What Were You thinking?

I took a break today from homework and cooking (actually my honey did most of the cooking for our belated Thanksgiving Dinner – Thanks Honey!). It was about a 5 minute break. I was intrigued by a quiz a facebook friend took entitled “When Will You Die?”. She will be murdered in New York in 2013. I thought ” Cool! She gets to go to New York! I want to die in New York too!”. So off I clicked to fill out the facebook quiz, because we all know facebook quizzes are true! After I answered all the bizarre questions, I was told I will die January 28, 2060 via a surgery accident in Hollywood, California at the age of 93. So I guess I will have plastic surgery after all! Not sure why I would travel to Hollywood for it, but that is okay because we all know facebook is correct and never gives bad advice or suggestions. Right? I am I right?

I am a fairly smart, critical thinker. I know facebook is not a fortune teller, I leave that up to my Australian friends. It shocks me when I speak to people who believe everything they read. So listen up people, just because it is in print doesn’t make it fact. For example, Wikipedia is not a valid resource. It is billed as a “free encyclopedia that anyone can edit”. I don’t know about you, but I know a lot of people who have many of their facts wrong and yet they spew them as if it is truth. This really concerns me because if a person speaks with conviction, they are able to persuade others into many other pursuits. I am not even talking about crazy cult culture, but that still applies here. What really concerns me is women making poor choices. This topic came up in conversations I have had with smart women over the weekend. It still is a major problem and the sad reality is society ends up paying for bad decisions.

My question is: Why can’t people make their own decision? Why do the majority of people feel the need to seek advice and listen to it, even if it is bad advice? What happened to intuition? Intuition is that feeling or voice you have inside telling you to run when you are scared or stand your ground when you need too.

It is one thing to ask the girls if the skirt you are trying on makes you look ridiculous, it is a whole other ball game when the decision is a life altering event.

Years ago I made poor decisions that effected the rest of my life. I was able to make the most of the situation but part of me wishes I listened to my intuition rather than the people around me. I chalk it up as a learning experience. I have other major decisions in my life to make in the coming months. Should I ask an Australian? Or should I listen to my intuition? I am not about to be another woman making bad choices, so I think I will go with my gut feeling.

Hopefully it isn’t gas.

Let’s Talk Turkey!

This past weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving. This was the first Thanksgiving in a very long time that I did not celebrate. Historically that weekend is filled will family, friends food, laughter and the Rotor Rooter Man. Not once did we ever invite the Rotor Rooter Man over for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe we should have, then we would have been given a deal on fishing out turkey necks from the garburator. Hind sight is 20/20.

I did not celebrate Thanksgiving in the traditional sense because I was busy flying home from Paris, France. No one thought to fill my fridge with Turkey, stuffing, potatoes or rutabaga while I was gone, not that I am bitter about that or anything. Okay, maybe I am little bitter. But being a non-traditional kind of gal, I did actually give thanks for several things in my life. So my friends, it is time for another Edmonton Tourist top 11 list!

The Edmonton Tourist’s Top 11 Things She is Thankful For:

  1. I am very thankful I went to Vimy Ridge! Vimy Ridge is located in France and is a significant battle in Canada’s History. You can read more about it here. It was a powerful and moving experience for me and my family. Walking through the cemetery and looking at the ages of the boys, who were not much older then my children or my nephews, made me pause and be thankful for what I have. The visual of the munition craters in the surrounding battle fields and the maple grove you walk through was such a moving experience. It is one I will never forget. It is a much different experience being there then reading about it in history books.
  2. I am very thankful for Facebook. I know you think I am cracked in the head. Facebook has given me the opportunity to get to know Americans on a friend basis. I am proud to say I am a world traveler. With that experience comes a opportunity to defend your identity. Everywhere in the world where I have been, an American had been before me. Likely it was the same Texan I met on a cruise to Alaska. He was rude and self centered. So I naturally swept all American’s with the same paint brush. Here is my formal public apology to the Citizens of America. I am so sorry I stereotyped you in that way. One person who is not globally aware does not mean the entire country is that way. I have met some spectacular people who live south of the border and proudly call you my friend. I am honored that you live next door. I am thrilled it is you who is my neighbor and not someone else. So Please forgive me for stereotyping you in a way that was unbecoming to you and made me less of a Canadian.
  3. I am very thankful for my family. I know it is cliche and everyone says it. But after spending a week in a caravan with my family, I appreciate them more then I did before I left on my vacation. All our strengths came together and complemented each other. Other days it came together and clashed like the titans. But in the end, it was more fun then should be legal. We laughed together,teased each other, fought like crazy and cried. It was worth every second and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
  4. I am very thankful for French Dairy Products. My husband said it best, “Canadian Customs won’t let you bring dairy into the country because everyone would know French Dairy is better and that would kill our industry.” It was so amazing I will mourn it for a lifetime.
  5. I am very thankful for my 5 senses. I know this seems odd but after my vacation to Europe it is so very true! I saw buildings that dated before 1322! I could hear the Church bells ring in every little village along the way. The sound was angelic! The smell of the lush, green forest of Germany reminded me of home. The taste of the foods and beverages from shops in the villages and carts in the city brought a thrill to my taste buds every time they tried something new! The touch of my skin was so soft in the humid climate of Europe compared to the dry prairie of home. My skin misses you already Europe!
  6. I am very thankful for Maple Trees! Please don’t tell my Grandpa if you see him before I do. The Maple Leaf is such a strong Canadian Symbol, yet I saw more Maple Trees in Europe then I ever have in Canada. It made me proud and homesick all at the same time. My children collected maple leaves and pressed them in their books. I love Maple Trees!
  7. I am thankful for Canada’s low population! We were traveling on the Paris Metro when an abandon package was found. The train needed to be evacuated. That means a GAZILLION people tried to squeeze through the door. 6 million people ride the Metro everyday. There are only One Million people in the Greater Edmonton Area. When we arrived in Canada, it seemed like the country was deserted!  Low population density is a beautiful thing.
  8. I am thankful for Art. We spent some time in the Louve of Paris. I stood before paintings that I had only ever seen in books. It is a much different experience to see a Leonardo Da Vinci painting in person then to see it in a book. I could imagine him standing where I was looking at his own work and deciding what needed to come next. The depth and emotion in his work far surpasses any of that of his contemporaries. It was a spiritual experience for me. Later that same day, on the steps of the Seine, I met another artist who made a living from his work. I was moved buy his choice of colour and vision. I bought a piece of his work and love it as much as I loved looking at a Da Vinci.
  9. I am thankful for language. I know, you think it’s another odd choice. I speak one language fluently. Obviously it is English. Here is Canada we are considered a bilingual country. All our food products have both English and French labels and ingredients. Our version of Cereal Box French helped tremendously in grocery stores and markets. German Language was fairly easy to read and figure out because it is so closely related to English. But mostly I am thankful for the abilities of others who took the time and effort to learn English. This enhanced my trip because I was able to meet and learn about their life and thoughts about places. This was the true highlight for me. From talking to Adolf Herr the clock maker to Arnuad the Disney Cast Member and everyone else in between. I loved meeting new people.
  10. I am thankful for water. For it’s million and one uses to its life giving nature. I was thankful for clean clear water on this trip. But more thankful for water when I came home. Canada, you produce some of the best water in the world, thank you.
  11. I am thankful for my bed! As fantastic as my days were in Europe, my nights filled me with dread. I slept in a bed that was too short for me, the mattress was too thin, and the blankets were not warm. An uncomfortable night can seem longer then a busy action packed day. After forever and a day on the airplane, sliding into my thick cozy bed was pure ecstasy.

I am a very luck girl to have so many things to be thankful for. But mostly I am thankful to be home. This is something I need to keep remembering. The importance of home.

Hi I’m Julie McCoy, and I’ll be your Ship’s Cruise Director!

The Love Boat
Image via Wikipedia

I have spent the better part of my Sunday engaged in homework for my University Course. I was at work long before the offspring decided to emerge from their warm cozy beds at the first sign of breakfast. By time Offspring #2 said good morning, I had completed 2 of 4 minor assignments,with research and reading still needing to be done for the day. The first thing out of her mouth was “So, what are we doing today?” I almost growled “homework” but the sound was much more civil than a growl. A large sigh emerged from her lips and she sat down to visit her friends via Facebook.

Flashes of my youth appeared before my eyes. The ages of One to Four of my life are remembered as “shhhh your dad is studying”. I remember Dad hiding away in the deep dungeon of a basement, surrounded by concrete walls, one insignificant window and the smell of damp basement. In the corner opposite the stairs, sat his desk, comfortable office chair and a desk lamp,with a view of the washer and dryer. Those were the days of typewriters, pens and paper. After dinner, I would sneak to the top of the stairs and peer through the railing to spy on my dad. Mostly to see if he was actually busy, but perfectly happy just to get a glimpse of him. On days that he was at the library, my brother and I would sneak down and sit in THE CHAIR. We would take turns spinning each other and giggling ourselves into dizzy oblivion. We could not imagine our Dad to be so lucky as to have this chair to sit in for hours on end.

In contrast, I am luckier I suppose. I am also located in the basement but my walls are dry-walled and painted White Chocolate. The light streaming in is from large windows in a “walk-out” basement. The floors are cork and possess in-floor heating. Over my work space is a rather large map of Disneyland that I look at from time to time to gain inspiration from all those creative spirits before me. I am thankful for the good fortunes that have afforded me these luxuries compared to my father’s study hall.

Friday Nights were designated as Family Night. Dad would emerge from the dungeon ready for a break. Our family would go in search of inexpensive and free things to do. I often remember going for drives through Millcreek with the final destination being Dairy Queen. My brother and I would be bathed and dressed in our pajamas. We would pile into the car either with my Grandparents or just are small family. Off to our destination we would go leaving the ‘burbs headed for the city. In those days, the Dairy Queen was just an ice cream stand. It was a seasonal shop where you waited in line outside. My brother and I would order a soft serve dipped cone, my mom would often get a small marshmallow sundae and my father, without fail, would order a butterscotch milkshake. We would take the scenic route home, driving around looking at people’s homes or beautiful gardens. Usually we were asleep before the car was parked for the night with mom and dad carrying us up to bed. Sleeping or not, we would fake it to get the lift to our rooms.

I loved the undivided attention of my parents. So does the Chatterbox. She often is seeking parental attention of some form. You can often hear her say “So, what are we doing today?” As if I am the Omnipotent Being responsible for her personal entertainment. She often makes me feel like I should have been born Julie McCoy, Love Boat’s Cruise Director.

Yesterday, the Chatterbox and I went in search of clothing specific to our impending trip to Europe. We spent the better part of the afternoon laughing and looking for items that would make our stay more comfortable. While walking through Edmonton’s historical district of Old Strathcona, we stumbled upon The Walterdale Playhouse Open House. Immediately she led me through the doors knowing I would follow. We were given a tour of the main-stage and back stage. Shown how they magically transform plain people into characters that fill your imagination. Shown how they use paint and light to create elaborate illusions of grandeur. The Walterdale Playhouse is located in the old fire hall and still maintains the bell tower. 10 minutes before each production the bell is rung, signaling the need for patrons to find their seats. Chatterbox was given the opportunity to ring the bell high above Old Strathcona, telling the community that she was indeed ready to be an actress. We left armed with information of upcoming auditions, tips and a sense that we really enjoyed our time spent there as well as with each other. Our day was far from over, but the Walterdale Playhouse did enhance the rest of our experience together. We found shoes, drank ice tea at Starbucks, took crazy self-portraits together. The moments that were memorable, were unplanned. Just like Friday nights to Dairy Queen when Dad would burst into song and sing the Tennessee Bird Walk, or my brother would tell a funny story about the trouble he got into that day.

I need to remember the importance of Julie McCoy. I need to keep scheduling family time together so we can create more memorable moments as a family. I can do that. I can take a night or a day off every week to have family time. Lesson learned Mom and Dad! Thank you again for being spectacular role models that taught me everything I needed to know about being a great mom.

You can always find time to do what matters most.

I’m not Bossy! I just know what you should be doing!

This may come as a surprise to you, but I am a wee bit of a control freak. Laugh it up people. For those that know me, it really isn’t much of a shock. I blame my mom, my grandma and my grade 8 teacher Mrs. Anderson. Maybe “blame” isn’t the right word. Lets call it what it is. I “applaud” my mom, my grandma and my grade 8 teacher Mrs. Anderson for teaching me how to be strong and to be a leader when it is important. I just take it to the extreme.

As you may recall me mentioning before, I was always compared to Lucy from the Peanuts. Loud and Bossy, that’s me! Just ask my siblings, they will be the first to point fingers and accuse me of over stepping boundaries. Although, they also confuse “bossy” with being mean. Sure I could be mean, I AM their sister and everyone who has a sibling knows who the mean one is. It is usually  the oldest, the one with the extra responsibility placed upon their shoulders and the one who worries the most about them, so the mean bossiness manifests itself into the caretaker role as that person matures. Let me say it here and now, there is NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE (with the exception of my parents) who feels more protective over my brother and sister then me.

I learned at a very young age that the women in my family could be counted on, relied upon, they were on the ones that when all else fails, they would come through. I see strength and courage emitting from them in times when most men would curl up in a ball and cry. And yes, they were bossy, loud and could be mean…AND when I say “mean” I mean “for your own good”.

As a little kid I was the one, at the age of 4, who would organize group games, pick teams for the haunted forest hunt, decide who would play with who, and could keep track of all rock trades and keep it fair. All the while, watching out for my brother and my friend’s brother trying to keep them out of trouble. And when I say “trouble” I really mean death or worse. My brother makes Ty Pennington look calm and passive.

There was a time in my life, lets call it the DARK AGES, when I did not subscribe to the leadership tradition of the females in my family. My life fell to ruin, I gave up friends that were very important to me, I lost respect of people I cared about and most importantly I let myself down. It has taken me many years to regain what I lost but with that has come new insight. I learned that I regularly travel from one extreme to another. The last two years I have swung the pendulum the other way and became SUPER BOSSY once again. All I needed was red boots, a long beach towel cape fastened with a safety-pin, a head band to keep my curly locks from straying into my eyes, and a giant B sewn to my chest in an atomic green colour. The bossy boots was finally let out of her cage and came to work, hung out at home, took over PAC meetings and ruled the family. There is something so completely comforting about  control. Knowing where everything is, understanding the answer, moving things around to fit and controlling it all. I did learn something new though, being in total control is stressful and exhausting. I set a personal goal for me this year and it is to let go of some control and watch others take on the leadership roles.

If you are one of those control freaks, like my best friend, then you understand. You might as well have asked me to leave my newborn baby in a basket on the doorstep with a note that says “Good Luck”. This has been the HARDEST thing I have ever done. I have taken a step or two back and let other people figure it out. They come to me still, but I smile and say “well, what do you think?” I read on a Facebook status posted by a friend today “A bad decision is better than indecision – Tony Soprano”. That made me think. I still need to assert myself when I think it is chaotic and a decision needs to be made. But I like the changes I see in people around me. I feel nervous about an upcoming trip that I have not spent one minute planning ( except the Disney portion). I need to trust that others will take care of me. This is freaking me out just a little bit…And when I say “little bit” I mean I need a Valium.

However, stress is leaving my shoulders and hanging out with someone else for a change. This is important because I have taken on a lot of extra baggage for my trip as the Edmonton Tourist. That hand up I am looking for is called trust.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Happy New Year!!  I know think I have gone totally bonkers now. For as long as I can remember, September 1 has always felt like the start of the new year. It  has everything to do with the school year and nothing to do with my fiscal year-end. My house is buzzing with excitement, school bags are loaded and filled with crisp white paper eagerly waiting to be filled by a freshly sharpened HB. Flash drives are empty, waiting for those projects. Most importantly, phone calls are being made about what to wear, in spite of the school uniform rule.  The weather is cooler, the leaves are starting to turn, apples are fat and juicy and hanging on the tree. It is definitely a new year. So Happy New Year!!

Everyone does a New Years resolution, well almost everyone. I never have because I knew wouldn’t see it through. But this year is a little different. I just came off of a really difficult year on a personal front. A couple of things happened that made me turn inward and away from people. I am not going to get into it here other than to say, I am crawling out of it and can see the sunshine at the end of the horizon. Part of that is my decision to be a Tourist in my own life. So far so good! Blogging about it makes me accountable to myself, and I have some loyal readers that privately tell me they are with me for the journey because they need the encouragement too. Well people, its time we make our New Years list – not resolution!

Classic lists are 10 items long. Why 10? I listen to a podcast where his lists are a top 7. That doesn’t seem long enough. I am a little off centre, so I am doing a Top 11 list. Why 11? I hear my friends laughing already because they know. 11 has always been a significant number in my life. The biggest one of course is my not so secret crush on Mark Messier. 11:11 pm always seems to be the time when I look at my clock. The 11th month is when winter really starts kicking in here and I love the change of seasons. 7-11 is the maker of Slurpees and summer memories. I could go on but will just say 11 is my favorite and is my lucky number, so my list will be 11 items long. I shall call it:

The Edmonton Tourist’s Top 11 things that make her happy.

Now at this point I want to add that there is a Buddhist saying that goes something like this; if you want to be something else, act like you are something else. One day it will be true – or something like that. You know what I mean! Coming out of a tough year, I need to act like I am happy in order to be happy. You know what? It works! I have no idea when it happened, but I realized I was happy. Which is great news, because for so long I was not. The other side of the coin is true too. Only YOU can make yourself happy.  I also want to add that it is a given that my family and close friends (you know who you are) are not on the list because you don’t make me happy, you make euphoric and that is a different list. This is a list of  daily things I can do to make me smile. So here we go in no particular order!

The Edmonton Tourist’s Top 11 Things That Make her Happy 

  1. Hockey Smack. Nothing is more fun to me then engaging in Hockey Smack with other hockey fans. Its fun, thought-provoking and makes me laugh.
  2. Andy Williams.  As a kid my mom would listen to him all the time. His Christmas music puts me in the mood for Christmas preparations. His specials on TV were fun and so “retro old fashion family values” and his song Music to Watch Girls By just makes me want to shake my shoulders with happiness.
  3. Diet Coke. It is more of an addiction really but the sound of the sffffffffft as you crack it open sends tingles down my spine. I love it!
  4. Facebook. Whatever, you like it too! I have reconnected with old friends, made new ones, learned from strangers and laugh on it everyday.
  5. Hidden Mickey’s. The attention to detail that imaginears use in theming at The Disneyland Parks puts a HUGE smile on my face! Disney Geeks need no further explanation. If you are not a Disney Geek, feel free to pat me on the head and continue to think I am crazy, My DisFriends get me.
  6. Ink. The smell of a new book or newspaper brings back such strong and wonderful memories for me. My family knows why.
  7. Tom Hanks. From Sleepless in Seattle to That Thing You Do and Woody. I love him. Enough said.
  8. Singing. I love to sing always have and I am pretty good at it when I take it seriously. Beatles Rock Band with my family is one of the most fun ways for me to spend an evening. Karaoke with my sister is more fun then should be legal.
  9. Smelling Flowers. I use to have a great big flower garden. I can’t be bothered anymore to take care of it. However, I will stop to smell flowers growing in your garden. So thank you for growing them.
  10. Bubble Baths. I come from a long line of women who have perfected the bubble bath ritual. delightful!
  11. My iPhone. If you own one, you know why. If you don’t, get one.

What is on your happy list? I would really like to know! And HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!