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Personal Leadership & The Leaders Who Lack It

wolfbreathThere is nothing worse than a person with power who lacks leadership. Take, for instance, most world leaders today. Most are egomaniacs with a side of masochism. Et voila! Welcome to the modern world of faster, more and who gives a damn.

This is your call to action. Each day we wake up and participate in the false global economy, and dawdle off to our nine-to-five so we can pay our bills, we have a choice. We can silently let the world and all of the unfairness in it go by, or we can choose to act in a way that honours our human instinct ( I do believe it’s an instinct) and follows the golden rule. In other words, we can be selfish wahoos, or individual leaders standing up for what’s right.

There have been times in my life when I’ve come home from school or work, ready to throw in the towel.

I have what I believe to be reasonable standards when it comes to how I treat other people, and how I expect to be treated. I expect to be treated with respect, and like to do the same to the people I encounter on a daily basis.  I do my best not to complain, gripe, gossip or bring negativity to the room when I enter it. After all, isn’t it nice to have a conversation that doesn’t make your gut clench with anxiety or reach for a tissue? Yes, yes it is.

Sometimes, ok, a lot of the time, we are in situations with ‘leaders’ who have about as much couth as a coyote in a henhouse. The ability to lead has very little to do with experience, education or seniority. It has to do with personal philosophy, spiritual cultivation, and knowing oneself. Now expecting those qualities from someone, my darlings, is having high expectations.

As I’ve aged (and yes, leaders with no leadership ability is exactly the type of thing that ages me), and matured, I’ve come to realize that trying to change, explain to, or negotiate with a person in power who lacks leadership is a complete and utter waste of time. It’s like wearing mascara to the steam bath. It just gets messy and ugly in a hurry.

The issue becomes not whether you can change someone else, it becomes how well you are able to know yourself, and control your own reactions. I had two great pieces of advice given to me when I was a teenager chomping at the bit of independence; first of all, you don’t go anywhere if you don’t step forward, secondly, and I quote, “Sweetie, there will always be assholes.”  I grew up in the country, this wasn’t really considered cursing, it was just a matter of fact.

If you too find yourself spending time brooding over someone who consistently and more frequently displays a lack of true leadership, don’t do anything. The reality is, you need to do and say nothing. You need to buck up, carry on, and not let anyone rock the firm foundation of who you are or what you stand for. You do not need to argue, rant, run or cry. When it comes to jobs and relationships, give it a thorough analysis, because wherever you go, an idiot will be there. I’m not saying stay in an abusive situation, but try not to take it personally.

Eventually, you do learn that it really isn’t you, it’s them, and oh my, how they must suffer living in such misery.

By doing nothing, not reacting, or buying the kind of crazy that leadership-lacking-leaders are selling, you create this little zone of discomfort. It’s in that zone, when leaders cannot affect your own control over yourself, that they get a little woozy. You see, they thrive off your discomfort, and when you cut that little supply of nourishing misery off, they starve.  If none of their bullying tactics work,  it may prompt a little self-reflection. Don’t bet on it though. Just bet on yourself, and don’t forget sweetie, “…there will always be assholes.” Don’t let them recruit you.


by: Veronica A. Shoffstall

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn…
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth…
And you learn and learn…
With every good-bye you learn.

Do not let a leader who lacks personal leadership spoil your day. As the great Jimmy Buffett once sung, “…breathe in, breathe out, move on…”

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Luxe Gifts For Women

You know how I feel about over-spending, over-shopping, and basically being taken, hook, line and sinker by the flashy adverts extolling excess, gluttony, and greed. If you don’t, I’ll summarize; It’s hogwash.

However, should you require a very special gift for the Princess in your life, and don’t know where to begin, let me help you.

If you’re going to go overboard, do it whole-heartedly with abandon.

You may also require a bank loan, 12 shots of Christmasy tequila, or, perhaps a new lady-love with lower expectations. But we don’t judge here do we ladies? No. We just dole out advice, and then sit back with your dainty crystal-wear filled with some wonderful southern comfort.

So, for those looking for that je ne sais quoi over-the-top-glitz-gift, I offer up a list of indulgent gifts and experiences.

Luxe Gifts for Your Christmas Princess

1) A sparkly bangle. Think of it as a 50 Shades reminder of your hold on her.

14 Carat Gold, Twisted Diamond Bangle
14 Carat Gold, Twisted Diamond Bangle

2) How about a nice little weekend property in the Cayman Islands. Just connect with one of the locals and voila – she’s putty in your sandy hands.

Nothing says, "I love you", like a few cool million.
Nothing says, “I love you”, like a few cool million.

3) Ok, let’s not get carried away. How about a simple handbag?

Leiber Precious Rose Bag - $92,000  This unique little gem boasts,  1,016 diamonds(42.56 carats), 1,169 pink sapphires and 800 tourmalines. LIke your lady-love, there is only one of these to be had.
Leiber Precious Rose Bag – $92,000
This unique little gem boasts, 1,016 diamonds(42.56 carats), 1,169 pink sapphires and 800 tourmalines. LIke your lady-love, there is only one of these to be had.

4) How about Maison Victor’s diamond ring-ed dildo. Ideal for the couple who travel independently. Nothing says I love you like 8 inches of white gold and diamonds.

For just over $55,000, it's the gift that just keeps on giving...
For just over $55,000, it’s the gift that just keeps on giving…

5) One of my favourite romantic gifts is a case of something bubbly, labeled with dates and events during which you will pop the cork and enjoy a bottle of something cool and refreshing with your lady-love. Think events like; First Snow Storm , Valentine’s Day, Evening before our Winter Get-Away…..

For the woman who expects the best, why not try a moderately priced bottle of Dom Perignon, which you can order through our local Ontario Vintages?

I was an arts major, but even I know that 12x$222.95 = getting lucky for sure!
I was an arts major, but even I know that 12x$222.95 = getting lucky for sure!

6) For Princess you are just beginning to court, how about a nice, unassuming box of chocolates? How about some Knipschildt truffles? Recognized as the most expensive chocolate in the world….half a dozen should do it! Add a bottle of Dom, and you’ve provided a little snackie-poo for the princess’s next bath.



7) If you’re ready for a commitment, why not pop the question and offer you hand in matrimonial bliss, along with this humble symbol of your undying adoration from Tiffany?

The answer will be yes, yes, YES!!!
The answer will be yes, yes, YES!!!



8) If your Princess is a bit of an intellectual like myself (I prefer being called, “Duchess”, as Princess is too naïve for me), how about a good book? Perhaps one of two copies of  Ptolemy’s 1477 Cosmography? Don’t ask me how, where or if this is available, but you’re a man right? There’s nothing like overcoming a challenge to impress your little lady. Go for it cowboy.

Knowledge - Priceless!
Knowledge – Priceless!


9) If you can afford these gifts, your Princess’s number one complaint will be that you don’t get to spend enough time together. So, why not buy her the gift of companionship. After all those who say that money can’t buy happiness, just don’t know where to shop darling!

Search your local directory for escort services near you. She may be offended at first, but trust me, after spending a few days with her new BFF, she’ll be living in paradise. Besides that, what will she do if she has to change the batteries in her new toy – I’m sure this gentleman could help while you’re out-of-town.



10) How about a little getaway to Nygard Cay to  refresh and rejuvenate the princess. If you can’t go, I’m sure you can find an escort to keep her company and see to it that her needs are met.

nygard cay





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Gift Guide for Teenage Boys

Cufflinks I: Men Prefer SWANK
Cufflinks I: Men Prefer SWANK (Photo credit: jessica @ flickr)

As the mother of a boy, I have always been disappointed by the lack of gift ideas for them. Unless they’re connected to the computer or video games, there seems to be a black hole of gift guides for the young gentlemen in your life.

So, as a gift to you this Christmas, I offer up a selection of possible gifts for teenage boys.

Gift Giving Guide for Teenage Boys

1) High quality finery such as a set of cuff links, a silk tie, a dress shirt, and dapper dress socks

2) A great set of headphones for their iPod/iPhone

3) A selection of classic rock.

4) Toiletries that will make him feel like the great gentleman he’s developing into being; shaving soap, shaving brush, cologne, nail trimming set

5) A classic book such as Hemingway’s ‘The Old Man & The Sea’

6) The gift of time; take him to a museum, gallery, dinner or concert

7) Sports Equipment

8) Fly fishing lessons

9) Bedroom makeover, including new bedding, new art, and new lighting

10) Again, the gift of time – instead of a gift card, take him for lunch, dinner, brunch, and to his favourite shop where he can choose an item of clothing of his choice.

Wishing everyone a joyful Christmas surrounded by people you love!

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What Were They Thinking

Boys Play with Toy Guns in Bagram, Afghanistan
Boys Play with Toy Guns in Bagram, Afghanistan (Photo credit: United Nations Photo)

Tonight, immediately after work, I travelled to my physicians office to refill the prescription that helps me put up with other people’s stupid shit. Seriously.

After a leisurely drive through city-rush-hour traffic, I dropped of the script and then I picked up the kiddo. We headed home to enjoy the first real day of spring. Pulling into our little piece of urban-heaven, I said, “Mmmm! Smell that! They just cut the grass.” The kiddo turned to me and smiled. Yes! Spring has finally arrived!

We scrambled to the kitchen and unpacked our lunches, tossed a load of laundry in the washer, and headed outside to scrub our Adirondack chairs and sweep the lonely patio. Our poor miniature parrot had to get in on the festivities, and after being manhandled in a crib sheet (yah, I’m not going to get into that), she is also enjoying the 24 degree (centigrade for my American pals) weather.

With the patio cleaned, dinner in the oven, laundry washing and the parrot out for the first time in months, my kiddo and I settled in to our ‘happy hour’ routine. I with a glass of wine and triple-cream-brie and he with a sandwich and glass of milk, settled in for a long spring-day chat.

Until I heard…”POP! POP!POP”

After my tumbler of wine, I was pretty relaxed. Until that racket started again.

Now, where I come from, it wasn’t uncommon for boys to carry BB Guns and shoot squirrels, or cats, or your bike tires. In the city it’s another story. For a minute, I thought my new neighbor was having a lot of trouble with his BBQ lighter, but it quickly became apparent that no BBQ that hadn’t exploded already ever sounded like that.

After a second rather insistent round of the loud popping, which, incidentally made my parrot crap, I decided to get up and see who the a-hole was disturbing the peace.

Ah yes. My neighbours. Wonderful…they’ve outfitted their teenage boys with play cap-guns. Do I even need to explain why this may not be the ideal leisure activity for young men immigrating to North American in the midst of violent religious-political upheaval in their own part of the world?

Thank you universe for delectable wines available for just under $12.95. Please make the noise stop. Please, please, please don’t make me go up there and give the parent’s of those poor kids a cap-gun enema.

We really need to vote for peace, social justice and common sense here in Canada before the courage-enabling LCBO and religious law meet on the battlefield.

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Gifts reveal the Giver

“Remember, the greatest gift is not found in a store nor under a tree, but in the hearts of true friends.”

This weekend, I had a discussion about the delicacy of gift giving. The haggaring duty of it, and the joy it can be as well.What kind of gift giver are you? The reality is, many of us are obligated gift givers. We buy for occasions which are dictated by etiquette.Each year, at about this time, I get an unsolicited email from my ex-husband. Usually the subject line is something like; Birthday and Christmas gift ideas. Every year when it arrives, I have a good laugh at the irony,but know that I will likely assist our kiddo in choosing a gift or two from this list.

I often say I don’t like giving lists because I don’t like people to feel obligated, but maybe it’s becaue I like surprises. As odd as it seems to me,  my ex-husband’s list makes my life easier. I know that these are things he won’t buy for himself, and I know that he will be happy with the gift.

Whichever school of thought you belong to – the list or not to list – you’re right.  Gift giving is a tricky business. The gifts you give reveal a lot about you and your relationship with the gift-getter.

I have had wonderful gifts that were also heartbreaking. When I was younger, I was given very expensive gifts of clothing. Clothing that I would never, ever wear because it was not a reflection of who I was. I felt like the giver was trying to tell me to change my image. I know it’s hard to believe, being as fabulous as I am, but I’m a socks, underwear and a book kinda girl. Walking around flashing designer names makes me feel like a dickwad.

Another example of heartbreaking gifts were from a previous true-love-of mine .He gave me wonderful gifts.  All of his  gifts were beautiful, but they were things he knew (without a doubt) that I did not like. Again, they were gifts with a message; change who you are.

Then there are gifts from children. These are not heartbreaking gifts, because they are from children, not adults who need therapy. My very favourite, I-love-this-so-I’m-buying-it-for-you-gift was  from my kiddo. Many years ago,  there was one package under the tree for me. It was a box about 8″x8″x8″. My kiddo would put it in my lap each night the week before Christmas, and make me shake it.  By the time the week was up, he had me convinced that whatever was in that box was abso-freaking-lutely marvelous.

Christmas morning came, and I opened the box. It was filled with….are you ready for this? It was filled with three pieces of plastic fruit; an apple, an orange and a banana. Yes, for a four-year-old, plastic fruit is wonderful, and holds all the potential of a four-year-old’s endless imagination. I kept that fruit in the centrepiece on the kitchen table for two years because he was so proud of having bought me a gift.

Giving gifts you think someone will love makes you happy. Thus the popular saying, ” It is better to give than to receive.”

I offer you a few thoughts about gift giving options;

Gift Cards – can be interpreted as a very lazy way out of shopping for something meaningful OR can be a wonderful gift for someone saving for a specific item at a specific shop

Homemade Gifts – when I was a kid, I always felt a little ripped off with the whole let’s-make-our-gifts. As an adult, I realize how precious those gifts are, and the love that goes in to them. Give me a homemade gift any day. If someone has taken the time to make me a gift, they have taken the time to keep me in their heart.

Boy-Girl-Romance Gifts – I can only give a short list of what women want, because what men want is a mystery to me.  Women love flowers, jewelry, perfume and luxurious clothing (ie leather gloves, beautiful scarves, delicate nighties), and a ‘date-night’ to frame the moment.

Gift of Time – as we get older, and life takes on a constant buzz of obligation, the gift of time is more precious than any. So what if it’s only during the holidays that we make the time?  It’s not hypocrisy, it’s an annual time  to catch up, to stare at the twinkling lights, dream out loud, drink hot chocolate and laugh.

Heirloom Gifts – when someone gives me a gift that belonged to someone special in their life, I feel truly blessed. These gifts say, ‘You are my family of choice.”

Too often I see gifts given because there is obligation. “Do you think this is enough?” I heard this growing up every birthday, Christmas, wedding and occasion.

The question is, does the giver think that it’s enough? Is it thoughtful? Is it within your means? Will it make the person receiving it smile, breathe easier, and feel good?

If it comes from the heart, it is enough.

I guarantee if you cut down on giving gifts you feel obligated to give, and give to those who make your life worthwhile every day, you’ll be a much more fulfilled gift giver.