Sunday, April 12, 2015

No, I think it was me all along....

I am not quite sure how I stumbled along this one (trolling through the library lists perhaps), however, it was a surprisingly great read.

Right now, it feels like certain things are crossing my path because it might just be the right time that I am open to the "messages".  A few examples:

Move differently. (working on this one, see the earlier blog that I started to think about this).

Balance.  (a theme of my 40s that seems to be a little easier to contemplate as our kids are getting older).

Healthier lifestyle.  This has been a lifelong struggle for me.  Reading this book was liberating in sense.  I really appreciate her honesty in talking about her body, her personal relationships, her relationship with food, and how she changed her course. I have always been a little overweight.  Maybe what attracted me to this book was the picture on the front.  That girl could  have been me.  Hence, when I was thinking about a title for this post, that was the most natural thing to call it. Andie talks about the times she felt like her body betrayed her (for not being the right size) and how she emotionally ate.  She talks about how food was a constant companion when her life fell apart, and how things came to a head when she was 20 and ate her entire birthday cake.  There are some food excesses that I just can't relate to, but I can relate to feeling like my body betrayed me, the resentment I have felt when clothes shopping, and the love I have felt for shoes because I have been a "10" as long as I can remember. A lot of the time I don't look in the mirror, and I am critical of the images I see in photos.  In this current moment, I am starting small.  My goals are to eat more vegetables, and to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. I have used my elliptical more in the last week (only twice) than I have in the last year since I bought it (which was twice, okay, equal amount as of the writing of this).  I am worth the time to take better care of myself. I want to weigh less. I want to feel better in how I look in shorts.  I want to feel like I have more endurance, and more physical capability. I want to zipline and not be worried about my overall weight. This book will help because it showed me a success story.  Every piece won't match, but the decision that Andie made, the times she stumbled, and her honesty will help me in my journey.

Worthiness. I am worth a haircut, going to massage therapy on occaison, and for a good coffee.  I am worth taking the time to take proper breaks, to take time out to walk, and time out to read my favourite books.  It is so easy to put yourself last, and take care of everyone else's needs (even the house and that cat), but it is also important to take care of ourselves.  We are so worth it.  Why are we training to feel that we aren't, even when we are bombarded with messages that say "just do it"???

Saying No, and being okay with it. This came up on Friday in a PD workshop that I was in, and it comes up in life as a woman, and a mom.  Maybe even as a people pleaser in the past who bent over backwards to help people.  It can be okay to say NO.  People do it all the time.  It is part of being honest, and setting ourselves up for success.  Sometimes we need a reminder about this.

Andie also has a blog, and there are some interesting tidbits. I am glad I read this book, I am glad to be in a place where I can take and leave the parts that work, and don't work for me.  I have thought about this book for a few days, and I am hopeful my bookclub may want to read it... I think that a truly interesting and vulnerable conversation will happen through this (not that we don't already have some pretty great conversations). It is also funny how after you read a very personal story like this, you do feel like you could be on a first-name basis with a complete strange.  Telling our stories is important.  It is part of our process, and it can truly help other people who need the inspiration.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Even if you aren't a fan of rowing... worth a dive between these pages

This book has a lot of things going for it, IMHO.  I don't read a lot of non fiction books, but it seems that when I do, they are about sports.  I believe in the power of sport (whatever one happens to float your boat), and what can happen through and as a result of sport for both individuals and communities.

There are many different ways that you could speak about this book.  This group of young men that came together in Seattle to become the victorious crew in the Berlin Olympics of 1936 is inspiring.  That they managed their feat with the backdrop of the great depression, and then the rise of Hitler adds yet another layer.  That this was a west coast team with humble roots that emerged victorious, is yet another element to this Olympic tale of resilience, perseverance, and team work.

This is a great book.  It is one I may purchase so all my boys can read it at a later date.  Brown really captures something about the time, about the West Coast, about rowing, and even offers a different viewpoint in to Germany in the 1930s.  As someone who read a lot of Holocaust literature, this provides a different lens to viewing Germany and a new entry point in to the history from a different point of view. This is also about the poetry of being on the water, of growing together in to a team, and about what happens to individual when they persevere in the face of difficulty. Each chapter starts with a quote from George Pocock, and I actually read them. Many of them are quietly profound.  There heartbreaking moments in this novel, and moments that lift your heart.  What more can you hope for from a book?  Definitely an inspiring read, and well worth your time to read.

I do think that we stumble on the right books, at the right time.  Sometimes for entertainment, and sometimes for more obscure reasons (such as lessons we need to learn or new thoughts to have bloom in our imagination).  This book is inspiring.  It is a quick read, it easily weaves a few personal stories with the larger picture.  For me, I remember being an undergraduate and wishing that I had the courage to go up to the rowing table and join the club.  I loved to row (just a plain old rowboat) when I was a kid visiting my grandparents in Sechelt, and to canoe, and I just didn't have the gumption at the time to walk up to that table.  I wish I did, but looking back, hockey was starting to figure pretty big in my life at the time, and I don't think I would have had the time for both sports.  I did dragon boating for three years, which already feels like a lifetime ago, and I loved it.  What I would like to do next is outrigger.  My goals for 2015 would be to get myself out paddle boarding in White Rock at least once this year, and to figure out how I can get myself out on the water in my local community.  I don't see hockey happening for me anytime soon, and perhaps this is the time to get back out on a boat.  In this way, this book has been a reminder for me, the peace that I feel out on the water, and the satisfying feeling of being with a team that has accomplished something physical together.  For me, there is also the lessons about working together as a team, of finding your "swing" as a group, and about giving yourself up to trusting your team.  This can be about anything in life, even your closest friendships, family, and your spouse.  It is also about the investment of time in to yourself, and the people that are part of your team.  This for me is especially true when I think about work and the people around me.  We haven't always gotten along, and there are times when I could say that things weren't well.  There is also something equally to be said about when you stick it out and persevere, time passes, and you are able to work through the challenges and get to somewhere you would never have ended up if things had always been 'sunshine and rainbows'.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The right coast.

I love the BC coast. I could not imagine living anywhere else.  I love the forest, I love the ocean.  I love the great blue skies (when you can see them) and I love the rain that falls... hmmm... that weirdly started to sound like the "Discovery Song"!  The last week truly felt like a gift spending time first  with my immediate family, and then more of our other family members.

It has been an amazing week since I left work a week ago. 

We travelled through Duke Point - what a different ferry experience, especially considering that this is one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.  It was great.  Everything went smoothly coming and going, and we didn't have to pay for any reservation fees.  I think we have this down to a fine art.

We stayed two days in Parksville at Beach Acres (love it) and then two days at my coz's place in Nanaimo.  Over the last few years, we have worked on a great tradition.  To Nanaimo for Easter, and for them to come out our way for Thanksgiving.  It has worked out well.  It seems like every time we get together, it is getting easier, and more fun. 

Wednesday was a good day - we had lunch with my Aunt Sue, and then we checked in at BA.  We went for dinner at the British Bobby (interior decor was cool but the fish and chips didn't quite hit the expected mark), and then back for a campfire on the beach.  It took a few times to get it going, but it was awesome being on the beach, with a campfire, and having the first marshmellows of the season. I am not sure if we should have introduced s'mores... the boys have  a wee addiction to them now...

Thursday was amazing.  We did it all.  We started at Englishman River Falls and all of us went to the stunning upper falls.  C and I hiked around to the lower falls where K and B picked us up.  Compared to the unexpected beauty and bounty of the upper falls, the lower falls were a bit anticlimatic.  These falls floored me and literally brought a tear to my eye.  They are almost shaped like a wide horseshoe, and then they cascade in to a cut in the rock and then travel for about a 100 feet before they start to plunge down again.  There was a lot of mist in the air, everything was damp, and the trees reached up to the heavens.  It was one of those magical places that catch you off guard.

Next up, Little Qualicum Falls.  This time we started at the lower falls, and then C and I walked around to the upper falls.  It was really nice, but I think we were a little spoiled having been to Englishman River first.  At the upper falls, there was a memorial to a kid that had fallen in to the falls a few years ago - 17 years old.  This falls under a 'preventable' accident.. and we do talk to our boys about them.  There is something to be said about 'calculated' risks.  We had lunch in the parking lot - surrounded by forest, and the sounds of birds.

We hit the highway, followed the shores of Cameron Lake (reminds me of Crescent Lake in the Olympic Forest in WA) and then stopped at Cathedral Grove.  It has been a few years since we have stopped here, and it continues to be breathtaking.  Seeing the old growth trees, and touching them, and breathing in the rich, fertile soils, it puts things in perspective how tiny each of our individual lives are.  We accidentally did the "longer" walk... and all of it was great.  I think the kids really enjoyed it too - this is the important stuff for them to remember...

Then we hit Coombs for some snacks, and then to the Community Park near the beach in Parksville, and then back to BA for a swim and hot tub, and then out to Rathtrevor Beach for a walk (love it there...) saw a few eagles and had a up close and personal experience with a few deer, and then we hit Starbucks for some teas and hot chocolates and hit the community beach (reminded me of parking with my gran when we used to visit - we would get coffees and sit near the beach in later years) and then finally home.  It was an awesome day.

Then up the coast and back to Nanaimo for a great time with our family.  K got to go fishing with the boys on Saturday and the girls took the kids bowling and to the park.  We ended up having a crab feast at midnight, and we caught an early ferry home on Sunday.  All of it was good.  Great experiences, good food, our kids had a lot of fun together... K and I even got to have our coffees together on the beach alone on Friday morning... like our trip to Seattle last November... this was a much needed break and good time for us to be together.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Fulfilling a promise.

We tried sledge hockey tonight.

It was awesome.  Easier, and harder than what I had anticipated.  Both boys did great. I was proud that C didn't need to wait for us before he went out and tried it, and for B, because he was finally hitting the ice and learning what he could potentially do in the future on the ice, on his terms.

It was huge.

I can't wait to see where this will go.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

And now for something a little darker...

Unapologetically, I really enjoyed this book.  After skimming some reviews in goodreads, this appears to be quite the polarizing book and folks either love it, or don't connect with it at all. There are few middle of the road responses to this.

I think what turns a few folks off is that it is compared as a coming of age novel, yet a bit darker, than Harry Potter or Narnia. This is a little bit true (as someone that is currently re-reading HP with their eldest) but doesn't quite knock the nail on the head.  This is something completely different - a little darker in the sense that not everything seems to work out as well, and that the characters are far from perfect and are not always all that likeable.

This was a surprisingly quick read - I had 250 pages to go on Friday and this is due at the library tomorrow.. I didn't quite see me finishing it time, but I did.  This is the kind of book that warns you to be careful about what you wish for, and what happens when we keep running from ourselves.  The magic that is learned in this book, isn't always done easily, and people pay a price for performing it.  Mistakes happen.  It can also been viewed as an academic pursuit, and it does delve in to what happens to magical families, or folks from non-magical families.  This also delves in to another world that was at first just a fantasy, but which the characters find themselves a part of in the second half of the novel.  This is a different coming of age novel, and I really enjoyed it for its differences.  It isn't quite as enchanting as HP, but then again, it doesn't have to be.  It is the first book of a trilogy, and I will continue to read them.  It feels like the last year has been all about literature and fantasy books.  This is one of the better ones.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Safe sox.

I think I am starting to get the hang of socks.  Years ago, I made a pair for B, and then a pair for C.. and then I abandoned making socks.  Then last fall, during Outlander, I made my BFF a pair of socks watching episodes.  Last fall, I made her socks, a scarf for my aunt, a hat and scarf for my mom, a hat for my dad, and I believe a few dishcloths.  Truly, you can never have enough handmade knitted dishcloths lying around.. I have discovered they make great teacher's gifts...

Now it is a new season, and it was time to pick up the needles again.  I made myself a pair of socks, and now it is C's turn.  These are his pair.  I used this sock recipe Ribbed Socks for Kids (Pattern by Susan B Anderson).  It is a great recipe.  Everything the kids pairs I made to begin with were not.  I made a sock a week! I have left them on the stair so when he comes down the stairs in the morning, he should be able to find them.  Now, I am on to making a pair for Brandon... There is truly something satisfying about sitting on the couch, watching a show, and creating a really cool pair of socks.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Profound.

Impressive.

Gaiman has an amazing world view.  Although I cannot say that I get through his novels at a speedy pace, they are really, really good and completely original.

How to describe this book? Part mythology, part character, part story, part redemption? To have been a fly on the wall when Gaiman and Pratchett were in to their cups telling stories would have been a truly magical thing.  I am sitting here wondering what to write about this book.  It is truly a different kind of fantasy book, one that raises some really interesting points along the way. Gaiman is truly brilliant, and I am reminded of writers like Christopher Moore in a way, where their intelligence catches you a bit off guard, and the stories are just so unique that you have to digest them before you can truly understand how they have impacted you.

Here a few random quotes to give you an impression of this book:

From chapter 10 (this one struck home a little having a few folks close to me enjoy gambling)

  • There is a secret that the casinos possess, a secret they hold and guard and prize, the holiest of their mysteries. For most people do not gamble to win money, after all, although that is what is advertised, sold, claimed, and dreamed. But that is merely the easy lie that gets them through the enormous, ever-open, welcoming doors.
    The secret is this: people gamble to lose money. They come to the casinos for the moment in which they feel alive, to ride the spinning wheel and turn with the cards and lose themselves, with the coins, in the slots. They may brag about the nights they won, the money they took from the casino, but they treasure, secretly treasure, the times they lost. It's a sacrifice, of sorts.

From chapter 11 - this passage has stayed with me, and not just because the John Donne quote -

  • No man, proclaimed Donneis an Island, and he was wrong. If we were not islands, we would be lost, drowned in each other’s tragedies. We are insulated (a word that means, literally, remember, made into an island) from the tragedy of others, by our island nature, and by the repetitive shape and form of the stories. The shape does not change: there was a human being who was born, lived, and then, by some means or another, died. There. You may fill in the details from your own experience. As unoriginal as any other tale, as unique as any other life. Lives are snowflakes — forming patterns we have seen before, as like one another as peas in a pod (and have you ever looked at peas in a pod? I mean, really looked at them? There’s not a chance you’d mistake one for another, after a minute’s close inspection), but still unique.
  • Without individuals we see only numbers: a thousand dead, a hundred thousand dead, "casualties may rise to a million." With individual stories, the statistics become people — but even that is a lie, for the people continue to suffer in numbers that themselves are numbing and meaningless. Look, see the child’s swollen, swollen belly, and the flies that crawl at the corners of his eyes, his skeletal limbs: will it make it easier for you to know his name, his age, his dreams, his fears? To see him from the inside? And if it does, are we not doing a disservice to his sister, who lies in the searing dust beside him, a distorted, distended caricature of a human child? And there, if we feel for them, are they now more important to us than a thousand other children touched by the same famine, a thousand other young lives who will soon be food for the flies’ own myriad squirming children?
    We draw our lines around these moments of pain, and remain upon our islands, and they cannot hurt us. They are covered with a smooth, safe, nacreous layer to let them slip, pearllike, from our souls without real pain.
    Fiction allows us to slide into these other heads, these other places, and look out through other eyes. And then in the tale we stop before we die, or we die vicariously and unharmed, and in the world beyond the tale we turn the page or close the book, and we resume our lives.
    life that is, like any other, unlike any other.

From chapter 18

  • None of this can actually be happening. If it makes you more comfortable, you could simply think of it as metaphor. Religions are, by definition, metaphors, after all: God is a dream, a hope, a woman, an ironist, a father, a city, a house of many rooms, a watchmaker who left his prize chronometer in the desert, someone who loves you — even, perhaps, against all evidence, a celestial being whose only interest is to make sure your football team, armybusiness, or marriage thrives, prospers, and triumphs over all opposition.
    Religions are places to stand and look and act, vantage points from which to view the world.
  • People believe, thought Shadow. It's what people do. They believe. And then they will not take responsibility for their beliefs; they conjure things, and do not trust the conjurations. People populate the darkness; with ghosts, with gods, with electrons, with tales. People imagine, and people believe: and it is that belief, that rock-solid belief, that makes things happen.
  • "This is a bad land for gods," said Shadow. As an opening statement it wasn't Friends, Romans, countrymen, but it would do. "You've probably all learned that. The old gods are ignored. The new gods are as quickly taken up as they are abandoned, cast aside for the next big thing. Either you've been forgotten, or you're scared you're going to be rendered obsolete, or maybe you're just getting tired of existing on the whim of people."
  • Shadow shook his head. "You know," he said, "I think I would rather be a man than a god. We don’t need anyone to believe in us. We just keep going anyhow. It’s what we do."