Joy

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I met a wise woman this summer and she looked at me for a long moment. Silence hung between us as I waited for her to speak. I could tell she was thinking. It took a moment longer then she said, “Have you forgotten how to play? I think you need more joy in your life.”

Normally I get defensive, or maybe I used to get defensive. Maybe a bit of both because no one likes to hear how badly they are performing as a human. But in this case, I knew she was correct. I have spent lots of time recovering from different things.

  • Heartbreak
  • Depression
  • Disappointment
  • Rejection

You get the point. Recovering takes time. It now called ‘Growth’, either way, you can forget what fun and joy look like while you are experiencing growth. I used to laugh way more than I do now. I wanted to do that more.

She asked me what did I like to do when I was young. What did I do for fun? I thought about this for a long time and then made a list.

  • Ride
  • Music
  • Read
  • Create
  • Dance

Ride:  I dissected my list. What was it about riding my bike I liked? Not the bike. But it was able to take me places farther than my feet could carry me in a day. I lived in Sherwood Park and would ride my bike into the city every weekend to explore the river valley and I would always buy a frozen lemonade.

Music: I was in high school and I directed a children’s choir for the church. It ws the only way you could get me to go to church, that and the chance to see that cute guy sitting with his family in the third row. I belonged to a jazz choir and was often singled out for my voice. I belonged to a basement band – the 80’s version of a garage band. We performed for ourselves and played a lot of Journey and Led Zeplin – weird mix but we found it challenging and fun. I expressed all my emotions through the piano. All of them. I loved growing up with a piano.

Read: Who wants to go to bed when you can visit New York or London or Australia? I wanted to read about girls like I was, smart, adventurous and always getting in and out of scrapes. Now I like to read about women like me, smart, adventurous and always getting into and out of scrapes.

Create: I drew a lot, I mean A LOT. My dad would often show my work to people and I was always asked to draw something for someone. I even toyed with the idea of becoming a cleanup artist for Disney. I could create amazing things out of lego and build a four-story mansion from two sticks, seven blankets and three cushions. If I needed a backdrop for my imagination, out came the paper and pencil.

Dance: I never took lessons. But turn on the record player and I was a prima ballerina or Broadway star. I had the BEST jazz hands since Gwen Verdon. I could Step in Time with Bert and Mary.

Interestingly enough, I continue to do all those things – although I haven’t built a fort since I was a teacher. I expect to have to teach my future grandbabies how to do that and I am up for the challenge. What I think I lost was the ability to be present while experiencing the things that I find fun. So I did a little experiment.

I made an effort to be in the moment, not check my phone for a text, not think about work or some argument I got into about politics, not worry about the next thing. Just simply be in the moment. I do this in meditation, so why couldn’t I do this in play? I read about art being a form of meditation and prayer, but people take prayer very seriously. Perhaps it doesn’t have to be serious? Maybe it was meant to be fun and engaging!

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The first thing I did was go exploring. I do this all the time as you the reader knows, but I did it without thinking about a blog post. Or a photo for my Instagram. I did it without thinking about any conversations I had. It was hard to change that mindset at first but I have now been meditating for 1,015 consecutive days. I have a pretty good handle on being in the moment during meditation and I knew I could apply it to playtime. I explored in the woods and in the city. I found cool and new things in all those places. I took photos because it brings me joy to compose a photo and look at it later. If a blog post or Instagram photo came out of it, fine, but that was not the intention.

Then next thing I did was sign up to join a choir. I had some issues with the choir director and looked at the time commitment and decided it sounded like work not fun. The piano is used exclusively by my daughter and I don’t really feel like learning all over again. But I do have the most amazing music collection. AND I know all the words to every song. Instead of playing podcasts in the car, I turned on music a few more times a week. I sang songs that made me feel. 

Read: I read about 50 books a year. Still doing it! But… I read about 25 books about marketing and leadership this year. Obviously, this was for work and not pleasure. I realized I hadn’t been reading for fun in a while. I went to the library and signed up for a card and learned how to use the apps to get ebooks and audiobooks. I downloaded Commonwealth by Ann Patchett – she is one of the most beautiful writers I have ever come across – and became OBSESSED with Albie and Franny. I still think of them even though I know they are fictional characters. I am now listening to The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant, it’s no Red Tent, but Linda Lavin is a delight to listen to. I have a couple of books I am reading one by Martha Beck, Elizabeth Gilbert and one by Rob Schwartz. Each book is in a different room in the house so when I have a moment, I crack it open. This afternoon I plan to get cozy with Martha and maybe finish the last half of the book.

I haven’t drawn or painted in a very long time, but I doodle during staff meetings. I write 6 out of seven days a week and I will still play lego – I have a box of women in science and Doctor Who lego that I like to play with when I sit at my desk. I have a nifty kaleidoscope that I look through and I often pull out my spirograph set. I create at work and right now I am in planning and creation mode so I have lots of opportunities to flex the creative gene.

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Dancing isn’t as prolific as when I was a child but I will shoulder dance or bop my head around to music. It feels good.

After being intentional with all the things I found fun as a child and still do today, something fairly amazing has begun to happen. I am happy more. Simple. I went to see Downton Abbey and was absolutely giddy. I cooked all day for a mock Thanksgiving dinner before my parents went back to Europe and I loved it. I explored the public art in my community and was thrilled there was so much of it!

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I think the moral of the joy story is to be present in what you do and joy will find you.

 

 

May the Forth Be with You: International Star Wars Day

When I was wee… okay not that wee, I was 10. Star Wars was showing at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Edmonton. My mom thought my brother and I would like to go see it. We had no idea what it was about. Since it was just released the line up was down the block, it hadn’t reached the around the block 4 miles yet – that would be a week later. It was still a sell out show. We couldn’t find enough seats together, so my brother (8) and I took turns sitting on mom’s lap while she napped through the movie. My brother and I were gobsmacked! We had never seen anything so amazing and we were Jedi fans from the start.

We saved all our money, bought the action figures – RIPPED them out of their package and played with them endlessly. This was the beginning of a very long and very geeky Star Wars love affair. The brother has since switched to the Dark Side and loves Star Trek more. I have room in my heart for both, but love Star Wars, Empire and Jedi the most. With honourable mention of Chris Pine – Holy Hotness Batman!

May 4th is International Star Wars Day – May the fourth be with you…get it? With that I am celebrating my geekness with my favorite Star Wars picture laughs.

This time next week I will be on the Star Tours ride in Disneyland riding it endlessly in an attempt to see every possible scenario – doubt it that will happen – but I will try! Happy Fourth!

Please Welcome My New Bundle of Joy!

Never did I think I would expand my family! I had the exact right amount of children, one boy and one girl. One of each and it was good. Yesterday I was reading through my blog subscriptions (85 of them people! Luckily they don’t all write regularly!) when I was reading a blog post that broke my heart. This girl was pleading for a mommy. It’s obvious that I hate children. (I work with them for a living … by CHOICE! I spend my free time with children… by CHOICE and I was ALWAYS the favorite aunty, the one who played superhero, Lego, went to Disney movies, slept under the Christmas Tree, built forts, organized family picnics, played on swings…you get the idea. I was THE fun Aunty.) But after reading about how neglected she was I had to step up to the plate and apply for adoption.

The adoption process was surprising simple. I wrote a lovely letter, the powers in charge reviewed and screened it, I was then informed after a lengthy process that my application had been accepted! I know this comes to a shock for so many of you who figured I was done with little ones now that my babies are teens…and by the way, I said I wanted a BABY – not a 16 year old…but I digress.

Her name is Molly. She looks like a ginger in her photo but she could be blonde, either way, she is beautiful. She is a neglected American girl from New York City. We are looking at the possibility of an open adoption, as her birth mother is still quite attached – although she should have thought things through carefully with her brazen favoritism of the eldest child. I know its hard not to favor the eldest – look at me for example:

  1. I came first
  2. I am the smartest of the bunch
  3. I have the awesomest qualities
  4. I have the best sense of humor
  5. I have the best taste
  6. I do not own a star fleet uniform

Why WOULDN’T mom and dad like me best? I KNOW, right?

So I do sympathize with the birth mother and open adoption may be the right thing for everyone involved. Here is an excerpt from the post pleading for an adopted family, you can read the entire post here:

So that’s it — I am taking a stand and I am officially accepting applications for my adoption. Requirements for my future parents include (but are not limited to):

1. Frequent visits to see me
2. 24/7 phone availability
3. Weekly care packages (these can contain things like homemade cookies, interesting articles from the local town newspaper, and/or fun things from the dollar section at target)
4. Sympathy when I don’t feel well
5. A deeper and more genuine love for me than for my sister
6. Constant praise and adoration

What you will get in return:

Joy and pride for all of eternity (and I am certain that your friends will be insanely jealous at your incredible parenting skills — obviously they are amazing if you were able to produce me.)

My husband will be screening all applications. You will only be contacted if I think you are up for the job.

Thank you.

After reading the qualifications, I knew I was a perfect match, so I wrote this response and the entire acceptance blog post by clicking here:

I am officially applying for the position of adopted mother. Although I had not considered more children, your plea tugged at my heart strings. First and foremost, you are my favorite and always have been. Your sister is selfish to hog your birth parents like that. I promise I would never do that.

I have my cell beside my bed, so you can call me day or night. If I don’t answer on the first ring, I will by the third. I make the best chocolate chip cookies on the planet, just ask your new brother. I also like the idea that you are a married adult living away from home!!! This is so novel, I will want to visit you regularly, but especially for special occasions, birthdays, holidays, playoffs, NYC marathon, etc. I love to shop and spend time with my girls doing what they like, that brings joy to me. I must insist that when or if a grandchild arrives, I get to come and take care of both of you. I have my degree in early childhood education, so I am fully qualified to be baby opinionated like all great grandmas! Mostly I want a free place to stay while I’m in NYC, but would happily adopt you and welcome your husband into our family! xoxox

Love mom

PS- I miss you already 🙂

Obviously I am thrilled! Who doesn’t want a perfect daughter to share activities with while staying for FREE in New York? I know, you are jealous and you should be. I am now living the Life of Riley. I can’t WAIT to go shopping on 5th Avenue to meet her!! Van Cleef’s, Harry Winston and Tiffany Molly here I come!

 

Laugh with Me Monday

So its Monday Morning and there is snow outside my window. It says on the calendar that it is April 16th. Huh…

After last week’s fiasco of stress, stupid stuff and shock, I have decided to start this week off right and laugh the week away. My partner and I did laugh last week, but only because we thought we would cry…laughing was better. Our humor becomes a dark macabre effort to keep from hurting ourselves. Others would be shocked to hear what we find funny – but I think that is part of the stress of our job. I am sure emergency room docs and nurses have dark humor too. It is how they cope with the horrors of their day. Surprised to hear that preschool isn’t all rainbows and ponies? Don’t be, especially if you are a parent or you sat in a restaurant with kids that run around annoying you or you have ever been a kid…then you can understand where I am coming from.

Come laugh with me, and as always – not all of you will see humor the way I do because some of this is work humor and some geek. That’s okay, I hope to see you back here another day. Happy Monday!

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day! Or as my Grandpa would say Happy Dominion Day! He was never big on the new Canadian Maple Leaf flag NOR was he all that thrilled with other eastern Canadian influences which I will not go into here. But let’s just say, he was a proud Canadian and he was a tremendous role model for us whippersnappers when it came to patriotic pride!

For as long as I can remember, our family has had a Canada Day BBQ. It isn’t just for family, often friends of various family members are invited to join in the festivites as well. My Grandparents were often the annual hosts for the events and then we would walk down to watch the fireworks extravaganza down at  the park.

I remember lemonade, ice cream, burgers and hot dogs, potato salad and homemade beans. Often there was a birthday cake and the yard was decorated with Red, White and Blue balloons and streamers. The Blue had nothing to do with our American Neighbors but everything to do with our ties to the UK. The Red Ensign ( Canada’s original flag) held the Union Jack proudly in the upper corner. This is why the blue was present.

Most of us wear Red and White, play baseball or bacci ball. Sit around and tell crazy stories that are too bizarre to be true – yet are. Mostly we laugh. If you know me, you know laughing is my favorite pastime. I learned it from some of the funniest people on the planet, my family. I love my family and Canada Day. It is one of my most favorite holidays.

Today the plan is to laugh, share, play and then walk to the park to hear the musical stylings of Honeymoon Suite then watch the Fireworks. I look forward to this day every year. I invited several friends, but all were skeptical as to how much fun it really is. Trust ME! If I invited you, A> I must really like you and consider you family and B> I hope that you like me enough to be accepted into my family.

I will be tweeting the events today and adding pictures via Plixi. Please share in the fun and join me @EdmontonTourist by following the hash tag #bbqeh! I can’t wait to share the best day of the year with my new friends and family.

Happy Canada Day eh!

Are You Having Fun Yet?

Hmm… Are you?

Today I was in a session where we talked about a myriad of things. One being FUN. When I started my journey I knew I was lacking in the fun department. I set out to take risks and try new things. I forgot to add HAVE FUN. Fun and Funny are not the same thing. I make people laugh all the time. It is hard to make me laugh, and if you can, you are amazing… just saying.

Fun takes the chore out of chores. When big changes happened at work in November, I asked Mrs. Bosslady if the new person they were bringing in was fun. She wouldn’t answer that question. To her the important part was could she do her job well. I had years of people just doing their job well. I wanted some fun for a change dammit! Interesting that I inherently knew 3 months into my journey that I needed fun in spite of the fact I didn’t put it on my list. At work I had a few people who were fun but they were always just out of my reach. I could laugh with them sporadically but never got to work with them long term. FINALLY I have the opportunity to work with FUN people! WOOT!!! BOOOOYA! So, Mrs. Bosslady, are they fun? Yes ET they are fun! YIPPEE!  Check that off my list, work is becoming fun again…first time in decades.

Moving onto my day to day life…

Is that fun? Ummm no. Well, it wasn’t.

Chatterbox and I went out and tried new things, we had fun doing that. In fact we still do. Best of all, I know her so much better than I did before and an added benefit is she is FUN AND FUNNY! So random weekend things are fun with Chatterbox.

I met some pretty amazing people here on this blog, on Facebook and on Twitter. They are FUN and often FUNNY! So again, huge bonus because I get both for the price of one! I would chat with people, learned amazing things, found common interests, cheered for the same hockey teams, exchanged Disney Tips, I loved every minute of that. That for me was FUN!

Then I went off and met someone who told me I needed to nurture myself. That meant I needed to stop putting myself last on the list and start prioritizing FUN. Okay, I could do that…but I felt guilty. This person gave me permission to have fun, in fact it was Doctor prescribed. This is what they taught me:

  • Fun gives you more energy than it takes.
  • Giving up an enjoyable activity REDUCES your energy in the long run
  • Fun activities reduce stress and depression

Hmmm….

So with her permission I went out and found some fun. I went to the Art Gallery, I went out for dinner a few times with my girls from work, I had friends over for a laugh, I watched movies curled up on the couch, I played rockband with my children, I swim – I swim and find that FUN! But tonight I have a new challenge.

I need to name 5 activities that I use to enjoy but haven’t done in long time. This one is harder. I can think of fun things I want to do but there are road blocks in the way. For example: I want to have fun in New York City, but can’t do that yet. I want to go to a New York Ranger Hockey Game wearing a Mark Messier jersey, I can’t do that yet either. I want to go to Walt Disney World as a DVC member, can’t do that either. I want to have season tickets to the Oilers in a Sky Suite box, I can’t do that yet either. Wishful thinking is not getting me anywhere, I need to be practical.

Where was I? Oh ya, 5 things I USE to do that I found enjoyable.

  1. Air guitar in front of my mirror. Oh BOY that was fun for me! I could give that a try again.
  2. Go to a chick flick with a bunch of girls. I TOTALLY NEED TO DO THAT ONE!
  3. Talk for hours on the phone with my best friend…I should give that one a try too!
  4. Have a shopping day with my mom, gran and aunty. I would love that one too!
  5. Karaoke with my sister…HEY SISTA’ invite me over for Karaoke!!!

All of those doable, all of those are fun. I need to get started. What is your 5?

I’ll read your answers later, Billy Joel is inviting me over for a bottle of red and I need to grab my air guitar.

A Plumbing Museum? I Can’t Wait!

I am willing to bet the majority of you have no idea there is a plumbing museum in Germany. I KNOW! I can just hear your excitement building as you realize this may be the topic of this blog entry. Fear not, the only one who is faintly disappointed is Honey.

We left the Camping Platz with the knowledge that Chatterbox must have a cuckcoo clock before we left the Black Forest. That was the mission of the day, the Muppets were all on high alert in search of a cuckcoo clock shop. It was very important for several reason, 1> she would not stop talking about how important it was to her 2> did I mention we wanted to stop hearing about how important it was to her?

The first stop of the day was early morning around 9:00 AM. We entered into a little village called Schiltach. Charming little place that was filled with steep hills and gingerbread type cottages. We would find our way through the cobblestone streets to discover tour bus and caravan parking was a gazillion miles away from the village square. Fair enough, out we would go for a walk. The charm of the place was adorable. We came to the village water well, where we imagined women fetching water to bring home. Behind the well was an outdoor cafe! We all desired a beverage on the crisp morning. Pots of chocolate for everyone, except two elder Muppets, their beverage of choice was coffee. There was something so quaint and very European about sipping our hot beverages at a table that stood in the middle of a cobblestone square.

This was when I heard Honey exclaim, “LOOK AT THAT SIGN!”

Huh, it was a blue tourist sign that read “Hansgrohe”. What was the big deal about Hansgrohe? For those of you that don’t know, my Honey works in the plumbing industry – no he isn’t a plumber but is handy with a leaky faucet. Apparently we were at the Head Quarters for the amazing shower-head company. Not that I knew how amazing these shower heads were, because you know the old adage “the cobbler’s wife has no shoes”. Yes, that is me with not a fancy shower-head in the house. Best part of all? THERE WAS A MUSEUM! Off ran Honey and Genetic Offspring to the museum, they would meet up with us later. The rest of the Muppet Crew decided to pass on that particular adventure. To his incredible disappointment, the place was close. Awwwww. He did thrill us with tales of the size and scope of the place, then he talked about other fascinating bits but my mind wandered off at this point. I did try to listen, I really did, but I just don’t understand the inner workings of hardware. Sorry Honey.

Time to move on! We had other places to see. Yes we were still in search of a cuckcoo clock shop for Chatterbox. Next stop Vogsbauerhof the Black Forest Open Air Museum. We had no idea what an open air museum was. Fresh air was a special thing here? No, lots of it was around. Curiosity go the better of us so away we went. We saw a VW Beetle with big red balls on top. We weren’t sure what those were, I suspect cherries but if any of you know, please tell me! We found the place to be very similar to Fort Edmonton or other outdoor museums we had visited back home in Canada. It struck me that farming and pioneering efforts in the past 500 years hadn’t changed much. Not much to see here people, keep moving!

Then it happened. The Cuckcoo Clock Shop was spotted! Slamming of the brakes followed by the Muppets running across the street leaving the driver in a cloud of dust. We had found the very place that Chatterbox had desired. Honey, of course made friends with the owner Adolf Herr and invited him to visit us. Genetic Offspring was looking to buy beer-steins for all his friends but settled on hats. Honey bought a blown-glass Christmas Ornament in the very place that is famous for them. The rest of us thought we would save our cash for Paris. My mom informed me this was the very place we had been to years before when I was 10. The very shop where I had purchased my own Cockcoo Clock that had proceeded to annoy me for years to come.

Now Chatterbox owns one that annoys us all.

When we got home, I was presented with a Hansgrohe Shower-Head, and it is awesome.