Category Archives: Memory Lane

Flying Gazebos and Other Perils of Life

My favourite season of the year is spring, when we begin to thaw out  after the long cold winter and things start blooming. It reminds me of a promise – the promise of a warm and sunny glorious summer! Until the wasps come.

Having once been stung more than 30 times, I can honestly say I hate them.

I discovered wasps had taken up residence behind my shutters on my house when I went to remove them to repaint them. So I offered my brother, who always needs money, $200 to go up and bring them down. He jumped at the chance for easy money. After climbing up the ladder to the second story of my house, he removed the shutters, threw them to the ground and quickly descended the ladder in a visible state of agitation.

“Holy cow” he exclaimed, there’s thousands of wasps up there!
“Why do you think I was paying you so much money just to remove the shutters?” I told him. “Consider it danger pay”. My next goal was to create an outdoor space on my back deck, so we bought a gazebo. It didn’t take long for the wasps to find it and start building a nest.

My daughter’s boyfriend decided he would earn some brownie points by offering to remove the nest. Armed with nothing more than a broom handle, he ventured outside and started poking the nest. I could see what was going to happen so I quickly closed the patio doors. As the wasps came out in force, said boyfriend ran for the door screaming “Let me in”. Well, there was no chance of that; if I opened the door the wasps would get in, so I quickly locked it. I’m not a cold hearted person though, so I did eventually open the door and let him in – after the wasps had gone away.

Wasp-free, my gazebo was now perfect for sitting out on warm summer evenings. I purchased a few comfortable chairs, some side tables, and plants, and surrounded the deck with solar powered patio lights. It was divine!

Until the first storm of the season, when the winds picked up my gazebo and tossed it about, twisted metal lying amid the devastation of knocked over tables and plants.

Not to be deterred, we purchased another gazebo – a bigger gazebo, a better gazebo. This one was screwed to the deck and had netting all around it. Paradise!

Until the second storm of the season, which was one week after we had put up the gazebo. Still fastened to the deck, the gazebo still managed to become twisted and mangled. We complained to the store and they gave us our money back.

Our next gazebo came from TSC which is more of a farm country type of store. Surely their gazebos were better. After we had put it up and fastened it to the deck, we added some carpeting and a beautiful chandelier style light in the middle. We even purchased more plants and some outdoor drapes to block the western sun in the afternoon and to give us some privacy. We were the envy of our neighbours.

Until the third storm of the season. The entire gazebo collapsed in on itself, destroying the beautiful chandelier.

Undeterred, my husband bought some metal bars to reinforce the parts of the gazebo frame that had broken or twisted. Success!

Until the fourth storm of the season. The reinforced parts of the frame held up very well, but everywhere that wasn’t reinforced was broken and twisted. No problem – we were pros by this time. More metal bars, more reinforcement. We were so confident by this time that we even put a new Edison light bulb in the chandelier and hung it back up. My paradise was restored.

Then the next storm hit. We were home at this point and as I heard the winds pick up from my office upstairs, I quickly ran downstairs, screaming “Protect the gazebo”. I wanted my husband to go out on the deck and loosen the canvas from the frame, believing that would stop the gazebo from damage. He disagreed and decided to hold onto the frame, to hold it down so that the wind couldn’t take it away.

I watched him through the patio door as the wind picked up and lifted him off the deck. Then I saw lightning. I asked him if he thought it was wise to be holding a metal rod with lightning happening. He assured me this was a better solution than loosening the canvas.
After checking the double indemnity clause on his life insurance policy, I decided he could do as he pleased. In the end though, he is fine.

The gazebo did not fare well – the final storm of the season destroyed it one last time.  I console myself with the knowledge that it was never up long enough for the wasps to rebuild their nasty little nest.

 

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Happy Dad’s Day

Today is Father’s Day and so I’d like to honour the memory of a very special man. Continue reading Happy Dad’s Day

This is Me!

Wanted to quickly share somethings, so I guess this is a “quicky” post.

I did one of those stupid Facebook quizzes today – the kind of thing I tell everyone NOT to do because they’re just mining your friends and personal information. I was bored though. It resulted in a word cloud made up of my most often used words on Facebook. I have to admit, I think they got this right, because when I think of the things that matter most to me, this is it.

This is ME!

Don’t click it though, because it won’t take you anywhere. I hate those types of things. Except this one.

Stronger, Freer – A Celebration of Canada

“The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.”

That’s a quote from Jessica Hische, but how many of us have the opportunity to turn our passions into our work? Maybe there’s a compromise. Some companies/universities offer their tenured employees the chance to take a sabbatical and what a wonderful opportunity that could be. A year to re-ignite your passion and follow your heart.

Steve Harvey said that in order to achieve great success, sometimes you have to jump. You will never be a huge success by doing the same thing day after day and never taking a chance, never following our passion, never dreaming that we can soar.

A couple I worked with for several years are doing just that. They’ve jumped and they’re taking a break from their professional careers to follow a passion of theirs. That passion led to the creation of Stronger, Freer. In honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, our sesquicentennial, Stronger Freer tells the story of a struggling Canadian family over the course of 150 years from Confederation through to present day, in a series of vignettes. It’s going to be playing June 15, 17, 18 at Nineteen on the Park in Stouffville, Ontario – even though it’s not on the calendar yet, the venue is booked and I predict it will sell out fast, so keep an eye on their calendar.

Two ordinary people taking a leap of faith to use their gifts and share their passion for Canada and for theatre with everyone else. I’m envious. And honoured to know them. They are setting an example for all of us and giving all of us this fabulous gift. You won’t want to miss it.

UPDATE: TICKETS ARE NOW AVAILABLE! 

 

 

 

#Canada150 #CrazyPassionateCanadians #Stouffville #Sesquicentennial #StrongerFreer

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Timeless Advice 

I recently turned 60, and it’s been a surreal experience. I tell myself that I’m not “really” 60, and then I look in the mirror and realize that yes, sadly I really am.

I thought I would commemorate this depressing occasion by sharing a story from my youth, that helped me to terms with growing older. You see, I had always been terrified to grow old and I actually never thought I would. I made a deal with myself to stop at 30. Life was very painful for me back then, and I was struggling to exist on a daily basis.

When I was 16, I read a newspaper article about a woman who was turning 100. I couldn’t imagine anyone living that long; why would anyone want to? Being the weird person I was, I looked her up in the phone book, found her address, and mailed her a letter, explaining my fears and asking to meet her. Imagine my surprise when I received a letter back, inviting me to tea. I donned my nicest clothes and went hoping to hear some wise advice about growing old without fear. The fact that she invited a complete stranger to her house, a street urchin no less, gives you an idea of the kind of person she was.

Louise Tandy Murch was an amazing lady; she lived alone in a huge house that looked dated, as did she. Her face was etched with deep lines that reminded me of the Sahara desert.  She carried in a large silver platter that held a tea service and some scones that she had made herself. I offered to help her carry it, but she insisted she was fine. As we sat drinking tea and eating scones, she shared with me some information about her life. She did yoga every day, despite having pins in both her hips, and she was a pianist. Her husband had been an orchestra conductor and together they had traveled the world. He had died several years before but she said she didn’t have time to give up on life or get depressed (yes, we discussed depression) because she was just too busy. She was currently trading music lessons with a young man in return for free gardening work.

I told her that I liked to play guitar and sing sometimes, so she played the piano for me and invited me to sing. When I started singing, she punched me in the stomach (in the diaphragm) and told me that’s where it had to come from. By the way, that was NOT a gentle punch – it got my attention. She reached into her piano bench and took out a music book with country songs and gave it to me. She told me she didn’t enjoy playing country music but she thought my voice was perfect to sing country. I’m still not sure if that was a compliment or not. 

It was a very different type of afternoon, one that I have never forgotten. All these years later, I still have that music book, and I often remember this incredible lady and her timeless advice for living at all ages. Her secret for living so long was because she was simply too busy to die. I’m fairly sure her advice has had a lot to do with how I’ve lived my life – keeping busy (often too busy), staying involved, trusting others. In a moment of remembrance after my birthday, I decided to “google” her name and found out that the National Film Board has a short film about her life that was directed by Deepa Mehta in 1976. It also looks as if something was in the works in 2014 as well http://www.hollywood.com/movies/at-99-a-portrait-of-louise-tandy-murch-59211080/credits/.

 

I never knew I was in the presence of someone famous, I just knew I was getting some timeless advice about living and aging. Thank you Mrs. Murch, for the lesson and for the example.

By the way – if someone “googles” your name in the distant future, what do you think they’ll find? 

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For the Love of Books

I love books. All books. I hold them in the highest reverence. I love to hold them, smell them, read them, listen to them; I love hardcovers, paperbacks, audiobooks, and ebooks. I have collected leather bound books most of my adult life, especially the classic authors like Hans Christian Andersen, The Brothers Grimm, Shakespeare, Tolkien, Jack London, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, H.G. Wells, and John Steinbeck; classic books like To Kill a Mockingbird, Atlas Shrugged, and Vanity Fair; and great philosophies like  Plato’s Republic, and Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness, and so many more! I’m reflecting on my books today because I’m purging. I’m about to have yet another birthday (will they never stop?) and I’ve decided to minimalize my life. It has to be done sooner or later because (a) I won’t live forever, and (b) I won’t live here forever and I’m tired of carting around boxes of books when I move. It’s nice to pass them on as well, for others to enjoy. Oh, there are some that I will keep – my collection of The Rise and Fall of Civilization by Edward Gibbons and a few first editions, among others.

Books saved my life. When I was first taken into care of the Children’s Aid Society in Toronto, I have given a shower, a new dress (blue and white and way too big), a bald doll (okay, she wasn’t bald, but plastic hair doesn’t count), and a book. The social worker gave me the book when she discovered I could read quite well. I had just turned six. I wish I still had that book. It was about two inches thick and full of magical tales. It slept with me at night; it comforted me when I was sad; it was my daily escape from my painful existence. I read it at night under my covers with a flashlight and when my foster mother took my flashlight away, I opened my curtains and read by moonlight on the nights when the moon was bright enough.  I carried it with me to the various doctors’ appointments and court appearances that eventually declared me a crown ward, when I become society’s child.

I’m sure that book fell apart eventually. I know it was replaced with many other wonderful books though. I remember a grade 5 teacher chastising me for not paying attention and discovering I had a book hidden under my desk. It was Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls. She made me stay behind after class and asked me if I understood what I was reading. I did. And I must have been the only kid in my high school who not only loved William Shakespeare, but read all of his plays and even memorized the entire Merchant of Venice. And who could forget Sonnet 29:

When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

And as a young adult, goofing off with my foster cousin Christine Chartrand, each of us dramatically reciting Shakespeare until we collapsed with laughter.

I always carried a paperback book in my purse. One thing I truly appreciate about being a woman is I get to carry a purse which is the perfect hiding place for a pocket book. On the bus or subway, under my desk, or hiding in the bathroom at work, if I could steal a few minutes to take me away to distant lands, shower me with love and emotions, caress me with caring and compassion and fill my heart and soul with wonder and faith.

A recent article in the Globe and Mail spoke about the importance of libraries and started me thinking about my own relationship with libraries and led me to deciding to share that memory in this post.

I always appreciated libraries, since I lacked the funds to purchase the many books I devoured. I grew up in West Hill, Ontario, and walked 3 kilometers each way to a community branch of the Scarborough Public Library at Morningside and Lawrence. I knew the school librarians very well also. And as an adult in downtown Toronto (and later in North York), the library was always close. I could relax and read, do research, borrow music and movies; it was and is a very magical place.

I’ve been on the library board of Georgina Public Library for a few years (okay it’s more than a few but I won’t say how many), and I love the value that libraries give to our community and to our lives. I once heard the expression that the library is the hub of our community, and nothing could be more true than that. Libraries are the ultimate equalizers. No knowledge or technology is out of your reach if you have a library in your community. You can use the computers and even take computer courses, you can borrow books and movies, either in the library or online, you can join a book club, a writing group, a knitting group. The world is there for you and the door that opens it all is at your library.

I’m sad to see some of my books leave, but I’m sure they’ll have good homes. I did not throw them out. Most of them I sold or gave away (I only sold them because I knew only someone who truly wanted them would be willing to pay for them) and they’ll enjoy a new life, in a new home, enriching other minds. Besides, like children, they never really leave you, they’re always in your heart no matter where you are.

And they’re as close as your library. Go to the library, make new friends, create new memories, gain more knowledge, see the world. It’s waiting for you.

2016 – The Year That Was

What an interesting year 2016 was! I’m hoping I can keep the momentum going in 2017.  One of the promises I made for 2016 was to try something new at least once a month. I wanted to get out of my box, and learn to enjoy life more.

Theatre

That decision led me to re-discover community theatre. I’ve been to small theatres from Newmarket to Whitby and witnessed an amazing amount of talent. This is definitely something I’m going to continue doing. Two coworkers of mine have been involved in community theatre – acting and directing – and I’ve enjoyed watching them perform and supporting their efforts. To anyone who has not been to a community theatre lately, check it out. Here are some of the community theatres I attended:

I also had the privilege of taking my daughter to see the musical Kinky Boots at the Royal Alex theatre in Toronto. The evening was made more magical because I got to spend time with my beautiful daughter!

Local Events

I went to a wine tasting this year put on by Fellini Fine Wines (http://fellinifinewines.com/) and joined in with Music Bingo and trivia nights at our local Boston Pizza. I also attended a butter tart festival in Midland, Ontario with a couple of other ladies. What a fun day that was! Ribfest and the Tragically Hip concert at the ROC (http://tinyurl.com/GeorginaROC), a new farmer’s market at the Link in Sutton, and the Sutton Fair, helped to keep my weekends busy. I even attended a drumming circle at De LaSalle Hall which was an amazing way to spend a relaxing afternoon, drumming while looking out at beautiful Lake Simcoe. I found out about that through Meetup. And who can forget the Grate Groan Up Spelling Bee that our library puts on!

Music

My brother in law told me about a concert series called Classic Albums Live (www.classicalbumslive.com) – this is so much more than just tribute bands, it’s the world’s greatest classic rock albums live on state. Note for note. Cut for cut. All I can say is it’s absolutely amazing. I listened to The Band’s Last Waltz at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts in October, and I’ll be going to watch a rendition of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, in February.

Relaxation

I also took up colouring in 2016. I now have many adult colouring books and a few sets of pencils/markers and it’s so Zen-like to just chill and colour – on planes, on my deck, with a group of friends.

Something Completely Different

I started doing some reviews of products on Amazon and that’s been really cool. I now have some really cool tech things and a bunch of junk I’m glad I didn’t have to pay for. Many of my friends benefitted from my free products as well, and I’ll be looking to get rid of more stuff as I “ease” myself out of this type of activity. Let’s face it; after awhile it starts to seem a lot like work with stress and deadlines, etc. The only really good thing that came out of this was my introduction to Android boxes. Because I was able to get some at a discount, I was motivated to become a bit of an expert in configuring these boxes, and loading them. When I realized what was involved, I also realized that many local sellers are taking advantage of people by charging $150+ for these boxes. Many of my friends have been able to get a much more affordable streaming TV box and I’ve helped some of them to become more knowledgeable and self-sufficient.

Not everything in 2016 was great though.

Family

My daughter moved away to British Columbia. She found love with an amazing guy and while my heart breaks with the loss, I am comforted by the fact that she is happy and working towards building a future and a family with Mike. I got to know him a bit more over Christmas, and he’s really nice. We had a going away party for her, and we were so blessed by family who cared enough to come and send her off with their best wishes.

Volunteering

One of the volunteer boards I was on actually voted me off. Yeah I know, it’s kind of hard to believe. I won’t name them, but their reason for voting me off (officially anyway) was that I was disrespectful to other board members. I guess that’s how they interpreted my requests to see their bylaws, to expect transparency and professionalism. I pointed out where they had deviated from standard board governance, and even found a couple of experts in board governance who would have volunteered their time to help them become a better board. Suffice to say there was some stuff going on that I didn’t think was very kosher, but they obviously didn’t care. So, after advocating publicly for this organization for almost two years, and raising money for them, etc. I was summarily dismissed for being disrespectful by asking too many questions. Questions such as “could I see the motion that approved that expenditure?” or “can you show me the bylaw that says you can do that without board approval?” I’m well out of there (obviously) and moving on.

My involvement with our local library board has been so fulfilling. It was the reality check I needed this year – a very professional, well-run board led by the Chair, Paul Nicholls. I’ve learned so much from his example and will even repeat a quote from him – good governance and inclusion are like tattoos – they get under your skin and last a lifetime. On the Library Board, I’ve attended SOLS (Southern Ontario Library Service) meetings and shared ideas with other library board members from other libraries. I’ve learned more about fundraising, advocacy, and grants. Through the Ontario Library Association (OLA) website, I’ve been able to take their course Leadership by Design on board governance and succession planning. Because that’s how good boards do things; they educate their board members to be better.

Education

Continuing education is always a good thing, and I’ve taken courses in other areas as well. I’ve become a huge fan of MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) and over the past year I took courses on Linux through EdX (www.edx.org) and Teaching Adult Learners through Open2Study (www.open2study.com). The latter one was a bit of a refresher as some of my friends will remember when I was a systems trainer in the past. For fun, I took a course wine making at Udemy (www.udemy.com) which was interesting, but no wine at the end (insert disappointed face here).

Travel

On the travel front, I went to Cuba in October with a couple of ladies and learned a few things – travelling in groups of three never works unless you’ve all known each other a long time. Cuba was nice though and just the break I needed.

I spent Christmas in Langley, British Columbia, where my daughter and her beau played tour guide and showed me around Stanley Park, the helicopter hanger where Mike worked, and a bit of the surrounding area in the lower mainland. I am already planning to go back when the weather is nicer and I will split my time between the mainland and Victoria, where I can visit my sister Catherine. It’s been too long.

Toastmasters

I’ve kept busy in Toastmasters as well. I’m currently the President of my local community club Simcoe Shores Toastmasters (www.simcoeshores.ca) and I`m honoured to be working with a group of fantastic people on the executive. We’ve moved the club out of the church basement into a brighter, cleaner location which, although not very large, is a lovely place to meet. My corporate club, PoSITively Speaking Toastmasters (http://tinyurl.com/PositivelySpeaking) has opened up to outside members and also has an amazing executive. The highlight this year has been the chartering of an online advanced club, Great White North Online toastmasters (http://tinyurl.com/GWNOTM) under the leadership of our visionary leader, Susan Ellsworth.

Gratitude

I was honoured to have a childhood friend, Sue Holbrow, visit and stay a couple of days with me during the summer. Thank you to those who kept me healthy and relatively happy – a fantastic Naturopath, Ashleigh Higgins (http://www.ashleighhigginsnd.com/), a great dentist and staff at Cook’s Bay Dental (http://cooksbaydental.com/), and my physiotherapy (http://www.kesact.com/). I’m a tough client and hard to please, but you’ve all impressed me and I recommend each of you often. It’s been a whirlwind of a year but I feel like I’m forgetting something. If you remember sharing an activity with me, leave a comment and jog my memory.

Thank you to everyone who added to the rich fabric of my life in 2016, family as well as old friends and new friends. I treasure each and every one of you and look forward to making more memories and having more adventures and new experiences in 2017.

Unexpected Lessons

bluelogoA speech given a couple of months ago by a fellow Toastmaster had a profound effect on me. I find myself thinking often about what she had spoken of, and many times I thought about forwarding the advice to others. It was her 10th speech project (Speaking to Inspire) and so meaningful and inspiring. It was about the 7 things we need to let go of in our lives and I wrote them down. I wanted to create a poster and hang it above my desk to help me remember and stay aware. I’ll share them with you further down.

As I thought about how much that message meant to me, I reflected on how much I’ve learned from everyone since I’ve been in Toastmasters; it’s been more than just learning to speak with confidence, or to listen, and evaluate.

From watching advanced leaders I’ve learned (and am still learning):

  • how to build trust and teams (thanks Lori and Merri)
  • how to run a meeting and parliamentary procedures (thanks Paul)
  • how to build enthusiasm and remain positive (thanks Brian)
  • the art of using humour (thanks Mark)
  • how to lead by example (thanks Al)
  • how to encourage and inspire (thanks Merri)
  • the value of servant leadership

Thanks everyone who gave me an opportunity to learn.

From watching advanced speakers I’ve learned how to pause, how to move with purpose, how to use the stage, how to use humour to connect with the audience, and how to use vocal variety and pitch to get my message across. And to always have a message; give the audience something to take away with them. And that’s what my fellow Toastmasters have done. They’ve given me so much knowledge that I took away with me. Some small things such as: it takes 21 days to develop a habit (thanks Debbie), some larger things such as the inspiring tenth speech given by my fellow Toastmaster (thanks Jane).

In between, I learned:

  • how to select the perfect dog for your family (thanks Ron)
  • why Canada geese fly in a V shape, and how they support each other in flight (there’s a lot we can learn from them) (thanks Lori)
  • about the re-oxygenation of Lake Simcoe (thanks Ron)
  • where the expression “never let them get your goat” came from (thanks Eric)
  • how to handle stress (thanks Lynne)
  • how to sell a solution instead of a product (thanks Craig)
  • how to create a vision board (thanks Monica)
  • how to identify weeds local to the area (thanks Bart)
  • about the inequality of power in Ontario (which has to do with electricity, not politics) (thanks Rita)
  • how proportional voting works (thanks Paul)
  • how to make plum pudding (thanks Nancy)
  • about Victorian architectural designs in Hamilton (thanks Marlena)
  • what’s really in Haggis (thanks Iain)

So, even if I had just joined Toastmasters and never said a word, I have still learned so much from so many wonderful people.

The profound message I heard a few months ago, that I am often conscious of, is the 7 things we need to give up (thanks Jane):

  1. Let go of toxic people
  2. Let go of past regrets
  3. Let go of the need to be right
  4. Let go of feeling sorry for yourself
  5. Let go of negative thoughts
  6. Let go of limiting beliefs
  7. Let go of worrying about the future.

Jane challenged us to track our thoughts for 72 hours. It’s been a month for me, and I’m still checking my thoughts.

While I’m in this grateful state of mind, I think the most gratitude must go to the person who brought me into Toastmasters, which ultimately led to me developing confidence and a network of incredible friends. He was my mentor in the club, as well as my mentor in ways he may not realize, as I’ve watched his professionalism, his discretion and his ethics, and I’m still learning. Thanks Paul!

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Evolution

Interesting fact:

Nintendo started as a trading card company. They released a few board games in the sixties. They also created Mahjong and Twister. All before they came out with a video game. An excellent example of how companies should adapt in order to stay relevant.

On a more personal level:

I have used Windows computers for years and even took a Linux course and played around with different distros, but with Linux, android tablets and smartphones, I was constantly trying to find a way to do something on the android device the way I could do it on Windows.

An interesting twist happened today.

I tried to find a way to do something on my Windows computer, similar to how I can do it on my android tablet.

It reminds me of when Fahrenheit changed to Celsius, I thought it would take me forever (if ever) to make the change mentally. And then one day I realized that I was mentally trying to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius because I understood Celsius better. (And spellcheck just told me that I was even starting to forget how to spell Fahrenheit.) I also remember the time when they introduced litres/100 kms (crap, now I feel old!). The change from mpg (miles per gallon) just kind of happened. Now I can’t even translate mph to litres/100 kms. Or I can’t be bothered. Either way, I’ve adapted.

Speaking of feeling old, we’re NOT going to talk about mimeographs, teletypes, dictaphone, Faulker / Pittman shorthand, or ditto machines, because I haven’t a clue what any of that means! And don’t you dare ask me what they are. God created Google – look it up!

Even as people, we must adapt to a changing society. Or get left behind and some day die out. 

Forgotten.jpg

Obsolete.


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Tears

tearsI cry a lot. I have always cried a lot. I’ve cried for many reasons. When I was a little girl, my teachers made fun of me in school for crying so much. One teacher, at William G. Miller Public School in Scarborough refused to let me go on a school trip to Niagara Falls because I cried so much.

I didn’t have an easy childhood. There was a stigma to being in the Children’s Aid Society (CAS). Neighbour’s children were not allowed to play with me, a teacher at Norman Cook Public School refused to talk to me. I was tainted with the sins of my biological parents. I had been abused and had nightmares. Life scared me and I had trouble fitting in. The loneliness hurt very badly.

So I cried.

My foster-father made me buy my own tissues – as if somehow that would make me reluctant to cry. Finally he tried to understand.

“Why do you cry so much?” he asked me quizzically.

“Because it makes me feel better” I explained. “When I feel sad and alone, or if my feelings are hurt, I cry about it and then I feel better.”

He shook his head in confusion. I knew he couldn’t understand; he couldn’t relate to me. I loved him for trying though.

My crying continued.

In my twenties, I was often told at work that I needed to grow a thicker skin. The only way that would happen was if I stopped feeling though, or stopped caring. I kept crying.

I cried around family too. If my daughter came home from school and told me someone had called her a name or hurt her, I cried. I could almost feel her pain. I took her pain and disappointment on myself; how I wished I could remove her pain in doing so.

Seeing homeless people or abandoned or mistreated animals breaks my heart. I have only to close my eyes and imagine the suffering in the world to feel the pain; warm tears will follow.

In my thirties, a woman named Jacqui told me it didn’t look good to cry at work. She suggested the stairwells. They quickly became my “go to” places. If I thought I was going to start crying, I would suddenly remember something I had “left” somewhere else, and would dash to the stairs to go and get it.

Once, in a meeting during a difference of opinion, someone said to me “Are you going to start crying now?” I realized it takes more than that to make me cry now; first I have to care.

I’m glad I cry. Besides the release, it reminds me that I am alive, that I have a heart, and that I care. I worry about people who never cry. Have they hardened their hearts? Does nothing touch them? Or do they only cry for themselves when they’re alone and nobody can see them?

We cannot fully appreciate the happy times in life until we know what sadness is, so thank God I cry. I love the times when I’m filled with happiness and joy, but when someone makes me cry, they’ve touched my soul. I still have a heart and I can still be hurt. I can still feel the pain when those I love are hurt.

I still cry. Not for myself as often, but for those who are close to me.I cry for the insensitivity of some people. I cry for the future of our world and I cry for  the injustices I see all around me. I cry for you and I cry for me. I cry for all of us.

I’m glad I can still cry.