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when you don’t know what to say

the other day i ran into a lovely friend of mine, not a close friend, but a friend who i was lucky enough to meet through my son’s school.  i hadn’t seen her for a few weeks and wanted to check in on how she was doing with taking care of her boys and managing the first few months of pregnancy–the exhaustion, nausea….and so much more.

sadly she had unexpectedly lost her baby just a little past 18 weeks (for those of you who don’t know this is almost mid-way). my heart broke for her and there was little i could say to comfort her except listen, share a hug and shed a few tears.

there are no words to right this wrong–platitudes and placation’s beyond i am so sorry are woefully inadequate and yet that is sometimes all we can say. trying to find wisdom in your words is akin to holding water in our hands.

with loss comes the deepest of sorrow and when we are able to mourn those whose lives we have shared we can remember times of happiness and take comfort in those moments we shared together. however, the loss of potential opens as chasm that words often can not bridge.  the promise of a baby brings dreams and possibilities that will forever change our lives and although a different loss, it is as a deep and heartfelt as any other.

saying the right thing is hard, it is a tenuous path to walk on uncertain ground… especially if you have not walked in those shoes. i will offer this…  “it is for the best (is it?)” or  “you already have one child (or any number),” or perhaps “you can just try again”  really don’t make the grade. i know i didn’t hit it out of the park, nor probably will i ever, but a simple i am so sorry and a hug seemed to work.

they say with age comes great wisdom and although i’m still waiting for the extra dose, i do know as we grow older we experience more and know more….perhaps the knowing and the abundance of ‘stuff’ we carry overtaxes and over complicates.  the older i get i realize some of the sagest advice can be picked up by the youngest i know.

on the playground kids play their hearts out, bouncing, screaming, laughing and jumping just because they can. if they should get hurt,  a simple hug and an hand up from their friend evaporates avalanches of tears and that simple moment of kindness leaves bumps and bruises far behind.

i’m not sure if i can live in the moment as my five year old does..but i am awed by the simplicity of how they move forward. it is without a doubt it a trait i cherish and am trying a little harder to develop.

loss is complex and not to be diminished, but to comfort those closest to us perhaps we need to say less, listen more and just know that a steady hand to help them up may be what they need most.

a love letter of sorts

weddinghappy 10 years love.

more than anything i want to thank you for the ‘goodness’ and kindness of you. i love that you married me—someone who is stubborn, deplores cooking and drives you a little crazy.

oh and i know i drive you crazy,  it’s all part of my charm…i also know those little things that made me amazingly fierce way back then are not perhaps as alluring and endearing to you now…more often than not they make you want to strangle me. trust me i know because the things i love about you and respect you for sometimes exasperate me to no end.  but at least we come by it honesty for as much as we have changed, we are still the same.

if we string all of the moments leading up to today, you can see how the first years together, unbeknownst to either of us, set in motion the life we would make together. we rarely sat still beyond our work and school and when we could  we were outside doing stuff. i remember the early days of riding ‘mountain bikes’ without suspension or even shocks on groomed trails and the edges of the highway, rollerblading, hiking and skiing (way back then before you left me to  board). we would take ferries anywhere and everywhere, happy to camp outside under the stars even in crappy tents and in the rain. we had fun even when it wasn’t fun as long as we were together.  i’ve got that picture of us at the falls that captures it all–we are so young and the frame is so old but the sentiment strong, “remember this moment? the memory brings a smile to my face. smile when you recall this happy time; our proof we were there. suddenly it was magic and . always know as the years go by, this moment will last forever.”photo

fast forward to today and we are still doing the same stuff although perhaps a little tamer. we’ve got better bikes and the tents are improved but we travel hand in hand with that fused energy of ‘us;’ otherwise known as Jack. in my memories and in photos we are seldom pretty and pressed, more often than not we are a little sweaty and a lot happy…but for as long we can i want that to be what matters.  i love that when i’m meeting you somewhere i notice you from afar and think ‘wow’ that man is handsome, and then i see it’s you.  for some reason you may never be able to get your socks off the floor, nor will i be able to effortlessly prepare a week of dinners, but we will be us.

so when we remember our 10th, we’ll laugh because you were off somewhere else on the ‘actual day’ of but i won’t for a second forget our weekend away to celebrate. it was a weekend of adventure and goofing around; we got muddy, you took me out on the trails for far too long (typical), we drank, giggled and went for mexican…it was awesome.

IMG_0192

we’ll laugh a lot, i’ll talk too much, and Jack and i will make you crazy being too loud but what i want to hang my hat on is the words we said ten years ago about our love.  yes,  that love, the one that “has grown roots so deep, strong and so entwined, that it is inconceivable that we could ever part.”

happy 10 year anniversary babe.

weekend

blue skies and purple rainbows

this morning my son drew me an amazing picture–it made him happy and it made me happy. it got me to thinking about creation and what i’ve been missing….what i’ve been missing is the hour a day i was taking to jot down my random thoughts and read others.

i recently skimmed my take on high heels and skinny legs and smiled. because i’m pretty goal oriented i was a bit surprised at my spiral off the map.  conversely i want to high five those who are  always on top of it (that vintagey girl i know keeps me smiling daily–yes daily i swear!).  i’ve got a mile of excuses as to why i haven’t been ‘creating’–but it’s too easy to stack those up so instead onwards and upwards.

i like the idea of observing ourselves observing as one fellow fantastic blogger likes to say–so i’m getting back in the saddle.

spring…the end of the hibernation

as the sun rises come earlier and earlier, my body tilts and shifts too. the gravitational pull of the earth slowly uncovers an urge to wake earlier, push away the cobwebs, and crawl out of whatever hibernation i am in.

the darkness of winter and the prolonged rain (i am a west coaster) makes even the most energetic of us waver. day after day the dark mornings, and endless days of grey make the coziness of the fire and the fluffiness of the down comforter a little more appealing. when the inevitable ‘spring forward’ of the clock comes, our  sleeping patterns are shaken, not just stirred. we go to bed ‘later’ as our pattern, but the shrill of the alarm clock in the early morning screams ‘get up, get up.’  eventually wrongs are righted and we adjust, and as a reward the sun smiles earlier and flowers start to bloom.

spring is filled with possibilities and promises of warmer days to come, it teases and tempts and almost overnight grey and browns of winter are replaced with vibrant colour.

closets are reshuffled as lighter coats and shoes timidly take their place beside winter boots. both must live in harmony for a while as spring here bobs and weaves. we will have days of brilliant sun followed by April showers that pitch us back into the deep dark days of November. as spring and winter battle it out, a flurry of cleaning begins, and we are energized. cars are washed, dust bunnies are vanquished, pillows plumped and tulips appear on lawns and in vases. garage sales signs start popping up as we all clamber to clean up and clean things out.

i love this type of cleaning!! this weekend i dragged by 5 month pregnant neighbour into my spare bedroom and didn’t let her go until i had both of our arms full with  boxes of ‘stuff.’ i got busy on craigslist and sold my sons run bike, donated a car seat and dusted off two strollers.

if i could as easily dust the cobwebs from my head.  i know there are plenty of dusty corridors in my brain where i am not firing on all cylinders. i have an article to write and as much as the content is zipping around in my head, somehow i can’t get it out onto paper in cohesive sentences.

now if i could just turn a garden hose to my head…

does ‘googling’ it = cheating?

i believe in honour and ethics and perhaps because i was raised Catholic I have an abundant supply of guilt…abundant!

i’m the girl who gets nervous going through a road block without even one sip sipped!  i get anxiety crossing the border lest the car i am driving should have a hidden stash of something from the previous owner. getting an odd phone call with a cryptic message sends me spinning for about 30 seconds–and then i remember i’ve done nothing wrong. nothing.

…so the thought of cheating, bending the truth or omitting details crosses a well-defined line. there are no shades of grey here only a line that is as black as it is white; however, apparently this golden rule is not universal.

last week i administered my first midterm exam for an online course i am teaching and boy was i surprised when i started grading it. apparently 1/3 of my class ‘cheated.’ well what i would call cheating but apparently they don’t.

a week later and i am still floored. why?

first, the cheating was sooooo obvious. secondly, the exam wasn’t that hard. but most shocking was the belief that they would get away with it…and in a sense they did…i didn’t see it and i can’t prove but i know it. how?

well, i can ‘google’ search with the best of them; moreover, i wrote the course word for word so i am quite the expert at spotting my own ‘turns of phrase.’ yep,  when i read an answer that uses the term, “the glamorous part of marketing,” i’m going to remember the words i painstakingly crafted to be enlightening, educating and conversationally interesting. and for those who ‘googled’  the answer and then plugged in concepts and terms that have never been taught, emphasized or referenced in the class but are correct, well i am just annoyed. if they are going to ‘cheat’ i want them at least to be smart enough to synthesize their learning.

and that is the ‘crux’ of what really gets under my skin…is the power of google making us lazier? is it making us learn less and rely on the power of our fingertips more? we can find anything out in 30 seconds or less–not only immediate answers to questions but opinions, insights, rants, raves and summaries of complex concepts. students can seek out answers to questions but can also google assignments, papers, essays and projects. so although the internet can be help is is also a hinderance?

a very artistic, creative and smart man, David Usher, shared one of the most profound things he has learned over the course of his career. it really impressed me, and i applauded the fact that he not only shared it, but stated it was one of the most important ideas he wants to impart to his children.  his brilliance summed up in 15 words…

” you must be able to form your own impressions, own your ideas and present them.”

smart. right?

so in this day and age where the power of the internet can connect, enlighten and empower us we need to be mindful of owning our  ideas and thoughts and synthesizing and leveraging what we learn–instead of stealing from others!

i’ve not lambasted or accused my students of anything. instead i’ve shared a carefully crafted reminder about the perils of plagiarism and have imparted  Mr. Usher’s words of wisdom about owning and presenting your ideas.

its a lesson learned for me, but perhaps more importantly an opportunity to teach others. i came across this quote the other day and agreed wholeheartedly with it.

“if you had enough time to cheat, you had enough time to think about it.” ~anonymous

about that midterm, i’ve moved on, but you better believe i’m revising the FINAL.

the coffeehouse vs. the coffeeshop

imagesthe coffeehouse experience is a rich and as bold as the coffee it brews.  so what makes a true coffeehouse? hmmm…

you will know a coffeehouse the moment you step inside, it hums and vibrates with connections and conversations, and there are bumps…the physical and the metaphoric. the clientele is a kaleidoscope and collision of ages and destinations.  there is coffee to go for those heading to work, and coffee mugs for those arriving to work, to sit, and to socialize. there is a subtle steam and sweat that emanates here–not from the espresso machine but from those  bodies that are post run or bike. although there are a handful of heels and suits in this house, more than anything there is an abundance of denim, spandex and gortex.

sliding into line you often navigate the young and the old (old in age, but young at heart) as a random order unfolds while coffees and hot chocolates are called–some with a a side of the sweet some with savory. despite the number of steamed and heated cups  ferried from counter to tables and out the doors there are seldom any spills.  it’s as though a magical dance takes place between all those who enter the ‘house.’  a heightened awareness, friendliness and appreciation for the moment allows everyone to bob and weave as though choreographed.

if you have arrived alone planning to get some creative, head down work done, you will.  you’ll receive a few taps on the shoulder and a quick wave or nod but you won’t be bothered because the laptop signifies a universal ‘work in progress.’ conversely if you are seeking out a coffee partner you need only to wait a few minutes before someone you know invites you to join them.

a coffeeshop fills cups and carafes as people file in and out, some in twos some alone. there is a noise, a thrum that is disconnected–it is perhaps like a house that is not yet a home–one waiting to be filled with that special blend of energy. the spark that moves dominoes from static to spiraling.

sometimes a coffehouse is lurking in the shadows of a coffeeshop awaiting the hour where it transforms–sometimes it is only glimpsed in the late evening or mid-afternoon, but if you have a coffeehouse of your own you know what i am talking about.

what’s your favourite coffeehouse?

would you take on a bus?

the car before me lurched…. literally lurched forward in a burst of speed and crossed before  a city bus. not the small community bus with 16 passengers but the full size two car length bus.

after his death-defying move, he got stuck in the parking lot waiting for a spot. i know this because about 35 seconds later my car was idling behind him (again). for a second time i saw his car burst forward like a rocket into the open spot.

i’m not sure what prompted him to take on the bus, or try 0-60km in less than 20 feet of space but i hope it was important….like life or death important because he was about 4 feet cashing it all in when he cut off the bus. as he got out of his car he looked a little rushed but pretty alive…and seemingly not phased by the honking and braking of the big ass bus…perhaps he was even oblivious to it.

i’m not an expert on too many things but i am pretty sure a 4 door sedan doesn’t stand much of a chance with a  12 ton, 20 foot bus.  just as a 150lb human wouldn’t hold up too well against a 1.5 ton car.

so why do we see stupid foolish acts so often. because we are in a hurry–we’ve gotten so busy taking on so many things we sometimes just need a minute to stop and slow down, and think.

generally we are rushing to answer an email, pick up the kids, get something at the store before we’ve got to be somewhere else, meet someone, squeeze something in now and not later …usually someone or something is waiting on us–NOW. those days of waiting for something in the mail, picking up your voice message when get home or watching and waiting for a fax (not it is not 1984). now everything is instant. in the palm of you hand you’ve got something that’s got you wired in–all the time …

i’m not super religious…but i think these guys have got something right.

brilliant

brilliant

that car bus scenario rattled me….clearly more than the driver… i’m pretty sure there is never a need to take on a bus.

it may be that technology and expectations have made us slaves to the notion of  multi-tasking or taking on more than the day..and clearly it is making some of us silly, sloppy and a bit dim-witted. i for one do not want to be in that camp.

i’d rather be two minutes late than dead.  how about you?

slow down

synchronicity and serendipity collide

serendipitywhen random moments collide it reminds me of the slow hush of a match, where air and space slide together, and then magically a flame comes alive. it’s invigorating and intoxicating.

when small moments weave themselves together amidst the day-to-day it makes it a good life.

a few weeks ago i was running against the wettest and coolest of rains, ducking into the coffee shop thrilled that i had enough time to  indulge in the darkest of dark java before i landed at my son’s school for 2  hours. as i silently patted myself on the back that i was able to get my coffee and still be early i reached into my purse to pay…. and of course i came up empty. oops… in a moment of sheer kindness and community a gentleman behind me paid for my coffee with only a whisper of a promise to pay it forward.

warmed by my coffee and a kind soul i assured him i would….days passed and then weeks. and then i had a text asking me about a dog crate i had posted on craigslist–and i had a chance to impart the kindness bestowed on me. it wasn’t forced or planned it just happened magically and organically–and that is why it happened. i wasn’t consciously seeking out a way to pay it forward but i had not forgotten.

leah was leaving for europe the next day to join her husband  with her best friend, sam (the 4 legged kind of best friend)and was frantic with papers not filled out properly by bureaucrats, a broken dog crate,  the whole hugeness of moving overseas solo and she was carless. she was on her way overseas and her life was winding down…all the normal parts of her support system were boxed up or given away.   i was out and about  and downtown was not on my way but not entirely out of my way. so i rejigged my plans and delivered the crate.

we met on a little side street across from her apartment and made the exchange. as she tried to pay me twice the asking price with an explanation that i must accept it for delivering i waived it aside and laughed at how silly that would be. as she teared up i reached out and hugged her–as a gesture of comfort, support, goodwill and human kindness. she hugged me back and tears that were brimming splashed down. she laughed and cried at the shock of it all.

sooner or later we all need a moment of support, whether from good friends or strangers. kindness that brings tears to our eyes might be my favourite kind.

it was so little to me, yet so much for leah.  my cup of coffee was heaven yet the simple passing of a twoonie by another. we all recognize kindness when it happens–and let me tell you a little love goes a long way.

i had a moment of serendipity and synchronicity which allowed me to pay it forward. not bad for an average rainy day.

the mom foxhole of fashion

4 years ago i would have slapped myself silly if i wore pj’s out in public; but that was before i became a professional chid wrangler.

i’ve noted i am constantly running through puddles with a backpack and purse in hand either chasing my child or corralling him to school, the pool or some either time dependent activity that involves a state of dress or undress for him.

all of that effort has resulted in a little less time for me and for fashion–what i need is a little more function. as much as i love(d) my heels and pencil skirts i’m not mourning or missing the fashion pain points–skirts riding up, skinny jeans sliding down or sidewalk grates torturing your high heels and claiming them for their own.

my styleometer is waining and more often than not outfits revolve around jeans, scarves and boots but i still covet and court pretty things….but i can’t lie–i’ve got a steady stream of lululemonesque outfits that much to my chagrin are staples!

a few weeks back i found myself scrambling yet again trying to get out the door…fresh faced it was going to be. now let’s be honest, at 40, fresh faced is not my best look in the cool days of winter with my newly hued red hair. although i am a make-up minimalist–let me assure you it provides maximum effect.

so how does one right this wrong?  get up earlier, plan, prioritize and find efficiencies.

i pursued effortless efficiency and this is how i wound up in public wearing pjs. i ventured out with every hair in place, bright eyed and made-up donning ‘lounge wear’ to be exact. but let’s face it, lounging in it for  8 hours in bed makes it bonafide sleepwear.

so whether i dress them up or down, the simple truth remains, i’m wearing pjs out and about–in my mind i think i look a little like this…….

carefree and comfortable….not disheveled and worn…and perhaps i do perhaps i don’t, but what surprised me the most when pondering my predilection for pjs is is the proliferation of loungwear out there.  clearly i am no alone…when sourcing fashion forward pjs to dash off  to school in i  found these polarities.

i think i’ll skip the heels…but clearly this is not a silo’d phenom–it seems moms of the world are showing up in droves at drop off , in pjs. so much so that a British school issued a ban on bed wear for parents…

“We respectfully request that parents who drop off their children and pick them up from school follow all of the dress code expectations that students are expected to follow including the rule stating that pajamas are not to be worn.” – Babycentre. co.uk

as much as it makes me smile at the things i never thought would come to pass… i’ll be honest, i’m not as shamed as i thought i would be.  so never say never…oh no…

next  i’ll be driving a mini-van…

a red hair hangover

sunday morning arrived with a red hair hangover…a red what? glimpsing fiery red hair at 7:00 am sunday morning can kind a throw a girl.

it started with my then 3 year olds excitement over all things batman which then evolved to fascination with every superhero. i mean why not, there are these fantastic men and women who fight evil, always triumph and can climb walls, leap over buildings in a single bound, fly invisible planes, topple bad guys with cool moves without even a hair out of place. who wouldn’t like to live behind a mask and a cape?

spring forward a year and i’ve morphed from the mom who purchased of a few batman shirts to a full  contender for cosplay (a subculture or type of performance art in which participants don costumes and accessories to represent a specific character or idea). note contender is used illustratively.

as i sat on the couch yesterday afternoon chatting amiably about thor, martian manhunter and how spiderman fits in with the avengers i paused–really, really paused.  how did i get here? short answer, when i started learning how to be a little more childlike.  one of the best things about children is catching a little bit of their soul, they are contagious! they’ve got the ‘go for it’ virus and it spreads! they don’t question themselves or talk themselves out of things because of what others might think…and that is how i woke up this morning with a red hair hangover…..

it started out so small….

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but wouldn’t you know it…keeping it real and authentic…ended up here

Captain America

that’s me – aka Black Widow

no waterguns were harmed with spray paint

so for the next 30 days or so, i’ll be channeling my version of natasha romanoff aka black widow–let’s see how badass i can be? so far, i’ve turned a few heads….mainly my neighbours. my buddy rudy wasn’t used to me rockin’ spandex and heels–he’s more familiar with the sweat, spandex and red faced me…the new red haired me took him by surprise…me too.

red hair hangover

this is what you get when you go for it. not bad. anyone else gone for it lately?