, but I need to wait till Christmas.  My parents were at home following along and trying to stream the event. It’s just amazing what technology is doing nowadays. My brother’s graduation had the same thing: round the world live-streaming.  So everyone can join the party. 🙂

This post is so long. But the night didn’t end here! I’ve got to keep writing! And you are invited to continue reading.

After the auction and milling and meetings (I finally meet the lovely and charming Both Sides, aka Dr Alexandra Ginty. She is so full of life & verve. AND I met Chantal, the community coordinator for Facing Cancer Together and my regular e-mail correspondent – she is as lovely in person as she is in the forums. It’s so wonderful to actually meet the women behind the writing, you know?), it was time to eat dinner in the dining room . . .

Oh boy. So we walk into the dining room and it’s all dim, and black velvet and sparkly. The walls around this giant room have equally giant screens showing the progress of the silent auction, the stage is by the far wall, and the tables are set with more wine glasses, plates and cutlery than I’ve ever seen on a table. We had the honour of sitting with fellow blogger Terri from a Fresh Chapter, Terri’s friend – who I loved talking with across the night, Chantal, some young women who had been involved in the LGFB program (and looked stunning!) and several photographers for the event.  It was so fascinating to speak with Korby and Jodi about photography. Korby Banner has this whole philosophy on how to bring out beauty with his makeup application and photography. I always find it inspiring to speak with someone who clearly adores their work – but even more so, throws themselves into it with the idea of becoming the best. That’s a good way to do things, no?

Anyhow, we were having a great time at our table. And then the soup arrived.

That’s when my heart basically exploded.

You see, Katie, Terri and I were giving one minute talk/testimonials that evening, which meant getting up in front of that giant crowd of professionals and baring a few scars. (Though not literally, because I’d worked really hard to get that strapless dress to stay in place.) To me, this felt rather different than my presentation in Orillia. In Orillia, they were nurses and who doesn’t feel comfortable around a kind-hearted, albeit overworked, nurse? Last Saturday night had ‘industry people’  . . . hmm, I didn’t know what to make of that.

My heart pounded.

So after the soup we were led from the table and snuck around backstage. Sherry Abbott (who looked stunning in her gown) took to the front of the stage and presented the Tamara Wig, then introduced us as we came up. And then, one by one, we gave our stories.

It was incredibly touching, my fellow bloggers are inspiring women – high five to Katie and Terri! After the testimonials Sherry called for donations and in about 5 minutes we raised just over 30,000 dollars.  My goodness.

And for the rest of the night these successful industry people who had so intimidated me came up and shared their story. They had been involved in the Look Good Feel Better program for over 20 years. They had posed for the first cover of the LGFB magazine after fighting cancer. They had lost a wife to cancer. They appreciated our honesty and bravery.

And for me, with all the wonderful glitz and glam, those moments were what made the night. Cancer doesn’t just impact people in a certain area of the world, a certain age group, a certain social or economic sphere . . . cancer simply impacts. And the explosion hits you, no matter what your situation. Every person in that room had their connections, their stories, their experiences. We had more in common than I had realized.

(So the next time you feel intimidated, just remember what you’ve endured, and how this disease has hit so many. I guess we’re all survivors, in a way, whatever the story or situation.)

The rest of the evening involved fantastic food, a decadent dessert, magic, comedy, more contortion, and late night dancing (first time in forever I’ve danced late into the night and not felt like a zombie. Amazing! And in heels, too!).

I feel honoured to have participated in this Mirror Ball, and glad to have helped raise more funds. For sure, Look Good Feel Better helps women reclaim their identity, and for sure, Facing Cancer Together forms a bridge for relationships and connections.

The Mirror Ball was a great night for a great cause. And it certainly deserves this extra long post.

Rethink being alone

I’m writing to you from the Royal York in Toronto, seventh floor and on a queen sized bed, sitting on top of the white duvet (as I sip on my dark tea and hope not to spill). This is all thanks to and the Mirror Ball (Twitter Ball it here) that’s happening this weekend – tonight, actually, and I’m really excited to attend this fantastic gala and report back with all the details. But since I had a covered trip to Toronto, I decided to couple this fantastic event with another, and that’s Rethink’s Breast Quest Film Festival.  This past mornng and last night (I was up way past bedtime) I’ve been attending Rethink events,  and let me say this: it was refreshing.

So, last night I attended a screening of a film that features ladies from the SCAR project, a powerful photography exhibit that shows young women and their scars after having had mastectomy, bilateral, reconstruction, etc. This film goes behind the photographs and actually taps into the story of several of those women. It’s freaking touching. There were four of us sitting there in the theater (plus Zsolt) who had had breast cancer, and we were all tearing up as again and again issues were discussed that had impacted us all.

And after the film, there was schmoozing. Zsolt put on his new ‘brave guy who networks’ hat and dragged me over to meet the photographer and a couple from the film, all of whom were attending the festival. That was quite something to hear their visions and listen to where they think the SCAR project might go next. (Maybe Ottawa? Though when I asked the photographer, “so will you bring the exhibit to Canada?” he turned it on me and said, “The question is, will you bring the exhibit to Canada?” Oh my goodness. I have never even considered the possibility. But this is an extremely powerful show . . . it might actually be an amazing experience to organize its debut in Ottawa. But anyhow, that’s an aside.)

Oh, this tea is really strong. I made it in the coffee machine, and it tastes like English Breakfast with heavy traces of coffee.

So there was the networking part of the evening, which was cool. But you know what was even better? The meeting of women. All these women, in one place, and all having been diagnosed with breast cancer. This early afternoon I attended a Lunchen (which involved an amazing quinoe & kale salad) and met girls like Joanne, and Ashley and Rebecca, and Terri and Katie, and Cat and this other woman who was really cool and chill, but had a name I cannot remember. All these women have been where I’ve been – we’ve all been the youngest in the treatment room, and we’ve all been sideswiped so unexpectedly while trying to forge a life – normally I can’t connect with these people unless I’m online. It was so, so, so nice – so very nice to meet them in person and share a laugh and a cry.

Next year Rethink will have another Breast Quest Film Festival – and will I attend? Absolutly. How could I not? This young and fresh not-for-profit has such a innovative and targeted approach (true it isn’t for everyone, particularly those who dislike the use of ‘boobie’ with ‘breast cancer’), I can’t help but feel excited every time I hear about their organization. And after this weekend, I’m 100% sold on the power of coming together  to live, laugh and learn.

SO that was today and yesterday. Whether or not I actually post this depends on internet access and whether I can motivate myself down over to Starbucks where the wifi is free, but the green tea isn’t. Last night Zsolt and I stayed in a hostel and had free wifi. Tonight we’re in the Royal York and it costs about 15 bucks a night. WTF.

However, this duvet is incredibly cosy, and I love the wall paper. Really, it is luxurious and gets me quite excited for tonight’s gala. But come people, 21st century. FREE WIFI, already!

PS. Everyone in Toronto seems to be around my age – at least in this Starbucks. . . yes, I’ve now gotten out of the hotel room and am having a green tea at Starbucks. Funny how time flies when you’re reading a blog post, you probably didn’t even notice that I got up, got dressed (more dressed) and walked outside and into the coffeeshop. But I did, all while writing this post.