In Response to “Surviving Seventeen:

After sending my son an e mail of my post “Surviving Seventeen” I got a text saying “I like it. I’m writing a response”. Here is that response.

There is no cheat sheet, no universal way to understand a teenager and there is definitely no grand plan. The world is a scary place, as all you adults can agree ( if you remember ). It’s not easy facing everything for the first time. I do enjoy playing video games. It’s were I go to get away from everything I cant put out in the real world. Its funny because no one that I have to explain it to understands.

Having drive is a problem for me as it is for most teenagers. I have told my mom this. My mind works for instant gratification. If I get a good feeling out of it now I’m going to take that over something that will make me feel good months or years down the road. With this in mind, college, and a lot of planning, is a struggle because I cant see the end of the tunnel at all and when nothing comes from it, my brain puts it on the back burner. I do, however, want to thank my mother for pushing me to get stuff done and I know that she only wants the best for me. It’s the teenager inside me that thinks it’s nagging but I know it’s not.

Another thing is, when you ask your son or daughter what they want to do and they say ” I don’t know” you probably accept that as they just don’t care. The truth is we just don’t know. We don’t have any experience with anything like this and a lot of people just expect us to know exactly what we want to do with the next 60 some years for our life. We are, in all honesty, scared. We are scared to leave the people and places we know behind and find “our path” that makes us happy and makes enough money. A lot of us will only get the latter of the two. We don’t want to flip burgers or pack grocery bags for the rest of our lives but we are scared we will and the weight that is put on us to not do that just adds to that feeling. Even when parent say “We don’t care what you do, we just want you to be happy” we know that’s a lie. Yes, you may mean to say it but deep down we know you want use to be that lawyer or doctor or business person. The last thing we want to do is let our parents down. I’ve kept things from my parents (I later told them) that I thought would make them disappointed. At the time it felt a lot better to lie to them then let them know I had failed.

The way I see it friend, girlfriend and boyfriend all finish with “end” but family doesn’t. Your kids NEED your help. They may never ask for it and yell at you if you give it to them sometimes, but they do appreciate it so always be there for them because parents are the one thing that we can always count on.

I’ve now decided my son should be a writer.

 

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Surviving Seventeen

My seventeen year old son is graduating from high school this year. It’s a big milestone by anybody’s standards. In a few months he will turn 18 and will legally be an adult. He is interested in video game design (we think) and has applied to a local university with a good 3D Animation program. He has his drivers license and a steady girlfriend. No worries right? You would think so. So why do I feel this anxiety about what is going on in his life? Why do I feel the need to push him in a more productive direction?

In the grand scheme of things he has never been a problem. I’m proud to say that he has made it to grade twelve and there are no drugs or alcohol involved, no classes failed and nobody is pregnant. Woohoo! Honestly, in today’s high school environment that is no small feat. He does, however, spend (in my mind) an inordinate amount of time playing on-line video games. Some days he gets out of bed, comes downstairs and is on the computer for a couple of hours before he even stops to have something to eat. If it were not for me giving him the stink eye he would be on-line all day.

I’m sure he will get into university and pretty certain he could get a job if he tried. This is not what keeps me up at night. My husband (his stepdad) and I have made every effort to help him make decisions about his future. Taken him to interviews, open houses and forwarded him information on deadlines and programs. He’s interested in it all but once we are out of the parking lot the need to think about it is gone. The need for attention and follow up just doesn’t seem to be sinking in. Or maybe it is. Why do seventeen year olds not come with cheat sheets like the video games they love so much?

What was I doing at seventeen? I thought that I wanted to go into the hotel and restaurant business. A family friend of ours managed to get me job at the Banff Springs Hotel. I worked there for a couple of years on and off with a year of very unproductive university in the middle. Oh, then I went to Europe for four months. Wow, by that time I was 21 and no closer to having any idea what I was going to do with my life. It wasn’t until I had worked for a couple of years at dead end jobs and then finished two years at BCIT that I realized what I was capable of and what I wanted to do. I was twenty five! So I guess my son has a few years to go before I really need to kick his ass. I hope he doesn’t read this.

So what to do? I do what I do every time this feeling overcomes me. I go to my “in” box and retrieve a piece of paper. On that paper is this saying.

“My prime job as a parent is to see my children not as who I want them to be or who I hope they become, but who they really are.”

Enjoy your kids for who they are. They are one of the best things in life.

Last night I emailed this to my son. I didn’t want to put it out for the world to see if he wasn’t okay with it. Later today I will post his response.  It took me completely by surprise.

Nicky

When we do decided to go to Whistler last week my first thought was “Yipee, I get to go skiing”. My second thought was about how much I enjoy the village of Whistler. Hanging out in the stores, eating at the great restaurants and cafés and just generally people watching. Then I remembered that a friend of mine had just opened a new business in the village. Nicky and I had met a few times through a mutual friend but had never had time to really chat. This would be a great opportunity to get to know her better and find out about her new thing.

Walking into the Green Moustache Juice and Live Food Bar In Whistler is like walking into somebody’s warm and inviting kitchen. Of course it couldn’t be my kitchen. It’s way too healthy. Juicers are whirring and the kettle is boiling for a cup of organic tea. It’s the kind of place you could hang out in all day (if they let you) and enjoy a healthy salad with a smoothie on the side. They have only been open since December but if the steady stream of people coming in is any indication, business is good.

If you ever meet Nicky you will notice two things. She is a incredible ball of energy but at the same time incredibly chill. A true free spirit. The thing Nicky is most passionate about is nutrition. But not just the kind of nutrition that will keep you healthy day to day. The kind of nutrition that could save your life. She is a Certified Gerson Therapy Consultant. Gerson Therapy, I have discovered, involves consuming copious amounts of fresh, organic juices and supplements that are designed to activate the body’s ability to heal itself.

After working for the municipality of Whistler for 5 years Nicky realized that her job was literally making her sick. Each day she went to work feeling good only to experience sneezing and congestion as soon as she arrived. One day last May she couldn’t take it anymore and quit. “Now what?” She thought. She and Pierre, her husband, took the opportunity to pursue their dream of starting their own business. Over the next few months Nicky spent time looking at spaces and talking to other business owners. Using what she learnt; she wrote a business plan for the Green Moustache. The goal? To provide highly nutritious food that is also delicious. “You need to love what you put into your body” she says. She set out to create not only an amazing place to get fresh pressed juices and smoothies but a “hub for community wellness”. A place to share her vast knowledge of how food can make you feel good and heal you from the inside out.

Aside from the steep learning curve of opening their first restaurant, things have gone really well. Hiring god staff has been key for Nicky. She was told by local businesses that the hardest thing to do in Whistler was to keep good staff. It’s just the way it is in a resort town, they said. Nicky’s approach to this? “Hey, if they’re going to leave to pursue something else they love then they should go and do it”. There’s that chillness again. As a result she has a dedicated staff that by two weeks after opening had their roles nailed down. This has allowed Nicky to spend more time on her consulting. After all, her goal was not to spend every day working at the Green Moustache. Her true love is educating and helping people.

I could have sat there all day feeding off of Nicky’s enthusiasm for life, business and nutrition, but the ski hills were calling me and she had a client to meet with. We were both moving on to the best parts of our day. But in the hour that I spent with Nicky I learnt, not only an amazing amount about Nicky and her consulting, but some great advice about starting a business. “You have to completely love what you do and believe in it 100% and you have to know that you don’t need to know everything.” That is one of the best pieces of advice I have heard in a long time.

Going forward Nicky wants to continue her Gerson Consulting but now also wants to help other people start their own businesses. Passing on what she has learnt through this experience. She calls it the Green Mo Revolution and it is going to take off. Thanks for a great hour Nicky!

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I Love to Ski

One of the best things in life for me is skiing. There is just something about the freedom, speed and fresh air that, for me, is completely intoxicating. I think the culture of skiing is appealing too. There’s a certain camaraderie amongst skiers. And then of course there is après ski.

It’s a life I have tried to pass on to my kids and so far have been fairly successful. For me the ultimate ski day starts at first tracks and ends when they close the runs. It’s just the way I was brought up. Occasionally my husband needs to remind me that just because I love it, it doesn’t mean that my kids will love it with the same zeal that I do. And they may not want to ski all five days we are in Whistler. Whatever.

I was probably five, maybe six when my dad first took me skiing. Seymour Mountain; Goldie Rope Tow. It was cold and wet and I was miserable. My dad is not a patient man and after a few attempted runs we had both had enough. He took me back to the car and then went back to skiing by himself. Remember this was 1969 and this was still considered okay. So I sat in the car and pouted. After a while a ski patrol guy happened to pass by. I guess he felt bad for me and since the car was unlocked ( again, they did that back then) he asked if I wanted some hot chocolate. Um, yes. Eventually my parents came back to get me and well, I wasn’t there. I was a happy camper drinking hot chocolate with the nice. ski patrol. I’ve loved skiing ever since.

Somewhere in my elementary school years I actually became quite a good skier. Perhaps it was the hundreds of runs I did with my dad skiing a few feet behind me yelling “bend your knees, skis together, bend your knees, skis together”. That and the crack of dawn wake up calls for road trips to Mt Baker or Hemlock Meadows where we skied all day, only stopping for a picnic lunch at the back of the car. I can’t say that I always enjoyed that part of it, but it did improve my skiing.

So what do I want for my kids? I want them to enjoy life and all that it has to offer. Am I going to get them up out of their beds to go skiing with me? Hell yes. Will it be at the crack of dawn? Probably not. I’ll take the good parts of what my parents did and put my own spin on it.

Randi

As Randi and I headed out onto the tails for a hike on a drizzly Friday morning, I mentioned that I had recently started going to yoga. For Randi, yoga is one of the best things in life. She is a yoga instructor. As yoga is a new thing in my life, I was curious to know how she chose that path and what it was about yoga that was so attractive to her. Up until recently my perception of yoga was that it was kind of boring and complicated. So far, all of the instructors I had experienced seemed so immersed in their craft. So my mission for today was to find out why.

Randi started doing yoga from a DVD starring Ali McGraw (80 ‘s flashback) about 20 years ago. After her second son was born she started going to a power yoga class at the local rec centre to add variety to her gym workouts. In her own words she became a bit “obsessed” with yoga and at one point was practicing either power yoga or flow yoga almost every day to the point that if she missed a day, she would feel tense. Power yoga is more of a North American invention I have discovered. A more challenging, strength building workout based on Ashtanga Yoga but with a huge variation of postures and flows (often invented) strung together at the instructors whim and generally with the intention that yoga is solely a physical practice. A great workout, however, resulted in injury for Randi and she was forced to re-evaluate her approach. She has now learned that yoga should not be viewed as simply a good workout; but instead, a lifestyle. A thought process that can be taken “off the mat”.

It was at about this point in her life that Randi was also re-evaluating her job as a chemical biologist. She and her husband had a conversation that I’m sure many of us have had: “If I won a million dollars what would I do? Would I work, volunteer, travel the world? What would I do even if I wasn’t getting paid? ” This got Randi thinking and she realized that she wanted to teach yoga regardless of whether she won the million dollars. Eager to get started and not knowing a lot about the different styles of yoga (beyond the more powerful ones) she found herself signing up for a three year program in therapeutic yoga that had been recommended to her by her current yoga teacher. It would mean training far beyond the training of a regular yoga teacher and this was an area that Randi was not familiar with at all, but had a feeling it was where she needed to go.

At this point the hike was getting pretty steep but I was learning so much about yoga, and Randi, that I kept my mouth shut and pushed through. Did you know that it is called a yoga practice because it never really ends? You are always practicing and working towards a higher state of being? I didn’t.

Randi found the calmer, slower pace of therapeutic yoga just what she needed. Three years later she was certified as a yoga instructor. At the same time she was taking her training, Randi was working towards her certificate as a Holistic Nutritionist. Seriously, this girl is no slouch. She has a BSc in Biology with a minor in psychology and has traveled extensively to China, India and Africa. Her second trip to India was study under her teacher’s teachers in Chennai in the lineage of TKV Desikachar, son and student of T Krishnamacharya. An amazing experience that required the participants to be up at 7:00 am and practice for the better part of the day with limited breaks. Crazy? Before today I would have thought so. Now I see that perhaps devoted is a better word for it.

So now Randi sets her own schedule and teaches therapeutic yoga at multiple studios on the North Shore. She is able to balance her passion for yoga with a busy life with young children. She has combined her love of yoga and her knowledge of holistic nutrition and created Samana Wellness. A practice devoted to restoring balance to body and mind. She no longer dreads getting up in the morning and slogging away at a job she doesn’t like (sound familiar). More importantly though, it has given her an inner sense of peace and allowed her to deal with stressful situations, live in the moment and be her best person. It’s obvious to me that yoga is one of the best things in Randi’s life and potentially mine.

http://samanawellness.ca

My First Yoga Class

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A little while ago I went to my first yoga class. I know that sounds odd given that I am a forty nine year old woman living in Vancouver. It’s practically unheard of really. I came from the school of “if I’m not sweating and breathing really hard it probably isn’t worth it” but my physiotherapist and every person I know had told me that it would help with my stiff and sore muscles. I also realized that I had an entire drawer full of yoga wear and that I never actually wore it to do yoga. So I agreed to meet my friend at the local studio and signed up for my first Hatha class.

Before the class my friend helped me pick out the appropriate props for the class. Two soft blocks, a long woven strap and a blanket. Yes, a blanket. I was encourage that a nap could be in my near future. At first I thought I had made a bit of a mistake. I gather that in the first few minutes of the class you are supposed to expel all the bad energy out of your body with a few big exhales. Some people it seems take this quite to heart and exhale rather loudly. Then came the ohm. Again a little loud and more boisterous than I was prepared for. I suppressed a small giggle that was building and inhaled through the nose and out through the mouth. My friend had assured me that most people had their eyes closed during the class so if I wasn’t sure of a pose I could watch somebody who did. Very good advice as I adjusted my toes for the first downward dog.

Hatha yoga consists of asanas, or poses, that you move through to stretch and strengthen your muscles. It is also designed to reduce stress. The instructor encouraged us to use the time in class to think about whatever it was that we were working on in our life. Patience, kindness, strength or softness?  Really? All I could think of was “don’t fall over”. Things started out well and my confidence grew. The instructor was great and led us from one pose to another with quiet prompts. As the hour progressed the poses became more difficult and my limbs began to shake a bit. Hoping that everybody still had their eyes closed I soldiered on. At some point I suddenly realized that I was stretching, posing and breathing. Ohm……

I had no idea how much time had passed but the instructor was telling us to lie on our backs with our arms to our sides and breathe deeply. She turned the temperature down in the studio and I noticed some people pulling their blankets up over themselves. Ah, nap time. I lay down and tried to concentrate on my own breathing rather than that of the lady beside me. Easier said than done as her breathing was quite loud. In through the nose out through the mouth. And then it was over. I sat up and realized that I was indeed fully relaxed. That kind of relaxed I typically feel after a good massage. But also a bit sore. As a person who hadn’t thought that yoga would be “hard” enough, I was pleasantly fatigued.

As we stepped out into the sunshine my friend ask me “so, how was it?”. I thought about it for a moment and replied. “Great”. Not what I expected but exactly what I needed. Just the right balance between relaxation and strength. Just what I needed to get on track with finding the best things in life.

Namaste.

Finding my Thing

I recently left my job. I had worked for the same company for eleven years and while I liked the company and the people, I didn’t really like my job. Sales was never really some thing I was good at or aspired to get better at. My oldest child is graduating from high school this year and getting ready for college (fingers crossed), my youngest is navigating the grade one playground and exploring every activity we will allow her and my husband travels a lot. And I mean a lot. So when the opportunity presented itself I decided that this was just the right thing for me to do at this point in my life.

I had been thinking about what I would do with my time now that I am a lady of leisure. I’m almost fifty and with the kids in school I have a few hours every day to fill. While running and yoga will be high on my daily list of things to do, I feel that having another focus might be a good idea. So I thought that I would join the thousands of others out there and create a blog. Only problem is I wasn’t sure what to write about.

I don’t really have a “thing”. I’ve often wondered what my “passion” is. Never found my “niche”. Getting the picture?  I do, however, have an abundance of friends who do have a thing. From high school friends to mom friends to family acquaintance; I seem to know a lot of people who do really cool things. If ever I need advice, products or just a connection to another friend I know exactly where to go. The majority of these people have managed to create a business from their passions and are thriving in life. Whether creative or practical they are doing what they love with amazing dedication.

So where does that leave me? It leaves me with a wealth of stories and connections for great people and cool jobs, hobbies and passions. So here’s what I’m thinking. I’m going to spend the next few months ( maybe years) exploring those connections and those people. This may involve lengthy conversations over coffee or on the running trails or may even involve some wine. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to find out how they knew what their thing was and where it’s taken them. Maybe they didn’t know right away and have some cool back story about the day they discovered it. Then I’m going to share it with you.

I’m also going to try and discover what my “thing” may be by exploring all that life has to offer.  New experiences with family and friends are definitely in my future and, of course, will be well documented right here.

Here’s to discovering what the best things in life are.

Susan

P.S. I would love your feedback and comments.