It’s a sunny Sunday mornin’

Spring is coming -- I promise!
Spring is around the corner -- I promise!

Good day, all!  I’m sooo happy, because the sun is shining!  Two days in a row!  Can you dig it? 

Consider this:  CBC reported recently that since the start of the new year, we (Alberta, in particular the north-central region) have had 28 days of fog.  28!  In the middle of bloody winter!  Now, if we were in Vancouver, or Halifax, I could understand, but here in the middle of the prairies? 

So, my happiness aside, this brings my thoughts back around to the end of the world.  Strange correlation, I know, but humour me. . . 

Lately, there’s been a spate of end of the world pictures — 2012, The Road, 9 — to name just a few, and I can’t help thinking that maybe, just maybe . . . but that’s just conspiracy-think, so I’ll try and stop it. 

Truthfully, though, when we were experiencing all that fog and gray skies and gloom, I couldn’t help wondering what it would be like to have to live in a world with no sunshine.  I’m telling you, my mood sure started to tank quickly, and I pop 2000 IU’s of Vitamin D a day.  Living in that kind of bleakness perpetually we’d see some strange social dysfunctions manifest in short order.  Hopefully, not as dire as those Cormac McCarthy thought up for his post-apocolyptic world.

One thing I know for sure, is that this weather really affects kids, and this comes from working with them.  Their behaviours ramp up, they become increasingly restless, increasingly difficult to motivate and far more emotional than usual.  More school yard fights, detentions and just plain dumb stuff happened during those dark days than we’ve ever experienced before.

Add to that their extreme impressionability after watching movies like 2012 and guess what?  Their imaginations and their naivete gets the best of them.  I’ve got one kid asking me doomsday questions just about every day.  Like, if I knew the world was going to end, would I choose to die or to fight to live?  If, after surviving, I knew that something terrible would happen and there was no way I was going to live, would I want to die quickly or live as long as I could? 

I try to treat his questions with a measure of seriousness, because, after all, he’s asking because this is something he’s given a lot of thought to, but at the same time, I try to instill a little of the old you-know-the-world’s-not-going-to-end, that’s-only-a-movie, right? reassurance in there, along with a bright, sunny smile so that he doesn’t catch on that adults sometimes have those same thoughts, too. 

. . . that was one helluva long run-on sentence! . . .

. . . anyway. . .

I’m doing my best today to just be gloriously happy that the sun is shining and that this is 2010, the end of February.  Spring is a mere 4 weeks away.  Soon we’ll have rain and green and sweet smelling air.  The birds will be back, and I’ll be able to have all my windows open again. 

I will not dwell on the fact that there has been another massive earthquake and another tsunami.  No, I won’t.


Ohhh! Canada

Well, ‘the boys’ just lost the game against the Americans.  You know what I think lost the game?  Too much bravado, too much hype, too much ego.  It was a good game, though, for the most part.  The last five minutes were pretty intense, anyway.  In the end, it’s important to remember that it is, after all, just a game.  I believe — yes, I really do — that they can come back and win the Gold.

This ‘upset’ begs the question: is hockey really Canada’s game, anymore?  It would seem not so much.

Like all these sports at the Olympics the players are not necessarily from the country for whom they’re trying to win medals for.  And, truly, not many of them could honestly be said to be amateurs — many of these athletes have  ‘returned’ from retirement, or, they have sponsors with deep, deep pockets which allows them greater opportunities and gives them what I consider an unfair advantage over the true amateurs.

I know that this has probably been said more times than can be counted, but I’m going to say it again:  what happened to the original ideal of the Olympics?  If it’s not really about that, why do we pretend that it is?  It’s really about the medals and the endorsements, so why don’t we just let the professionals compete without making them pretend to retire? Aathleticism is athleticism regardless of how much someone is or is not being paid.  And, maybe it would level the playing field a little.

Of course, that would effectively mean that all the smaller countries  would be eliminated from the competitions, but, so what, right?  It would be about the world powers — well, and Canada, too, of course.

Watchin’ the Olympics

I amaze myself.  I have become a nerdy patriot.  And, I don’t mind admitting it.  Right now, as I blog this I am watching men’s figure skating.  I don’t even like figure skating!  I mean, it’s okay, but seriously, after about the third one, I can’t help thinking they’re just repeating the same stuff over and over — sort of like a Barry Manilow song.  If you know what I mean.  I think what I enjoy most is the music they skate to.  But really, is there any actual belief  that they’re actually dancing? in time?

I’ve really enjoyed these Olympics, though, and it has a lot to do with the fact that they’re on Canadian soil, and that Vancouver has done a spectacular job of showcasing what it means to be Canadian.  The opening ceremony last Friday was nothing short of miraculous.  Stunning, if you want the truth.  There were so many favorite parts, I can’t single just one out.  I thought it very Canadian of the organizers to include all of Canada in the ceremony and not make it all about Vancouver, which they could have very easily, and rightfully, done.  They encompassed everything that is wonderful about our country — our diversity, our talent, our humble acceptance of that talent, our tolerance, our belief that most times less is more, but in the case of something so big, big is completely acceptable.  I totally loved the way they included athletes new and old in the torch lighting ceremony.  Respect, dignity and honour — that’s just who we are.

Okay, so Johnny Weir, the nutbar American skater is on the ice.  Preceded by a bunch of hoopla, but honestly, he’s doing exactly the same thing as the 3 guys before him.  Oh, his program is called ‘Fallen Angel’ it reflects how he feels about his career since Torino.  Huh?  You skate for a living, buddy, you’re good at it, get over it.  But, boy, do I love the music he’s skating to!  It’s gorgeous.

We’ve got the kids I work with doing some educational Olympics.  Math drills, LA facts, and World knowledge — it’s going to be a lot of fun, I think.  That’s how badly I’ve been affected by these games.

Ooh, now the ugly, but very talented Russian skater is on the ice.  Then it’s over.  Will he get the Gold?  Will he match Dick Button’s (who was trash-talking him some bad the other night) record and take home back to back Gold’s?  Seriously, do I care?  Oddly, yes.  Retrospectively, I think I want him to win.  I think it would be neat to see him attain his goal.  Is he doing anything any different from the others?  Actually, I think so.  There is a sense of soul in his skating, that is lacking in the skating of the others.  Their skating was pretty, his is gutsy and provocative.

See, there’s that nerdy me again.  Maybe I just think the Americans have enough medals, already.  Who knows what my motivation is.  Go, Russian guy, go!

Crap!  the American got the Gold.  Well, he probably deserved it, but I think it sucks.  All they’re yapping about is the quality of his execution.  Again, huh?

Okay, so I guess I’ll shut this down.  Canada’s Patrick Chan is in 5th.  I’m trying to be happy about that.

It’s been awhile. . .


The light at the end of the tunnel -- just trying to stay focused on it.

I’m finally getting back to my blog.  I’ve missed being here, but lately my life has been so chaotic.  There just never seems to be enough time. 

There I go again, with that time thing.  I do believe there is a story or a poem in me somewhere that deals with time.  One of these days. . .

Well, I think I’ve finally bought a vehicle.  A 2010 Ford Edge.  After a couple of months of checking used vehicles out, it boiled down to paying a few thousand more for new over a couple of years old and getting full warranty coverage. 

I HATE buying vehicles.  I find the process so stressful.  All the fancy dancing around over price just about drives me nuts.  I know the salesman is going to try to get the most of me that he can, and he knows I’m going to try to pay as little as I can and yet, we still have to waste hours arguing over the bottom line.  It’s such an unsatisfying experience, all around. 

Other than I’ve got a new vehicle, of course.  Well, I don’t physically have it yet.  It’s on order.  But hopefully in 5 or 6 weeks I’ll be driving my nice, new Edge. 

We test drove quite a lot of smaller and midsize SUV’s and crossovers (glorified station wagons, you ask me) and in the end we just liked the size and the feel of the Edge.  Just like all the reviews we read, it’s not an exceptionally exciting vehicle, but it’s got nice styling, a roomy interior and I felt confident driving it.   the other nice thing is, I’ve got plenty of room for my grandchildren. 

I’ve driven a small, 4 cyl Sunfire for the past 10 years, I think driving this bigger, 6 cyl is going to be a treat.  This morning though, I’m going through the post-purchase jitters.  You know — I can’t believe we spent that much money, did we get a good enough deal, is the dealer still going to try and take us for a ride — all that kind of stuff.  But, really, in the end, I think we made out okay.  Despite how much you bargain and wrangle you know they’re still making money off you if they accepted your deal.  And, they’ve got to make a living, so it’s believe you did the best you could for yourself and move on. 

I have to say, though, that for all the talk about the economic downturn and being able to pick up a vehicle for a song — that’s just not the case, at least here in Canada.  Used vehicle prices — for vehicles one or two years old — are ridiculously high.  So high in fact, that it makes no sense, really, to buy them used — not when you can get brand new for a couple of thousand more. 

And, considering that I’ll probably drive this vehicle for ten years or so, I’ll get my value out of it in the end.  Still, I wonder, wouldn’t I have been smarter to buy something about 5 years old that I could have paid about $10 000 for, driven for 3 or 4 years, and then bought another one?  I just don’t know.  Cars, they drive me nuts, but unfortunately they’re entirely essential to my life. 

So, I guess I’m working for a few more years — LOL!

February 1, 2010

The days are just flying by! 

I’m reminded once again how fleeting time is.  Every heartbeat is a moment lived, and it’s how you spend those heartbeats that matters.  Hearts can stop beating, without warning, it’s important to remember that. 

We are constantly bombarded with messages about living life to its fullest, living life-like each day is your last, never going to bed angry because that might be the last experience you have with someone and would you want that to be their last experience of you; using the ‘good stuff’ instead of saving it and never getting around to using it at all and what a sad, sad waste that is, etc., etc., etc.  I am always drawn to these messages, especially the ones that come attached to breathtaking photography.  They make me question whether I’m living my life to the best of my abilities, and whether I’m doing justice to the life I’ve been granted.

I know I’m not the only sap who’s emotions and thoughts are manipulated by these kinds of messages, they tend to resonate — deeply — with lots of other people.  Lately, I’ve begun to wonder how much stress this adds to our lives.  It seems that this is a fairy-tale standard of goodness against which we are constantly having to measure ourselves. 

Anger, frustration, fear, sadness, depression — all these are feelings and states of being which we are told are undesirable and which, if we only focus on love and positive thoughts, can be banished from our lives.  I’m beginning to wonder if that’s really all that wise.

Most great change comes about because of negative feelings.  Persecution, discrimination, and human rights violations tends to lead people to demonstrate and protest which then leads to conflict or war, political change, and new laws protecting the rights and freedoms of people and other living beings.  The desire for something better is the driving force, the motivation for attaining feelings that can/should be positive.

This is true even in our personal relationships.  Someone in an abusive relationship is going to have a hard time seeing what’s good in their life when their reality is a nightmare of fear, grief and depression.  Those same dark feelings, however, can be the catalyst that inspires someone to claw their way out of darkness into light. 

But, being told–constantly–that feeling angry instead of forgiving, envious instead of satisfied, oppressed instead of valued, bitter instead of grateful, is bad, is just as harmful as believing that you deserve only what you have.  Everyone deserves to be happy, that’s true, but living with your head in a cloud, thinking warm fuzzy thoughts isn’t going to get you there. 

I believe that all this motivational ‘stuff’ floating around out there is causing an epidemic of societal anxiety.  It’s leading people to constantly question the validity of their lives and to find them constantly lacking. 

It’s forcing people to go in to debt as they strive for ‘meaningful’ experiences like trips to exotic lands in pursuit of spiritual enlightenment, or, an authentic cappuccino.  It causes husbands and wives to walk away from marriages and families because they’re not feeling ‘valued’ or ‘appreciated’ instead of trying to work out their problems — because, you know, why should you have to spend even one moment being sad or unhappy, when the ‘perfect’ relationship is out there just waiting for you? 

It leads parents to spoil their children by giving them everything instead of making them work for what they want.  What if, for instance, the last thought little Johnny or little Janey ever had of you was that you’d said no to their request for a new Nintendo DS or to their demand that they be allowed to stay out partying with their friends?  How sad would that be? 

This guilt being heaped on us, be it through the internet, television, radio, books and seminars is debilitating.  A perfect example of this is the story that surfaced about the kids on a cruise just after the disaster in Haiti.  These kids had probably planned and saved and worked hard for that trip (well some of them were probably sent by over-indulgent parents dealing with guilt issues, but, anyway. . .) and, through no fault of their own, their cruise path led them past Haiti. 

So, they did what kids on a cruise would do — they enjoyed themselves.  All of a sudden the media gets wind of it and suddenly these kids and the cruise line are painted as unfeeling, thoughtless, selfish, arrogant, every negative adjective that could be used to describe them, was. 

How, I ask is that right?  Should the cruise line stop sailing past Haiti because the island was devasted by earthquakes?  After all, it’s still there.  Putting blinders on or changing sea routes isn’t going to change that.  And, it’s not like nothing has been done to help Haiti.  $6 billion dollars worth of aid, so far, has made it to the island, but asking or expecting the entire rest of the world to wear black and go in to mourning is plainly ludicrous. 

Another good example of how this whole morality wave has turned into a tsunami is the Jay Leno/Conan O’Brien issue.  Personally, I say: who cares?  But, a large proportion of the North American population, including Oprah, thinks this is something somehow definitive to our culture.  What a load of crap!  I don’t care why Jay Leno did what he did, and I don’t care how Conan O’Brien feels about it.  Both of them make obscene amounts of money and live lives none of us could even hope to imagine.  Are they good people?  Are they deserving of what they have?  Only they can answer that, and really why should it matter to me, or anyone else?

It’s not surprising that since the Tiger Woods scandal, the attempted bombing of an airplane over Christmas, and all the other tragedies and travesties that have happened in the past month that there has been a proliferation of ‘feel good, live your life for the moment’ type of messages flooding my inbox. 

I appreciate the sentiment, just not the guilt that seems to follow.  I think from now on, I’m just going to listen to my heart and stop paying attention to all the pretty messages that somehow make me feel like my life is not good enough.  Because, believe me, I enjoy every heartbeat of it.