Monday, December 29, 2008

Maggy May

Today we woke up to the sad, sad news that our dear friend Dawn lost her beautiful girl Maggy. Everyone in our family loved Maggy, she was one of those rare, pure souls that charmed everyone she met. Not to mention that Tex had a huge crush on her. Every time she came to our house Tex would stand on his back legs and get right in her face, nose touching nose. Maggy tolerated his adoration, but the poor guy was way out of his league and didn't have a chance in hell.

In honour of Maggy I have gone into the Ryan archives and retrieved a post Tom wrote about a road trip back east with Dawn and Maggy a few years ago. Here's to you Maggy- Dawn's forever dog - we are better for having known your sweet, gentle spirit:

Maggy and Dawn's Adventure

So, I'm firmly ensconced on the couch, it's still a full week until Christmas, and I'm just now beginning to get on my wife's nerves, when she says "How would you like to travel from Vancouver to Ontario, with two ladies - a Blonde and a Redhead - all expenses paid?"
My right eyebrow rises, just a little....."I'm listening."
"So here's the deal" she says....."Dawn and her dog Maggy are moving to Oshawa but Dawn doesn't want to put Maggy on a plane or train 'cause Maggy might get upset and besides it's a great opportunity to do a favour for a friend and regain your lost karma and find your soul somewhere along the way and besides you love to travel and she's rented a mini-van for her, the dog and you and I already told her that you would love to do it and besides it would only be four or five days at the most and you'll be back in lot's of time to see the Seahawks play the Chargers."
Then she gives me that "Sami" look.
"We'll travel by Interstate 90" I say.
Day One:
Dawn pulls up (6 hours late) in a jam packed van - with Maggy, her beautiful Golden Retriever. It's raining heavily. It's also really difficult to get Maggy to lie down on the comfy bed we made for her. Seems she is prone to car sickness, and so she places her head between the two front seats so she can look out the front window. Maggy is a drooler. We manage to hit Seattle in the pouring rain, at the peak of rush hour. We overnight in Spokane at the 'dog friendly' Best Western.
Day Two:
We drive some more. Maggy is standing at attention, drooling. My right elbow is sopping wet. Drove past the Little Bighorn Battlefield - in the dark. Described to Dawn (perhaps in too much detail) Custer's huge error in judgement by taking one road trip too many. By evening, Maggy is still standing, and she is panting like a steam locomotive, and the van is beginning to smell just a little 'doggy' - if you know what I mean. Overnight at Sheridan Wyoming - enough said.
Day Three:
Maggy and Dawn sleep in, again. Big argument about what exactly the term 'wheels up at 8.00 am' means. Finally on the road by 9.25 a light snow - there's an overturned U-Haul up ahead. This van really stinks. There's a snow storm heading our way from Colorado. I'm getting a nasty rash on my right elbow - and more than slightly annoyed at Dawn's girly driving CD's, none of which include Led Zepelin or Supertramp. Doesn't this woman eat anywhere else but McDonalds??? After getting directions from several late-night liquor stores in Council Bluffs - Iowa - we find our 'dog friendly' hotel and I collapse into my room, a scant 25 yards from the busiest all night truck stop the other side of the Missouri. Highlight of the day was passing Wall Drug, viewing Devils Tower from 20 miles away - and two Strategic Air Command Bases. Still no sign of renewed karma - or my lost soul.
Day Four:
We drive across Iowa - past several birthplaces or grave sites or whatever of US Presidents. Dawn and I seem to be laughing an awful lot today, and Maggy is still standing, but also comfortably resting her head on my wet elbow. A strong wind is at our back, and the countryside is actually quite pretty when you look at it travelling 80 mph or so. Even the storm clouds are clearing. Crossed the Mississippi River today, and Dawn's CD's weren't really so bad once you got past the whole K.D. Lang thang. And I may have caught a glimpse of my lost soul in a corn field, just past the Tri State Tollway - but still no sign of any karma (good karma anyway). Passed South Bend in the dark, and made Windsor Ontario by 9.00 pm. Back in Canada - but a bittersweet moment really - the trip is almost over. Maggy collapses in her hotel room.
Day Five:
We all sleep in. It's actually quite nice to sleep in sometimes. Hit the 401 Eastbound in the late morning, visited two Tim Horton's in one hour, and after passing about 25 RCMP cars enroute - arrive in Oshawa. We are HOME!!! Maggy, (still standing) jumps out of the van, and both her and Dawn get lots of welcome hugs and kisses from their relieved family. Maggy immediately falls asleep on their very comfy carpet. What a nice family. Perhaps Ontarians aren't that bad after all.....but then again, these guys are from Oshawa - not Toronto.
Day Six:
Christmas Eve - Toronto International Airport. Checking in at the Air Canada counter, I'm informed the flight is overbooked, and that I will have to ask at the gate as to whether I'll even get on the Christmas Eve flight home. So much for improved karma.
Then, at the very last minute, the gate attendant smiles at me and says "Looks like today is your lucky day" and hands me a Business Class boarding pass - window seat 5A.
Flying home at 36,000 feet over America, I can't help but think that maybe things are looking up. Somehow the Seahawks / Chargers game doesn't seem quite as important.......and I catch myself wondering how Dawn and Maggy are doing on this beautiful day.

Monday, December 22, 2008


For the past few years Tom and I have been working very hard at taking Christmas back. As a result we no longer buy presents, skip decking the halls, and finally broke the news to Tyler and the pugs that Santa lives only in the heart.

I realize that this will probably sound very bah humbug to most of you, but for us it’s made all the difference in the world. No more malls and credit card bills - no more trying to sneak out late at night with a dead Christmas tree, when it’s mid January and you’re too embarrassed to do the walk of shame in front of your neighbours – not to mention that it’s very difficult for pugs to understand why it’s okay to pee on trees when they’re outside, but not so cool when they’re in your living room.

Christmas is the joy of being home with each other, going for a midnight walk on the Winter Solstice, sleeping in after staying up late watching old movies, simple or elaborate meals that we cook for each other, taking time to reflect on our many blessings.

It also means I can finally listen to one of my favourite albums, A Charlie Brown Christmas, without anyone shutting me down. When we decided to re-invent Christmas, I had a brilliant idea – why listen to music you love only at Christmas, when you can enjoy it the other 11 months of the year? Unfortunately it was a little more difficult to sell my family on this idea, so I spend most of the year in the closet, only finding my groove when wearing head phones. For one brief and glorious month I can crank the stereo and let her rip, dance and play air cello, fully celebrating the season.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Flowers for my honey

Here you go honey, just a little 'thank-you' for painting the kitchen over your Christmas holidays - while I drank beer and watched football.


PS: Go Cowboys !!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Pillow Talk

Researchers say that the top five things couples argue about are money, work, sex, children, and housework. It goes something like this “Maybe if you’d get off your lazy ass and help with the house, I’d actually be in the mood. Honestly, it’s like having another kid….not to mention that I work too! You have no idea what it takes to run this family, in fact, you couldn’t afford to pay someone for what I do.”

We have a totally different script at our house. Our biggest argument has always been about pillows. You heard me……pillows.

I’m a simple person, I’ve been sleeping on the same two pillows for years (sorry Oprah, I realize that you think it’s important to replace your pillows annually, but why mess with perfection?) Tom on the other hand has been on an endless search for the perfect pillow.

We currently have 10 pillows on our bed, the two that I sleep on, and the remaining 8 are Tom’s. Have you every tried sleeping with someone who needs eight pillows? Not to mention that it isn’t uncommon for us to lose a pug in the midst of all of the feathers, foam and synthetic fibers.

In spite of all of the money Tom spends on his quest for pillow nirvana, he always ends up trying to scam me out of my two trusty companions. Sometimes I come to bed and find that he’s replaced them with a couple of imposter's, hoping I don’t notice. Other times, he's more blatant, and after a great deal of tossing and turning, he rips one out from under my head and hangs on for dear life.

Like most wives, I feel it's my duty to be his psycho therapist, helping him get to the heart of the matter. If pushed, he’ll blame his pillow issues on his health, secretly hoping to play on my sympathy. This can range from a crooked spine, an old rugby injury, or a sunburn he got in Mexico during the 80’s which he’s sure has resulted in bone cancer. I personally think it’s the result of being the youngest of four boys, which means that during his formative years, it was every man for himself.
It is my hope that someday Tom will finally realize that the pillow does not make the man - that you cannot really love yourself, until you learn to love your pillow - that even if all of your neighbors take their pillows and throw them off a cliff, it doesn't mean you have to follow - that sometimes the right pillow has been there all along, you just have to open your eyes and see it.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Places I can Roll

Tom and I had a whirlwind romance, we had only known each other for a few months when we decided to leave our jobs, uproot our lives in Dallas and move to Santa Fe. Chalk it up to youth, that crazy time in life when you’re too young and naive to know better. It started as a fluke, over a beer in a neighbourhood pub Tom asked me a simple question. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Going for dramatic flare, I wrote Santa Fe on my napkin – within a week we had moved there.

In hindsight it was a crazy thing to do, and even though it sounds romantic, it was a constant struggle to make ends meet. None of that mattered, I loved every minute of my life there. Santa Fe is one of those rare places that has always seemed to speak to my soul; lilacs and pinion trees, beautiful old adobe houses, dramatic lightning storms, warm golden light. Unfortunately we eventually had to leave. Abby Hoffman once said that even though Santa Fe is incredible, it’s also a very difficult place to live as there is no middle class.

Fortunately life has brought me to Vancouver, where I really feel I belong. I never take this feeling of being at the right place, at the right time for granted - as there have been times in my life where I have lived in beautiful places that just didn’t feel right. It’s not that I was unhappy, it’s just that there was something missing. It's as if I was on an extended holiday, passing time but never really calling it home.

I don't want to go new age, but why is that some places just feel right? Places that inspire you , elicit a spiritual connection. Here are a few places where I could hang my hat: Portland, Sedona, Hanalei, Nelson and Sydney.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dream On

The Ryan's are a family of vivid dreamers, as in sleep walking, sleep talking, crazy, lucid dreamers. Even the pugs seem to have doggie dreams, and often bark, pant, moan and twitch while they sleep.

We also have reoccurring dreams, here are a few of our favs:

Tom's top pick goes something like this:
He's living in a flat in London, when suddenly there's a knock on the door. When he goes to answer he's surprised to find it's the Queen - not the old queen - but the young queen (who according to Tom is quite the babe). Anyway, the Queen comes in and asks Tom if she can crash at his pad, seems this whole Queen thing is really starting to get to her. Apparently the queen is looking for a career change. Tom of course has to convince her that even though it's a tough gig, the world needs her. After a great deal of cajoling he finally gets the Queen to return to her duty.

Mika's pick:
I like to call my favorite dream Alaska Man. In the dream Tyler quits school and moves to Alaska - where he grows a beard, wears plaid flannel shirts and has the whole Grizzly Adams thing going on. After a quick game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Tom and I decided that it's my turn to go to Alaska and bring Tyler home. When I get there, I find that even though he's poor, Alaska kicks ass. It's beautiful, there are bears, a cool bar where we hang out with the locals, Northern Lights, and something that looks an awful lot like a dodo bird. The dreams ends with me being incredibly proud of my son, Alaska man. Who seems to have figured out what life is really all about.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Moment of truth, lately life has been a bit of a struggle. For months it's been one thing after another - my knee injury, Tex's back surgery, the fact that our little nest egg has taken a serious hit with the drop in stock prices, Sarah Palin - oh yeah, did I mention that our son lives in a country that is currently undergoing a coup? Let's just say that neither Tom or I have been at our best.

This evening Tom and Maggie went for a walk and returned minutes after leaving our house. Even though Maggie seemed a little spooked, Tom insisted that Tex and I join them outside, ordering us to make it quick. I wasn't too happy to be going out wearing only my bathrobe and Tom's dress shoes, but just decided to go with it.

There in the moonlight was a big bushy skunk, who slowly saunteered across our lawn as if he was inviting us to admire him. Sometimes if we're really lucky, life sends us beautiful reminders of what it's really all about.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Don't Mess With the Pug

The good news is Tex is doing incredibly well, of which I am so very grateful. The bad news is with all of the attention on Tex, both Maggie and Tom have been acting out. I've really made an effort to ensure that neither of them feels neglected - constantly resorting to "good dog!" and tummy rubs. Quite frankly it's been exhausting.

Tonight Maggie and Tom got into a battle of wills, which culminated in a food fight. Unfortunately Maggie was on the losing end, as you can see from the photo (in case you're wondering, that's an open faced peanut butter cracker stuck on her back).

I'm pretty confident that in the big scheme of things, this has to amount to some really bad karma. Be afraid Tom.......very afraid.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Different View

My recent knee injury was an eye opening experience, providing me with a very different view of life. For some reason, as soon as people saw the crutches / cane they went into special needs mode.
There was the young soccer mom who stopped me on the street, moved in very close and spoke in a loud voice "good for crossed that street all by yourself!" The people at museums and train stations who charged Tom full price and insisted on giving me the disability discount. The custom agents who whisked me to the front of the line and stamped my passport, without the usual round of questions.
I confess, I found the whole thing to be very disconcerting. Tom on the other hand loved it, and has decided that travelling with a cane is the only way to go.

Monday, November 24, 2008


I have a theory - the true test of a couple is the ability to travel with each other - let's face it, road trips can either make or break a relationship. I actually love travelling with Tom, while we occasionally struggle over the day to day issues of domestic life, we always seem to get our act together when we hit the road.

90% of the time Tom is a street smart, road warrior - the other 10% of the time he seems to channel Chevy Chase - making our life seem more like a "Vacation" movie. Case in point, our recent trip to Germany. I should have known Tom was heading for a CCE (Chevy Chase Episode) - in hindsight all of the signs were a harbinger of things to come. It started in London; he somehow made a local call that ended up costing 18 pounds, and while crossing the street he looked the wrong way and if I hadn't grabbed the back of his jacket, he would have ended up as road kill. At Napoleon's Tomb in Paris he couldn't figure out how to use the automated teller and ended up buying 12 tickets instead of 2. Anyway, you get the general idea of where things were going.

By the time we reached Germany, well, he was in full blown CC mode. It started when we checked into our uber-cool hotel room, in which the bathroom (adjacent to the living room) had glass walls. Have I mentioned that in addition to being a germaphobe, Tom has serious issues with privacy? This post modern configuration just about sent him over the edge and also meant that anytime he wanted to brush his teeth or do his business, I was sent to get ice.

Things really got crazy when I was reading a guidebook, wondering out loud if Salzburg was the home of the Vontrapp family. Instead of hearing "Sound of Music", Tom somehow got the crazy idea that it was my personal dream to visit the "Cinderella" castle. Before I could figure out who was on first, Tom had rented a car, determined to find the perfect German castle.

It didn't take long for us to get lost, which meant we stopped numerous times to ask the locals for directions to the "Cinderella" castle. The problem is, in Germany there are hundreds and hundreds of castles, which resulted in everyone we talked to sending us in a different direction. Did I also mention that in Germany people drive really, really fast?

Driving on the Autobahn was mayhem, and on the way to the Bavarian Alps, we somehow ended up in Austria. I mean, we weren't just lost, we were in the wrong country!

The final straw was when Tom got a ticket for speeding - which in Germany is damn near next to impossible - but as the police officer explained, we were in Austria now.

To make a long story short, what was supposed to be a 3 hour round-trip from Munich took 10 hours, and by the time we made it to the castle (8.00pm) it had been closed for 4 hours. Tom had a look of sheer determination as he drove past the un-manned security gate, on a "pedestrian only" path, up the mountain, towards the castle .

Somehow, we ended up alone, on the front steps of the castle. It's a miracle we didn't get arrested - but it was rather romantic. We kissed on the steps of the Neuschwanstein Castle, and then started the long drive back to Munich.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tex Update

For all of you have been asking for a Tex update:

The night before taking Tex in for surgery we did all of his favourite things; made pancakes, went for a walk, barked at the neighbours cats and read his favourite bedtime story.

In spite of our best efforts, the following morning was seriously out of control.
Like most couples we handle stress very differently – I channel my inner hippie, walking around saying things like “hello sun, wow, I’ve never noticed how beautiful that tree is”, covering both pugs in kisses – Tom turns into a bitchy drill sergeant, ordering the pugs to get with the program, making small kids and old ladies cry. Of course it doesn’t help when I tell Tom to reign in his aura and project positive energy.

By the time we arrived at the vet’s office both dogs were a wreck - Tex was having a nervous breakdown – and Maggie decided to make it her personal mission to traumatize all of the poor dogs coming in for surgery, bluff charging and talking trash.

Just as I was patting myself on the back for being the strong one, the wind beneath our wings, the vet technician pointed out that I had my dress on backwards. Not a pretty sight.

After a day of worry, the vet called to say that due to another emergency (a cat fell out of the 9th floor of a high rise), Tex’s surgery had been bumped to Wednesday.

The good news is he’s home with his family this evening. The bad news is we get up tomorrow and do it all over again.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Paris Tips

Tom and I love Paris, one of the world's great cities. Here are a few of our favorite haunts:

Even though the Louvre is a must do, I prefer the Musee
d'Orsay. For a special treat go to the Centre Georges Pompidou for lunch.

Favorite market - Marche d'Aligre
If you're looking for a taste of the real Paris go to Marche d'Aligre. This market dates back to 1643 and appeals to locals from all walks of life. Go early as vendors start closing around noon.

Best haunt for fashionistas - Nina Jacob
One of the few places you can find affordable, local design. Word of warning, Nina's is not for the faint of heart. The first year we went, Nina loved Tom so much that he made her cry. The second time we went, Tom commented that the jacket I was trying on made me look fat. This infuriated Nina, who immediately kicked Tom out of the store. No kidding.

Cool hood - Marais
I love hanging out in Marais. It's one of the oldest neighborhoods in Paris and home to many talented artists and designers.

Best local eats - Chartier
An early 20th-century workers canteen that has retained it's atmosphere. Expect to share your table with the locals and get there early as it's always packed.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Texie Baby

This is going to be a big week for Tex, as he is having back surgery this Tuesday. Tom and I delayed it for as long as possible, hoping it wouldn't come to this - but after seeing a canine neurologist, we both think it is time. Prayers and good karma would be greatly appreciated.

Pancakes for Maturos

We take our pancakes seriously at the Ryan's house - ensuring that even Tex and Maggie get in on the action. This recipe is for our dear friend Maturos, who is going to school in Australia and suddenly has a craving. It was voted one of the top 10 Martha Stewart recipes of all time, and our little family has been enjoying it for years:

Best Buttermilk Pancakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups of buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 1/2 teaspoon for griddle
1 cup fresh blueberries (optional)

1) Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, and 4 tablespoons of melted butter; whisk to combine. Batter should have small to media lumps.

2) Test griddle by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. If water bounces and spatters off griddle, it is hot enough. Brush griddle with either melted butter or bacon fat.

3) Pour 1/2 cup of batter on griddle and scatter with berries. When pancakes bubble on top and are slightly dry around the edges, flip.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Broadening My Horizon

One of the great things about traveling with my guy, is Bulleted Listthat we have very different interests. The end result is each of us experience things we wouldn't normally choose to do (they don't call me the Queen of Museums for nothing), and as an end result we both broaden our horizons.

Case in point, while in London, Tom took me (and his irritating friend Quatchi) to Greenwich:

A view of Tom and Quatchi through the telescope that marks the prime meridian. They are slightly in the Western Hemisphere.

The Prime Meridian - dividing the east and west hemispheres. Note that Quatchi has a leg in both hemispheres. This was very important to Tom.

Nothing like a cold beer to end a perfect day.


For the past week, Tom and I have been in Europe, a 10 day journey that will take us to London, Paris and Munich.

As much as I love it here, I was sort of dreading this trip. The main reason for my hesitation was the fact that I would be in London during the election. It just felt wrong for several reasons - Tom, Tyler and I are all big fans of Obama–not to mention that poor Tex and Maggie have been forced to watch hours and hours of political coverage over the past few months- well, it just seemed wrong that the Ryan’s would be on three separate continents instead of celebrating together.

In hindsight, being in Europe when Obama won was an incredible blessing. It was very moving to see how big this election was for the world – like America, almost all Europeans were dancing in the streets.

In a strange way, it feels like we have all been liberated from the dark cloud of the Bush years. I am hopeful that this is the beginning of a new international consciousness - a return to rational thought, compassion and a kinder, gentler world.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

This I Know For Sure

Maybe it’s just me, but this election seems to get stranger and stranger. What I find most troubling is how down and dirty things are getting – especially people who use the name of God, yet display very unchristian like behavior. Sorry folks, but the means do not justify the end.

It’s made me think about my own beliefs and values. This one’s for you Tyler, a list that will hopefully help you separate the freaks from those who actually have something to offer:

  • Fear of hell, fear of retribution and fear of judgement - Faith should be about love, not fear

  • Beware of people who are preaching salvation, talk is cheap, instead look to those who live by example

  • Don’t look for lightning bolts and signs; let the beauty of everyday life be your miracle

  • Question everything and trust your intuition, if it feels wrong, there's a reason

  • Do not be mislead by people who think that God only speaks to them - god speaks to all people - Muslims, Christians, Buddhist, Hindus, Jews, etc.

  • Love is sacred and comes in many shapes and forms.

  • We are not here to exert our dominance over other living creatures. All things are connected and our very survival depends on our ability to protect the natural world.

  • Use your intelligence. Case in point, the amazing theory of evolution, which if anything should make one believe in a higher power.

  • We are not here to judge, the only thing we have control over is our own behaviour.

  • Be humble and cultivate kindness, wisdom, compassion and integrity. Give people the benefit of the doubt and assume good intentions.

  • God helps those who help themselves, take responsibility for your actions and happiness.

  • Be wary of those who use God to minimize the role of woman.

Monday, October 27, 2008


What a difference a day makes – within the past 24 hours I’ve gone from normal, average Joe – to crazy pug lady.

It happened at the Doctor’s office, during a post-op check up. Everything was going really great, Dr. Hughes (a very talented surgeon with the bedside manner of House) assured me that my knee was healing nicely.

It all went horribly wrong when I tried to discuss my concerns over Tex’s reaction to my knee. Since having the surgery, he’s been obsessed with it, incessantly sniffing and trying to scratch it. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know this can’t be a good thing. It’s actually kind of freaking me out –think of the soundtrack from Jaws and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how I’m feeling.
Life Lesson - Some things are best not shared with your Doctor. Chances are, he’s not going to take your pug's concerns too seriously.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Day in the Life....

Today I decided to turn over a new leaf and make the most of what remains of my convalescence. Before getting out of bed this morning I gave myself a pep talk – after all it’s only Tuesday, with a little perseverance I can still make this work – and hey, they don’t call us the fighting Ryan’s for nothing.

The day got off to a good start; brushed my teeth, hugged the pugs, read the news, did my knee exercises, nine am and I had already crossed everything off my list. Looking for options that didn’t require walking, I decided that instead of turning on the TV or googling all of my old boyfriends, I’d take the high road and read a book.

I needed something to cheer me up, so I decided to skip War and Peace, opting instead for Marley and Me. A story about a naughty but lovable dog, who teaches his family a thing or two about life.

Fast forward five hours, poor Tom is dealing with a wife who not only is grounded, begging for a diet coke, but is now also weeping uncontrollably. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful book - it’s just that in my haste to make better use of my time, I forgot one of the universal rules of animal movies/books – there is never a happy ending.

Tomorrow, maybe I should just dedicate the day to the pugs. Pug spa treatments, pug treats, pug jazz appreciation, pug arts and crafts......

Monday, October 20, 2008

Keeping it Real

I hate to admit this , but I’m bored. Last Friday I had knee surgery - I’m home this week - following Doctor’s orders to rest and give my body time to mend.

The thing is, I’m not really in pain, but also not quite ready to 'bust a move'. There are so many productive things I could be doing, instead I’ve been watching way too much TV, reading magazines, and taking so many naps that I have a permanent print of the comforter on my cheek.

To top it all off, Tom is really getting on my nerves. If you’re reading this, please help me!!! You see, he’s decided to take advantage of my inability to shop for diet coke, insisting I go cold turkey. He's calling it tough love. If this continues, I’ll be curled up in fetal position, crying “make it go away”.

The truth is, I’m also feeling ubber guilty for being so whiny – I listen to myself talk, and can’t help but think that I must sound like Paris Hilton with a limp. When I get this way, I find that there’s nothing like making a list to put things into perspective. So here goes:

Mika’s knee list

  • Tex struggles with back pain on a daily basis, and never complains or expects to be entertained.
  • Thank god knee surgery is an option, if I had been born a few thousand years ago, chances are I would have been seperated from the herd - getting a lesson on what it really means to be part of the food chain.
  • By the time the Bush years come to an end, I should be able to do some serious moon walking.
  • Pay backs are hell. I’ll be so weak from lack of caffeine and exercise, that hiring a really hot trainer / physio guy will be a no brainer.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sending out an SOS

Shortly after Bush started his second term, I had an interesting conversation with one of the business writers at the Wall Street Journal. She said that Americans would have to lose their savings and retirement funds before they realized the true legacy of the past 8 years.

Maybe it’s just me, but the elections in Canada and American point to countries divided. I prefer to think of it as evolution - some of us are evolving – while others…..well, not so much.

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re in trouble people. We have crowds of people – not crazy people, but people who look an awful lot like me and you – openly threatening Obama’s life at Republican rallies. Not to mention that the religious right are just as scary as Extreme Muslims, using God to justify an agenda of fear and hate.

Chief Seattle said it best “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connected.”

Monday, October 13, 2008

Finding My Way

Several weeks ago, the company I work for brought in a motivational speaker. He was a gentleman who had traversed the Sahara Desert in his youth, a journey that shaped the direction of his life. While inspirational speakers can be hit or miss, this guy really resonated with me.

One of the things that made a big impression was his suggestion that everyone needs a compass word. When you’re in the desert it’s very easy to lose your way, after all there are very few landmarks to guide you. Without a navigational tool, not only would it be impossible to find your way, but it also quickly becomes a life or death situation.

In life we also need a word to help us navigate our way through tough times. Sahara guy shared with us that his word was “be different”, a reminder that he was committed to a life of back roads and blue highways. I’ve thought about it for several weeks now and have decided that my new mantra is “be present”. A reminder to really see and hear the people who I encounter – the realization that the journey is more important than the end goal – to celebrate the wins without being blind to the difficulties – to love my family, friends, and colleagues in a way that honours and serves their best interest – the awareness that I am only a small ripple in the universe, not less or more than any other living creature.

Tom is still thinking about what his word should be, going back and forth in several directions. Suffice to say, if our recent bet is any indication, it 's probably not “be sensitive”.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Place Your Bets

This evening while watching a chick flick, Tom and I got into a discussion about sensitive men. It was a little strange as Tom normally doesn't do chick flicks - but lately he’s worried that I’m spending way too much time downstairs in my woman cave - and as a result he’s making a huge effort not to grab the remote and switch to CNN, sports or the history channel.

He tried to be a good sport, counting to 10 before mocking the actors, wondering why women have such a thing for sensitive men. To be honest I wasn't paying too much attention to his ranting, until he bragged that he could fool any woman into thinking he was a SNAG (sensitive new age guy). This act of male bravado was just too good to be true, so who can blame me for egging him on. The end result is Tom and I have a little bet - for the next month he has to be the ultimate SNAG.

To be honest, I’m concerned that we have two different ideas of what constitutes a sensitive man. After hearing his thoughts, I’m a little worried that when I come home tomorrow, I’ll find Tom wearing a puffy shirt and ponytail, writing poetry while baking organic pug treats. (Not to worry dear reader, if he does I’ll be sure to capture it on the flip).

All I can say is, fasten your seat belts Tex and Maggie, it's going to be a helluva ride.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

From One Woman to Another

Even though I’m not a huge Sarah Palin fan, watching her bumble through the debate and various high-profile media interviews has been a very painful experience. It’s obvious Sarah needs some coaching, and as I work with media on a daily basis - I’ve decided to step in and offer a little friendly advice.

Rule #1 – Do your homework.
I have no doubt that you are an intelligent person Sarah, it’s just that when you can’t seem to clearly answer some of the basic questions (Bush agenda, McCain’s record, Economics 101), you’re kind of scary. Silly me, but I sleep better at night knowing that the people who control the nukes actually have all of the information needed to make good, sound decisions.

Rule #2 – Keep it real.
I have no problem with your “Sarah from the block” message, and personally think that some of the best leaders come from humble backgrounds. However, you may want to do a little reality check before throwing words like elitist around. Here are a few simple tips to help you do the math:

McCain + rich wife + 12 houses + voting record = establishment / elitist.

Obama + south side of Chicago + raised by single mother = person with humble background who embodies the American dream.

Rule # 3 – Body language
Sorry Sarah, but unless you have tourette’s syndrome, the winking thing has really gotta go. If it’s any consolation, I don’t think any man or woman in the political arena could pull it off. Just think of it as a timing thing – a wink can actually be cute when telling a joke –not so cute when you’re talking about invading Russia. At the end of the day, you just can’t be taken seriously when you're winking, if you don’t believe me - ask your friend “Dubya” (wink).

Rule #4 – Don’t talk the talk, unless you can walk the walk.
Sorry Sarah, but you’re just not ready to represent. By calling yourself a Maverick you’re only going to draw attention to the negative - your support for the “bridge to nowhere” - the Wasilla sports centre - the current state investigation into unethical behavior – the fact that you really can’t see Russian from your front porch - and of course your attempt to ban books from public libraries. With that kind of record, you may really want to consider a more humble approach.

Rule #5 – More will be expected of you.
Because you’re a woman, you will be held to a higher standard than most of your male peers. I know it’s not fair, it’s just the reality of the world we live in. While playing cutesy may have been a good strategy in the past, it’s going to hurt you more than help you this time. Save your feminine wiles for your husband and learn from the women who have succeeded in politics, i.e. Madeleine Albright, Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi - all strong women who could hold their own with any man.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Baby, Gotchya on my Mind

Like most little girls, I used to have fantasies about the man I would grow up and marry.

In my imagination, he looked an awful lot like that dude in the Sound of Music. Life would be one big song and dance routine, wearing Doris Day dresses and being invited to the best cocktail parties.

Nothing could have prepared me for the reality.
Who knew that a germaphobic, hypochondriac, pug daddy could be so sexy?

The reality is so much better than anything I could have imagined - this wacky, wonderful man suits me.

October 1, Happy birthday honey. We all love and adore you.


Mika, Tyler, Tex and Maggie

Friday, September 26, 2008

Good Times

Unless you’ve ever had a job that requires a great deal of travel, you might be under the misconception that it’s a glamorous life. I’ll be the first to admit that it has its moments; it’s just that most people never see the dark side. Trust me folks, I’ve been to the mountain top and have the scars to prove it.

Case in point, I am currently in Tokyo, one of the world’s great cities. I should be out on the town hanging with the Harajuku girls – instead I’m sitting in bed, blogging, channelling my inner drama queen.

The trip started out with a good vibe. I had a free day before starting work and decided to head to Kyoto, a place that has always intrigued me. I was really digging it, until my knee decided to go on me. The truth is my knees have always been my Achilles heel; we’ve had such an up and down relationship that at some point in my life I actually started talking about them in the third person. This time damn it knees, your timing really sucks.

Considering that people have come from China, Korea and Taiwan to meet with me, going home wasn’t really an option. The only viable response is to walk with a funny gait and depend on the kindness of my friends to help me get through it.

This afternoon was my last meeting, silly me, I actually thought I was past the worst of it. While standing in my hotel bathroom, I decided to see what would happen if I tried standing up like a normal person. Let’s just say things didn’t go exactly as planned. Unable to support my weight, I took a tumble - on the way down I grabbed the control panel on the toilet to try and catch myself - accidentally hitting a button that triggered the bidet - getting a face full of water.

Good times people, good times.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Putting Things in Perspective

Written by Mika's wonderful husband - Tom.

This summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Thailand, prior to meeting up with Mika in Beijing.

After spending a few days in Bangkok with our son Tyler, and his lovely girlfriend Jane – they both soon insisted I fly south to the resort town of Krabi for a little rest and relaxation.

So before I knew it, I was on my own, in the little beach town of Ao Nang. And I did what every other white, middle-aged male does in Thailand - I rented a scooter, and went exploring.

Just a few hundred metres away from the beach, not far from where dozens of sun-burned Scandinavians board cigar boats for their morning high speed tours to “James Bond Island”, just around the corner from the Muay Thai kickboxing stadium, and tucked inside a small grove of trees - was a most peculiar sight. It looked like a tall bee-hive.

Parking my scooter, I walked along the boardwalk and past a tiny pond before entering this strange little hut. Inside was a sculpture. A pair of golden hands, protecting another (smaller) pair of hands. Maybe the hands were praying, maybe not, but inside this quiet little shelter, they seemed very alone.

There was a plaque on the wall, and the words of the 96 year-old artist Louise Bourgeois - written in both Thai and English.

“I will not let you go, but do not abandon me. Keep your grip. Hold me close forever and ever.”

It was then I realized this was a small memorial to the many victims of the tsunami that struck Thailand and other countries ringing the the Indian Ocean. In an instant, over 230,000 lives were lost.

I imagined the hands to be that of a husband and wife, or a mother and older child - but I couldn’t be sure as to who would be speaking these words. Was it the husband speaking to his wife? The mother re-assuring her child? The child to her mother?

Perhaps they were both calling out to God. Perhaps it was God calling out to them, above the roar of the rushing water.

Wondering if they had survived the flood, I left the hut and walked past the little pond. It was then I noticed another, much smaller golden hand. This little childs hand was alone, reaching out from the water, and much too far away for anyone to hear his cries for help.

Troubling Times

Ever watch that old television show Family Ties? I haven’t watched it in years but I’ve been thinking about it lately, reflecting on how much the Ryan’s have in common with the Keaton’s. Tom and I are two old hippies who dream of joining the Peace Corp when we retire, while our son Tyler is always plotting various ways to get rich on eBay. In other words – Tom and Mika not so good at math – Tyler very good at math.

I’m not sure who thought of it first, but around a year ago either Tom or I had the brilliant idea that maybe it was time to start investing in the stock market. If you've been following the news I don't have to explain why this has turned into one of those “other than that Jackie, how was Dallas” moments. The reality is, in the big scheme of things our losses are pretty small. You’ll be happy to know that the pugs aren’t going to have to go without kibble or chew toys anytime in the near future.

But being in NY last week when the US government decided to step in and bail out several of the big financial players was troubling. Not to sound like a drama queen, but it felt apocalyptic. I’d really like to believe the plan is going to work, but in my heart of hearts I can’t help but feel that this is just the tip of the iceberg, a harbinger of more troubling times to come.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pugs and Politics

I’m working in NY this week, after which I fly to Tokyo for another stint as a corporate road warrior. I love to travel – in fact I’ll go out on a limb and proclaim that I’m a nomad at heart – it’s just that I’ve had a really hard time getting motivated for this one.

The main reason I am so conflicted about leaving home lately is the fact that Tex and Maggie are getting older. When I look at the big picture, I can’t think of any place I’d rather be than with my two best friends. As they get older and a little more fragile, I feel like I have to cherish every minute we have. Not to mention that every trip is equally traumatizing on them - even though I try to hide the suitcase and pack downstairs – Tex has the innate ability to know when someone in his family is about to hit the road – at which point he goes into his shaky dog routine.

At the airport this past Sunday, I was throwing myself a little pity party, wondering how the pugs could possibly survive without me. When I checked my blackberry I felt a little better, as my friend and colleague Heather sent me a note regarding a “Pugs for Obama” event in NY (yes I am serious, do you really think I could make this up?) Even though my flight to NY was getting in too late for me to attend this canine political rally, it felt like an omen and made me feel so much better about life.

My first meeting in NY was with Sanjay, an Editor in the Conde Naste building (on a side note, the woman at Vogue really are all that, beautiful and intimidating). Sanjay and I have been working with each other for years, so it was only natural that he ask about the pugs. This of course led me to mention my delight at the idea of a “Pugs for Obama” rally and my disappointment at not being there, after all Tex and Maggie represent.
Low and behold -Sanjay introduces me to his colleague - who is leaving Conde Naste to work for Obama - whose pug Pixie was the inspiration for the event. Wow, it really is a small world.

The way I figure, with all that pug karma Obama has to win……..God I love this city!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Remember

When Tyler was younger, Tom and I tried to take him on business trips as often as possible. Even though it required a great deal of planning, it was worth the effort, one of the smartest things we’ve ever done as parents. The thing I most remember are the conversations we had during those trips -discussing things on a deeper level– addressing those questions humans have been pondering throughout the ages.

During a trip to New York, I asked him about historical events that had shaped his young life. Moments that define who you are, something so significant that you never forget where you were or what it felt like when you heard the news. I told him about my experiences – traveling in California with my mother, waking up early in the morning and hearing our host crying “they’ve killed Bobby, they’ve killed Bobby”, even though I was too young to really know who Bobby Kennedy was I still remember that lonely feeling – my frustration at having to miss my cartoons when my mother made me sit in front of the television to watch Watergate or the Moon Landing, informing me it was history in the making and ordering me to remember it. At that point Tyler really had nothing to add to the conversation, in the spirit of things he tried to make a case for the deaths of Biggie and Tupac, but even he knew it was a lame argument.

Fast forward several years, our little family is awakened by an early morning phone call. Too slow to make it to the phone, we listened to the message my mother left, telling us to turn on the tube. We didn’t take it too seriously, after all those Texans can never seem to get their heads around the time change, telling ourselves she was probably referring to something on Oprah. We continued to doze, asking Tyler to check the TV, drifting in and out of sleep before one of us had the presence of mind to ask him what was happening. I'll never forget the sound of his young voice, quietly telling us that a second plane had just hit the World Trade Centre.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

On a Lighter Note

Lately I’ve been thinking about cereal… heard me….cereal. It all started a few weeks ago when my good friend Nina (Thelma to my Louise) and I took Stella on joy ride to the states. It was a glorious day – we flirted with a cute border guard – enjoyed a delicious lunch on a sunny patio – and picked up a few boxes of the new fruity cheerios.

You see my son Tyler, aka baby boy, has a thing for cereal. Before you tell me this is a good thing – pointing out that it could be sex, drugs and rock-n-roll – you should know that even cereal has it’s downside. My idea of an appropriate cereal for Tyler usually has the fiber content of a redwood, while his contains a field of sugar cane. When he lived at home this consisted of hours and hours of negotiations, which quite frankly was exhausting.

It was so much easier for our parents generation. Negotiating wasn’t an option, the standard response to any disagreement was “because I’m the parent and I say so”. There also wasn’t all this emphasis on health, after all they were the generation that smoked and drank during pregnancy. This all worked in my favor, as my childhood criteria for selecting cereal was solely based on the toy in the box.

The only thing better than scoring a good toy was buying cereal before a camping trip. It was the only time my mom splurged for the package containing an assortment of mini boxes. Even though there were always a couple of duds and I had to duke it out with my brothers for the best picks, it made me feel like I was living high on the hog.

Poor Tyler didn’t have it so good, he often moans about the trials and tribulations of having a granola for a mom. Our usual compromise was honey nut cheerios, a happy medium between Captain Crunch and Oat Bran. Even though Tyler is no longer living at home and is probably coming off a Count Chocola high, I felt it was important to buy a few boxes of fruity cheerios in his honour. Tex, Maggie and I are slowly snacking on them, thinking of sweet baby boy.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The World According To Mika

This past week I’ve had a very difficult time following the US Presidential election – the truth being it really gets me down. Contrary to popular belief, I’m neither a Republican nor Democrat, falling into that illusive demographic commonly referred to as the swing vote.

One of the things that troubles me most is the idea of Sarah Palin as Vice President. Our forefathers had the wisdom to recognize that religion should not dictate how a democracy is governed. Do we really need a Vice President who believes that creationism should be taught in the classroom, sex education is taboo, banning books good, and even victims of incest and rape should not have the right to abortion?

Even though my first reaction was depression, I’m happy to report that I’ve had a change in attitude. Rather than give up, I’ve decided to embrace that old adage “if you can’t beat them, join them”. Should we get stuck with McCain and Palin, it seems only right that we all get a fair share in determining how religion shapes our country. With that in mind, I’d like to put forward some of the changes I’d like to see.

  • I truly believe that every creature, great or small, are just as relevant and important to this planet as humans. Because of this belief I am a strict vegetarian and do not buy or wear animal products. This may seem extreme but trust me, tofu turkey and pleather aren’t so bad once you get used to them.
  • This one may seem like a small thing, but it’s really important to my belief system. In the future, beauty pageants for children will have to be outlawed. The way I figure it is all of the money that would have been spent on rhinestones and tiaras - will now go towards the cost of therapy - helping all of those poor kids who were victims of their parent’s unrequited dreams.
  • My faith also tells me that violence of any kind should never be condoned. Over these past eight years we have been ruled by the dogs of war, which according to the gospel of Mika, absolutely must come to a stop. In the future we are going to have rely on diplomacy, decency, reason and compassion when dealing with our adversaries. On a side note, it also means that we are going to need new rules for the NHL…..sorry, but no more fighting boys and girls.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Around this time last year, I was hiking across England with a group of my colleagues, an odd assortment of Public Relations and Media folk. On that trip I had the great privilege of meeting Alicia Vargas Carney, a beautiful woman who touched my life. As we started talking we found out that we had a great deal in common; we were the same age, both married to men named Tom, each had a son in their early 20's, and believe it or not.... it seemed that each of our families had a much loved pug.
When you're hiking, you really get to know the people you're with. Over the course of our trip we talked about our families - the difficulties in balancing a career with life, wondering if it was possible to actually have it "all" - each day's cravings (usually a hot bath and glass of wine) - how plastic surgery doesn't make anyone look younger, just desperate - we discussed a multitude of things that make up one's life.
It was with great sadness that I recently found out that Alicia passed away of breast cancer. The irony is the day before I went on the UK hike, I found out that I had a lump in my breast. It gave me a great deal to think about, thank god it was benign. Alicia was full of life, much fitter than I am, smart and beautiful. How can this even be possible?
Like most people I don't spend a great deal of time thinking about my mortality - sure, we all know it's going to eventually happen - let's be honest, don't most of us live in denial? The other night, suffering from jet lag, I lay in bed unable to sleep, thinking about Alicia. The thought occurred to me, even if I'm fortunate enough to reach the full life expectancy of the average Canadian woman (80.4) , half of my life is over. A sobering thought.
The first thing that popped in my head was maybe it's time to buy a red sports car and trade Tom in for a younger man. After that moment of madness I took stock of my life, counting my blessings for this embarrassment of riches, realizing that I really better start living!
Rest in peace dear sweet Alicia.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Bee Grateful

This week has taught me a few lesson’s about Karmic Justice – why is it that I always have to learn things the hard way?

Note to self; just when you think you’ve kicked the whole jet lag thing, it sneaks up and kicks your ass. Looking back I cringe at some of the conversations I’ve had, giving people advice on the do’s and don’t of jet lag. Saying things like “yea, I’ve pretty much got the whole jet lag thing figured out” – “ it’s a piece of cake when you travel as much as I do” – “ You know me, I like to hit the ground running”. To all of those poor people who had to listen to this lecture, please forget everything I said. As it turns out, I know nothing. Let’s just say this trip has been a bitch and I’m still struggling to get over my Beijing hangover.

Second big lesson of the week, I’m also not an expert on bees. Texie Baby has a life threatening allergy to bee venom - in an effort to do everything possible to minimize the risk - I’ve tried to learn all there is to know about the little buzzers. With knowledge comes respect, bees truly are amazing creatures. Just when I thought I’d figured out a system where bees and pugs could live in harmony – Tex gets stung by B.A.B. (big ass bee) during our afternoon walk.

Tom and I immediately went into emergency mode, running around like the two stooges as we rushed him to our vets office. We actually made very good time, even though we had the misfortune of getting stuck behind an old couple who were driving excruciatingly slow. Wish we had taken their license plate number, as it would be nice to contact them and apologize for all of the honking and hand gestures.

The good news is the wonderful people at the Granville Island Animal Hospital, who always take such good care of Tex and Maggie, took one look at us and knew exactly what to do. I’ve come to think of them as a band of angels, who make a huge difference in our lives.

During all of the excitement, we made an executive decision to leave Maggie at home, after all time was of the essence. We felt guilty about this - speculating on the effects this might have on her delicate psyche – imagining her home alone, sitting in the dark, worrying about her poor little brother. Needless to say it came as a surprise to find that Maggie saw this as her big opportunity to raid the pantry. We came home to find she had some how managed to drag big bags of rice and dried beans into the living room, tearing them open and treating herself to a little tasting. You could tell she really did her best to like the un-cooked rice and beans, walking around chewing, spitting them out in almost every room in the house. It seems baby girl is going through a second childhood, doing all of the naughty things she did as a puppy.

While it’s true that I am still exhausted, I’m also very, very grateful. Life is a beautiful, fragile thing and every day is truly a blessing.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mika's Top Ten Beijing

Most Impressive
I personally think one of the most important legacies to come out of the Beijing games will be the amazing buildings - just as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris or the Chrysler Building is to NY - they will most certainly become icons of the city. Anyone can spend a great deal of money on construction, but it's another thing to build something truly great. One only has to look at the Birds Nest, Water Cube and the CCTV building to see a whole new era of architecture.

Scariest Moment (kind of)
Tom and I had the good fortune of seeing several of the Olympic events, including weight lifting. As we were watching the big dudes with uni-brows, who believe it or not are able to lift over 500lbs, a beautiful Chinese teenager came and sat in the empty seat next to mine. She was only there for 5 or 10 minutes before leaving, and in the process left her purse behind. Tom, immediately went into conspiracy mode and decided that she had to be a terrorist, loudly speculating that at any moment her purse was going to blow. To make matters worse, we just happened to be in the midst of a large group of Iranians, who noticed Tom's demeanour and started freaking out. I tried to be the voice of reason, pointing out that anyone in a Hello Kitty t-shirt was an unlikely threat, and also sharing my observations of how trusting the locals seemed to be. Before I could calm everyone down, Tom grabs the purse, leaves the stands, positioning himself by a concrete wall (apparently to absorb the shock of the explosion). The young girl returned from the concession stand, perplexed as to why the strange Canadian dude was holding up her purse and giving her a lecture. I'm not sure she ever really understood what Tom was trying to tell her - you'd be surprised at how difficult it is to act out "please do not leave your purse unattended".

Strangest Moment
After taking this shot, Tom sat down at the local sidewalk bar to grab a quick beer. It was then a serious young Chinese man approached him, and voiced his concern about Tom taking this photo, pointing out that it might give the world the wrong impression of Beijing. Tom was never really able to figure out if he was an official Party member, but he did manage to convince him to stay and join him for a cold one. They parted the best of friends.

Pet Peeve
People who came to Beijing from North America, and whined incessantly about the locals inability to speak English and how tired they were of eating Chinese food. Towards the end of our stay in Beijing I had lost my patience with this attitude, explaining that we were in China, not Kansas. Is it just me, but shouldn't travel be a privilege?

Most Embarrassing
Okay, I'll be the first to admit that when we travel, we always come home with amazing photo's, Tom is a very talented photographer - which is great, unless you're stuck being his official model / camera assistant. You don't believe me? - ask Tex, Maggie and Tyler what it's like. The pugs take one look at the camera and hide under the bed. Usually in North America when I find myself doing something ridiculous for the sake of Tom's art, people just give me the 'look', the one that says "poor schmuck, better you than me". The problem is, in China, this kind of behavior attracts large crowds, who all laugh and also take photo's. Case in point, there are about 200 people standing behind Tom as he takes this photo. The things we do for love.

Best Idea
During the course of my work - I couldn't help but notice that one of the journalists I was talking to, had a very interesting photo on her identification badge - interesting as in 20 years younger and a hundred pounds lighter. I personally think it was a brilliant idea, and I am kicking myself for not thinking of it sooner. After all, most of the people I know think of themselves as they were in their heyday, not as they appear in the mirror.

Best Line
Tom was so into the Spirit of the Games, that he fully embraced every experience to the fullest. Which resulted in him saying "It's a signature event you know" for everything, i.e. soccer, watching the 100 and 200 sprints, weight lifting, synchronized swimming, etc.

My Personal Hero
My colleague Josie, who decided to take Chinese lessons a few months before we left. I admit, while I was trying to be supportive, I had my doubts. I mean how much can one possibly learn in such a short amount of time? Not only was she able to converse with the locals, but they went above and beyond for her, as they really appreciated the effort.

Most Motivated
Tom, who really did squeal with joy as he watched Usain Bolt run. In fact, Tom has now decided to start training for the World Masters, taking place in Sydney / 2009. Anyone care to join us?

Personal Highlight
The people. All of the wonderful, sweet locals - all of the people who came from around the world and set aside their differences in the spirit of the games, and the talented team that I am privileged to work with.