May 18, 2017

Dear Ms. Swift: My Crazy Attempt to Make my Daughter’s Dream Come True

Dear Ms. Swift,

My name is Keri Cawthorne and I live with my daughter and husband in a suburb just outside of Vancouver, Canada. At the risk of sounding like a complete stalker, for a forty five year old woman I know entirely too much about you. I know your birth date, your favourite number, all about Meredith Grey and Olivia Benson and countless other random facts and stories thanks to my daughter Rylee.

For the past six years, my daughter has lived and breathed everything Taylor Swift and embodies the true definition of a ‘Swiftie’. Your face is everywhere in my home, from the walls of her room to the fanned selection of magazines that span my coffee table. Her news feed is all you, she tweets, retweets, instagrams and posts about you and has managed to somehow relate every essay, project and guitar recital that she has done in high school to you. She left her Western Conference softball playoffs early to attend your Red concert, I later found out that she had a concussion which she didn’t tell me about for fear that I would not let her go. She went to see you when you came to Vancouver for your 1989 tour and waited in line for hours at Taylor Nation. A few months later she talked her Grandmother into taking her to Nashville and they both caught both of your shows there – Granny is also now a fan.

Your songs have been the soundtrack to her teenage years. Last year she got her own car so she is off on her own a lot, and for what it’s worth when I am driving alone and one of your songs comes on the radio, I don’t change the channel, they always bring a smile to my face and take me back to a moment with my daughter.

As I am sure that your Mom has told you, raising a daughter isn’t an easy job and it takes a village to do so and I would like to thank you for being part of ours. Your lyrics have spoken to her time and time again, encouraging her not only to believe in herself but to be herself (our household motto is “do you”). You are respectful, considerate and conduct yourself like a lady, your Mom must be so proud.

Earlier this month, Rylee was voted class valedictorian, her Dad and I could not be more proud. Her speech is well under construction and I am sure that you will not be surprised after reading this that you are referenced in it more than a couple of times. I know that you are a very busy person and I am sure that you must get a million requests, but I know do that on occasions you surprise well deserving fans so I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to be our guest at Rylee’s graduation ceremony on Wednesday, June 21st, 2017 at 5:00pm at the Hard Rock Vancouver Theatre in Coquitlam, BC, Canada.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me at your convenience. Thank you once again for being such a fantastic role model to my daughter and for taking the time to read this.

Sincerely,
Keri Cawthorne

Rylee and her friend Candace at the 1989 Vancouver Concert

Rylee and her friend Candace at the 1989 Vancouver Concert

Rylee and her classmate's Law 12 project

Rylee and her classmate’s Law 12 project

Getting ready for night 1 1989 Nashville

Getting ready for night 1 1989 Nashville

Night 2 of 1989 Nashville

Night 2 of 1989 Nashville

Rylee's promposal

Rylee’s promposal

 

February 14, 2017

A Love Story

I met my husband on March 16th, 1992, he was twenty, I nineteen. I was attending the birthday party of my best friend at the time, I also happened to be dating her brother, who had made other arrangements for that evening. It was one of those love at first sight moments, completely by chance and totally uncontrollable. Our eyes met and a romance began.

Bill was confident and dreamy, that weak in the knees, tilt your head to the side and sigh kind of dreamy. We ended up seated next to each other at dinner but hardly spoke, which was just as well because I had a boyfriend. But when the party moved to a club and we shared our first slow dance, my head fit perfectly on his shoulder and he smelled amazing. My relationship ended quickly with the brother, which also over time ended my friendship with his sister, and as they say, the rest was history.

We finished school and played through our early 20’s, then started to build a life together. We bought a condo, got married, had our beautiful daughter and became a family. Life was good.

As a couple, you either grow together or grow apart. No matter how picture perfect a marriage may seem, you never know what goes on behind closed doors. And as many of us have done in our approach to 40, we wake up one morning and wonder if the person laying next to us, the person that you built this whole amazing life with, is really the right person for you anymore. When your world comes crashing down, it’s a frightening and hollow place to be in, no matter which end of the realization you are on…

I’m not saying that it would have been easier to throw in the towel, but there were many times that it felt like it would have been. But we chose to battle through it, reconnecting and getting to know each other all over again. I feel very fortunate because we didn’t just fall in love once, we fell in love twice. And while there are no guarantees in life, I feel like we beat the odds and I am so proud of that.

So to my wonderful husband on our 25th Valentine’s Day, cheers to us and the rest our journey together.

Family Day 2017

 

September 7, 2016

Pumpkin Muffins

The front door had barely closed yesterday morning and I already had the oven on to make my home smell like the deliciousness of fall. Who am I kidding? I was boo-hooey that my baby was starting her first day of grade 12 and I would be starting our ‘year of lasts’.  I desperately needed a distraction. Inspired by my 5:45am client, who was up at 4:30am to make muffins for her fam, I decided to follow suit.

I have never professed to be a baker but I do a make an outstanding shortbread and a pretty mean pumpkin muffin. I am however an ugly crier, which made it all the more unfortunate that I had to zip out to the corner store for milk in the midst of it.

• 1 ½ cup all purpose flour
• 1 tsp baking soda
• ½ tsp baking powder
• ¾ tsp salt
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 1 tsp cloves
• 1 cup sugar
• ¼ cup brown sugar (packed)
• 2 eggs
• 1 cup pure pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
• ½ cup low fat milk
• 1/3 cup oil (vegetable, canola or melted coconut)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Combine wet ingredients in another bowl. Combine wet and dry ingredients, mixing just until moistened. Fill non-stick (or paper-lined) muffin tins ¾ full. Bake 20 minutes or until done (test with a tooth pick…or bamboo skewer because I wasn’t about to go back to the corner store again).

This effort was all about comfort food and I was hardly in the mood for pissing around. But you could certainly make this a healthier option by cutting down the sugar, substituting applesauce for of oil and using whole grain flour.

How are you enjoying these first few days of back to reality?

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tastes like fall

August 10, 2016

In the Driver’s Seat

My daughter was one of those kids who dreamed about getting her driver’s license since she was young. On the morning of her 16th birthday, we were first in line at the Motor Vehicle Branch, until I realized we needed her passport for identification. We made the detour loop home and she had her learner’s license in hand and was behind the wheel of my car by 9:30am as she drove oh so cautiously and proudly to school.

Over the course of the year she put in countless driving hours. I think one of her highlights and certainly one that I will never forget was her driving our truck from Lake Tahoe to Reno, my sweaty hands gripping the sides of the passenger seat as we hurtled down the mountainside.

As her seventeenth birthday approached, I tried (not doing a fantastic job) to be excited for her impending road test. She was a pretty good driver and her instructor agreed. Part of her lesson package included an hour of driving instruction before her road test; she would take the test in the instructor’s car and then be driven home or in her case to school. My only part in her milestone event was paying her licensing fee, should she pass. We all have moments that we dread, once they happen there is no turning back and nothing is the same, this was one of mine.

The morning of her test, I was teaching in my Studio. Fortunately the group of ladies in attendance were all long time clients and friends, so when my cell phone rang as we were stretching I was able to pick up. At my first job as a receptionist, the lady who trained me told me to smile when I answered the phone, even though the person on the other end couldn’t see me, my smile would come through in my voice. It’s something that I have never forgotten. As I held my cell phone to my ear, I said hello with the biggest possible smile that I could muster, I could hear the excitement in my baby’s voice as she said she passed. I congratulated her and told her how proud I was of her, my clients all woo-hoo’d in background. I made it through the call intact, placed my phone on the floor beside and resumed the stretching pose that I had left the ladies in before I took the call. As I laid my head on my mat a voice from the class said “and now Keri cries”. Who was she kidding, I was already sobbing. It was a moment and my ladies let me take it. My Studio was silent, I am quite certain that they could all hear my heart breaking a little.

I know that so many parents are able to immediately embrace and celebrate their child’s independence; some even look forward to it. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy for her and I knew that it was inevitable, but I just couldn’t help feeling that I would no longer be needed with her new found freedom.

I’m not going to lie, the last few months have been tough, but I have been working my way through it and feel that I am coming out on the other side. It’s hard to let go, even just a little, but it is part of being a parent. I know that even though my job description as a Mum has changed and will continue to change, Rylee will always need me and that I will always be a VIP in her life. I have also learned to never minimize the feelings of others, no matter how well meaning the advice may be. Most importantly I have started to embrace my own independence. I have put my life and career on the back burner for many years and it’s high time to spread my own wings, there are so many things that I want to do, books I want to write, marks I want to make and so much life to enjoy.

Lookout world, the Cawthorne girls are coming for you!

any momentous journey deserves a car selfie, this was our first trip in Rylee's car

any momentous journey deserves a car selfie, this was our first trip in Rylee’s car

Miss Independent - could her smile be any bigger?

Miss Independent – could her smile be any bigger?

but she will always be my baby

but she will always be my baby

April 27, 2016

Lamere

When someone that you may have only met once before remembers your name, it makes you feel memorable. You made an impression on that person, either due to a great memory or a creative (sometimes crazy) association that they have made between you and your name, and managed to pull your name out of the hundreds of others swirling around their mind. It’s a skill.

When someone remembers my name it feels good, and I like to keep that energy flowing. Over the years one of the things that helps me to remember a person’s name is to repeat it after our introduction. A noted exception is if you have already named this person. True story, last year a lady moved into my neighbourhood and I would see her walking her dog from time to time. She is a cute little thing, very well put together, always gave me a smile and a friendly wave when I would drive by. I named her Kate, and even went as far as to call her dog Chloe. It turns out she is a Lisa and her dog isn’t a girl. I have the hardest time addressing her now with anything other than “lovely day, isn’t it?”

So this morning, I was setting up my class at the Leisure Centre. As the participants were filing in one of the ladies approached me. I recognized her from our last class, she had a smile on her face and thanked me for the butt kicking that I had given the previous week, and then introduced herself, she said “I’m Lamere”. I responded with my usual “Pleased to meet you Lamere” and turned back to the hallway to gather my weights so that I could start the class. As I walked away I couldn’t help but think that Lamere was an unusual name and wanted to make sure that I got the pronunciation right, so as I made my way back across the multipurpose room I asked her if I was saying her name correctly. She looked at me a little funny and said “I’m Nicole, the Mayor”…

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January 28, 2016

More Than Just a Pretty Face

I ran a few errands on my way home from the gym yesterday, my last stop being Starbucks to grab a well deserved cup of coffee. On my way out I bumped into an old acquaintance whom I hadn’t seen for a while, we both have daughters the same age, so small talk naturally drifted to our commonality. She asked what Rylee was up to, I gave her the Coles Notes version of school, sports, driving lessons and her a part-time job (the part-time job which costs me more than she makes when I add up all of the time that I lose on drop off and pick-up for the obscure shifts that she works, what we do for our kids).

We chatted on a little more and she told me that her daughter has also decided to look for a job wanting to be a hostess at one of the new eateries in town, it is also one of those places with a staff dress code rating of more mature than high schooler. Having little work experience, she asked her daughter if she was qualified to apply for such a job, her daughter said that she was because she was pretty and liked to talk to people. Slightly, although not completely taken back, the lecture started on how being pretty is not a qualification. They were out shopping, and at this point in the story they were in a menswear store to buy a birthday gift, as they approached the cash register the saleswoman asked my friend’s daughter if she was looking for a job, as they certainly could use someone who looked like her to work there…

I have to say that I certainly do admire such confidence at 16. At that age mine had been destroyed by a mean boy, and took many years for it to return, but even on a good day I can still find something negative to say about myself, which is unfortunate. Our society places a ridiculous amount of emphasis on how you look, and it has gone well beyond the point of teenage girls wearing too much make-up. Our daughters see their role models posting photoshopped and filtered images online, the Kardashian train wreck of contouring, extensions, fillers, botox and implants. And here’s the thing, as wrong as it may be, the reality is that how you look can open, as well as close doors.

Wanting to raise a strong and independent young woman, I remind Rylee often how smart and strong she is and how proud I am of her. I also tell her that she is beautiful, not because I want it to define her, but because I always want her to feel beautiful. Every woman should feel beautiful. I want to build her confidence so that she is always ok with who she is. And that if and when a door closes, or that mean boy or girl comes along she will be able to take it for what it is knowing that she is so much more, and just as important if a door should open because of her grades, experience or a million other reasons, I want to know that what she does when she goes through it, is what counts.

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January 19, 2016

“No” Apologies

Yesterday I tripped and fell. It was quite stupid actually. We had had a pretty busy weekend and Stanley had been cooped up in the house, so I thought that a walk across the ridge where he could do double time scampering up and down the hills along side the trail would be just what he needed. It would also be just what I needed, the view from the ridge spans from Golden Ears Mountain out to Vancouver and south towards White Rock and beyond, it’s pretty spectacular and always a peaceful place to gather my thoughts. I had some things on my mind and 25 minutes in the fresh air would give me plenty of time to mull them over.

I left the house in my usual dog walking attire, my flaid (pronounced flad, a red flannel, plaid jacket, at least two sizes to big for me which I randomly bought at Costco after attending the Celebration of Life of a nice man that I knew whose last request was that all of the Captain Morgans in Pitt Meadows be drunk), my Lululemon Dog Walking pants (I kid you not that’s what they are called, it always makes me smile inside that I walk my dog in my dog walkers) and my dilapidated Uggs, it’s quite a look, but I am always warm. We headed up my street and cut through the new subdivision that is being built. Between the subdivision and the trail there is a wide black topped sidewalk with two gates, the kind that you have to wind your way through, or get off your bike to manoeuvre through. There was a fair amount of construction going on yesterday and both gates were open. Other than the metal gate stopper that sticks out of the sidewalk, there are no other obstructions, just a clear unobstructed pathway to the trail. It was windy out yesterday and Stanley was doing that cute doggie thing that he does with his face in the wind, I smiled as I watched him play, albeit a bit distracted and completely unaware that my right foot was about to catch the metal gate stopper.

One minute I was up, the next down, and down hard. Stanley immediately ran over to me, I’m not sure if he was concerned or just thought that I was sprawled out to play. Totally gobsmacked, I got to my feet as best as I could looking around to see if the man working 20 or so feet away had seen what happened. Fortunately he was still engrossed in his work and I did my best to hold back the tears as I limped back home. The palms of my hands were skinned and bloodied, my knee was throbbing and I needed a hug.

Two thoughts ran through my mind as my daughter was cleaning me up, the first, am I going to be able to move tomorrow, the second, was this a sign? I had been thinking about stepping out of my comfort zone as I was walking, could my falling flat on my face while I was contemplating it be telling me (or screaming) something? Should I take this as an aha moment or was it just another to add to the pile of my klutzy, less than graceful incidents?

I did a body inventory before getting out of bed this morning. Although the palms of my hands were still a little tender they had started to heal, there was no stiffness in my knee and the rest of my body felt pretty damn good. As both Stanley and I were robbed of our walk across the ridge yesterday I made it top priority for this morning. As I approached where I fell yesterday, the gates were closed as they normally are. Stanley took his usual route running around them and up and over the dirt piles, I carefully wound my way through. I was still thinking about yesterday and what all of it meant, or if it meant anything at all. I didn’t make any resolutions this year, but I did make a promise to myself and that was to do more of what I wanted, and that meant saying no things that I didn’t want without apology. 19 days in I have been somewhat successful, but I am finding it hard to say no to someone without saying sorry first, or after, Rome wasn’t built in a day. What has been on my mind for the last few days is something that I really want to do, but as I said also out of my comfort zone. As coincidental or as accidental as falling flat on my face was, if I stopped doing things that I wanted to do which could hurt me or did hurt me, I wouldn’t use a knife, the stove or my flatiron, I likely wouldn’t speak to as many people as I do and may not even be married anymore. And there was my aha moment, since I haven’t taken the leap yet, perhaps slowing down and stepping out instead of wildly jumping off in my usual manner would be the way to do this one, and without apology.

Stanley on the ridge

Stanley on the ridge

December 31, 2015

What If?

I was told by a colleague recently that I wasn’t as perky as I used to be, or as I usually am, or as she was because she was leaving for somewhere sunny and warm in three days. Whatever she said or meant or was going, she was right.

Lately I feel like the highs and lows of my mood swings are in close comparison to those of my sixteen year old daughter. I find myself frequently making trips to her bathroom drawer to sneak a squeeze or two of her Clearasil and to use her mirror, the light seems so much better in there. I’m sure that there is a potion for aging hormonal skin, but that would be admitting that there is a problem, I could also wear the glasses that I oh so wanted two years ago as an accessory to change up my look, that are now more a necessity for things like reading labels and tweezing my eyebrows. And my once cycle that you could set your watch to, is now not so.

Earlier this week, after losing my shit on my husband for helping me, and clearly I needed help, so why not just say thank you, I met one of my close friends for lunch. She listened as I let loose about carnage of my morning; the ridiculousness of my emotional state and that I was over a week late. She responded with “are you pregnant?”. I scoffed and ordered a glass of wine. Later in the afternoon I went to my daughter’s hockey game. My parents were already there and sitting under the heater, I quickly slid in next to my Mum avoiding any eye contact and small talk with the few parents that do speak to me, and burst into tears as I told her about my crappy day, your Mum just has that kind of power. For a second time in a matter of hours, I was asked if I were pregnant, she even hoped it was a boy.

It’s funny what your mind does between 2:30 and 4:15am. My husband and I decided many years ago that we would not be having any more children and took the necessary steps to make it permanent. During the mayhem of my 40th birthday, I opened up the discussion about the possibility of reversing those changes, but realized quickly that having a baby won’t solve your problems; you have to solve your problems. I also became an Aunt for the first time, and got my baby fix whenever I wanted it, so I was able to adjust to midlife with a full 7 ½ hours of sleep each night. But what if I was pregnant now, there is always that one tiny chance. I immediately decided that I would not be taking my arthritis medication that morning, my daughter would still be playing in a hockey tournament in Langley so I could easily slip into a drug store there to pick up a pregnancy test without running into anyone I knew. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if it were positive although the search for the perfect patio would have to be put on hold at least for the summer, I could rework my work schedule, speed through my next 3 courses in 9 months to finish my Nutritional Practitioner designation, we have extra room in the house although I would need a bigger car. My brother was raising toddlers in his 40’s, why couldn’t I, but is a 17 year age difference between children too much? I just hope that the kids in his class (since my Mum had already determined my miracle baby’s sex) wouldn’t call me Grandma-Mum. My mind was settled for the moment and I was able to drift back to sleep for a few hours.

Alarm, snooze, alarm and the day began with groggy realization that the only reason that I would need to stop at the drug store would be if Starbucks didn’t have the newspaper.

Disappointed? Mayhaps. Relieved? Abso-freaking-lutely! And ultimately a very interesting way to finish a year, completely open to the possibility of whatever the New Year holds.

Wishing you and yours peace, good health and happiness from me and mine.

Cheers.

October 6, 2015

Bar Stool Musings: Social Graces and Sauvignon Blanc

One of the things that I look forward to most on a weekend, is enjoying a glass of wine with my husband at one of our favourite lounges. An hour to catch up, make plans, to daydream and it always tastes like another. We could do the same thing at home, and for half the cost, but this is one of those things that I don’t need to justify, it’s what we like to do.

Some like the privacy of a table, but we enjoy sitting at the bar, on a corner if possible so we aren’t side by side, unless of course there is a fabulous patio with the perfect sun/shade combination. I don’t think that we have achieved official Norm Peterson status yet, but we have got to know a few of the staff members at the establishments which we frequent and have come to enjoy a little banter with whomever is tending bar.

After visiting the local farmer’s market on Saturday we strolled over to our lounge in town (I’m not giving away all of my secrets yet). We met Scott early this summer, and have had great conversation with him. Saturday’s lounge was quiet and our talk quickly drifted to social etiquette, a matter close to my heart (and Scott’s) and have often thought about writing a book on this subject. I know for a fact that if I had had a second glass I would have publicly proclaimed that I would be writing said book, for now a blog post will have to suffice.

While there are the basic etiquette rules that should go without saying (be on time, how to address a person, how to use a knife and fork) there are social etiquette rules that are completely ignored:

  • Elevator etiquette – when the doors open, there is more than enough time to allow those to exit before you enter. If you aren’t exiting, move to the back of the elevator to allow those entering to step in. It is also the responsibility of those inside to know which floor you are on “oh, I didn’t realize that this was my floor” once the elevator has reloaded is not acceptable, PAY ATTENTION! This rule also applies when using public transit.
  • When driving, a simple wave is a courteous way to acknowledge thanks for letting me in or giving way, it’s just nice. It is also a very quick way to apologize for your dumbass lane change or close call. Receiving the “sorry I’m an idiot” wave should be reciprocated by removing the palm of your hand from your horn, you are not perfect either.
  • Refrain from speaking on your cell phone in public places (this includes in a restaurant, at the gym, the coffee shop, the nail bar and especially while someone is serving you). I don’t want to hear your conversation, and although you may think that you aren’t, you are speaking very loudly. And if you are wearing a bluetooth, you look foolish.
  • After waiting in the line-up for ten minutes at the coffee shop, when the barista asks you for your order, please do not respond with “oh, I’m not sure”. Really? And when you finally place your drink order, move towards the counter but don’t crowd it. Do you not feel the glare from the eight other sets of eyes behind you that were here before you? And don’t for a minute be so narcissistic to think that you are the only one who ordered a grande chai tea, 3 pump, non fat, lite water, no foam, extra hot latte.
  • When responding to an email that I had sent you, please spell my name correctly. It only takes a second, you don’t even have to scroll down to see my signature line, you hit reply, it’s at the top of your email.
  • Be a nice person. Smile back when someone smiles at you, say thank you when someone holds the door for you, don’t ask questions that are none of your business and if you don’t have something kind to say, just zip it.

Our banter could have easily turned into an episode of Matt Bellassai’s Whine About It, check him out, unless you have already judged my day drinking. In that case you would not find him the least bit funny, and likely shouldn’t be reading this blog either.

Besides a book deal that would turn into a guest host position with Kathie Lee and Hoda (I am available), what did I miss from the list by not having that second glass of wine?

September 29, 2015

Guest Post: Fall Back On Track

Indian River Juice, Fall Back on Track
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Photo: Indian River Juice