Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Restoration!

Easter hops all over the calendar (see what I did there?) and is sometimes swallowed by Spring Break but it was later this year and I have so enjoyed the break of these 4 days. 

For one, Spring has finally arrived and graced us with 4 mild, sunny, blue sky days.  The thermostat could go a little higher but I am scarcely about to complain as we emerge from grey, rainy days on end!  There is something about the sunlight, blue sky and the touch of warmth on my skin that restores my spirits in an amazing way.



And I had very little on my agenda other than a little slower pace, some workouts, church and Easter dinner for 8. (I should have filed our taxes but all I did was make a half-hearted start to collecting all the paperwork for 4 returns!)  
Allan is capitalising on his couple weeks of break in courses to catch up on fishing so he was on a body of water somewhere for a couple of days and when not fishing it seems tying flies was the order of the day.  It's good to see him relax a little and not be tied to his desk and computer.

Our Lindsay girl is 2 weeks from finishing the Second Year of her degree and so elected to stay in Victoria to study.  She was lovingly hosted for two Easter dinners but she was missed at our table for sure. 



David and I had a little time to hang out but he has a technical glitch with an online course and had to spend many, many hours redoing a lot of work.  It's a french language course so he could be heard muttering away in French for hours recording his answers. 

And so as the weekend draws to a close I have had many hours to myself.  I have spent a couple at the dojo working out (loving how my body is starting to change!), cleaning the house a my own pace, sorting, folding laundry, cleaning out cupboards and doing some baking and cooking and shopping.  Ok maybe I ate some chocolate.

I had the time to go to church on Good Friday for the first time in many years and it was wonderful and then to celebrate Easter Sunday, the pivotal day of our faith, was joyful and affirming.  I'm so grateful for the community of our church.

I loved having the time to slowly set the Easter table and was happy it came together as pretty well as I hoped.  Having family and dear friends around the table, blessed with delicious food, was simply lovely and filled up my heart.  




And so as the rain returns and is falling outside this evening and promises to do so for the next few days - I am feeling content and refreshed - ready for 2 short weeks - this one 4 days and next week only 3 work days before I head to Victoria to pack up Lindsay and her apartment, store things in a storage locker, clean carpets etc.. Looking forward to some Lindsay/Mama time and to meeting a new important person in her life! 

Spring break was amazing - we had such a great trip but I was getting over a nasty illness and I ended up well-travelled but not well-rested.  This Easter break was the what my heart and body needed  - I am really getting better at slowing down and enjoying the moments that come my way. 





Saturday, April 1, 2017

Boy Day

Today is owed to some pretty awesome guys I share my life with.

Allan and Fil are best buddies and fishing friends of note.  Fil crabs and Allan is a pretty good second mate.  Until today I was the only person in the clan who had not been out on the boat. 

It is possible I whined a bit about this. Once or twice.

So today I was offered my chance.  

In very overcast, showery conditions ( but no wind!! ) we headed out to the crab traps.  The first part of the journey is through our harbour in Steveston and although I lived here almost 18 years I have never been out on a boat on this part of the river - it was so fascinating to see the view from the water!




Then we  - and by we, I mean Fil - navigated the channels and hit the open water.  


I loved being out on the ocean, wind in my face, lungs full, salt spraying... everything was varying shades of grey - grey, heavy skies, grey water rippling...It was poetic and peaceful.


A needle in a haystack has nothing on a crab trap in the middle of the ocean!  Wow - we stop and boom we haul up the two traps - pure magic -  and lo we found 2 allowable crabs and a couple of little ones we threw back - and by we I mean Allan and Fil.  


The crab traps were cleaned and re-baited and thrown back to their secret spot on the ocean floor.  I doubt they'll ever be found again frankly. 

And we turned for home - seal, sea lions, herons, ducks, seagulls, geese.

It was so much fun!  

And then they made me touch the crab. Yikes! 


Tomorrows dinner is now resting in the fridge :)

A quick shower to thaw out and then I hit the road with my boy David.  

First up, brunch, on the way to Simon Fraser University.


This univeristy is one of David's options for next year.  Great option, affordable as he could live at home but a 2+ hour transit commute each way each day seems daunting.  We are trying to work through all the pros and cons of this and his other choices of UBC in Kelowna (4 hours inland - so more expensive as he'd be in residence but a world class University) or a local community college on a University transfer in Year 3.


We feel sort of surprised to be wrestling with this - we and he really hoped he'd stay home but that may not be the best choice now.  My heart is feeling a bit battered. 

But before we decide we are looking at all the options.  

SFU is at the top of a mountain so we wandered around in the mist at this architecturally unique campus.  It was quite peaceful today and it felt good.  We walked and talked for a while and he graciously posed for photos. 



On our way home we did some shopping for Mr D - getting geared up for his summer - which he will spend in Kelowna anyway at his beloved Green Bay Camp as he did last year. 

He made me a cup of tea when we got home as I attempted a pizza base made with cauliflower instead of flour!  We invited his best bud Erin over and we had a lovely dinner as Fil and Allan returned from fishing all afternoon in the sunshine that finally appeared. 

And now the kids are off - the fishermen are having Pho together and I have the boy dog sleeping at my feet. 

It was a wonderful day.  I'm grateful for these guys and their love and patience with me. 

Now I am going to figure out how to turn on the TV all on my own (maybe) and watch Border Security and not think about the possibilities for September in our house. 


Friday, March 31, 2017

23 stairs

There are 23 stairs between my office and the staff washroom.

How do I know?

I know that after two weeks of a fitness challenge at an actual gym, with actual trainers, because there is pain in every one of those 23 stairs today.

But the "good" kind of pain.

Right.

This 47 year old body is getting a much needed wake up call but not all of the muscle groups are best pleased with this turn of events.

In fact some have been dormant for so long that they are protesting this new regime in the very strongest of terms.  

No pain, no gain, right? 

In all honesty I wasn't so sure there was any "core" left but ... I can ASSURE you, buried though it may be - it IS there - crying angrily at its rude and repeated awakening.  While I was well aware the derriere needed "work",it too is unhappy... which makes me happy in a perverse way.  Get lost gluteus maximus - no more junk in the trunk!!


But the quads - oh the ever loving quad muscles - they are screaming the loudest.  

But even they bend to the power of the bladder and so the 23 steps had to be conquered several times today.

And through the pain I am thoroughly enjoying the experience.  

It helps Allan and I go together, although, of course, Mr-almost-50, had levelled up and moved ahead of me (although in no less pain!).  It helps its very low key and friendly while being very demanding.  It helps we missed a week in NYC - kidding....kidding.  

The exercise and our version of clean eating (WHAT? No potato for over 10 days - my Irish ancestors are freaking out)... reduced sugar, carbs and quadrupled veggies and more nuts and seeds than I had imagined... the pants are feeling just a tad roomy already. 

Make no mistake - I have a loooong way to go.  These muscles are going to be protesting for a while yet but I think its safe to say I have found my new fitness regime.  

Now if I can just get up off the couch I think I have earned a fry or two, maybe a beer....Happy Friday!

Also a heads up - I am getting up early tomorrow, in the rain and "light" wind to go out in the ocean in an open boat with two crazy dudes to find crab.  Slight chance of a good story and few photos if I survive. Stay tuned.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Cheers

Tonight is the last night of my last Spring Break as a parent of a school going child.

14 years...

Tomorrow starts the last term of high school for my last child ... granted this will be a more substantive statement when my sister makes when her 7th child is at this point.... but nevertheless ... I am feeling nostalgic for all the spring breaks we have had over the last 14 years. 

So many years we bolted for the sun of California - LA, Orange County, San Francisco, Oregon coast, Disney, surfing in Monterey..... and twice in the last 3 years I have headed to New York to take my beloved Grade 12 of the moment for a trip to the Big Apple. 

This time Mr. David with dreams of Broadway shows and United Nations and the Guggenheim and cool photography.  We dragged Allan along and while it was not a story of NYC love for him - he did love the shows, the Hi-Line and the architecture.  



For this Mama - revisiting NYC was wonderful and although the snow did complicate things - I loved NYC again for all the reasons I loved it before and for seeing David tick some important things off his bucket list.  



By this point in her year Lindsay was already registered in the program of her choice at the university of her choice but David has had a less clear journey.  While in NYC he was accepted to Simon Fraser and since being home her has been accepted to UBC Okanagan (but not his first choice of UBC Vancouver) and so we face some complicated and important choices over the next few weeks.   

So for him, and for us, this week was a little hiatus from reality.  Allan did well to set the Masters aside for a few days despite being at a pivotal point and relentless emails and texts from his group as they gear up to present their "thesis" in 2 weeks.

I did everything I hoped and the 3 Broadway shows we managed to go to exceeded all our expectations (and our budget) but will long stay with us in our hearts and minds. I was only just recovering from a nasty strep infection and so the 78 kms we walked stretched my energy and that added to a delayed flight home getting in at 5am has vaulted my napping ability to new heights! 

That may also be helped by Allan and I having taken an important and well contemplated leap into a 35 day challenge at a local gym.  Not just very good gym instruction and exercise but also a renewed commitment to better, cleaner eating.  We are both really enjoying the challenge and finding muscles we didn't know we had.  When the alarm goes off we check to see who can move what and if we can get down the stairs unassisted!  And while the new eating regime was daunting we have done super well and are both feeling great.  We doubled our veggie intake and reduced the carbs and sugar substantially.  We have a ways to go to get these middle-aged bodies back to optimum health and wellness but we are well on our way. 

And so as this evening draws on, our girls brief visit is over, the celebrations of my dear Mom and Dad's 50th wedding anniversary is over - as wonderful as it was... as the boys and Spanner are zoning on the couches pretending tomorrow won't come... I am grateful for all the Spring Breaks we have had as a family, for all the memories and experiences we have shared.  





And I am ready for a new rhythm of spring breaks to come when me and my sweetie will likely enjoy adventures with just the two of us!  

So here begins the last term of the school year, the last term of my life as a school mum... it is always a sprint to the finish and we have lots of decisions, lots of grad events, a girl about to be halfway through her degree and making summer plans, a masters to be completed and so, so, so much to be grateful for. 



Cheers!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Fifty

My parents were over for dinner the other day - they sat side by side opposite Allan and I at the table. 

It was a typical family dinner.

There was lots of loud conversation, lots of debate and dissenting positions.  My dad raises his expressive eyebrows as my Mom adds some of her unique "irishness" to a story, she swats him with her napkin and he chuckles quietly.  He corrects a detail or date in the story, she pauses and looks at him, makes a decision about whether to argue or not, decides not to, and carries on with the story.  

As I watch this familiar patter between them, the looks they exchange, the way he pushes her buttons and she rarely disappoints in her reaction, and then how they mostly often end up laughing together... I see in them the truth of the heart of marriage.  

The two have become one and yet neither is any less for that fact.  The becoming one has made each of them more completely who they are.  

They challenge one another, frustrate one another, push one another, create space for one another, champion each other, serve one another, pray together, take long walks and great adventures and while occasionally there are tears, more often there is laughter.


Today they have been married for 50 years. 

FIFTY YEARS!!!!

I could not be prouder of their perseverance and integrity, for the hard work they have done on this 50 year journey and for the family they have raised, the friends they have gathered and the rich and nourishing life they have made together.

While obviously I owe my existence to this marriage, I owe a far greater debt for the lesson of love it and they have shown and taught me.  

Mom, Dad.... Thank you for choosing love for 50 years.  For showing up in your own lives and in mine and Jill's and our families.  For modelling love, acceptance, accountability, integrity, faith and making the most of any situation.

I love you both more than I can every properly express and today I am humbled and grateful for you, for 50 years of your love.  

As we celebrate today, as we laugh and no doubt debate and dissent, as eyebrows raise and looks are exchanged - we will know that this journey was sustained by more than just you, more than just us...that God has been, is and will be the author and perfecter of all things.

I love you.


Thank you.

xoxoxoxo




Friday, March 10, 2017

An unexpected path

I have always been surrounded by Teachers. 

My husband, many of my friends, my Mom, My sister.....and I have always extolled the virtues of said teachers proclaiming they must be saints and/or crazy to want to teach all day.  

I happily spent my days at my own desk doing a variety of interesting tasks without the clamour of dozens of students.

Of course these teachers in my life told wonderful stories of life in the classroom, connection with students as well as the familiar battles with marking, assessment, pressure from parents etc. 

I nodded and smiled. 

Then one day I was asked if I would teach a class in the Early Childhood Education Program at a local college. 

Nope. Can't. Not a teacher. 

Persuasive arguments were used about sharing knowledge, helping develop the field, an extra paycheck...

So one night I found myself in front of a class of adult learners.

I was terrified.  

And WAY over prepared (I know this shocks you).  I had the whole class (in fact the whole course) timed and scripted and I had about 2000 back up articles / activities etc. 

Last night, 10 years later, I taught my last class of that same course to adult learners in Richmond. 

As I packed up my projector and laptop and gathered my papers I paused for a moment in the now empty classroom and reflected on how wonderful this unexpected path has been.

In many ways I am more passionate and more engaged in the teaching material than ever.  I have come to love not only teaching the material but engaging students in deep thinking and debate and pushing them to look at things from multiple perspectives.  I love seeing them catch the vision for what early childhood education can be.  I love telling them how important they are, how much they have to offer and how much they need to take care of themselves in this demanding but deeply nourishing and rewarding career.  

I have so many stories of my own now, so many students I see out and about in the community, so many wonderful Instructor colleagues who have helped and guided me and so many boxes of teaching materials! 

Although I still don't perceive myself as a "natural teacher" whatever that may be, I still sometimes struggle in that role and I still over-prepare (If Allan had a dollar for every time I left for a class anxious I didn't have enough material and then came home late because I went over time and didn't use half what I had prepared we'd be staying at the Ritz in NYC next week).

With no more classes to teach in the foreseeable future I am, for sure, going to enjoy the hours I get back (and no marking!) but there is much more that, surprisingly, I will surely miss.  The research, the reading, the building of courses and classes, the interaction with students, the collaboration with colleagues, the joy of being paid to share that which is as much who I am as what I do.  

Maybe I'll step back on this path at some point but until then ...

So long classroom....

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

March 8th


March 8th is an important international day.


One I had not really known about until I was enlightened by some of the wonderful women who I work with.


March 8th is International Women's Day.

A global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

It is certainly under-celebrated here in Canada.

But since I have been aware of this day and how big it is in other countries, and how important that is to women who have come from there to here, I have tried to remember to mark it. 

>As a woman leader of an organisation of all women it is never lost on me how special their work is for our children and families but so many of them carry incredible stories of immigration and restarting life in a new place, a new culture, a new language, helping their families make the transition.  Many of them starting new careers and adapting to a totally new way of life. Their stories are humbling.  As are those of the Canadian-born women who work with me who all carry stories of struggle and pain and self-doubt at times but work everyday to make the children's childhood count.  

All these women come to this work with passion and commitment and a dedication and attitude that is often staggering as I often know what load they just walked out of their homes still carrying.  Most days they find a way to set those loads down for a while and they focus on the children, on their work, on the extraordinary moments that we are witness to everyday.   They push themselves to learn more, do more, be more so the little people they invest in will grow up strong and capable and curious.

So there are 50 red roses in my kitchen and I have the immense privilege of delivering them tomorrow to some extraordinary Early Childhood Educators who embody the slogan for IWD 2017 #beBOLDforChange
.

Happy International Women's Day 2017 #TeamSRCC

No post about amazing women would be complete without my deep gratitude for ALL the amazing women in my life who light my way, listen to my words and my heart, who inspire me, challenge me, laugh with me and make me proud to know them. 

My one and only tattoo says one word - Ohana - my people, my tribe.... today I celebrate the women in my tribe.  Thank you ALL you make my life rich.

I lift you up and wish you find the BOLDNESS to be the CHANGE you need, the world needs. 





Friday, March 3, 2017

Suction!

A while ago I had a cold and I came to the conclusion I had not been nearly grateful enough for dual nostril breathing.  

And truly since then when I put out the light and turn over at night and take a deep breath in and let it out I AM grateful for both nostrils working.

But there is a new thing I have to be grateful for. 

Another thing one never thinks about until the simple act of doing it causes 9/10 pain.

I am ever so grateful for the simple and massively unappreciated act of pain free swallowing.

Unlike the nostril thing where you can usually get one working, even if takes creative pillow placement, when your throat feels like a lava tube on an angry volcano there is no alternative. 

And, of course, I have the most over-active salivary glands in the free world.  When I go to the dentist and they have that saliva sucker thingy they usually offer you every so often to suction out you mouth.... yeah....when I go they duct tape that sucker to my mouth and put it on maximum suck for the whole appointment just so they can find my teeth.


Listen ... if I can find a meme for this then I am NOT the only one who has it!


So I swallow..... a LOT...which right now is not a happy thing.  I have devised strategies to slow down the swallow rate but I end up looking like a blowfish every 3 minutes.  In the middle of one fevered night I decided I would need to buy one of those dentist suction thingys and I googled it at first light.  In the light and with some hot tea soothing my throat I decided I was too cheap and it was altogether too weird to buy it afterall. 
But it did cause me to have to confront the fact I had never considered.... that the saliva is going somewhere...I never gave any thought to this but given I live 5 doors down from a huge dental practice I found myself now registering that when the big earthquake hits - among the other 500 things I will need to be worried about - I will now also be worried about possibility of the saliva tanks at the dentist office cracking and having to avoid the spit of all my neighbours!

Oi vey

Today I can swallow without wincing and the thought of eating solid food doesn't seem unachievable. I think I have rumbled with strep throat and am winning thanks to copious amounts of tea and an interesting combination of over the counter medications.  

I am well caught up on world and current events thanks to CBC Radio and my scrabble games are all up to date on my phone. 

I look forward to being back on my feet, freely swallowing, just in time to start the boot camp I stupidly impulsively signed up for before the lava moved into my throat.  

But if strep throat didn't kill me surely burpees and sprints wont.

Right?  Right?

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 door....lighting 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.

Sirens.  

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...

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.