I Remember…

As a kid I grew up listen to stories on both sides of my family about the war. It was always The War. Of course my family meant WWII. It was real to my family, not just some newsreel or stories that had been handed down. Grandfathers, Fathers, Uncles, Brothers, Cousins and Friends all had first hand knowledge of The War. In my family I think my Beloved Great Grandmother known to all as little Gram suffered more than most. Her husband had survived the Great War, but then she was asked to give up her sons for the Second World War. They all came back, except one.

Warrant Office Class I Gerard McEachern, Royal Canadian Airforce, killed in action over the North Sea, 19 May 1943.

He had finished his tour of duty but took one last flight for a buddy who was too sick to go. I heard stories of how my Gram knew it happened before she received the telegram. The story goes, her son came to her in a dream and by morning her hair was white. My family is filled with story tellers. True, we embellish things. I am not sure of the actual details surrounding this momentous event but I know it changed her. How could it not? When a mother loses a child a giant part of her heart is ripped from her chest and she dies a little bit that day. His picture was always on her dresser when I came to visit. She always commented on my curly hair, just like his. But she never told me any stories about him. I heard all kinds of crazy stories about the rest of her children, 5 in all, but never about Gerard. I imagine the pain in remembering made her chest wound open up and bleed. As a child, I never understood. Of course I thought I did, of course I was wrong. As a mother I can’t even begin to imagine the pain she went through. Then one day last year, I could almost imagine. We were in Belgium visiting Ypres. The Meinin Gate was the destination.

I remember hearing my Honey’s excited voice, “WE ARE DRIVING THROUGH IT!” Cool! So we had arrived to the Menin Gate. It was impressive! It records the soldiers of the British Empire without graves. We walked through it, looked at names and saw my son’s name. Although I knew that wasn’t really my son, it still weakened my knees. At that moment I knew I never wanted to actually see my son’s name on a wall. I was ill.

We moved our way up to the grassy park that was high above Yrpes. I needed air, I didn’t share my feelings with my family. My honey wanted to keep exploring but I needed to change my view. Like my Offspring, the time had come for me to end the War Memorial visits. It was starting to affect me.

Today I watched the services from Ottawa, our Nation’s Capital. I saw Prime Minister Harper and his wife lay a wreath, then the young moms of Soldiers who were killed in action Afghanistan. Heart braking. I looked over at Genetic Offspring and requested that he never put me in that position, ever. I am grateful for all the mothers who gave up their boys. I can’t even imagine how they can keep breathing every day. Every boy that is laid to rest in fields all over Europe had a mother. Walking amongst the head stones of boys, whose ages are the same as my son and his friends, or my nephew and his friends, was shattering. The stones all had a maple leaf and if the name was known it was there. If the religion was known, the symbol was on it, be it a cross, star or moon. At that point, I think Religion no longer matters. We are all one under God.

Today I remember the boys whose stories I have heard time and again. I remember the stories of men who lived to tell me about it their time in past wars. I remember friends who have come back from wars in recent memory and retell the vivid stories of things they cannot unsee.

I remember you and your sacrifice and honor your mother for letting you go.

Goodbye, Farewell, The End

In one month it will be the second anniversary of the Edmonton Tourist Project ( I woke up this morning and realized it is the third anniversary! WOW 3 years!).

I can no longer recognize the girl I use to be.

I began this site as a way to help me become accountable, take risks, heal the hurt and become the person I dreamed I could. I learned the difference between goals and dreams. A goal is a way to realize your dreams and wishes. I have learned the secret to goal achievement and it is satisfying in ways I never thought possible.

I will graduate in December. WOW. I once never dreamed I was smart enough for University. Now I find it mundane and limiting in my learning. Looking forward to having letters after my name. It automatically gets people’s attention when the reality is, I was just as smart before, but now I know how to put it all together. That is progress.

I say yes more often to try things and no more often when I have taken on too much or just really don’t want to do something.

I have traveled solo and figured out where I begin and my family ends. This was also important for me. I needed to learn boundaries.

I have learned and practice great nutrition. I have lost nearly 95lbs in two years. I have  another 90lbs to go, BUT it has become habit. Great food choices made of REAL food have taught me to listen to my body. I know what it needs and when it needs it. Eating gratuitous sugar because it is someones birthday is rarely worth the calories. It has to be OUTSTANDING before I will spend calories on sugar laden food because there are consequences to those actions. I either eat less, work out more or gain some temporary weight. Neither of those options are awesome. So I choose carefully.

I have learned that loving someone doesn’t mean it has to be a married relationship or a parental one. I love my girlfriends, fella friends, and family with a fierce intensity that I didn’t know existed within me. This has given me permission to spend time with those people and the ones I just like…get less time or none because my time is limited and valuable. It doesn’t mean you are not valuable it just means I am prioritising my life. I come first, then family, then friends, then school, then work. Work is last because it is a means to a lifestyle. However, it made the list so you can be sure work is filled with passion. If it isn’t on the list, it lacks passion. Without passion, I have no desire to put in an effort. That was my problem before the project. I had my priorities mixed up. I need to nurture me so I can nurture my passions.

That makes it simple.

I place me first for the reason listed above, however, I didn’t put into what ME means:

I have learned I am a social introvert. I like socializing but not all the time. Please don’t drop in on me, call first. There is a list of people who are welcome to drop in and that list includes my mom, dad, sister, my best friend and George Clooney. Call first or I get cranky.

I need to include fitness in my life for lots of reasons, but the big one is if I have to face surgery for my brain tumour, then I want to be as fit and healthy as possible. Death does not scare me, but my children still need their mommy for the time being and I intend to be there as they need me. Being THE MOM is a responsibility that I do believe I was created for. I take it seriously and approach it with humor and humility. I have raised amazing humans and can’t wait to see how they shape their future.

I need to read. I need to continue learning and I need to sit in stillness and reflect. This is what defines me. Include fitness in there and those things need to be done alone for me. That is my recharge time. People exhaust me, I love them but I need that space away – and often, like everyday.

I need to set goals to reach new dreams. Goal setting and dream achieving is simply amazeballs.

So does this means I am fixed and no longer need the Edmonton Tourist Project? Well?

I have been think about that a lot while I run. Running has become my focus and passion lately. Writing is my creative outlet. I am writing 2 books right now. They tumble out of me like movies. That leaves me with nothing left to say on the Edmonton Tourist Project. While my growth continues, I no longer feel blogging about it is the right platform.

That must mean this is the end.

I am so incredibly grateful to those of you who have supported me all the way along. I have met incredible bloggy friends along the way, some turned into real life friends, some have drifted away and others have died. This tells me that endings do not have to be bad. Happy endings are lovely too.

Is my blogging career over? NO WAY! I am devoting my writing over at my health and fitness blog called Me and MO. Mo is short for momentum. You can find it HERE or http://justmeandmo.wordpress.com/  It is the same me who looks at life slightly skewed with humor in her brain and wit on the tongue.

I get it if all that running and nutrition talk isn’t for you. I do understand that. It isn’t for everybody. For now it is where I need to be.

Soon I will close this site, revamp it and change it into something different. But I am taking the summer off.

This feels right. It is time to say goodbye to old me and embrace the me I really am. It kind of feels like the final episode of M*A*S*H* and I feel like BJ. Not wanting to say it but needing to.

Keep in touch friends.

MASH_4077_Goodbye_thumb

Book Moods and Reality

If you are a reader like I am, you will understand how diving into a book can affect your mood while you are pacing yourself through it. Most of the books I have read this year have been a bit desperate. Meaning, I have loved reading them they have left me feeling like the world is a wee bit depressed. I hear ya. Everyone is a wee bit depressed, including me. I think that is why I am attracted to these books. They make life feel so normal because lets face it, no one lives in a LaVyrle Spencer novel, everyone lives in a Maeve Binchy novel.

 

 

 

I loved Maeve Binchy (except her Father Flynn Series) because she wrote about average people doing mundane things in a way that left my heart aching for more normalcy. Evening Class made me want to go back to school and meet people. I did go back and met a lovely chum who is sarcastic and dark like me. We chuckle and complain yet we are the smarty pants of the group. Evening Class was plausible and that is why I liked it.

 

 

 

As much as I love watching Sci-Fi, I despise reading it. Books need to be plausible for me and quite frankly I have a hard time wrapping my head around worlds I haven’t been to. This includes countries where I have no frame of reference. I have tried the Sci-Fi genre and it just isn’t my favorite. For example, I have Read Never Let you Go and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and while I was reading them, I kept thinking…huh, not loving this so much. So, I made the choice to save Sci-Fi for TV and Movies because it becomes an EPIC adventure and save the Sci-Fi books for other people.

 

 

 

The books I have read so far this year seem to have a common theme. Their life kinda sucks and it doesn’t really change by the end, other than they are accepting of the sucky life they are living. Fair enough. I think that is real. The key is to embrace what you have and accept it for what it is and be grateful for the good stuff, because life isn’t all bad. It isn’t. There are awesome snippets of time that make up for all the crap we deal with. It’s a shame we have to deal with anything but that is what makes us smart. That is why I like reading these books. I like learning from other people’s choices. Not that I always agree with what they do, I think my moral code plays a role into these scenarios, but sometimes learning what NOT to do is just as valuable. And sometimes being a victim of circumstance all you can do is cope. I have been lucky – although luck might not be the word I am looking for. Karma has been fairly kind to me. I have done things I am not proud of, but the outcome has been the best possible scenario I could hope for…well, I hope for more but am satisfied with what I have.

 

 

 

Then I read books like The Book Thief. I am not through the whole thing yet but I suspect the family is harboring Jews during Nazi Germany. The young girl is fostered by

 

Cover of "The Book Thief"
Cover of The Book Thief

 

this family and, well, I foresee bad things. It is WWII after all and life wasn’t great then. A great insight to civilians living through WWII in both Germany and England is Life After Life. It gave me a sad, yet vivid perspective of what life must  have been like. The Book Thief is different, it is narrated by Death himself and he seems like an okay fella. I don’t fear death like I did when I was younger but reading about death has become a bit of a theme for me. I am fascinated about it and how people handle it. Perhaps it is because it surrounds me more frequently than it did when I was younger and living with a tumour makes me face it head on. Wrapping up all my personal endings for ‘just in case’.

 

At any rate, I am feeling the moods of the characters I read about. I love that about books. I love how real these characters feel to me. I know I will love Hans long after the Book Thief is over and I will think of him often, just like I think of my Grandpa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facing My Fears and having it go OH SO WRONG!

fears Since my Edmonton Tourist Journey began and I started saying YES more than NO. I also began taking risks and facing my fears. Some of the biggest obstacles I have overcome involved me speaking up, saying what I thinking and using my passion and intellect to support my convictions. It has worked out mostly good. Not everything was good, some things were painful and embarrassing but I do not regret anything I have done since 2010. I have been intentional about change, trying new things and being a risk taker. I regret nothing…until today. Today was baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad. I’ll come back to why it was bad, but first I feel a list coming on. I feel the need to list the fears I have overcome since this project has began.

The Edmonton Tourist’s Top 11 List of Faced Fears

  1. I let other people plan my vacation. That was hard for me, I like to be in control and know what is going on. Consequently, I two amazing vacations that were very relaxing. I won’t do it every time because planning is fun for me, but I did contact my new travel agent  – I like her a lot. She is planning a little  (big) trip for my son’s graduation. It will be EPIC and I am not scared!
  2. University. I was scared I wasn’t smart enough for University. I was scared I couldn’t write a paper. I learned I am pretty good at research and writing, so much so that I will graduate with awesome marks (honors), AND in December of this year. I faced a big fear, overcame it and now I am about to reap it’s rewards. SUPER EXCITED!
  3. Less Food. Weird for people who don’t use food to feed their emotions or use it to provide emotional support, but I do both. Or rather did. I still do occasionally but now I catch myself doing it. It was a long hard road to face the fact that food is fuel and not therapy. I am halfway there. By the time I am 50, I will be on the beach somewhere rocking a bikini. Something I haven’t done since I was 14. AND WILL I BE AWESOME!!
  4. Run. I had a gym teacher in grade 7 (Mr. Snow I am looking at YOU) You weren’t even a real teacher yet, one of those Student Teachers that are either great or sucked. You sucked. You called me a candy ass because I couldn’t run. News flash: Fat kids can’t run 2.5km without stopping on the very first day. We are fat for a lot of reasons but one of them was WE DID NOT RUN EVER! Now I run. I ran 13km the other day, this week is 14km for my LSD and you know what Mr. Snow? I learned how to do it with people calling me names. Except for that one time I had to teach the mean girls a lesson in politeness and teach them that everyone has a different starting point. They were like you, narrow minded and egotistical. I hope you learned some empathy or you were going to end up being the WORST TEACHER EVER.
  5. Trying New Things. I had a project where I tried 52 new things in a year. One new thing a week. It was easier than I figured it would be. I learned trying new stuff can be fun, at the very least it is hilarious if you can laugh at yourself.
  6. Public Speaking. When I was the Chairperson for the parent council at my kids elementary school, I had to speak in front of the entire parent population. I won’t lie, I was terrified. As I continued through my project facing my fears, I became better at public speaking. I am now a motivational speaker and lead workshops and seminars. I have even been apart of a media scrum and answered questions from reporters on TV. It is now easy. I never would have thought that possible.
  7. Racing. As a kid, I was the one who came in last. I would skip school so I wouldn’t have to go to Track and Field Day and be last. Last totally sucks when you are a kid. Now I enter races and I expect to be last. I do it for new reasons. Runners never expect to win, so please stop asking me if I think I have a chance at winning. In my head I am laughing at you. I enter a race for the experience, the challenge (I push myself harder during a race than I do on a Sunday morning), to raise money for a cause and I like shiny things. Medals rule.
  8. Saying No. Remember how I said I needed to Yes more than No? That was true, that is how I made new friends that I actually like. Not that I didn’t like my old friends…well…but I really dig my new friends! ANYWAYS…I always felt like I couldn’t disappoint people. I needed to be a people pleaser. I now don’t feel that way. I don’t volunteer for everything under the sun now, I only volunteer for things that are meaningful to me. I only help people I like and I only give to things I believe in. It makes me sound selfish but actually, I do help and give WAY more than I ever did before and its awesome.
  9. Narcissists. I was married to one. I am related to a couple. I don’t fear them anymore. It took their power away and now my life is peaceful and AWESOME.
  10. Heights. I once hid in under my bed at camp to get out of the zipline required activity for all councillors. Murdo found me and talked me through it. I jumped into a 5 story freefall and didn’t die. I no longer fear heights…just ladders and hitting the ground.
  11. The Gym. Gyms are only for skinny people. True story. It takes courage for a fat girl to walk into that room. Everyone needs to start somewhere. The secret is to walk like you belong and before you know it, you do belong. Then one day, you are the skinny person working out like everyone else.

Fears I am still working on:

  1. Birds – irrational but true
  2. Mice – also irrational but true
  3. Expired food – which brings me to my big regret today.

First of all, in a work situation or with my friends I am very clear about my boundaries.

I WILL NEVER SNIFF OR TASTE EXPIRED FOOD, QUESTIONABLE FOOD OR UGLY FOOD

Never ever ever ever never!

I don’t care if the expiration date is today – I am NOT DOING IT.

At lunch I made a sandwich. I cut an avocado and spread half of it onto my bread, added cheese, tomato, sprouts and cucumber. It is my favorite sandwich. My first mistake was making lunch in the dark. It was raining and I don’t turn the lights on during the day because I shouldn’t have to. So even when its dark, I rebel and leave the lights off during the day. My second mistake was seeing dark spots on the avocado and thinking I could scoop around them. The last mistake was eating.

Avocados are not suppose to foam and sparkle like carbonated fruit in your mouth. It was wrong on SO MANY LEVELS. I broke my 3rd rule – DON’T EAT UGLY FOOD!

I have come so far and yet have many miles to go.

fear

The Adventures of the Great Hike(r)

Dana Meise on the Westend Recreation Way in Wi...
Dana Meise on the Westend Recreation Way in Windsor, Ontario across the Fleming Channel from Detroit, Michigan. (Photo credit: Trans Canada Trail / Le sentier Transcanadien)

I am following the adventures of Dana Meise, a Canadian hiker who is walking across Canada using the Trans Canada Trail 23000 km of trail that will take him to 3 oceans and across the country. He is doing it over an 8 year period…solo.

Trans-Canada-Trail

Today he posted on his facebook page about someone being very upset with a post of his and demanding he remove it.

Wha wha what???

What is the matter with people?

This is the kind of journey I find so inspirational. He will come away for this knowing himself better, appreciating the country he is fortunate enough to call home and meeting some of the most amazing individuals on the planet. He posted a long letter about this person demanding he remove the post and clearly he is upset. This is one of the problems of traveling independently – you have no one to debrief with.

30km_Bike_Trek_on_the_Trans_Canada_Trail

Here is the thing,  he is ALWAYS polite and and has an attitude of gratitude. So why do people have this need to hate?

I have no idea what runs through the minds of people and quite frankly, I am GLAD.

I have contacted The Great Hike dude Dana Meise, I hope to meet up with him as he wanders into Edmonton. I asked if I could interview him and he was happy to oblige! Meanwhile, head over the The Great Hike on facebook, and check out this amazing journey – perhaps follow him and donate to his cause The Prince George Brain Injured Group Society. Show him not everyone is a self serving narcissistic and that the world is full of people wishing him well.

It’s worth it just for the cross country photography. I have never been to have the places he has walk trough – Hello Newfoundland!

Mile_Zero_KM_-_Trans_Canada_Trail

Keep Moving Forward Dana!