Thursday, June 23, 2016


Hello June my old friend
I've come to talk to you again....

I know the ways of June - I see them coming, I brace myself but no matter the planning, thinking, strategising I am always sucked into the June vortex a strong and capable woman and spat out the other end a strong, capable and oh so weary woman. 

It's how I imagine it feels like to be in the spin cycle of the washer - a short but crazy ride that leaves you weak kneed.

But no matter the craziness - the multiple events, the never-ending TO DO list, the running around - there is a sort of amazement at the end of it all when the sum of those events are contemplated.

Heck - a lot got done!

Lindsay has worked a lot - and signed a lease on an apartment and made housewares and grown plants and made many a muffin.  She starts as a Senior Leader at a summer camp program locally in July socking away those bucks for the those pesky rent payments.

David finished his year strong (even defying the odds of making it through math) and  has been a total social butterfly getting in all the friend time before he leaves for 8 weeks at summer camp tomorrow - for which we can only hope he is, at least, mostly prepared. 

Allan finished the Masters 5-out-of-6-Saturdays slog and is now staggering to the finish line of the school year and hanging on until he is on a lake with a fishing rod in hand.  Which is right before he starts another 6 week double course master stretch while teaching physics at summer school.

I am home...with Spanner (recently recovered from a broken wag - he wagged himself into an injury as only an over-friendly lab can).  

I took today off to get David ready and to pack myself.  

For I saw a gap in this here June and I said to myself - "If I must drive David over the mountains to Kelowna to camp then I may as well grab my fellow adventurer EV and we may as well have a night or two in the sunny wine country...."

And lo it will be! 

In my case I am calling it my summer vacation as the aforementioned schedule of my spouse and children makes an actual summer vacation a pipe dream.  The Byres4 will actually not be back together until Thanksgiving or so - a fact on which I refuse to dwell - such is life with older teens - they don't need a moping mother dragging them down.

So I am packed... the car is ready... and my heart is going to override my weary body and I am going to have myself a merry mini break starting tomorrow.

The sun will shine, the tunes will play, the coffee will be strong and the chatting long and sustaining. 

There will be mountains and wine and lakes and food, good food.

There will be a bed and a breakfast and a dear companion.

So take that You June You.... You have been more than survived! 

We are stronger than that!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The absence of Power

It has been an incredible 3 days of learning and growing.

Lots of new ideas to process and contemplate and wonder about.  

Some conundrums to puzzle about.

And soon decisions to be made for action.

There was absolute delight for me in moving from an email relationship into a friendship-in-the-flesh with the keynote speaker Ann.  A genuine and intelligent woman  - kindred spirits we are in so many lovely and interesting ways - allies in THE WORK we do and passionate about many of the same things.

Although I remain far from as eloquent as she is and far from as deep a thinker about incredibly important things in the early childhood field in terms of pedagogical leadership and literacy of place / ecological identity in young children.  She lights the path for those of trying to figure it out and mentor others into this important and transformative work.

This was my first event planning gig flying solo without my dear Joyce as my event partner. 

I sure missed her but I used all our collective knowledge and planned the absolute heck out of these three days.

I had 5 million details and I covered almost every one.


Two things did not go as planned.... 

I forgot the tea bags.  I had remembered to order Hot Water for the odd non-coffee people and then I forgot their tea bags which some reacted to as the ultimate betrayal.  All day I saw people scanning the table in search of tea bags....UGH!  I hate to miss a detail.

And then there was the power.  

Or complete lack thereof.  In any outlet in any proximity to the sound system or computer/projector set-up.

Despite calls to facility people for help and some inventive stringing together of multiple extension cords to reach the kitchen, 9am came and went with no sound or power point.

And boy was I sweating.

And so annoyed that despite all the things I HAD thought of, planned for, triple checked... I had sunscreen, first aid, back up of every handout and art supply, back-up batteries for the mic, extra extension cords... I did not have a back up generator.

At 9:10am a facilities person arrived and unlocked the electrical panel and we had power!  But gone was my planned 30 minutes for sound check with equipment I had never used before but thanks to the fact I had set it all up 2 days before in my living room and David had given me a good tutorial, which even in my mild state of panic I managed to recall, we were underway with the day by 9:15am.

I was a hot mess but once my heart rate returned to normal and I washed my face and reapplied my lipstick and had a coffee and a muffin sitting just outside the room listening in, I regained my equilibrium and the day went off without another glitch.

All in all it has been a wonderful journey from dream to idea to plan to execution and today the weariness in my bones is a happy one, a fulfilled one.

I am full of gratitude for all the folks who played a part in getting it done...our field is better, richer, for the experiences so many of us had over the last 3 days. 


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Failing and Winning

People ask how my Brene Brown course on Daring Leadership is going.

It is not. 

I stalled out on Lesson 3 and that was a couple moths ago.

I blame time constraints and shared office space. 

In truth it is because it was hard.

Hard in a therapy-is-hard kind of a way.  Hard-hitting , heart/emotion stuff. Values, priorities, truth, self-worth, shame.... HARD stuff.

So I stopped.  I don't want to do that work right now.  I know it's there, I know I need to pay attention to some of those things. And I might.

However, before you deem me a lost cause, I did complete all the reading.  I do reference the principles espoused quite often.  I think about it a lot. 

And in 3 days, if all goes well, I will have passed the practicum part of the course.

If there was a practicum part.

Because tomorrow - tomorrow starts 3 days for which I "Dared Greatly".  I actually stepped out of my sometimes bewildering head space and DID something to make a HUGE goal of mine happen. 

And Lo - People listened, ideas were endorsed, plans were made and a process has unfolded that has been deeply personally and professionally enriching.  

Tomorrow one of the great thinkers and writers of the Early Childhood Field, a world renowned speaker, a genuine and authentic human and a person I can now call a kindred spirit (and she does the same of me) will arrive in Canada, in little ol' Richmond BC and begin a 3 day event.

I am truly beside myself with excitement (and just a little overwhelmed and exhausted!!).

Tomorrow night she speaks to 200 folks and on Saturday she does an all day event at UBC for 90 Educators but on Friday....on Friday my Dare Greatly moment becomes reality as she spends the day with just my Leadership Team. 8 of us and Ann my house...delving deeply into the work we do and ways to lead it better, more deeply, with more authenticity and congruency. 


Of course at this moment I am frantically cleaning the house, preparing hundreds of details, sending last minute emails to my long-suffering colleagues, learning how to manage a sound system microphone thingy, double-checking multiple lists and I suddenly needed to buy new pants to wear (not really but it seemed important an hour ago when I dashed to the Mall and was smiled upon by the shopping Gods).

So as I sit in a chaotic jumble of stuff and emotions I have proved to myself that I can step into the Arena and "Dare Greatly"  - that I can act and collaborate and make things happen  - that I CAN actually do something GREAT, something that matters greatly to my colleagues and the children and families we work with, something that moves our organisation into a new place - THAT, my friends, is a win despite stalling out on Lesson 3. 

Wish me luck - it's going to be an amazing few days in my world! 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Rainy Day

It was raining today 19 years ago..... so I'm told.

I didn't see the weather 19 years ago today.  

I spent the day in a dimly lit room, monitors humming and beeping, the rustle of paper, quiet voices......

It was the days before birth plans with playlists and meditation and yoga. 

It was in the days of a) praying you didn't go in to the labour and delivery ward too early and get turned away (oh the shame!) or b) praying you'd make it to the hospital before the baby was born.

Or is that how it is for all first time parents birth plan or no birth plan?

That terrifying moment when you realise an actual baby is trying to get out of your body and will expect you to actually know what the heck to do with it when it escapes the womb.  

The theory is all gone.

This is reality.  

Before long the dim lights turned bright, the beeps more insistent,  the voices more intense and my grip on Allan's t-shirt tighter and tighter.

With requisite drama and angst needed for a good birth story, a quiet and alert baby girl arrived in the early evening of May 28th, 1997.

19 years ago. 

Utterly, utterly perfect. 

I am both dismayed and delighted that today a beautiful, smart, determined, sassy, kind, funny young woman will dance by my side, in the rain, at a concert as we celebrate who she has become.

I knew when I bought the concert tickets the chance of rain was high - we have had many, many birthday parties on rainy days over the years - but we crossed our fingers and believed in global warming but alas... tonight, after the ID  me  her trying to get into the beer garden, we'll dance in the puddles and mud.

It's been an amazing journey to this point - she has never failed to figure out everything that she has faced through her life, with a fierceness and loyalty and sense of justice and with a grace and intelligence that belies her age.

I am so excited to watch her spread her wings and fly into her future.  

My beloved girl, my daughter, my Lindsay Lou..... I love you forever.
Happy Birthday.

Saturday, May 21, 2016


Recipe for Nicky's perfect Saturday


1. Sun (can substitute for cloudy if no precipitation)

2. Peeps (as many Byres as possible - today only 3 because 1 is in Kelowna getting a sneak peek at his summer digs)

3. Destination (anywhere will do but prefer new ground to cover - today downtown Van-City - east-ish)

4. Good coffee (prefer hipster vibe with excellent, local, organic, hand-roasted beans made into superb, smooth, creamy long Americano)

5.  Baked goods. Duh.

6. Cool shops (prefer realistic prices for cool goods but hello. Vancouver.) 

7. Book stores (old, cluttered, musty - mmm)

8. Architecture (prefer red brick but geometric buildings can be substituted)

9.  Alley ways

10. A non-descript restaurant with unbelievable ramen, pork belly in pork broth (no substitute acceptable - if you can get a window seat and watch downtown east side life unfold outside, even better)

11. Transit (no parking issues and more people watching)

12. Happy puppy

13.  Tea in the backyard - in a t-shirt - in May

14. Gardening (growing good green stuff and processing piles of local strawberries)

15.  More peeps for dinner - lamb BBQ.

16. Dessert donuts from Downtown (with a hunky hubby)

17. Music 

18. Booking a small getaway

19. Honey Jack Daniels

20. My jammies and a good book.

Mix together, smile and count your blessings.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mothers Day Eve - A reflection on a gift

I am not the biggest fan of Mother's Day.  I don't like the pressure around gifts and decisions about what to do and what to eat (ok maybe the what to eat part isn't so bad).

If I am honest - this role - the mother role - is one I have lacked confidence in in myself.  

It is impossible to know if you are doing it right.

It is impossible to know how many ways you might be screwing it up.

I took on the role more pragmatically than emotionally.  

It was time.  We had been married 7 years. 

And as the cliche goes ... as soon as I saw that squiggly little alien on the ultrasound machine I was undone.  

And when she, and then later, her brother were finally placed in my arms I was in a blind panic.  

And totally in love. 

But mostly terrified. 

And so the tension of mothering continues to this Mother's Day eve.  

But this year I approach with a little more confidence. 

Not just because 19 years later they are both still alive... but because they gave me the gift of confidence. 

Last year on Mothers Day they gave me a jar with "52 Reasons we Love You".  Little brown packages tied up with string, one for every week of the last year.  

I mostly forgot to to open one every week so every few weeks I would walk by the dresser and unroll a few.

It is beyond a gift to read your children's thoughts about you as their mother, as a person.  

I have been humbled, I have cried, I have laughed out loud, I have felt my heart squeeze and I have stared in disbelief ... each and every little package of words went straight to my heart.

To be fair this was a year ago 

But with each one, each word carefully penned, I have felt the the invisible, internal  "mom-confidence-barometer" rise a notch. 

In a beautiful and authentic way my children have made me a better Mother this year and that is gift I will treasure and live into the worthiness of.  

I couldn't have walked this journey nearly as ably without an incredible co-parent who has supported and challenged and listened and guided me.  He has allowed me to find my rhythm and called me back when I lost my way at times. Allan - thank you. 

Lindsay, David...being your Mom is a joy beyond any you could imagine.  My heart nearly bursts out of my chest with pride for who each of you is as a person.  The depth of my gratitude for your gift 52 weeks ago is deeper than I can really express in words. 

I love you both to the moon and back to infinity and forever. 

In the end all I knew was that I loved them, and that I always would, and it turns out, that was enough.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Beautiful Days

I love that some of you miss me when my blog is quiet... I appreciate the love.

This spring has arrived in such a lovely way...warm days, long evenings, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the greening of the leaves and grass, the crazy growth of plants...and just in time the Masters had a 3 week break. 

I have been allowing the beautiful days to restore my soul.  

I'm not sure I realized just how much I needed these days to walk and garden and chat and cook and be with my peeps

I know the masters is only for a season (and that I am actually not doing the hard work )but it's a tough season and we'll learn to relish these little breaks. 

Having both the kids home and spending some time doing things around the house and in the yard together, ordinary stuff, fills my heart right up.

Add to that some fun events, great times with friends, good food, projects completed, long walks, celebrations... and all is quite well in my world tonight.

So that's it.  

Blessed with beautiful days.