The second annual Julia awards

Last night (and this morning) the Oscars took up my living room and our Twitter feed and my dining room table:

SO. MUCH. FOOD. And yes...those strawberries are wearing tuxedos. It is the Oscars, after all.

SO. MUCH. FOOD. And yes…those strawberries are wearing tuxedos. It is the Oscars, after all.

It was lovely…and LONG. I don’t know why this year felt sooooo long…or soooooo snoozy…I’m going to go with it’s because I’m getting old.

This year, the Oscars were hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, a funny, engaging guy. The trouble? He’s no Ellen. Or Tina and Amy. Or Seth. NPH is…witty. And zingy. And the night is long and I loved the bits, but he just wasn’t my favourite.

I will tell you what my favourite was, though! Hanging out with awesome ladies, gossiping and laughing, and eating and eating and eating. Having an Oscar party is pretty damn amazing – there’s a room full of ladies who get my gossipy obsession, who can out-trivia me and back me up on dress judgments and Spanx guessing. It’s dreamy. And lovely. And there’s tons of food and comfy clothes.

I know they look demonic, but I swear they're really nice (and I have no idea how to use a photo editor...)

I know they look demonic, but I swear they’re really nice (and I have no idea how to use a photo editor…)

And now, without further ado (unlike the end of the Oscars where NPH stuck YET ANOTHER BIT), here are my picks for last night’s BEST:

Best Dressed

All the ladies, both demonic and non-, agreed: who on earth would be best dressed? There was no clear front-runner for any of us. But, I’ve come up with my favourite of the night:

Jessi Cruikshank of the Canadian eTalk team was stunning in this muted gown. When I saw her on my Twitter feed, I immediately wrote her name down as a contender.

And my runner-up was Naomi Watts. She was stunning in this peek-a-boo dress, that showed flawless skin and toned torso. I’m also a sucker for tiny, tiny spaghettini straps…because I’ll never be able to wear them.

Naomi_Watts

Best Speech

For me, it was a 3-way tie:

Mr. Pawel Pawlikowski, the Polish director who won Best Foreign Language Film for Ida. He spoke so long, he was cued off with the music…but then, he refused to budge. And he didn’t. He just kept talking. Until the music STOPPED and he was given MORE TIME. Finally, the music started up again..and he did eventually leave the stage. But it was awesome – you work your whole life for the top accolade. Why on EARTH would you ever leave the stage before you’re ready once you’ve achieved it?

Pawel Pawlikowski

J.K. Simmons, who won Best Supporting Actor for Whiplash. He told everyone that if their parents are alive, to call them. Not text, not email, CALL them. Pick up the phone and talk. I love J.K. Simmons.

87th Annual Academy Awards - Show

And our third winner, Graham Moore, who won Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game. In his speech he not only honoured the subject of his movie, the late Alan Turing, he also talked about his battle with depression and his attempted suicide at 16. His best advice was to the kid that thought they were too weird, too different: “Stay weird. Stay different. And when it’s your turn to stand on this stage, pass the message along.”

Graham Moore

Best Underwear

Yep. There was underwear. And all we can say is, Mazel Tov, David Burtka, Mazel Tov.

WOWZA

WOWZA

Best Irony

Or worst…because REALLY? There were a lot of causes highlighted last night, and for good reason – there’s a lot we can do to fix this world – but the worst one was Patricia Arquette standing up for equal pay for women after winning Best Supporting Actress…and Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez emphatically agreeing with her.

Meryl-Streep J-Lo gif

The cause is real. But beyond making more money than most of us will ever see, what are these women doing for the “women of America”? Because all I can see are rich ladies demanding equality in a world where equality is a joke.

Best Not-So-Veiled-We-Were-Snubbed

Before, it was Ben Affleck accepting the Oscar for Best Picture in 2013 with his “You can’t hold grudges” bit in his acceptance speech acknowledging his perceived Best Director nomination snub. This year? It was all about Selma all the time.

Terrence Howard took his presenting job as the chance to highlight the emotion behind the movie Selma, to highlight the fact that it wasn’t nominated, although it did overwhelm him.

Terrence-Howard-467

Some say it was a teleprompter problem. Others wonder if he was drunk. I’m going with, Selma wasn’t nominated for anything but Best Song and Best Picture and this was his chance to make it shine. What do you think?

Best Joke

Last year John Travolta just couldn’t get Idina Menzel’s name right. It came out Adele Dazeem…which isn’t even CLOSE. So this year, I vote the use of the John Travolta Name Generator as best joke. (It wouldn’t let me embed the video, so here is the link.)

Ben Affleck pronounced as Benedict Cumberbatch?? Awesome.

Best Creepy Moment(s)

All of John Travolta’s. No seriously.

With Scarlett Johansson.

travoltakiss3A

With Benedict Cumberbatch.

John Travolta and Benedict Cumberbatch

With Idina Menzel.

john-travolta-idina-menzel-lg

Creeeeeeeepy.

Best SHOCKER

Ummm…Lady Gaga can SING. And as everyone on Twitter pointed out, she kicked Carrie Underwood’s ASS.

lady-gaga-oscars-sound-of-music-2015-billboard-650

And the last award of the night…Best WIN Face

It has to be Eddie Redmayne, because how can you argue with JOY like this:

eddie-redmayne-was-absolutely-shocked-by-his-first-oscar-win

It was a looong show and a looong night and an early morning (hence the lateness of this post), but the people I got to hang out with, the gossip I got to rehash, and the food I got to eat all make it worth it…sort of. Now, for coffee. 🙂

~ Julia

My sleeping pill

I have a bedtime ritual. It is as regulated as our children’s bedtime routine, where we get into pyjamas, pick three stories (1 per kid) and then read them all until each kid is calm and sleepy and full of tales. It is absolutely necessary that I follow this routine, otherwise I will not be able to sleep for hours.

The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison - A thriller that made me want to stay up all night...yet let me sleep.

A thriller that made me want to stay up all night…yet let me sleep.

I’ve tried skipping it. I’ve tried mixing it up, doing something different. All with disastrous results that end with me restless, sleepless, tossing and turning, and my brain talking up a storm.

Because therein lies the rub – my brain? My sadistic, nonsensical, ridiculous, overachieving brain won’t SHUT UP when I go to bed. It finds that the bed, with its cozy mattress and its warm blankets and its huge pillow is the perfect place to review all worry, concern, to-do lists, problems, and, of course, singing any of the ditties or jingles or super fun children’s songs I’ve heard that day. My brain SUCKS at sleeping. And I hate it. Because I LOVE sleeping, DESIRE sleeping, walk around all day long wishing sleep were mine right now.

Dear Amy, Let's be friends in real life, because you seem to really get it. And it would be awesome to be in the same room as all of your talent and sass. Love, Me

Dear Amy, Let’s be friends in real life, because you seem to really get it. And it would be awesome to be in the same room as all of your talent and sass. Love, Me

I figured out the key to my sleep a couple of years ago. It was when I was in therapy for PPD with Lillian. Nancy, my lifesaving therapist, asked me how I was sleeping. Of course, terrible! I had a newborn AND depression wrapped in an anxiety disorder. I would lie down and either Lillian would wake up or Sophie would wake up or my brain would wake up. And then it would be morning and I’d have to do it all over again.

She suggested I ‘download’ all of my lists and worries and problems onto a piece of paper that I kept by the bed. Essentially, when my brain popped up with something to think about the moment my head hit the pillow, I could write it down. The idea was with practice I could write down everything BEFORE I lay down and then my brain would be quiet and I would sleep and everyone would live happily ever after.

Sometimes I do running math in my head...converting miles into kilometers, thinking about training and running and not running...but this book put me to sleep AND made me never want to stop running.

Sometimes I do running math in my head when I’m trying to fall asleep…converting miles into kilometers, thinking about training and running and not running…but this book put me to sleep AND made me never want to stop running.

It didn’t really work that way. The act of writing down everything turned more into a brainstorming of session of things that I could think about during the night, versus me getting rid of things to think about during the night. In short, it backfired.

But then I tried reading. I love reading. But with babies and my scattered brain, sitting down and reading during the day was (and still is) next to impossible. But at night? When everyone is tucked in and I have the bed to myself (because Ben is inevitably playing video games downstairs), I can read under covers, curled up with characters and lands and stories that are not my own. And that is the key.

My current sleeping pill. I love this book so far. This one makes me want to keep turning pages, be a better writer, get published...and go to sleep.

My current sleeping pill. I love this book so far. This one makes me want to keep turning pages, be a better writer, get published…and go to sleep.

When I read at night, my brain shuts off. It tunes out of my reality and tunes into other people’s trouble, worry, concern, fantasy, dreams, and to-do lists. Reading launches me into someone else’s world, so I don’t have to think about my own.

And that is the key, the piece, the only thing I can do to really get to sleep. It doesn’t matter if I go to bed at my regular bedtime, 10 p.m., or if I go to bed at 1 a.m. It doesn’t matter if it’s before a weekend afternoon nap or the big sleep in a hotel room in Baltimore. It doesn’t matter one iota. All that matters is that I’m quiet and reading a novel, a memoir, fiction, non-fiction, short stories, works of art, or fluff pieces. I need to read to escape to find the peace and quiet that I need to get to sleep.

How about you? What do you do to get to sleep? Sex? Warm milk? TV? Candy Crush? Or are you like Ben and all you need is a blanket, a pillow and your hearing aid out? Because that guy? He can fall asleep in an instant and I’m left hanging out with a snoring bear, while trying to shut off my brain…unless, I’ve got me a book, then I can tune out the lumberjack and tune into another world that acts as a portal to the most treasured gift ever – sleep.

~ Julia

What I know

Close on the heels of my post about weaning depression, something I had no idea about, I thought I’d follow up with a post of things I do know for sure. And since it’s my 32nd birthday on Friday, I thought I’d give you 32 things I know for sure. Because I’m crazy that way.

1. Embrace coffee. Or green tea. Or something hot that kick starts you. I spent decades avoiding coffee and now, it’s one of my favourite things ever. Also, it makes me go.

Ryan-Gosling-Meme-Delivering-Coffee

2. Move. Go for a run. A swim. A dance. A walk. A yoga sequence. A gymnastics routine. Some parkour. Anything. Just get up and move. I didn’t understand as an indoor youngster, reading the books and eschewing gym class, but damn, it’s my new drug and I’m all for it.

3. Take care of you. No, seriously. Take a break. A rest. A timeout. A reading session. A napping session. A running session. A session that rejuvenates you. And when you need it, ask for help.

4. Say no. I’m working on this one, I really am. But say no to things. Your time is precious and sometimes no is the right answer and yes will just hurt.

No

5. Say yes. To new things. To happy things. To positivity. To light. To spirituality. To the future. To looking up and standing in the sun.

6. Family is everything. Blood family or life family, family is everything. It is what props you up, reminds you who you are, and helps you grow into who you will be. It’s everything. Don’t poo on it.

7. Make friends. Friends that get you. Friends that are fighting similar battles to you. Friends that will love you and your mess.

8. Be a truth-teller. Your truth. All of it. Every single messy piece of it. Even the parts that scare you. Tell the truth to yourself, to your family, to your friends, to strangers who will benefit from hearing it. Never stop telling it.

Mess

9. Eat your vegetables. And fruit. And whole foods. And things not purchased in a box or a package or are ready-made. I didn’t understand why our parents made us eat ‘real’ food when we were growing up, but I’m so glad they did.

Butter vs margarine

10. Eat a cookie. Or a brownie. Or some chips. Or that cheeseburger. Just don’t do it every day, all day. Your body deserves better. It does. But you also deserve a treat. Or two.

11. Have fun. No, seriously. Life is hard. Really hard. And it just keeps going and going, filling up your time and energy with hard things. So, cut loose a little. Giggle. Stay up too late. Play that game. Read that saucy book. Dance your own jig to your own tune. Enjoy your time here.

Daily Odd Compliment - sweat pants

12. Help. Your family. Your friends. Your neighbours. Strangers. People who are hurting in your town. People who are hurting across the ocean. People you walk in life with. People you will never meet. Where you can, when you can, help.

13. Be kind. In word and deed, be a nice person. You never know when you’ll meet someone again, or when you’ll need something from someone, or what they are battling. Be as kind as you need them to be to you. And then add some more. Because there just isn’t enough kindness in the world.

14. Learn to park. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to deal with a bad parking job. So, figure out your vehicle’s edges and length and depth and learn how to park. Countless people will be grateful.

15. Be polite. Please. Thank you. You’re welcome. I’m sorry. Excuse me. Pardon? Small words, big impact.

16. Babies are hard. Really hard. Like life. They suck everything out of you all the time. They ask for things all the time. They are a 24/7 commitment that you’ll never be ready for. They are really, really hard.

17. Babies are worth it. Every second. Every minute. Every hour. Every hug, squeeze, kiss, ‘I love you.’ All of it. Worth it.

18. Mental illness is as serious as a heart attack. It kills. It hurts. It destroys. It can be beaten. It can be stopped. It must be.

2013-11-21-Helpful%20Advice

19. Stop judging covers. That chubby girl? She can run. That run-over-looking person? Doing their best. That human race, full of people? All them, showing up, doing their best. Even you.

20. Money isn’t everything, but it sure helps. We were broke growing up. And now, I’m living a one-income life with three kids. Money isn’t everything…but damn, it helps.

21. Love is everything. For each other. For yourself. For God. It’s everything. If you walk in love, if you work in love, if you act in love, you’ll never go wrong. Period.

smallthingsgreatlove-768x1024

22. Put your damn cart away. No, really. I watched a woman who had to be in her 80s reorganize an entire cart caddy in a grocery store parking lot. She said, “If everyone would just put their cart away, we wouldn’t have this problem.” Never forgot it. Always put my cart away properly.

23. Listen. Not to respond, but to listen. To let someone else be heard. We all need to be heard. Make sure you’re doing your part.

Heard

24. Believe in the good. The bad will always be there, weighing you down, pulling you under. Believe in the light, in the good, in the hope. And look for it. Actively. Always.

25. Sit in silence. Turn off the news. Turn off the music. Turn off the internet. Turn off the chatter. Sit still. Breathe. Disconnect. Note that you didn’t die. Remember what it was like to be quiet? To not be plugged in? Take time to reacquaint yourself with it.

Silence

26. Sometimes it sucks. You’re asked/required/obligated to do something you don’t want to do. Sometimes you have to suck it up, grow up and do it. I feel like this one gets confused with number 3, Take care of you. Yes, you should take care of you, but you’re still a grown-up and you still have to do stuff you don’t wanna. Too bad. Get cracking.

27. Be creative. I had a boss that told me I wasn’t creative. He was an asshole and wrong. So wrong. I am creative, in the cards I make, the words I write, the mittens I crochet, and the songs I make up on the spot about going pee in the potty and wiping our bums and pulling up our pants because we’re soooo prettttyyyyyy. I’m creative, dammit. And it’s good for the body, mind and soul.

28. Don’t listen to assholes. You’ll notice them, quietly or loudly, obviously or passive aggressively shoving other people down so they feel bigger, better, smarter, faster, more successful. I’m not sure if they’ll ever ‘get theirs’, but I do know their opinion of you and your talent and your brain and your body doesn’t matter. Not one little bit. Don’t give them power. You have the power and you are awesome.

29. Make it better. Pick up litter. Rearrange some carts. Hold the door. Fix the mat so no one else trips. Pay for the person behind you. Don’t wait for a thank you. Don’t demand a thank you. Just leave this world better than when you got it.

30. Love with everything you’ve got. It’s going to hurt sometimes. And it’s going to be hard sometimes. And sometimes you’ll question your sanity. But, loving with everything I have has been one of the most rewarding things ever. I love Ben with everything, even though I want to kill him sometimes. I love my babies with everything I have, even though one of them lives in heaven and the others I want to run away from sometimes (at least once a day). And I get hurt. And bruised. And sometimes I don’t know if I’ll recover. But, I’m all in, baby. All. In.

Broken heart

31. Have dirty little secrets. Like the dirt you swept under the couch with your foot before your guests arrived. Like the smutty book you like to read. Like the so-bad-it’s-awesome television you can’t miss. Like the Oreos you can shove into your mouth without any children noticing. Any little thing that makes your life a little brighter, yet is probably not meant for public consumption? Keep on keepin’ on.

32. Celebrate your birthdays. I don’t get this “I don’t like my birthday” crap. I just don’t. And the whole, “I’m 29 again! Twelfth year in a row! WOO!”? No clue. You made it around the sun again. You are given a day that’s yours. There are people who want to celebrate you. You should celebrate you. Grab your cake and your glass and let’s toast the incredible things you did last year, like write potty songs and survive five-year-old fashion crises, and outlast the weaning engorgement, and all of the time spent loving and helping and creating and resting and just being.

Birthday hat

~ Julia

Engaged and looking

I thought when you met your life-partner, ‘penguin’, and live-in best friend, the frustration of dating, and especially the nerves of the first date, would be a thing of the past.

I should preface this by telling you that I was never great at dating – Michael can attest to all of my rookie mistakes when we were first seeing each other *hangs head in shame* –  so I was kind of relieved when he decided to keep me for life and asked me to marry him. I thought the days of first dates were over – after all I had earned this perk as sort of a rite of passage for being taken off the market.

Oh, how wrong I was.

Apparently, first dates also still exist for those who have shacked up. They’ve cleverly disguised themselves as job interviews – first, second and third ones – and include all the butterflies and nerves, the fleeting hope for a match made in heaven, the self-talk track to keep calm and confident in what you have to offer, the anticipation for the follow-up call or email in the days following – it’s all just a guise for a first date.

Even worse, interviews carry the same chance for disappointment as a flopped first date – the realization that he’s not your type, or the looks-good-on-paper but not so much in real life kind of first dates come with the territory. It includes the no chemistry matches, the mixed signals from one person being over zealous, the dashed hope and even the discouraging realization that you might be looking for a unicorn that just doesn’t exist.

While I am currently acting as nanny to three beautiful babies, I have also been actively dating a few new prospects for employment. Each time, the determination to find my match rallies the best parts of me to come shining through almost on cue – I’m charming and smart, quick-witted and friendly. I reach deep into myself to bring forward my inner sales person and I give it my all, every time, in the hopes of a possible long-term, mutually-beneficial relationship.

Sometimes this attracts unwanted offers, sometimes it means my qualifications are out of their league, and sometimes I’m just not enough to make the final cut.

While I’m still looking for my fairy tale-ending in terms of gainful employment, I’m starting to understand what people mean when they say, interviewing is a valuable skill.

I’m learning quickly who I’d like to have dinner with, past or present, dead or alive; I know my top three weaknesses and strengths like the back of my hand; if I get asked what animal I’d most likely akin to, I know the answer that takes the edge off is a tiger because my name is Toni – which depending on chemistry I can say with a wink; running through my career path from school to present day is like recalling a well-read tale, with which I take care to highlight different parts depending on the role I’ve applied for. I have a proven set of favourite and creative questions to ask when I’m given the opportunity to screen my candidate to help decide if I’d be satisfied long-term, having this stranger hold stake over the majority of my time. Most importantly, I know how to break through and get my possible match to relate to me as a person, to find common ground quickly and figure out a few of their triggers.

Just this past week I nervously met with a candidate that I had been hoping to hear from – the organization, product and team structure all interest me and the role is exactly the pieces I’ve loved about each of my previous ones. When I left I felt comfortable and confident and now am dangerously flirting with the hope of a follow-up request to meet again. The second interview is more my pace, where I feel a bit more in control and am a little more sure of how they’re feeling about me. It will be the date that tells me if I’m all in or not.

In the meantime, wish me luck – I’ve got some research to do for my next first date.

~ Toni