Friday, September 9, 2011


Ever have one of those days where life just turned on the big ol' Hoover and sucked the bejeezus out of you – leaving the house smelling like dog hair and mouldy beach towels, while merely transferring the dust bunnies from one corner of the cluttered room to a warren of sadness suppressed under the sofa?

That was this entire week.

This wasn't even my usual pity party, where no one RSVPed and I ended up alone in the bathtub drinking Grand Marnier out of a Winnie the Pooh sippy cup.

This week was all about bad news. News I carried around like an emotionally crippled doppelgänger, who kept tapping me on the shoulder saying, "Look at them. Look at that Mom. Imagine how she feels. Bet you're glad you're not in her shoes. Wow, it must really suck to be her right now."

This week I was feeling pain that wasn't even close to being my own. I was aching for an entire family, whose lives changed on a dime. One of those families you look at and think, "what a perfect family. I can't think of anything bad to say about them, they are so bloody perfect."

Yesterday, I was hurting for one of the richest men in Havenot, because his dream of helping kids at risk fell short. Giving kids a hand up while wearing a boxing glove turned into "subsidizing gym memberships" and that wasn't good enough for Palooka's Mickey MacDonald. Knowing he's a fighter, my bet is, Mickey tries again.

This week, my heart was ripping itself out for an Alberta mom who sent her kid off to university so he would become an educated man. A man who would maybe someday change the world. Instead, he lost a stupid and deadly drinking game.

And this morning I woke up listening to CBC Radio, and the looming tenth anniversary of so much hatred and fucking stupidity – I almost pulled the covers over my head and retreated. But I didn't.

Instead, my doppelgänger and I walked the dogs in the darkness before dawn (how's that for a cliché?), then we had a coffee, then we started sorting through emails. As usual, I had one from Barb.

Barb's emails normally end with three letters.


Annoying at first, I came to expect those three letters, and now, they brighten my day. The genuine passion in those three letter equal the power of Barb Stegemann. When the rest of the world is lying under the sofa, curled up in the fetal position with the dust bunnies – Barb's making angels in the snowy waste, looking up at the stars, marvelling at the positive potential and wonder of it all.

Barb is busier than ever these days, launching her new fragrance, Vetiver of Haiti. This latest addition to her 7 Virtues line of smell-good, do-good perfumes is described as an "uplifting" fragrance. Bottled emotions, created to inspire the rest of us to get up off our fat asses and do something. Feel the pain of a total stranger, then actually do something about it. Smelling like a rose, or an orange blossom, or now vetiver, whatever that is, will help Afghanistan and Haiti rebuild, so maybe, one morning, a dirt-poor mom can kick her evil doppelgänger to the curb, make breakfast, and send her child off to school to learn something – and make a difference in this crazy world.

If Barb Stegemann ever has a pity party I want to be working the blender. But somehow, I get the feeling, that invite is never going to come. Not in this lifetime. And not unless it's a fundraiser.

So happy anniversary to 9/11. I say "happy" because, to quote Hemingway, someone who likely spent a fair deal of time drinking in the bathtub, “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places.”


Purchase 7 Virtues fragrances at Bay Stores across Canada, at Mills Brothers in Havenot and online by clicking here.