Flowers in California

Flowers in California

Monday, May 30, 2011

I'm Not Telling Anyone What to Do

I do not have a proud athletic past.  As longtime readers of my blog already know, gym classes were nightmarish for me.  I didn't progress far in swimming lessons and, while it's never been definitively proven, it seems that my body is not designed to dive into a pool.  I live with these realties.

Despite all of this, I started working out at a gym.  I have not used a trainer and I do not take classes.  For everyone's sake, it's better this way.  I go to the gym a lot now and, as I learn about and experience the benefits of physical activity, I do not want to stop.  It is very important for me to go to the gym.

At this point, it may appear I'm extolling the benefits of physical fitness and how everyone should work out.  I'm not.

I won't tell someone else that they should work out or, really, do anything in particular.  They are welcome to ask about something I do, and I love sharing my experiences, but I believe that people find their way, in their own time and do what they need to do.  I question how much positive difference it makes to be be told by others - friends, family members, medical authorities, the media - what and what not to do.

People and their lives, their histories, are complex.  If they are happy, if they are comfortable, if they are holding things together, they deserve praise.  And then there are people's rebellious streaks (I have one of those), fears, beliefs and self-destructive tendencies.  Simple words, information and believing we know best for others won't cut through.  And that's o.k.  We all have to find our own way.  We all have our own paths to follow.

As I go about my little routine of going to the gym, I will not tell anyone else that they should go too.  And I appreciate that no one is telling me a whole bunch of other ways in which I can improve my life.  I know I might benefit from drinking less coffee.  I'm just not there yet.  And remember, I'm rebellious.

So, enjoy!  Whatever it is you enjoy.  But only if you want to and always at your own pace!


Sunday, May 29, 2011

This Year, A Beautiful Garden Will Bloom

In writing this entry, I commit to creating a beautiful garden at my home this year.

I have had mixed success before.  This year, I will do my best and succeed in creating a wonderful display at the front and back of my house.

It is empowering to realize that we can create beauty.  In so many areas of our lives, we can do this.  We can create it in kind words to others, or with simple help with an errand that means a lot to someone, or by cleaning up a room and in so doing, uncovering its essence.  We have so much capability to create kindness, calm, beauty.  We can make a difference in so many, big and small, ways.

I am up early on a Sunday morning in a house filled with sunshine.  No one else is up so I don't want to do much and create noise.  Still, I have been able to do a little bit by writing this entry.

And I have committed to creating a beautiful garden this year.  Now it's in writing.  Soon it will be in soil.  I look forward to it.  It's awesome that we can help to create beauty.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thinking of People Who've Lost So Much

I look at my kitchen and it is messy.
I look at my kitchen and it is here.

For too many people, looking at their kitchens is impossible.  In Slave Lake, Alberta, fire destroyed way too much of the town.  And people in Slave Lake are so much better off than people in Missouri and Oklahoma.  Tragically one helicopter pilot died fighting fire in Slave Lake.  In the tornadoes that hit Missouri and Oklahoma, many people lost their lives.  Or were injured.  Or lost family members.  I can see the devastation on tv but what it would be like to be affected by it is unfathomable.  But it's real.

I hope and trust that healing will take place, that people will help each other.  I know that people can make a difference in a tragedy.  But nothing will undo what has happened in these communitites.  Terrible things happened.  That can't be changed.

A tornado or some other random event can happen at any time.  No one is immune.  This afternoon I will appreciate that things are calm and quiet here and that I have a kitchen to clean.  And  I will pray for the people who have lost kitchens and so much more.


Monday, May 16, 2011

What is a frappuccino?

I was at Starbucks and picked up an information sheet about frappuccino options.  When a drink has an information sheet, I think that's a troubling sign.  And there are many, many options.  I did not know.  I looked them over and some sounded tasty.  What I don't understand is that if there are multitudes of different frappuccino configurations, what is the essence of a frappuccino?  I'm missing something.  Perhaps this is something I should know.  Perhaps I will sound old or uninformed.  I don't know that I really care.  I just don't understand frappuccinos.  I admit it.  I also admit that I enjoy paying only $1.94 for my tall bold coffee when I go to Starbucks (admittedly maybe a little too often) and not having to know any specialized information.  But that's just me.  To all you frappuccino lovers, enjoy.  You have knowledge way beyond my understanding.


It was worth it

At the start of this evening, I had a choice.  I could stay home by myself and do whatever I wanted (and there are always things I want to do) or go to my son's baseball game.  I decided to leave it up to him.  He wanted me to attend.  I did.  It was very windy.  It was unpleasantly cold.  I hadn't factored in the strength of the wind or the particular nastiness of the cold when I put a tasteful sweater over my top.  Apparently a windbreaker would have been a good idea.  Hence the name.  Anyways, I was cold and I've had more fun experiences in my life than sitting there in those conditions.  But late in the game, my son got a hit and he got to first base safely.  He looked over to me once he'd made it there.  It made it all worthwhile.  I am so glad I went to the game this evening.


What we fear, what happens

My heart goes out to the people in Slave Lake, Alberta.  Many of them have lost their homes and their town has been severely affected by fire.  It is awful.  Thankfully no one has been killed or seriously injured though.

I don't know what warning the people in Slave Lake had about the fires.  Perhaps they have feared this for a while.  To an outside observer like myself, though, it seems like fear of an imminent disaster was stronger in Manitoba.  Whether from natural flooding or a man-made flood, designed for the greater good, we have seen and heard a lot about the situation there.  And, as in our own lives, we can fear one thing and suddenly, we are blindsided by something completely different.  Life and the world can be unpredictable.

I don't mean to minimize anyone's suffering in either of these situations.  What I am struck by right now is that we shouldn't spend too much time on fear.  We never know what will happen and no matter how much we plan for every apparent eventuality, we cannot have complete control.  Maybe that frees us up a bit to just live.


Oh there's a baseball coming at my head, I'd better gracefully move out of the way

That's a long title and that's a lot of thinking to do when an errant baseball is heading for you.  I don't know if I've ever gotten a baseball in the head (I'd probably remember or, well, maybe not) but it's something I fear at baseball games.  Tonight at my son's game, a ball headed to the side of the field where I was sitting and I was ready to take evasive action.  And then I felt silly.  And I wondered about whether trying not to look silly would enter into my thought process if a baseball really was heading for me.  I hope not.  I know that I might look odd if I jump at every little threat but I think that avoiding getting hit on the head with a very hard and fast ball is a worthwhile pursuit.  So I will keep actively watching the games I attend and try to move out of the way if a ball is heading for me.  Or maybe I should just wear a helmet.  I'm not always in a mood to chat and that would probably take care of that issue too.


Others Hurt Too

I believe that every painful experience we go through in life enlarges our capacity to understand other people's pain.  There is a silver lining in the dark cloud.  What I have realized lately, however, is that even though I know what other people go through because I've had similar pain myself, I can still be wrapped up in my experience and forget that it is as real and as bad for others.  I regret that.  I'm not helping others as much as I could be by showing compassion and I'm clinging to my pain and still trying to get people to share it with me.

Maybe I can go a little easier on myself and say it's unfortunate that I've had some painful experiences and that if I can help anyone at all with my understanding, it's a bonus.  I'm not obligated to help.  It's a shame that I've suffered.  But I want to help.  I want to let people know that they're not alone.  I want to validate people's experiences and say some things have happened to me too and I know that they hurt.  And I know too that life goes on and can still be beautiful.

Life is beautiful.  Especially when we remember to care about others.  I must never forget that.

(This entry is dedicated to some angels - invisible but loved)


I made a very tasty macaroni and cheese dinner this evening.  And it wasn't from a box, this time.  Rather it was prepared from scratch and decided upon right before I started making it.  This is really new to me and it's been happening more and more often.  I credit my Rose Reisman Family Favourites cookbook.  It has given me the power to cook good meals for my family.  It is so nice getting rave reviews for meals.  The three of us enjoy eating dinner.  The jokes about "Can or box" are not as frequent.  I am grateful to Rose Reisman and I am grateful that I was ready in my life to find this cookbook and use it.  Food matters and we matter and now my cooking reflects these realities.  I wonder what I will cook tomorrow!


Event Planning

I survived my son's baseball opening day celebrations.  If I had just attended, survival would have been pretty easy.  Being a key part of the organizational committee and seeing that things arrived and got set up as they should, survival was more of a challenge, a goal.

I haven't planned a lot of events before and I don't think it is my calling.  That's ok but there will probably be other occasions in life when I will need to plan events for some reason.  I have learned one lesson that will be helpful to anyone in such a situation:

     "Don't just hope for the best."

Yes.  I am rather optimistic about some things.  When planning an event, however, that's not enough.  I may not be a details person but I'd better learn to play the role of one.  Or suddenly I will have a situation again like I had yesterday morning .  I realized that the deal was never finalized with the tent and table rental people and I wasn't getting tents and tables.  And the event was starting at noon.  Luckily, another company came through (before 8:30 on a Sunday, no less, they answered their phone) but I grew up in those agonizing moments of fear and realized that I have to do better with things like this.

Hoping for the best in life is great.  Hoping for the best in event planning is a recipe for failure, tears and public humilation.  I think I'll pay attention to the details next time.  I am so grateful that we were able to save the day this time.  Whew!


Those People in That Book

I treasure each and every one of my friends and feel blessed to know all of them.  And then there are those people in that book.  I'm not sure what to do about them.

Having lived in this community for about 17 years, there are people that have come and gone in my life for various reasons.  We got along at the time, perhaps would have become friends if our time together had been longer, but friendships did not develop.  And that's ok.  And then I run into these people at the mall.  And the problems start.

It is nice to run into people and to catch up on life and talk for a little while.  But I don't know what should happen next.  What does happen for me is that we exchange numbers (I tend to record them in my purse notebook) and then we don't phone each other.  Ever.  That makes me uncomfortable.

Recently, I was going through my notebook because it was full and I wanted to recycle the pages.  The numbers are still there.  They are still waiting.  For me, the issue needs resolution.

I do not bear full responsibility here.  No one has phoned me either.  So, three people out there kind of like me but won't go as far as arranging a coffee or lunch date.  And that's how I feel about them too.  That's ok.  I wonder though if next time I run into an acquaintance in the mall, we should just admit up front that there is very little chance our friendship will go much further.  And if we're going to have coffee together, we'd better rush over to Starbucks right away before the feeling passes.


Robin's Nest

We have a robin's nest just outside our kitchen window.  Yesterday,  a bird could be spotted sitting in it.  We don't know if there are eggs yet.  The mother (maybe father?) has built a great nest in a sheltered spot under the eaves.  It's incredible that such a little bird knows what materials to use and how to construct a nest.

Over the last few days, we had some maintenance done to the outside of the house.  Logically, it would have made sense to remove the nest.  We didn't make the logical decision.  The nest stayed right where it was and work went on around it.

It is easy to try to obtain control over nature.  We do it in some many ways and, unfortunately, if we hadn't obliterated a lot of natural settings, we wouldn't have built very much at all.  I don't know what the right balance is in the larger sense.  I do know that letting one bird nest stay where it is seems like the right thing to do.  I hope that the little bird family does well.


To Volunteer or Not to Volunteer

Yesterday I spent about four hours standing in a windy park monitoring children using two bouncy castles.  There were a few injuries and some tears (I hate to see the tears) but everyone was able to walk away from the castles, including me, without medical attention.  Woo-hoo!

I am not mentioning this lengthy shift to make myself look good.  Oh no.  Rather, this was an example of me not asking strongly enough for volunteers and people not responding to the requests that they received.  We should have had way more people to help.

I know that I am not the only volunteer organizer who has had trouble recently getting enough people to help.  Events like fundraising casinos and baseball celebrations cannot run well without enough people sharing the load.  The question arises, should these events continue to run or not?

There are people who volunteer a lot.  Some of them do so because they can afford the time and want to help, others help even if they can't afford the time.  There are others who come to events and, while I don't know their life circumstances, don't seem to consider that they could be helping out too, just like me.  It doesn't take advanced study to stand outside a tent, repeatedly make sure it's not overloaded (no more than six at a time) and occasionally yell at kids over the generator noise and general screaming.  Volunteers are not a separate species - we are just people who are helping.  And many hands make light work - or so the saying goes, and we could use many hands.

I think people should be given a choice that events run if people help and if there are not enough people, there won't be as many events and as much fundraising.  Otherwise, the same people who volunteer at event after event will continue to do so, unless they get tired of it all, because they believe that by helping we do our part to make the world a little better.

I am not sure what I will do should my son play baseball next year and I see the volunteer sign up sheet again.  Oh, maybe I will just plan on more bouncer monitoring.  I'm pretty sure there won't be any competition for the position and I'm really good at counting to six now.  And, as the day wore on, I got a lot more assertive telling the kids what to do.  Maybe by next year, I will be able to stand up to their parents as well and demand they work for a shift or two.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Should you really be calling me that?

Within the last few minutes, I tucked my son into bed.  I think I did particularly well on the tucking in tonight - the comforters were nicely arranged around him.  He looked comfortable.

As I left his room he said "Good night Mum."  Given the nature of our relationship, this is reasonable.  I am his mother and have been for over 10 years.  Still, though - he got me as a mother and I've fooled him into believing that I am suited for this role.

It's not that I'm criticizing myself here.  What I'm saying is that it's hard to see myself as a mother.  I'm still me.  There were bumps in the road to becoming a mother. And after he was born I didn't know what I was doing and I haven't taken formal education for this position along the way.  I'm still doing (some of) what a normal parent does for him and I love him more than anything in the world but, wow, I'm what's passing for a Mum these days.  Incredible.

Again and again, people become parents.  And suddenly a little person depends on these people who are in a position of importance solely because the little person has come along.  We hope that the parents know or will learn what to do.  But there are no guarantees.

Kids count on their parents, step-parents, god-parents, grandparents.  They don't have much choice.  It's an awesome reponsibility raising children.  And it's incredible that it's just normal people who are given the responsibility to handle it.

Happy Mother's Day!


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I Wish I Had Known

I wish I had known that I mattered,
I wish I had known that I was worthy and wonderful too
It wasn't just that I got to date someone
He got to date me
A guy can't save a girl
Can't make her happy, make her fulfilled
Can't make it right
I wish I had known these things
I thought that, if only I was in love,
Everything would be ok
Someone would take care of me
I wouldn't have to bear the burden of creating my own happiness
I wouldn't have to bear the burden of figuring out my life
I found out, as we often do, the hard way
That what I believed was wrong
I am still learning that I make myself happy
Or not
That no one can save me, be my prince
I am as royal, as strong
I don't hate anyone I once loved
It wasn't his fault
He couldn't carry my load, I shouldn't have expected that
I understand now
But I wish I had known