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.

Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is…..Again

parkinsons shirt

I posted this last year after doing the 2014 Parkinson’s SuperWalk.  This Sunday I will do my second walk/run for my mom who has had Parkinson’s for 15 years.  This year I also did some fundraising.  If you would like to donate you can access my donation site HERE.  Just put in my name (Susan Hardman) and the rest is easy.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about my mom’s battle with Parkinson’s. I ended the post with a promise to myself to get more involved. Last Sunday I took my first step towards that goal and participated in the Parkinson’s Superwalk 10km run. The event included a 2km, 7km and 10km routes in Stanley Park. I chose the 10km run, signed up and paid my registration fee. There wasn’t a lot of info on the web site so I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t know how big it would be or, well anything. Early Sunday morning I drove to Ceperely Park and looked for the registration area. My first impression was that everybody was very friendly and welcoming. It wasn’t a huge group but lots of families and groups supporting friends. The group registration line up was twice the length of the individual line up. I think this says a lot about the event. People weren’t just here to do a run and get a t-shirt without knowing what it was really about. People were here to support a specific individual and were happy to be doing it.

parkinsons siwash rock

The run itself was stunning. A gorgeous sunny Fall day in Vancouver never disappoints for runners. It was hot though, especially the first half around the east side of the seawall. The Coho festival was in full swing over at Ambleside and the annual pet fundraiser Paws for a Cause was rocking at Lumberman’s Arch. Inspiring to see so many great causes being supported. I did feel a bit envious though as Paws for a Cause provided their participants (by that I mean dogs) way more water breaks than my run. Seriously considered scooping up that water bowl for some much needed refreshment. I ran for a short time with another lady who was also running for her mom. It was nice to know that somebody else was thinking the same way I was. She mentioned that she had, at first, thought she would just do the 7km but pushed herself to do the 10km. “It puts what they endure every day into perspective”.

parkinsons seawall

I don’t typically run with my phone but I knew that I would want to document this experienced as the views would be outstanding. As you can see they didn’t disappoint. Aside from enjoying the scenery, the run gave me some time alone to think about how I can continue to support Parkinson’s over the next year. I know for sure that I will do the run next year but this time will register earlier and do some fundraising on my own. At the start of the race I ran into a lady who I have met before in my area. She works for the BC Parkinson’s Society and I plan on contacting her to talk about volunteer opportunities during the next few month. This run was just dipping my toe into the waters of the Parkinson’s society.

There has been a lot of publicity and hype over the ALS ice bucket challenge this summer. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great way to spread awareness and raise money for a great cause. However, when my son did it and then challenged me I told him I wouldn’t do it. “What? Why?” He couldn’t believe I would be so lame. (His words, not mine.) The reason I didn’t want to do it was simple. I have chosen my charity and want to be able to support it. We are not lacking in money at this point in time but there have been times in the past when giving to charity just wasn’t an option. I made a decision at that time to be selective in my donation dollars. There are so many amazing causes to give to. Cancer research, AIDS, MS, ALS and the list goes on. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to support them all? Perhaps we could redirect some professional sports players salaries to cover what we can’t?  The Best Thing in Life would be to have enough money to support everybody who needs it but for now the Parkinson’s Society of BC has my full support.

parkinsons finish

The Fall

fall leaves

I came across this piece I wrote last year. 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.

Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

parkinsons shirt

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about my mom’s battle with Parkinson’s. I ended the post with a promise to myself to get more involved. Last Sunday I took my first step towards that goal and participated in the Parkinson’s Superwalk 10km run. The event included a 2km, 7km and 10km routes in Stanley Park. I chose the 10km run, signed up and paid my registration fee. There wasn’t a lot of info on the web site so I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t know how big it would be or, well anything. Early Sunday morning I drove to Ceperely Park and looked for the registration area. My first impression was that everybody was very friendly and welcoming. It wasn’t a huge group but lots of families and groups supporting friends. The group registration line up was twice the length of the individual line up. I think this says a lot about the event. People weren’t just here to do a run and get a t-shirt without knowing what it was really about. People were here to support a specific individual and were happy to be doing it.

parkinsons siwash rock

The run itself was stunning. A gorgeous sunny Fall day in Vancouver never disappoints for runners. It was hot though, especially the first half around the east side of the seawall. The Coho festival was in full swing over at Ambleside and the annual pet fundraiser Paws for a Cause was rocking at Lumberman’s Arch. Inspiring to see so many great causes being supported. I did feel a bit envious though as Paws for a Cause provided their participants (by that I mean dogs) way more water breaks than my run. Seriously considered scooping up that water bowl for some much needed refreshment. I ran for a short time with another lady who was also running for her mom. It was nice to know that somebody else was thinking the same way I was. She mentioned that she had, at first, thought she would just do the 7km but pushed herself to do the 10km. “It puts what they endure every day into perspective”.

parkinsons seawall

I don’t typically run with my phone but I knew that I would want to document this experienced as the views would be outstanding. As you can see they didn’t disappoint. Aside from enjoying the scenery, the run gave me some time alone to think about how I can continue to support Parkinson’s over the next year. I know for sure that I will do the run next year but this time will register earlier and do some fundraising on my own. At the start of the race I ran into a lady who I have met before in my area. She works for the BC Parkinson’s Society and I plan on contacting her to talk about volunteer opportunities during the next few month. This run was just dipping my toe into the waters of the Parkinson’s society.

There has been a lot of publicity and hype over the ALS ice bucket challenge this summer. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great way to spread awareness and raise money for a great cause. However, when my son did it and then challenged me I told him I wouldn’t do it. “What? Why?” He couldn’t believe I would be so lame. (His words, not mine.) The reason I didn’t want to do it was simple. I have chosen my charity and want to be able to support it. We are not lacking in money at this point in time but there have been times in the past when giving to charity just wasn’t an option. I made a decision at that time to be selective in my donation dollars. There are so many amazing causes to give to. Cancer research, AIDS, MS, ALS and the list goes on. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to support them all? Perhaps we could redirect some professional sports players salaries to cover what we can’t?  The Best Thing in Life would be to have enough money to support everybody who needs it but for now the Parkinson’s Society of BC has my full support.

parkinsons finish

Life Lessons

bag lady

My daughter and three of her friends had an opportunity to be involved in an event at BC Place this past week. Four excited six year olds and I piled into my truck and headed downtown from North Vancouver. They sang songs, played clapping games and talked about meeting their favorite soccer players. As we approached the East Side, my daughter asked if we were getting close to the homeless people. We had driven this route before and had had some discussions about people living on the streets. For some reason it was a source of fascination and tonight was no different as the four of them had some interesting questions.

I’ve never been bothered by East Hastings St. Yes, you need to keep your head down and avoid eye contact but really these people are, for the most part, harmless. I’m not a big person but I’ve never felt threatened on the odd occasion I’ve had to walk through the Main and Hastings area. There are parts of Surrey that scare me more. During the Olympics in 2010, everyone was concerned about how it would look to the rest of the world but honestly, it’s just another part of what makes this city what it is. No, it’s not as pretty as Stanley Park or Grouse Mountain. It’s not an area you might want to take people to on a city tour. But, it’s a part of Vancouver that has always been there and will probably never change.

So as we stop at every red light between Clarke and Carrall my six year old tells me that one of her friends has never seen a homeless person and could I please explain it to her. At this point I am bombarded with questions from all four of them. Why are they homeless? Where do they sleep? Why are they selling stuff on the street? If they don’t have any stuff why are they selling what they have? What do they need money for? What do they eat? Why is that man waving his hands in the air like he’s swatting a bee? That man doesn’t have a shirt on. Can’t he afford clothes? Are they ALL homeless? I did my best to answer them and I would like to apologize to their parents if they now have a few new words in their vocabulary.

I know they are young, but it does reminded me that we live in a bubble out here in Deep Cove. It’s a lovely bubble, but it is just that. We drop off our unwanted clothes at the charity box near Safeway and many of the girls collect money for charity at their birthdays parties instead of gifts, but the reality is that they have no idea why somebody would even need our charity. They all have comfortable homes, clothes and never miss a meal (or a snack for that matter). It’s a hard thing for them to understand at this point in their lives and just driving through the East Side once or twice doesn’t go far enough in explaining it.

So as we turn the corner at Hastings and Carrall Street and the scenery changes, the questions come to an end and the topic turns to what they will eat at the soccer game. Can we have a hot dog and popcorn? Do they have ice cream at the stadium? These questions I can answer. The girls may have moved on, but their questions, and my realization of how little they know of the world outside of our neighborhood, have me thinking. Is there more that I could be doing to educate my young daughter? I’m doing my best to show her The Best Things in Life, but should I be doing more to show her the other side of life?