Its a New Day

resolutions

Everyone has been talking about resolutions. When I started the Edmonton Tourist Project, I gave up resolutions because they set me up for failure and that was a never ending nightmare I wanted to escape from. I always looked at resolutions as the societal pressure to conform into something the same as everyone else. The yardstick (or meter stick) that people expected youth be measured with.

Yeah….about that conform nonsense…

I won’t do that any more.

I have also spent the last 7 years deflecting comments from people about what I should write and what I shouldn’t.

Also….about that….

I don’t care what you think I should do.

I have spent a lifetime trying to be what everyone thinks I should be. 7 years ago I started exploring what I wanted to be, explored who I am and what I like and let me tell you – not one of those things that I am is anything remotely what you think I should be. So now that we have covered that – I think we can move forward.

But before we do, I just want to mention  those people who actually called me into their office, or called me on the phone or sent me a private message about what I was learning about me – their lives have spiralled into a sad abyss. They are not the people that should mentor others or give advice. But isn’t that always the case? The people who need the most help are the ones deflecting away from themselves. Pretty concerned about me but not so much about them.

Thanks, I’m good. I muddle along daily just fine. I make mistakes and screw up big time but that is when I have my greatest learning lesson. Its a pretty important step for me. Thanks, but, I’ll land on my feet. Everything is always okay in the end, if its not okay – then you are not at the end yet.

Back to resolutions. I don’t make them but I do set goals for myself. I found that goals are a healthy way to stay focused, live in mindful moments and feel success. I have set a few new goals for myself this year.

  • Write more! That sounds vague. I write weekly, every Sunday I set time aside to write my book(s). When an outside obligation comes up – Hello Christmas – that annoyed me. It shouldn’t but it did. I felt like I gave up an important part of who I am. What I should have done was reschedule that time. I will next time. I also want to blog more. Now that I know the difference between writing and blogging – its subtle but it is different – I think I can manage both. The more I write, the better I get at it. Just like anything I suppose. Practice makes perfect, or at least practice means I am not perfect and need work, so keep practicing.

 

  • Read every day. I read a lot. I will go through 50 books a year, that is almost 1 book a week. Its a lot. I have changed my goal on GoodReads to be 35 books this year. Also a lot but when I set up a goal I work really hard to complete it. So I will read anything. I don’t want to read just anything any more. I want to read great meaningful books. My favourite book last year was My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout. You cannot become a great writer if you don’t read. Ask Stephen King. He said you want to be a writer? Read a book. Its true. The more I read, the more I write, the better I am getting. So my goal this year is to read great books and review them here. Likely Mondays. Got a great book I should read? Tell me about it. I am finding as I move forward people suggest books and I often say “read it, read it, read it” Hopefully I will find new and great reads this year. I have 5 on my night stand waiting for me. January 1st and I have finished my first book of the year. Easy to do when you are sick in bed.

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  • Explore Edmonton! I am after all the Edmonton Tourist so its a good fit. Canada turns 150 July first. I turn 50 August 16. Between us, we have had some great adventures. I am going to explore some of the Canada 150 events this year and I will tell you about them. I ordered my National Park Pass and plan to do some great National Park Day trips – I live super close to Elk Island National Park – where the Buffalo Roam and the Deer and the Antelope play… Well…Bison and deer play as well as some coyotes and wolves. So Cap and I will be exploring that more. I also see some Jasper National Park visits and likely a trip or two to Banff. Why Not? I live so close and its a world class destination! If you see me and Cap, stop and say hey!

Get ready – I am looking forward to a great year.

 

5 year olds and 50 year olds both like cookies

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2016 was  ROUGH RIDE! I know I am not the only one who felt this way. Seriously world, we need to get our act together!

I had a tough go the last bit of 2015 and moving into 2016 the bottom fell out. By August I had just about gone completely grey. Happily my hairdresser is a genius and she helped me appear put together on the outside while on the inside I was a sobbing disaster.

Everyone died this year, and quite frankly I am surprised there are still people left. I lost a favourite author a while ago, Maeve Binchy, and the lack of new reads by her was a huge loss to my library. If Carrie Fisher decides to leave, I will be down another favourite author. So I decided to write my own books. I finished 2 novels this year. When I say finish, I mean I completed the narrative but still need to edit and polish etc… I have great hopes for 2017 for becoming published. Keep your fingers crossed for me please.

I have zero plans for travel 2017, New York was on my bucket list for my 50th birthday – I turn 50 in 2017 which astounds me because I often still feel like I have the decision making skills of a 5 year old, the only difference is I do it with authority instead of trepidation. I do not hear New York calling me right now. Too much has changed or rather too much became real. I think if I get anywhere for my 50th it will be Canada’s Maritimes and maybe visit my Little Gram’s old childhood haunts. I really feel like embracing my Canadian side since the US is a disaster right now and I am just tired of fighting the good fight, I feel like I need my Country. There is a comfort I am feeling being Canadian. Its that same feeling when you are 5 and your Little Gram cuddles you while she tells you a story. It feels like home.

5 and 50 look a lot a like.

  • I choose comfort over fashion
  • I pick friends who are kind and fun
  • I don’t play well with my enemies
  • cookies are still my favourite
  • naps are awesome
  • books are the best way to end the day
  • laughing is the best
  • Muppets are still my favourite

I made some serious changes to my lifestyle and I am feeling surprisingly great both on the inside and out! I still say yes more than no but I can tell people no and mean it. Walking away and owning my confidence is the best feeling ever.

Oprah was right, as you near 50 you really have things figured out if you put the work in. Damn, I put in some serious work and I really like who this me is. I couldn’t say that in 2010 when I started this project. Seriously  – I became the Edmonton Tourist in 2010! What a journey it has been.

As I move into my 50th year I reflect on the state of the world and it isn’t pretty. All I can do is fix my corner of the world so I am kind, tolerant and compassionate. I accept differences and embrace change. I help where I can and give what helps. Thats all I can do and that is all I expect anyone to do. A surprisingly amount of people are doing this just like me – there are those who are shockingly disappointing but I accept that they have their reasons for this and only step on if the under dog needs defending.

The Tao of Pooh made a big impact on me when I turned 21. I read it again this year when I turned 49. It reminded me of all the kindest people I knew in my life and reminded me to find my way back. So this is me.

I have finally reached that place where I can say I like me. I liked me when I was 5. I shall like me when I am 50.

I wish you the best of the season no matter what you celebrate. Enjoy it and be kind.

Edmonton Tourist: Strathcona Science Park

I don’t know about you, but I have had a tough week. I have faced disappointment, heartbreak, painful memories and helplessness. In an effort to keep from raging I decided to visit a park that I had not been for 30 years. Truthfully it was a place where a lot of my demons live and I thought I should lay them to rest one and for all.

I packed up my pup and headed straight north from my home to Strathcona Science Park. Its not an Edmonton River Valley park, but I am counting it as one. It is within driving distance of the city , it is situated directly east of Rundle Park an the east bank of the North Saskatchewan River. But this park is a Provincial Park.

The irony of my laying my demons to rest is this place is already dead. It has been all but abandoned by the Province in an effort to push the economy forwarded. So 28 years it has been a derelict site with the exception of the mowed grassy paths. An odd juxtaposition with the cracked and damaged paved paths. I was not in the head space to really research what happened or what is was or event what its future was supposed to look like, but the Globe and Mail did and you can read about it here.

I was here to find a way to live in the moment, forget about my future and let the past go. I am getting quicker at it than I used to, focusing on the now has become a tool I use to live a stress free existence. I am not pro level but I would say I have moderate success with the now.

Cap and I pulled into the park at 3:00 pm and it felt like the sun was beginning to set. Well, it felt that way because it IS beginning to set now at the time. We are one month away from the shortest day of the year and darkness is beginning to seep into all the nooks and crannies. The sign has not changed since I worked here at the ski hill in 1985.

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Cap and I drove to the left of the sign and found parking near the abandoned pavilion. He was super excited to be somewhere with new smells and deep grass to explore.

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There was a real bald prairie feel to this park. Granted, the trees have sprouted up since I was last here, I remember this place feeling hot and oppressive under the blazing sun when I would ride my bike from Sherwood Park, this place would be part of my journey to connect with the river valley trail system where I would cycle all day on a Sunday.

The Downtown core seemed far off and remote. I know from running experience that I am about 18-20km away from City Hall. I’ve run it and find the valley the very best part of being an Edmontonian.

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As we came closer to the edge of the ridge, the North Saskatchewan River came into view.

We turned south and headed towards what appeared to be paved paths the circled the pavilion.

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This is one of the coal mines sites from the clover bar coal seam. Signage let me know I might be able to find remnant from the mines, in the 80’s there were 5 archaeological digs happening here. I have no idea what they found.

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I was standing at #10 Milner and Shoeman. My journey took me all the way to the end of the path at the loop along the river bend.

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I remember this being grassy prairie in 1986, it looks like it was left to naturalize over time with the aid of planting in 1999.

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This guy became tired of mousing and does what he does best – survey his land. All of it is his in case you did not know. Across the river is Rundle Park and to the left is Goldbar and Goldstick parks where my journey began earlier this spring. I still have 4 parks left to visit before my goal is complete. I will save those and pick them on sunny days.

The walk back to the car really showcases the prairies. Alberta is as diverse in its landscape as it is beautiful.

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It looks peaceful but the sounds from the surrounding industrial was loud and obnoxious. It was strategic on my part to not to photograph the refineries.

Will I be back? Doubtful. It no longer holds the demons I expected. Clearly I did indeed let those go. As I neared my car, the anger and rage I was feeling towards my week subsided. Nature does that for me. As the song goes, I have that peaceful easy feeling.

Edmonton Tourist: Terwillegar Dog Park

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I have been meaning to go to the Terwillegar Dog Park for a while now but wanted to wait until the bridge construction connecting the south and north sides of the river was completed. That just happened. So when I woke up Saturday morning, I had that magnetic force pulling me in that direction.

Terwillegar is not easily accessible for me. It is located in the South West corner of Edmonton and I have never felt like this was where my people lived. I am more of a central located kinda of gal even though I do not live central, I play there a lot. I visit those parks, restaurants, shops and many of my pals are centrally located so I am drawn there. South West, not so much. However, I pride myself on being familiar with every corner of my city. The Captain and I hopped into my car and we headed for this park.

Terwillegar has a reputation of being a great dog park. My dog is not able to go off his lead for safety reasons. The Captain is mostly a super a friendly dog, but he demands that other dogs respect him as Alpha. This is usually fine as most dogs are smaller and automatically accept this, but every now and then a large do comes along and Captain usually says to the other animal, “Kneel before me peasant” and if that dog does not comply, a battle will ensue. I also do not trust that Captain will come when I call him. He pretty much comes when he feels like it. Being a responsible dog owner, I know I cannot control my dog off lead, so he doesn’t get to run around the park…ever. This prevents any and all unwanted lawsuits.

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When we arrived, parking was at a premium. I managed to find a spot and looked over the field to see the pack. This park was busier than other parks I visit. Captain was pretty excited to see all the dogs racing around. I admit to feeling apprehension because of his unpredictable nature – my guy was a wild dog rescued from a reservation up north. He hunted and lived within a pack but I suspect he often went rogue. He talks to coyotes and hunts small game still. The field did not hold much interest for him, other than all the sniffing that was possible, he led me off towards the river and forest.

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This place does not do well after rain and snow, lately Edmonton has had its fair share of moisture. The place was a mud bog. My white dog sported black little legs in no time. I also was covered in mud, my least favourite thing unless I am barefoot or in wellies, I was wearing neither.

Once we arrived at the river, I could see the new foot bridge to the east of where I was. It was still a fair way off, so we made our way towards it through the woods. Huge mistake.

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I am fairly well versed in bush-wacking, this was a skill I put to good use as the trails were squelchy with muck. We tried to stay off the mud path and keep to the side for several reasons, my balance lately has been very unstable, so I did not need to slide around on the path most taken. The other reason being, I had a scheduled visit in an hour with my aunt who lived close by and I did not need to look as if I had been playing in the mud pretending I was 5. The final reason being, Captain hated baths. This guy would trapes through mud puddles as if this was the best thing in the world, but put his foot in clean water and you’d think I was punishing him for no good reason.

30 minutes of hiking through the mud and water, we finally came to the paved path that led to the bridge. This road had a think layer of muck as well. There was no place that was safe.

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After the City comes back in the spring to finish the landscaping, (add grass?) I can see this being a lovely spot, but today it filled me with regret.

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As we approached the bridge I marvelled at the engineering of this structure. Apparently it is the second longest stressed ribbon bridge in Canada, although I am unable to determine the longest. News reports didn’t offer that information. Essentially it is a high tech rope bridge. I walked across it with a fair amount of people sharing the bridge ( I wait a really long time to get a photo with out people) and I am happy to report it felt solid. The over hangs remind me of wings, giving the appearance the bridge is hovering or floating above the North Saskatchewan River.

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Of all the Edmonton Parks, I must admit this is my least favourite. The mud didn’t help, but I can certainly look past it. I doubt I will ever return but I do understand why the locals enjoy it and now with the bridge, they are connected at last with the River Valley Trail system that I am deeply in love with.

 

Then They Came for Me

Listening to everyone, you would think the world is on fire.

It is not and we are all going to be okay.

I was listening to a Scott Hamilton video this morning. He is facing his 3rd regrowth of a Brain Tumour. Do you know what he said?

“You set the tone.”

Every now and then I hear words that knock me off my feet. This was one of them. Recently – well since January –  I gave up behaviours because I lost track of my direction, sense of self and most importantly, my values.

Values encompass who I am. When I participate in activities that stray from my values I feel lost.

I value kindness. This means finding humour in someone’s misfortune is not kind. I had friends  people I knew where this was their hourly fun. I didn’t agree with it but I passively stood by. I have deep regret over this.

There is a meme traveling around the inter webs  about passively standing by.

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This is very relevant today because of the hate being spewed by people. This isn’t new, we experience this in every decade, genocide to cleanse the earth and create superior beings.

I can absolutely relate. I stood passively by and January 16, 2016 they came for me. Granted it wasn’t a world-wide catastrophe. But I do believe the world relies on individuals standing up for right. I failed to do that for for 2 years. I stood passively by and then they turned on me.

I think this is why Scott Hamilton’s words ring so powerfully to me.

“You set the tone.”

Yes I do. I used to long before then and for some reason I did not. But this too is a learning lesson. I learned what happens when you dangerously think, not me.

My entire life I was taught to champion the underdog. It does not make you popular and perhaps that is what I wanted to experience. I wanted to know what that felt light. All I can say is for me it felt like a lie. It was stressful and hurtful and it removed me from my values.

I was 9 when the doorbell rang. A girl I didn’t know very well was standing at the door and wanted to hang out. By being her friend I knew I would give myself the reputation of undesirable. There was nothing wrong with her, but this is how the kids at school marginalized her. I turned her away. My dad called me over to him and gave me a powerful lesson in empathy. How do I think she feels right at this moment? How would you feel? What could you have done to improve this situation?

I put my shoes on and went after her. All I could do was apologize and invite her back.

She did the right thing and threw it back into my face. I deserved that and it stuck with me. It was one of my greatest learning lessons. I went back to my dad and he said, “Well, what did you think would happen?” I thought an apology would fix everything. I  learned that day it does not. That was the second greatest learning lesson of my life.

I eventually learned to balance the need for empathy and kindness between others and myself. It is easy to lose yourself. It is just as important to be kind to yourself as it is to be kind to others. I can forgive others but have a harder time forgiving myself. My passive behaviour of not standing up against bullies over the past two years taught me many things.

The most important thing it taught me was be yourself. Listen to that inner voice and follow that inner compass. It lets you know who you can trust and who you can’t. It tells you to stand up for those who don’t have a voice.

I am now that person who annoys people because I speak up when tears are streaming down the faces of others. I say things that are not popular but defend the weak and vulnerable. I cannot change the World but I can change my corner and in the end, that is all I need because that is where I live. I have lost friends people but I only want to be around people who are nice, kind, compassionate and empathetic. I encounter enough people who are not and don’t need that during my personal time.

You set the tone.

 

Adventure is out there!

I just arrived home from a much needed vacation. It took me a few days to settle into my zen-like need for relaxation and rest. Once I was feeling the relaxed vibe of vacationers everywhere I was able to see things in a different light.

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Canada Place at Burrard Landing

It has taken me a very long time to learn this lesson but I think I have finally understood it completely.

Lesson: Appreciate things as they are without comparing them to what they are not.

So what does this mean? Vancouver is without question an amazing city. Vancouver is not Edmonton. Nor is it trying to be. Just like Edmonton is not Vancouver, nor does it need to be. I love both cities as they are. Each offer a perspective and views that vastly different from each other. I can appreciate eat city for its virtues and be disappointed in them for what they lack without comparison. I have been to Vancouver many times but this time, I could see it for what it is, rather than what it is not. I love Vancouver and all it has to offer.

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Seawall at Coal Harbour

The beauty of Vancouver took my breath away while at the same time frightened me with its ugliness. The juxtaposition of the art, shiny and clean city with the dirty tent cities and homelessness was a lot to take in. Vancouver has done a great job promoting the arts and sculptures on many corners throughout the city add to its vibrancy. The views from various locations were stunning and the amount of filming for TV and Movies made perfect sense. Vancouver is without question a city diverse in its beauty.

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Set front for Once Upon a Time in Steveston (Storybrooke)

People are kind and friendly, at least the ones I encountered are. Dogs are a huge part of the lifestyle of people who live here. I spent my days greeting people with pleasant salutations and admiring their pets while I was taking in many of the sites.

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I spent time downtown, exploring the city, dipping my feet into the sea water, checking out filming locations and stumbling upon open sets and actors – famous and not so famous. I was giddy with excitement when I saw a spoiler for one of my favourite superhero shows and was overwhelmed with emotion when I saw such beauty in the landscape for which I had no words.

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Horseshoe Bay, West Vancouver

I saw Orcas, Otters, Harbour Seals, Raccoons and Bald Eagles. I experienced rain, wind and sunshine. I sampled craft beers and local wines. But mostly, I enjoyed my vacation with my family because there were zero expectations and no deadlines to meet other than be sure to catch the ferry back from the Island.

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Cute little critters at Stanley Park

This was without a doubt one of my most favourite vacations. Exploring Canada in a way I had not done it before. I am happy to be home but look forward to visiting again.

 

 

Edmonton Tourist: Louise McKinney Park


It was an effort finding a park that had parking space today. Anything in close proximity to the Heritage Days Festival was filled to the brim. After trying my luck at 3 different parks, Captain and I found ourselves over at Louise McKinney, another Famous 5 park.

We ran into some friends just as we climbed out of the car. They also tried to find space in other parks. It seemed everyone was wanting some green onion cakes and gelato found down at Hawrelak Park. We bid them well and made our way along the river front path.


The first thing we noticed was lovely poetry on the light posts. 


We stopped to see some rock piles and over grown grass.


It was Turtle Rock Effigy, an old Art Works festival creation from 2010. Not much to see anymore but the Pokéstop had a great photo of it.

We met several displaced men sitting on benches, all wanting to pet Cap and tell me how handsome he was. We had a lovely visit with them and wished everyone a great day. 

The trails surrounding the park were closed while LRT construction begins over at the bridge. I had visited that area earlier this year when we went to Henrietta Muirs park.

We climbed up to the Chinese Garden. Such a lovely oasis downtown. 


The park was used as a bike corridor for so many cyclists populated the park today.

I made my way to the Shumka Stage. An odd mix of Chinese and Ukrainian culture. 


And called it a day. Next week I’ll been in Calgary’s Glenmore park so perhaps I’ll explore a yyc park inset was.