Archive | December, 2016

Flying on your own

24 Dec

single-xmas

I went to Christmas Eve mass tonight in the small church where I was baptized and got my first communion.  Well actually, it is not the same church as a few years back the original building went up in flames and needed to be replaced.   It seems there was a local fire starter as that year 3 or 4 big buildings burnt to the ground in this small rural community.  Although no one was ever arrested in the words of my mother ‘something queer was going on.’  Most of the people in the church are related to me or I grew up with them.  It has always been a social sniff out – see who is home for Christmas, who brought a new  man/woman home, who had a baby, who looks better and who looks worse

Last year I wanted to go to church even less than I usually want to go as I had very recently broken up with my boyfriend who I lived with.  It was an absolute guarantee someone was going to ask me where he was or the real gassy ones might say ‘are you getting a diamond for Christmas?’  Nope, I gave him a different finger.  When you see someone you haven’t seen in a bit it is very standard to ask ‘what is new with you?  There are social norms for someone my age to respond with:

  1. I got engaged
  2. I got married
  3. I had a baby

When you have none of those things to report it feels so goddamn awkward.  It is kind of like the autopilot question ‘how are you’ to which we respond ‘good’.  No one actually wants to hear you say ‘my boyfriend and I just broke up, I don’t know where I am going to be living and I hope Mom and Dad give me a Christmas present.’  But that was a year ago and although that question still feels awkward I am completely confidant in reporting the fact that I am single and ready to mingle (if anyone reading knows a fabulous guy let a girl know).  My ever-so-thoughtful best friend is also home for Christmas.  She just had a baby so she has something to report this year. She was on a brain storm last night of who the guy for me might be and where I could meet him.  She said – tomorrow night in church look around and see if there is anyone there.  You never know who might be home or who might be single now.’  As much as I appreciate the gesture finding someone in church in Maryvale would be like having a sighting of The Lochness Monster or winning the lottery.  Very unlikely.

Tonight, in the middle of mass there was a commotion at the back of the church.  At first I thought it was the man of my dreams coming to find me.  Shit, my imagination got the better of me.    In reality someone fainted.   My Dad loves Rita MacNeil, a singer from Cape Breton.  She had a cleft pallet and was as wide as she was tall.  There were many Rita MacNeil jokes – she threw her underwear into the crowd at her concert and suffocated the first two rows. For a woman who outwardly looked like someone I would never relate to, her lyrics resonate with me.  I too love her songs.  If my dear friend Sacha is reading this she will be dying laughing at this point as she also is an in-the-closet Rita MacNeil lover. We have both increased the YouTube views of Rita’s songs. One song in particular is Flying On Your Own.  If Rita can do it so can I.

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Think before you speak (and post)

16 Dec

hiding-computerI’ve always been a positive person.  I wake up feeling happy and look forward to seeing what the day is going to bring me (and what I will bring to it).  If someone ever gave me a set of pajamas that say ‘Don’t Talk To Me Until I Have My Coffee’ they wouldn’t know me well at all.  I like to think I am ‘realistically positive’.  Not the type of positive that you want to kick in the teeth.   There are things I find hard to be positive about –  winter for one. There is a whole lot of ugly commentary that goes on in my head surrounding winter. But then I am able to move on from it as my it is my choice to live in a part of the world where winter happens.   I remember going to my confirmation classes with our priest and one of the boys asked facetiously ‘Father, do I have to confess EVERY dirty thought I have?’ to which Father MacDonald replied ‘If you confessed you that you had 13 dirty thoughts today I would beat you and say I had 19’.  Kind of like dirty thoughts – everyone has negative thoughts.

I’ve noticed something lately though and it is eating at my positive self. Media and social media has caused our society to become this cesspool of negativity.   Trump consumed people for months and the media/people posted every awful thing he said or did. It was as if the world was ending. Post after post of hysteria.   Police officers, drivers, developers, healthcare – no one is safe from this online judgement.  Where I live there is the threat of a teachers strike right now.  There is work to rule action in place – meaning that teachers are only doing what their contract binds them to do.  It seems every other person is posting some awful accusation or critical viewpoint of teachers or the government.  It is as if social media has given all of those ugly inner thoughts we have a place to be displayed and confessed.  In the past it meant going over to someone’s house to talk or writing a letter to the paper or going to a public political meeting.  It takes balls to get up in front of a group to speak publically about a criticism you may have and it takes skill to write a well crafted letter which the paper will print.  It doesn’t take much courage or skill to post negative/critical comments online.  In fact, any donkey or educated person (who statistically are actually the most critical) with an internet connection can do it.  Just like the earlier mentioned dirty thoughts – not every thought you have needs to be confessed.

It is the holiday season.  A time when we are historically especially stressed. And we all know what stress does: it brings those ugly-inner-critical-of-others-thoughts closer to the surface.   We are rushing around searching for presents, getting groceries, travelling.  Here are a few facts: it is going to be busy.  The parking lot is going to be full.  There are going to be lines.   And if you’re travelling the airlines might lose your luggage.  But what we must remember is that we are choosing to do whatever it is that we are doing. Set yourself up for success.  Have a drink before you go.  Go for a run.  Get laid.  Whatever it takes to get you into a good frame of mind.  Don’t go to Costco at 2 pm on a Saturday.

Before you go take a minute (or rather 4:23) to watch this video  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wl2_knlv_xw.

I hope reading this has encouraged you to think before you speak, post or share.  The fact is: teachers are people who also have children, politicians are people we voted into power, you’ve been the person who didn’t see the light turn green and should remember how jarring it is to have someone blare their horn at you, you’ve been helped by a police officer before and our healthcare system has saved the life of someone you love.  I know you’re better than that.  Come on team let’s look on the bright side of things.  You’re alive.  Use your input in a more powerful way.

Think:

T: is it true?

H: is it helpful?

I: is it inspiring

N: is it necessary?

K: it is kind?

 

Do It. Now.

5 Dec

tomorrowisnotpromised

I deal with loss on a regular basis through my work – I meet women who I get to know well, become friends with and often times they die.  This past weekend someone especially impactful died.  She was funny.  She was feisty.  She was smart. She was independent.  She was strong. She was 39.  She died from ovarian cancer.   Her death was a stark reminder that being gifted with a long and healthy life is not a guarantee.

Our society has somehow been fooled into having bigger houses, more stuff, more debt and needing to work more (and longer) to pay for all of it. Yet when faced with death the most common things people say is that:

  1. They wish they worked less
  2. They wish they spent more time with family and friends
  3. They wish they expressed their feelings more
  4. They wish they had worked on being happy / being themselves
  5. They wish they did the things they wanted to do

Everyone is always so incredibly ‘busy’.  Research shows that smartphones have increased our work days by 2 hours per day.  2 hours per day!!  That is 10 hours per week.  That is an entire work day (and then some) we are not getting paid anything extra for or given time in lieu for.  On the weekend one of my brothers and I were talking about political parties.  Steve said – if the PC’s and NDP’s took the time they spent pointing fingers at the Liberals and replaced it with thoughtful contributions, can you imagine how much more productive they would be?  Can you imagine if you freed up 10 hours of your week by working less what you could do with that time? That is a full work week per month.  That is 3 months of freed up time per year!  You could spend time with friends and family, you could learn something new, you could sleep, you could exercise, you could read… doesn’t that sound oddly like the things people wished they did before dying?

We no longer need to grow the garden to have food, to raise the cow to have meat, to sew the dress so we have something to wear.  Nor do we have to wash the dishes and clothing by hand so we have dishes to eat off and clean clothes to wear.  Nope. We have so many modern conveniences that allow us to free up time.  We have fewer kids. We have more choice. Yet, I most commonly hear people say they are so ‘busy’.  We’ve managed to fill our days being busy and being overcommitted doing things we choose to do.   Isn’t that ironic?  A birthday party used to be a bunch of kids playing, eating hotdogs and chowing down on ice cream cake from the DQ. Now it is an Oscar like production with Pinterest inspired treat bags and cake, pictures for social media and really what is it for?  I am guessing kids might have more fun running around, eating hotdogs and chowing down on ice cream cake.

I make a concerted effort to do things I enjoy and make time for people I love.  I try to limit stress and up my fun factor daily.  Granted, I am single and do not have children, but hopefully I will be able to keep up my habits if I ever have a partner and children to manage. Thankfully up until now I’ve been blessed with good health. Often times people need a big fat slap in the face to jump off the treadmill so many are on. A cancer diagnosis, a heart attack, the end of a relationship, the death of someone we love (who we feel guilty for not spending more time with) or the realization that it has been months since you picked up the phone to talk to a friend.

So whoever you are reading this… get your shit together and DO IT.  NOW.  Don’t wait.  Work less.  Give the gift of presence.  I mean really who wants their obituary to say that you were such a great employee – he/she worked more than we paid him for?   Sleep more.  Exercise More. Spend more time with your parents.  With your kids.  With your siblings.  With your friends.  Book the trip.  Buy the shoes.  Ask someone you like out.  Forgive.  Go on a date with your partner.  Sign up for a class.  Get out of that relationship that is bringing you down.

Because if tomorrow never comes…