Merry almost Christmas!

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It is hard to believe as I sit here that Christmas is only a couple of days away. For us, school got out on Friday and the kiddo has been home for a few days now. We’ve, baked our cookies, the gifts are wrapped and most have been delivered and we even attempted making our own gingerbread house. This year our festivities looked different. We weren’t able to have Brunch with Santa, go to our gingerbread house decorating class with our group of friends, or do many of the other events we normally have planned this time of year. But the limited outdoor time we did get to see those who are important to us was even more special.

This year is so different than many as we will miss the warmth of our loved ones hugs. We will miss our big fat Greek gatherings and being able to celebrate with whomever we chose to, wherever we choose to. We will miss all of the personal touches. Saying that we would be remiss if we didn’t include everything that we are grateful for. We’re grateful for so many things including our health and the health of our loved ones. A roof over our head, heat on the cold Canadian nights and food on the table. We know this year will be a harder year for so many. We would like our loved ones and friends to know that we are here for you. If there is anything you need or we can do to help brighten up your Holiday Season, just ask.

From our family to yours….Merry Christmas! Wishing each and every one of you all the best that the season has to offer.

Roula

A little ditty about Jack and Diane...no really in all seriousness I'm a daughter, sister, wife and mother. I'm a Greek-American, who has transplanted in Canada. As a first time mom I'm sharing some things as I go along.

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When was the last time you thanked someone?

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When was the last time you thanked someone? I don’t mean thank you for holding the door, passing the gravy but thanking them for really touching your life? The other side of that is when has someone gone out of their way to truly thank you?

A few weeks ago, on Thursday evening, my doorbell rang. Honestly I hate answering my door because it is usually someone trying to sell me something. I put on my “get lost” face as I climbed down the stairs. When I peeked out of the shade, I saw my neighbour standing there. Of course I opened the door to see what she wanted. She stopped by to let me know that our neighbour down the street, Al, passed away the night before. I thanked her for stopping by and let her know that another neighbour had brought me up to speed earlier in the day. She continued to say that she had been fortunate over last three months to really get to know him. Al was a kind and gentle soul whom she had learned so much from. And she had me to thank for that. Honestly it stunned me. She said, “If you hadn’t planned on our socially distanced street party over the summer, I may have never gotten to know him.” She became emotional and it was then that it became obvious to me that they truly had connected over the last few months. She said that she’s learned in life if someone does something that has impacted you in a positive way, you should let them know. So she wanted to bring it to my attention.

After she left, and I reflected back to her visit, it hit me that on all of the days, this message came to me on American Thanksgiving. A day where we give thanks for all that we have and all that we are. How many other days throughout the year do you go out of your way to let people know how thankful you are of them? Has anyone come to you with a similar situation to thank you for something that you’ve done for them? How many times throughout the day do you have the ability to impact our fellow humans? Do you jump at the chance or do you let it slide? As we wind down the year 2020, one that will go down in the history books, make sure you take a moment to thank those who have touched your life. Yes we have so many negative things to say about this year, but I have no doubt if you sit to reflect you will find some positives as well. Happy Wednesday my friends!

Roula

A little ditty about Jack and Diane...no really in all seriousness I'm a daughter, sister, wife and mother. I'm a Greek-American, who has transplanted in Canada. As a first time mom I'm sharing some things as I go along.

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Happy Thanksgiving my American Friends

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As a child growing up tomorrow was such a huge day. It was Thanksgiving, a day where you would gather with your family and friends and feast over food for hours. There would be laughter, some yelling (we’re Greek after all) and hours of being together. As someone whose entire family is in Greece, we were fortunate enough to have been “adopted” into a couple of families by my father’s cousin. Both sides were pretty big so these events had tons of people crammed into two or three rooms. The men in one room, the kids running around everywhere and the women usually in the kitchen making sure everyone was happy. And we were. We didn’t have the latest toys, we didn’t have much of anything but we had each other and really that is all that mattered.

This year your Thanksgiving dinner will probably look a little different thanks to Covid 19. There may be less people around your table and more people on your computer screen. Remember whatever the festivities look like, this year more than ever to take a moment to give thanks for all that you have. It is so easy to be mad at all that we’ve lost this year or that this pandemic has taken from us. But give thanks for all that you have and all that you are. Today isn’t about the biggest turkey, the most food on the table or the biggest gathering. It is about the love in your heart and what you do with it every day of the year.

Happy Thanksgiving my American Friends! Let me know what are you thankful for this year??

Roula

A little ditty about Jack and Diane...no really in all seriousness I'm a daughter, sister, wife and mother. I'm a Greek-American, who has transplanted in Canada. As a first time mom I'm sharing some things as I go along.

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The importance of prayer in your life.

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Do you find time in your life for daily prayer? Or is it something that you do when you “need” something from God, Allah, Buddha, or whomever you believe in? Growing up Greek Orthodox and attending a Catholic School, prayer was always something that I was encouraged to do and something that I passed on to my daughter. Every night before bed she says her prayers. The irony of all this is that I taught her a Greek prayer many years ago and she could recite it before she actually knew the meaning behind it. Do you take time out of your day to pray? With the pandemic going on and all of the restrictions around attending church I’ve found that I’m missing that connection. I’m missing being in a place where I don’t need to explain myself because for the most part, everyone enters because they believe. I miss venerating the holy icons and seeing these works of art all around us, listening to our silent prayers.

It is because of this connection that I decided to join a prayer group for the Christmas fast. As Greek Orthodox Christians we fast for 40 days before Christmas. I don’t know how I will do on the food part but I know that I can take a few minutes out of my morning to read the Holy Gospels. This group is 40 people each assigned a gospel reading to start on. We continue down the line until Christmas Eve when we’ll read the last one. Along with that we pray for each person in our group, that God may have mercy on us all. Over the last few months I’ve had multiple conversations with friends about journaling and starting our days with gratitude. While I continue to try and do that, this is something that I can easily wrap my head around right now. Maybe because in the wee hours of the morning when I wake up I don’t need to “think” about a topic or solve my own problems, but rather I can read the word of God and be grateful for the day ahead, which we all know is never promised to us.

So I ask you my friends, what is the importance of prayer in your life? Do you find yourself coming to prayer when needed or have you found a way to blend it into your daily life? Drop me a comment or send me a message, I’d love to hear from you!

Roula

A little ditty about Jack and Diane...no really in all seriousness I'm a daughter, sister, wife and mother. I'm a Greek-American, who has transplanted in Canada. As a first time mom I'm sharing some things as I go along.

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How are you really feeling?

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As we’ve entered month eight of this pandemic how are you really feeling? I know I have had quite the journey over the last eight months. More ups and downs than many people have in a lifetime but no matter what I have to keep moving forward. Many years ago, as I was leaving a position that I held for a few years, I was gifted with a framed print for my office. The print was of the poem The Dash. That framed print now sits in our home office. The other day as I was fighting with the computer to do what I needed it to do, I looked up and there was the poem. It reminded me that no matter what we do, it is today that we need to make count, because tomorrow isn’t promised.

I’ve been thinking a lot during these past eight months…but really haven’t we all. What is the bigger plan for myself and my family. God knows my kid is destined to do amazing things and my husband, well the best thing he did was marry me a decade ago (ha! ha!) so now what about me? Was the fundraising jobs I held and the money I raised my destiny? Should I be working on a greater goal, other than raising an amazing human (my daughter)? Have any of you been in this place of questioning during this pandemic? Wondering if coasting though life, as I’ve heard some friends call it, is enough? Has the magic answer hit you in the face yet or are you still digging for it? What tools have you used to figure out the next part of your dash? I’d love to hear from you.

In the meantime, in case you haven’t read the poem by Linda Ellis, I leave it for you below.

Roula

A little ditty about Jack and Diane...no really in all seriousness I'm a daughter, sister, wife and mother. I'm a Greek-American, who has transplanted in Canada. As a first time mom I'm sharing some things as I go along.

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Oh what a day!

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Oh what a day yesterday was! I think that the world was holding its collective breath and finally was able to breathe again. At least that is what it seems to this American born woman living in Canada. I have said it before, I’m not here to talk politics but no one should take away what November 7, 2020 means for women. We finally have the first woman as Vice President and a woman of colour who is first generation, talk about an accomplishment. Imagine how proud her family must feel, like the families of so many Greeks that I know, who celebrate each accomplishment. Her parents came from Jamaica and India with a dream of a better future, a better life. Well within that life their little girl was able to achieve the second most powerful office of the United States of America. Let us stop and think about that.

Growing up my parents always told me I could be anything I want to be. But I’ll be honest, they never told me I could be president of the United States. As much as they gave me the best that they could and pushed me to educate myself and do better, those words were never said. Did that hold me back from achieving my dreams, absolutely not because they supported me in other ways (and still do) each and every day. When my daughter was a baby people would say she’s such a princess, or what a doll, etc. From when she was little I would always tell her she had the power to be the Prime Minister, the President and then a princess. The words you choose to use when speaking to your daughters matter. The empowerment begins at home with you. Our girls will be made fun of on the school yard and challenged in the classroom. They will have to deal with not fitting the “look” of a certain type of group or being included because let’s be honest, sometimes kids are just plain mean. Saying all of that, let us take the time to lift our girls up. Let us show them that if they set their minds to it and work hard, they too can accomplish anything. And let us adults work harder so that when they are Kamala’s age there is no glass ceiling because we’ve smashed the crap out of it!

Roula

A little ditty about Jack and Diane...no really in all seriousness I'm a daughter, sister, wife and mother. I'm a Greek-American, who has transplanted in Canada. As a first time mom I'm sharing some things as I go along.

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November is here

In the United States November is a big month with Thanksgiving being in it and it being such a huge holiday. When I moved to Canada, November became do I dare say it–anti climactic. Yes we have Remembrance Day (Veteran’s Day for my US friends) and I will wear my poppy with pride but I don’t decorate my house for it, I don’t have a huge party for it. I do my part and remember those who have served for our country (on both sides of the border). So once the Halloween decorations come down, I feel like it is okay for the Christmas decorations to go up. When I was living in the US I would never have a tree up before Thanksgiving. It would always go up on the weekend after Thanksgiving. This year, which is unlike any other I’ve lived, I feel like we deserve the Christmas cheer to last a little longer. We deserve all of the those wonderful feelings of Christmases past that a tree, decorations, etc., evoke. So when will you put up your tree? I’d love for you to leave me a comment and let me know.

Every first of the month I try to put out a Facebook message wishing my family and friends a great month. Reminding us that it is a new start, as really every day is. Also reminding us that this is not a dress rehearsal and to make today count. So my wish to you my friends is a wonderful November. One filled with health, happiness, laughter and love. Know that you don’t need the first day of the month or the week to make a change. Any new day (or new hour for that matter) can be your first day in whatever you are trying to accomplish.

Roula

A little ditty about Jack and Diane...no really in all seriousness I'm a daughter, sister, wife and mother. I'm a Greek-American, who has transplanted in Canada. As a first time mom I'm sharing some things as I go along.

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Happy, Happy to me!

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Well as I recently celebrated another year around the sun it is time reflect. 2020 oh what a year you have been. As I sit back and think about the last year let’s be real, calling it a dumpster fire will be using a kind term. Not only were we all dealing with the Covid 19 pandemic and the repercussions of that, but personally, my year was filled with various medical issues that were presented to people close to me. I missed out on so many events, trips, special events and really what about the overall mental drain this put on all of us.

So rather than going on and on about everything that sucked and God knows I can fill a few pages of that, I’ve decided to focus on the positives. I am grateful for the time I got with my family. My husband was out of work many, many months due to our province being in various stages of lockdown because of the pandemic. Along with him being home, our kiddo was home since schools were closed. Throw in some online learning, missed graduations, recitals, birthday parties and my gosh it wasn’t easy but we somehow got through it. We grew as individuals and as a family. We learned to appreciate each other even when we were working through our own feelings of the fear of the unknown. God knows there is no parenting book on how to raise a child during a pandemic, or if I’m wrong and there is one, it was probably sold out with all of the toilet paper!

According to the encyclopedia Britannica middle age is considered anything between the ages of 40 and 60. So being in this “middle age” phase of life I’m grateful for my health. I am able to wake up each and every morning and put on my pants one foot at at time still. Yes there may be more aches and pains than there have been in previous years but what we don’t realize as we’re going through life is that we do a number on our body. It isn’t until one day we sneeze and throw out our backs (figuratively speaking not literally) that we’re like oh crap!

I’m grateful for technology. It is hard when your family is not close by. To be able to FaceTime my parents, see my brother’s family including my nephews growing up even when I can’t physically be there is huge. For the memes sent by a friend at 5am as she heads out to workout or the check in text at 10:30pm because she was thinking about you. This pandemic has brought us closer together even though it is keeping us apart.

I’m grateful for the sun shining. Yup I know that sounds cliché but there is something special about those fall days where the sun is still hot enough to warm you up. When I’m waiting to pick up the kid and the wind lets down for a bit and the sun hits your face and a feeling of calm comes over you. It is as if mother earth is telling you, I got you, we’re okay.

So as my brother reminds me, I’ve entered my 29th year again (plus, plus) and I am going to use the life experiences I have acquired to take this year head on. After what has been thrown at me in 2020, I know that I can take on whatever comes my way.

Roula

A little ditty about Jack and Diane...no really in all seriousness I'm a daughter, sister, wife and mother. I'm a Greek-American, who has transplanted in Canada. As a first time mom I'm sharing some things as I go along.

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Taking time to enjoy the small stuff

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With Canadian Thanksgiving being earlier this week there is so much to be grateful for this year. From my family, to our health, to our friends and everything else that comes along with being over half a year into a pandemic. If living during these times does nothing, it helps you realize what is important and what truly matters. As I was perusing through Instagram one day a few different people I followed were reiterating what a good friend of mine told me a few months ago. You should take some time to quiet your brain, to focus and start your day with gratitude. For someone whose mind races a lot and tends to be go, go, go, that’s hard. I wake up on some mornings with good intentions but life happens. Today I had a moment. I had dropped off my child to school and was walking back to my car. Usually I’m looking down and am rushing to the car. Today I happened to look up. Sometimes you need to take that moment and look up. Stop, whatever it may be you’re doing and focus on the gratitude in you heart. Today I am grateful.

Roula

A little ditty about Jack and Diane...no really in all seriousness I'm a daughter, sister, wife and mother. I'm a Greek-American, who has transplanted in Canada. As a first time mom I'm sharing some things as I go along.

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It Is Your Civic Duty

Now I have always been excited to do my part and my civic duty. I remember as a little girl going with my parents to the Salvation Army (their local voting centre) on election day to watch them cast their vote. Back then you just gave your name (the person volunteering probably already knew you) and they checked you off. You went into your little booth, pulled the curtain around you, grabbed the special tool and were off. So many dreams were created in that booth. You felt as though you ACTUALLY had the power to create change. After all, that was the American dream.

In the city I grew up in, I was lucky to work for a few summers at City Hall. I got to know some of the politicians and see how things worked from the inside. Maybe because of this reason, when I became of voting age, I remember being excited to vote. My friends who have known me forever often asked if I had never left would I have run for politics? The answer is maybe. I am a person who likes to evoke change. I like to be part of the solution group. I also believe that you can’t bitch if you don’t vote. I have friends who choose not to vote and I yell at them. Usually the response I get is we’re in Massachusetts, it will always be blue. If you don’t know, a blue state in the US is a Democratic State and a red state is a Republican state. Since 1900 the state of Massachusetts has voted for the Republican presidential nominee 10 times, so definitely not unheard of, just not the norm. And the attitude of “my vote doesn’t count” is what many people say is the reason why the outcome of the 2016 election was the way it was. Now I promised myself before I sat down that I would keep this as non political as I could. My goal isn’t to recruit more Democratic, Republican or Independent specific voters. My goal is to get you to just get off your butt and go vote. To believe, like me, that you (and your vote) can make a difference.

The America of today is different than the America I left over a decade ago. Were the same issues facing the country then? Absolutely, things don’t change overnight. Did I as a Greek-American woman feel as though I was discriminated against–absolutely (those stories I’ll share at a later time). But regardless of all this did I feel as though I could bring about change to the world around me and make it a better place? You bet your bottom dollar I did. So off I went every day to try. As a member of the human race please do not give up. A friend posted a meme with this messaging and I thought the words couldn’t ring more true: “I’m mentally drained from the pandemic, racism and murders in addition to my own personal shit. I’m MF tired.”

Please my friends muster up the strength to register to vote if you haven’t done so already. The voter registration deadlines vary by state but from what I can see are between October 4th and 27th, with a couple of states letting you register in person day of. To see what the rules are for your state click here. If you are in the USA and haven’t registered yet, please go here. If you are like me and voting from abroad please go here.

Roula

A little ditty about Jack and Diane...no really in all seriousness I'm a daughter, sister, wife and mother. I'm a Greek-American, who has transplanted in Canada. As a first time mom I'm sharing some things as I go along.

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