December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas to somebody ...

Okay, so I went to the little local mall, where there is a "giving tree".  Each year, each member of my immediate family (me, my children, and this year my husband) pick a wish and fulfill it for a kid or teen who's family need some Santa help.  (Or in the teens' cases, likely just need Santa.)

We dropped off our pressies, the kids had their photo with our local (not too polished) Santa, and we grabbed a birthday gift for a friend who's birthday we celebrate today.

Somehow in that rush, yours truthfully, "lost" a wallet.  Luckily I don't carry much in my wallet.  A pen I love, a credit and bank card, my driver's license.  And about $150 cash ... Luckily, I'd removed a couple of things:  my iPod with my photos on it was in my pocket, I'd briefly had a couple of rings, one antique and of significant value, both real and sentimental, in there but they'd already been stored elsewhere, and I'd left some tickets I'd picked up for a Christmas outing today at home.  Seriously, that's pretty lucky as I would have been much more miserable to lose these less replaceable items ...

Anyway, it just got me to thinking about karma.  Either I have a lot to make up for still (and despite my best efforts) or sometimes karma just doesn't come into play.

Either way.  I came home with the resolve to not allow this "mishap" ruin my day.  Afterall, the things in the wallet are mostly replaceable, and not valuable comparatively speaking to my outlook on life and that of my children.  Today we will do the tedious acts of replacing some of the more important items ... a trip to the bank and the motor vehicles office ... and we will allow the service staff in these places to give us sympathy and comfort.  We will find ways around the roadblocks:  no photo id makes replacing id tricky for sure, but it is not impossible.

So many people have it far worse than us.  When my children expressed anger at the fact that someone didn't turn in my belongings, I told them it might even out in their karma, but that it was a loss we could afford and maybe, just maybe, the person that found it just needed it desperately enough to not see straight enough to return what they didn't need.

Either way, thanks to those who've returned my lost wallets in times past.  That small act is always appreciated, especially when one doesn't come back.  You win some, you lose some.  Ultimately, I'm pretty sure I've won more than I've lost, so I'll take this one for the team.

I hope everyone has things to be grateful for this Christmas and can recognise the things that make their life good and unique, despite the setbacks that come their way.  This ability to see the brighter side is, after all, what makes my life perfect, even when it isn't.

Merry Christmas!

October 13, 2010

more thoughts on bullying ...

Earlier this year, I was inspired by an encounter with a "mean girls clique" on my kids' schoolyard (adults! not kids!) to blog about the lingering affects of being bullied as a child.  In this modern-day event I managed to sidestep the worst of it and, by not asking others to take sides, I think I came away looking pretty classy and very strong.  What a difference from my former life as a victim ...

Since that time, the woman who bullied me when we were children read and commented on my blog.  For a long time, I don't think Christine was aware of my existence in the blogosphere (or on FB) as I use my married name exclusively.  Funny, though, of everybody from my younger life, Christine is the one person who had the exact right links with a mutual friends that led her to my musings.  What are the chances?

Although I didn't identify her by name, Christine recognised herself immediately and the post blew her away.  According to a(nother) mutual friend -- the one mentioned in the post -- she had no idea my experience had been as horrible as it had been.

You know, in retrospect my post seems mean.  When I found out that she'd read it (her comment was awaiting moderation), I immediately re-read my own muttering from a new perspective.  In the few months since I first blogged about her, I came to the conclusion that I was over her, and done with being bullied altogether. 

Now I feel embarrassed by my own lack of charity, by how judgmental I remain.  As an "evolved" adult, I get that we all come into our own by way of our experiences and our actions to heal our wounds.  I don't think that people who have rich sex lives are less moral than I, given my traditional choices.  I even envy people that seem more open to life's experiences.  And yet, for the purpose of a writing exercise, I went for the cheap kill.

Really, how is that kind of writing anything but bullying?  I regularly, daily even, question my own real life behaviours that look like bullying exactly because of my past.  The last thing I want to do to my children (or anyone) is to visit upon them the sins of others in my past.

And yet, in that simple post, I insulted the childhood of another.  Regardless of how I felt when she was bullying me, I always knew that Christine was as much if not more miserable than I.

I'm not sure where I am going with this, but I know it requires further action and discussion.  Stay tuned.

October 11, 2010

I am thankful for the following:

Seven year old Georgia taking on the task of stuffing our JD Farms specialty turkey with bread baked by my dear friend Christopher Brown of Rise Artisan Breads, mushrooms from Specialty Mushroom Growers Coop (Aldergrove) and herbs from our garden.  Georgia and 6 year old Korinne rubbed that turkey to perfection with butter derived (by me) from Avalon Dairy's fine organic whipping cream.  I'm so very grateful that Georgia is taking over the responsibility of rubbing and stuffing poultry, never a cherished activity of mine.

Pumpkins that came in one of our last CSA shares from Glen Valley Organic Farm were stuffed with a Gruyere-like cheese called Rathtrevor from Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, garlic from Sapo Bravo farm, more bread from Chris -- that market loaf is so divine -- and lovely shallots, again from Glen Valley.  I found this recipe in this month's Edible Vancouver; I'm thankful to them too.

Roasted root vegetables: rutabaga, carrots, fennel and parsnips, the most amazing parsnips, all from Glen Valley thanks to our dear friends and farmers, Chris and Jeremy.  I'm planning to make a lovely roast root vegetable soup for my lunch tomorrow, if there's any left by then.

The tiniest Brussel Sprouts we've ever enjoyed.  Mine came from a smaller-scale farmer named Albert, who I have known since Georgia was a baby.   Albert's Herbs and Nursery, believe it or not, is located in the nearby suburb of Burnaby.

Potatoes from Anna and Jennie at Helmer's Organic made perfect whipped mashed potatoes, and leaving the skins on only added to the delicious flavour.

Oooooh, and the cranberries sauces, three of them, using cranberries from Cranberry Meadows in Maple Ridge.  Korinne was most proud of an uncooked relish she made in the food processor mixing the berries, an organic orange and some cane sugar.  Georgia preferred the traditional sauce, which I discovered tonight was horribly tart (wonder who didn't say anything about it last night?!).  I guess I forgot to taste it when I put it into the bowl ... wow!

After dinner, along with the yummy pumpkin pies my mom made, we enjoyed a schiacciata that Chris bakes up in the fall, a selection of cheeses, some from Little Qualicum, and a lovely Goat's Pride Camenbert-like cheese called Chevrotina, that Korinne practically polished off.  The desserts seemed even better paired with a delicious Ice Apple Wine from The Fort Wine Co.

My guests brought a yummy carrot soup, cheesecake chocolates, a scrumptious apple salad and two flavours of ice cream, a regular vanilla and some mango gelato made by my old friend Mario.

Every time somebody asked about a food, I said, I gotta guy (even though some of my foods come from farms run by exceptional women, it just sounded funnier ... it is amazing how good food tastes, and the joy I feel as I prepare it for my family and beloved guests, when I know where most of it comes from and how it was grown.  I am really thankful for the people who've brought ideas like farmers' markets and community support agriculture into our cities.

But mostly, what I am thankful for Alec, Georgia, Korinne, Adam, Elaine, Anita, Jim, Carly, Graham, Bowing, Sue, Kenny, Alberto, Michelle and Oliver, my family and guests who joined in our harvest feast.  It was truly a Thanksgiving for which to give thanks.

September 24, 2010

When kids tantrum, changing me

I am reading a blog of a woman with an awesome, spirited three year old boy and a sweet baby girl.  She and her husband are really struggling with the three year old's determination and behaviours surrounding this strength.  It reminded me of a parenting class I took, where the woman asked us, would you rather have kids who will challenge their peers as teens, or kids who are compliant and willing to go along with the gang?

A seismic shift in my parenting style came when I (mostly) stopped taking my children's shows of defiance as personally.  My first was really challenging my authority at 2 and I didn't like the position I found myself in -- it seemed like she was taking on my childhood role, arms akimbo and face fierce, and I was at the wrong end of my mother's finger.  And that was an experience I was very motivated to not relive.

This blogger wrote about her son's tantrum in a store.  Funny, my three-year-old son was having a tantrum in a store just the other day.  I no longer take these things personally (unless I am in that WRONG frame of mind, know what I mean?!), because I know that is what a three year old is wont to do.  And I do mean a full-blown, lying on the floor, screaming tantrum.  He was putting it all out there because he wanted to sit in the bin of the shopping cart, rather than the seat at the front.  Despite being told clearly not to, he continued to stand up and reach things on the shelves.  I told him to keep his bum glued to the cart bottom, gave him the reason (um, hello?  Head injury anyone?!) but to no avail.

So calmly and without opinion I said, I see you have chosen to not ride in the cart.  Practice makes perfection, I think, thanks to my daughters' assistance over the last 8 years.  This one is ten times as willful as those two combined and man, do I ever WANT to be mad at him!  I lifted him out, and placed him on the floor, where he proceeds to demonstrate his feelings clearly.

Because I am no longer taking this personally, nothing bothers me about it (except the cringe factor of the behaviour on display, but I've dedicated my "personal journey" (ugh.  for lack of a better term) right now to not taking these things personally.

Anyway, I said, "Wow, you feel really angry," and I told him that I would wait for him to be finished being angry.

I then waited at the end of the (not very long) aisle for him to be done.  Eventually a stock guy (older and very respectful, said he has a grandson the same age) asked him if he was upset (or something like that) and my son, horrified, got up and, chastened, joined me to finish shopping.

It is really helping me to let them have their stages.  My older two were really angry when they realised I was serious about them walking alongside of my bike with bin (replacement for car for school, too far to walk whole way).  Same thing.  I let them rant up the street and, while embarrassed about the public display, smiled through my gritted teeth and let them walk and rant.  The next day, they walked with reluctance (I want them to do about 4 city blocks, they are 7 and 6) and the next, they were running, laughing and racing me.

Studying the Adler method of parenting techniques (sounds culty, I know, but holy cow the thing changed my life, so ... skip it at your own peril man!) really gave me skills that I was lacking.  Like the idea that regularly acknowledging my children's feelings -- just paused to comment on the fun they seem to be feeling right now as I type -- gives them the positive feedback they crave (even when they are feeling sad and angry).  I mean, if you think about it, as adults, do we really want people to tell us to get over something crappy our husband does, or something that goes "wrong" with our day or plan, or do we want them to hear us tell them why it sucks?!

I guess I want the latter, and try to provide that kind of care to my friends (where I used to tell them how to solve their problems, ugh).  I now say, wow, that sucks, or whatever seems appropriate.  I am working very hard at saying the same thing to my kids, mostly in the hopes that they will trust me to hear them when they are teens, but also because it seems to short circuit the bigger tantrums.  And even I get impatient after a while.

August 25, 2010

'v got this feeling ...

that I need to go somewhere or do something.

Actually, what I really need to do is to start getting to bed earlier and up before the sun (well ... once the sun stops getting up before 5 am) and get writing.  Then maybe I would ...

go somewhere or

do something.

July 13, 2010

Hi Karie, hi Amber!

I figure, it's my little blog, I can greet whom ever I want!

I don't often drink coffee, maybe once or twice a week. Here's what I managed to whip up this morning. 

Hope your day is shaping up to be like this coffee -- interesting, smooth and unexpected (with a touch of vanilla bean thrown into the grounds for good measure).

May 24, 2010

Relationships, sigh.

I have finally, after a year and a couple of months, written the first draft of a letter of things I want to say to my father. I've been spurred on by the site: The Things You Would Have Said and will probably post my letter once it is more succinct. (First drafts are always such train wrecks, eh?!)

Inasmuch as he was an emotionally injured kid (his dad died when he was 10) and teen (abusive stepfather) and adult (um, I think that is just him), he's about 80 now, give or take a year, and it might be time I stop letting him behave in selfish ways that still bring me to my knees.

Not sure what sending it to him will do for me, except get me further into the muck than out of it, so for now it will be one of those "Things I would have said" kinds of things. I'll post if/when it is published.

April 30, 2010

sadness ... ugh, life

I'm super sad tonight.  There are a few reasons ...

I went to an event last week that should have been joyful, but because I am in conflict with the celebrants, it was an empty experience.

I should have attended a dinner tonight but I am in conflict with a couple of the organisers. I sent my family, but really feel the disconnect of not being present in my community.

Of course, these are things somewhat within my control, and I know I can take actions that will make things easier for myself.  But at what cost?  I'm just not sure how I am going to get to a place of less conflict, and still stay true to myself. 

It is really hard to strike a balance between protecting one's self from bullying and the inappropriate behaviours of others, especially in situations where you can't easily avoid the individuals later. 

I hate to admit it, but I have been estranged from my dad for a year because I couldn't manage my feelings around certain behaviours any longer. A third conflict in my life.  In all of these situations, I've protected myself but, in doing so, my world is feeling pretty unsafe.

And then there's this other nagging question: am I overprotective, and paranoid, and maybe nobody did nuttin' to me, that I am a major over-reactor and an irritant?  Maybe I make all my own trouble?

I wish I could be funny and witty about this stuff like one of my favourite bloggers, my new Aunt Becky.  Her posts keep me out of the sauce because she is so damned funny.

Here's the thing:  If I am having all these conflict issues, I must be doing something wrong, or probably I could do something better?  (Oh, I think I might need an attitude adjustment ... therapy anyone?)

And so. I have resolved to start somewhere.

Ultimately, I need to find a better way forward. Conflict with others is not new to me, because I am the kind of person who steps in the stinky stuff all the time. I just don't have the filters to not say stuff.  But it is not a great way to live.  It gets kind of lonely.

Oops.  My kids and husband are home.  The sadness lifts so easily when the house is full.  I have to run.

March 15, 2010

Look who's talkin' trash ...

Interesting fracas developing, blogosphere vs traditional (male-driven) print media developing since the weekend.  It seems that a mommy blogger attended a conference, named "Bloggy" or something and sold a piece about it to the "Style" section of the New York Times.

Now.  Being an obsessed NYT reader from afar, I had read the piece and felt, well, rather nonplussed about it.  I have noticed a couple of blatantly commercial blogs as I wander through the sphere and read some that are delivered to my email box, they exist out there with the ones that have content and may/may not weave some form of commercialisation in with their commentary.

Being that I am also not a particularly critical reader, the nuances swept past me like a sweeper at a curling rink.  But there are some pretty pissed off mamas out there, blogging away about the big fat slight.  Here's one of the best I've read:  dated 3.13.2010.  As I scribble this missive, the comments number 250!

Okay.  So I haven't been at the blogging post for long and I have no readership,  so granted, I don't have enough invested to feel the impact of this article. 

But for me, here's the thing.  It is like the whole stay-at-home vs working mom thing.  I really believe what I am doing is right for me.  Actually, I know I would be more of a disaster if I were even attempting to work outside of the home right now, I don't do a whole bunch of things at one time particularly well.  Seriously, I would be a wreck, just like my friend found herself a wreck after staying at home on mat leave (a whole year in Canada).  She went so bananas she cut the whole thing short and got her ass back to the office for her bit of sanity.  We're two awesome people who are wired differently, so what's the problem here.

Weren't we all taught the whole "different strokes for different folks" thing?

I know we all, on some level, want to be taken seriously, but doesn't being taken seriously start at home, and really, why do we need to justify ourselves to anybody other than our nearest and dearest.

Yes.  I know about not being paid equally for equal work, and about doing equally as much (and more) for less, and about the women's movement.  I get that the article was crafted, by the writer maybe, but definitely by the editors, the copywriter who titled the article, and the artist, to have a certain disrespectful tone.  But what if we just completely ignored it, and chose to go a different direction?  What if we just know that our work, as mothers, journalists, writers, bloggers, workers, whatever, is valuable.  What if we took ourselves more seriously?

Look.  Some of us are capable of being very, very silly.  Reports have it that the mommy blogger conference goers were drinking their cocktails out of sippy cups.  Really?  I would die!  The drink wouldn't come out fast enough for me!  I would be embarrassed too!

What if we stopped calling ourselves mommies in the blogosphere.  Yummy mommies, Yoyomamas, blogging mommies ... We could be taken more seriously, and removed from the Style section and dropped into the business section.

But why would we?

Even if I can't, for the life of myself, drink any beverage from a sippy cup (my kids didn't prefer them either, by the way), I can laugh at myself for not being loosey-goosey enough and for having a coolness issue as I pour the content of a cup into a proper rocks glass and not apologise.  And I can continue to drink with the gals, so long as they can see that my inability to join in the fun is not a comment on how silly they are, but rather a deficit of mine.

If we lose the Bloggy, mommy silliness, and get ourselves into the business section, what do we have?  We just become like them, those stuffy guys that marginalise everybody that doesn't conform to their standard stick-in-the-mud ways.  Echt.

Oops!  I'd better get me to bed.  I've been a bad mommy lately, too tired to be particularly civil to my offspring in the mornings.

Despite all I've said, I too am anxious.  I am a stay-at-home mom in the new millennium.  Eventually I am expected to pull a wage again and contribute to my household in a monetary way.  I am blogging to myself to make sure that when the time comes, I have something to say, and a style to say it in.  And I don't really care what the NYT has to say about it, or where they say it, because I know who I am and why I am doing what I am doing.

Or so I mutter.

The Lives of Bullies ... part 2

Made kettlecorn for the first time tonight ... never knew it was as simple as adding sugar to the corn when the oil is hot enough!  Learn something new every day, eh?!

I am not really succeeding at writing everyday ... every night?  Part of the problem is that it is really hard to find the time without losing it from my night's sleep.  The other part would be one of those what stops you conversations.

A couple of weeks ago, I was making the time to write daily.  Writing, and developing my own ideas is hard won for me.  I can help other people make things happen ... edit their work, coach them in their endeavours, but believing in my own ideas and breathing life into them is not nearly as simple.

I know, I know, everybody feels this way.  I get that.  In this mutter, though, I am not going to lose the focus that I struggle with realising my own dreams.  Because I really believe now that I am moving forward, and doing more than just thinking about things I want to do and accomplish, I will.

There.  I've said it.

Anyway ... a couple of weeks ago I was managing to strap my butt into a chair and write, without too much editing (for now) so as to quit censoring myself, when someone that I care deeply about said to those around me (and, by extension, to me), "She THINKS she's a writer!".


Funny thing is that I have been paid to write, and paid reasonably well.  And I have a portfolio of work.  It isn't Shakespeare (yet) but it is written words.  Ergo I am a writer.  But that kind of bullying packs a pretty hefty punch into a fragile and developing confidence.

But what I know to be true, after a week or two of nursing the bruise, is that even the most precious people being awful can't knock a determined individual off course.

This person has always bullied me and others, and it is hard to understand why, because we are the most important people in said person's life.  I am painfully aware that there were events that happened in their life that made them as mean as they are, to themself and those around them ... but why?  What is it that they gain from this behaviour.  And, more importantly, how could a person like that change their ways?

Okay, seeing as this is turning into Bullies, part 2, I might as well delve a little bit further.  This person aside, there is a little person in my life that is showing this same tendency to use bullying with siblings.  Here's the thing:  I don't know if it is nature or nurture, or a combination.  What I do know is that I don't know how to address the issue effectively to help the little person find a healthier way to feel good.  Because ultimately, the kid doesn't look particularly happy as it is happening ... pleased like a cat sometimes, if it is having the right effect on the victim.

How do I address this, what do I do to mitigate the damage, to allow the others to "fight back" or "protect themselves" or ...

thoughts for another day ... something new to write about ...

March 10, 2010

the resonance of my bully, part 1

I had a bully, and from the day she decided she wanted my neighbour friend exclusively to herself, she was all mine. She arrived in grade 5 and zoned her sights in on me, nailing me relentlessly until she lost interest in around grade 9.  It seemed we were doomed to be together in every activity, from baseball to brownies, despite living in a large suburb.

My bully went for the position I played in ball and in grass hockey, and coveted and won over the kids I had hung out with since kindergarten.  I'm sure I wasn't the best fit with my group anyway, and most of the friendships weren't destined to last, but it still stung.

One of the worst things she did was to draw attention to the colour of my clothes, ridiculing each and every item I wore.  A creamy peach trouser became ORANGE.  A pair of lilac lace up shoes, matched perfectly to a deeper purple trouser was loudly obsessed upon until I couldn't stand to slip my feet into them again.  She was merciless, and when she couldn't best me (and often, looking back, she couldn't), she publicly ridiculed me, grabbed and crushed stupid prize ribbons, challenging me to after-school fist fights that became instant cat-scratch fests.

The only thing she couldn't do was to spread rumours about how easy I was because, well, she bested me in that one ... she was the class slut and proud of it.  I, on the other hand, was pure as the driven snow.  (Actually I was scared of my shadow, never mind boys.)

Okay, so after all these years, seriously, shouldn't I be over it?

The funny thing is that I'm not.  Not really.  In fact, not at all.

To this day, I wear black.  I have since I turned 16.  There is rarely a splash of colour in my clothes collection.  A winter scarf, maybe.  In the early 90s, at the persistence of my boyfriend, now husband, I went for it and banished most black from my wardrobe, but it didn't last.

Truth be told, I don't wear black for the coolness factor, nor do I think it is slimming.  I care little about either subject.  But when I wear colour, I feel like I am climbing right out of my own skin.

When asked, this is what I tell people:  I have a larger-than-life presence already -- a loud voice and big opinions, and wearing colour makes me feel like I am more obvious than ever.  Besides, I insist, I can't match colours to save my life.  Black is just easier.

My reality is much less entertaining.  I can't stand to wear colour.  It really does make me climb out of my skin.  The fact of it is that each time I slip into something with colour, the ghost of my bully is with me.

I know.  Get over it already, right?

Seriously?  I know I "should" get past this, to put it behind me.  But I really like wearing black, and I'd far rather look cool in the darkness than feel sick and small inside in living colour.


Fluevog makes some fantastic black shoes.

A Postscript:

Five months after writing this post, I attended my 25 year Grad Reunion.  I felt more at peace about my childhood and my "role" as one of the bullied, mostly thanks to some hard personal work on my part (including writing this piece).  I also no longer felt like the above-mentioned person was my "bully".  I wore a burgundy skirt and my favourite Fluevogs.

Please read the comments below for a response from Christine, who came across my blog a couple of weeks after the reunion, and also visit a newer post for the ongoing conversation.

February 26, 2010

death of a voice

Somebody I once knew briefly and minimally took his own life this week or last in Stanley Park. I took a class about improv and acting from him when he was perhaps too young to be guiding other people, but he was kind, and sweet, and encouraging.

In keeping with a theme that kept occurring in my life at that time, he said that one had to write and write and write and create and create and create, whether or not the stuff was good, whether or not it made sense.  To put an hour in daily of just spewing the words out on paper, whether or not the words were gibberish.

I once saw Chuck Jones give a talk at the end of a Looney Tunes meets the VSO at the Orpheum.  He was probably ninety-two or something at the time.  He said he was in an art class, when he was about 17 years old, and that it was his first art class.  He was really sucking at school at the time, maybe he had dropped out, I can't remember.

I believe he said he felt unsure of himself, maybe everybody else was older or something.  But he was surrounded by crumpled up papers, piling up all around his desk.  He would start a drawing, become discouraged, crumple it up and throw it with great, and I'm sure youthful, abandon.

At some point the teacher walked up to his desk and said:  Listen.  You have 100,000 bad drawings inside of you.  And in between those drawings you have the occasional masterpiece.  If you censor yourself, and stop a drawing that you have started, you risk one of two things -- you won't get one of your worst drawings out and you might toss something that would become one of your masterpieces.  (Of course, for Chuck Jones fans or descendants, I'm sure I have this story completely skewed.  Please feel free to correct this story.)

Fast forward one year.  I was on my solo honeymoon in rural Japan (don't ask!) taking a one-day pottery class.  All I could think as I sat at my desk, rubbing my clay with great purpose ... or, um, anxiety, was that I was taking a pottery class!  In Japan!  With some pottery god teacher!  How was I going to live up to this?  I had a potter's block!!!

The teacher was wandering up and down the aisle.  I dreaded him coming to where I was sitting, with nuttin.  He finally arrived.  He picked up a small amount of my clay, fiddled with it in his hands, plopped it onto my desk and pushed his finger into it twice.  Chopstick holder, he said, and he walked away.

At that point I got something that so many people had been telling me in so many ways.  I try too hard.  I always try too hard, and it doesn't really work that well.  What this teacher was telling me was that creating could be easy.  Wow.  What a revelation.

I knew that man who killed himself so briefly, but I can only imagine from the little I experienced of him how much he was loved.  Depression is such a horrible horrible condition, disease, place.  There is no place to go, now way to make things work, when you are in that pit.  If you can't see the upswing, or have faith that it is going to come (especially if the last upswing was a long, long time ago), what gets you through?

Me?  My high school guidance counsellor had me pegged.  She told my mom that I am a survivor.  And I am.  The one time I thought I was sinking too far into the muck, I quit walking across bridges.  It was too tempting.  But I was blessed with the full understanding that there is always an upswing, no matter how dark it seems, and one just has to ride things out, and continue to figure things out.

Tonight there are people across North America who grieve you and are horribly sad that you have gone.  Some knew you well, others just through the work you've produced, the show you were in, the classes you taught.

I pledge to keep a bit of your memory alive by showing more courage, a courage you had, to get my work out there.  To spit my words out and get them down.  I am committed to writing unedited, to just write, and write and write and write and write.  For me, because I am here.  For you, because you were a person that was hurting, but you were also a person who touched people with your kindness, your offerings.

I hope that whatever happens next for you, whether it is a new life, a heavenly home, or mere decomposition, that your soul will rest and that you have found peace.

February 24, 2010

sea of red and white. really?

I just returned from watching the pyrotechnics at Robson Square.  There was somebody waving a Canadian flag as a part of the show and there were lots of red and whites in the crowd.  At first, I thought it was charming.  But then ...

Wait a second!  This is the Olympics.

Aren't there, like, a gazillion different countries represented at these games?

It seems to me that we are on a weird bend that I simply don't recognise.  And I don't think I like it.

Take the "Own the Podium" campaign.  I am sorry.  I am totally embarrassed by this.  It isn't that I don't think we should support our athletes and cheer for them (I do).  It's not that I think we should not "go for the gold".  We should.

It's this:  We are the host nation.  "Owning" the podium not only seems unattainable, so we look like idiots who are in for some serious hubris, it is also poor hosting manners.  So I kind of wish that the campaign, with the same financing and push for excellence, was maybe worded a bit more tastefully.

Instead, hosting these games has allowed our government, or VANOC, or someone with some power, the right to give or limit the time non-Canadian athletes get to practice in the venues.  Given that (a) the ice is soft at the rinks because we are at sea level as opposed to hard at higher altitudes and (b) the degree of difficulty, not to mention danger, of the sliding, skiing and snowboarding tracks has given us not so much the "home team advantage" as a leg up.

Um, how can you claim to be the "best", deserving of medals, if you have these kinds of advantages, especially on the tracks that are more dangerous than average?  I know.  Unfair advantages include other elements, like access to nutrition, the best gear, money for training, etc.  But really?  Really?  I have a much harder time celebrating our wins on those harder tracks just knowing that our athletes had the advantage of so much more time to practice and master the curves and drops.

Forgive me (or not) but this seems a bit like cheating to me.  I don't get the sporting spirit in this.  Is it about winning at any cost?

What would the sporting events look like if we cheered all of the winners, and indeed, all of the participants?  What would speedskating look like if certain teams weren't knocking over any other team to go for Gold?  What would Luge look like without an openning day death?

I don't dislike winning.  I don't think the program called "Own the Podium" is a failure.  I am in support of my taxes being used to fully support sports, the arts, and the CBC.  These are the things that truly unite a country.  I definitely want our products to be the best in the world.  But I want to achieve that goal on merit, hard work and integrity.

If this "win at any cost" attitude is what the Olympic spirit is about, I can't say I love it.  I find it disconcerting.  I wonder how we can "celebrate" the coming together of athletes to compete at an elite level without losing our manners and forgetting what makes us, Canadians, unique and proud.

January 3, 2010

getting going ...


Starting things is is so painful.  Personally, I would prefer to censor everything I say, but that is simply not working.

Someone I once knew is missing.  He's mid career, and not happy about where he is at.   I took an improv class with this guy in the early 90s.  The one thing he said about finding your voice is to write, every day, just to let things flow without censorship, whether or not the materials make sense or are "good".  To honour his current pain, to stand with him when (hopefully) he is still struggling as opposed to having given up and ended his journey way too early.  Hang in there, man.  The world still needs your integrity, your pain, your comedy and your presence.

I am an older (43) stay-at-home mom who needs to get working on the next step.  My first to kids are in grades one and kindergarten, and my third will start preschool a couple of mornings a week in the fall.  The deal with my guy was always that when we had kids, one of us (the one with the lesser career, which would be moi) would stay at home and raise the kids for their first few years and one of us would continue to support the family.

Okay.  So I am the one staying home.  Once this became established, I proposed that I stay at home for these years that the children are at home, and then I take the first couple of years that they start school to redirect the unfocused career I have had till now.  So ... this blog is going to be the witterings that my friend suggested every creative person should do in order to work information out.  The time to work is now.

This is an exercise in puking whatever I want up on a page.  It is daunting to let it all hang out.  But I am prepared to go where I never really wanted to go, to find my voice.

As much as I know I may occasionally entertain an audience, while you are welcome to witness my blathering, I am not looking for readership at this time per se so forgive me in advance for the lack of skill, talent, content or organisation, those of you that stumble upon these pages.

Karen is muttering.