Yvette, had a bear follow her to school one day

I think that trumps a lamb.

When I lived in Squamish, we used to live on a dead end street, 2nd house from the end. Past that was wilderness.

We lived in a Spanish style house with stucco finish. One morning while getting ready for high school my Mom called us into her bedroom. A bear was scratching it’s back against our house. Mom’s bedroom window wasn’t far from the ground. Us three girls watched for a while until the bear walked off, then we continued getting ready for school. I was first to leave as I had the furthest to walk, my sisters were still in elementary school. Part of my route was also down a ravine.

Off I left for school.

When I came home that day, my Mom said how they watched me leave and then right behind me, the bear who had had a nap in our carport, followed along behind me.

I’m glad I wasn’t aware of this until I got home that day. ūüôā

The poor bear was reported by others, and was used as target practise at a local park, left to decompose not a pretty sight.

I left Squamish years ago now, and that wilderness is no longer wilderness, that’s a pity.

Alone, lonely?

Just started watching a movie, a young single person in New York, getting a bowl of soup at a restaurant, and then feeling a bit uncomfortable, and asking them to package it up to go. Being single, and not necessarily young, this had me reflect. Does she feel more alone, eating in a restaurant by herself than she will when she goes home to her empty apartment?

I’ve been living on my own for over 10 years ( for a brief time there was someone else but that is another very long story). In general I am very comfortable living on my own. I am very comfortable with myself for company, yes, on occasion I may answer a question I have, lol, but not often. The truth is we all have a pretty continual inner dialogue, often very hard to turn off, and I just hope that most people are kinder on themselves than they probably are. We do often seem to be more critical of ourselves than others.

Back to the soup. I also love to cook, I actually have in the past read recipe books, and I still enjoy searching the web for recipes. Finding ones that use combinations of ingredients differently than I would expect but that sound intriguing enough that I want to try this new adventure in taste and smell. Sometimes it may all be about the visual senses as well, a pretty swirly bread with Chocolate and hazelnuts, how can you go wrong with that? I love travelling, always an adventure and learning opportunity. Taken out of your normal, meeting strangers, exploring a new city, town, village, nature, tasting different foods, spices invigorating. When my children were young and if we were in the city I liked to take them to Superstore, and more specifically the ethnic aisle. We could travel down the aisle, check out foods we had never come across before and take some home and try them. Some we maybe only bought once, but always they were an adventure and a way of expanding our universe.

Why do I like to cook? A good part I imagine is that it is comforting, making something for yourself, and others that isn’t just about fuelling your body but about actually enjoying the experience. Not just eating because you have to but because it is such a sensual experience, the flavours, the texture, the scent, how you might actually physically have to approach it. It is great if you can share the experience with someone, which is why I love cooking up a storm for special occasions. A celebration just isn’t a celebration if there isn’t great food to go with it. Do I need great food to enjoy a concert or a play, no, but it certainly rounds out the evening.

Someone once told me they admired that I would go to an event on my own, take myself out for supper or to a movie, didn’t that feel strange? From my point of view, why would I not go or do something just because I didn’t have someone to go with? We are responsible for our own happiness, and if all that means is getting up off the couch and doing what brings you joy, that sounds pretty easy, vs sitting at home and wishing you had gone. There is so much living to do. I had a relationship once where I would ask him if he would like to go someplace and the answer was “Maybe” he would never commit and it always got too close to the time to make a decision that in the end we wouldn’t go. I smartened up and instead started letting him know that I was going incase he was interested in coming along, if he wasn’t fine, I wasn’t going to miss out on something I was going to enjoy. I did marry that fellow for quite a while, I also remember one evening asking if he’d like a some ice-cream or something like that as we were watching a movie, he replied, “No”. I went about getting myself some ice-cream and when I came back he looked at me and said, he thought he had told me he didn’t want any? “Yes, you did” I replied “but this is for me” . To which he was surprised that I would get some for myself when he didn’t want any? I stayed married to him for much too long, but I did get three wonderful children out of it. Actually for many years at the end of that relationship I felt more alone when he was there than when he was gone. So really living on my own is wonderful.

Yes, it might be nice for someone to ask how your day was, or to make sure you got home safely, or if you are feeling ill that they might make you chicken soup. Someday I may find someone to share my life with who appreciates me for me, who is comfortable with who he is and is an equal partner.

But right now, I can decide that I want to make a certain type of soup, or that I want to experiment with it, and I don’t have to be concerned at all whether someone else might like it. I don’t have to compromise, or not be true to myself, I can go where I please and do as I wish. It’s a darn fine life and I’m a very lucky person to be living it as fully as I can.

Connecting

I’ve been listening to podcasts lately, Seth Godin for one, he talks about how we are in the age of connecting. Interesting. Yes, we are very connected via our cell phones, the internet, leaps and bounds than we use to be, especially to complete strangers if we want to be. At the same time, these same devices make some of us less connected, like when you answer a cell phone call, text while on a date or at a family dinner. Who has seen teenagers all sitting together, involved with their cell phones but not communicating with the very people they are sitting with? Yet, as I write this I realize a complete stranger may be reading my thoughts on this blog. Such interesting times we live in.

The other evening, I was invited to supper at a friends home. His wife, is also part of a ladies dinner club I started many years ago now. He jessed how he wasn’t invited, and then commented that he realizes how time women spend together is a special bonding time that if a male was present we may not feel as at ease to talk as we normally would. “True,” I replied that there were few couples I had come across, where I personally felt as comfortable talking to either as I did to both. Even those, would the conversation change because the other was there? Probably as though it might in any conversation circle, conversations often change to adapt to whom is listening and participating, and yes, some topics may be dropped or not brought up because a certain person joined the circle.

More importantly though I commented is that very few men have circles of friends that would talk and count on each other as the ladies in our dinner group do. Recently when I hurt myself, playing a sport I love, and with no family in town, I just needed to make a few phone calls, texts and they were there. Arranging a wheelchair, etc. Wonderful friends. It is great to have friends that care about you. While men, as this husband said historically being brought up to be the provider, defender, not to show emotions or admit weaknesses don’t tend to share their feelings especially with other men. Which had me wonder what are males suicide rates compared to women? We asked Google. Two thirds of suicide are males. Wow!

Here’s hoping the younger generation opens up more about how their lives are going with friends, that they share laughs, and that they all have someone they feel will be there for them when they need someone. It’s never to late for the older generations to start that as well. Maybe that would solve the supposed “Grumpy Man” syndrome as well. ūüôā

Lost? Is not necessarily bad or scary.

When I was 19 and heading to Europe for 2 months, with my sisters 17 and 16, my Dad asked me on the way to the airport, if we knew where we were going when we arrived in Amsterdam? I replied, “Yes”, and pointed to an address in a book I was taking. He asked again, “But, do you know how to get there?”. To which I replied, “No, we are going to be lost the whole time we are in Europe.” This was long before there was such a thing as internet or cell phones, or GPS. We were going to be lost, but we had a goal, and we were sure we would find it, and everywhere else we intended on going.

That trip was wonderful, for so many reasons, one being that my youngest sister died the next year, and I am so grateful that we had that experience with her before she left, we didn’t know she was sick at the time. Even more importantly I suppose, was that we were brought up thinking we could do things, anything if we wanted to and that we should always try things even if we thought we might not be successful, because we also might be and would never know unless we tried. Once you have achieved something, gotten over a hurdle, whatever it might be it gives you even more confidence that you can do, overcome, create whatever comes up next.

I have travelled a lot since that backpacking trip in Europe. The last time with a rental car in Europe with three, GPS’s!! And with the crazy road system, or lack of road system they have there, more often than not, each GPS would give a different set of directions. There are many ways to reach your goal. For us on this trip, the journey was almost always more important than the destination, we wandered, and explored, as things grabbed our attention, taking time as we desired. It was a wonderful trip.

The friend I went with this time, her first language is French, handy while in France, but we also popped into Belgium. This made her anxious as she couldn’t read the signs, but as I said to her, basically on the highway the signs are place names, it didn’t matter if she had never seen them before. Basic traffic symbols are still the same.

While in Europe when I was 19, I knew a bit of French, but I was far from fluent, it wasn’t a subject I excelled in. Really I knew no other language but english and body language. We were in several countries where people didn’t know english. I recall the last few days when we finally arrived in England and we were riding the subway, when I glanced at some body’s newspaper and was so surprised that I actually knew what it said!!! Later that day while in the market buying groceries, I pointed at a tomato and held up 2 fingers, my sister looked at me and said, they know what a “tomato” is, LOL.

I recall us being in Germany and my sister needing a tension bandage for her knee, we went into a pharmacy to buy one, but couldn’t find one on the shelves, so we asked, in English, that wasn’t working, so we tried charades. Lots of laughs were had but eventually they understood and we walked out with what we went looking for.

A few years ago I took an “Interpreters” workshop, an all day class, there were about 12 of us. The first thing the instructor did was have everyone introduce themselves and tell us what languages they spoke. I still only knew English, a few words in French and Spanish, emphasis on a “few”, but I said I also know body language. Which as the instructor said is a large part of what communication is about. That was a really interesting workshop, even though I only knew the one language. I really learned how important it is for translators to translate “exactly” what the person is saying and not to paraphrase, and why.

I am trying to convince my friend to go to Italy next year, but she is afraid because she doesn’t know the language. I am trying to convince her that that is not a good enough reason. Again when I was 19 and in some small town in Italy, I approached a traffic policeman with my address book, could he tell me how to get there, I pointed at my book? He spoke no english, but he knew what I was asking he, he pointed and spoke in Italian, and gave me many directions. I went back to my sisters and they asked did I know how to get there now? No, I said but we start by going that way, and we will ask someone else down the road, where next we go. Off we went. The police officer watched, then he flagged down a bus, told the bus driver where we wanted to go, motioned to us to come to the bus, on we got, and off we went. A long bus ride and the driver dropped us off exactly where we wanted to be.

Have faith, people in general are very kind, and helpful if they know your goal. Yes, in some countries, you shouldn’t ask just anyone for help, shopkeepers and police are good bets pretty much anywhere. Truthfully most people are amazingly helpful and a smile goes a long way.

Being lost is not necessarily a bad thing at all if you have a destination in mind. Fearing getting lost is definitely not a reason not to try and get to a destination a goal. That goes for life accomplishments as well. If you want to learn something, get somewhere, do something and are not sure how to get there, just start moving that direction and ask people for help along the way. And, don’t forget to smile, and thank people that help you get closer.

Grow, take a chance, your life can be so much richer because of it.

 

Be like a Symphony or Professional Football team

Football and a Symphony seems a strange juxtaposition? I went to a most interesting talk yesterday at the Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg, a “Conversation Circle” about¬†Identity and a sense of belonging, a discussion inspired by the Time to Act: Rohingya Voices exhibition.

A group of strangers most with very little knowledge of Rohingya but wanting to learn more about it and humanity, and a facilitator, or two.

Refugees, their experience, how does it happen? What can we do about it, before, after, during?

We spent some time looking at the exhibit, talking and learning about the situation. 600,000 in a refugee camp, the largest in the world. right next door to Bangladesh, north of Thailand, in a country called Myanmar. “Officially, on paper, the country’s name is¬†Myanmar. In 1989, the ruling military government changed the name from¬†Burma¬†to¬†Myanmar¬†after thousands were killed in an uprising. The city of Rangoon also became Yangon. … The name¬†change¬†was also a way to rid the country of British colonial influences” This country has over 100 ethnic groups, yet one, the Muslim Rohingya have been targeted as unwanted, even though they have been there for 1000’s of years. Who is doing this? The Military under Buddhist extremists. I always thought Buddhists wouldn’t hurt a fly, literally?

It seems there are many refugees worldwide being displaced, forced to flee their homes because they fear for their lives. People in positions of power often through violence deciding that another group of people is not wanted in their area, a “cleansing” a “genocide”. How does it often happen? Sometimes a telltale sign to watch for is “Identity cards”, when we signal out by class, by ethnic group, possibly by health, gender, religion, one from another and we make these identity cards, symbols in the case of the Jews in WW11 being made to wear yellow stars on their sleeves. People use these symbols, these identity cards, to paint a generalized picture of these people. Often those in power then start to blame their area’s current issues on these “identified people” and they become the common link, the target to fight against. They are de-humanized.

De-Humanized. Seen as unworthy, not even valued as much as an animal,¬† how else could people carry out such barbaric crimes against them? Atrocities. How did they convince themselves that these “identified people” are no longer their friends, their neighbours, but the enemy?

So many thoughts were shared during the Conversation Circle. One stated early on they were there to see how it related to our own indigenous people, and it does in many ways, unfortunately. They have been given identity cards, plots of land they can live on. Many were not allowed to vote until 1947 or later. On 31 March 1960, portions of Section 14(2) of the Canada Elections Act were repealed in order to grant the federal vote to status Indians. First Nations people could now vote without losing their Indian status.

Our conversation circle ended, with what could we do, or us as individuals do to help with the refugee situation? Should you voice your concerns to others, to others with differing opinions or stay silent, one asked? Speak up I said, or if everyone stays silent we will believe that their silence means they agree with oppressors.

It comes down to the bullying on the playground, to peer pressure and not speaking up for those that need to be defended.

One said if we could all strive to remember to treat people with the human rights they are entitled to as humans. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more. To be kind, to treat others as we wish to be treated would do a lot.

Later that same day I went to the symphony, different groups of instruments, all playing together for a common good, instruments like ethnicities or characteristics, can we not have leaders that bring out the best in us all? So that together we make beautiful music together?

This also reminded me of a talk from a football coach, Saskatchewan Rough Riders I believe, he was presenting at a School Trustee Conference in Winnipeg. He spoke of how his team was made up of many walks of life, different ethnicities, different socio-economic classes, different religions, etc, they were strangers and he had to lead these players to play as a team. He needed them to understand that though they had differences, they needed to focus on how they would all work together to be the best team they could be.

We need to work together.