All the grateful things #ReflectiveSprint Day 1

Seen the cool stuff the Innovation Hub at SLC is doing? They’ve started a 10 day #ReflectiveSprint. Today’s reflection was writing about something you’re grateful for. I set a timer for 10 minutes and free range noodled. Here’s the gist:

I am grateful for:

  1. Egg nog being seasonal. Seriously. It eludes my will power, therefore by being seasonal I hit it hard for December then miss it the rest of the year.
  2. That my kids are punny. Kid2 has a science test tomorrow on the electricity unit. We talked about how current it is, as a buzzy topic, to switch to while having powerful thoughts. We snort laughed. Fun fun.
  3. Local news. Kid1 has his name (misspelled but whatever) in the paper this week. It’s now on the fridge and Grandma and his aunties called. People who think local papers aren’t worthwhile haven’t read one lately.
  4. The works of J.K. Rowling. We watched the sixth movie on the weekend, as a break in puttering and errands. We adore all things Potter. Today I fell in step with someone at work who I know is a Hufflepuff. We chatted Grindewald. We laughed. Magic.
  5. Health. I’m no fitness freak but I’m healthy and able to do what I want, even if it’s with ever increasing creaks and groans. I went for a micro run on the weekend with the dog, and loved it. I’m grateful for my general health… I’d gift it to friends and family if I could.
  6. Shared laughter. I went to a conference for work recently and got laughing so hard with colleagues that I cried my mascara off. People who can fall into laughter as easily as falling into step with someone are special indeed.
  7. Anyone reading this who knows I’m going to ten things. You get me. Maybe you’ve had a list from me before. Either way, if you came this far you know we’re going to ten (and I am grateful you’re still reading).
  8. Fleece. The marvellous wondrous fabric that I dive into most mornings to clump around with the dog. I’m grateful I can easily and quickly be snug, from tip to toe. Sleek? No. Snug? You betcha.
  9. Perspective. I’m truly grateful for the experiences I’ve had and the ever-burnished lens I see the world through. I’m grateful for seeing possibilities where some see barriers, and I’m grateful I can be “me” in any situation – which is a combination of being comfortable in my own skin, and benefiting from getting to be in places and spaces where authenticity reigns.
  10. Space. Not the final frontier, although that’s fun too. I’m grateful for space when I can find it, to relax and expand into, to chill and find a moment of zen. I’m rarely alone, in my house or in my day so when I find space (as I did tonight, to steal 15 minutes and do this), I am grateful for it.

If you’d like a prompt for reflection, follow the Innovation Hub on Twitter and share your musings for the #ReflectiveSprint. It’s a good time of year to carve out some space and time for quiet moments. All the better if it’s with some nog.

Posted in Inside my head

Know Your Cues

I didn’t see you at first, I was lost in thought, having escaped the domestic churn of kid appointments and activities to be dragged around outside by the dog. I was also wondering if walking there was smart – it was starting to get dark and I didn’t know the area.

The dog noticed you, then I did too when he started pulling in your direction. He’s supposed to be taking it easy, resting a strain in his hind leg so I held him back and tried to continue on our way but you saw us, and changed direction too.

I thought it was okay that you asked if we could talk for a minute. I actually appreciated you asking me if it was okay because it let me answer honestly. I said “no thanks” because I didn’t want the dog jumping all over you and I truly just wanted to fly solo in the world for the 15 minutes I had right then. Cue #1 – she doesn’t want to talk to you.

When you didn’t take no for an answer the prickle started at the base of my neck. That’s a thing people get when instinct is starting to kick in in lieu of solid evidence something is amiss. You said you just wanted to ask me some questions, asked why that wasn’t okay… The rapid fire sequence of thoughts in my head went something like this:

  • I said I don’t want to talk but he’s still asking me questions
  • why does he need to walk towards me if I said I don’t want to talk
  • why isn’t my dog more intimidating
  • I wore a hat to avoid people, note to self: bad plan
  • why. why why why why now why me why won’t he just go away

I said I just wanted to walk my dog. You asked if I lived around there. I didn’t answer. You said you just wanted to know the name of the street near the park. I said I didn’t know (truly don’t, for the record). You said really? Aren’t you from around here. I said (rudely, I admit) “LOOK. I said I don’t want to talk and can’t help you. Walk thataway a bit, there’s a store and people there can help you.” Cue #2 – she doesn’t want to talk to you. You (while still stepping towards me) said “Oh, you can’t talk and help for a second, but you know there’s a store up there?”

I used the tone of voice I did because you hadn’t taken my demure in the first place as an answer. I spoke as I did because no matter what planet you are from, the rules of engagement are this: you try to talk to someone, and they don’t want to talk – you accept it and move on. If you’re a backpacker trying to meet people on the road, or a person having a beer in a bar it’s all the same. Factor in closing darkness and the person seems to seriously wish you would leave them alone, and your persistence will be interpreted as nothing other than badness.

I had already said I didn’t want to talk and that I couldn’t help you. I said you were making me uncomfortable by persisting and to stop weirding me out and that based on what I had already said I had to wonder why you kept trying to talk to me. Cue #3 – she doesn’t want to talk to you. You called me rude, then said something I didn’t catch, then asked me if I am Canadian.

I yelled at you then. I told you to stop being a jik. I was trying to say “jerk” but my voice cracked. Something snapped in me like the bounds of the Grinch’s heart when it grew that day – something bad and something good.

The bad is that I’ve been there. I’m #MeToo and I’ve smiled through it and just go along with it. I tell myself it doesn’t define me, being so far in the distant past it’s blurry now. I’m onwards in good cheer and don’t dwell and shush tut but nights like tonight show me how close to the surface old discomfort and triggers lie. The bad is also the feeling I got about your motives. Even if you wanted to just bum a ride, you didn’t take no for an answer and your persistence made my hackles rise to the point of emotional upset. Add on your attempted guilt trip that I wouldn’t help you? Consider yourself lucky I only got shrill.

The good is that I am going to post this. I rarely publish things that aren’t categorically sunny. The good is that in the face of unpleasant persistence I didn’t do something I didn’t want to. The good was also a truck turning into the park, that you moved out of the way of. Without that I might still be there sputtering. Lastly, good is the surprising peace I feel knowing someone out there thinks I set a poor example as a Canadian.

Sorry your perceived opportunity for conversation progressed to snarls. Sorry your attempt to guilt me into helping you didn’t work. Sorry my attempts to give you options to get what you needed were ignored. See? I am Canadian. I apologize for things I don’t have to. I actually did a very Canadian thing tonight. The next time you see someone and they decline a chance to talk to you, respect their answer and move along without trying harder to get what you want. Doing so will mean tonight helped you  know your cues.



Posted in Inside my head, Onwards | 4 Comments

Random thoughts: Telephones

We ditched our home phone months ago. With four cell phones in the house, it had become good only for startling the pets when it rang. Even though we all now carry phones, we use them for that purpose so sparingly, it’s become a remarkable thing (as in, something to remark on) when used for a call.

I’ve been noodling on this lately for a number of random reasons…

Reason #1 – Phones still work.

I needed to know how to pronounce someone’s name. Hooked on Phonics wasn’t going to cut it for me, I needed to know for sure the Mic, Mac, Muc of someone’s surname. So I called them. Admittedly I was hoping for voice mail, to hear them say their name, but a real person answered. And we talked. It was lovely, we laughed, commiserated, I hung up smiling (it’s “Mic”).

Reason #2 – Phone calls can be exciting.

I recently switched jobs. When my new boss called to tell me he was offering me the position, I was elated! Those types of conversations involve a relay of details and information, and I was mostly in receive/process mode for the start of the conversation. At a pause he asked if I had any questions. “Can you hear me smiling?” I said. “Because I’m smiling right now!” He said he couldn’t in fact hear me smiling, but I think my point had been made.

Reason #3 – Phones put voice to text

Look at your text messages. When you read them, you inevitably hear the senders’ voice when you read them, no? People have told me I write like I talk, at times using Julie-speak (words and phrases unique to my happy take on the world). I take that as a compliment – I think its human and authentic and I love when I read messages, tweets, even Instagram posts by people I’ve met and I can hear their voice. That being said, that sense of voice when reading a text is strongest with people I’ve spoken to recently. Note to self: keep calling people.

Final thought: Hearing Voices isn’t a bad thing.

My kids call their grandmothers periodically. Neither granny owns a smart phone so they aren’t on text or email. I think that might be the smartest of moves, as I get to hear one side of their conversations and hear them laughing together, relaying recent events and or breaking down Big Brother.* When I leave voice mails for friends now, I ramble on and leave a code word to see if they’ve listened far into the message, and I love hearing voice mails from friends who are breathless and busy, but have taken the time to call me. I think now, in addition to mailing one piece of snail mail a week, I’m going to try and make one phone call per week, too. To bring back some of the old days, and try to hear more voices.

*disclaimer I detest that show and don’t watch it, but Memere does and so the kids talk it over with her.. much to my dismay


Posted in Inside my head | 3 Comments

Do I have something in my teeth?

Blog challenge this month includes sharing a photo of something from our house that people often ask about…

While no one’s ever asked me about this, I live in hope that one day someone will stroll into my kitchen and burst out laughing at the utter brilliance of it. That’s what I did when I found it at the Women’s Art Festival years ago. It’s a wooden bowl, painted by a local artist (“A. Viner” is what it says, wish I knew more so could credit them here). Do you get it? It makes me smile every time…


If you haven’t visited the festival, it’s absolutely worth it. Held every August in Kingston’s City Park, it features artists and creators from all styles/ages and who all identify as women of the arts. I’ve found gifts, art, bags, baubles, stories, and inspiration every year I have gone. I wrote about the 2012 festival here… it was a sweet post because it included pictures of Audrey, who has since joined the circus. I still have and use what I bought that year, of what I kept versus gifting away. This year it’s on August 19th which is a weekend we are away, so their revenues might be down with me not attending… maybe you can take my spot and support the artists?

Posted in Everyday Adventures | 2 Comments

Random thoughts: Blue Rodeo

Random thoughts posts are like free association on any particular topic. Here we go, Blue Rodeo version.

If I became obscenely wealthy I would book Blue Rodeo to play whatever milestone event I had coming up next.

I had a roommate once who stole several things from me when she moved out… like my Club Monaco white blouse and I forget what else, except for the worst of all: she took my Blue Rodeo CD. I could forgive clothes and knick knacks but I super missed that music.

I read “The Bridges of Madison County” picturing Robert Kincaid as Jim Cuddy and I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit that.*

I’ve seen Blue Rodeo in concert several times, it’s always a great show and inevitably I end up with tears streaming down my face. Not sure why, just feel surge-y moments in music I guess.

Blue Rodeo on vinyl is good stuff. Like, feet up, beer in hand, not a phone in sight, fire crackling, fireflies dancing, small smile staring off into the distance good.

I can always recognize their music. I recently infamously mistook a Led Zeppelin song for Billy Joel and my husband hasn’t gotten over it. I love telling people as am convinced someone else will agree that particular song is evocative of the piano man… until then I’m not worried of mixing Blue Rodeo up with anyone else…

Queens University released a cool version of “Oh Canada” for July 1st this year featuring famous and talented musical alumni. I love hearing our anthem on most days but that version is goosebumpy awesome and not only because Cuddy sings in it, in both national languages.

For all the listening I’ve done, I’m still bad at remembering lyrics but I blame that on the fact I love their actual music. Harmonicas. Jazzy clarinet. Soothing swelling sounds. Good to “lalalalalaaaa” along with.

I like them so much I wear them. I reserve t-shirt purchases to thingsI mega adore. Like Harry Potter. Star Wars. Local beer. And Blue Rodeo.

I love to fall asleep listening to their music… which I am off right now to do.

*I also consider that book the thinking person’s 50 Shades although I’ve never read them… and won’t.

Posted in Inside my head | 2 Comments

CostCo marriage advice

Kid1 and I were headed to Costco. I stupidly thought it wouldn’t be busy on a Thursday morning, but it’s busy all the time. I blithely strolled in, thinking there would be no crowd but my sweet jeepers was I wrong. Once I saw the crush of people, emergency measures were required – I turned into the houseware aisles. Normally I avoid these aisles as they cause impulsive off-list purchases, but we were on a mission and I didn’t want to Plinko my way around people trying to get our shopping done.

I had taken about five steps when I stopped in my tracks. It was magnificent! A patio lantern the size of a concrete piling, spotted with holes and nature shapes, that you set out and light up and it brings you zen, just like that. “Wooaaahh Daws, look at THIS!” I said.

“No, mom. Keep walking” said my kid, who acts as my CostCo over-spending sponsor. I was preparing a wheedling reply when someone tapped my arm. I turned and looked down on a neat-as-a-pin, turned-out-just-so tiny lady of advanced years. With her smart little handbag over her arm and her sweet smile I switched from wanting the patio lantern to wanting to take her home.

“Dear,” she said. “Do you mind if I tell you something?”

I told her to please go ahead.

“I have been married for 48 years and I know one thing to be true. When men hear a woman say “I want that,” their ears turn off.”

We laughed, and she turned and tootled off, her husband trailing her with their cart, not having heard our exchange. Kid1 asked me what she said. I told him, and we headed to the bread section, without the lantern.

p.s. CostCo is a mecca for quality family time. The image in this post is me modelling their balaclava last summer, to kid1’s delight (that’s him marching off in the distance, once again towards the bread).

Posted in Everyday Adventures

Adventures in Citizenship

I woke him at 6 a.m. He’s always been a champion sleeper, the kind of baby some people resented because he slept through the night at six weeks of age. As I gently shook his man feet and the cat begrudgingly vacated the end of his bed, I saw him register why I was waking him up earlier than usual. It was time.

He had confessed he was nervous – he worries about public speaking because he can be difficult to understand due to an articulation delay, his deep voice, and from being a speedtalker. He wanted to do a good job, because the experience was something he really enjoyed, and he appreciated having had the opportunity to attend. He had prepared his slides, reviewed his notes and printed off what he needed, so we headed out.

The Rotary Club of Kingston provides incredible opportunities for youth to see the world, and participate in programming closer to home that grows their network and understanding of our country. Kid1 was one of 200 youth across Canada chosen to attend the Rotary Club’s Adventures in Citizenship program for 2018. The program brings youth together in Ottawa for an inside look at Canada’s government, policy development processes, and they even witnessed the ceremony where people became Canadian citizens! To say he loved it is an understatement.


Kid1 presenting at the Kingston Rotary Club that sponsored him to attend #AIC2018

Today he presented at Rotary and shared what he learned, how the program exceeded his expectations, and how he has remained in touch with people he met during the three days in Ottawa. As he spoke, I could not have been more proud of him, or more grateful for the opportunity he was given. Part of his speech included sharing the essay he wrote to be considered for admission to the program. His essay is shared with his permission below.

For a kid who worries about always doing a good job, and who gets told he is too much of a nice guy, it was nice to see him own a moment and proudly represent what the AIC program meant to him. His final slide, and closing remark was to say “thank you” for the opportunity, which is perfect as I give thanks every day for him.

Essay – What being a Canadian Citizen Means to Me
“Pride” is the first thing that comes to mind when I am asked what being a Canadian means to me. I’m proud of being Canadian, and I’m proud of how being a Canadian stands for having respect and showing compassion.

I’ve been lucky to see clear examples of respect for our country, and it has inspired me. My grandfather served in the Canadian military and after his active service, continued to give back as the Honorary Colonel of our local regiment. He served Canada his whole life in a variety of capacities, and never once spoke of it as anything other than something he was honoured to do. Being Canadian means being generous with time and energy, something I was able to do in some small part by being an Armed Forces cadet for three years.

Whether in global peacekeeping or in welcoming refugees and encouraging diversity, being Canadian means showing compassion. For several years I have been lucky enough to participate in motionball for Special Olympics, an event that works to integrate, celebrate, and educate communities about the inspiring abilities of Special Olympic athletes. I think the event is a great example of the compassionate society we have, but also how much opportunity there still is to continue helping everyone feel recognized and included, no matter if they have a disability, or are from other countries with different cultures and beliefs.

My pride at being Canadian was reinforced when I met Master Corporal Jody Mitic at an author event in Kingston last year. I read MCpl Mitic’s books and got to speak with him after the event. He told me “…a C is just a P” meaning a C grade was just a pass and okay but it was better to push hard to achieve more. He spoke about not being average and doing the hard work it takes to be exceptional. Canada as a country is great as a result of hard work and dedication over many generations. I’m proud to be Canadian and hope to contribute one day to keeping our country as great as it is.

Posted in Everyday Adventures, Kid Stuff | 1 Comment