Saturday, April 27, 2013

Freedom Day

Today is Freedom Day in the country of my birth.....South Africa.

A day that was to herald a new day.....and victory of peace and negotiation over hatred and violence.

People, many many people, gave their lives for that day.

As with many ideals for peace and democracy across the world the reality has fallen short.

Two friends who lived through it all and still live in it everyday, who stood in hard places in hard times, who risked their lives for this Freedom had this to say...............

 Rod Bulman wrote:
On 27 April we have a public holiday; Freedom Day. We commemorate that heady Day-of-The-Miracle when we acted as one, treated each other with respect and dignity, and shyly shared our hopes and dreams with each other. Do you remember the euphoria, the feeling that we not only could do it, but had in fact done it? 
Our religious calendar is also full of commemorations. Many of them also evoke feelings of hope and dreams being on the verge of coming true. Like Christmas and the sharing of gifts as a way of saying “I love you and want your hopes and dreams to come true”. Do you also sometimes have that post-Christmas feeling of quiet satisfaction: family and friends have been together, everyone has had a treat, there were no serious disagreements, and you just wish it would last?
So what has happened to the hopes and dreams we shared as we stood in the queues in 1994? What did we do with those mutual gifts of respect and dignity? Have we treasured them using them with a smile of pleasure as we recall the giver? Or have we treated them like just another of the unwanted trinkets we will swap as soon as the shops re-open?
According to the One in Nine Campaign and FEW “We live in a country with increasing levels of state violence against the most vulnerable sections of society, an increasing clampdown on political protest and dissidence, and a patriarchal and capitalist governance system in which perpetrators of all forms of violent crimes and corruption go unpunished as a matter of course.”
So is this really the freedom we thought we were getting? And even more pertinently, what are we as Christians going to do about it?

Fiona Bulman wrote
I rose early while it was still dark, donned my IEC Tshirt, packed a quick lunch and headed up the Edendale valley and over the top into Vulindlela. As the sun was beginning to appear there, next to the road, was the primary school. I walked in past the silent queue winding its way onto the property and then into the large classroom lit by gas lamps as the principal had been worried it would be too dark to see when we began.
and so I cast my first vote in the people's election.
That is what freedom day means for me and no one can take that away from me. My heart still sings at the memory of that morning.
Happy Freedom day!
 Allan and I voted in that long hoped for election here in Canada.....we shared the hope albeit from afar.

And no matter how far we are today from that Freedom Day let us never underestimate just WHAT a day it was.

We are returning to South Africa in December to show our children this great country.  We have much discussed the bleak history of Apartheid, the violent and terrifying transition in the 1980's, Nelson Mandela's release and these elections in 1994.

We have talked much about how you right the wrongs of generations..... of how long it takes to rebuild, restore, reconcile a broken and divided land.

For now we see only from afar.....we hear the stories of hope and those of disillusionment and despair.... of corruption and abuse of power, of poverty, of resilience.  As we look to visit as tourists we see a beautiful, magnificent landscape and so many opportunities.

We also know the risks of visiting.  Of going back.

Fiona said on the photo of Allan's graduation today that it was fitting that he graduated on Freedom Day. Indeed today he is finally free from the bureaucratic nightmare of being a South African immigrant whose qualifications were not recognized.  Today he is free to be recognized as a Canadian Graduate, A Canadian Educator......the final hoops have been jumped through.  He was blessed that the jumping was nourishing and engaging and that he gained so much from his studies but in many ways today was our Freedom Day too.

May both South Africa and the TWU class of 2013 know true peace and true freedom.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Emotional Regulation

Emotional Regulation is something we talk about a lot in Early Childhood Education.  

I teach about it.

It is an important life skill.

 It can be defined like this:
Emotion regulation refers to a person’s ability to understand and accept his or her emotional experience, to engage in healthy strategies to manage uncomfortable emotions when necessary, and to engage in appropriate behavior (e.g., attend classes, go to work, engage in social relationships) when distressed.People with good emotion regulation skills are able to control the urges to engage in impulsive behaviors, such as self-harm, reckless behavior, or physical aggression, during emotional distress.
I have had to think about "emotional regulation" several times in the last week of so.

About my own emotions. 

I have been like a yo-yo.

0-100 in a minute.

More and more, as I age and mature, I am able to read an email, or get a phone call or have an interaction with someone that makes me spitting mad and NOT react....immediately.  

Most of the time.  

I got a work email last night that sent me instantly into orbit.  I was f u r i o u s.  Defiant.  Ready to take heads off verbally.

But instead of engaging I send a placating email to one party and calmly requested meetings with the other party.  

I am still mad.  Still completely resolved to win this battle.  But my emotions are a little simmered down today.

In the last week or so I had emotional regulation beautifully modeled for me by these two buddies actually......

On the way to the ferry to Strathcona David was breathing in and huffing out his breath.  He did that a few times and I asked what he was doing.  "Just breathing out my anxiety" he says calmly.  I asked if he was ok.  He said "I am fine...just have some nervous energy to get out".

Wow... way to know how you are feeling, and know how to 13.....with a big adventure about to unfold.  

I think he and I will be huffing together at the airport in December.

On Monday the beautiful Miss P and her gorgeous brother Mr P were over for a few hours.  They are both a little under the weather.  Miss P is a bright little girl and she knows something is up.  Her house is filling up with boxes.  Her Dad was just away for a few weeks. She knows she is going "far far away" but she doesn't really know what exactly is happening.

In the 3 hours she was with us she played happily, we blew bubbles, threw the ball for Spanner, ate pizza, went for a walk in the sun...... but every little while she would look at me with those baby blues and they would well up and her little lip would start to quiver....... "I    want    my    Mommy"  she would say from a tight throat.  I scooped her up and held her tight and promised her Mommy and Daddy would be back very soon and that I loved her. 

And she held on.  

Such a masterful display of emotional regulation. 

I am sure she wanted to fling that blonde head back and give full vent to her anxiety and anger and sadness.....

But she held on.  

Going through that with her tested my emotional regulation too.....I couldn't possibly love her more but in that moment I was so very proud of her. 

I know there will be many times she gives full vent to her emotions, as she should.  And those moments will likely be reserved for her parents, as they should for in them is all her security.

I think my emotional regulation may be breached when that UHaul rolls out of town with this precious family.

So I have taken the lessons of these two and I will try and do them proud.



Sunday, April 21, 2013

making the most of moments

This time of year is always frantic for me.

That was before I was managing two major development projects at work.

I knew this stretch was coming - I can see it in my crazy full day book.  Yes, I still use a paper diary.

The work just has to be done.... my new motto is  "It is what it is".   

No use fussing, I just need to do it.

But even in these times of poor work/life balance there are choices to be made.

I was D O N E on Friday at lunch and Allan had a Pro-D so I declared a mini vacation for myself from all 3 of my jobs and he and I walked hand in hand in sunshine to a great little restaurant and enjoyed lunch together....we chose new dishes we had never tried - Chinese food with a side of mayo - my good friends know HOW happy that would make me!!

My XLB love has a challenger!
We wandered back through the Mall - ran a couple errands - came home and did a couple more chores. We enjoyed the time together and my brain enjoyed the break.  Earlier in the week my daily Instagram challenge was "Your Wedding Photo"..... I found ours in the closet..... How is it that almost 22 years later I love this guy so very much?  He really is my best friend and we love spending time together.  It's a miraculous gift.   

Then I had the pleasure of going to a very cool Craft Show called "Make It" with my friend Emily.  What a joy to be with a like-minded, like-souled person, to enjoy, together, the inspiring work of artists and artisans and to also enjoy a  food cart grilled cheese sandwich and a beer together!!  I was blessed by the art and more still by the friendship and conversation. 

I am lucky to be discovering that friendships found in my 40's are a gentle and deeply gratifying thing.

And then my boy came home.

Clean. Safe. Happy. Chatty.  

How is it they grow up about 5 years in 5 days? He seemed older, broader, more self-assured.  I was SO happy to have him back and to fall asleep on Friday night with all my peeps in their beds, the rain falling gently, my brain rested, my heart full.

I got up early on Saturday morning (which used to be a "thing" I dreaded but isn't so much a "thing" now that I am old). The morning was rain-washed fresh. I heard a loud, really loud, birdsong and looked up to try and  find it expecting a large bird or a few birds.  

I saw none and kept on packing my car.  

Again this loud song called out and I looked at this tiny bird  on the wires outside the house and I said to him.... "That can't be you singing, you are way too small!"
And so he sang again to show me my error..... I grabbed my camera and told him how amazing he was to be so small and have such an amazingly loud song.  I took the photo and he flew away.  

A lovely gift to start my day.

I may now be referred to as the crazy lady who talks to the birds ...that's just fine with me :)

I taught all day Saturday and it was awesome.  I love sharing my passion.  My Mom was teaching next door - so cool for the students to see us both teaching and caring and passionate about early childhood.  I took my class for a walk in the sunshine and I found a few moments to enjoy this tulip up close..... how magnificent!!

Today Allan took off on a top secret fishing trip with his friend Fil.  I cannot disclose where they went.  My life is worth more than that!  They had a very happy day together.

I went to church with the children.  It was lovely.  I love our new church.  I can't really say why exactly but I feel loved and accepted there. I love how they love my kids.  I love the liturgy, the quiet time, the music, the words.  So much can crowd out my faith if I let it but that hour on a Sunday morning centers me, reminds me of my place in the universe. 

The weather was all over the map.  Spanner and I enjoyed some sunshine together.

And then a storm blew through with wind and rain and hail and the temperature dropped right off so Lindsay made muffins for tea.  While I filed our 2012 taxes the anticipation of which is almost always worse than the actual deed.  Today was fairly painless.  I also caught up on Conference work and some emails.

The sun returned and I made dinner for my family.  Lindsay grilled some chicken.  What a joy to have such a competent girl at my side in the kitchen.  I love her to the moon and back.

I sauteed some onions in butter using a spoon David carved me recently.  It's a quirky spoon.  As it should be.  And I loved using it.

And I made a veggie full risotto while sipping a glass of wine.  Risotto cannot be rushed and I loved being in the kitchen stirring and chatting while waiting for the fisherman to return from his secret expedition.  It turned out well.

Now the table is cleared, the homework done, the laundry room and I have declared a truce, the boys have showered and David is currently watching a YouTube video on how to become the Pope. 

I no longer ask "why?"

There is work.

There is joy.

There is beauty.

May you find moments of joy and beauty amid the work this week Friends......

Friday, April 19, 2013

The difference a David makes

There has been a hole in our lives this week exactly this shape.....

And as I longingly wait for that hole to be plugged with this exact shape later tonight (in the same condition it left in)....I am reflecting on the difference my David makes in my life and in our family.


It has been a lot quieter at home.  David is a great chatterbox.  He has a head full of knowledge and a built-in, automatic SHARE button on every bit of that knowledge.  Many times he is interesting but many times he is asked to SHUTUP  a) ask if we want to hear his new tidbit now or later or ever b) keep it to himself for later possible sharing or c) look up before spouting forth as we may be on the phone, talking to each other, in the shower.....

On the downside of this particular trait is there has been no one to discuss North Korean nuclear disarmament, global terrorism or the latest manufacturing numbers in Canada with.  Before breakfast.

David talks to himself if no one else is listening - most notably when he is showering and when he is going to sleep....... we joke with him about this ......especially how he didn't start talking until he was 2 and then never stopped.....but I miss his chatter......really I do......he is a very interesting person to talk to.

Lindsay misses that he hasn't been around to un-stack the dishwasher.  Secretly I think she misses him for other reasons too but she won't say.

I miss seeing his skinny self at the kitchen island every morning in his PJ's and usually wrapped in a fleece blanket munching on his breakfast always with a smiley "good morning".

I miss his memory and his close observation.  This kid never misses anything (except the odd homework assignment it would appear).  He looks for ways to help others, reminds me of things I would otherwise forget.  He remembers long ago conversations and often helps us remember details we would have long forgotten or overlooked.

I miss his hugs.  His gangly, scrawny self all folded into me....holding tight.

I miss his giggle.....he has a great laugh.

I miss his eyelashes.  I know .... creepy mom.....

Of course there are things that are easier with one less person to cook for and drive for and take care of.  A little less laundry (although I am sure he will more than make up for that tomorrow), a little less clutter in the front hall where he notoriously dumps all his gear after school EVERY day, a few more cookies in the cookie jar (having not been raided for afternoon snacks)......

It's been fun to have our girl to ourselves for a few days too but our family was meant to be a foursome and with any one of us missing it's like driving a car with a missing wheel....

I sincerely hope he had a blast - maybe I will ask him to share about his time on this blog.....but I am SO looking forward to hugging him, hearing his stories and having the David difference back in our lives.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

the airport

With every swish of the glass doors sliding open
A story.

A story 

of joyful reuniting

of a hopeful new beginning

of a sorrow shared

of a journey begun or ended.

A story

of work

of discovery

of meeting

In short bursts the stories come through the doors and down the walk way 
the one they love, the one they missed , the one they came to see, the one they came back to, the one they came to help, to comfort, to hold.

hundreds of stories hang in the space between the people

in the airport

Monday, April 15, 2013

State of Heart

I had planned to post a series of photos today of things that made my heart sing this weekend.

I was blessed to have a joy filled weekend.

And then today happened.


Once again evil stole the headlines....invaded our lives....

My heart is singing a lament tonight.....for those who mourn and hurt and are angry.  For the bombers and the bombed......for the ripples of fear that emanate across the globe....ripples of rage.....and deep sadness for a world so far far from the perfection of its creation.

I am so amazed and deeply grateful that our hearts can hold more than one song at a time.

That our hearts hold never-ending playlists of joy and sorrow and longing and energy and angst and delight.

Sing it loud or sing a whisper. Be still and sing or dance and move in the music.

I hold at least a few songs in my heart tonight and I choose to share with you the photos that delighted me this weekend as I pray that joy will follow mourning and good will triumph over evil.....

Hold on to one another friends.....hold on.

Crazy cultural experiences

Great food and treasured new friends

The smell of polish and the story of old furniture

Dozens of Daffodils

Tubs of Tulips

Great wine and great dessert

My boy packing

My random bulbs that pop up and surprise me

Hiking boots on.....GO!

Cherry Blossoms and Blue Skies

My Graduate

Being honoured - SO SO proud!!

BA Leadership Grads 2013 - Changing the World