That’s me doing a princess-style wave in the smooth, crystal-clear water of Magen’s Bay in the stunning Caribbean island of St. Thomas. Yes, we went all out this year. I sort of figured we might as well, since the world was going to end in 2012, spend all our money on a trip of a lifetime. Josh, on the other hand, a firm believer in Science (capital S), knew no such thing would happen, and he treated us to a trip of a lifetime anyway. And I’d say we deserved it.

I can’t even tell you how amazing this trip was. We started in Miami and took a Disney cruise to St. Martin/St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island in the Bahamas) and then back to Miami, where we spent the day at the luxurious Trump Towers with relatives who were staying there.

Due to extreme tiredness — New Year’s Eve last night was late, and we arrived at the Toronto airport at 1:30 a.m. the night before that — I don’t have the energy to go into details except to say we made wonderful friends, saw gorgeous sights, enjoyed great live Disney shows, met lots of Disney characters (Goofy’s my favourite!), ate way too much food, got some much-needed sun, swam, read, danced, relaxed, played, watched Pirates of the Caribbean under the Caribbean stars, SANG KARAOKE (the Monkey and I destroyed Bieber’s “Baby, Baby” — let’s just say, I am no Ludacris!) and more, more, more.

But I thought we’d better start the New Year off right here at Cheaty Monkey. So I am, hereby, officially putting the darkness that characterized a lot of 2012 behind us, and ushering in 2013, the beautiful.

One of the best lessons I learned on this trip — thanks in part to Disney and it’s magical themes — was to look for the beauty. Obviously, you can’t compare grey Toronto to the positively (here’s a word I haven’t used since a grade-eight creative writing assignment) pulchritudinous islands. But why focus on flaws all the time? There is always beauty, and I want, I need, to try to see it in all, or at least more, things.

And by beauty I mean happy thoughts (not anxious ones), glass half full, the good, the yes, the creativity, spirit, shine, art, love, abandon. I guess this is my big resolution for 2013.


So far, Day 1, I am kind of sucking. But I’m tired today, and this resolution will involve a huge paradigm shift, a transformation of my entire mindset, a sea change. So I’m taking it slow.

And when in doubt, though it’s not close by, I’ll look to the sea. I still feel it enveloping my body (which is now three pounds heavier thanks to too much exquisite food, but who cares — hakuna matata!). Despite it’s clear blue warmth, I feel chills. The beauty so overwhelming. My mind shifts briefly to the dark side, the plastic, pollution, extinction. But I force myself to drop it, donate later, be here now. It’s still as beautiful as it was when I was a kid, still as blue, salty, glassy, utterly awe-inspiring.


I guess the beauty of living in Toronto is that when you actually see the sea, you revel in it….

I miss you, Rita, Rick, Leena, Rami, Domano, Nadia, Putu, Deniz, Christian, Tina, Gunther (sorry I called you Thumper), Edmund, Gabby, Goofy, Pluto, Micky, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Ariel, Tiana, Peter Pan, Belle, the islands, the sea….


As they say on the Disney Wonder cruise ship (c/o Tinker Bell and friends), FAITH… TRUST… and PIXIE DUST!

xo Haley-O

Well, I never made it to yoga that week. And, as you can see, I hardly have time to do another thing I love anymore — blog here at Cheaty Monkey.

Things are busier than ever at work, so by the end of the day, after the kids are in bed and I’m done working some more, I just want to get offline, play with my animals and read a book.

A couple of weeks ago, Josh and I went on our trip to Mont Tremblant alone, i.e., without kids. I still can’t believe we went on a plane together without them. I was a little anxious, of course, because the Monkey kept asking things like, “Mama, will I ever be an orphan?” (The kid has impeccable timing.) But the flight was nothing, and it made us feel like we were farther away than we really were.

Want to see some pictures I took of beautiful Mont Tremblant (click to enlarge)?

The Skier.

The pole I would crash into if I attempted to ski.

Selves-portrait on snowy gondola ride.

Snowy gondola ride.

Sunglasses only a skier could love.

A new little black vegan purse.

Hotel room with a view….

If the kids were here, this wouldn’t be so quiet.

Ahhh, what could be better than peace and quiet and good old selfish indulgence. For three days we walked, worked out together, walked some more, watched the skiers, went for dinner, read our books, saw The Hunger Games (and had to switch seats because the French kids behind us kept saying “Quoi?” “qu’est-ce_que_c’est?”). It was amazing — and the perfect 40th birthday gift for Josh.

Of course, things returned to chaos and busyness as soon as we got home and it’sgrandma returned the kids to our doorstep. Sighhh, that’s why I know I need to find a way to get back to yoga.

It’s one thing to practise with the kids running around me at home, but quite another to go to the calm and peaceful yoga shala, sweat it out and breathe deeply.

But Josh is away again, so I’m not going anywhere. And I’m running on empty.

When he comes back, I’m making yoga and my well-being a priority. That’s a promise. Even if it means I have to cut another hour of sleep. Because, as I learned from our trip, life is too short to just run all the time.

xo Haley-O

P.S. When I say busier than ever at work, I mean it. Here are some things I’ve been working on lately: creating Today’s Parent‘s Earth Day page (my baby!); 20 Great Canadian Getaways; Postcards from Niagara Falls (originally printed in the May issue of Today’s Parent Magazine); Mark Wahlberg gallery; Celebrity kid hair inspiration gallery; and lots more, including editing articles, creating more galleries, tweeting for Today’s Parent, multiple daily posts at my Celebrity Candy blog, etc., etc., etc.. See? Just a little busy. But it’s LOVE! xo

We went to Niagara Falls and Great Wolf Lodge last weekend, and it was amazing. No matter where we are, being with my family is like being wrapped in a warm, adorable, fluffy blanket — even when the kids are running around the house screaming, pinching each other in the backseat of my car, or interrupting me (“Mama! Mama! Mama! Mama! Mama!”) when I’m on the phone. I can’t get enough of them, and I never take them and their awesome uniqueness for granted.

As the Rascal likes to say…, “SHHHHABAH!” (?)

So the fact that I haven’t gone to my beloved yoga studio in over a week has meant that I’ve had a little more of that early-morning special time with my cheaty little monkeys — when they’re quiet, still, not wreaking havoc, and it’s just love.

The exact same thing happened this time last year. I stopped going to yoga for about three weeks last January/February. And at the time I thought I’d lost my motivation because my teacher was away in India.

But now I know that I’m a bear.

Journey behind the Falls….

I seem to need this time every year. Yoga studios are packed with people resolving to get lean and zen, and it’s so cold and dark out that early in the morning. I just want to be home and quiet. Don’t want to explain anything or make any excuses, or even really to blog about it. Just want to be quiet and contained. Like a bear.

Or like a yogi in a cave, my own silent retreat.

I’ve been having a love affair with yoga for almost thirty years. My mom used to practice yoga (à la Hittleman) on her bedroom floor every morning, and she’d take me to her weekly class at the Yoga Centre of Toronto now and then. I used to laugh when the ladies chanted ohhhhmmm. I did my first splits in that class all those years ago…. My brother and sister could have cared less about the yoga, but I was fascinated. And I haven’t lost any of that fascination.

But yoga and I are on a break, at least until this private, quiet “hibernation” spell ends, and until the dust of all the changes around here begins to settle.

So, my yoga right now has to be sun salutations in my bedroom, drinking hot water with lemon in the morning and eating a salad a day. My yoga is getting the kids to school and to their programs on time. My yoga is witnessing my thoughts as I walk to the store to pick up the toothpaste we ran out of, as I try to wiggle the Monkey’s loose tooth without squirming, as I wipe the Rascal’s ever-flowing fountain of snot, scramble to meet editorial deadlines, avoid Starbucks and get to work on time. My yoga is bathing my dog, cleaning dishes, cooking dinner, making lunches, grocery shopping, and not swearing at Maaarge for meowing for food every time I walk by her (feline hypothyroidism, FTW!).

I’ve gone straight to seventh series, it seems, and I’m hardly halfway through primary. I’m a bad, bad Ashtanga yogi, and it’s OK for now. But it also sucks because, in another sense, I’m exiling myself from people and a place that I love (another bad habit of mine of which I’m well aware; I hope they’ll take me back).

But still….

I’ll return to my dedicated daily yoga practice when I’m ready, when my family’s ready, or when Pattabhi Jois appears in my dreams again, telling me, “You. You practice,” and to go find something “yellow” (?).

In the meantime, I’m OK with failing at a something. And, honestly, that in itself is some kind of achievement for me.




xo Haley-O

Photos by Haley Overland/

A few weeks ago, I hurried out of yoga class to get to work and stopped to say bye and thanks to my super-amazing yoga teacher David.

“My twists are terrible,” I told him as I slipped on my crocs.

“Awful!” He laughed.

“Terribly awful,” I insisted.

“How’s your diet?”

How’s my diet? At first I was excited that he asked because it meant that some good, motivating diet advice from my super-amazing health and spirituality guru was about to come. But, then I realized, gratefully, what an incredibly brave question that was for him to ask me. As my yoga buddy Jeff pointed out, it really shows the depths of a teacher’s compassion and investment in his students — that he’s willing to risk a slap in the face from overweight female straggler. Super amazing.

“It’s bad,” I told him. “Too many soy-chai lattes, sugar, bread, peanut butter. No time to cook for myself, blah blah blah.”

“That’s not good,” he told me. “You need to feed yourself.”

Feed yourself. My gosh. Once again, super-amazing yoga teacher has triggered epiphany. Feed myself. My gosh, I don’t feed myself. I eat, but I don’t feed myself. And I totally 100% eat to numb my emotions. I figured it out on my vacation over the last two weeks in cottage and farm country — i.e., miles away from STARBUCKS. A whole bunch of emotions (even happy ones!) surfaced as a result of not starting my days with a Starbucks sugar rush, and I had no idea what to do with them other than face them head-on or continue to stuff them down unsuccessfully with the sweetest cinnamony syrup I could find.

Practising yoga every day helped. Emotions arose and then vanished after a few poses. And I survived, incredibly.

I kayaked alone almost every day, and I noticed my emotions as I braved some big waves. Emotions ebbed and flowed. Seriously. It was meditation on water. And I survived, incredibly.

I tried to feed myself, as David advised. And I didn’t do that great. I ate chips (which I never eat), the kids’ vegan gummy bears, dark chocolate, peanut butter bagel sandwiches. I wasn’t feeding myself. I was eating.

And now that I’m back from vacation, I’m back on chai lattes.

So today’s the day, Gorgeouses. I’m going to start officially to feed myself. And I know it’s going to be tough, but I’m going to face my emotions head-on without food: anxieties about the kids, the stresses of feeding my family every day, responding to demands, tantrums, needs, wants (never mind my own needs and wants…). I can’t be a perfect parent because there’s just no such thing — I know that — but the stress of doing my best every day takes its toll. And sometimes at the end of the day I just want to veg — lay like broccoli, rather than eat it. I know this now.

Just breathe.

My body is supposed to be my temple. I believe that. And I want to move faster, feel lighter, look better.

I’ve been noticing lately that some women wear scarves around their necks to adorn their bodies. Others ink themselves with awesome tattoos. Others twist shiny strands into intricate ‘dos just to go to work.

I wear makeup — not to adorn my temple, ahem, but to cover up the results of not feeding myself: zits, dehydration, exhaustion, need I go on? As for my hair, I’ll always wash and go….

But I took the kids to the grocery store today. We stocked up on veggies, fruits, all good organic stuff. And when we got home, I took the time to wash and chop everything up instead of letting it all rot untouched in my fridge, as usual.

David suggested that I don’t do anything extreme to feed myself. No raw diets, low-carb diets. Definitely a vegan diet, of course. He likes the macrobiotic way of eating. But he said that if, for example, I can’t find time to make a macrobiotic breakfast (i.e., porridge and blanched greens, blergh…) after yoga practice, that I should have fruit and nuts — “just feed yourself!”

So I’m going back to basics, with the help of this book and this new book…. And then we’ll see about getting macro-fancy. I just need to feed myself, and not eat so much. Know what I mean?

By the way, David did say that I can allow myself my favourite drug drink on moon days — so, I’m looking forward to Sunday….

How about you? Do you feed yourself? How?


xo Haley-O



We had our own little cabin apart from the main cottage where the rest of my family — parents, sister’s family, brother’s family — stayed. I wish I had a picture of our little cabin, but the only one I took was of the kitchen clock with the words “Who Gives a Sh**?” Don’t believe me?

For the record, I totally gave a sh**. I could have stayed at that cottage for another week, month, year. Time ticked too fast. Because look….

And look….









That’s Olivia (above). She’s deaf. Betty White sat and barked at her for ages trying to work her up, and Olivia didn’t flinch.

We got there Wednesday afternoon, and I worked until 2:30am. And then I rested and totally, completely enjoyed myself and my family the rest of the time. There were just a few mini bites of anxiety due to, ALAS, potentially some JURY DUTY in my future. I say “potentially” because I just learned this morning that I may be able to get out of it. Since I only work until 1pm and don’t have childcare in the afternoon, AND Josh will be out of town on business, I may just be excused. And, hello? I better be. Because I can’t even watch Law and Order. That, and my “summons” takes place during Rascal’s 3rd birthday — and he talks about his birthday EVERY DAY. He want’s Lightening McQueen to come to the party….

Yeah, I know….

Aside from my jury jitters, I’m a little wordless today. Look….

I’m just so relaxed after my cottage adventure. My glass is full, you know? And I’m enjoying the buzz. Without words.

Who gives a sh**?


xo Haley-O

I didn’t take a lot of photos. I also didn’t take a lot of breaths. At one point, on the second night of the conference, I couldn’t hold back tears, and I ran up to the hotel room and cried. Yes. I did. But when I forced myself to lie down, pick up my novel and just relax, I felt better. (Awesome book, by the way.)

That’s when I realized I hadn’t taken a single break that day. While I may seem outgoing and (at times even) natural in social settings, inside I’m often anxious and tense. I’m really as shy as a turtle.

I need to make time to crawl into my shell and just collect myself for a bit — otherwise, I’m just all over the place. If you caught me JUST before I broke into tears, you would have thought me boring and spacey in a withdrawn sort of way. If you caught me AFTER the tears, you would have thought me just a weeee bit spacey and gullible in a Three’s Company‘s Chrissy sort of way….

Despite the social anxiety issssues, I had a great time. I partied HARD. And I haven’t done that in a long time. Those friends of mine, they dragged me out at a whopping 9pm for dinner and drinks, not at a quiet bar down the street from the conference hotel, but a longish cab ride away to the Lower East Side of NYC. The 15 of us (ahem) piled into an already PACKED bar in which there were men in plaid button-downs standing on the bar taking photos and swigging beers. Kind of like the gorj Miss Daniela Syrovy here in the green (with some seriously awesome and hilarious ladies — Joanne Acri, Theresa Albert and Emma Waverman [who’s either yawning or showing off her FAB Martha-Stewart-party “ring” craft])….

…who stood up on a chair in her fab green dress and took this pic of all most of us….

Can you see the social anxiety on my (distorted) face? Hmm, maybe not, since by then I’d had a glass of wine (it doesn’t take much). Look at all the lovelies! Where to start? Let’s see, next to me, Corinne, Nadine, Rebecca, Brandie, Rebecca, Emma (sweet WILLER), Maureen, Cora, Lianne, and Tracy. The only person missing in the photo, if I’m not mistaken…, is Ms. GREENERS, who earlier that night did THIS….

Her fab keynote speech moved us all to tears…. Here’s a link to all the Voices of the Year keynotes, including Karen’s. LOVE!

Despite the short and very therapeutic cry, the conference was an amazing experience. I got to meet a lot of my online friends in person, and I got to hear some incredible, inspiring people speak, including “international activists” who risk their lives blogging and make a real difference…for all of us.

Another really rewarding and memorable part of the conference was meeting LINDSEYJAY and SANDYEL! They met each other through MY BLOG! They’ve both been commenting here since the dawn of Cheaty Monkey, pretty much, and there they were, ROOMIES in NYC. Can you say FAHKLEMPT! I need to get a picture of the three of us, HELLO? Picture, anyone? FAHKLEMPT.


I left the conference early, alas, because I had to get back to work Monday morning — and we drove to NYC. When I got into the car, I was greeted by a very-desperate-to-see-me THIS….

She covered me in kisses — like I HAVE NEVER. It was good to be back….

And I’m back! When I got to work this morning, I found this month’s issue of Today’s Parent on my desk. Look for a feature on my CELEBRITY BLOG on p. 22 and on the “What’s on the Web” page, and, again, my name in the masthead (much to my mother’s delight!). FUN! My spoofy PINK article on Celine Dion will occur in the October issue.

How was YOUR week?

Love! xo Haley-O

Credit: Photo of turtles by cygnus921.

I’ve been loving this season’s So You Think You Can Dance. I wasn’t sure about the new “all-star” format, but it’s working for me. Love it. ANYWAY, if you happened to miss Billy and Ade’s contemporary piece last night, you must checkit — to borrow Mia’s words, it was “sheer perfection”….

Phenomenal. The artistry, the philosophy, the beauty, all speak to me. FAHKLEMPT!

Things are a bit insane around here as we plan for a 10-day trip — first to the in laws’ farm and then to the BIG APPLE for BLOGHER (talk about MAD WORLD…)!

We’re driving, so please wish me luck. If you knew my kids (like, in real life), you’d know I need all the luck I can get. As per my kids’ orders, I’ll be filling my iPod with various versions of this damn song that they both beg me for constantly (GGAHH!) — Rascal: “Mama, I wah ‘Aw da way up, aw da way down'”….

Don’t ask….

I’ll also make sure I have a good lineup of what the Rascal thinks are songs from his favourite movie Cars — but that are really all my favourite songs from the Glee soundtrack. Hee.

You can definitely find me on twitter throughout the week (say hi!), here at Cheaty Monkey as often as I can make it, and I’ll be keeping my celeb blog up to date at Today’s Parent, among other things there.

Oh, and guess who’s coming with us?

BETZ! Betty White is coming with us. And a cat sitter is staying with the kitties. You can see he’s thrilled about it….


Okay! I have a 6am Ashtanga yoga class to get up for. Good night!


xo Haley-O

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