Saturday, February 18, 2017

Dream dreams!!!!

I just ended 4 days I have dreamed of and pursued for over 6 months. 

And they were everything and more than I could have hoped for.

As I drove home feeling humbled and grateful I stopped on my beloved dyke just as the sun broke through the clouds of the rainy day and I paused to reflect. 

I wrote a very poetic and astute blog post in my head as I snapped a couple of photos and stayed in a mindset of reverence as I marvelled at the days I have just lived.

But now I am home, diffuser bubbling away, in my comfy pants.....and feeling more fatigued than poetic but wanting to capture something of what has transpired.

As a leader in my work I long to offer my colleagues sustaining and relevant and stretching Pro D experiences.  We have come a long way in our current work but we have a ways to grow. We have sought mentors and allies across this country and in the USA and we have learned SO much from them.

But one voice, one mentor, one deep thinker is most aligned to what we are doing and in a position to both affirm and assess our current work and shine the light on the path ahead for us. 

Her name is Ann. 

Ann Pelo.  

I have read her books, watched and listened to her give keynote addresses and last year she came to work with our leadership team.  She was back again this week to visit all our centres and help us think deeply about our work.  I was her chauffeur while she was here and I had the immense privilege of hearing her speak 6 times and linger over lunch with our executive team.  I can truly say we are now good friends - which is a dream and a gift in itself.

I dream big and while one dream was realised these past 4 days another one was born..... well actually it was born in the middle of a night some time ago but I was BRAVE enough to give it voice this week, to nurture it and now I have to let it go.  It will become what it needs to become for me, for the SRCC (our organisation) and for Ann.  I trust that.

And so in this moment of quiet after a busy, exhilarating, exhausting few days of connection with Ann and colleagues and friends I am proud to have lived into my brave word, to have allowed myself to dream and beyond grateful to have seen one more dream come to fruition.  

Our work as Educators is so WORTHY and so complex and so nourishing and so very important.  I was awed by the thinking and commitment in the gatherings I was in these past days as Educators strive to be the best they can be - to be as human as they can be (to quote Tom Hunter via Ann Pelo).

We live into being as human as WE can be so children can live into being as human as THEY can be..... SUCH amazing work to be called to do, to lead. 

My friends - DREAM...... dream big..... be mighty and brave and let's change the world together.  

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Night Drive

When one leaves the house at 2:30am there is a certain quietness to the night.

Deeply relieved to soon have some precious kids back home safely after a 15 hour ordeal on a Greyhound bus on a snowy highway, I was driving downtown with a certain hyper-alertness.

With the usual city buzz muted I felt like I could see more - was noticing more.

I drove familiar roads in unfamiliar quietness - just me and taxi's.  

I imagined each taxi carrying a story of its driver and passengers at this late/early hour. 

The moon was reflecting on the river - rippling light.

I saw the odd lone walker - head down, coat pulled tight, hood up.... coming or going?

The light from storefronts casting unique patterns over the road.

A chef hanging up his apron and locking the a cigarette on the sidewalk.

A car races by me - startling me...breaking the silence.

A young couple weaving along, laughter evident in their posture, stumbling a little.

Suddenly an all night dinner packed full, people milling on the sidewalk waiting for their turn to eat greasy, salty fries or fried eggs.  

And then finally at the majestic, old, slightly shabby, station in a tough part of the City.

Waiting with others for exhausted travellers to return - checking phones for messages, keeping the heat running. 

More taxi's.  More people but these more marginal people, addicted, lost, cold.


And then people spilling out of the doors of the station, looking for their people, making calls, hailing cabs...tired, relieved, frustrated. 

My boy and his friends - despondent and exhausted - hugs and hellos, details to fill in the story between text messages, trying to be ok with how things turned out. 

We turned for home.  

Now more attentive to the rise and fall of breathing and sleeping teens, the glow of screens on their faces, the odd snippet of conversation.

As each arrived home, grateful and ready for their beds they said their thank you's and disappeared into warm house where relieved parents could breathe easy again.

And home.  Back to our quiet, deserted street.

A hug, a comforting word, creeping upstairs to a wakeful partner glad to have us home.

And my head on the pillow with a very grateful heart - for safety, for family and a quick prayer for those still out in the night.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

One little word 2017

I have been stalling on writing this post which is all the more reason for the word I have chosen. I choose a word on Feb 1 every year for my year ahead - It's known across the interweb as the One Little Word project.

I love words and I always have a hard time choosing only one. 

And as I want to use the word as a light to my feet, an inspiration to my heart and therefore be accountable 12 months from now as to how I lived out my word - even if only to myself...... It's a big decision.

for 2017 - BRAVE called out to be picked.

Now for those paying attention to previous words I have chosen this word seems the same as last years..... which was "courage"..... Courage and bravery are often considered as synonyms but philosophically, they differ in meaning. Courage involves the presence of fear, while bravery lacks it. Courage entails a cause but bravery maintains its essence even without a cause.

I spent last year cultivating courage - thinking about it, trying to be courageous (and I was a few times!).  This year I want more action.  Not less thinking or less courage just more bravery in moving from philosophy to action.

Last year was being - this year is doing.


Brave enough to speak up
Brave enough to be silent
Brave enough to reach out
Brave enough to allow someone to help me
Brave enough to love unconditionally 
Brave enough to be loved 
Brave enough to take a stand
Brave enough to be wrong
Brave enough to start hard conversations
Brave enough to walk away 
Brave enough to allow hope to push out fear
Brave enough to stay present
Brave enough to listen
Brave enough to learn
Brave enough to change
Brave enough to dream
Brave enough to act

Brave enough to show up wholeheartedly in my own life and the lives of those who matter to me and in the lives of people who will never know me.  

"I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death." Leonardo da Vinci

Here's to 12 months of acting brave that will maybe settle deeply enough in my heart and mind to help me be brave always.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

I'm awake

I wrote to a radio station I have been a loyal listener and financial supporter of for over a decade.  I was furious about the dismissive and demeaning way they characterized the women's march on Saturday.

I'm waiting for their response.

But in the writing of it, in the seeing of hundreds of thousands of fellow humans marching around the world I was remind that it is beyond time to start acting on my values again. 

I have been guilty of allowing a certain apathy to creep into my Canadian 1% life.  

I've become so tolerant - prepared to look at multiple perspectives, consider other ways, thoughts, actions.  

I've allowed the insidious lie that my words or actions won't change anything to gain a comfy spot in my brain.

My apathetic tolerance was laudable only for its complete lack of backbone or difference-making.

Well - I am now emerging from this grey-pleasant-bland-world and I am back to not only drawing lines in the sand but acting when they are breached.

I know many of us are in an exhausted fog trying to understand what the actual heck happened in Washington on Friday and in the USA generally in the last few months.

And not only in the political arena but between regular people, friends, families...

The hate, the division, the refusal to consider other perspectives,  the use of religion to justify extreme behaviour.

There have been some funny memes, some of us have been in disbelief, or holding on to tenuous hope that things wouldn't be so bad.

Well shucks.  

Things are bad.  

"Alternative facts" - my brain is literally tired from trying to understand.  

Maybe it's not understandable.  

Maybe it's not me. 

But ...I can't shake the feeling...the truth...that it IS me.  

It is up to me to say my piece, do my piece, stand and speak for those who can't.

I have been quiet, politically correct (or as PC as I have ever been).

My brothers and sisters across this world stood up, put on their shoes and marched.... millions of them.  

But that was Saturday.  

What about today? 

Today I stood up to the comment that "the women marched because they needed something to do while the men were watching football".

And I am going to stand up every damn day that there is racism and sexism and all the other isms.  

I will most especially speak and act against those who think recent events give license to speak hate, leaflet hate, post hate, behave hatefully. 

I will likely skew the stereotype of a "Nice Canadian" - sorrynotsorry.

God gave me a heart, an intellect, a conscience and I am pretty sure He expected me to use it - for good, for the building UP of others, for Justice and Mercy 

and Peace.

And Love.

I'm awake.  I am ready. 

I'm going to speak, do, sing, march, write, dance, shout my part in Love winning in 2017 and beyond.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017



January 17, 2017 

marks my 17th anniversary of the day I started with the Society of Richmond Children's Centres

Ahhh how I love the symmetry of that..... 17/17/17

Almost like I planned it.

When my colleague pointed out the auspiciousness of today in conversation yesterday (we share the same anniversary date) I hadn't even remembered. 

But through the evening / night I was reflecting on those 17 years.

What a lot has changed.  

How much I have grown and changed.

The people that have come....and gone.

The relationships that have enriched my life. 

The work itself and all it offers and challenges.

And, of course, I wondered for a moment or two if it was wise to have stayed in one job for so long - albeit a job that has itself evolved and changed so much.  Long careers in one place seem a bit of an anomaly these days.  I sometimes wonder at the various paths I could have taken, jobs I turned down....a pension I might have had...Ha!  

And so today dawned with me feeling less celebratory and a bit unsettled.  

Did I make the right choice?  Should I stay?  No good reasons to go but somehow others seem to be changing jobs and trying new things.... maybe I need to be more ambitious, more driven.... and yet I feel fulfilled where I am. 

And then this popped into my inbox this morning.

Ahhhhh perspective. 

I have both creativity and joy in my career and so much more.   

Work is a gift, worthy work with an incredible team is an even greater gift.  To claim creativity and joy as at least weekly parts of my work - pretty darn priceless.

This is right for me.... for now.... for the last 17 years and hopefully a few more.  
So here's to 17/17/17...... no need to change lanes.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Message in a massage

3 Things you should know:

1. I am seldom impulsive...I tend to the over-planning end of the spectrum.... case in point we met with the dog-sitter today...for a trip we are taking in mid-March

2.  I am frugal... to the stupid-frugal end of the spectrum...fortunately only when the money is to be spent on me or things that I don't like to spend money on.  If it's for you, my kids, friends..... frugal ain't my middle name.

3.  I am fairly useless at self-care.  Frankly I even find the term a bit annoying.  I am a happy, busy person who prefers doing things for others ... I think that is a legitimate way to live life. 

Today, after a week of having a nasty head cold I woke up and dual nostril breathing had returned to my head.  

Hallelujah - the angels sing! 

Despite a little sleep-in this morning we had to get up and going (see Dog sitter appointment above) and clean tidy the house etc.  

Also the boy needed a dress shirt for his upcoming Winter Formal and given I have two 6 day work weeks coming up it had to be today.

So to the mall we headed.  We found not 1 but 2 dress shirts that fit the boy and the bill and were home in pretty short order. (I won't digress here but Girl vs Boy clothing shopping for Grad events - no comparison in time, money and angst).

I plopped down on the couch.  It was 1pm,  I clicked on FB and saw this.

Without any real thinking/planning/consideration of multiple view points/listing of pros and cons/consulting with 10 people,  I replied immediately and then I called fully expecting the spot to have been taken.

It was not. 

So less that 60 minutes later I was face down under a heated blanket in a dimly lit room at a lovely spa, ready for an aromatherapy massage.

Crazy stuff. 

And as I lay there I was immensely relieved my nose wasn't running and I could breathe the lavender/patchouli scented air easily.  

As I allowed my body to relax and quieted my mind I realised I was being given a gift. 

A gift of time, a gift of care, a gift of relaxation, for an amazing discount and in it I heard the message that I was worthy of this gift.

I don't know why they had a cancellation, why I opened FB when I did, how this happened on the only free Saturday I have in weeks but this I do was meant to be. 

I actually told that to the lady at the reception at the Spa - "This is what was meant to happen today" and she looked at me and said "I believe that."  

As is often the case with a beautiful, surprise gift I am left humbled and deeply grateful.

And very, very relaxed.  

Saturday, December 31, 2016


While the world seems to be freaking out about the number of celebrity deaths and seemingly trying to pin the blame on the year 2016....suggesting that the dawn of a new year will solve the ills of the world and stop people dying I am choosing to not write a post on my annoyance at this shallow and misplaced sense of anger and sorrow in the face of real pain and sorrow and war so many of our fellow humans are facing across the globe. 

Instead I am reflecting on 2016 in my world. 

2016 has certainly been focused on tertiary education in the Byres household. 

Allan spent the year completing the bulk of his Masters of Education in Leadership and Administration at the University of British Columbia.  The finish line is in sight and another 4 months of research and presentations will see this journey over.  He has been a dedicated and conscientious student and despite some hard times and pressured timelines he has enjoyed his studies.  He continues to enjoy his work at McMath and we are both curious about what the future holds for him.  He got in many fishing days and spent many happy hours in lakes and rivers of our beautiful province.  

Lindsay finished her First Year Psychology at the University of Victoria with a very impressive set of results.  Residence was a blast but she was more than ready for some time at home and in the kitchen.  She had a bit of a fight with an avocado early in the summer which led to surgery and a few weeks of rehab for a damaged finger. She worked all summer while amassing furniture for her first apartment.  We moved her in September to a sweet place and one in which she has managed a steep learning curve as she embarked on second year and living alone.  She got a nasty case of mono in the Fall but managed to keep on working and going to school after a weeks rest.  We are so proud of how she handled herself this semester in the classroom, at work and managing her home.  She loves her studies but does not love living alone and we will search for a different arrangement for her for next year. 

David is tackling Grade 12 and applying for University for next Fall.  He hopes to go to UBC like his Dad but the process is super competitive and he is going to need a bit more hard work and some luck to pull it off.  He spent the summer away from us in Kelowna working in various roles at Green Bay Bible Camp.  He loved it and hopes to reprise that experience in 2017.  He continues to be a very social, very busy boy involved in leading youth at church and many other activities as well as working 12-18 hours a week. He pulled off a 5th straight year at Strathcona Outdoor Ed - a place that will forever have a special place in his heart.  He continues to be an avid photographer and has had some wonderful times shooting various things, the highlight of which was We Day this year.

My work continues to be busy and fulfilling and ever changing.  Our organisation has doubled in size since I started and we are set to grow again in the year ahead.  HR takes the bulk of my time but I continue to have a deep heart for the curriculum side of early childhood and my passion for creating an organisation that honours childhood and the Educators is undiminished.  I am also continuing to teach in the evenings but the program in Richmond is closing so it may be my last course.  The additional teaching work is rewarding but is a lot of work but it has certainly helped with all the tuition fees we have !!  I do a lot of driving for our busy teens and am happiest when my little family are all in the house.

We managed a brief family getaway to SaltSpring Island at Spring Break and Allan and I had another brief vacation in August on our way to pick David up. Lest you think we were footloose and fancy free..we did have Mr Spanner with us.  He continues to be a delightful addition to the family in spite of the work he creates!

Some other highlights for the Byres Clan this year were our community farm plot with our friends that yielded delightful crops all Spring / Summer and was a good reason to get out on the land; lots of lovely meals and some great adventures with friends; our St.Johns Richmond home group, my Dad's retirement; a visit from an old friend; and so many ordinary yet extraordinary moments that enriched our days and weeks and months.

We look back with gratitude for a year in which we grew and learned and loved and we look forward to a year ahead in which some important milestones will be reached and in which we will endeavour to walk in peace and with joy in all the circumstances.

Thank YOU for being part of our story, for tracking with this blog that continues to be a source of joy for me and a means of connection with friends and family across this planet we call home. My very best wishes to you for a year ahead that sustains you and challenges you and in which you find a path that brings you JOY!