Skipping

On Sunday afternoon, R is leaving for Uganda, where she’ll be volunteering in the north for two weeks to support former child soldiers. She’s upstairs right now packing everything that she will need for her trip. The boys are having a sleepover with their cousin at their grandparents’ house, so this is a free night for the two us to hang out together.

I skipped my run this evening so that we could walk along the boardwalk at the beach while we ate ice cream and walked the dog. And now I’m about to skip writing my daily blog post so that I can go help her pack. Does writing a blog post about not writing a blog post count as a real blog post? Doesn’t matter…

Standard

Full Circle

I was 12 when I started my first job. It involved selling popcorn and cokes on a Saturday at the football stadium in Winnipeg. I was excited about the opportunity as I could make some money and also watch the Blue Bombers play.

My job involved carrying around a tray of soft drinks to sell to people watching the game in the stands. When I was almost finished one tray, I asked some of the other kids if I could leave a few of my drinks with them while I got another tray. I only did this because I saw the other young people doing the same thing to maximize their opportunity to make more sales early in the game.

When I came back to get the drinks I’d left, the other kids pretended that they didn’t know what I was talking about so that they could sell these drinks without having to cover any of the costs. When my father picked me up after the game, I had to tell him that I’d made no money as I had to pay the stadium back for the drinks that I’d lost. I’d worked for hours with nothing to show for it. My dad never let me work there again, so my first job only lasted one day.

When I was growing up, I was naïve and overly trusting, but experiences such as the football stadium job helped toughen me up so that I could protect myself from those who might try to take advantage of me in the future. It’s easy to take this toughness too far, though, and become cynical and distrustful of others. Now that I’m in my mid 40s, I’m finding that I need to allow myself to be more vulnerable and trusting of others, as this is a healthier and more fulfilling way to live. Yes, I will be taken advantage of at times and likely hurt by others, but it’s better to assume that people are good and generous than to expect the worse of them.

Standard

Distal Radius

At my appointment at the fracture clinic this morning, I expected to leave the hospital with a new cast on my right arm, but instead I managed to receive a removable splint, with the proviso that I take extra care with my wrist. I can take the splint off when I take a shower, do the dishes or give the kids a bath, which will be extremely helpful while R is away in Uganda for two weeks.

Two weeks ago, I would have been disappointed to learn that I had a hairline fracture on my radius bone. While having a broken wrist still sucks, I’ve spent the last 10 days thinking that I’d fractured my scaphoid bone, which would have required many weeks in a cast and taken months to heal properly (if at all), so receiving this information about my distal radius fracture almost seemed like good news.

It’s interesting how negative information can come across positively when I’m expecting a worse outcome. Generally the opposite happens, as I’m conditioned culturally to expect things to work out fine for me in the end. Perhaps this is why some people who are wealthy (ie most of the western world) can feel unhappy and discouraged when we have such easy access to many resources and opportunities. When we expect everything to work out to our benefit (and often to extremes that are unrealistic), we are likely to be disappointed.

Standard

Taken

Imarii? When I lived in Zimbabwe, this was one of the most important Shona words that I learned. Imarii means, How much is it? Whenever I went to buy fruits and vegetables or other items in the market, I would be quoted at least eight times more if I didn’t ask in the Shona language about the price. As a murungu (white person), I would generally be viewed as a visitor and would be charged more. Sometimes when I asked in Shona I would still be quoted a ridiculous amount, but after a quick aiwa (no!) and a shake of the head, I’d usually get a fair price.

Here in Canada, I wish there was a similar way for me to pay an appropriate amount for goods and services that I’m not knowledgeable about. When I left my car at the service station this morning, I expected to pay just over $200 for an oil change, new wipers and a summer tire installation. By the time I picked up my car in the afternoon, I needed to pay nearly $1,000, which is a significantly higher amount. This kind of situation happens to me more frequently than it should.

When it comes to things such as home repairs or car servicing, I have no idea how much these goods and services should cost so I’m occasionally taken advantage of when I seek out assistance. I’m never sure whether I’m supposed to bargain or haggle in these situations, and I wouldn’t know what work would be essential or not anyway. I wish there was a guidebook that could help me navigate through my interactions with tradespersons and salespersons.

Standard

Dumb Smartphones

I need to spend less time on my phone. Some of my usage is an occupational hazard given my work in public relations, but there is absolutely no need for me to constantly check my phone during breakfast, lunch or supper, while I’m at the playground with my children, or when my parents come by for a visit. Last Wednesday I unintentionally left my phone on my desk when I went for lunch and I felt incredibly lost and uncomfortable without it.

Tomorrow I will not check my phone until after I’ve dropped my children off at school. Nor will I check it while they’re at their swimming and martial arts classes or when I’m about to go to bed. It’s time to set some boundaries before I’m completely controlled by my technological gadgets. I’d get rid of my GPS watch as well but that might send me completely over the edge.

Now I’m off to bed to read The New Yorker … in print not digital.

Standard

Sleep

Now that I’m in my mid-40s, the biggest physical change I’ve noticed (besides my greying hair) is that it’s much harder to catch up on sleep. When I was younger I would generally stay up late reading or watching movies and I also relied heavily on all-nighters to finish school and work assignments. With two children and a dog, I’m no longer able to sleep in. Even if I’m travelling for work and have my own hotel room, I still wake up early without an alarm clock. This means that when I stay up late, I need to acknowledge the cost of this decision, which is likely a few days of feeling tired and sluggish.

My new goal is to get into bed before 11 each night, which can be tricky when I’m also trying to allocate time in the evening for running, reading and writing after my children go to bed. It’s almost 11 now, so this post will end in 3, 2, 1.

Standard

Sandwiches

“Sandwiches are beautiful, sandwiches are fine
I like sandwiches, I eat them all the time.”—Fred Penner

This morning we took our children to a Fred Penner concert held at the outdoor stage at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. It wasn’t as crowded as I expected—probably because it was cold by the lake—but every parent seemed excited to be there, even more so than their children. Many of us grew up with Penner’s music and TV show, so there was a deep appreciation in the audience for his positive influence on our lives.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the concert. After four decades of performing, Penner is still a great musician and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Earlier this year he even won a fourth Juno for his latest album Hear the Music, which we bought after the concert and got him to autograph.

It’s inspiring to observe someone who is so passionate about his profession. Not only is Penner’s music highly entertaining, his songs also help children and adults learn how to better love themselves, others and the world around them.

I have no desire to be a musician, but I do wish to work at something that I’m passionate about and that will enrich the lives of other people. But mostly, I want to have a hundred sandwiches and eat them all at once.

Standard