Why is International Women’s Day so Important?

International Women's Day (4 of 10)
International Women’s Day (4 of 10) (Photo credit: pdxjmorris)

In case you slept in this morning, let me be the first to share the news: Happy International Women’s Day!

If you are like me, then you must be wondering why we need a day to celebrate women. I gave this some serious thought.

I realize it was only 100 years ago that women (in western cultures) were not considered people under the law.

I realize that in my lifetime women’s professions went from housewife, nurse, teacher – to anything you want to be – ANYTHING.

I realize that equal pay for equal work is still not happening in many parts of North America – not to mention my city.

I realize that many women are still expected (and do) the bulk of the home stuff, cook, clean, raise kids, make the decisions, work full time and in many cases go to school as well. Although this is mostly a generational thing. It takes a long time to change attitudes.

I realize that many women have been prosecuted for their beliefs and strive hard for the opportunity to have what I take for granted.

I realize that women in other countries are still oppressed and do not get the choice of free will because they are still considered property.

I realized all of this last night when my 15 year old daughter came down to my office to talk to me about her days events. She has been visiting different schools around the city trying to make the right choice for her. I am the one who told her to look at the schools with an open mind and evaluate them on a set of criteria that she has created in her mind.

Now that she has visited the short-listed schools, last night was the time to decide.

Her list of must have for a school were the following:

  1. Excellent Music Program
  2. Great-excellent Drama Program
  3. Opportunities to try new things
  4. AP Math
  5. AP English
  6. An atmosphere where you feel welcome and a part of something bigger that can actually make a difference.

The first school she visited during the week actually offended her. She was angry by the time we had left. There were no welcoming gestures from staff or students and she had a sense that she would be alone yet working along side people rather than in a team atmosphere.

The second school had a great drama department and was welcoming but it didn’t feel to her there were the well rounded opportunities she was hoping for. She talked extensively to teachers and other students and thought – maybe. The location was great and many of her friends had decided this was the place for them, but she wasn’t sold.

After last night’s visit to the last school on the list, she sat down at my desk and looked at me like she was very concerned. I asked her to tell me her thoughts. Her first concern was finding the time to do all the things she wanted to at this school. She was quite sure she couldn’t be on the Cheer Squad AND drama and music. There was no time for guitar class if she was taking photography. The opportunity for learning (yet another instrument – she plays keyboard, guitar, percussion and ukulele) was available if she took Jazz Band. She expressed the desire to play the upright Base. That was 3 separate music classes plus all the other classes she wanted to take. Not to mention the AP courses for core classes. Then there was the different sciences she is interest in like forensic, bio and chem. SHe loved the way the students told her the school wasn’t full of cliques and everyone intermingled and was supportive of each other.

I looked at her and thought she has decided which school she is going to. Then I thought about her grandma’s options and realized this is why we celebrate International Woman’s day.

The achievements from past women are significant – not because of lack of intelligence, but because of opportunity. It does not occur to my daughter that she is not capable of doing any of these activities. It does not occur to her that she wouldn’t be permitted on the basis of gender. She becomes indignant when she hears no on the basis that she is a girl and will argue with intelligent information to make her point. She does realize time is a factor and the ability to keep her marks up are important to HER. Her plans for the future are huge and she doesn’t want to limit her options.

She has OPTIONS. She has more options than I had. More importantly, she has more options than I was aware of.

I’d like to take a moment to thank all the women of the past who forged a path so significant, they changed my daughters world. I am eternally grateful and I can only imagine the good things ahead for future generations.

The Edmonton Tourist’s 2nd Blogiversary: 11 lessons learned

Tomorrow is my second blogiversary as The Edmonton Tourist. Unreal! I never thought I would get this far, I told myself I would but back then I wasn’t so great with follow through. I was very happy to make it through a year, yet very amazed with myself. I learned that given the right motivation or goal I could be quite driven.

Motivation is the wrong word. I no longer believe in motivation. It isn’t something that comes to you through divine intervention, it doesn’t come in a magic pill that lifts you up to get things done. Motivation comes in a form of achievement. Setting a goal, seeing the finish and figuring out the steps to get there is goal oriented, not motivation. At least in my circumstance, motivation has never been a factor. you want to do something or not, you want to achieve something or not. Motivation never helped me out for long and it abandoned me when the going got tough. Goals were always there. Figuring out how to achieve them was the key.

When I started this journey, I was miserable. I was deep in depression. My good blogging friend wrote a brilliant description about depression here. She eloquently explains the difference between sadness and depression. Depression is not sadness. It is dark, cloudy and soul sucking. Sadness is an emotion. huge difference. Depression is not an emotion, it is a state of being, like hunger or tired. Those are not emotions. there is a big difference.

I wanted to climb out of my depression and change my life. I was living in my imagination for a long time and decided it was time to make my imagination a reality for me. I knew I would need to take risks, try new things, say yes more often and no more often too. I needed to become a tourist in my own life.

I achieved that. Funnily enough, there are 11 major lessons I have learned through my Tourist Journey. All of them have leadership qualities like my Number 11 Hero.

1. I was always disappointed that I never finished my degree. I am 5 classes away from my undergraduate degree. I have the intention of getting my MBA in Leadership, but for now that is a distant goal, I am focusing on my first one for now. I have learned not to be afraid of hard work because I am smarter than I give myself credit for and I can figure out or research anything.

2. I never lived on my own, unattached long enough to experience serious solo travel. I experienced it several times of late. By solo I don’t mean just me and the road, I mean not being responsible for anyone but me. I traveled with my cousin, and I traveled with girlfriends. One of the best trips I ever had was with my sister, when we went to Seattle for the weekend. It was freeing. I took one child at a time on separate vacations. That gave me a chance to bond and laugh and really focus on them separately rather than a unit. This was invaluable. I learned to relax on holidays, not over plan and enjoy the moment. I needed the solo vacations to learn this.

3. I became a tourist in my own city and went to every festival I could. I discovered lots of them were crap, and a couple were brilliant. Now I just go to the ones I love and will continue to try out new festivals as they pop up. Edmonton is Festival City, every week – or there abouts – is another festival to attend. This week is my favorite festival of all time, The Fringe Festival. The largest Fringe in North America. I am doing some improv with my son (who is a improv comedian himself) and I will call my Gran to go to a drag show or two. I took her at the age of 84 to her very first drag show last year, because she is cool like that. Then she asked if we could go again, YA WE CAN! Drag is super fun and fabulous! I think I have to see “BitchSlap!” the Bette Davis and Joan Crawford saga. Darin Hagen is just simply wonderful and I am a huge fan. I learned that new adventures are in my own backyard. Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz was right.

4. I learned that I needed to make the outside me match the inside me. So I started the Just Me and Mo journey about weight-loss and fitness. This saw me swim long distances for 1.5 hours on Fridays and an hour the rest of the week. I trained for and completed a half marathon – 13.2 miles or 26.1 km. I did the last 7km with a stress fracture on my left foot. It took strength of mind to get to the finish. I now know mentally what I am capable of and yet I sense I haven’t even scratched the surface of my mental possibility. I belive there is more there, I just haven’t been tested hard enough yet. Running consistently will help me figure out that tidbit.

5. I learned that people are hugely disappointing. I cannot expect people to have it all together when I don’t even have it pulled together. I no longer expect things from people. If great stuff happens, terrific! If there is no follow through, oh well. I need to make my own fireworks and magic happen. I learned to be grateful for what it given and don’t expect more.

6. I learned there comes a time in everyones life where you need to take responsibility for your own life. This time should happen when you are 25 and your brain is fully developed. Sadly this never happens. It takes becoming a parent or growing up to figure this out. We all grow up at own rate. I know men who haven’t grown up yet and feel quite sad for them. They still blame their parents for the life they have. Here is what I know and have learned. Your parents love you and agonized over making the right decision because they know it can affect you for the rest of your life. They made the best decision they could with the skills and knowledge they had ( okay, there are parents out there who never grew up and yet still had kids. They made and continued to make poor choices. This is the exception to the rule.) You cannot make choices based them. You are not your Father/Mother/Grandmother etc, you are you. Their DNA does not make choices. DNA provides allergies, eye colour, height etc. These are factors that cannot be changed. Education, experience and choices + DNA make you the person you are. Suck it up and grow a pair. Quit blaming your Mom/Dad/Wife/Husband/EX-whatever because the choices you make are not right for you.

7. I learned that kindness will take you very far in life. Empathy, caring and kindness in general are the key to meaningful relationships. I use to be cranky. I often see glimpses of my dark angry side when someone annoys me, but instead of the knee jerk reaction, I am now quiet, contemplative and reflective. I try to stand in their shoes and figure out why they are reacting in that way. Seeing things from someone else’s perspective has been enlightening. I still feel frustration at choices people make that I think are wrong, but it is not my choice. I no longer judge and rant, I will say I disagree or we need to agree to disagree. On occasion I will be asked why, then I will say why. But if someone doesn’t ask my opinion, I won’t give it. I do here on my blog, because it is my forum. It isn’t a two way conversation until the comments roll out. Then you will notice I usually respond in kind. Everyone has an opinion. Force feeding someone your opinion is not going to change theirs, it will just have them think ill of you. So perhaps tolerance is the lesson learned here.

8. I have learned people are starved of kind words. If someone does something I think is fantastic, kind, loving cool or positive – I now will tell them. They may not know it, or ever hear they are doing great work. I tell them with words that are specific to the job well done. This has opened doors for me. It’s true! People remember the nice things or compliments that are genuine and will reciprocate in another fashion, like introductions to new possibilities. The new possibilities have been mind blowing awesome and have changed me life. It is true when you give of yourself, you receive ten fold. I can vouch for that.

9. I have learned that help is available if you ask for it. I always wanted to be independent and do it myself. I can’t always and failure hurts. So I now ask for help. I have learned that people LOVE to feel needed. Help can also be in the form of things. I have something and you don’t. I don’t need it so I give it to you. I don’t sell it. I wasn’t using it. You need it, you can have it. My mom is the master of this skill. She is the kindest, most generous person I know aside from my daughter. Kindness becomes a wonderful two way relationship.

10. I learned that everyone is going through varying degrees of struggle. You do not know what their journey is, so don’t assume theirs is harder/easier/insignificant compared to yours. Listening to others struggle has given me great insight. Truthfully, we are all the same. We all have fears, hopes, dreams, disappointments and tragedy in our lives. The point or lesson is how we deal with it and how we learn to benefit from it. Some of us figure it out, and some of us never do. But we are all the same.

11. I learned Failure is the best way to learn stuff and have it be meaningful. I needed inspiration yesterday. I texted my friend and said “Quick, I need something inspiring.” They texted me back  without asking why, “If your dreams don’t scare you they aren’t big enough” then they sent “or this one ‘fall 7 times and get up 8′” This was what I needed to hear. I have had a summer of failure and disappointment. I fell 7 times and got up 8. If I fall again, I will get up 9. I will keep getting up until I reach my destination. I learned a valuable lesson every time I fell. I tucked it away and kept getting up, dusting myself off and moved forward because my dreams are so huge they are scary.

So there you have it. 11 things this tourist learned over 2 years. What I thought was going to be a short term movement has ended up being a lifelong journey. Learning doesnt end. In fact, the more you learn, you realize the less you know. I wonder what will happen next? All that matters is, I need to be aware and present when it does happen.

Greatness

"Greatness"
“Greatness” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been feeling frustrated and caged as of late. I am finding patience as I learn to do less while recovering from a respitory ailment. The lack of Oxygen has been an issue creating barrier. From loading the dishwasher to walking up stairs, breathing is difficult. Then there is the is factor of the summer is half over. I have been in the mist of enjoying 64 Days of Awesome and trying something fun every day. I have 32 days left. Not one part of my summer has gone as planned. Funny how that works out. Making plans and then you are thrown a curveball.

I have been sitting anxiously waiting for my phone to ring and all I hear is crickets… It is enough to suck me back into the dark vortex of depression again. Can’t let that happen. I do believe there is a reason for everything, I just need to let it happen as it may, I’ve done all the work I can. Now I wait and see and keep moving forward with life.

This morning feels like a day I had a very long time ago. My parents left for vacation without me. They went to Jamaica and left me with my Grandma. That summer was hot during the day and raining at night. The air was cool in the morning while we ate breakfast on the patio. My Grandpa engaged me in a conversation about career choices. He said “Robbie, you’re a smart kiddo. Pick something that will use your brains every day so you don’t have to work hard.”

I now understand that he meant physical labour. But as I reflect on what he said, I know there was more to it than those simple words. The trick is finding what you are meant to do, then attacking it with vigor using the brains I was blessed with. It becomes a mental game. Just like last summer when I completed my first half marathon. It was 90% mental and 10% muscle memory. I trained hard, my body knew what to do. If I let the focus of the goal lose power, I wouldn’t have had a hope in finishing. I used my brains to see me through to the finish. The mental power of tenacity and determination. I suspect I will need that mental toughness to get me through another year until I complete my degree. I am nearly there and want to kick it up a notch to complete the task sooner than expected. It has become obvious to me that to advance forward, I need that paper. It’s not just the paper the degree is written on. Apparently I could buy one for $500, according to DGreezRus. That does not teach me about struggle, elevating the level of my performance and facing fear.

I need to find the something people are looking for when filling a position that is entirely foreign to my work experience. Changing a career path halfway through your life is difficult. It is like looking at the brass ring that is just slightly out of reach as you spin round on the merry-go-round. I know I can do it. I know I will be great at it. I know I need to find the person who is willing to give me a chance. I promise I will not disappoint.

It is unfortunate society demands children decide their own career fate. I had no idea at the age of 18 what I wanted to be. I heard people telling me what I should do and what I would be good at. It never really was my passion. 27 years later, I think I have found my passion. It includes writing, planning, communicating and forward thinking. It requires reflection of self and job. It requires structure and deadlines, stress and laughter. It requires me to think before I act and not drift through on autopilot because it is simple and mundane.

Until that moment, I will strive to make it happen and have my everyday become what I envision. I will have my days filled with my passion so I can conquer the mundane.

And talk to Jude Law about narrating my life along the way…

Wild about Fear

Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Wild by Cheryl Strayed (Photo credit: bubbletea1)

June has been a bust when it comes to reading. I finished/completed/happydancedover the completion of my 3rd year, saw the A that was posted and breathed a sigh of relief! I am not quite finished because the project I was working on still needs to be forwarded to the powers at be at my office. I could say – whatever I have my mark – but I am not that person. Sooooooo my reading for fun mission has taken a back seat. I also needed time to digest the last book I read. Have you ever read a book and loved it so much you actually missed the characters? That was me this week. I took quotes and excerpts from the book and let them roll around my thoughts for a while. What excited me about this book is the fact that what the author achieved is no less great than my Edmonton Tourist Journey. We have both come to the same place in our lives where this is now my reality,

Perhaps by now I’d come far enough that I had the guts to be afraid. – Cheryl Strayed

I suspect I was too naive to be afraid when I started this whole process. Chin was up and I defiantly kept moving forward. I kept goal setting and achieving and moving along. Then suddenly I hit a wall. I was no longer fearless. I started looking at things differently. People in my life who would ignite a bomb and that would leave me with what I thought I needed to do, strike or douse the fire. When actually, all I needed was to stand still and feel the fear. Fear isn’t something that needs to be conquered. It needs to be faced. When people strike out, having that inner calm to face it, absorb it, take the parts that I need and learn from it is growth. Climbing over the fear ( which is an important step in the process) is no longer needed to get past it. Evolved is the word I like to use.

Things I use to fear:

  1. People thinking I’m stupid.  I am not but now it doesn’t bother me if you think I am. I use to engage in conflict to prove I am not less than smart. I am secure and comfortable enough in my own skin. People can judge all they wish too and I could care less. I will educate if you are misinformed, but that is not the same as raging. forcing an opinion on someone is not sharing ideas. I have no use for that type of bully in my life. So I no longer fear people thinking I am stupid. I am smart enough to not engage nor bait the trolls.
  2. Sweat. Sweat meant hot, stinky smelly and hard breathing. It meant lungs hurting and muscles crying. Now it means hard work, feeling great, focus and clarity. Working out has changed my life. I can no longer envision a world without it. Setting large fitness goals is scary but the single most satisfying challenge I have ever faced.
  3. Fail. I use to be afraid of trying something new and failing. I realize failing means something different to me than it use to. If I set a goal and cannot reach it, that just means it wasn’t the right goal, I need to think of a different path to get to that goal or learn about why I couldn’t reach that goal. To fail means to be educated.

It is good to fear things. Standing in the middle of your fear and taking the strength from it rather than taking the anxiety is the key. I love fear in a way I never thought possible. I stand in front of it, I look it in the eye and respect it. I have no doubt I will learn from it. It still makes me shake but I no longer run from it, I run with it. I am about to do the scariest thing in my life so far.

Perhaps by now I’d come far enough that I had the guts to be afraid. – Cheryl Strayed

I have come far enough to have the guts to be afraid.

Ding! Ding! One of us is eatin’ canvas, and it ain’t gonna be me

Today’s post is from my favorite writer and story teller. After reading one of his posts about running in the New York Marathon with no – well very little – training, I figured…What the hell! If he can run a full marathon, I can do a half – Easy Peasy! Well, it wasn’t so easy peasy, he  just motivated me to the point where mental was more more significant than physical. I invite you to take a peek over at Back of the Packer. Joe is about to embark on an incredible journey. His plan is to run 13 marathons in 2012. One every month to raise money and awareness for the Dream Team in support of Make a Wish foundation, and one extra one – his Super Bowl – the New York Marathon in support of Team for Kids. No matter how you slice it up, a marathon a month is insane. I, along with his family, hope he is alive able to walk by the the end of next year. Good Luck Joe!

Now on with the words……

——————————————————————————————————————————————

My grandmother was five feet tall. She barely weighed 100 pounds, and came from a large Irish family dominated by domineering older brothers. Growing up, she experienced the transition from a horse & carriage to the automobile – yet she never once sat behind the wheel of a Dodge Dart. She lived through World War I, Babe Ruth moving from Boston to NYC, the Great Depression, World War II, the assassinations of JFK and Martin Luther King Jr., the Korean War, NASA placing a man on the surface of the moon, Vietnam, Watergate, twenty six New York Yankee World Series Championships, DiMaggio and Monroe, the Rat Pack, the music of Louie Prima….and the all four New York Ranger Stanley Cups (that last one is a biggie). (…I just re-read that last sentence – wow do I love commas). She passed away at the ripe old age of 94 years…yet she would never admit her age to anyone. If someone asked her how old she was, her response would always be “I’m 21+”. My grandmother is one of my sources of motivation – for I cannot comprehend the degree of worldly change she took thin through those crystal blue eyes.

One of the many, many things I have learned from my grandmother came from a conversation I had with her about a year before she passed on. I recall asking her, “Grandma – you’ve seen and experienced so many difficult times…how did you keep going when things got tough? I mean, it couldn’t be easy getting by during the Great Depression and World War II. So much negativity throughout the world. Not much was going right. How did you see things through?” ….her answer floored me – and it echoes in the back of my head each time I feel like things are taking a turn for the worst.

My grandmother took my hand in her’s and said in that soft voice which carried a wonderful Bronx accent “Joey, you gotta wake up every morning ready to go toe-to-toe with the world. Life’s like a boxing match, and you gotta be Rocky Marciano. She’ll throw lefts and rights at ya all day long. Wake up late and miss your bus to work? Whack – right in da face. Gotta work overtime and won’t be home for dinner? Pop – a hard left to da jaw, ya know? But every time the world slugs ya a good one in the kisser, ya gotta smile and say ‘is that all ya got?’ and then egg the bastard on to throw the next punch. And once in a while, da bastard will get lucky and sock ya a good one right on da button. You’ll get knocked down. But then ya gotta bounce back up quick, ya know? Dust yourself off and then tell da bastard he got lucky and egg him on again. That’s da key.”

“What’s the key, Grandma?”

“Joey, whenever the bastard clocks ya a good one in the face and knocks ya down, ya gotta pop right back up. Don’t waste a second on the canvas. Get the hell back up quick, even if you’re still walkin’ down Woozy Boulevard. Get up. That’s the key. Get the hell up. Don’t stay down.”

“But what if it’s something really tough, Grandma? Sometimes I feel like I cannot handle my responsibilities. And I have goals for myself – big ones. But there are times where I feel like I don’t have what it takes to attain them.”

She sighed, took a sip of tea, and patted my hand and replied “Joey, we were all born as undefeated champs. Ya can do anything ya want in life, as long as ya stand toe to toe with da world. Look the bastard in the eye and tell him ‘one of us is eatin’ canvas…and it ain’t gonna be me’.

Unfortunately, I forgot that conversation for a few years. I got popped on the chin a few times and took a looooooong time to get back up. But that’s OK, and long as I keep answering the bell for the next round.

Ding! Ding!

Dead or Alive, Who Would You Invite to Dinner?

I am home today dying from the plague. I am in good company. Due to the fact it is a pandemic, I have friends across the city who have it too. In fact, I have family in PEI who claim to have it. You know what they say, misery loves company.

There is something so restful about being home alone, with nothing to do but feel better. I love the fact that I have total control over the TV and watch stuff that my family would call BORING – I call it intellectual.

Yesterday my great friend Chicken Hawk posted this on my fb wall:

When I read this I actually snorted. It’s one off those “funny because it’s true” moments. But what does that really say about me? I have had all morning to ponder this.

It is not that I don’t play well with others, I think the reality is I don’t RELATE well to others. I try to be empathetic and kind, but not really understanding the situation – leaves me at a bit of a loss. I suppose I have a set of standards and file people into the 3 different categories.

  1. You and I see eye to eye, therefore we connect and I consider you a kindred spirit.
  2. What the hell are you thinking? I don’t get you. Therefore I will be polite and friendly, please do not expect more from me than that because you will be disappointed.
  3. I think I can persuade you into thinking like me. Let me explain…. Then I convince them the errors of their ways and suddenly they are in my camp.

I am pretty sure all people do this except for those enlightened beings like Mother Teresa, Budha, Chatterbox, Gandhi, and Yoda. Enlightened beings let go of ego and are kind, wise, compassionate and loving. I think the rest of us strive to be like that but strive is the best we are able to do at this moment in time.

While I was laying around dying from the plague, I watched Midnight in Paris. It was about a man who happened to be a writer who was not satisfied with his life and longed to live in the golden era of the 1920’s in Paris. He wanted to be a part of the the arts movement with the great masters of the 20th century. Seriously, who doesn’t want to hang out with Hemingway when he was young and brilliant? Or Picasso while he was exploring his talents? To be able to sit in a cafe in Paris and discuss interesting theories or talk about inspiration. This interested me greatly!

It had me thinking about who I would invite to dinner in a cafe in Paris. Here is my list:

  1. Pablo Picasso
  2. Henry Matisse
  3. Katherine Hepburn
  4. Charlie Chaplin
  5. George Harrison
  6. Winston Churchill
  7. Albert Einstein
  8. Martin Luther King
  9. Emily Murphy
  10. Warren Buffet
  11. Ernest Hemingway
  12. Steven Hawking

Interestingly enough these people, who are in my opinion,  were/are great genius or brilliant in their field. I bet you anything, the average person saw them as jerks or big inflated egos or failed to see their brilliance at first. All 12 of those people on my list had a passion or a vision. They knew they were right. They could clearly see what others could not. This is what is impressive. They were not held back by their co-worker or classmate saying “THAT will never work, what are you thinking?” On the contrary, they heard those voices trying to hold them back and still moved forward.

As I look around at the crazy people of the 21st Century, I wonder who will stand out in 100 years from now. It will be those people who are told they are crazy and their ideas won’t work. It will be those people who don’t conform to the norm and strive for something better than status quo. This has answered a question I had burning in my head for a while now.

I have the opportunity to work on a project that I have no passion for. It serves a purpose of legacy to the agency where I work and it suppose to bring great satisfaction to my work as a whole. It is doing none of those. It would be me working on something that is expected of me, or something that others are interested in. I need to find a project that carries my passion. Passion is what makes things fun and exciting for me. My kids were talking to me about their impending career paths. They told me what other expect of them. I told them to disregard other’s opinions. They main two reasons for a chosen career path must be passion and ethics. Are you passionate and believe in what you are doing? Does it excite you at the thought of doing it every day? Is it ethical? Does it play a part in the greater good by bringing joy, comfort or necessity out of life? Then do it. If it doesn’t, then find something else that will. That is the way you make a difference.

There, I answered my own question. I am not going to do that project. I have all the time in the world to find something that I feel passionate about and believe in.

So…Who is on your list for the dinner party of the 20th century?

I might have the Plague.

I think I am dying. By the time you read this I may have actually sneezed my head off. I will either be dead by morning OR still be suffering from this “cold” I have. I am pretty sure it is the plague, but I am not a doctor so I can’t be sure. So If I am dead by morning here are somethings I want my kids to know, you should know this stuff too. There might be a test in Heaven and I want you prepared.

  1. Every chance you get – Pay it Forward. Nice things happen to people all the time. When you are a recipient, don’t take it for granted. Be grateful and then do something nice for someone else. It works like the Rubber/glue effect. You know the one “I am rubber you are glue, what bounces off me  – sticks to you!” Unless you use Rubber Cement as glue, then the bouncing is endless.
  2. Always look your best. When you look confident, you feel confident and people treat you automatically with respect. This will open doors for you.
  3. Eat your fruit and vegetables. It makes you feel strong and healthy. It makes your hair shiny and keeps you regular. All good things.
  4. If you don’t know the answer to something, don’t ask for the answer right away. Ponder it. Mull it over. Sometimes you need a new perspective, then when you figure out the answer, the feeling is better! It makes you smarter. However, there is no shame in asking for the answer  when you just don’t know.
  5. Keep in touch with your family. Family doesn’t always mean blood relative. It can mean close dear friends who would do anything for you. I am lucky I have both. Call them and tell them you miss them or appreciate them or just want to spend time with them. It makes them happy to know you need them.
  6. Take risks. Sometimes it is easier to stay safe and go with what you know. Sometimes it is a wonderful feeling to try and succeed at something new. I recommend it.
  7. When you need o find a job, it is important to do what you are passionate about and what is ethical. But sometimes you need to feed your children and then it is important to do the best you can WITHOUT guilt.
  8. Tell your kids you love them every day. EVERYDAY. It seems like a lot, but it’s not. More is better.
  9. Read to your kids EVERYDAY until they become avid readers. It makes them smart, articulate, critical thinkers, and interesting. Being interesting is important. That is how you become a vibrant social contributor to society. It also helps you make friends that turn into family.
  10. Expect life to be disappointing when it isn’t fabulous. Life is a balance of both. Disappointment is important because that is the time when you learn things.
  11. Volunteer your time to a charity. Giving money to a charity is awesome. Sometimes you need to know what its like to give time. All charities need people to make things work. Find something you  believe in and give up your time.
  12. Be nice to each other. In the end, you are all you have. The world needs more kindness.

Even if I am not dead in the morning, these are good things to know. I learned these lessons from my parents, grandparents, family, friends coworkers and strangers. Add to the list as you learn things too. Most importantly, always bring me an Extra Hot Skinny Vanilla Latte when I feel like I am dying. It always works miracles.

All Paths Deserve to be Walked On

Have you ever sat with people when they drone on and on about how wonderful their children are? Don’t you feel like rolling your eyes in the back of your head? All you can think about is what brats they are or how delusional the person is talking to you about them. Don’t worry, I don’t mean YOUR kids, they are perfectly wonderful in that special way only YOU can love. But that is YOUR kids, mine are extraordinary special – and not in that “special needs” way Chicken Hawk teases me about. I have learned a lot from my kids this summer, and the best part is, summer is only half over!

I spent the day with Chatterbox yesterday, running errands and keeping appointments. It is no secret that Chatterbox is ADHD but is on meds for it. THANK GOD is all I can say, because when the meds wear off she is EXHAUSTINGLY ACTIVE! It was something we always lived with. We treated it with tools and strategies they worked for our family for a long time. Once she entered Junior High, she came to me and said, I think it is time I go on medication for my ADHD. Wow. What 12 year old has THAT kind of insight? She has a really good friend who also has ADHD and they would talk about what it is like and her friend offered to have her mom talk to me about it. WOW – What 12 year old can find support like that? Working in a field where I deal with children with special needs, I knew the procedure and what to expect. It was educating other people that was more difficult. I found family members didn’t want to believe that Chatterbox needed meds. I laugh now because of the complete difference it made in her. But at the time, it was a niggly worry in the back of my head if I was doing the right thing. I do know if you are NOT ADHD and you take meds to treat it, you will be either a zombie or so freaking hyper your family will need to restrain you. That is the easiest test. We got Chatterbox on meds and suddenly without warning, a mature teenager emerged out of the crazy, impulsive, exhausting child.

Chatterbox can explain to you exactly what it was like before meds and what it is like for her now. It did not change her personality in anyway. What it did do was gave her clarity to focus on what is really important to her. Chatterbox, at the age of 13, is a goal setter. Think about what you liked to do when you were 13. Were you looking far into your future and laying out steps on how you were going to get there? Me neither. I was in 42 before I really looked carefully and started setting smart goals.

Since Chatterbox was little, she has always wanted to be a star, like a Disney Channel Star. She knows she needs music, acting and dance to do that. Being the poor mom that I am, I can’t afford dance for Chatterbox. We have found music activities that are affordable and have been able to send her to those. The lack of dance instruction has not deterred Chatterbox. She wants to be on the Cheer Squad in High School, and not one of those girls who lift the other girls. She wants to be on top! So every day, since last year, Chatterbox practices doing the splits. Each week she can go farther. She is centimeters away from achieving that goal and high school is still 2 years away. AMAZING!

Chatterbox set goals to bring her marks up from mediocre to honours….and did it. She seems to understand the value of small steps to achieving greatness. This amazes me as I struggle with setting goals myself. Genetic Offspring decided to join the party this summer and set a few goals for himself. I have seen a tremendous change in my 15 year old son as he attempts to be more spontaneous and puts his shyness away to talk to strangers. On our Banff trip this summer, Genetic Offspring went to the top of Sulfur Mountain Observatory without me, met a couple from Germany and struck up a conversation with them. Later at dinner, he talked to the waiter about living in Banff and what it was like. He has goals of going to school at the Banff Center for one semester to take music to offset his science career. He wanted to know what it was like and how feasible it is. I know how hard it was for him. The more he talks to strangers, the easier it is getting for him. I can see the pride growing in him as he achieves his goals. His current goal is writing a novel. He has let me read some of it. Again, all I can say is WOW. I think back to when I was 15 and all I was worried about was getting a boyfriend. Goals never occurred to me.

I sit and listen to Chatterbox and Genetic Offspring’s friends, and hear the goal setting topics that get passed around. It astounds me that teenagers are so focused on their future. I had one of those “woulda coulda shoulda” moments and wish I was that focused when I was their age. It would have saved me a lot of pain and heart ache I am going through now.

At the appointment yesterday with the gal who monitors Chatterbox’s meds, my daughter mentioned the change in me. She said goals helped me be happier. She has noticed I am not as funny as I was “in the old” days, nor do I laugh as much as I use to, but I am getting better. She recognizes that I haven’t been all that happy this year and that it has been hard for me. HOLY CRAP! You cannot hide a THING from this kid!

She wishes I would find things funny again. Wow Chatterbox, I wish that too. It’s coming. I find it easier to make people laugh than to laugh myself. Genetic Offspring said on the trip to Banff,

All paths deserve to be walked on.

That to me is very profound. I have been trying out various different paths. Some I prefer more than others. I need to figure out how to achieve a goal of laughing more. I promise to work on that Chatterbox.