March 13, 2011

Why I love Facebook, warts and all

I really do.

Facebook is a really interesting social phenomenon.  I have lots to say about it, and about why I use it now, where a year or two ago I would have given it a miss.

But today I just want to say that it is delightful to receive birthday wishes, many, so many of them, on The Facebook.  I always have been a big birthday celebrator.  I also believe(d) that you have to be responsible (as an adult) for your birthday ... if you want the birthday wishes, you must remind your loved ones that it is your birthday, and not in the days following it, but before.

On my Facebook birthday (close enough to, but not on my day for obvious reasons), I received wishes from people I have not seen in years, from friends I only know on the Internet, from loved ones I talk to all of the time.  Each wish tells me that this person thought about me for long enough to post something, a wish, on my wall.  I tell you, it feels amazing to think of this.

Sometimes I take the time to wish people a happy birthday on FB, sometimes I have not, because I didn't want to appear insincere.  Well ... I will take the time, everytime, after yesterday, because I loved each and every wish I received, and feel positively bathed in good wishes!

Yum!  I do love a Happy Birthday!

March 9, 2011

counting birthdays ...

I received a handmade birthday card from my guy this morning.  At the bottom of it, he writes "You're 43!" and alongside there is a self-portrait of a quaking man, with the words "I'm next!"

"Erm, actually, I'm 44," I tell him.  His eyes widen (and if you knew his looks, he has classic, narrow, almond-shaped Asian eyes, so the wide-eyed look is, in and of itself, pretty darned tootin' funny ... ) so I continue, "You know what comes after 44?"

He shakes his head, pleading, don't say it ...

"45.  And you know what follows 45?"

He shakes his head wildly, madly.


Aging bothers me not at all.  I like myself better every year that I practice the good habits I have learned over time, and drop the ones that bring me no pleasure.  I also am so flawed that I am quite certain that I will have plenty to work on for the rest of my life, regardless of how short or long it is.  And I am incredibly grateful to have made it through some really tough years to get to this day, this month, this year.

I can wait for 50, and I can wait for 45 too.  I have plenty to accomplish at 44.  Starting with baking my birthday cake and cooking our dinner.  But I think I'll leave cleaning my house for tomorrow.  I am hoping to have it under control by the time my much younger husband turns 44 ... I've got till October.

March 6, 2011

Democracy? Wins at all costs?

This past week, at a non-partisan celebration in Quebec, staffers of the party currently in power in Canada hustled media from the room following the Prime Minister's speech and just as a leader from a popular opposition party was taking the stage.

Some people in Canada are celebrating this move as triumph for their party.

I have noticed that, regardless of the party in power, many voices express support for such "winner" moves, or bemoan these same moves as anti-democratic if the other party plays the "winning" hand.

I have to say, I can see why democracy failed the first time it was implemented (ancient Rome, if I am not mistaken).  I can also see why our societies are bound and determined to fall into chaos if this type of attitude prevails.  Are people truly this stupid?

These types of maneuvers, currently happening across the developed world, remind me of things that are commonplace in third world dictatorships and pseudo-democracies.  Is this the future for our own children?  Or do we insist on something better?

Democracy is only going to work if the wealthiest people pay a portion of the taxes, rather than amassing all of the wealth.  Democracy will only work if the poorest of the poor learn to vote in their own interest.  Democracy will only work if we have an open, free and unfettered media, not one owned by the wealthiest or those who follow a very strict dogma based upon economic theory alone.

March 5, 2011


What does practice mean?

I have been thinking a lot about practice this year, especially as last year I was involved in a choir and took private voice lessons.  I gave it all up this past September because I wasn't putting in the practice time required to be prepared each week.

To be fair to myself, being the mom of three smallish children is work enough.  Add to that a major renovation of half of our aged, in places literally crumbling, house; a critically ill parent; and a general penchant for disorder, and any time allotted to practice falls way, way down the priorities list.

To further hinder any possibility I would practice, I do not have a great track record for being disciplined.  I was not encouraged to practice in any positive way in my formative years, by parents or teachers.  To let them (only partway) off the hook, I'm pretty sure they had no idea of how to motivate a child to practice, or why, if said child (um, me) was not a natural worker bee. 

When I was in plays, I was never prepared for rehearsals like others were, with my lines memorised or my character's traits flushed out.  My piano teacher harangued me, week after week, with the same lament: "I could have taped myself talking to you last week and played it back to you this week.  You haven't worked on a single thing."  School teachers too bemoaned my wasted talents, for complete lack of my trying.

Well today I don't have the luxury of repeating the mistakes on my children that my parents did with me.  I am better equipped with knowledge of the hows and the whys of practice. I will not tolerate my daughters' (and eventually my son's) reluctance to put in the time if they want to learn an instrument.  And they do.

What I now know to be true is this: As painful as practicing something over and over and over again is, it brings a person a confidence I never knew as a youngster or young adult, an authenticity in the finished product.  I know this from practicing (when I can or choose to) and from solid research I have invested into the subject.

The trick with children is how to motivate and teach them to practice in a way that brings meaning into the thing that they are learning.  Whether it is studying or completing homework, which I believe is a form of practice, or learning an instrument, or manners for that matter, helping a person to develop meaningful practice habits is tricky.  To be blunt, it requires a whole lot of time and discipline on the part of the adult or mentor.  It also requires creativity.  A whole lot of creativity ... oh, and patience -- oh my, the patience!  And diligence.  An ability to bite the tongue!  A thick skin!  And did I mention ... patience?!

Okay.  I'm killing that one.  Moving on.

What I also know about practice is this:  All of life is about The Practice.  Learn to practice something, anything, and life grows infinitely more livable. And enjoyable, with a huge emphasis on JOY.

But that, my friends, is a post for another day.