You are Mr. Roger's Helper

I work from home now. I like a lot of things about working from home. The commute is easy. I don’t have to wear business attire. It is very quiet and I have a window that over looks my garden. Sure it’s only been a day, but so far I like it.

My co-worker Cap goes outside a lot. I suspect he is taking smoke breaks, but whatever, he still gets his work done. He doesn’t wear pants, I am also okay with this. I share this space with three other adults. One is taking on-line classes with the University of Alberta. They haven’t got it all fine tuned and its a bit chaotic, but at least it is continuing. One is retired, but volunteers with Meals on Wheels. Their new protocols mean less hugging in gratitude and more verbal gratitude for continuing to bring food to the infirm. The other one is on a break and is returning to school in the fall, hopefully.

We went to gather some food last night after dinner. The stores are pretty much empty of food and people, but I was able to get what I needed. This reminds me a lot of the books I have read about war time rations. I am grateful I listened to stories of my grand and great grandparents. I understand about rations and economizing. I think I will need to do a lot of this. Protip: Cabbage is a great soup filler and it was the only vegetable available last night. We are not there yet. But we might get there sooner rather than later.

Here is a wonderful side effect of this pandemic, people have been extra ordinarily kind. From smiles and hellos, to not taking everything off the shelf. I only took two packets of yeast, that will yield me 12 loaves of bread. I left some for other people. I am set until May. The helpfulness of tech support to get me up and running was wonderful, sure its their job but do you know what kind of patience it takes to answer stupid questions because people don’t read? Kim and Nathan, my tech support were amazing. Stop being stupid and impatient people. This isn’t about you. It is about all of us working together for a common goal, survival. This of this a World War III, only this time we are all on the same side.

My daughter was wondering what kind of PTSD we will have when we get to the other side. You know what she means, its like the how the survivors of the depression in the 30’s hoarded bread clips or rubber bands because you never know when you might need them. She thinks she will always practice the two metre distance from people, or will forever wash her hands for 20 seconds singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. As an introvert, I was born for this self isolation thing. I don’t have to host a social gathering? SCORE! All the parties are cancelled? YES! I can stay home and pet my dog? I am living the dream!

But in all seriousness, please listen to your health authorities. Ours is excellent. She speaks from a knowledge of science and answers hard questions. She isn’t sneaky and she practices what she preaches. She came down with a cold, so she self isolated and tested negative for Covid-19. I can’t tell you how proud it makes me to see women of science leading our country in times like this. They are the calm, factual guiding lights. I wish I could say the same for our elected leaders, this is not the time to force through budgets and fire doctors and lay off nurses. This is not the time for fake facts and lies. Anti-vaxers are going to have a tough time when they release a vaccine for Covid-19, science is on one side and they are on the other. Good luck with that.

I have noticed a heavy increase in my blog post Mr. Roger’s Helpers. I don’t know who needs to hear this, those words were meant for children because you are adults and need to be the helpers now. That means you reassure your children. You stay calm and learn the facts. Stay home to protect others. You are the helper. Ask you neighbour if they need something, support food banks if you can, help tutor students online or stop being so demanding. The facts are we are in this together. Stand up and lead, if not your community then lead your family or your group of friends.

You are the helper.

If you find you are overwhelmed and you need a place to catch up, come visit the Edmonton Tourist Community on Facebook. We have been checking in, and being a shoulder for each other. If you need to stop being the helper for an hour, do it. We are open and can listen. Hang in there friends, we are in this for the long haul if you want to believe it or not.

Chaos and calm, but how are you really?

I hope you are well. Chances are you are not infected with Covid-19, but you are still affected by it. Me too, but I am not scared and I hope you aren’t scared either. It feels like I am living in some strange alternate reality or dystopian future but I am not and neither are you. My life has taken on an air of caution, as I am sure, yours has too. Work was bonkers as we mobilize to cancel and/or postpone events. Keeping people in the loop is an important part of keeping anxiety levels low. Not knowing is harder on some people than others. A lot of you have sent me notes asking me to take precautions and wish me well.

Thank you. I mean that sincerely.

It a world where everyone is nosey to the enth degree, there is a surprising lack of questioning going on. You may be shy, so I will start.

How are you? No, really? How are you? Are you stressed because you are holding your family together? Are you the one people look to for fixing and managing things? Is your rock letting you lean on them a bit? Are you alone in this?

First of all, you are not alone. The world is also right there with you. Tell me how you are doing.

……………

Okay, I will start.

I am abundantly happy. Strange I know, but as an introvert, this time of allowing is energizing for me. I slept eight hours for the first time in, hmmm… I don’t know. Maybe since my kids were little and I had less worries.

I phoned people this week. Also strange because I hate talking on the phone. My pal and I chatted and caught up for two hours yesterday! We had the best visit. I called my mom this week. I chatted with people who usually only get an email. My niece and I caught up! She lives in California and her job is in hiatus because of the pandemic but we had a great visit and the lovely side effect is she sends me photos and notes. One side affect of this pandemic is talking to people. It feels like love.

I am cooking and baking! I love to do this. I didn’t for a long time but currently I love it again. We bought stuff to make rather than strain the freezer and canned food aisles. I have yeast and flour, things and stuff. We will be fine. In stead of tossing stale bread, I made banana bread pudding with rum sauce. FYI it tastes as good as it sounds. I made a batch of pasta e ci ci. It was warm and tasty. I watched Andy on Bon Appetit and re-created it.

We sat around the house and visited with each other. There are four adults and one dog in this house. Our schedules are busy and sometimes we don’t see eachother for a few days. We had long newsy catchups PLUS, we were laughing in ways we haven’t done in a long time. We remembered things my grandpa said. My Grandfather called himself Potow, Pioneer of the old west, and he was filled with depression and war stories of rations and lack. He was also a giant fibber. We laughed because we all have a catalogue of his stories and recipes in our memories to save us from this socially isolated time. Need a recipe for bear grease and macaroni? I got you. Need to decide where to put your outhouse in relation to the house? I got you. Need to know what to do when guarding prisoners of war with no bullets? Don’t worry, I have tips for that too. He would be in his glory right now with all kinds of advice because he lived through something similar and now his wisdom can be shared with new generations of people.

I think this time is going to be challenging for many people. We don’t know how long it will last but if China is any indication, it will be a long time. So now its your turn. What is going on with you? Let’s talk about it. So that leads me to this this thing I just started. Over on Facebook I created a community of Edmonton Tourist readers. It is a private space where you can chat about anything. The only rule to follow is kindness. It is a space where we can gather and chat and ask questions, learn new things and laugh. A place where you don’t have to be glue that holds it all together. Think of it as an old fashion barn raising or quilting bee. It is a space that is open to all genders, race and religion. I don’t know if you need this or if this is going to be a thing, but it felt like something I could do. You can join and chat or join and watch. Whatever your comfort level, you are welcome there. It may just be me there alone for a while but I am comfortable alone in my own skin so I am good. I am keeping it private because some people need that but feel free to bring along a friend if that makes you feel better. I will start with conversation starters but this is our space, not mine, so you can start conversations too. We can talk about books, recipes, things you heard at the grocery store, how you are struggling or something fun that happened. It’s all good.

This is where you find us. Edmonton Tourist Community. You are very welcome to come. I hope to see you there.

Edmonton Tourist: Common Ground

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I have talked before about not-for-profit business. The first one that comes to mind is  Judy Blume’s book store Books & Books. I love the idea of providing goods and services for the community rather than to line the pockets of billionaires…but that’s not what this is about and I don’t want to get into capitalism with you. I heard about a coffee shop in Sherwood Park (east of Edmonton and about a 7-minute drive from my house) that was community-based AND a nonprofit!

Community is a big topic and is something I live daily at work, at home and in my city. I went to Common Ground’s web page to find out more about it because I wasn’t interested in supporting something that was contrary to my values. Values are a big thing for me and I am choosing to spend my money differently. This line stood out for me:

“In getting to know the community through a research project and many conversations, it became clear that what Sherwood Park is really looking for is community and connectedness.”

Aren’t we all? There is a trend happening that is taking place in people’s communities. Less social media and more face to face connections. People use social to connect with people far away who have common interests or for various other reasons but this is creating a disconnect. Humans are social beings and need face to face connections. At least I do. The premise of this coffee shop is connections. There is a community space for meetings or gatherings. It is run by volunteers. There is a kindness board to share a coffee for those who need one and there is a wall of games to help make lasting connections.

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The irony of this visit isn’t lost on me. I reconnected with a friend from my teaching days (it feels like a lifetime ago). She is a regular blog reader and reached out suggesting coffee. I loved that idea and while it took time to get a free spot in my busy summer, we finally settled on a date that worked for both of us. It was wonderful to reconnect, talk about our shared history but also discover new reasons to connect in the future.

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The tables are large, suitable for meeting new people or meeting up with large groups. The treats are delicious and the tea was good (oddly I didn’t have coffee). There are open mic night and music in the evenings. The windows let all the light in and help to create an inviting atmosphere. I only wish this place was walking distance from my home. It’s almost enough for me to consider moving back to Sherwood Park…Almost.

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I hope this place has a long and healthy effect on its community. You will probably see me sitting there visiting with people on occasion – come by and say hi if you do! Support local and support nonprofit! It goes a long way to strengthing healthy communities.

Common Ground: Community. Coffee. Cafe.

150, 161 Festival Way
Sherwood Park, AB

Monday: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday-Thursday: 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Stat Holidays: Closed

Once it boils down, we are all the same

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I woke up this morning to a barrage of email that kept me quite busy for the better part of an hour. One of those notes was from a long lost cousin of mine who lives south of me. A while back, I wrote about my Grand Uncle and his mother, my beloved Great Grandmother. Since that post, I have been fortunate enough to connect, or reconnect with countless family members from ‘that side’ of the family. Through many conversations and mini reunions, I have learned – or rather reaffirmed – We are all more similar than different.

My distant cousin wrote this:

I am finding myself astounded from many of your posts on your blog.  So many things you have written about, sound so similar to my interests and experiences.

She wrote many other things that compared our lives, but that is her personal journey, mine is written here. Yes we are similar, so you can surmise what she is like. Another distant cousin on Canada’s East Coast also seems very familiar to me. We had never met, but our interests and life experiences have that same raw familiarity of people who have been through war together. Our wars were separate, yet so familiar and a destruction of trust. Both of these women are people I want to spend time with, get to know what they are like in person and not just in print. I can see myself enjoying them as sisters or the very least friends.

When I first began my Edmonton Tourist Journey in 2010, it was because I was unhappy and felt alone. I set out to change things in my life and have new experiences. This quest has introduced to countless people, all who are so incredibly different than myself, yet we all have one thing in common. We are the same. I am not sure if it is where I am in my life that keeps attracting these people to me, or if it is because there is a global inner drive that requires people to keep searching for ‘it’, but I do know we are more the same than different. Maybe I am wrong and you aren’t the same as me, here is my list of 4 things I think we have in common:

  1. We all want to be loved by someone – kissed, hugged or hair ruffled by someone who cares about you. You want to feel that connected energy. If you aren’t feeling it, perhaps you are not recognizing it. It doesn’t always come in the form of a ‘soulmate’ or great romantic love, it could be from your pup Sparky or your grandma. Still, we all need that feeling of belonging to someone.
  2. We all want to feel good and by good I mean healthy  No want wants to walk around feeling like they are tired or sick all the time. The difference between those who want to feel it and those who do feel it is some of us have figured out the secret. It’s not a big secret, it is more of a knowing. Eat less, move more. Simple formula. Eat real food, not chemical filled. You are  natural, healthy and organic. That means your fuel of choice should be the same. Harder than it sounds, but yet so simple. Move your body. We are biped beings. Walk more, sit less. The more you do it, the better you will feel.
  3. We want the best for the people we love. It doesn’t matter if you are a parent, sibling or child. If you love someone, you want the best for them. When you hear happy news, don’t be jealous or envious, smile and bask in their happiness. It becomes contagious.
  4. We all want to understand. The biggest human nature driving force is ‘WHY’. ‘WHY’ is the reason we get up and experience or try things. ‘WHY’ is the reason we strive for more. Learn the answer to WHY to satisfy you curiosity. Read, experience, and listen to learn the answer to WHY. Try all 3 or the learning method that works for you.

Are we the same? I think so.