TBT – Halloween

How many of your Halloween costumes do you remember?  My most memorable costume was the year that my best friend, her sister and her best friend and I went as the crew from the Wizard of Oz.  Katherine was the tallest so she was the tin man, Joanna had freckles so she got to be Dorothy, Angela was the scarecrow and I was the lion.  My mom made my costume and it was amazing.

Unfortunately I have no pictures.   I do, however, have pictures of my kids……ya I know but hey, its Halloween.

witch and a fire man

When my son was three he wanted to be a witch.  We went to the store and I showed him the dress and hat that made up a witches costume.  He loved it!  Not once did he or I or anyone question his choice.  He was a witch and her rocked it.  We’ve never talked about it since than and he may have forgotten.  Until now.  Sorry bud.

2008b

My daughter’s first Halloween (that she was able to walk for) she was dressed as a penguin.  When I was pregnant my husband and son used to joke that I was going to have a penguin.  I’m not sure why.  My husband has always wanted a pet penguin.  Again, I’m not sure why.  So it was only fitting that this be her first costume.  Thank you Old Navy.

Power Ranger

Are Power Rangers still a thing?  In 1995 it was ever little boy’s dream to be a Ranger.  I’m guessing that the number of Power Ranger costumes sold has recently been replaced by Minecraft or perhaps Skylanders?  I was a bit worried about the mask that came with this costume but apparently going out without is was nothing short of sacrilegious. Go Power Rangers.

three cuties

What little girl didn’t dream of being a fairy princess for Halloween?  Of course dressing like a fairy princess in Vancouver at the end of October has some logistical issues.  Turtle necks for example don’t always fit underneath gauzy sequined dresses.  Sling back slippers and mushy wet leaves do not mix.  Still she managed to pull it off don’t you think?  How cute are her buddies the mermaid and the queen?

sarah palin

The last costume I wore was in 2008 and was Sarah Palin.  There was talk of my husband dressing up as a moose but it never happened.  My friends annual Halloween costume was the perfect way to let our imaginations go and yup, that’s the best I could come up with.  You betcha!

The Best Thing in Life is that I do not have a picture of the year that I dressed up as Catwoman.  Black vinyl is not flattering.  Just sayin’

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Climbing the Corporate Ladder

ladder

“I have a head for business and a bod for sin”

My favorite line from the Melanie Griffith movie Working Girl.  An ’80s movie about climbing the corporate ladder.  But is climbing the corporate ladder still all it’s cracked up to be.

Many years ago I worked for a very successful consulting firm.  Lots of young beautiful smart people charging clients lots of money.  Think LA Law.  One of the ladies I worked with was, for all intents and purposes, a clerk.  She processed payments and  benefits for a group of companies.  I remember being in meetings with her department and hearing the consultants encouraging her to take some courses and improve her position within the company.

“I’ll look into that” she would say.

At lunch in the bar (hey, don’t judge) we would find out that wasn’t exactly how she felt.  We discovered that she wasn’t really interested in “moving up”.  She was perfectly happy in her cubicle doing her routine, rather mundane job.

“I like what I do.  There’s no stress and I like the work.  Why would I want to change that?”

A small gasp could be heard around the table.  Who didn’t want to climb the ladder?

I recently took on a part-time temporary job. The woman I work with is the sole office worker for the company.  It’s a small office.  Well it’s not really an office.  It’s more of a workshop with two desks.  She brings her dog to work with her every day and enjoys the two months off every January when the business shuts down for winter. She is a smart cookie, but more importantly she seems to be able to handle any situation that is thrown her way.  Difficult customers, techs who don’t show up for jobs and an owner who is……challenging.  She is a problem solver extraordinaire .  She would be an asset to any customer service company.

As I drove home from work the other day I wondered if she was happy in her job.  Happy in her small “office” with her dog and the same routine every year.  Wasn’t she interested in taking the talent she had and maximizing it?  It got me thinking about my friend from years ago and whether or not pursuing the dream of a corner office and a “career” position is actually worth it or not.

Is it an outdated concept or have I just moved into a different demographic that just doesn’t care?  It seems to me that women these days are more interested in being able to enjoy life than they are donning a power suit and having their subordinates quaking in their boots.  We’ve all worked for one haven’t we?

working at home

In my search for my thing I know that the corporate world isn’t even a consideration.  I would much rather work in my den than have an office or a boardroom.  I would rather talk to my cat than have an assistant.  If I’m stuck with a difficult situation I would rather go for a run and figure it out than sit a computer and debate policy.

Would I like the salary of a corporate level job?  Absolutely.  I’m a bit lost but I’m not stupid.

So that’s what I’m thinking about these days.  The Best Thing in Life would be to know what all of you think.

PS:  The downside of returning to work is that I have no time to read all the other blogs out there or have coffee with any of my great friends.  My sincere apologies.

I Don’t Care If You Like Me

Whistler 50

I used to walk into a room full of people and wonder if they liked me……now I look around and wonder if I like them.

Last weekend I spent three days with fifteen women.  It was a girls weekend in a local resort.  A few of us spent most of Friday relaxing in Whistler.  Shopping  and drinking beer at the pub. Or both.  A few more arrived in the early evening after work, more than ready to decompress after a long week.  A few more didn’t make it up until the next morning.

Mexican Corner

By Saturday evening sixteen of us were sitting around two tables at a great Mexican restaurant swapping stories about everything from work to kids to travel.  Collectively we had run 160 km (99.5 miles)that day.  Some of us were tired.  Some of us were exhilarated.  Some of us were just happy to be sitting up and awake.  The margaritas were flowing freely.

This was not the first time we had done something like this.  Over the past five years a core group of us, plus a few willing ( and not so willing) additions, have ventured out of our comfort zones to run (notice how I didn’t say compete) in a relay race each year.  Really it’s just an excuse to go away for the weekend without our spouses and kids.  It’s not really about the running any more.  Last year we spent 33 Hours in a Van.

Chick Peas

But here’s the thing.  It wasn’t that long ago that I would have fretted for days about doing this.  Not the running or being away from my family, but spending that much time in close quarters with women that, sometimes, I don’t really know very well.  I would have worried about whether or not I was interesting enough or whether I was accomplishing enough in my life.  I would worry that, perhaps , there would be somebody that would disagreed with my opinion and (heaven forbid) wouldn’t like me. I would worry that I wouldn’t “fit in”.

Now, to quote a wise running companion, I don’t give a rats ass.

Don’t get me wrong.   These women are incredible and I enjoy spending time with each of them for various different reasons.  But do I spend time worrying about whether they like me or not?  Nope.  And I hope that they feel the same way.  The more time you spend worrying about whether or not people like you, the less time you have to get to know them.

For example, I now accept that it’s okay to be away from the pack sometimes.  In fact I’ve found that it can be a saving grace.  It is not unacceptable for me to say “Hey! I’m just going to go for a walk and I’ll meet everybody back at the room”. Maybe you just need some space or maybe you want to hit up the bakery without letting anybody know that you are secretly craving a slice of coconut cake.

Not that I’ve ever done that.

I guess what I am trying to say (not very eloquently) is that it is one of The Best Thing in Life to be able to experience all that this type of weekend can bring by simply being yourself.

PS – that’s not me in the opening picture.

A Good Dose of Reality….and sarcasm….lots of sarcasm

reality

Every year a friend of mine and a team of other women put together an online store to raise funds for a needy family.  They ask for and receive donations of crafts, baking, gifts, candles, gift certificates and jewelry and then sell them through a private on-line “store”.  It is a great way to get into the spirit of the season and give back to some people who really need it.  People who are struggling financially and perhaps emotionally.

This year we are the needy family.  I would like to take a few minutes to tell you why we are struggling.  Here goes.

In August my husband and I made the decision to cancel our planned two-week Christmas vacation in Hawaii.  His work contract would be ending in December and while we had no reason to think he wouldn’t get another contract, we both felt it was the financially responsible thing to do.  Still, it was a dark day when I emailed the agent and told her to cancel our condo reservations and the flights we had booked on points.  I was the one who had to tell the kids that despite just spending three weeks in Southern California we would not be flying to Maui in December.  They were real troopers.

It’s been almost eighteen months since I quit my job.  It did take me a few months to get used to being at home during the day while our daughter was at school, but I think I adjusted well.  Yoga had never really been my thing but I learnt to embrace it as it helped stretch out the muscles I was now stressing on longer daily runs in the woods with my friends.  Now that my husband isn’t traveling as much there really isn’t any reason for me not to return to work.  I’m going to have to adjust my running schedule and won’t be able to help out at school hot lunch days but I know it needs to be done.  My yoga instructor will miss me, but I’m sure with some serious meditation she will be okay.

Public transit may well become a part of our future.  One of our SUVs has decided that it is tired and after fifteen years it has become…..temperamental.  So that leaves us with just the one truck.  My husband has been great about walking the half mile up to Starbucks in the mornings to get his morning mocha and we have been able to coordinate our schedules so that when he needs to get to the gym I can go with him and get the shopping done.  Fortunately Whole Food is only a few block away.  We have been researching bus route on our iPads and we think we can make it work.  Have you ever looked at a bus schedule though?  Super confusing.

Earlier this summer we had the kids bathroom renovated.  It had been stuck in the eighties and was looking a little um…..yellow.  A friend of ours helped out with the design and after a month or so my vision became reality.  But now the other two bathrooms in our house look a little shabby.  I’ve been forced to take my bath in their bathroom as the tub is deeper and well, the floor is heated.  Our bathroom does not have radiant heating.  Or a toilet seat that closes itself.  Or drawers that hold plush towels.  It’s sad really.  Doesn’t everyone deserve a nice bathroom?

So there you have it.  It’s been a rough couple of months but we are staying strong and hoping that with a little help we will see a light at the end of the tunnel.  Or maybe a Hawaiian sunset.

The Best Thing in Life is a good dose of reality.

FALL – Again

fall leaves

I came across this piece I wrote two years ago. I’ve updated it a bit but the message will always be the same to me.

There’s something about the Fall that makes most of us want to, well, turn over a new leaf so to speak. For me, there’s nothing like the change of season to bring on the challenge of reorganizing a closet or room. Spring cleaning is all well and good but September seems to be my time to get rid of the old and bring in the new. Although my husband and son do not get the same gleam in their eye when I say that we need to clean out the closets, I’m happy to say that my daughter has inherited my organizing gene. She will spend hours up in her room “organizing” her stuff and loves nothing more than making a trip to Micheals to buy trays, holders and sorting containers. I’m so proud.

When it comes to cleaning up a messy desk or closet or room, for that matter, three basics apply. Throw it away, give it away or put it away. And this goes for almost every room of the house. The best way is to just dive in. Make three piles and most importantly be honest with yourself about which pile you put stuff in. Haven’t worn that shirt in two years? Get rid of it. Have a dozen magazines all about decorating the babies room and your baby” is now 7. Recycle it. Can’t decide? Put it aside until the end and deal with it then. But do deal with it.

messy closet

Now before you all get you knickers in a knot; throw away doesn’t necessarily mean increase the size of the GVRD landfill. Old school assignments/art, as much as you may want to reminisce, can be put in the recycle box. Magazines that you had every intention of re-reading (three years ago) can be recycled. I used to keep magazines in the hopes that one day I would have an occasion to serve 18 different varieties of cookies.  I have since realized that all magazines have excellent websites complete with archives. Ikea comes out with a new catalogue every year…just sayin’. Having said that; if you can’t remember where you got something or what it means to you and there is no recycling option…..chuck it!

Giving stuff away is one of my passions. I have a friend with a daughter a year younger than mine and for the past three or four years I have passed on my daughters gently (sometimes) worn clothes to her. It’s a great feeling to know that you are making space in your house and helping somebody out at the same time. I am also a regular customer on the Big Brother and Canadian Diabetes pick up list. They come and TAKE STUFF AWAY! For free! But best of all is a fairly regular clothing swap party that I attend with a group of other moms. We are all of various ages and sizes but somehow everybody leaves these parties with some new item to add to their wardrobe. Best of all, what’s left over goes to charity. As I write this I am wearing a shirt that I got at one of the parties. I love it and it was free.

tidy closet

I have to admit that putting away is not my favorite part of this exercise, but it is necessary. I have learnt (thanks to my husband) that keeping stuff can be good and occasionally throwing stuff away can be bad. So get a really big chest and start keeping those baby shoes, first soccer team t-shirts and countless works of art. Who knows, they may be worth something one day. When my son was about five I started keeping his shirts from sports teams, trips and special events. Last year I gave them all to my mom, the quilter, and she made them into a quilt for him. She did the same thing for my daughter with all of her receiving blankets. It’s a beautiful way to keep memories around but make them useful.

The Best Thing in Life is being organized. Okay, so maybe that’s just me and my daughter. Anybody got a closet they need organizing? One of the other perks of cleaning up and getting rid of stuff is that it gives you a clear inventory of what you really do have. And what you don’t have. And that, my friends, is a clear invitation to go shopping.

TBT – Determination

liv on the computer

I think my daughter was maybe 18 months old when this picture was taken but really it could just as well have been last week.  That look of concentration and curiosity is always just below the surface waiting to bust out.  It was on her face as she sat at the kitchen table working on her math homework this past weekend.

When she was three and in preschool there was a play set outside the school that the kids would climb on and swing from.  Part of the play set was a metal bar about four feet off the ground.  Not being a particularly tall child she found that she couldn’t quite reach the bar to swing on like some of her friends could.  Her teachers told me that she would stand under that bar every day and jump and jump and jump trying to grab on.  Then one day when I cam to pick her up she dragged me over to the bar and said. “Watch this.”  She bent over, scooped a pile of wood-chips into a pile under the bar, stood on top of that pile and grabbed the bar.  “Look I can reach now.”

Sheer determination had enabled her to reach her goal.

She started grade three this year and is in a split class with other grade three student and grade four student.  Split classes are petty normal these days and it was bound to happen but I was still a bit apprehensive.  When she came home that first and told me about her new class I asked her how she felt about it.

“Great.  It will be a challenge for me to try to do grade four work too if I’m allowed.”

Oh vey.

Whether I like it or not I have been blessed with a child who loves to push herself and is determined to try everything and anything she is presented with.  Now while this is all well and good, it can create some……let’s call it……drama.

Both my husband and I have voiced concern to ourselves and her teachers that she could be a bit of a perfectionist and that it could mean problems in the future.  So far it has hasn’t.  Typically perfectionism in a child manifests itself in these ways.

  • chronic procrastination and difficulty completing tasks
  • easily frustrated
  • overly cautious and thorough in tasks (ie takes 3 hrs to do homework that should take 20 minutes)
  • frequent catastrophic reactions when things don’t go perfectly or as expected
  • refusal to try new things and risk making mistakes

So now I’m thinking that maybe I am the one that’s a perfectionist and that my daughter is totally okay.  It’s a huge relief because The Best Thing in Life is knowing that your kids are going to surpass you when it comes to succeeding in life.

The Bubble

bubble

I live in a bubble.  It’s a lovely little bubble.  Bordered by mountains, the ocean and the city.

I live in a bubble that is a twenty-minute drive from the downtown core of an international port city.  A thriving metropolitan city that has hosted world events.  A city where we can experience diversity in food, art, and social events on a daily basis.  We could experience them if we chose to venture out of the bubble and go *gasp* downtown.  But it’s really just easier to take our kids to the local pub for a burger and a pint then walk home.

I live in a bubble where there is only sunshine and puffy white clouds. Okay, maybe a little rain, but it only serves to water the towering trees and feed the babbling brooks.  And the sunshine and rain grow berries and fish that feed the large black bears that supplement their diet by cruising the streets in search of open garages offering up tasty garbage snacks.  The “wildlife” we have in our bubble includes raccoons, skunks and cougars.  But only the feline ones.

I live in a bubble where kids can walk to school.  They don’t.  But they can.

I live in a bubble where I can go days without locking my front door.  Who would know?  If, by chance, a stranger were to spend any time casing our street the sweet little old lady in the pink house would be able to give the police a full description of not only them, but their car and their dog.  I’m just assuming they would have a dog because we live next to a great park for dogs.

I live in a bubble where the clerks at Safeway know my kids names and ages.  And not in a creepy “I’m watching you” kind of way.  They know them because I’ve been known to lose my kids in the grocery store once or twice and have had to enlist the clerks to help me find them.  They have then listened to me tell my kids that they are old enough to know better than to wander away.  But then again if they did wander away, say to the juice bar, they know them there too.

I live in a bubble where the worst crime of the year was a group of “thugs” skateboarding past the No Boarding signs in the library square.  Where a drive by refers, not to a shooting, but to a quick trip through the cove to see if the tide is in or out and if there’s actually a parking spot to unload the SUP from.  Where the thought of a real crime happening is, well, unimaginable.

So when bad things happen say, south of our border, I  can only stop and hope – that my bubble never bursts.