Monday, April 30, 2007

The Other Woman

My husband has never treated me like a little princess - which is a good thing as I am certainly not that kind of woman. I only mention this as it makes his relationship with Maggie all the more confusing.

You see, Maggie is the other woman in his life – the woman to whom he coddles, talks baby talk, and can never, ever say no. Not to mention that this is coming from a man who didn’t want a dog to begin with.

He treats Maggie like a delicate little flower, when the truth is she's one tough little bitch. We aren’t talking about a toy poodle here people. I think the appropriate visual is more along the lines of a rugby Prop Forward. Not to mention that her upper lip is often caught on one of her front teeth, something we like to call the Elvis lip.

I don’t mind sharing the love - after all, my son likes to call me the Pug Whisperer. The problem is that lately I’ve noticed Tom is trying to use some of his “Maggie moves” on me.

For example, if I tell him about something cool that happened at work, he might shout out “Good girl!” and give me a vigorous head rub. Occasionally he has even called me Maggie – wouldn’t Freud have a field day with that one!

The best advice my Dad ever gave me was “Always remember that men will only treat you the way you allow yourself to be treated.” Very wise advice indeed, yet I’m not really sure as to how it applies to this particular situation.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Looking Back

I had a very wise Spanish teacher once tell me that there are three times in your life when you should read Don Quixote – the first time when you are young so you can laugh, in the middle of your life so you can cry, and finally when you are older so you can understand what it all means.

I think of this often and believe that it applies to so many situations in life.

George Bernard Shaw said that “youth is wasted on the young”….sorry George, but yes and no.

On one hand I’d like to go back in time and tell my younger self not to take things so seriously – tell her to live in the moment and not be in such a hurry to grow up.

On the other hand, thank god for the ignorance of youth. Looking back I have to admit I did some pretty crazy things, things that I would never have the courage to do at this point in my life.

I don’t regret anything and I believe that all of it - good and bad, has lead me to the place where I am now. For which I am very grateful.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Forbidden Fruit

A recent trip to a US supermarket convinced me that North America has entered a whole new era in the Diet Wars. I’m all for healthy eating, but there are limits - here are a few things that you won’t find in my shopping cart:

Spam Light. I come from an area in the southern states that has been referred to as the “Spam belt”. I’m going to be honest with you; anyone who will eat Spam isn’t exactly worried about trans fats.

Not in the mood for Spam Light? Try a Low Fat Twinkie, and while you’re at it do you mind picking up some Low Fat Cheez Whiz for me?

Not sure if anyone else has noticed, but even though we are living in the “Golden Era of the Low Fat Diet” - North Americans continue to grow bigger than ever.

I am a Vegetarian. My rule of thumb is, if I can’t bear to do what it takes to bring my meat or fish to the table, then I won’t eat it. That’s not to say that I don’t have my vices - anyone who knows me will tell you that I drink a tad too much Coke.

I have learned an important lesson about forbidden fruit. When my son was much younger, I wanted to ensure that my darling boy had only the very best. I banned processed foods from our home, and only prepared and served organic, natural things.

Hell, the Ryan's were the poster family for Whole Foods.

However, the first time my son stayed the weekend with my parents in West Texas, he apparently ate 10 bowls of Fruity Pebbles – all in one setting - and to this day he is obsessed with sugared cereals. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that he is surviving in Bangkok on a diet of Captain Crunch and Lucky Charms.

Now that I think about it, my mother never let me drink Coke.

I think the Parisians have got it right – “Everything in moderation.” But, I also believe a little sinful pleasure is good for the soul. What are your guilty pleasures?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lord Help Us!

People, people, people! Can’t we all just get along?!

Thank you for all of your e-mails – I’m so happy to hear what a difference “The Secret” has made in your life. Hold on to those positive thoughts!

And I just want to clarify that this is my blog. One humble person's opinion. If you want neutral - I hear the Swiss have a great website.

And just to even the playing field, I have invited my loving husband and globe-trotting son to be occasional "guest bloggers" - providing their own 'special' viewpoints on Life with Mika.

All I can say is “Fasten your seat belts baby, this could be a bumpy ride!"

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"The Secret"

At the risk of sounding like a real hard ass, I’m going to be honest with you – I have issues with “The Secret”.

For those of you who have been living in the wilderness and haven’t been able to read the newspaper, watch TV or hang out at the water cooler – “The Secret” is the newest self-help craze sweeping the nation. Basically, it’s a new take on an old idea. The power of positive thinking. The idea that just by projecting positive thoughts you can control your destiny – even to the point of affecting circumstances that you may have thought were beyond your control.

The secret goes beyond the simple quest for health and happiness, why stop there?

Think positive thoughts and before you know it your life resembles a hip hop video – you suddenly find yourself living in a phat crib, driving a blinged out car, with two pugs who have Snoop on speed-dial.

My friend Carla knows someone who has become something of a “Secret Groupie” – she said spending a weekend with this person was quite disconcerting. The “SG” would pick the most inopportune moments to shout out various affirmations. For example, if they drove by a beautiful mansion the SG would scream “Yes, it will be mine someday! I will live there with my handsome husband the Doctor, and our 2.5 kids!”

Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe in the power of positive thinking. Several years ago I went through a time when I was suffering from great anxiety. The irony is most of the people in my life had no idea that anything was even wrong, it’s not like I was holding up an “I am freaking out!” sign.

With the help of several good friends I got through it – mainly by recognizing pressure points that had triggered a primal “fight or flight” instinct - which may have served Neanderthal man, but isn’t necessarily a good thing in the boardroom. I certainly didn’t enjoy this experience, but it taught me to simplify my life and focus on the positive – and not worry about those things that are out of my control.

Which is one of my issues with “The Secret”, because, … .well.….so much of life is out of our control. Telling a person from Darfur to “think positive, not negative thoughts” is not the answer. Nor does having material wealth help lead one along their personal road to Nirvana.

So before you go out and buy “The Secret” book, video and action figures – I’d like to leave you with one of my Granny’s wise sayings.
“If we are lucky, life gives us what we need, not necessarily what we want"

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Andy Warhol said “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”.

I recently heard an expert on “new media” say that this has changed – apparently you’ve made it when you have 15 people reading your blog. This could be a problem for me - I come from a small family and I’m not sure I have that many relatives who are ready, willing and able.

My brother owns a very successful business, but it is only in the last year that he even bothered with email - his email moniker is “Buzz Saw Dave” - which will give you a good idea of what I’m dealing with.

My husband and son are very encouraging of my humble efforts, as long as I don’t write about them - who knew there was such a thing as a “blog free zone?”

The latest trend is to record real life sounds to include in your blog, which could actually be cool.

So if my guys are off limits, that only leaves the dogs - I’m not sure the world is ready for that soundtrack – all of the snorting, snoring, barking, farting and howling that comes with living with two pugs.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Can You Judge a Book by it's Cover?

During my recent flight to New York, I couldn’t help but notice the matronly woman sitting beside me reading “ Why Men Love Women Who Are Bitches”.

How is that a woman who is old enough to be a Grandmother comes to read such a book? Is she the Bitch or did she loose her man to the neighborhood dominatrix? Be honest, are you brave enough to read such a book in public? Not me, I confess to being a book snob.

When meeting someone new, I’m not the kind of person to ask what they do for a living – or as a single male friend in LA tells me, the “make it or break it” question in his neighborhood is “what kind of car do you drive” - I’m far more interested in what you read.

You can tell a great deal about a person by what they read. For instance, if you like books that refer to heaving bosoms and throbbing manhood - we probably shouldn’t do lunch anytime in the near future.

Here are a few of my favorite reads:

Interpreter of Maladies Jhumpa Lahiri

Yo! - Julia Alvarez

Animal Dreams - Barbara Kingsolver

Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sadaris

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius - Dave Eggers

Thursday, April 19, 2007

New York State of Mind

I still remember the first time I went to NYC, it was over 11 years ago and I was travelling with my young son. For starters, the New York City of our imagination was very different from the real thing – perhaps it was all those movies we had watched, we expected something out of Midnight Cowboy or the Godfather.

It also didn’t help that my husband’s advice was to “never look up at the tall buildings, as that would be a cue to some bad ass dude that we were an easy mark.”

In hindsight I’m sure we had “Canadians” stamped on our foreheads – who else in New York actually waits for the little man to light up before stepping off the curb?

It didn’t take us long to realize that our NY experience would be more like something out of Annie Hall, funky, eclectic, friendly and safe.

I’ve been to New York many times since than, here are a few of my most memorable experiences:

· My 11 year old son telling me “God I love this place, do you realize you can actually buy a Rolex for only $10!” Since then, when in the Big Apple, we make a point of buying the cheapest, most pimped out watch we can find.

· Being on a subway two weeks after 9-11 and clapping and cheering with the locals after two fireman came on board.

· Bonding with a pigeon in Union Square, after it decided to sit on my head and shoulders for a good 10 minutes – I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone hoping to make contact with the locals, let’s just say this isn’t a community that is going to be celebrating the “year of the pigeon” anytime soon.

· Attending an event at Gracie Mansion and meeting Rudy, who spoke about cleaning up the city and sending all the bad guys to New Jersey, even referencing the Soprano’s.

· Getting separated from my young son on a subway after masses of people tried to crowd on board following the Saint Patricks Parade (think of European soccer madness). At some point a stranger in a business suit started holding my hand - my first response was empathy (after all it was a scary situation) – followed by alarm (every time I tried to pull away he would hold on tighter).I’m embarrassed to admit that I ended up holding his hand from Canal to Grand Central Station as I was more concerned about making a scene and upsetting my son.

· I’ve eaten at a place that serves nothing but Mac and Cheese and another that only serves rice pudding - I always go to the Magnolia bakery for a slice of Red Velvet cake.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Checking in

In the course of writing this blog something unexpected happened – I find myself feeling connected to people in a new and meaningful way.

It started with some of the feedback I’ve received (thanks mom!). People have been very generous in sharing their experiences - in a strange way it has renewed my faith in humanity – reminded me that everyone has a story.

I am feeling so inspired that from time to time I’d like to share some of those stories with you – tales of friends and people I meet along the way.

I’m off to New York for the next week, but when I get back I’d like to tell you about my good friend Danielle.

Happy Anniversary Baby!

Next week is my anniversary, 23 wonderful years of marriage. Looking back I’m not sure how either of our families survived those first few years – we did everything you’re not supposed to do, broke all of the rules. Two months after meeting each other we left our jobs, announced we were expecting a baby and moved across the country

Tom and I are very different people, but somewhere along the way we’ve learned to speak the same language. For example, I have learned that it’s probably not a good thing to surprise him with a spa treatment during the Masters – and when he calls me “Queen of the subtitles", I take it as a term of endearment.

Tom is a good sport, always willing to drive a wounded bird to the local wildlife shelter or take photos of homeless dogs - and I have come to realize that going to a hockey game on a bus with the “super fans” can be romantic.

The important thing is Tom is the one person I can always count on, my north star.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


My son is an old soul. When he was a young teenager, he made an interesting observation about the state of the world. Our family was watching the evening news - I can't remember what the story was about - it could have been global warming, the latest pandemic, the proliferation of nuclear weapons - take your pick. He said that humans had created an unnatural imbalance, and that we should always remember that nature has a way of taking care of things that are imbalanced.

The Hopi's have a word for life out of balance - Koyaanisqatsi.

Scientists have recently discovered that a small, barren valley in the southern Sahara Desert is largely responsible for sustaining life in the Amazon Rainforest.
During frequent sandstorms, tons of dust are lifted up into the atmosphere and blown far across the Atlantic ocean. Upon settling, this dust contributes to more than half of the minerals that help fertilize the soil of the Amazon Basin.

Whether you like it or not, we are all connected - everything you do has an impact on every living creature on this planet.

I try to do my best, but I worry that it isn't enough. We have to keep asking the hard questions, and strive to find a more balanced approach to life - before we reach the tipping point.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Bad Boys

I like men. There have been many wonderful men in my life - my dad, two brothers, eight uncles, husband and son - all of whom I adore and love.

I pride myself on never having succumbed to the allure of the bad boy - when other women were dropping like flies, I always went for intelligence and humour.

But - and this embarrassing to admit - I suddenly find myself crazy about a certain "bad boy".

He's fourteen pounds of attitude and naughty in every possible way. He's been know to cock his leg, look you straight in the eye, and take aim at your favorite pair of shoes - he never pees, just wants to let you know he could if he wanted to.

Occasionally he will get something out of my purse, say a twenty dollar bill, and take off like a bat out of hell - he doesn't do any damage, just likes to remind you who's the real boss.
Once my son woke up to what he thought was an earthquake, only to find our resident bad boy humping his pillow!

None of that matters, I happen to think he hangs the moon.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Spring Fever

For those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere - Spring has arrived. At our little house, even the pugs have spring fever. This week the pugs and I sat in our garden and listened to the seeds opening on our pine tree - you can actually hear them 'pop'.

People have various ways of celebrating Spring, but I think we all agree that Spring is a time of birth and renewal.

The Japanese feel that spring blossoms remind us of the short, beautiful nature of life.

The Spring of my childhood was a bizarre combination of many things - the start of tornado season, a new dress for Sunday school and a grandmother who took the task of hiding Easter Eggs very seriously - it wasn't unusual to stumble upon a colourful but stinky hard-boiled egg in the middle of July.

I personally like the way the Greeks and Romans explain Spring, the story goes something like this:
Demeter, aka Mother Earth, is looking for her beloved daughter Persephone. At first she tries to stay calm, after all Persephone is a good kid - well there was that one time she stayed out late with the nymphs, but all in all she was a typical teen.

Demeter searched everywhere for nine days, she veiled herself as a dark cloud and travelled all over the earth looking for her baby girl - little did she know that Hermes (the god of the underworld) had kidnapped Persephone and taken her to his home.

Demeter was so sad at the loss of her daughter that she took some sick leave. The trees started losing their leaves, and the days started to get dark and cold - everything soon became barren.

Persephone was forced into marriage with Hermes, and it was obvious the gods would have to intervene. They decided that Demeter and Hermes would get joint custody - Demeter would have her daughter every Spring and Summer, and Hermes would have his unwilling bride every Fall and Winter.

When Persephone is home, her mother and the earth rejoice, and everything comes alive.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Who are you?

New York or LA?
Truth or Fiction?
Betty or Veronica?
Money or Health?
East or West?
Ali or Tyson?
Beatles or Rolling Stones?
Larry, Curly or Moe?
Rain or Sunshine?
Love or Lust?
Cats or Dogs?
Half full or Half empty?
Hot or Cold?
Accoustic or Electric?
Milk Chocolate or Dark Chocolate?
Ginger or Mary Anne?
North or South?
Pro-choice or Pro-Life?
Beer or Wine?
Muscles or Brains?
Life or Death?

Life Lesson #1

Yesterday I met Michelle, a dear friend and colleague, after work for a drink.

We only had two small glasses of a nice BC Pinot Grigio. Maybe it was the full moon - or the fact that we've both been so busy at work - let's just say that the wine really hit us.

Come on, we've all been there, that special place where everything is deep - phrases such as "I feel your pain" and "God, I love you man!"

Life Lesson #1 - Never Drink and Blog. Seriously, step away from the computer.

I came home and had what I thought was a brilliant idea, a blog titled "You have to be whole before you can be half" - trust me, you don't want to know. Thank God my husband was home to intervene.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

What Goes on the Road.......

Just back from DC, which in my opinion is one of the best cities in the world to people watch.
This trip was particularly interesting as there were all manner of interesting folks staying at my hotel, including politicians and media who were there to attend the Washington Correspondence dinner - and the Philadelphia 76'ers basketball team!

Last time I shared a hotel with an NBA team was several years ago, on a business trip to Seattle with a close friend and colleague.

But before I go any further I should explain that I am about to break the first cardinal rule of road trips - "What goes on the road stays on the road." People have been living by this rule long before it became associated with Las Vegas - evidence of this theory has been found in cave paintings dating all the way back to prehistoric times.

While I respect the rules of the road, I'm fairly confident that most of my adventures (who am I kidding, all of my adventures) are not juicy enough for this rule to apply.

Anyway, there I was in Seattle, with my good friend Janice. It was one of those trips where everything is a challenge, including a fire in the hotel we were staying at.

In order to truly appreciate this story you would have to meet Janice, one of the most poised, articulate, fashionable people I know - a real modern day Audrey Hepburn.

At some point during the trip, Janice lost her cell phone charger - so she called me very early in the morning to see if she could come down to my room and borrow mine.

Due to the fire alarm, it had been a long night, and as I said it was very, very early in the morning. Janice decided to just throw a robe over her PJ's and go down to my room, after all it was highly unlikely that anyone else would be up at this ungodly hour.

She gets in the elevator, notices her bed head in the mirror - but no worries - everything is still going according to plan. That is until the elevator starts filling up with NBA basketball players - the Grizzlies were leaving town and on their way to catch an early morning flight.

Janice's first thought was elation - after all she is close to six feet tall - and this was the first time she had ever been surrounded by men who were actually taller than she is! Then she notices the bright smiles and sidewards glances, and a horrible realization hits her - these guys think she is actually doing the "walk of shame". Janice starts to explain, but realizes it will only make it worse - there really isn't anything one can say in this sort of situation, is there?
As far as I know Janice hasn't become a big basketball fan, but she is able to laugh about this little experience.