Be Amazing

images (3)I follow  my kid’s school on twitter to get regular updates and happenings going on in and around the campus because here is a surprise, I don’t hear it from him until 35 seconds before I need to do something about it. Like bake for the theatre cast rehearsal.

The thing I like about those tweets is every morning they end with “Go out and be amazing today!”

I like that sentiment.

Last week was a hard week emotionally for me. I took the tragedy in Boston hard. I just found it profoundly sad that innocent people were hurt or killed and the bombers had a sucky social life and blamed Boston. I am not a vindictive person, perhaps it is my Canadian upbringing, but wow – that kid put the gun in his mouth on an apparent suicide attempt and karma still makes him face the consequences. I think about how his life might have been awesome last Monday had he did something different.

I am currently reading Life after Life by Kate Atkinson. The premise is the main character dies, the world goes dark and rewinds to the moment before her death with things changed slightly to prevent the death. It is an interesting concept. I think it will generate great discussion as to what moment could you change to slightly alter your life.

What would I do?

Well, I wouldn’t change anything I did last week. The events made me think about my life a little bit harder. I spent time with friends, I ran 33km, I had lots of mom time with my kids, I had a lovely dinner with the trusty steed, I made plans with dear friends, I spoke up when I felt hurt and did nice things to make others feel good. I was grateful, appreciative and thankful for my life events last week.

Weather was another story – But there was sunshine today! That always makes me smile.

So heading out into the new work week tomorrow, I am going to depart this little life changing tidbit:

Go out there and BE AMAZING this week!

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The inner workings of the Tourist’s mind

Obviously I am procrastinating.

I am working on a paper and have reached the SWOC portion of events, and needed to think about the steps. As with all things I need to think about, I turned my chair towards my window to ponder.

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Mind: Holy Hell it’s still snowing

Eyes: The snow is halfway up the shed

Feet: I am not running 6k today in THAT, that is just stupid

Mind: Feet, I am making you do it so shut it.

Legs: but I am cold already, why is there no heat in this house?

Wallet: because I am cheap

Mouth: remember that Irish Whiskey we taste tested at the liquor store on Saturday? It would taste really good in the coffee about now.

Mind: Shhh, I am focusing on the steps needed for the SWOC analysis.

Eyes: That is a lot of snow. Don’t expect it to melt anytime soon.

Feet: Seriously, I am not running today.

Mouth: The Apothic red wine is just sitting there, we could drink that!

Back: Wouldn’t warm sand feel great to lie on right now?

Feet: I’d run on sand!

Mind: Shhhh, I am trying to concentrate

Ears: Why does it sound like there are mice in the water heater?

Mind: Not mice, there are no mice.

Fear: I hate mice.

Mind: It ISN”T mice! Just squeaking coming from the furnace.

Fear: sure sounds like mice, what if it’s baby birds – can’t you think of anything worse?

Mind: There are no baby birds in the house.

Eyes: Nope, they are freezing their feathers off outside.

Fear: good, I hate birds.

Mind: STOP IT, legs turn us back around and get back to work

Feet: I am not running in that snow.

Hands: Tell me what to type and I am on it!

Mind: Okay people, focus

Feet: I am really not running, like to see you try to make me.

Fear: it sure sounds like mice

Eyes: Can’t we read something more interesting?

Mind: Shhhhhhhh, focus!

Eyes: fine, Once the internal strengths, weaknesses of an organization is identified….

Mind: I wonder if the 10k maps are up yet for Calgary…..

 

 

The Pope’s Prophecy as told by a 8 year old

When I was a kid, I went to Catholic School. The early years of my education was in Canada’s Arctic   I was instructed by Nuns who floated around the school as if they didn’t have feet but roller skates instead. When we moved back to Edmonton, my Catholic education was at the hands of a kid named Rolland. Sure I went to a Catholic School, but I only remember the lessons he taught in the school yard.

Roland was the type of person who would only know a small bit of information, add it to what he thought was true and gave examples to prove his street cred. It worked, we all believed everything that came out of his mouth. He was charismatic. Every grade three kid knew he was THE authority on all things from the Prime Minister of Canada being married to Queen Elizabeth II to when the last Pope dies the world will end.

images (1)This morning when I heard that Pope Benedict decided to retire, my first thought was, DUDE you are suppose to die as the pope. But then I remembered what Roland prophesied and was thankful The Pope decided to step down, because here is why…

We were sitting around our desks at lunch, we had just came back from getting our milk and cracked open our tin lunch boxes. Mine was the Flintstones and Roland had the Mystery Machine. We were talking, as grade 3 kids do, about the world ending. It was 1975 and I was 8. Vietnam and Watergate were being talked about at home and I didn’t really know what this meant, so I asked Roland. He watched the news and read the Edmonton Journal. He took a sip of his chocolate milk – right from the cardboard container, looked thoughtfully for a moment and said, “This is God’s way of telling us to get ready for the End of the World.”

I was shocked, and scared, of COURSE I believed him. He knew everything true.

So I asked him when that was going to be. “Apparently, there are 4 Popes left to die. When the 4th one kicks the bucket and THAT will be it.” He was so calm while saying this.

I had just seen a movie about finding Noah’s Ark and the end of that movie showed the earth burning up in a fiery ball of orange and red. That movie was a documentary of how they discovered Noah’s Ark and of course it was true. It was a documentary. So now I had the image of the Apocalypse in my head. Every movie in the 70’s was about death and destruction. So now I had proof. Roland said it would happen.

pope_paul_vi_postcard-p239354259447071593baanr_400Fast forward to 1978. Pope John VI dies. Up until that moment, he was the only Pope I ever knew. My life was a series of constants, Pierre Trudeau was the Prime Minister of Canada for my entire life (Pearson didn’t count, I wasn’t even 1 yet when he left office.), Queen Elizabeth II – the only Queen in my life time (and still hanging on! Go Bessie!), Kermit the Frog was still the front man for Sesame Street and started his own variety show. Obviously my life was shattered when Pope John VI died. It was also very interesting. I learned about how the Cardinals of Rome locked themselves in a room with a fireplace and picked the next infallible guy through divine intervention. They sent coloured smoke up the chimney to let everyone know how the progress was coming. Apparently there was some smoke signal language that I didn’t know because I was taught at the hands of Tonto from the Lone Ranger, and he could read it like it was words. Pope smoke was different.

Then Pope John Paul was picked! Be celebrations took place in Rome, there was special a mass said at our Parish. and life was great for a month. Then he died. This was when I started to get nervous. Roland said 4 more deaths. YIKES 2 down and 2 to go. Luckily the Cardinals picked a healthy dude, Pope John Paul II and he seemed like a nice guy too. john-paul-1-sized

Pope John Paul II was a good guy. people liked him, he was big on kindness and he went touring in the Pope Mobile. That was kind of cool, he even came to Edmonton. I didn’t go because, I’m not sure why other than I think I was out of town, but the souvenirs were cool, like Pope Soap on a Rope.pope-soap1 He lasted a really long time and Roland moved away and I didn’t think about the world ending until the Iran hostage crisis. But the Canadians saved them and the Pope didn’t die so all was safe in the world. Even when Desert Storm happened and 9/11 I knew the world was a lock because Pope John Paul II was still going strong.

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How could you not like a guy who goofs around?

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In 2005 he died. He was number 3. I thought about Roland for the first time since I was 9. When Pope Benedict was elected/chosen/ divinely inspired, and I realized he was the oldest pope in a very long time. I knew he wouldn’t be long for this world at 78, his healthiest years were behind him. Knowing priests on a personal level for years, I knew their diets were less than healthy. I now thought about the end of the world in real time.

Other Apocalypse predictions came and went. I thought it would be funny if the Mayan calendar considered with the passing of Pope Benedict, but that was not to be. Then news came this morning about how he is too frail to sit as Pope anymore, and he had prayed on this decision with God for a while before deciding to step down on the 28th of February. My thoughts went back to Roland. If the Pope dies before February 28th then that’s it. World over, good night nurse! But if he steps down and the new Pope is elected by Easter (March 31) we have bought ourselves some time.

According to Wikipedia (reliable? no because it is a wiki meaning anyone can change info. Don’t use Wikipedia as a source in your University papers kids!) the next Pope will be Peter

 In ꝑsecutione extrema S.R.E. ſedebit.
In the extreme persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit.[66]
   Petrus Romanus, qui paſcet oues in multis tribulationibus: quibus tranſactis ciuitas ſepticollis diruetur, & Iudex tremẽdus iudicabit populum ſuum.[67] Finis.
268 112 Peter the Roman, who will nourish the sheep in many tribulations; when they are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people. The end. Unknown Unknown

So not only will Rome fall (do the Romans know they are just Italians now? Do they know they aren’t in charge anymore?) But the church will cease to exist. The next Pope will be the last Pope. I am not sure the world will end, but it will get interesting. It’s funny how I think of Roland in times like this. Part of me hopes he was a great Prophet. How cool would it be to tell my grandkids that I had lunch with the Great Prophet Roland? I could sell t-shirts and start a social media champagne  Perhaps sell Roland soap on a rope too.

Interesting times indeed…

Question: what is your existential crisis right now ? Seriously – I’m good, nothing to look at here. Keep moving.

Existentialism in Calvin and Hobbes

Existentialism in Calvin and Hobbes (Photo credit: Lst1984)

I had a message in my twitter feed last week that asked me this:

Question: what is your existential crisis right now ?

I looked at it and thought about it. I understood what it meant, Wikipedia explains it as this:

An existential crisis is a moment at which an individual questions the very foundations of his or her life: whether his or her life has any meaning, purpose or value.[1] This issue of the meaning and purpose of existence is the topic of the philosophical school of existentialism.

I was immediately offended. Why would someone think that my life doesn’t have purpose. Or anyone’s life for that matter? We all have a purpose, good, bad or indifferent. It doesn’t have to be job related, it could be relational. The fact of the matter is it is personal. Not something that needs to be shared – unless of course THAT is the purpose!

My answer to this question was simple:

I don’t question it. I know my life has meaning and purpose.

Some-days it is more obvious to me than other days, but purpose is there and I don’t have to look very hard. I know this question was meant to be well meaning and a conversation started on a philosophical level, but dude, I no longer need to analyze everything to death. It’s okay not to know the answer to every question. The hard part is accepting that. That could be your current purpose.

A Hard Truth: I am the family cat

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I learned some hard truths this Christmas. Apparently I am the family cat. And here you thought I was people! Well, I guess I had us both fooled.

It all started Christmas Eve, the family was gathered at my brother’s home for dinner and small gifts from the Grandparents to warm us up for the big festivities the following day. My family is hard-core. We meet for every meal in a two-day period. Mostly because we like each other and we like to laugh. The secondary reason is to complain and grumble about stuff we all understand and can sympathize with. The third reason is to eat and open stuff we love because if nothing else, my family puts TON of thought into gifts, the presents are meaningful. Try it sometime, its awesome.

Anyway…

After dinner we were sitting around the living room admiring the Charlie Brown Christmas tree, first tree my brother ever put up, when we started talking about the pets. My youngest nephew (who stands 6’4″ and 225lbs) asked his dad for a puppy for Christmas. He wasn’t interested in a girlie dog, but wanted a manly dog. My mom thought my nephew should get one because his dad (my brother) had every pet he ever wanted. To be fair, my brother look better care of all those pets than he has ever taken care of anything AND my brother is a great guy, so those pets were well-loved. He had Guinea pigs, hamsters, fish, rabbits, and dogs (one dog at a time). My brother does not want a dog anymore because he is tired of looking after animals. My nephew argues that he would look after it and my brother doesn’t buy that story. In the end, he is right, my brother will eventually fall in love with the dog and be the sole caretaker.

This story had us talking about the various dogs that tried to kill us, would run away as soon as the door opened or would fight the ravens back so we could enter the house. All of them great dogs except the one that tried to kill us. Grandpa took him back to the original owner.

These stories reminded me of this video called Cat-Friend vs Dog-Friend. I was telling my dad about it, when he said “You are the reason we never had a cat. You were the Cat of the family.” WTF DAD! OUCH! Then I thought about it. He was right. Everything I did, I had a cat attitude. I invite you to watch the video and when you see the yellow words that spell CAT – substitute that word in your head for Edmonton Tourist and you will have a pretty good idea who I was as a kid.

This was posted by @hilariousted on twitter, I see them the same way too:

How I see dogs: Beagle, german shepherd, poodle, bulldog, labrador. How I see cats: Cat, cat, cat, cat, cat .

Hope you are enjoying the holidays as much as I am!

 

Reaching for the Worthwhile

I belong to a fledgling book club – all women and lots of wine. We read books that challenge our comfort zone. We take turns choosing the book of the month and host the meeting in perspective homes. Last night was meeting number 2. I know 2 of the ladies quite well, one moderately well and the other two gals are new to my life. We come from different backgrounds, our children are at different ages and stages, our careers are massively different. Yet we all have 2 things in common:

  1. We love to read
  2. We strive for inner growth and change.

I have been reading 419 by Wil Ferguson. There was a single passage near the beginning of the book that made me catch my breath, the character had the task of compiling information for an obituary:

There were never entries for “memory,” or “regrets,” or even “love,” in the lowercase.
It was always “Education (post-secondary)” or “Awards (see also:Best Debut R&B Country CD by a Female Artist, Solo).” Indexes never seemed to get to the heart of the matter. There was never
a heading for hope or fear. Or dreams, recalled. Smiles, remembered. Anger. Beauty. Or even images that lingered, glimpses of something that had made an impression. A doorway. A window. A reflection on glass. The smell of rain. Never any of that. Just a tally of proper nouns and famous names. And why only one life? Why not the web of other lives that define us? What of their indexes”

This made me think. An obituary is typically a list of accomplishments. I remember reading the Toronto paper and remember thinking this people are success driven, there was very little about love and life and endless lists of job related activities and education. Compared to the obituaries I have read in the Edmonton Paper, it was incredibly different. Edmonton Obituaries are typically a laundry list of who died first and who has survived. It seems to be more of a disaster survival list rather than a compilation of words that describe the person. Rarely do you get a glimpse of the deceased’s passions, hobbies or loves. Ferguson makes the same observation. What are our beliefs and how do we define ourselves?

This topic came up in a round about way at Book Club. A few of us are attending a Belief Re-patterning workshop. From what I understand, we have a set of beliefs that we live by. Good/Bad/Indifferent. It is these beliefs that push us forward or hold us back. The point of all this is to discover what it is we truly belive and then taking steps to re-pattern our habits and thoughts to achieve goals.

The conversation then turned to what is it that we would like to change about ourselves. Good question, where do I start? Standing in the middle of me – I find it hard to see what I am, the real deep me. My friends see it. So then what is my belief and what I am striving for?

Then it hit me…after my friend hit me with it. I want to be accepted as I am and I want EVERYBODY to accept me. I want to be perceived as smart and have it all going on. I like being the star of the Robyn Show! Is it happening for me? No, not really. I see my self taking on tons in an effort to show – I have no idea who, perhaps the world, perhaps my mother – and get the recognition I crave. DING DING – Oprah calls this an “A HA” moment, I call it the lightbulb moment.

I see myself discounting rejection, in both my personal and professional life. If I change then maybe you won’t reject me. Sad isn’t it? In some ways it is very liberating. The point isn’t to dig up all the issues of my past, the point is to recognize the pattern and restructure it. One friend hopes this will be a miracle cure, when I see it as more hard work.

If my life is summed up by an obituary or a funeral what do I hope for? My friend wants a balance between family and work. I have a pretty good idea what I would like, the trick is achieving it. I don’t want to look back over my life and say “I should have taken that path”.

I want to look back and think my life was worthwhile.

I’m so pretty and that is NOT a good thing

I feel like the stupidest prettiest person ever.

I have too much on my plate and it’s my phone that’s stupid.  My phone is a 3G iPhone, not 3Gs not 4 or even 4Gs. My stupid phone doesn’t even get software updates anymore. I go to type a status and my fingers move faster than the keyboard, letters get missed, end of words don’t appear and my cousin eats me alive. To be fair, it WAS hilarious. My friend started the bashing. But still…. I HATE IT WHEN I GET CAUGHT BEING STUPID PRETTY!!!!

In my family we have a saying when someone does something … not very bright or less than ideal, we tilt our head, say “You’re so pretty” and smile at them. I don’t think I have ever said this to my son, but my daughter hears it, my father hears it, my sister hears it…. then they said it to me. CRAP!

Here is what happened, a student of mine was doing a puzzle with me. A HARD 24 piece puzzle no less, when he commented that I am so smart. This was ADORABLE! You betcha kid! I am smart because I excel at preschool work! So I brag about being called smart and decided to put that in my resume and WHAMO…. I leave off some letters because it’s my PHONE THAT IS STUPID and my friends says “maybe he should read this status and take that title away” HAHAHA …. hey wait a tic…

Then my cousin weighs in and spells smart S M R T…. nice – again I laughed but geeze…..

 

We were all in the car and having a discussion about various sciences – that’s right, I live in THAT family. I had asked my son what science Meteorology falls under and before I could explain what I meant, my son says very dry and very sarcastically… “meteorology” Damn… I was caught with my pretty on.

What I intended and what I said were very different things. I meant to ask him what science class would it be in Chem, Bio or Physics. Ya… too little too late, I was busted pretty and they had the last laugh. For the record I hate kids. Especially mine. I wanted a baby not a teenager.

I work hard at being smart. Smart does not come naturally to anyone. Smart is not a measure of intelligence, smart is thinking before you speak. I got caught being pretty for DECADES, then I started to engage the brain. Some pretty examples for your viewing pleasure:

  1. My Ex father-in-law had a thermometer hanging out his truck window…don’t ask, but I looked at it and asked how could it be that accurate when you are driving? I did not mean the AIR MOVEMENT that creates windchill, I was thinking in terms of vibration. The possibility of the alcohol or mercury vibrating within the tube. Ya… he assumed I meant windchill…and he laughed his head off and I was forever branded the stupid one. Ya well… dude you had NO ROOM TO TALK!
  2. My girl say’s ManScans count as being pretty. A ManScan is when you can’t find something because you don’t look well enough. Therefore that makes me Pretty
  3. My boy claims me not taking the time to set up MSWord and adjust fonts, headers and have him do it makes me pretty.
  4. Apparently, the headset and mouse not working because they are plugged into the WRONG USB makes me pretty. I think that just makes me lazy…not pretty. I also think I am resourceful to make someone else do the work for me. That makes me GENIUS not pretty.

Note to self: Think before you act, proof read from the smart stupid phone and lazy=pretty in my children’s eyes. It’s going to be hard work not being pretty now that my kids are smarter than me.

9/11

Today was one of the days that felt like a week. It made me tired in the back of my eyes. I told my team I was leaving the room to visit the bathroom and if anyone was going to offer me a job between my classroom and the ladies room, I was taking it.

No one did, so I guess I go back to the same routine tomorrow.

My drive home today I was listening to CBC radio – that’s right I have become THAT person, the old crotchety non-NDPer (non- New Democratic Party) who listens to CBC radio. Why? It’s calm and unusual. They played k.d. Lang and interviewed Laurie Greenwood from Greenwoods Books. I love hearing about new books I might want to read. Today she talked about The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. It is  Longlisted  for the Man Booker Prize. I want to read it.

It is about a fellow in England who retires and has nothing to do. He sits in his chair while his bitter wife does the chores and he wonders what is he going to do with the rest of his like. He gets a letter from an old friend he hasn’t seen or thought of in 20 years. The note says the this friends was dying from cancer and she wanted to say good bye. He writes a note and goes to the post office to mail it. He decides to go to the next post office instead. He ends up several post offices away and stops at a gas station for a cup of coffee. He meets a punk-rocker and tells her his story. She tells him the power of thought can heal. So Harold decides to send a postcard to his friend saying he is coming for a visit and just wait for him. Harold then begins to walk 600 miles across England, to meet his friend thinking this might heal them.

Sounds like an amazing journey. It made me think about other journeys and stories I have heard. I know several New Yorkers who have shared with me their story of 9/11 11 years ago. That made me think of the journey of the survivors and the victim’s loved ones. That made me think about the millions of people in New York. Then I thought about Harold Fry and his metaphoric journey.

I remember this day, 11 years ago very clearly. I was still in bed listening to the news when the unthinkable happened. A plane hit one of the towers. I got up and turned on CNN. I then watched the second plane hit the second tower. I couldn’t process what I was seeing. I went to work and my brother was listening to the news, eager to hear what was going on. Were we at war? What was going to happen?

I drove out past the airport to make deliveries for our business. These were the days of still working in the family owned business. I had stopped teaching for a while. I looked at the hundreds of airplanes that were parked at the airport. Flights had been re-routed from the States and brought to Canada. The passengers where sheltered and nurtured here in Canada while they worried frantically about their country, friends and family.

Eventually the world got back to business and airplanes went back into the sky. Travel became a hassle and people began to complain about the pain in the ass travel had become. Life went back to normal and people hated their jobs, their lives, their situation once again.

I remember thinking, I need to be more intentional about gratitude.

I also am on a journey. Mine is not the same as Harold, I am not walking 600 miles to see a dying friend. My journey is simply to understand why I am not satisfied with fine. I feel an inner pull leading somewhere and I have no idea where it is taking me. I don’t understand it, I am frustrated with it, yet I follow that pull as it leads me to destinations unknown. I think it is called faith. I have faith that I will figure it out at the end, since I haven’t figured it out yet, I can’t possibly be at the end. I have faith things will work out the way they are suppose to. In the mean time I feel the pull pushing me into finishing my degree, I feel the pull pushing outside to run, I feel the pull to be compassionate and understanding, and I feel the pull to help pick up the pieces and put them back together to support those who need the help.

I need to remember that this is my journey and excess body fluids may be part of it. I don’t have to like it, but I have to keep moving forward. Perhaps I will end  up walking 600 miles to meet my friend who needs me. But I am lucky, because I am here being needed, unlike the thousands of people who went to work that day 11 years ago and never went home to finish their journey.

I need to remember to be grateful.