Tag Archives: positive changes

Failure is the only option.

Failure. To fail. To not succeed. To not accomplish a task. To not complete your objective. It has seriously negative connotations and yet it is simply one part of the learning curve.

I know parents want to shield their children from the evils that exist in the world. We all do.  It is a natural reaction. But I think children need to be exposed to a little more that is less than perfect. If they only experience rainbows and unicorns when they are young, they won’t be able to understand life when they are adults.  Failure is a part of life, a big part. It is one of the best educational tools we have. And if we don’t take advantage of it, the cost down the line can be catastrophic.

We love to regale others with our successes, our shining wins.  No one ever likes to talk about a loss, our mistakes, our failures. Somehow, we think it will make us seem less worthy. Whereas I believe the opposite is true. How you deal with your failures, strengthens your character and will provide you with a template for future situations.

An example:  I was 16 and all excited about getting my Driver’s License. The freedom to go where I wanted, when I wanted was intoxicating. I failed my first driving test. I was devastated. I didn’t understand why I had failed but I had. I wallowed for a while in a ‘pity me’ haze. And then my parents pointed out to me that the first test was a trial run. I needed to study more, practice more and I would nail it on the next try. They were right. When I first took the test all I could see was what I would be free to do, I didn’t think at all about my responsibilities with that Driver’s License. There are laws, rules that I had to follow and to respect. I did the second time around. Failure was good for me.

When I was a youth, I belonged to The Girl Guides of Canada. It was a wonderful organization; it probably still is. I was taught how to put up a tent properly, how to appreciate the outdoors, how to work in a team. I was also taught how to make a fire without a match. The first 50 times I failed. I failed again and again and again. What I didn’t do was stop trying. And eventually I became one of the best at making fire using two sticks and a little sweat equity. It was such a moment of achievement for me because of my previous failures. I learned to never give up. It was a life lesson I never forgot.

The only way you will truly fail, is to never try.

 

 

Thought Processes

Have you ever stopped and wondered why you think the way you do? I know that’s an odd question but where does your mind wander to when you’re not focussed on anything. I will be quite honest, I try very hard to keep my mind engaged because when it is allowed to stray, well, things can get interesting.

It was in one of those moments of mindless meanderings when I remembered the many times I’ve had to deal with unprofessional sales clerks. There was the one who could not get past the wheelchair or the one who was smacking her gum, twirling her hair and talking to a friend about a boy.  The fact that I wanted to buy something simply did not enter into her mind even though she was looking right at me. That was probably 20 years ago but I wonder what she’s doing now. Has she gone on to blow expectations and become a PhD chemistry professor? Call me mean but I think not.

Back in the good old days (a year ago) I used to love to listen as people walked by. You never got the entire conversation but it was fascinating to think where it could take you. Like the time I followed a couple after overhearing that he was “…killing them”. Oh, I was intrigued! It’s OK he was just killing his plants. But out of that brief conversation I came up with a story about some actual killing. Yes, there is an evil side to my character and every now and then I embrace it.

When I am standing in front of a dog with a cookie in my hand, I know exactly what he is thinking. The drool is a dead giveaway. But when I’m standing looking at complete strangers it’s impossible to have any idea of what’s going on in their mind. Are they wondering if they locked the door or turned off the porch light? Are they thinking about gifts for a dear friend? Or perhaps how they plan to kill that annoying next-door neighbour? There is just no way to know.

That is fascinating to me. I have, in the past, created stories on the spot to describe what I could see. It had no basis in fact, it was pure fantasy but it was fun to give these people a life and a future directly out of my addled brain.

I once gave a man a wife, a mistress and a sexy secretary all because he was standing waiting for the Train with a smile on his face. It was a nice face but it looked like he had a secret. Those are the best ones to play with. And the upside to this game is nothing is ever written down because I can’t remember them and no one is besmirched. This is what I do when my mind is allowed to ramble and my thought processes are given free rein.  Be afraid, be very afraid…

Are you offended yet?

Read on,  I’m sure I will find a way to offend somebody. Or at least those who are always looking for something to offend them. Maybe I got all the good readers who are offended in the same way I am, by people who are easily offended.

Why do we judge the past based on the sensibilities of the 21st century? Are people not aware that the time was different back then? Was it right? People thought it  was for that time. How exactly are we going to be judged in 100 years, in 50 years? Are people going to be offended by our idiocy? I cannot answer that. But I can tell you that we will be judged. If it was wrong in the past, let us change it now and for the future. That should be how we are judged.

We are offended when people don’t agree with us. We are offended when we infer their words to different meanings other than was intended. We are offended when we don’t get what we want . And yet why aren’t we offended by racism and hatred and bullying? These are issues that should get our blood boiling the way we let loose when we are offended. And yet we don’t. Hatred is something we will never truly get rid of but we can find out why we hate. I hate some foods . (Which I will not mention here because there are people that actually like these things and I don’t wish to offend.) But how can I hate a person when I don’t know them? How can I hate a country that I’ve never been to? How can I hate an idea when I don’t even know what it is?

And yet people hate for the most obscure reasons. ‘Her eyes are blue.’ ‘He doesn’t like cats.’ ‘I don’t understand what they are saying.’ I wonder what would happen if  we took the time to look past the things we don’t like? I wonder if we would find someone that we might actually care for?  I wonder if someone looked at me and decided to hate because they didn’t like the colour of my hair?  When will we stop hating the unknown?

Children are not born hating. Bullies do not spring up out of nowhere. These are learned behaviours and they are taught by adults. The entire world has a responsibility to its children to put a stop to the negativities they grow up around. I know this is a simplistic idea and certainly the whole world cannot be fixed by the snap of my fingers but just because it can’t all be fixed at one time, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start.

The Last Christmas Gift

Elsie looked around the room. There was carnage everywhere. A tornado passing through would have left less damage. Bodies were strewn throughout the mayhem. She chuckled. Just another Christmas morning with children.

One of the bodies stirred. A little fist came up from beneath the wrapping paper it had been curled up under. A pile of boxes sneezed. Another child was stirring. Elsie thought perhaps there were a few more to come. But she knew the fresh smell of coffee would probably wake all the adults up. Sure enough, the love of her life wandered into the room, his hands wrapped around a hot steamy mug. With no hesitation he handed it to Elsie and returned from whence he came to get another.

A few more adults showed up with coffee at hand and a tray of hot chocolate for the children. It was Christmas morning. It was after the frenzy of opening gifts. After breakfast. Everyone had been up so early for the main event that the naps became inevitable. The children slept curled around their newfound bounty while the adults found more comfortable settings. Elsie didn’t need a nap. She wanted to watch her charges. There is nothing more spiritual then the breath of sleeping children, safe and secure in their surroundings.

There was a different feeling in the room as everyone gathered once again. They all knew what was coming. Except for one. Malcolm was new to the group, to the family. He was still getting used to the Western dynamic. He had been born into soul crushing poverty in another country. His family had been killed in a local war that no one understood.  He was alone. But he had been found by people who cared and so began his journey to this moment.

“Malcolm,” send Elsie, “There is one more Christmas gift for the family. That includes you. But you don’t know the history so I’m going to tell you how this all started.”

Malcolm set up straighter, he was interested to know how things worked here and he was curious about his new family. So, he listened very carefully.

Elsie continued: “When my Great, Great, Great Grandfather came to this country he was very poor. But his parents believed they could find a better life, a better future in the New World. They risked everything. The first few years were hard but they were a hard-working family. That first Christmas looked like it was going to be pretty bleak. There was barely enough money for food let alone presents. But there was a wise patriarch and he refused to be sad. He said the goose had wandered across the street and died. His beloved wife said nothing as she picked the buck shot out of the breast of their Christmas goose.

They said grace and gave thanks for their bounty. The light was dim and the curtains were thin but they knew that others were worse off so they gave thanks. And that’s when my ancestor brought out the Last Christmas Gift.”

Elsie sat back in her chair and smiled.  She looked at the faces around her beaming with anticipation. She loved this part of Christmas.

“Ever since then we have honoured the tradition that was started so many years ago.”

As if by magic a small beautifully wrapped package appeared in her lap. There were many ooohs and aaaahs from her audience. And not just the children!

With studied patience Elsie peeled back the wrapping paper. And then with a flick of her wrist a small wooden carving appeared in the palm of her hand. It was a little drummer boy.

Elsie smiled. “Would anyone like to tell me what gift this is?”

Malcolm looked confused. He didn’t know the story of the Little Drummer Boy. And then something miraculous happened. A little tow-hair girl stood up and walked to Malcolm. She wrapped her little arms around him and said:

“His gift is to us all. He was a little drummer boy who had no presents to give the newborn King, Jesus Christ so he played his drum. He gave all he had in his heart and it was the most precious gift of all. That’s what we all need to do. And it will be precious.”

 

The end

 

 

 

 

Cannoli

Now I have heard a tale,

Of some pretty mighty folk.

Who one day tried to band together,

Searching for a joke.

 

They searched the wilds far up north,

Then east and west they went.

Lakes and oceans, fields and hills,

But still they did lament.

 

Then someone had a simple thought,

A cult might just be right.

They could live pure and free,

Without some nasty fight.

 

There would of course be rules,

They’d really have to follow.

But some of them were cool,

And none were mean or hollow.

 

Food and drink would be the norm,

Laughter the song of choice.

Friendship for all together,

And all would have a voice.

 

What a perfect place to live,

Far away we all would be.

No hate or strife belongs with us,

I think you would agree.

 

Now I think I’ll rest my head,

And dream of big blue skies.

Perhaps I’ll eat cannoli,

If that cult would be my prize.

 

An Interesting Tale of an Ordinary Life

I have lived an absolutely incredibly fascinating life. And so have you. Of course, other people may not think so. They may not buy a book by an ordinary woman but then maybe they would.

I believe that each of us has a tale or two in our past that would amaze or perhaps horrify the general public.  But it was our life and we lived it as best we could. I am inordinately pleased that cell phones did not exist when I was a child. There’s a great deal of my childhood that, although I remember it fondly, I would not like to be reminded of in pictures. Bad hair days meant something completely different than it does today. We are so concerned with appearances that we often forget substance.

And while I was bullied a little bit when I was in my youth it is nothing compared to what children go through now. My bullies looked me in the eye when they were being mean. I had the option to go to my parents and name names. Then respective parents would get together and the bullying stopped.  Nowadays it is done anonymously with the protection of cyberspace and it hits much deeper. It hurts more profoundly. It causes significantly more damage. And the ramifications for being a bully? It’s rare that they’re caught. And that is a sad statement on our society.

I have always been a champion of Human Rights but what happens when those Human Rights interfere with the Individual’s Rights? Is enough, enough? I remember a saying about an old Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times”. Well, we do and yes, it is a bit of a curse. I’ll bet in the next few years there are going to be a number of books written by supposedly famous people about the struggles they survived during The Year of the Pandemic. Obscene amounts of money will exchange hands so that we can read about other people. Probably not terribly interesting people. But they are famous so that makes them readable. They still put their pants on one leg at a time.

I think the most interesting people are the ones who aren’t famous. They’re the ones who go out and get the job done because it’s the right thing to do. The people who show compassion, ingenuity and selflessness simply because that’s the kind of person they are. They don’t go looking for accolades or monetary gain.  They simply keep their eyes open for the next person that would benefit from their assistance. Those are the interesting people.

I think everyone of us has something fascinating we can teach someone else. And I think every other person out there has something I need to know. And that is what makes life so very interesting.  Don’t you think?

Seeing

I was sitting on my balcony recently, causally glancing over the buildings in the near distance and I saw something I had never seen.  Now I have lived in this town, in this apartment building, in this apartment, for more than twenty-five years.  I have been venturing out on to this balcony literally hundreds of times. And I never saw it before?  It wasn’t the fact that it had been there decades longer than I have, it was that I hadn’t noticed it.

Our eyes may look but it is our brain that sees.  How many times have you walked into a room, looked around and missed seeing the person you were there to meet? They were standing in plain sight but you missed them.  How many times have you bumped into something or someone right in front of you?  Your eyes were open but your brain was distracted.

I was walking in a mall one day many years ago when I was startled by an old friend, just inches from my face.  He said that he had been waving and while I was looking at him, he realized I hadn’t seen him.  I hadn’t.  My mind, my brain was preoccupied.  So, while the saying ‘seeing is believing’ is catchy, I don’t believe it.

Four people see a traffic accident.  They will have four different accounts.  Ask any First Responder.  We all SEE things differently. Our eyes see and our brain interprets. And THAT is what we witness.

I look out over a pristine forest and I see great beauty in the flora and fauna. Someone who makes their living from cutting down those trees sees his children with food on the table and a roof over their heads. We are looking at the exact same thing and yet we ‘see’ something completely different. And therein lies the conundrum.

What is the truth? What is the truth to you?  There are some facts that are irrefutable and yet some people refuse to believe them. Why? Perhaps they are unable to handle the truth. And it is so difficult to sift through the masses of information and misinformation that we are bombarded with every day.  Sometimes it is easier to listen to whoever speaks the loudest.  Sad but true. What does that say about us as a people?  Mistakes have been made in the past that affected the entire world because the masses listened to the wrong voice. How can we ensure that doesn’t happen again?

Oh and what was it that I had not noticed?  It was the name of the building I was looking at in four-foot letters!

 

I Remember

As I am sure most of the world knows, we are all dealing with having to be isolated, away from each other. Many of us are dealing with having to be on our own, alone. And that is very new. I am enjoying my hermit mode but today I wasn’t interested in reading or watching TV, I wanted to think, I wanted to remember. So I made myself a little challenge: how much could I remember of my childhood. To put things into context I have more than six decades of experiences to remember.

Because I have lived in so many places and I know what years I did, I can calculate where my memories fit in the whole scheme of things.

Winnipeg, Manitoba  ages 0-5

I remember my very first friend:  Tanis.  I liked dogs better than I did most children.  Tanis was a boxer. I don’t remember any of the kids.

Kirkland Lake, Northern Ontario ages 5 – 8

I remember picking blueberries for my mother to make a pie. I had a pail but I probably ate as much as I put in that pail. I remember the rocks we had to climb. It was part of the Canadian Shield. If I think hard enough, I can feel the stone beneath my hands and smell the grass. I remember the houses we lived in, that I played in.  I remember a horse and sulky racing along the main street. (A sulky is a lightweight cart with two wheels and a seat for the driver)

Good memories.

Saint John, New Brunswick ages 8 – 13

I can remember walking back from a local swimming hole with a group of boys and girls and it was hot. It was hot enough that I took off my shirt. A boy came up to me and was horrified that I would take my shirt off, he told me it was not allowed because I was a girl. I’m retorted that I might be a girl but I didn’t have anything to prove I was a woman. Or something along those lines. His comment upset me and I went home and told my mother. I don’t remember her reaction but I don’t remember being upset again. I also did not take off my shirt again, in public.

I remember watching kittens play beneath the feet of huge horses. It was a working farm that my friend Marion lived on. The horses were Clydesdales  or Percherons, really big working horses but so incredibly gentle. I remember playing with the piglets. Until they grew up and became mean.  They were destined for the pot.  I spent a lot of time on that farm. The family was so incredibly generous.

I remember Kathy T. and her cat Rusty.  Rusty was an outdoor cat at Kathy’s home but he was best friends with my dog Beau and would come and sleep on my bed at night.

I could continue but this post is long enough.  I am pleased that I could still recall those idyllic times. The person I am today was formed in those distant times and I was lucky, my childhood was a positive one. I plan on one day in the future, looking back on these days.  It has been a rough time but it could have been worse.  I am thankful for the blessings of today, small though they may be.

I enjoyed traipsing through my past.  If your past is remembered, it is not gone.  How about you? Any memories you would like to remember?

 

 

 

 

 

The Canadian Shield  is a large area of exposed Precambrian igneous and high-grade metamorphic rocks (geological shield) that forms the ancient geological core of the North American continent. Glaciation has left the area only a thin layer of soil, through which the composition of igneous rock resulting from long volcanic history is frequently visible.[3] With a deep, common, joined bedrock region in eastern and central Canada, the Shield stretches north from the Great Lakes to the Arctic Ocean, covering over half of Canada and most of Greenland; it also extends south into the northern reaches of the United States. Human population is sparse and industrial development is minimal,[4] but mining is prevalent.    WikiPedia

 

 

Auto Correct

  1. Auto correct

For sometime now I have been threatening to write ups about auto correct. Guess what today is? I Wai type using a set of headphones and a program that prints what I say. I must speak clearly and enunciate correctly. But I also must contend with the nefarious auto correct. It doesn’t always like what I say nor does it know the difference between 22 and two or which witch is which. It amuses me and it frustrates me.

There is a wonderful joke I remember about a woman who is texting her boss to say that she is home sick with a cold. The auto correct sent the message at home in bed with a clown. I laughed myself silly. Now I will admit that day I am being super careful to see how much I can get out correctly. And wouldn’t you know it, today the auto car seems to be taking a break. I spoke too soon but we all go through this.

I was doing an art show a few years ago and they asked me for a bit of a biography. Where did I get my ideas for painting and so on. I wrote about how I had canoed in northern Ontario and swim in the ocean off the Atlantic provinces. And you see auto corrected exactly what someone did to my biography. Instead of using the word swim, no my dictation will not take it. There are three chances, I said tenses: swim, swim, swim. Nope my dictation will not take it. So what I’m going to do is I am going to take this a few paragraphs and correct them. Some of the errors are AutoCorrect and some of the errors are my dictation program refusing to recognize words.

Does this frustrate me? Yes. But life is a continual speedbump. Some of them are easy to step over and some are a challenge. But it sure as hell ain’t boring!

 

2 . AutoCorrect

For some time now I have been threatening to write a post about AutoCorrect. Guess what today is? I am typing using a set of headphones and a program that prints what I say. I must speak clearly and enunciate correctly. But I also must contend with the nefarious AutoCorrect. It doesn’t always like what I say nor does it know the difference between to, too and two or which witch is which. It amuses me and it frustrates me.

There is a wonderful joke I remember about a woman who is texting her boss to say that she is home in bed sick with a cold. The AutoCorrect sent the message “at home in bed with a clown”. I laughed myself silly. Now I will admit that today I am being super careful to see how much I can get out correctly. And wouldn’t you know it, today the Autocorrect seems to be taking a break. I spoke too soon but we’ll all get through this.

I was doing an art show a few years ago and they asked me for a bit of a biography. Where did I get my ideas for painting and so on? I wrote about how I have canoed in northern Ontario and swum in the ocean off the Atlantic provinces. And AutoCorrect did exactly what someone did to my biography. Instead of using the word swum, they used swam.  There are three tenses: swim, swam, swum. My dictation will not take it and neither will AutoCorrect. So, I am going to take these few paragraphs and correct them. Some of the errors are AutoCorrect and some of the errors are my dictation program refusing to recognize words.

Does this frustrate me? Yes. But life is a continual set of speed bumps. Some of them are easy to step over and some are a challenge. But it sure as hell ain’t boring!

 

 

 

Merriam Webster says:

 

Swim is an irregular verb; swam is the past tense of swim, while swum is the past participle. Swum is used after have, as in “I have swum in that pool before.”

 

Awkward

 

We have all had those moments that are a little, well, awkward. Sometimes they are funny moments, even endearing.  Sometimes you want the world to end to hide your shame. When I think of that word, I always think of an incident involving a stage, an audience and a pair of fishnet stockings. I jest not.

Before you get too far down that rabbit hole, let me explain. It was part of an avant-garde play I was doing in University. The majority of the characters spent their time hiding behind wooden boxes and would jump up and sit on a box to say their lines and then hide again. Think of a Jack-in-the-box.  Seems simple enough. Hahaha. Anyone who has ever worn a pair of fishnet stockings knows that they are tough, steel tough.  My costume was simple but those fishnet stockings tripped me up quite badly. They got stuck on a nail that someone had forgotten to remove from the wood box. Whatever the stockings were made from wouldn’t rip. So, I missed my cue to retreat behind the box, more than once.  It took me several minutes to work the nail loose so that I could retreat. I don’t think the audience noticed but my cast mates did. I took a little ribbing after that.

I’m not going to regale you with my many moments of awkwardness over the last 60 years because, well, this post is not that long. But it could be! I’ve been on stage, forgotten my lines and had to improvise. I’ve been on a date when I forgot my date’s name. Now that was awkward!  It’s OK I figured it out before he noticed. There wasn’t a second date.

Then there was the time I was visiting a friend’s cottage.  There must have been 10 or 15 people in the room when I inadvertently bumped into a floor lamp as I was about to sit down.   A noisy room for some reason went eerily silent as I turned to the floor lamp and apologized. It did not go unnoticed. Welcome to my world.

Someone once said to me that you can judge the integrity of an individual by how well they handle knotted Christmas lights. When you think about it, that is quite wise. I have seen the frustration, the anger that often arises. I have also known people to simply buy new ones rather than face the daunting chore of unravelling of last year’s.

I am not the first person to have to deal with an awkward situation nor will I be the last. But aren’t they just moments in our lives to be lived as best we can or as the worst we can?  It’s all about how we deal in the moment when it’s happening to us or around us. We can find the humour and compassion to survive both.