I found home.

Home
[hom] noun

a gathering place for family to join together in laughter. the one place you will always be surrounded by those who love you. a place or feeling of belonging.

I just returned from a road trip traipsing across the prairies with multiple stops in Alberta and Saskatchewan. It was rejuvenating. It was gratifying. It was exactly what I needed.

Recently I have been doing a lot of thinking about where I am at. Not just in life but geographically. I love where I live but I am fortunate to be at a place in my life where I have flexibility. It is never as easy as just picking up and putting down but there are always options if you want to look for them.

And so I decided to go on a road trip. My family is mostly in Saskatchewan and I was due for a good long post-pandemic visit. Plus my wonderfully young dad just turned 80. So what better reason to pack up the car and hit the road.

And hit the road I did. Stopping in old stomping grounds in Alberta. Reconnecting with friends who I have missed terribly. Seeing changes in a city I spent almost 20 years in and yet feeling like I never really left.

Then through the fields along the straight and flat Saskatchewan highways. The beautiful skies and gold canola keeping me company the whole way. Passing through little towns I have long forgotten about.

Spending time hiking, kayaking, boating, climbing (yes.. Saskatchewan has a hill), camping, and of course a little pool side chilling. And through each stop and each adventure, I took notice. I didn’t just look. I absorbed. I felt the sun. I felt the wind. I felt the heat and the chill. And of course… I felt a few mosquitos.

For years I have been so in love with the Okanagan that I never thought there was anyplace else to be. I became an Okanagan snob. Truly. I am an outdoor person so it is an obvious place for me. And I do still love it. I love every mountain, every lake, every ridiculously large spider that crawls near me.

But the past two weeks something unexpected happened. I fell in love with the prairies all over again. My snobby attitude took a hike and allowed me to see everything with an open mind. An open heart.

It caused me to really stop and think. I still don’t know where I want to be or when. My five year plan is and likely always will be unknown. No one can predict that far ahead. But I realized that it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter where I am or where I go. I will find something to love. I will find beauty and peace and adventure. I will because I look for it and that is who I am.

And I did look for it. And here’s the biggest and most important take away… it doesn’t matter where because the surroundings are only a small part of the beauty that encompass us. Because the most beautiful thing of all that surrounds us is the people we are with. It is most striking in the smile of your mother. The arms of your father. The stories of your siblings. The laughter of your friends.

It doesn’t matter where you are standing. It only matters who you are standing there with. Home is not about where. It is about who.

For me, it doesn’t matter where I chose to go or where I will be in 5 years. Home is in a person, not a place. And I am so lucky to have so many homes.

Thank you to my many homes. You are my beautiful.

Every child matters.

Remembering the 215 Indigenous Children that never made it home.

I am struggling to write this one. I want it to be perfect. My intent is not to offend anyone. I only want to encourage everyone think. To have compassion. And I want to keep the awareness of this story in peoples minds and hearts for as long as I can.

I read a book a few years back titled ‘Indian Horse’ by Richard Wagamese. It is a story about a native boy who survived the residential school he was forced to attend. It was my first knowledge that these residential schools even existed.

I was angry when I read this book. But just a little. Because I still didn’t understand the magnitude of it. It was in the past and there was nothing I could do about it now so basically, I could ignore it. And after all, it was just a book.

And I didn’t recall learning anything about these schools through my formal education so it was easy to put it out of my mind. I dawns on me now that it is possible I didn’t learn anything about them when I was in school because they were still open. That is how current this story is. And that is why I wanted to write this.

Because this is not hundreds of years ago. This was in my time.

I don’t view myself as a racist or prejudiced individual. I think of myself as not much different than anyone else around me so this is hard for me to admit but here it goes. The truth is, I am not innocent. I have been heard saying things like, “I didn’t take anybody’s land so why am I paying for it”… “None of this is my fault so why should it affect me”. My attitude was one of complete ignorance and indifference. And I am ashamed of it now.

Because recently, everything changed for me.

When they discovered the remains of 215 children buried at a Kamloops residential school last month my heart hurt. 215 CHILDREN. Children that were taken from their homes and forced to go to a school where they suffered and/or witnessed unthinkable abuse. A school that was in full operation until 1969 and as a day school until 1978.

1978. I was eight years old when it closed. Eight. These children could have been playing in a playground at my school. They could have been my playmates or my parents playmates.

This is not hundreds of years ago. This is in my time.

And I, like so many people I know, have had the ability to ignore any concern for the challenges that indigenous people face today. People that lived through and survived these abhorrent schools. People that lost loved ones in these schools. Lost their children.

These people suffered an incredible trauma and like any person that suffers from trauma, they learn to cope as best as they can. And sometimes that best is not so respectable. But why do we treat them differently than our own loved ones who may be using unrespectable coping methods to deal with trauma? Why do they not deserve our compassion just as much as a family member or a friend suffering from PTSD?

And why do we judge them so harshly? I have heard people ask what indigenous people have contributed to society? Well, what have you contributed? Really. And if you know someone close to you that suffers from trauma, PTSD, alcohol or substance abuse, or any other debilitating disease, ask yourself what have they contributed?

So I ask you please to stop and think about this a little bit more. Really think about this. This is not hundreds of years ago. This is now.

This is in my time. Your time. Our time.

We need to keep this story going. We need awareness. We need compassion. We need change.

A social dilemma.

“Interaction with others opens up new and exciting possibilities. Meeting people stimulates our minds, gives us energy, leads to more new encounters and infinitely expands our life and our world.”

Daisaku Ikeda

Let’s talk about the back to the office debate. I am noticing article after article about the positives and negatives of going back to the office environment. Poll after poll about who would prefer to continue working from home and who wouldn’t. Is productivity up or is it down. Do managers want to micro-manage or are they happy leading from a distance.

And then there is the anxiety. How many people are suffering from anxiety about going back to the office. Does going back support or hinder our mental health.

All good information. All good points.

But what I haven’t read about is the social aspect. It could be out there… I just haven’t seen it.

Pre-Global Pandemic, I had a lot of conversations with people about the younger generation growing up with social media and smart phones and consequently, a lack of live social interaction. These conversations always ended up with concern for a lack of social skills and ability to interact with others.

Have we forgotten how important this is? Are we suddenly not concerned about it?

I am not saying we all need to go back to working in an office. I am just saying that maybe we need to think further on this. And if productivity is up with working from home, does it come at a cost?

Last year I decided to leave my place of employment. A job where I had to go to an office daily. I now work from home permanently and I will honestly admit, it is hard. I have learned to make a point of ensuring I do not have 2 days in a row where I don’t leave the house. Whether it is for client appointments or dinner with friends or simply running to the grocery store.

I need people. I need social interaction. Now, I know I am an extrovert so it is important to me. But I truly believe it is important to everyone. I believe no matter how extroverted or introverted you are, we all need people.

We need to look people in the eyes and see them. Not through a screen but live and in person. We need to laugh with each other. Share with each other. Be with each other. And yes, even hug each other.

So maybe we will lose a little productivity standing around the water cooler talking about our latest Netflix binge but… maybe not. Maybe that water cooler time will energize us and fuel us to be more creative. More focused. More productive.

Just my two cents.

Imagination vacation.

“Some people see things as they are and say “Why?” I dream things that never were, and say “Why not?”

George Bernard Shaw

Imagine a life without imagination. Hmmmm…… wrap your head around that sucker for a minute. But stick with me.

We often talk about daydreamers as though they are flaky. Flighty. Head in the clouds kind of people. I am a daydreamer. Always have been. And yes, sometimes I get caught up in drifting off to another place or another time where maybe things turned out differently. A little mind vacation from everything that is going on around me.

No problem solving. No responsibilities. Just drift. Otherwise known as ‘la la land’.

But some days instead of ‘la la land’ that little mind vacation turns into a dream waiting to form. An idea taking shape. A life waiting to be lived.

Or in my case, a book waiting to be published. Some days my imagination goes to work for me and all sorts of things fall into place. A clear path develops. It doesn’t let you skip the work you need to put in… no no no… it’s not that easy. But it is exciting!

So give your mind a little break and your imagination a chance to explore. Stop stressing out about finding all the answers and solving all the problems. Just drift. Let your mind, heart and your soul wonder around for a bit. Take a whiff of this and a taste of that.

Some of it might be bitter and some of it might just downright stink. But what if some of it doesn’t? What if some of it wakes up your senses like nothing ever has. What if that imagination can become your reality?

After all, maybe your imagination is your true reality, not your escape. Give it a chance. Take an imagination vacation. See what happens.

Dream things that never were and say why not?

Gratitude schmatitude.

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that is not what a ship was built for.”

William H Shedd

There has been a lot of positive meme’s and quotes and images out there over this past year. One of the most common that I have seen and read is to be grateful for what we have. Practice daily gratitude.

Be grateful we can still go out. Be grateful for your health. Be grateful for your loved ones and their health. Be grateful for your job, your home, your living situation…

Be grateful for what you have today.

Can I confess something? I am getting a little sick of being told to be grateful for what I have and can do today. I feel like I am being told, don’t rock the boat. Don’t push too hard. Let the universe provide.

Guess what… the universe does not provide unless you rock the damn boat. Just sayin.

I am grateful. I really am. And I do practice gratitude daily. I am not saying we shouldn’t so don’t get all huffy and puffy at me. All I am saying is, I won’t let it stop me from wanting more. I feel like all this hype about being grateful and practicing daily gratitude is just making me feel guilty and ungrateful for wanting more. Because I do want more. I will always want more.

What is wrong with that?

I work damn hard to have all the things I have to be grateful for. And I will work damn hard to have more. And I am not just talking about material things. I am talking about community, confidence, abilities, knowledge… Everything I have, I have earned.

The universe only provides if you get up and go out and grab it. Take risks. Be brave. And don’t just do this today. Do this every today. And don’t you dare ever feel guilty for it.

So namaste as much and as long as you want. I’m going to go out and look for more things to be grateful for. I’ll catch you later…

Lets talk about shoes.

“If you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good, you do good.”

Georges St. Pierre

I love shoes. All shapes. All sizes. All functions. I am rather grateful that I have feet shaped like a duck and have a tough time finding shoes that fit. If I didn’t, I would have a shoe inventory worth more than my car.

It’s also one of the first things I will notice on others. Now maybe I notice shoes a bit too much but I’m short and they are close… and it’s probably why I rarely notice a light fixture. Go figure.

But here’s the thing about shoes for me. They reflect my mood. Feeling business-y (it’s a word)? Nice solid pair of wedges. Feeling risky? Strappy heels… maybe in a fun color. Rambunctious or goofy, sneakers. Feeling blahhhhhh… sliiipppppeeerrrssss… You get the idea.

Here is the other thing I have learned about shoes. They complete the outfit. And the outfit completes the person. I’m not trying to be a fashion expert or turn this blog into fashion 101. Nor am I trying to judge anyone else’s fashion choices. So let me try to explain this particular ramble.

I have worked in a lot of different industries. From hospitality to marketing to construction. I have covered a lot of basics. The thing I have found most common between all of them is that your success depends on how you present yourself. If you wear slippers to work (or pajama pants to Walmart – there I said it), well guess what… you are not going to earn a whole lot of respect.

My last 2 jobs, I worked in construction and renovation. In both cases, I was in a sales and supervisor role and was often required to be on a work site among tools, dirt, paint and pretty much any kind of yucky stuff you could dig up.

I still wore nice shoes.

But it wasn’t about the shoes. It was about how the shoes made me feel. Confident. Qualified. Professional. It set me apart from the guy walking in with paint splattered 10 year old sneakers with a hole in the toe. And guess who usually got the job.

So here’s the thing. Today when you go out… whatever it is you are going out to do… head up, shoulders back and put your best shoe forward.

Today… kick ass with a nice pair of shoes.

Alcohol.

“Feelings are just visitors, let them come and go.”

Mooji

This past week I have had two people I care about have to go to the bedside of someone close to them because they are sick or dying from alcoholism. And it hurts my heart.

Not only for my friends but for their loved ones suffering the illness. I do drink but I am not an alcoholic so I cannot speak of the suffering they are enduring. Nor can I say what caused them to become so dependent on alcohol or the power it has over them. There are many factors that can increase the risk of alcohol and substance abuse and a lot of resources that can help explain them.

What I can tell you is my own experience with drinking to stop feeling. I did this. I have been at some pretty low times in my life. And some of those times I will admit, I turned to alcohol. I just wanted to stop feeling sad. I wanted to stop feeling. Period.

But eventually I got tired of that. I realized it only made me feel more. More sad. More hurt. It wasn’t a fix for my depression, it was a cause of it. And so I stopped drinking for the purpose of trying to stop feeling.

And I started to feel more. I started to embrace the sad and the angry and the happy. Our emotions are part of us and they have a place in our lives. In our days and our moments. Trying to force them away or ignore them will never work. Ever.

I am not an expert on alcoholism and I will never claim to be. As always, I can only share with you my own thoughts and experiences and hope that someone out there will get something positive from them.

And to that person, I hope that the next time you feel to much and you want to drink to stop, think. Think about the best way to make that feeling stop. Because the best way to make it stop is to have a clear head and let that feeling run it’s course. Let it shape you and make you stronger than you already are.

Please. For yourself and for those you love. Please.

I miss wearing lipstick.

“In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.”

Bertrand Russell

What is normal? Today. What is normal? I honestly don’t even know anymore. Most days I feel like nothing has really changed. I still go out. I still shop. I still exercise. I still socialize.

Then the other day I was getting ready to go out and it dawned on me that I never wear lipstick anymore. I used to put it on everyday. Now I think, ‘what’s the point?’ No one sees my mouth …I miss wearing lipstick.

So then I start to think about what has changed. All the things that I don’t do anymore. All the things I miss.

I miss wearing a ridiculously impractical pair of shoes to an party just because they make my calves look great. And I miss bitching all night about how much they hurt my feet.

I miss not being able to hear someone because the group I’m in is too big and everyone is talking at once. And I missed being really annoyed by that and wishing a few more people would work on their listening skills.

I miss spontaneously meeting a bunch of friends for drinks after work. And getting annoyed cause the table next to us are getting too loud, drunk and rowdy.

Okay obviously I get annoyed easily.

I am really not trying to be negative. And don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of things I have gained from this experience. Every experience teaches you something if you are willing to learn. I think a lot of us are just at the end of our rope with this pandemic. Looking towards a finish line that never seems to get any closer. We are frustrated and tired. At least I know I am.

So although I am thinking about all the things I miss, I am also thinking of them in terms of how much I am going to appreciate them again. I am going to appreciate seeing people smile when I walk past them in a grocery store. I am going to appreciate being swallowed up by a crowd. People watching. Shaking hands. Meeting new people. Going to the movies.

And my grandkids. I am going to appreciate the hell out of my grandkids.

I can’t wait to wear lipstick again.

A clear vision on a foggy day.

“Writing is an extreme privilege but it’s also a gift. It’s a gift to yourself and it’s a gift of giving a story to someone.”

Amy Tan

What inspires you? What is your goal? What is it that you truly want out of life?

I get tired of these questions. We read books that motivate us or listen to TED Talks or podcasts and suddenly we have goals and visions and inspiration. But of what?

To be healthy. To be happy. To be wealthy. I completed an exercise a few months ago that outlines my goals on emotional, physical, material and spiritual. And I realize how generic that is. It has not inspired me or motivated me beyond the usual ‘Hooya, I can do this’, week. We all want to be heathy. We all want to be less stressed. Have more money. Have a loving relationship. It’s a great vision.

But let’s be practical. Just envisioning your dreams does not make them happen. We all have bills to pay, food to buy, cars to drive. We don’t always get to work our dream job. We can’t just pick up and move to a beautiful island and live happily ever after.

And so I am trying to think specifically about what I want. What lights my fire. Is it the home or place I live in? The job I have? No and no. I like these things. But I can do without them. There are other homes, other jobs, other communities.

This week has been a tough week for me. I lost something that made me very happy. And so as is customary for me when I am in a fog, I sit back and think. I realize that my generic goals need to be scrapped. I need specific goals. I realized that right now there are really only two things I want in my life. Specific things.

I wear a lot of different hats. But there is one thing I do that I love. This. Writing. It is my one thing where I lose myself. Where all the things happening to me or around me can be momentarily forgotten. The thing I wish I could do everyday. From anywhere and at any time.

But I am afraid to admit that. I am afraid to come out and say, “I want to be a writer”. Why? Because I don’t think of it as a real job. Because it is not something that can guarantee me success. Because it is a goal that I cannot afford to have. Remember those bills to pay?

Maybe this is something that I can actually accomplish. Maybe, just maybe, I should try. And the first step is to admit it. To myself and through this, to everyone else.

So what the hell… I want to be a writer. I want to write. And I am writing a book. Now it’s out there and I can’t take it back. Am I afraid to fail? Hell yes.

But if I don’t try. I fail. So what do I have to lose? All the unimportant things and generic goals that I mentioned earlier. I could lose those. But when I put it that way, doesn’t seem so bad.

I hope you will buy my book.

From the inside looking out.

“There is nothing more freeing and empowering than learning to like your own company.”

Mandy Hale

So pretend for a minute that you have to self-isolate. Many have done it over the past year. If you haven’t, think for a minute on what you would do.

How do I cope with just me, myself and I? Lets say I start off by coming up with my lists. I am a list person. Love checking off those to-do items. All the things that I am going to get done. All the things I can accomplish. Lofty goals in hopes that this will occupy my time and make the days fly by. But that backfires. That list starts to loom over my head before I even have it half-way done. All the procrastinated home projects. All the unread books stacked up. All the saved courses in my inbox. I become overwhelmed. Intimidated by my own damn list. Now all I want to do is crawl into bed and stay there.

But I am not built that way. I am a doer. I am a list-maker. I am not a sitter-at-homer. That’s a thing. Shut up… it is so.

So this makes me really think. How does someone like me slow down and just let days tick away without a plan. Without a list. Step one – throw away the list. Done. Step two – get out of bed and do one thing. Whatever I feel like doing. Clean the house. Check. Day 2. Read a book and get some work done. Day 3. Write a blog post. Get the idea?

This is a good exercise for me. Let go of the planning. Let go of my lists and all the pressure that I put on myself to complete those lists. A test to live one day, one hour, at a time. And here’s a kicker… let go of the guilt. Because I am realizing that maybe sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes, this is my motivation. Guilt. Not a sense of accomplishment of getting something done but guilt of not getting something done.

So now I am working on being a sitter-at-homer. Working on not feeling guilty for not having a list. Working on one day at a time. Living in the moment with my own agenda and my own thoughts. I’m not going to lie. I don’t like it. It isn’t me. But I know I can do it. And through this, I know that I am learning something about myself. And that is good. That is always a good thing.

Good things come from living inside and looking out. Something to think about.