Tag Archives: family

37 Reasons Why

28 Apr

Happy Birthday

A week from today I will officially be in my upper-mid 30’s.  37 years or 444 months or 1,924 weeks or 13,505 days or 324,120 hours.  Whatever way you want to put it.  Birthdays are a great time for reflecting.  Thinking about what has happened in the last year and what you desire for the year ahead.  Now that I am in my ‘upper-mid 30’s’ I’ve been around the block, I’ve learned a few lessons and since it is ‘International Pay It Forward Day’ I am going to share some of my thoughts with you and hopefully you can absorb something from them.  Since I am the only one who can see things through my own eyes and mind – this is my list not yours.

Here are 37 things I believe to be true and the reasons why:

  1. Aging is a gift.  The reason why I know this is true is because being dead is the alternative.
  2. Advil Liquid Gels are amazing.  The reason why I know this to be true is if I drink a bottle of red wine and don’t take one before I go to bed – I get a roaring headache.
  3. Go with your gut.  The reason why I know this is true is had I listened to my gut I wouldn’t have dated a guy who wore a puka shell necklace, khakis and had no friends.  My gut said he wasn’t cool.  He wasn’t.
  4. If a guy stands you up or in modern terms ‘ghosts you’.  Shame on him for a being a pussy.  The reason why I know this to be true because it has happened to me before: it is both immature and flakey.  Do you really want to date someone who is immature and flakey?  Nope. Also, if someone does that to you don’t wonder: what is wrong with me?  Why doesn’t he like me?  You just aren’t what he is looking for.
  5. Don’t make assumptions.  The reason why I know this to be true is because when I’ve made assumptions it ends up not being what I assumed and it causes you unneeded drama or miscommunications.  Ask questions.
  6. Your mind is like a parachute – it only works when it is open.  The reason I know this to be true is that when you say no, judge, criticize or act out of fear – nothing good happens.  Keep that mind open.  Amazing shit happens when it is.
  7. When you find a lipstick you love buy it, stop trying other ones on and buy at least 3 of them.  The reason why I know this to be true is that I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on every type of lipstick.  Finding the right lipstick is like discovering penicillin.   When you find a good one you need one for your purse, your bathroom and an extra in case you drop the other one in the toilet or your nieces put it on and break it.
  8. There is no ‘THE ONE’.  The reason why I believe this to be true is that there are 7 billion people on this planet and you’ve only met a small number of them.  I think there is ‘someone’ who collides with place in life, attraction and timing.
  9. Further to that note there is no fairy-tale.  The reason why I believe this to be true is that I’ve seen a lot of relationships and not one of them look the way they are presented in movies and books.    Whoever you end up with – they are going to annoy you, piss you off, be late, you’re not going to be attracted to them at times and they’re going to leave laundry on the floor.  They aren’t always going to know what you are thinking or buy you amazing gifts. Prince Charming is hiding in the woods of Never Never Land.
  10. Take Risks – go outside of your comfort zone.  The reason why I know this is true is that every single time I’ve done this I’ve learned something about myself, other people and the world around me.   Spice things up.  Do new things.
  11. Travel.  As much as you can.  When you travel you grow.  The reason why I know this is true is that the most amazing memories I have involve travel.  See the world.  See your country.  See your province.  See your city.  You need to.  It makes you more intelligent.  It makes you more empathetic.  It makes you more interesting.  It makes you more dynamic.  It makes you happier.
  12. Be curious and ask questions.  the best conversations happen when you do this.  The reason why I know this to be true is that people love it when you are interested in them.  It is interesting to know more than you currently do.  Oh, and don’t date someone who doesn’t ask questions.  You will end up listening to them talk about themselves all the time and who wants to do that?  Gross.
  13. Make sure you work on your friendships.  If you don’t – you won’t have friends.  Friendships are an incredible blessing.  Friendships are one of the most gratifying relationships because there are no real rules or codes of conduct.  No hours of operation.  The reason why I know this is true is that I have loads of friends, it takes work and my life is super rich because of them.  Oh and don’t hang with friends who talk about cellulite, other girls and don’t eat anything other than salad.  They’re boring and superficial.
  14. Don’t use the excuse “I am so busy”.  It stinks.  The reason I believe this to be true is that it is overused.  There is a lot of time in the day and week.  Really the truth of it is you chose to not make it a priority and that is okay.
  15. Get a pet.  The reason why I know this to be true is that your relationship with your pet brings out a side of you that is just beautiful.  Friendship, dependence, joy and love.  I firmly believe anyone who mistreats an animal cannot have normal relationships with humans either.  You are a shitty person if you mistreat animals.  Period.  Even people who don’t like them.  I question their character too.
  16. Talk to your parents.  Let them know they are a priority to you. Your siblings too.   The reason why I know this is true is that I’ve seen 17 babies be born.  It is amazing.  A wonder.  You see how much parents love their kids,  really.  Your Mother grew you for Gods sake – she deserves a phone call.  No one knows you better than your family.  If your immediate family are jerks – talk to your grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles.
  17. Don’t compare yourselves to others.  Don’t.  The reason why I know this to be true is when you focus on what you don’t have there won’t ever be enough.  Unless Apple comes up with some nifty new machine that allows you to transform yourself – you can’t. So work on making your own garden green.
  18. Food is amazing. The reason I know this to be true is because it is true.  You can’t deny it.
  19. Eat really amazing food with friends and family.  The reason I know this to be true is that food tastes better when you share it with others.
  20. Make up your own mind.  The reason why I know this is true is that it sucks to be told you have to be this or that.  It sucks to be forced to act a certain way.  It sucks to be told what is this or that.  When you are old enough to make up your own mind be brave enough to do it. Don’t live your life according to someone else’s rules or opinions.  Being yourself is the best.
  21. Once you are able to make up your mind find people who think like you.  The reason why I know this is true is that when you are around people who think like you really cool things happen.
  22. When you are looking for input or advice get it from like minded people.  Don’t get it from someone who is critical, negative or insecure.  The reason I know this to be true is that I’ve done it and it doesn’t work.  Why would I ask someone who has no style what they think of my outfit?
  23. Try to laugh as much as you can.  Have fun as much as you can.  Do I really need a reason why for this one?  No.
  24. Be kind to other people. Be generous with your time, energy and skills.  The reason why I know this is true is that when you are kind everything is better.  It is true.
  25.  Tell people they are being a dick when they are being a dick.  When you do it they usually learn something too.   The reason why I know this is true is that when I’ve done it the outcome is usually better. I haven’t done it a lot of times in my life as it honestly takes so much to get me worked up.  But generally, talking about it is always better.
  26. Life isn’t about what happens to you – it is how you perceive what happens to you.   9/10 times it has nothing to do with you.  The reason I know this is true is that few people intentionally ever do something to offend someone.   Not taking things personally is a much better way to keep your blood pressure down.
  27. Exercise.  Find something that works for you.  The reason why I know this is true is because when I’ve tried to force myself to be a runner I flipping hated it.  My boobs are too big.  I run on the side of my foot a bit.  I’ve learned that walking the same distance works better for me.  And I don’t have whiplash from my rack.  Getting a dog is an awesome way to incorporate exercise into your life.
  28. People are not what they look like on social media or online dating sites.  The reason I know this is true is because when you can take 12 retakes and edit the shit out of photos you look way prettier and the scene a lot more fun than it really is.  You are just as pretty and your life just as fab.
  29. Know the difference between a man that’s not worth it and a mans that’s not perfect.  The reason why I know this is true is because I’ve given too much of my time to men who are not worth it.   Where are those imperfect but deserving creatures hiding?
  30. Bullies, cranks or gossips.  They are super insecure and unhappy.  The reason why I know this is true is that confident and happy people are not mean or negative and they don’t care about what other people are doing.  Don’t give them your power.
  31. If you are girl you can do anything you want in life.  Anything.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t.  The reason why I know this is true is because I am a girl and I do whatever I want.
  32. Spend time around kids – it is really good for you.  The reason why I know this is true is because I’ve spent lots of time around kids and I’ve loved (almost) every minute of it.  They are uninhibited, authentic, honest, in the moment, inquisitive, accepting and loving.  And most of them like ice cream.
  33. Get to know someone who is good with technology.  It really helps.  The reason I know this is true is because I am awful at it.  Our world is based on technology now.  I should add that to my list of things I want in a man.
  34. Spend time with your family and friends doing things you love to do.  Jobs come and go.  The reason I know this is true is because I deal with death through my work and know that people wish they worked less.  On that note – do a job you like. You spend a lot of time there so if it doesn’t bring out the best in you – make a change.
  35. Everyone is different: they don’t want the same things as you, think the way you do or do things the way you do them.  That doesn’t make them weird or wrong. The reason I know this is true is that I’ve met a lot of people in my life.  When you really listen to people you understand them more. Refer back being open minded and kind.
  36. A nap is one of the best things in the world.  The reason I know this is true is that a nap feels like someone injected me with fresh energy and that is a really good thing.  I mean, Einstein, Winston Churchhill, John F Kennedy, Thomas Edison and Salvador Dali all took daily naps.  They knew what they were doing.
  37. We need to celebrate being alive way more often than one day of the year.   You don’t need a reason to celebrate.  Just do it.  All the time.

xoxo

 

A Special Place

24 Apr

HMMS

I grew up in the country.  All 3 of my brothers and I had the good fortune of attending a small rural school.  Now that I am in my ‘upper-mid 30’s’ I have the perspective to know what an absolute gem of a place that school was.  Our bus driver, Eugene, would burn by our house every morning in order to turn around at my grandparents garage a mile over the road.  I knew I had about 5 minutes to get my butt down to the end of the driveway.   The school is only a mile from where we grew up so the commute was short.  At the end of the school day, even that short ride felt long when you were hungry and tired because we played hard.  We had a real ‘Wildhood’ at HM MacDonald.

To give you some background info.  The school goes from grade Primary to Grade 6.   For the most part the same teachers taught myself and my siblings.  2 teachers retired after I had them (my class is legend to be the worst one in history… so we likely drove them to retire), but otherwise the teachers all stayed the same.  The classes were small.  I think one time we broke the 20 mark when a girl from British Columbia came into our class for a short time. Sierra.  I remember that ‘Come From Away’  girl clearly:  she had really long hair and it seemed so fascinating to be from Salmon’s Arm.  Her family mysteriously came and went.  There was a rumor that they left their dog in their freezer.  In grade 5 a piece was added to our school which enabled us to have more room and so they extended the school line. I remember we had a ribbon cutting celebration and different political officials came to our school for it. I graced them all with a tap dancing routine to Bobby Day’s 1956 smash hit – Rockin’ Robin.  I ‘time-stepped’ my way into our local newspaper.  I just laughed thinking of that.  When the new section opened we had a few jogging pant wearing kids from over the road join us.  Other than those few changes,  I basically had the same kids in my class all the way through.

Oh the memories.  When you have the same classmates, the same families, cousins in the school, the same teachers, the same janitor/bus driver and the same playground supervisor everything felt so secure and safe.   Of course there were the usual issues – bullying, cat fights, back talking and of course sour milk.  Literal sour milk.  We had a milk program at school and it has scarred me more than any bully did.  The milk was often on the warm side and I never liked it.  One time I complained that the milk was sour and my teacher said it wasn’t.  IT WAS.  Until this day I cannot drink milk on its own from an unknown source.  I have PSMDD – Post Sour Milk Drinking Disorder.

I know for certain that HM MacDonald helped me grow my confidence.  With confidence you can communicate better, be empathetic, be compassionate, take risks, think big and have a more positive outlook on life.  No one fell through the cracks.  We all knew each other and so it became a safe place to do public speaking, singing in the Christmas concert (or getting the golden speaking roles if we did a play) or strike out at baseball.   I could tell stories for hours about my memories from that school.  The time (when in grade 5 and 6) Allan and Brent stole the school bus and ripped around the soccer field with it.  Or when we were out past the buzzer and saw our teacher tramping across the soccer field to get us – Randy fell out of the tree he climbed and broke his pelvis.  When Amanda put a tack on the teachers desk and he sat on it.  When Bradley had gas so bad in class that our teacher sent a note home to his parents about his diet.  Or Miss Hickey (our completely bizarre music teacher) who made us study Beethoven and Bach in grade 3.   When we turned against our sweet bus driver/janitor Eugene and got a petition to have him removed from the school for smoking in the furnace room.  On a more scholastic note: Mad Math Minutes, Reach for The Top and science fairs.  Having to take the bus to Lakevale School to have enough kids to make two teams from and track and field day in town.  Hotdog days when it was your Mom’s turn to serve.  Cake walks where it didn’t matter who made the cake or what was in it – you ate it and loved it.  Participaction with Hal and Joanne.  Mass in the school gym on Wednesday mornings.  That canopy where you all run into the middle and it goes up into the air.  Fiercely competitive dodge ball.   The ‘Humping Cabin’ the boys made up in the woods behind the school.  To be clear – no humping ever happened.  The boys would make humping like motions while walking into it.  Heads Up 7-Up.  Hatching chicks every spring in our classroom.  Crazy high swings and those frigging monkey bars that everyone fell off at some point.  I could go on and on.  I am sure my brothers could add in countless memories they too have.  We all made life long friends from our days at HM MacDonald.

As like many other families who came through HM MacDonald; my siblings and I have all done well for ourselves.  When someone complimented my Dad (who is a terribly modest creature) on his children he said ‘that was largely because of their Mom not me’.  While our parents and genetics play a big part in who we become so does the community you grow up in.  I know for certain that our elementary school days greatly impacted our characters and potential.

I read this week that the school board is looking to shut down HM MacDonald. This announcement came out of the blue as it is a thriving school with full classrooms and a small operating budget.  Tears came to my eyes when I read it.  The idea of kids from our community taking long bus rides to be placed in big classes breaks my heart.   It is a special place.  There are so few special places like this left.  We need to nurture them not close them down.

Tell Me A Story

18 Feb

story-telling-jpg-1

Can you tell me a story? I can’t even begin to count how many times my nieces have asked me to do that.  They absorb every ounce, of every word I speak when I tell them foolish and wild tales of growing up or stories from my older family members.   When each story finishes I can be sure to hear – another one please.  They love every second of it and stare at me like I am a wonder of the world.  We all love a good story, told well.

Storytelling is one of the oldest forms of entertainment.  Before we had the internet, before we had cable, before we had cellphones, before we had Ipads — people got together and told stories.  I’ve always had an insatiable interest in people and witnessing the world around me. Like some people love running or music, a great love of mine is hearing or recanting a great story.  I grew up in the country with no cable which meant one of our main forms of entertainment was going to visit relatives and neighbours in the evenings.  If my Mom was going so was I, as it meant I got to listen in on adult conversations and hear crazy stories.  I can clearly remember my Grand Uncle Emile telling the story of getting home to his fathers funeral in Cape Breton.  He was living away working as an RCMP officer and on the day he was to travel planes (from the only airline in Canada at that time) were grounded.  Instead of missing his fathers funeral RCMP officers did a convoy for him – they drove him to the edge of their districts where an officer from the next district would meet them.  Amazingly, he made it all the way from Ontario to Cape Breton in time for his fathers funeral. He told stories with such zest.  Hands going.  I was completely captivated by him.  Or what about the time when Grand Uncle Blais as a boy got a cows horn through his neck and nearly died.  Or when my Grandmere spent an entire year in a sanatorium when she had TB.  This left my Grandpere home with 9 children.   Or when myself and 5 girlfriends convinced 2 police officers to drive us to the bar and they asked for underwear as payment.  Or Grand Uncle Jerome who loved playing pranks.  He once gave my cousin Heather a hen in a box for her birthday.  When she opened the box the hen flew all around the living room.  Or when my Grand Aunt Phyllis gave away unwanted kittens for Halloween one year.  Or Grand Aunt Rita who swore her house was haunted and told creepy stories about seeing ghosts there.  Or the time when my brother Steve went through a barbed wire fence on a sled ripping his face to shreds and my likely somewhere around 300 pound grandfather nearly fainted when he brought him home to my Mom.  Or when our very drunk neighbour Freddy was lying out in the middle of the road in front of our house and my mother had to talk him through getting up and off the highway.  I watched from the hedge so that Mom wouldn’t see me – she told me to go back to the house.  Or about the time when Allan and Brent (who were in elementary school at this time) stole our school bus and did wheelies on the soccer field with it.  Or about Mrs North Grant.  An eccentric woman who lived in town, dressed like Sex and The City but wore knee high pantyhose.  Or the time when Sarah and I at 15 stole her parents car to go to a party   Or when Mom and I on our way to Australia on a stopover in L.A. took a bus tour of downtown and got stuck because that happened to be the day when Michael Jackson died.  Or when my brother Chris was able to get a dirt cheap place to live in university because the landlord asked if her mentally challenged brother could live with them.  Or the night when our dog and two cats all got hit by separate cars on the road in front of our house.  Or when we went away for March Break once leaving my brother Chris home to look after the house, a very pregnant cow and other animals – the cow got out and the police found her over the road.  They called my Grand Uncle (who is a farmer) assuming it was his cow.  Chris went to pick her up the next day.  On the way down the driveway she bawled and died, likely from exhaustion.  That was a great call to get at our hotel.  Mom and Dad only learned ‘the real story’ of what happened when my brother got married.  Coyotes were not involved, but my brother going to a party and not coming home was.  Or how we had so much snow in the winter that we used to jump off the roof of our house into the drifts.  One year Davids’ boots were not dug out until spring.  Or the times when people (sometimes complete strangers), crawled up our driveway when they went off the road in front of our house during a wild winter storm. They would stay for supper.  Or what about a cousin having her gallbladder stones in a jar in the cupboard.   I could quite literally go on and on and on.

This week one of our great storytellers Stuart MacLean died.  He had an enormous talent for connecting Canadians through his ability to tell a story. Every Sunday thousands of us across Canada tuned in to hear him recount a wildly funny or touching Dave and Morley tale, or to hear him read a listeners ‘must be true to be read’ story.  How many times have I heard a story and thought – that would be a great story for The Vinyl Café!  A few years ago I sent in a real ringer of mine and got a response saying they would like to use it on air.  Unfortunately, the right show to match my story with did not come around prior to Stuart bowing out.

Technology, rules, loss of community and paranoia from media has caused us to become kind of, well, boring.   We don’t talk to strangers.  We don’t take risks.  We don’t let our kids be independent because we fear the ‘what if’.  All the places good stories are made we don’t have anymore.  Earlier this week when I was walking home from work I came across a situation at a cross walk.  There was a man lying on the ground obviously in a lot of pain, a bus driver was talking him through the pain he was in – there was a big crowd of younger people looking but not helping (this was very close to a large university so students were coming from class).  I asked her if she had called 911 and she had already done so.  I decided I couldn’t help anymore and kept walking.  I had an awful feeling in my stomach wondering what happened to him and thought of him a few times this week. Did he get hit by a car?  Did he have a heart attack?  Fortunately, on Friday morning I saw the guy on the street near my house.  He is definitely a rougher looking guy and isn’t someone I would know.  I said ‘Excuse me, you don’t recognize me, but I saw you on the ground earlier this week and have been thinking of you ever since.’ He said ‘Oh, I fell on the ice and popped my shoulder out of place.’  I said ‘thank goodness that is all it was – glad to see you are okay.’  He stopped for a second and looked right at me and said ‘Hey, nobody seems to care about each other anymore.  Thanks so much for caring about me.’  My 10 year old niece was with me when this conversation happened.  I see a lot of myself in Cora in the way that she absorbs everything that is said around her.  She loves hearing stories and listening to adult conversations.  We got picked up in a taxi and chatted with our driver the whole way to her house.  Cora said- Aunt Emilie you will just talk to anyone.  True, and I am not going to stop.  It is in conversation and interaction with other people (not looking at our phones or watching our TVS ) where  stories and lifelong memories are created.

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…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here comes the bride…

18 Oct

Choose-Choice.jpgI love weddings.  Love + friends + family + food + wine + dancing = a great time in my books.  Both my mother and father come from very large families and so going to weddings was always part of my childhood.   One summer there was something like 7 of Mom’s first cousins got married.  That big family is still there and added to the mix is lots of friends from all of my various avenues in life.   At this stage in the game weddings are an awesome way to get together with friends and family – it doesn’t end up being just about the bride and groom as it is a reunion of sorts for guests as people now live all over the world.  I was at a wedding this past weekend and it was a roar.   As I was pulling a ‘slide out to bed’ from the after party I heard some of the guys (who are now married, have children and had consumed copious amounts of alcohol) reminiscing about days gone by.  ‘Sean, do you remember when you shit in my bathtub?’ followed by  ‘Do you remember when Andrew shit in my bbq?’.  Upon hearing this I was certain it was a great time to go to bed.

Getting married is very different than it used to be.   In the past people got married young and typically would tie the knot with someone who lived down the road from them or went to the same school.  Someone who was compatible enough, came from a decent family, and let’s be honest, so they could have sex.  Fast forward to present day – we get married later, women have their own finances and their own properties so we are not living at home pining to move out of Mom/Dads house, the church does not dictate what we chose to do or not do, we own fewer farms and have less children.   We can live anywhere we want in the world.  And toss in the old World Wide Web and suddenly we have access to people from all over the bloody world from our living rooms.  About 10 years ago my best friend (who grew up in the same rural community as I did) and I were having a conversation about this topic.  We said ‘Can you imagine marrying someone from our elementary school? Who would you pick?’  If I recall correctly,  I chose one of the O’Brien boys who always reminded me of Chris Isaac and Sarah chose a redhead from over the road who is now a surgeon.  We both went older – I went for looks and she went for brains.  But the notion of it had us roaring with laughter.  I am reading a book right now called Modern Romance and it talks about this subject.  Is the notion of having too many choices too much?  When I think of this I think of my parents living room.  Growing up there were only say 2 places to get furniture from.  When my Mom needed a new piece of furniture (we never had all new furniture at once as they saved enough money to buy what they needed at that time vs using to credit to do over everything all at once).  She would go to town, sit in a few chairs and make a decision.  Now, on the other hand, we can order furniture from a 100 different places.  And we need to look on Instagram, Pinterst, Houzz  and magazines to get inspiration.  We end up spending hours and hours and hours looking, searching, deciding and wondering IS THIS the right chair or will I see something better somewhere else?  Do we end up anymore satisfied in the end?   I would think less as the damn chair is so nice and you put so much time into finding it that you don’t want your kids, pets or anyone eating food or drinking wine to come near it in fear of it getting dirty.

Maybe that could be true for relationships too. We have so many choices now that we are overwhelmed by the options.  I remember when one of my brothers was first seeking a nanny to look after his kids.  Of course they had visions of Mary Poppins floating into their house. Someone who could cook, clean, sing, dance, be patient, creative and give a little bit of sugar to help the medicine go down.  In reality, they got a very mixed bag of applicants and by the end of it I heard my brother say ‘Mary Poppins does not exist… especially for 12 bucks an hour’.  Instead, they found someone who was reliable and trustworthy.  Writing that line has brought memories of that nanny.  I could easily write a blog about her- she was something else.    Here is a favorite memory of her.  She walked in on a Monday morning and I asked her how her weekend was (not sure why I did as listening to the answer was always a lesson in torture).  There was ALWAYS something massively negative which followed… flu,  113 (or some crazy number) of hours in emergency, didn’t sleep, rabbit was sick.    On that particular Monday it was especially foul as she replied ‘it was terrible I found out my brother is actually my father.’  Bam.  The next Monday she showed up with a eye patch on.  I didn’t ask how her weekend was that day.   She is single.  Moving on and getting back on topic now.  Just like Mary Poppins perhaps Mr Perfect or Ms Perfect does not exist.

Choices, choices, choices, choices.  I recently had a big work event and I had in my mind that I wanted to wear a red dress.  When I get something in my mind I can’t settle.  I just can’t.  I looked in all the local stores, I looked online, I looked in local stores, I looked online… I saw one dress I really liked, but didn’t order it right away as I kept on looking for other options and so when I finally decided that was the THE ONE – my size was out of stock. I missed out as I had so many options I couldn’t make a bloody decision.  I wore a black dress.  A perfectly nice black dress.  And I will be able to wear it again unlike the Oscar worthy red one I had in my mind which was impractical and likely would have cost another $100 in alterations.  I could have done better things with the time I spent contemplating.  I recently read that President Obama only wears grey or blue suits.  He doesn’t like to make decisions about what he wears or eats as he has too many decisions to make – so he limits his choices.

Perhaps we need to be like Obama and scale back on the amount of decisions we need to make.  Keep it simple.  Maybe I should pop over to the houses of some of the boys from elementary school…

 

 

A steel fist in a velvet glove

9 Oct

mom-quote

The fall is always a nostalgic time of year for me – schools get into swing, the leaves turn color and Thanksgiving weekend rolls around.  Contrary to popular opinion I am not a lover of Thanksgiving dinner. So much work and so many dishes for a meal that (for me) is underwhelming.   Mom and Dads’ kitchen is not particularly large and Mom (how do I put this) is rather, ummm, bossy when she is in there.  Mom is not a chef with papers, but boy she can handle herself in the kitchen just as well as Jamie Oliver, Rachel Ray or Mario Batali. This weekend it is just me home so we decided to keep it simple and not prepare a meal fit for a small country.  Over the years Mom has produced more food, for more people than Michelin produces tires.  On the topic of Mom and since it is Thanksgiving I will tell you about her.

My mother is an extremely capable, selfless and productive human being.  Last night we were invited over to friends of our family for dinner.  During our after dinner conversation Kathy (our hostess) said ‘Emilie, can you tell me if you’ve ever seen your mother just do nothing for a day?’ Honestly, unless she was down and out with some kind of an ailment I couldn’t remember ever seeing her just be lazy.  Mom was a nurse doing shift work until I was in grade 9 and after that moved to management where she worked Monday to Friday. It would be nothing for her to make us a gourmet breakfast, send us off to school with lunches all made from scratch (I often traded her homemade cookies for a can of caramel pudding or a Flaky- you always want what you don’t have), wash the walls, clean out a flowerbed and head off to a 12 hour shift at the hospital.  About 10 years ago Mom had to have her thyroid taken out.  The doctors said she had a very hyper thyroid (in overdrive), so finally we had an answer as to why this woman never seemed to run out of energy. After her surgery it took quite sometime to get her TSH levels regulated and so she felt tired and might fall asleep in the chair.  Very unusual.  My father (who could be described as being as laid back as a Saint Bernard) said he loved that Mom was exhibiting laziness as it made him feel human.  Fast forward to now, it seems that her natural determination has made up for her biological changes.  What this woman achieves in a week should be analyzed by productivity experts as I think she could teach them a few things.  One year Dad said he was going to get her a miners lamp for a gift so that she could continue working after dark.

I love how perspective allows you to see things more clearly.  At my age my mother had 4 children.  In fact, I am shocked that I was even conceived as mom had awful pregnancies with terrible morning sickness and many other complications.  Thankfully they went for a 4th and got me.  A few years ago on mothers day I took my Mom and Grandma out for lunch.  Mom said ‘thank you’ when we were done and I said ‘thanks for giving birth to me’.  To which she said ‘it was quite the strenuous affair, you were posterior’.  My 90 year old grandmother piped up and said ‘that is nothing you came out feet first Janice.’

On top of that a full-time job, a husband, a house, a massive property with gardens galore, and animals, she somehow managed to cook, pickle and jam it all, visit family, maintain friendships, keep a clean house, plan/host most any event happening in our lives, cart us around to our sports/after school bits, and keep my 3 gong show brothers in line. We always had friends over which meant she was cooking for more than 6 on a regular basis. She starts thinking about Christmas at least 11 months in advance – making quilts for each us or dolls for the grand kids.  Honestly, when I compare my days to hers it makes me feel a wee bit self absorbed… as I get my nails done and sip a latte.   I talk to Mom daily on the phone.  Sometimes it is 5 minutes and sometimes it is an hour. General gab about the day, what is happening at home, what we cooked for dinner and what is on deck for the next day.  Nowadays we are more friends than Mother/Daughter.

When I was a kid I didn’t look at my mother as leader – I looked at her as my mom.  As an adult I now see she has all of the attributes of a great leader – loyalty, patience, generousity, responsibility, determination, trustworthiness, supportive and selflessness.  When you have a great leader you are bound to be more successful in life.   On the outside she comes across as a total softie, but in reality she is a steel fist in a velvet glove.  Donald Trump should get an injection of her modesty.  In the words of Mother Teresa ‘if you want to change the world go home and love your family.’  Thanks for doing that Mom.

 

 

Are you there God? It’s Me, Emilie. Part 2

5 Mar

As yesterdays post explained I have been reading through old journals of mine and getting a large kick out of the stuff I wrote.  Here is another favorite.

Background:

My mother is a retired nurse and for much of my childhood she worked shift work.  This meant that she worked some weekends.  Due to her schedule Dad was left to man the ship.  One time my little niece Cora was having a tender moment with my brother when she said ‘Daddy, I love you.’  He was flattered and said ‘Oh Cora, I love you too.’  A moment later she said ‘But I definitely love Mommy more.’  You know Mom’s just do things right when you are a kid!  She made cinnamon toast, tuna delights and she was way better at rubbing your back when you were barfing.  So this entry from my journal came on a weekend when Mom was working, I was apparently bored out of my skull and I wanted something to do.  It makes me realize how crazy different life is for kids now.  

Entry

Saturday May 23rd, 1991 (I was 11)

Mom is working days this weekend.  Chris and Stephen are working at Jimmy’s and David is away at a tournament. Dad was planting the garden most of the day and the dog was with him. (insert – in most of my entries I started off with saying what everyone else in my house was doing).

I got up this morning at 8:15.  The boys left a bunch of dishes (of course) on the table so I cleaned those up.  After that I watched TV for a little bit and went outside to see what Dad was doing.  He was planting potatoes. I didn’t want to do that so I only stayed there for a little bit.  I asked Dad if I could walk over to Grandma’s and he said I could.  (insert – Grandma’s house is a MILE away.  She had cable and Fudgeo’s; we didn’t have either of those things because they didn’t bring the cable lines out past her house and Mom baked everything from scratch).  I walked to Grandma’s and saw some people picking bottles in the ditch along the way.  Grandma asked me to do her hair when I got there and I also put the vibrating massager on her back.  I don’t like doing either but Grandma would tell me I am lazy if I didn’t do it.  One of the workers from Newfoundland came to the house looking for some money.  Grandma told him he already got his pay and said that he should think about what he does with his money because a pay is meant to last a week.  Dad picked me up.  We went to church in Maryvale at 7.  I was really hoping Sarah was going to be in church but she was at her Aunt Lynn’s in Guysborough (darn).  One of the Gerrior kids cried the entire mass.  Mom was home when we got back.  There is a hockey game on (boo) and of course Dad is watching it.  Now I am in bed.

End of entry