Posts Tagged "family"

Weathering the storm

Posted by on Jan 20, 2017 in Life in Writing, Uncategorized | 2 comments

UPDATE 11/02/2017: I found this article about 3 weeks after writing this post, and I drew parallels from its boat imagery to my own. Enjoy! Last night as I went to bed, I looked out at the night sky. Snow was falling gently, drifting past the street light and onto the ground. The world around me was in silence, despite the turmoil that was culminating elsewhere. I looked up to the night sky and I whispered, to no one, “what can I do? How can I help?” I fell asleep shortly after lying down, and I slept deeply. An interesting dream visited me not long after. I was in a ferry boat, surrounded by friends and loved ones. The captain, who was someone I actually met only yesterday, announced that a storm was coming in rapidly. We were anchored to a dock, but it would be too unsafe to leave the boat on such short notice. “We’ll be all right here,” said the captain. “Hang tight, though. It could get rocky.” The storm struck almost immediately, bringing with it howling winds and heavy waves. Our boat was strong, though. No one was tossed overboard, and no waves came over the side. I was at a comfortable spot by the payphone, where I’d set up everything I had with me. I was surrounded by friends and a few family members, and had been trying to get ahold of my mom on the phone. I saw a few people behind me who didn’t have a place to sit, so I moved all my things out of the way and let them through. My husband was near, talking to some of my family members. I looked out the window of the boat and saw other boats sailing past, going strong despite the storm, and I silently wished them luck. I wasn’t focused on the storm. I was focused on the people I loved, and the people outside of the boat—the people struggling. I was focused on strangers to whom, in that moment, I could easily give kindness. Before long, the storm passed, and we were well on our way again. There’s something we all can do: weather the storm as best we can. Ground ourselves firmly, prepare for the long haul, and refuse to be distracted from the good around us. The message I received in response to my question, how I could help, was this: more kindness. More generosity. More gratitude. Less judgment. This, too, shall pass. Around the world today—and in one country in particular–people are anchoring their boats against what may be a heavy storm. Maybe the songs we sing in celebration of one another can drown out the deafening howl of the wind. Please follow and like...

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Combining past and present selves

Posted by on Nov 29, 2016 in Life in Writing | 0 comments

“If we think of Baudrillard’s division of collectors into the young and the old, we might account for the seriousness of the older collector by noting that often the nostalgia involved in a hobby is to do with the wish to reanimate an earlier incarnation of the hobbyist.” – In Defense of Hobbies I’ve been thinking about this article–and, in particular, this quote–a lot lately. It seems that my hobby is walking, and watching any animals I find. It doesn’t have to be anywhere in particular, and there doesn’t have to be a destination. If I’m outdoors, I’m happy. I especially love hikes in the woods. I always say that I wouldn’t go back to my younger days because I love the life I live now, and some aspects of my childhood were challenging. But, there are little pockets in my memory that are calm and happy. There was one fall, somewhere between 1996-2000–Dad and I can’t seem to agree on the year–that the two of us were out for a little drive through the Laverty Lake auto trail. We got out of the car when we reached the lake and we took a little look around. I heard a rustling nearby, and I turned around to see a small baby raccoon lying on its back and tossing a leaf around with its little paws. It continued to play, mostly unaware of or unconcerned with our presence, until we drove off. I named the little raccoon Meeko–Disney’s Pochahontas film had been released around this time–and we occasionally drove back, hoping to see it again. We never did. I thought about it for a long time. Recently, I took my daughter down to Alma again for a brief visit with my parents in the middle of the week, just after Halloween. Mom, Amelia, and I decided to go to McLaren Pond in Fundy Park together and walk around the little trail loop that encircled it. We got a little way in and saw a large beaver dam, and watched as four beavers started swimming and working around it. After a few minutes, a little way down the path, a massive beaver–one of the adults, we later learned–wandered into our line of sight. She grabbed a stick in her jaws and tossed it in the air until it got the correct balance, then went back into the water to continue working. We continued down the path, and the second adult walked out of the water further ahead. He turned his head to observe us, and my daughter pointed at him and said “hug!”–she wanted to go over and give the beaver a hug. Something about this entire experience brought back the long-forgotten feelings of that day by the lake, with the baby raccoon tossing leaves in the air nearby. Suddenly, I was a much younger version of myself, standing there and watching the creatures swimming around us and standing before us. The lost feelings of humanity intermingling with nature and the desire to embrace it fully bubbled back to the surface. This feeling of nostalgia that I felt that day was a visitation by my past self. It’s amazing how parenthood forces so many of us to relive our past in a new way: with heightened awareness and appreciation for experiences we may have taken for granted earlier on in our lives. Our children invoke often unexpected memories. November is a strangely nostalgic month for me. It’s the stillness between Halloween and Christmas, and that’s why I like to wait until December first to even start thinking about holiday preparation. This time of year, I’m obsessed with the smell of smoke, and anything that tastes smokey. I love woodsmoke smells and the tastes of smoky coffee, beer, cheese, and Lapsang Souchong tea. It’s a comforting smell during the colder months, but I think a big part of it is the nostalgic reflection I subconsciously feel when I smell it. At our home in Alma, we had a wood stove that Dad would light to keep us warm in the winter. Smelling wood smoke brings me back to cold days at home as a...

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Surprising ways that Pokémon GO has impacted my life

Posted by on Oct 3, 2016 in Life in Writing | 0 comments

The date is Sunday, July 17th, 2016, and the time is 4:30 PM. I’d been waiting all week to hear any news of the official Canadian release of Pokémon GO, having decided to wait for official release rather than download the APK file. I’m hanging out in the kitchen at work and I decide to take a peek in the App Store, as I hadn’t all day. I type “pokemon go” into the search bar and I’m shocked when I’m met with the legitimate game as the first result. All week, I’d had fake duplicates staring back at me. My excitement was probably a little unreasonable for a 30-year old mom. I’m not going to lie: I’ve been waiting basically my entire life for Pokémon GO. My love for Pokémon in general hasn’t wavered since I discovered it in grade 7. There was a brief period in my life in which I treated Pokémon Diamond as though it was my full-time job. In short: I love Pokémon. As a mom to a very busy toddler, I don’t really get many chances to play video games. That makes me a little sad sometimes, as I do truly love gaming and have a lot of feelings about video games in general. Pokémon GO shone in the distance like a beacon of light in my dark, stagnant gaming life. Finally: a game I could play while out with my daughter. There was nothing I couldn’t love about this. It was perfect for me. And it still is, 2 and a half months later. So, here are some ways that Pokémon GO has impacted me. I’m looking at my phone far less (and therefore using less data) This is the one that surprised me the most. I thought I would be using my phone more. Before GO, I would often open up my phone and browse through Facebook while out on walks, checking my notifications and sometimes making posts. Not only has GO forced me to be more aware of my data usage, but it’s kicked Facebook off my data usage list altogether, along with the similarly high-cost Snapchat. I’ve been more productive With my mind away from my phone, I’ve been free to think of other things, and those thoughts have wandered back into the creative realm after a bit of a pause. Walking gets my creative juices flowing, too. Because of these things, and because of PoGO’s ease of use, I’ve been thinking more about what I can write while I’m out for a walk. I am attributing my recent resurgence in posting on this blog to that. I really am! I’m exercising more Don’t get me wrong: I usually do exercise quite a bit and I feel I lead a fairly active lifestyle. Nonetheless, I have found that GO has gotten me up and motivated on several occasions–particularly if I have an egg that’s close to hatching. I’m bonding with strangers and friends in new ways Within the first few days of playing the game, I ran into a couple of teenage boys who both had their phones out. Since you can usually tell who is playing by a glance, they called out to me “Pokémon GO?”. We high-fived in passing, then I proceeded to utterly fail at taking their gym from them. My point is this: I would never have interacted with these guys on a normal day. I rarely interact with people I know if I can help it, let alone strangers. I have gone on 2 AM Poké-hunts with co-workers and ridden in a car alongside a friend in PJs, and have simultaneously done a hostile takeover of gyms in Albert County with my friend while he was on his delivery route (Team Mystic for life). PoGO has led to some amusing and often impromptu social situations. For someone who resists spontaneity, this has been a refreshing change of pace. It has diversified daily outings with my daughter, and we’ve had some unique family outings Knowing that Centennial Park was a nest for Machops was reason enough to go, but the fact that...

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The real problem with today’s parents

Posted by on Jun 9, 2015 in Life in Writing, Uncategorized | 1 comment

You know, I was going to take a break from the parenting posts to let them space out a bit. Parenting is all I’ve been writing about for the last 5 months, so, I thought, let’s withdraw from the subject a bit. But, after reading a couple of articles about what’s wrong with “today’s parents”, I decided I needed to throw my two cents into the pot. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: today’s parents coddle their children. Today’s parents spend too much time on their cell phones, and not enough time playing with their kids. Today’s parents let their kids watch too much TV. Back in my day, we did X, Y, Z, and we were fine. Today’s parents don’t let their kids play outdoors anymore. Today’s parents don’t teach their children to be respectful, kind, generous. Today’s parents suck, essentially, and the generation before was better for 939573 reasons. The list goes on forever. Everyone seems to have an opinion about the state of our children and the way they’re being parented. A two-minute walk from my house is a playground with a sign listing all the rules a child must follow in order to play there. One of those rules is that children under 12 years of age must be accompanied by an adult, and at the bottom of the sign, the phone number for the RCMP is listed.  What this is saying to me is that, when my daughter is ten years old, I could have the police called on me for trusting her to go to the park, which is just 5 houses down, by herself. I could be prosecuted. Worst case scenario, they take my child away from me, or try to. When I was a child, I would walk down the road to the store by myself on the daily. I imagine this started somewhere between the age of 8-10. What I’m getting at is that parenting has become everyone’s business, and people who disagree with your methods will have no trouble telling you, telling on you, or finding ways to undermine you. Helping? Nah–that’s for people whose methods we agree with. We live in a time that parents are constantly vilified. No parent can do anything right–everyone is watching. Passing judgment is as simple as looking at a picture on Facebook. The worst part is: we do it to each other! On Tumblr, I caught myself looking at a note a parent left their child and scoffing “I hate when people refer to things like this as a parenting win”. The truth is, I didn’t know the circumstances. And yet, I, like so many others, was quick to assume the parent was in the wrong based on a simple photograph. We judge parents for letting their kids play with tablets. We judge parents who choose to look at their cell phones while their kids are at the playground. We judge parents for choosing, for whatever reason, not to breastfeed, or how long they breastfeed. We judge parents on their decision whether or not to cloth diaper, how to get their babies to sleep at night, the forms of discipline they use, whether or not to give allowance, gift-giving over the holidays, attachment parenting, co-sleeping. Every single thing has become a discussion on why one method is better than the other and how one method will make your child entitled, dependent, unhealthy, depressed, socially awkward, withdrawn… the list goes on. There is no magical perfect formula for parenting. Your child will not be perfect, no matter what. Every parent chooses the method that works bet for him or her–that’s so important, because parenting is hard enough without having to fit into someone else’s idea of what you should do. We’re obsessed with trying to be the parents who love their kids more than the next person, but I don’t think it’s entirely our fault. Our society currently revolves around that. If you look, you will find something wrong with parenting in every era. Every single one. I know that may be hard to...

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Having less money is better–for me, at least

Posted by on Mar 12, 2015 in Life in Writing, Uncategorized | 0 comments

When I left my full time job to go back to school and finish my degree, I was concerned. My husband and I have a mortgage. We have a car. Though we didn’t at the time, we now have a daughter. We have two cats. We like eating every now and then and we have utilities to pay. It always made sense for us both to be working full-time, even if it seemed like I always had a little extra money to burn each paycheck. I had been able to save up quite a bit of money as I wasn’t in debt, and I bought some nice clothes for myself. I also had a bad tendency to blow quite a bit of cash at work, because I genuinely liked the product I sold. Upon going back to school full-time, I dropped work to part-time in a different job,  and I quickly had to begin budgeting based on necessity. Suddenly, I didn’t have the luxury of the extra $200+ a paycheck. I had no money to burn. Every dollar was accounted for in some way or another. Coupons became more important, I used any discount I can get (10% student Tuesdays at Sobeys became my new best friend), and I saved up various loyalty points from any shop that offered them. Most “wants” dissolved entirely. We stopped going out to eat and eliminated expensive or unnecessary items from our grocery list. I started cooking and meal-prepping more often. Cooking quickly grew into a hobby as a result–it was already something I did fairly often and enjoyed doing, but the frequency with which I was now cooking meant I was constantly trying new things and making an effort to have a variety of foods on-hand, as well as challenge my burgeoning skills. Another interest of mine is money management. I love budgeting, and the tighter the budget is, the more fun I have distributing funds. Putting my budgeting skills to good use was a bit of a side-perk of needing to drop the money a bit. It obviously wasn’t a factor, but kind of a nice bonus. Dropping to part-time work was also a life choice for me, and not just in order for me to get my degree. I decided that rather than focusing on working or finding a career, I wanted to spend more time with loved ones. This especially rang true for me when I found out I was pregnant, knowing well that I would want to spend as much time as possible while the baby is still a baby. My grandmother’s death in October would confirm this for me. I wanted the flexibility to see people when I could. Since my daughter Amelia’s birth, this has only been further affirmed. My writing also influenced my decision to work part-time only. My one overarching goal in my life has been to do something with my writing, even if it’s to a small degree, and I’ve been trying to focus on it more and more in the past year–the launch of this website is a testament to that. I’ve had less and less time for my writing, with school at first, followed directly by the new baby, but since January, I’ve already managed to write a short story that placed in the first heat of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. Even with Amelia taking up most of my time, I’ve managed to work sporadically on blog posts, and I’ve been keeping a journal to keep track of my experiences as a new parent. I’ve also been working as a copy editor for Animaritime when I have a few spare minutes. All of this is to say, in part, that I don’t always like the person I become when I work full-time, and I tend to build up a number of work-related resentments while I work. I am much happier if I only have to work part-time (or, as with the present, not at all). The time away from full-time work has helped me to realise that making more money wasn’t making me happier–having the freedom...

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