Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

December 25th means something different to us all. In fact, to some of us, it has no meaning at all. And you know what? That's okay! There is NO right OR wrong answer!

My hope is that you're having a wonderful day regardless of what it does or doesn't mean to you and that you're enjoying it doing whatever makes it meaningful to you or at least makes you happy. Such activities can include but are not limited to playing Rock Band and Grand Theft Auto with your roommates or friends; going to church; spending time with your family or significant other; sleeping all day; watching concert DVDs or Seinfeld re-runs with your dog.

To each, his or her own after all!

With love,


Monday, December 20, 2010

Links to Interesting Studies and the My Need to Question and Critique

Hi Everyone:

'Tis the season to be jolly? I say 'tis the season to get sick.

I just read an interesting study ( about echinacea not being as effective in preventing or shortening the common cold as some of us thought.

Personally, I've tried echinacea and while I think it may have prevented me from getting a cold or two in the past, I wonder how much of this perceived "prevention" was due to placebo effect as opposed to reality. Then again, I have at least a friend or two who swears by the stuff. It's really up to your experience and what you believe to be true or not.

This study challenged me to question what previous studies have said, for as a journalist (and a curious person in general), I believe it is important to question everything I read rather than automatically assume and/or believe that it is true. Although I acknowledge that doing so is not always easy as I have my personal views, convictions and biases, I do my best to use my brain efficiently and question things. By doing so, I better understand why I think the way or believe what I do and it makes my beliefs and convictions stronger. "Just because" doesn't cut it for me. Then again, I am only human (as Alexander Pope said, "To err is human...") and will probably never master this area, but at least I can do my best!

I also plan to never stop striving to be more open-minded and respectful of other people's opinions as theirs are as equally valid as mine. The world would be a more peaceful place if we could just agree to disagree rather than argue about who is "right" and who is "wrong" (life is full of grey areas after all) and not put people down because their views differ from our own. If we want to be respected, should we not respect others as well? Alas, I digress...

And for those fine folks who are interested in the animal kingdom, including mating rituals - how 'bout them she-squirrels (



*Updated January 2, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Meet Red Chair HR: A Celebration of People Award Nominee

Tonight's Celebration of People (a collaborative partnership of community organizations, which include lead partner Citizen Advocacy of Ottawa, Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre, CNIB, East Region, Ontario, providing services and programs for people with disabilities) Awards Dinner is the ninth annual event of its kind. The awards presentation coincides with December 3 - designated by the United Nations as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

The awards "recognize the achievements and contributions of individuals, businesses and organizations promoting accessibility, inclusion and full community participation by citizens with disabilities" (

One of the nominees in the Employment category is Red Chair HR.

Red Chair is unique because it "is the only private staffing service available in Canada that specifically accommodates people with disabilities in finding and securing temporary, freelance and permanent work placement. Through education, employers learn of the benefits of an inclusive and diverse workplace; while employees with disabilities have access to skill marketing, résumé writing and interview preparation services" (

"We skill market people's talents and abilities to potential clients," Kimberley Butler, the founding president and CEO of the agency, told me during a chat late this morning.

"We really make sure we connect with that person, so we know what their intentions are and what they want ... I don't feel people should just settle (for any job)."

Butler, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis earlier this year, started the agency in March, as a way to help both herself and others (

She added: "I feel there's a huge business case for hiring professionals with disabilities and an inclusive and diverse corporate culture. Red Chair is part of that culture."

I agree! Bonne chance tonight, Red Chair HR!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

OpenFile: Dahlia's First Published Article on the Site and Your Chance to Suggest News Stories!

Hi Everyone!

Here's the link ( to my first OpenFile article, which was published yesterday.

OpenFile is a collaborative community news site in the capital.

If readers believe there is a local issue that should be covered, they can make their suggestions by visiting (surprise surprise), signing up and opening a file. A journalist will then be assigned to write the story. After all, journalists are meant to be "the voice of the people," right?

I attended OpenFile's launch party at the Spin Bar & Kitchen (at the bottom of The Marriott at 100 Kent) last night and spoke with founder Wilf Dinnick (a former CCN correspondent who has also worked at news outlets such as ABC News and CBC) who said that while 10% of Torontonians were suggesting stories at one point, that number has now risen to 40%! Wilf is hoping the number will go up to 80%, so his freelancers will suggest the remaining 20% of ideas.

I wholeheartedly agree with him: we, as journalists, SHOULD be covering stories that aren't being told and doing so from angles that haven't yet been thought of! And what better way to do that than with the help of you, our dear readers and fellow Ottawans?!

I'm so happy that OpenFile has arrived in the Capital and look forward to penning more stories that matter for the site.

I also think that my editor Nick Taylor-Vaisey's business card sums it up best: "Your story is the news"!

Power to the people!

Monday, November 22, 2010

OIW's Book Fair (Nov. 20th-21st): Jim Watson's Visit Symbolizes Appreciation and Support of the Arts and Culture

Ars longa, vita brevis (Art is long, life is short) - ANONYMOUS

I had a wonderful time at the Ottawa Independent Writers' (OIW) Book Fair (Nov. 20th-21st) at Dominican College yesterday .

I helped my client sell one of his earlier self-published books and caught up with a writer/editor friend (I hadn't seen her in a while!). I networked with fellow writers and met two potential clients.

In addition, I met mayor-elect Mr. Jim Watson who dropped by the event!

Watson's (who takes office Dec. 1st) pleasant banter with writers and book-buying enthusiasts and mere presence sent a clear message to the arts and non-arts communities: I support culture and believe it is an important part of Ottawa.

After all, we know that our current Mayor Larry O'Brien (who Watson beat with a landslide victory in the Oct. 24th election) would have never considered attending such an event because it wasn't corporate enough. Sorry it wasn't focused on Landsdowne, Larry boy!

Thank you, Dominican College, for allowing the OIW to host its book fair on your humble premises.

Thank you, dear writers (and book-buyers!), for making the day so enjoyable!

And last but not least, thank you, Mr. Watson, for reminding us that we will finally have a mayor who supports and appreciates the value of the arts!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembering Those Who Fought for Freedom!

Happy Remembrance Day, everyone!

Today is the day we remember and silently give thanks to the (mostly) men and women who willingly gave their lives to fight for freedom. Such a sacrifice must not be disregarded.

According to CBC News (, this November 11th marked the first time there were no surviving World War I veterans.

It was also a first for Gov. Gen. David Johnston to preside over a Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa, which drew over 30,000 people. Johnston is the Armed Forces' new commander-in-chief.

Ceremonies were held throughout Canada as well as abroad.

At the cenotaph at Kandahar Airfield, relatives of fallen soldiers were among more than 200 people who gathered to pay their respects.

Wreaths were placed and flags lowered to half-mast to honour the 152 Canadians killed in Afghanistan since 2002.

The commander of the Canadian mission in Kandahar, Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner told the crowd it is worth recalling that the soldiers being honoured died for the "common cause of freedom and human decency."

"It is important that we take the time to mark this day, especially here in Afghanistan," Milner said. "[It is] a place which is so close to the sacrifices made by the brave men and women who fought in this theatre"

Milner's colleague, Lt.-Col. Doug Claggett, welcomed the families to the base.

"It's obviously hard for them, but the fact is they are able to come over here and meet the serving soldiers," said the chief of staff of Canada's Task Force Afghanistan. "This is our way to extend our thanks to their sacrifice"

Prime Minister Stephen Harper marked Remembrance Day in Seoul, Korea, where he is attending the G20 summit. He placed a wreath at the Korean War Memorial to pay respect to the 516 Canadian soldiers who lost their lives between 1950 to 1953.

"Today we honour and remember those members of the Canadian Forces who fought in one of the toughest wars in our history, to defend South Korea against an oppressive communist invader," Harper said in a statement. "Our forces fought bravely alongside our allies to defend South Korea and played a pivotal part in ending the hostilities"

Whether or not someone supports war is irrelevant. We, as Canadians, all value and cherish peace, freedom and democracy.

For people who want to replace the red poppies with white ones, I say shame on you for wanting to end an age-long tradition. Remembrance Day honours the war dead - those who gave their lives of their own volition for freedom and justice - not the act of war itself. There is nothing wrong with honouring bravery and valour!

As for Premier Dalton McGuinty whose priorities were introducing HST and creating then cancelling a flawed eco tax over making Remembrance Day a statutory holiday in Ontario? Don't get me started. I expect this situation to occur in Quebec not in Ontario; however, I will refrain from going off on a rant about our incompotent weasel of a premier.

After all, my blog is about the courageous soldiers not the anything but brave McGuinty.

Thank you, dear soliders! We will never forget!

Friday, October 22, 2010

My Latest Article - Cupcakes Abound in Ottawa!

Hi Everyone!

I know it's been a while since you last heard from me.

Let's just say that I have been *busy* BEYOND belief!

Anyway, please check out the following link ( to my latest article.

It's about a very sweet topic!


Monday, October 4, 2010

Happy October - Here's a Link to a Past Article!

Happy October, everyone!

Life has been and continues to be extremely busy, one reason being that I am editing a client's manuscript (non-fiction).

However, I am finally blogging again and encourage you to check out one of past my articles published during my undergrad. It can be found at:

Later this month, I will have an article published in (Cult)ure magazine, and let's just say that it's about a deliciously sweet topic. Oh, and it's not about a past Madonna album (and a great tour as well!).

Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

In Remembrance of 9/11

Today marks the ninth anniversary of 9/11 - the day 2,752 innocent people were killed when Islamic terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center Towers, the Pentagon and the fields of Pennsylvania. It will forever be etched in our minds, a day that the unthinkable occurred. Alas, the hatred and evil of those jihadists exists in the hearts of other like-minded Islamists around the globe.

Former first lady Mrs. Laura Bush, whose husband was president when the attacks occurred, said on 9/11, "We saw the worst of our enemies, and the best of our nation."

First Lady Mrs. Michelle Obama added that she was "filled with awe of the heroism of her fellow [American] citizens."

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who opened the commemoration, said, "No other public tragedy has cut our city so deeply. No other place is as filled with our compassion, our love and our solidarity."

Indeed, the strength, unity and determination of the American people is what helped them move forward and rebuild.

President Barack Obama said, "We have to make sure that we never start turning on each other. And I will do everything that I can, as long as I am president of the United States, to remind the American people that we are one nation under God" (

I agree that Islam was not responsible for the 9/11 attacks; however, radical and fundamentalist Islam was - one that hates freedom, goodness, peace, and life itself.

I fully support the right to worship and practice one's religion freely. However, building a Muslim cultural center and mosque near Ground Zero is distasteful, insensitive and disrespectful of the victims who lost their lives. There are many other sites to choose from, which is why the push for this particular location is illogical (

I pray that as America's resolve continues to strengthen, all of its citizens remember the importance of living together in a harmonious and respectful manner without abusing the word "phobia" to get their way.

God bless America!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Call for Action Regarding Mental Illness!

Mental illness does not discriminate against age or sex. In fact, one in every five Canadians will have a mental illness at some point in their lives, says The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) (

According to a Carmen Chai's article in today's Ottawa Citizen, mental illness costs the Canadian economy $51 billion in lost productivity per year (

A study conducted by Carolyn Dewa, a researcher at The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), found alarming differences between physical disability and mental health disability leaves. The average short-term physical disability leave is 33 days, the main reasons being respiratory, muscular-skeletal, digestive or injury-related. Each case costs an average of $9,000.

Depression, anxiety and and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), on the other hand, are the mental illnesses that appear the most in the Canadian workplace. Leading to an average leave of 65 days, each case foots a $18,000 bill.

Despite this fact, Canada remains the only G8 country without a national mental health strategy to combat the problem. This is a shame and failure on our part to meet the needs of our own people.

The World Health Organization (WHO) projects that by 2020, depression will reach 2nd place on the ranking of disability adjusted life years (DALYs) calculated for men and women of all ages. Today, the illness is already the 2nd cause of DALYs for those aged between 15-44 years of age (

The tragedy is that about 850,000 people take their own lives each year.

Suicide accounts for 24 per cent of deaths among 15-24 year olds and 16% among 16-44 year olds in Canada (

Still, the suicide rate among Aboriginal youth is higher: 2 to 3 times higher than that of their non-Aboriginal counterparts in Canada. Aboriginals aged 15-25 who live on a reserve are six times more likely to commit suicide than youth who do not (

The wait time to receive professional mental health services (not to mention access to sexual abuse specialists) in Northern Canada is downright disturbing.

The bottom line is that the stigma against mental illness has lasted long enough! More needs to be be done to help Canadians who are living with mental illness as well as those who are helping them. Our politicians need to wake up and listen. Statistics can no longer be ignored!

Tomorrow, the CMHA is teaming up with Friends of Emmet (a band from Dublin, Ireland) for a benefit concert for suicide prevention in recognition of World Suicide Prevention Day at the Bronson Centre in Ottawa.

However, there are many ways you too can do your part. You can write to your elected representatives or make a donation to the CMHA (

You can also visit the Mental Health Commission of Canada
( to learn about its ongoing initiatives and efforts to establish a national mental health strategy.

Launched in June 2008, the Canada Post Foundation for Mental Health raises money to support mental health research throughout the country. The Foundation raised over $1.5 billion in 2009 and is always accepting donations at Its mental health stamp is
available at post offices nationwide.

Furthermore, regular citizens must join with the voices of more prominent ones such as Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson (his sister is battling with Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD), former figure skater Elizabeth Manley (she struggled with depression in her late teens) and Margaret Trudeau (she has bipolar disorder), to fight and, ultimately, defeat the stigma attached to mental illness as well as get our government to listen and take appropriate action!

Monday, August 30, 2010

My Latest Articles and Some Bon Jovi Album News

Happy Monday, everyone!

I trust you all had a good weekend and got enough shut-eye.

Speaking of sleep, my latest article ( is about the topic. I must warn you that some of my research is a tad scary.

I also just noticed that my Jewel CD review( was published on August 24th.

By the way, I have GREAT news for my fellow Bon Jovi fans: The band's second greatest hits album (the first was 1994's Cross Road: The Best of Bon Jovi) will be released on November 9th! The album will feature songs ("It's My Life" immediately popped into my head) from These Days (1995) onward. I've already written this important date on my calendar! You can listen to the first single "What Do You Got" on

Happy reading AND listening!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Great Irshad Manji Article

Hi Everyone:

Please read Irshad Manji's latest article when you have a chance:

Manji is an intelligent and passionate Muslim reformer who writes to challenge all minds and to encourage her fellow moderates to join her.

I remember hearing her speak at Carleton University in Fall 2004. She was candid and confident despite the anger of the more fundamentalist male Muslims in the room who argued and yelled during question period, refusing to listen to what she had to say. Godspeed, my friend.

By the way, pick up a copy of The Trouble With Islam (it once went under the title The Trouble With Islam Today) if you haven't read it already.

Have a great day!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Yet Another New Article - Treating Mental Illness Creatively

Mental illness is an issue dear to my heart and one that certainly needs to be more understood and less stigmatized.

Here is the link to my second article of the week:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sunday, August 8, 2010

My Weight Training and Weight Loss Update

Things are going well with my weight training and the meal plan that I'm following. I'm focused and driven and enjoying eating healthy (sesame Ezekiel 4:9 bread is the BEST!). In less than two months, I've lost *16* pounds!

Although I am determined to succeed, I must thank my trainers, Craig and Allan, and my husband, Matt, without whom I would be unable to stay committed. Their encouragement and support are crucial. I especially want to thank Allan and Craig for challenging me and sharing their fitness wisdom about meals and exercise techniques. In no way, have I ever felt judged or inadequate. For the first time in my life, I actually look forward to working out!

I'm feeling better both mentally and physically and enjoying retiring clothing that is too loose or wearing apparel that I have not worn in a very long time. I also like being able to buy tops that are a size smaller!

In addition, I'm proud of how my strength and endurance has increased, i.e. how many more knee tucks I can do and heavier weights I can lift, etc., since I first started training. Alas, I was so doubtful at first.

I will close for now but applaud and encourage anyone who is on a similar journey to create a new and healthier self you. Always remember that the only person you can change is yourself and that you are WORTH it!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

My Latest Article - Project TEMBO

Hi Everyone!

Here's the link ( to my latest article about Project TEMBO, a great Canadian charity that is devoted to an extremely important cause.

By the way, my Lilith Fair article should be published any day now. Thanks for your patience. Have a great night!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ban the Burqa? Mais Oui!

A Leger Marketing online poll found that 54% of Canadians surveyed said the government should follow France's lead and ban burqa-wearing in public for safety and transportation reasons.

The web survey was conducted between July 19-22 and answered by 1,526 respondants, reported Laura Payton of the QMI Agency Parliamentary Bureau in today's Ottawa Sun.

Personally, I applaud France and Quebec for what they are doing. Burqas cover the entire body with a mesh over the face.

Still, I would go further and also ban the niqab, which leaves only the eyes uncovered.

It has been said by Muslims and former Muslims alike that the hijab and other coverings are more cultural than religious.

In her "Let's Pull the Veil off our Minds" article on October 14, 2006, Raheel Raza, a Muslim-Canadian who is a public speaker, freelance journalist and activist, wrote: "Contrary to some people's (views), covering the face is not a religious requirement for Muslim women. The injunction in the (Qur'an) is for modesty (for both men and women). Some Muslim women interpret this as covering their head with a scarf or chador."

According to Moroccan sociologist and researcher Fatima Mernissi, the only specific reference to veiling in the Qur'an is Surah 24:31, which tells women to cover their bosoms and ornaments. The passage was later interpreted as meaning that women should hide all body parts except the hands, feet, and possibly the face. However, many argue that this inference is illogical because if the reference was intended for the entire body, there would be no need for the specific mention of the bosom.

Muslim Canadian Congress founder Tarek Fatah, who has been pushing for a ban on burqas, said, "Progressive and liberal Muslims have been leading the fight against this abomination for the last 100 years. This is one of the ugliest aspects of political Islam that has been imported into Canada and other western countries."

When you come to Canada, you must assimiliate to various degrees.

In his "Masking the Truth" article in The Globe and Mail on March 27, 2006, Prof. Mohammad Qadeer wrote: "In pluralist and democratic societies, women have won equality after a long struggle. The niqab is a symbol of self-inflicted inequality and exclusion. Someone may argue that it is a right of an individual to wear what she likes. Yet all rights have limits. Your right to conceal your face infringes others' right to know who you are."

He added: "Even doctrinal Islam has no unanimity about a woman covering her face.... Muslim women living in the West can practise modesty with the hijab or in other suitable ways that allow the face to be visible. Concealment of the face is neither religiously necessary nor socially desirable."

P.S. You can read Payton's Sun article at:

You can also read Raza and Qadeer's articles respectively at: and

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Long Live Lilith!

My hubby and I were in Toronto yesterday for Lilith Fair and despite the rain, we had an AMAZING time!

Amidst cancellations in cities that included Montreal, Lilith drew thousands of enthusiastic fans (predominantly female) to hear Sarah McLachlan and her all-star musical line-up.

McLachlan was joined by artists that included Mary J. Blige, Chantal Kreviazuk, Lights and Court Yard Hounds (two of the Dixie Chicks).

Although Blige stole the show and got the place dancing, McLachlan stole the audience's hearts and had them singing along for most songs starting with one of her biggest hits, Angel.

There are not many festivals where you can pay to hear almost eight and a half hours of incredible music by talented and successful female artists from Canada and the United States such as McLachlan, Blige, Kreviazuk, Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crow, Erykah Badu, and others.

When asked by Self what part of Lilith 2010 means the most to her, McLachlan said, "The community that is created for the musicians and the audience. There are few places for people to connect like at Lilith."

I couldn't agree more!

P.S. Stay tuned for my (Cult)ure magazine review/article of Lilith Fair and its history within the week.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mindfulness and Respect

I despise ignorance and disrespect.

Yesterday, I overheard a guy and a gal discussing something so frivolous that I can't even recall what it was about. What did grab my attention was when he said that he felt like a Holocaust survivor and laughed. Someone told him to watch what he was saying. I turned around and said that my grandfather was a Holocaust survivor and not to joke about that. He became defensive and said he was quoting South Park. A fool quoting a foolish show.

My paternal dziadek (Polish for "grandfather") was one out of six in his family to survive the Holocaust (a word of Greek origin that means "sacrifice by fire"). Dziadek Liwsze (God rest his soul) spent most of his time in two (Buchenwald and Dachau) concentration camps (eight in total) where he was forced to make V1 missiles for the Nazis.

He did not talk about the war for the longest time until he finally broke down one day and told my father. He cried as he spoke of the horror and the tragedy, of the hatred and evil capable of humanity.

Imagine watching your parents and siblings get slaughtered because they were Jewish. Imagine being a child and losing everything because you were Jewish.

"Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed....Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never" (Elie Wiesel, Night, chapter 3, pg. 32).

Even claiming to "innocently" joke about the genocide of six million innocent Jews(or the genocide of Rwandans or others) is no laughing matter. You should be downright ashamed of yourself.

Remember how your mother always used to tell you to think before you spoke? And how it was important to respect others? If only we would heed her wise advice more.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sexual Assault Victims Need Due Help!

"I'm totally horrified. Someone actually calling the police, telling the police, agreeing to go to the hospital and then getting turned away?" sexual assault victim Jenn Farr told The Ottawa Sun this past week.

The 38-year-old Ottawa resident and activist who was raped twice in the past 14 years was finally able to speak in public after a young sexual assault victim was turned away from the Ottawa Hospital on July 4th.

"The last one was eight years ago," said Farr at the rally at the Human Rights Monument on Lisgar and Elgin streets this past Tuesday. "It took that much time. This is my coming out."

As reported by the Sun, the 21-year-old victim was drugged and raped in Sandy Hill at about 3 a.m. When she was brought to the Civic to get a rape kit done, there was no sexual assault nurse available despite his or her presence being required.

Not only was this victim told that she could not shower but that she would have to return the next day. Her only option was to seek hospital services in Renfrew or Cornwall.

This is disgusting and a further victimization of those who have already been victimized! The hospital's excuse? A staffing shortage. Unacceptable!

Unfortunately, this scenario has occurred more than once as an undisclosed number of victims were denied immediate treatment at the Ottawa Hospital in June and June. As Kenneth Jackson reported in yesterday's Sun article, three were turned away on one weekday in June.

While the hospital has apologized and said that this would never happen again, words will never speak louder than actions.

"No, sorry is not good enough," said Concillia Muonde, spokesperson for the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa.

The apology is too late and it's very little."

According to yesterday's Metro Ottawa, police say that eight women are sexually assaulted everyday, but only one reports the incident.

A petition with hundreds of signatures will be delivered to the Ottawa Hospital Civic Campus administration, the City of Ottawa, and provincial and federal governments yesterday, organizers said.

Let's hope that the message is heard!

The grassroots protest was organized by a group of people who were "deeply concerned," Julie Lalonde, co-ordinator of the Carleton Sexual Assault Support Line, told Metro.

"This [was] to show people out there that this is something people care about and survivors have someone out there that cares about them."

Using the "survivor" rather than "victim" is empowering and reminds the girl or woman that there are people ready to help and that healing will eventually come.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please call The Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa 24/7 Crisis Line at (613) 234-2266.

You can also call the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre at (613) 562-2333.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day, everyone!

I hope you're all celebrating our beautiful and wonderful country's 143rd birthday in some form or another OR at least wearing something old, something new, something borrowed, or something red, white or maple-leafed!

Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating Canada's big day in the Capital, so make sure you have your camera on you in case you spot her!

According to an article in today's Ottawa Sun, an estimated 20,000 Canadians joined the Queen on the Hill this morning to commemorate Canada's 1-4-3 and her "home away from home."

Yesterday morning, I spoke with a nice Greek-Canadian woman who said that her friend's son had written in to Rideau Hall humbly requesting that the Queen come to his home for a BBQ. To the boy's surprise, he received a response from Rideau Hall saying that her Royal Highness had been delighted to receive his invitation but asked that he join her for dinner at Rideau Hall that night instead. Imagine the bragging rights he has among his little friends!

Whether you agree or disagree with our leaders' style of governance or believe that monarchy is archaic and unnecessary or represents honour and tradition, you must still respect those who lead our country. We live in a free, peaceful, and democratic country where both men and women have rights such as voting, education and work opportunities, and you need not fear being gunned down by terrorists or guerillas when you leave your home. We have clean water and food is plentiful. We are so blessed yet too often take this reality for granted.

God bless Canada, and God save the Queen!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

An Oldie but Goodie

Here's the link to one of my Ottawa Sun articles -


Tortoise Power

I finished The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo yesterday (GREAT read!) and am on the library's waiting list for The Girl Who Played With Fire!

For anyone looking for a fun read, I recommend Jessica Grant's Come, Thou Tortoise. I'm 1/4 through the book and enjoying its wit and humour, struggling not to laugh at loud on the bus.

Heroine, Audrey Flowers, lives in Portland, Oregon with her tortoise, Winnifred. When her father falls into a coma (or "comma" as Audrey keeps calling it), she leaves her faithful companion, Win, behind with her friend, Linda, and Linda's boyfriend, Chuck, and heads back home to St. John's, Newfoundland. Like heroine, like author. Audrey's father dies as she flies over the continent, and matters are further complicated when her Uncle Thoby (did I mention that Audrey isn't the world's greatest speller?) takes off for England. Separated from Win, Audrey stumbles on a mystery that becomes more puzzling as she interviews more suspects.

Two of the best Winnifred lines so far?

"But I do wonder, how long before she meets a Canadian tortoise she cannot say no to. And builds that tortoise a new fireproof castle with a state-of-the-art heat lamp. But oh. Wait. The Canadian tortoise will not require a heat lamp because Canadian tortoises embrace the cold. Oh yes, I can see it now. The new castle flies a Canadian flag from an unsinged turret. Audrey and the new tortoise frolic in the snow. Make snow angels. Yes, the new tortoise is more dog than tortoise."

Oh, Winnifred also has the tendency to ponder the nature of exponents and Shakespearean speeches. She resents Chuck for picking her up and leaving her on the coffee taking holding open his copy of the Bard. "This is what I've been reduced to. A bookmark. Shakespeare's bookmark."
Two words: tortoise power!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Joy of Helping Others

The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But... the good Samaritan reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?" - Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one - Mother Teresa

Helping others should come naturally to us. Most, if not all, of us have have needed some form of help at one time or another. Living during the current recession, for instance, has affected many people.

Today, Saturday, June 26th, however, I chose not to focus on myself but on those less fortunate than I. As someone once wisely told me: "No matter how bad you think you have it, there is always someone who has it worse." The Loblaws where I shop at was having a drive to help out the Ottawa Food Bank.

Between shopping at Loblaws and PharmaPlus and taking some things from my home, I filled three medium-sized paper grocery bags with items that included baby formula, diapers, canned goods, pasta and sauce, fruit cups, granola bars, and personal hygiene and cleaning products.

I had tears in my eyes when I told my husband, feeling particularly good when I thought of the formula and diapers for the little babies whose families were struggling.

Although I have volunteered at three CIBC Runs for the Cure in the Ottawa-Gatineau Region, I don't have time to volunteer anywhere at the moment.

Instead, I donate money to the important causes of mental health, freedom of speech/press, and cancer research when my financial situation permits me to do so.

Some causes I have proudly donated to in the past include The Canadian Women's Foundation's national Shelter from the Storm campaign, Project Tembo (Educating Girls, Empowering Women, Creating Project Sustainability in Northern Tanzania), The Snowsuit Fund (Ottawa), and The Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO).

Others, like an old friend of mine, donate their time.

A "self-diagnosed volunteer junky," she says, "I can't help it. If I can help, I do."

The three causes dear to her heart are music, providing face-painting for children with juvenile diabetes, and rescuing dogs.

I never really understood the meaning of joy, but I know that helping others has allowed me experience it. That and being married to my best friend and the love of my life: my husband!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Two More Article Links

These two links are much longer ones:

Fill your favourite mug with coffee or tea and enjoy some evening reading courtesy of yours truly!

Links to Some of My Articles

Since I write more than just blog postings, I've included links to some of my articles.


The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

I think therefore I am - Rene Descartes, Discourse on Method, 1637

I write therefore a writer I am; I read therefore a better writer I am - Dahlia Liwsze, 2010

As a writer, I love reading different genres. Some of my favourite authors and poets include Jane Austen, D.H. Lawrence, Kathy Reichs, Michael Crichton, Tess Gerritsen, John Keats, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Percy Bysshe Shelley.

I, however, am not always fond of books that "everyone's reading" or that make The New York Times Best Sellers List. The Lovely Bones and Eat, Pray, Love are two such books that immediately come to mind. I also am not usually swayed by Heather's Picks, and my eyes glaze over the minute I hear the words "Oprah's Book Club List."

I do confess though that the NYT Best Seller to recently have caught me in its wonderful literary grasp is Stieg Larsson's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Not only is Larsson's novel a hit in the States, but it is an international bestselling novel as well.

Action. Intrigue. Investigative journalism mixed with private investigation. Jail time. Revenge. Sex. Family secrets and feuds. Murder. A mysterious disappearance and possible murder. Pure intensity. Sound writing. Interesting and multi-dimsensional characters. Great plot. Beautiful location - Sweden. What more can a reader ask for?

Although I found the beginning of the novel started off a bit slowly, I was soon captivated by the lives of Lisbeth Salander (or "Salamander" as I usually read it!) and Mikael Blomkvist. Troubled woman (with many tattoos and piercings) in her 20's turned private investigator meets financial journalist in his 40's turned biographer and investigative journalist. Enter business tycoon and concerned uncle in his 80's turned financial magazine partner and even more concerned uncle, and you have the recipe for a fantastic story.

I confess that it is books like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Aayan Hirshi Ali's Infidel, and others that remind me how it is sometimes good to check out what is presently popular.

I guess I'm sometimes hesitant because I know what I like and what I don't like and have never been a follower. My Dad has always said, "If the crowd is running one way, go the other because they're usually wrong." I've learned though that this is not always the case with literature.

Until my next post, I'll keep reading about Lisbeth, Mikael, and Henrik.

If you haven't read Infidel or The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, I strongly recommend that you do so! Happy reading!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Reclaiming Your Body!

My boyfriend just dumped me. I'm so stressed at work. He's been depressed for a long time. I can't control myself. The excuses are endless.

No matter how discouraged, lazy or apathetic you are, you should keep in mind that it is NEVER too late to reclaim your body!

I remember as the months rolled by and my weight continued to climb. I was apathetic, rarely went to the gym, and ate what I wanted.

As a result, I found myself getting out of breath quicker, having aches and pains in my joints, and having to buy bigger clothing.

What finally gave me the incentive to begin working towards a healthier and fitter Dahlia was when I received a phone call informing me that I had won a free health consult and personal training session. I knew that this was an unexpected blessing because I needed someone to challenge and encourage me as I could not do it on my own.

Earlier this month, I met with the owner of the gym, and our energies jived well. I signed up for eight sessions and he added some extra ones for free. He told me that he liked my realistic goals and that by Christmas 2010 I'd be my ideal weight!

Now having completed my third week of training and following my meal plan as best as I can, I'm happy to report that I've lost SIX pounds! I blinked thinking the scale was lying to me before I realized that it wasn't!

In a few weeks, I'll be training and walking three times a week.

I'm encouraged and focussed on my goal. I have the support of my wonderful hubby, trainer, doctor, family, and friends. And most importantly? I FINALLY *BELIEVE* in myself!

If I can do it, you certainly can!

So, what are you waiting for? May 2010 be the year of the new healthier you!