Tuesday, 21 December 2010

the monsters we have created

       For the past 24 or so hours there has been an uprising among my friends and others through Facebook, blogs and other virtual battlefields.  It all comes from a most disturbing display of "humour" through a set homemade greeting cards that are listed for sale on Etsy.  Now, I like Etsy.  Some of my friends have their beautifully crafted handwork on there.  There is nothing better than spending an evening browsing the stores of jewelry, home decor, clothing and other fun stuff.  Etsy offers a wonderful service for these creative souls to display and sell their works of art.
       Yesterday I saw the UGLY of Etsy.  There is an individual that has decided that his contribution to this great sales space is greeting cards that he believes are funny for awkward situations.  Situations like finding out you have breast cancer, having a child with Down's Syndrome, or getting raped.  Yea, really funny.  He also has decided that Jesus Christ is another worthwhile target to mock.  
       My first reaction to this was the usual one for me... freak out.  I wanted this guy stopped and brought to justice...boycott, email campaign, media outrage...whatever it would take.  I have read hundreds of comments, letters and opinions - on both sides of the debate.   From this I have come to one conclusion...

we have created a monster

       If you watch tv or movies - especially comedies - you can rarely find one that doesn't offend a culture, disability, faith, or sex.  It seems to be believed by the masses that if the outcome is a smile, giggle or laugh - then it's okay to be offensive or mean.  That makes me so very very sad. 
      But we let it happen.  Someone commented on the Etsy Facebook site that things like the sentiments on the card are regular occurrences on shows like Family Guy and Southpark.  Even Glee has recently contained some things that I have had to stop and say "wait a minute - that's not right".  We are becoming more and more de-sensitized to the mean-ness going on all around us.  Then today - when something is so blatantly offensive - the reaction is huge.  But why don't we react to the more subtle instances of nastiness.  
        I don't stand against comments from ignorant people.  I'm not comfortable with confrontation of mean-ness in others. I'm definitely not comfortable with confrontation of mean-ness in myself.  I would rather ignore it because it doesn't hurt me.  Now I have found out differently.  It has hurt me.  It has hurt our whole society.  We are a nasty human race.  Sure at Christmas we are all about the good cheer and happy holidays - but come Boxing Day - we go back to every man for himself.   (...actually I found that yesterday in the Bower Mall parking lot there was very little good cheer)
I'm not sure how to change that.  Have we gone so far that we can't bring back politeness and respect for people?  Is there any way that common decency and courtesy can come back into fashion to replace the ugliness that has taken over our world?

Something to think about... 

Friday, 10 December 2010

A New Challenge for an Old Broad

As you may have noticed, my blog has taken on the theme of aging - which I suppose demonstrates where my head is at these days.  I have never been affected by my advancing years, but for some reason, this milestone has crept into my thoughts more and more.  It isn't that I'm fighting the inevitable.  It's just that I am amazed at how fast 50 years sped by and I'm kind of reflecting on what I've done that has made a difference in this world.  I know that I keep a busy and full life, but I have not been very good at celebrating those things.

I have a friend that turned 40 this past April.  She is one of my heroes.  She is beautiful and smart and brave and just plain fabulous (and she has GREAT shoes).  At the start of 2010 - the year she turned 40 - she decided to start documenting her "Year of Celebrating".  Every day her Facebook status was a statement of celebration.  No complaints or b!tc#ing about traffic, work or bad hair days.  Instead she finds things in the ordinary that truly bring joy.  Now, you might think that wouldn't be too hard.  For most of us, no it wouldn't - but for some reason, God decided to send her the trials of Job this past year.  She found a dream job, lost that dream job, watched her sweet mom suffer with cancer until her last breath, - and to top it all off - moved to Saudi Arabia to teach Saudi princesses.  (okay, that last one wasn't a trial - but definitely a challenge!)  I was inspired by her lack of defeat throughout all of these and many other difficult moments, hours and days.  I'm pretty sure that many of those days held little to celebrate, and yet, she did it.

I want to face my 50th year that way.  I want to be that kind of an Old Broad.  I love parties so what better way to hit this milestone than to celebrate something every day for a whole year.  So, with the permission of my dear friend - I am going to plagiarize her incredible idea.  I want to only post celebratory moments, every day - even in the crappiest situations.  I want to find the moments to commemorate as times of joy.  I've asked Dan for a new camera for Christmas, so I would like to pictorially document some of those times.  Then, on the 18th of every month of 2011 - I will have a party of some kind.  As I look through the calender and see some of the pre-existing appointments on there, I can see that some of those celebrations will be pretty cool - like one in Bogota, Colombia in February, or one at post-production of Guys & Dolls in April.  I can hardly wait.  Then there are the things that only God knows that aren't on my calender that I can't plan on.  Things like pain, and loss and change and disappointments.   Those I'm not so psyched about - but I want to be able to find glimpses of joy in those things too.

Let the celebrations begin!

(Thanks Sandra, for inspiring me to live my life celebrating.  Here's to your last month of the "year of fabulousness"...  Love you!)

Sunday, 21 November 2010

22 years ago

As I sit here in my nice soft easy chair, my memory transports me back to 22 years ago.  It was the night of the Federal election and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was voted in for a second term of office.  Strange that I know that because at the time I really couldn't give a rip.  I was in a sweet little hospital in the village of Elnora giving birth to my "first" baby.  I put that in quotes because technically I was the means to another couple having a baby 7 years before that... but that is a whole other blog topic still to come - stay tuned....  anyways - I digress... Dan and I were pretty excited about this baby.  I had gone through 2 miscarriages leading up to that, so this delivery was a bit of a sigh after a long time of holding our breath.  Shortly before midnight and about 12 good long hours of labour, we were toasting (with orange juice and gingerale - a Dr. Witham tradition) the arrival of Alyssa Julia - weighing in at 8 lbs 1 oz - screaming her head off.

Unfortunately this screaming continued for a while, as she decided that life on the outside was not really what she expected.  I can't remember ever being diagnosed with post partum depression - I don't think it had been invented yet, but I do remember that I was pretty miserable.  I felt like she hated me.  I would spend my days trying to make her happy, only to be repaid with incessant wails.  Then, my mom, sister, and even Dan, would come and pick her up and she would stop.  I could picture this kind of relationship lasting through out our lives.  This little girl that I wanted so badly would never like me.  Thankfully, this did change and those first few months of colic turned into a distant memory.

Today she turns 22.  She is all grown up.  She has a husband and a mortgage and a life that is independent of me and that is good.  I think we did an okay job as parents.  Not saying that I didn't make a lot of mistakes - like sending her to school with a big ol' batch of chicken pox cause she wanted to stay home because she said she had pimples.  I yelled too much, didn't always listen, often was too busy, said I love you too little...but the funny thing is that she likes me.  All those fears that I had in those first few days when I was doing everything right as a mother - they are gone.  And despite doing so many things wrong as a mother later in her life...she likes me.

I see the relationship that Lys and I have today and I really wish I would have had that with my mom.  Don't get me wrong, I love my mom dearly, but I don't think I would consider her my friend or someone that I confided things too.  I'm not sure why.  I think it was because I chose not to, so I can't hold her responsible.  That makes me sad.  People say that it's not good to be friends with your kids.  Don't listen to them.

Happy birthday my sweet Alyssa.  I love you!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Time warp

Yesterday I helped celebrate or mourn the demise of a dear friend's youth.  Yes, she turned 50.  Another one bites the dust and with that looms that day in the not too distant future when I, too, shall cross over.  I grew up seeing people turn 50 and they were stinkin' old!  Can that really be me?  Soon, I will be able to collect the senior's discount at many stores.  I will be able to get Grey Power insurance, and those life insurance ads - the ones were you don't need a medical - yup, available to me.  It makes my head spin.   Wasn't it just yesterday that I had Donny Osmond posters in my Pepto Bismol pink bedroom?  ...that I was learning to drive a stick shift? ...that I was sneaking out my window to meet up with that rapscallion boyfriend?  I'm pretty sure it was.  What the heck happened?  I feel like I have gone through a time warp and I am seeing myself in the future like some lame Star Trek movie.

It's funny, because I really don't feel almost 50 (however that is supposed to feel).  I have fooled myself into thinking that I don't look 50 - although I keep wondering whose neck that is attached to my head...shudder....I certainly don't act almost 50.  My past job entailed spending a lot of time with teenage girls and they have a funny way of rubbing off on you.  I have a daughter that has made it her mission in life to make sure that I don't dress 50... for which I am thankful.

So this leads me to believe that I can't really be almost 50...or...this is the new and improved 50.  The 50 that feels comfortable in her own skin - but sensible enough to stay away from mini skirts and Go-Go boots...  the 50 that feels more passionately about her husband than ever- even with all the years and extra flubber (mine - not his) after 25 years of only being in each other's arms...  the 50 that isn't afraid to do things that might just break a hip... the 50 that has learned how to love with grace because she has been given plenty of that in her 50 years.  Yea, I guess this 50 looks pretty dang good.

Bring it on!

(But I really need to stop using words like "rapscallion"... dead give-away...)

Friday, 29 October 2010

50 Things...

I am the most unorganized person in the universe.  There...I said it.  I admit it and I am seeking help for this condition that seems to be quite terminal.  At this point in my life, to become organized is a less-than-likely probability, so I will embrace my cluttered life, my dust bunnies, and my inability to lay hands on what I need at any given moment.  Many people comment on how I am similar to my Mom.  Well, when it comes to the neatness, organized side - we could not be more un-alike.  She would become quite hot and bothered over her "mess" - which consisted of 3 dirty dishes in the sink and the Calgary Herald out of the magazine rack.  My Dad used to say that he didn't want to get up in the night to go to the bathroom, because he was afraid of coming back to find the bed already made.

I am not my mother (at least in that way).  My bed is in a permanent state of "unmade-ness".  My sink is full of dishes on a regular basis.  I have piles and stacks everywhere.  I watch TLC's "Hoarders" so that I can feel good about myself once in a while (however, my dearly beloved has been known to utter statements like "That's YOU! " while watching with me - actually this only happened once as he now knows better than that!).

Anyways... all this to say - somewhere in this existence in chaos, I have lost my car keys.  I had them one day then didn't.  I have looked in all the usual places and have come up with nothing but the realization that I need to get more organized.  In my quest for order - and looking for my elusive car keys - I have dug through some of the clutter and found a plethora (great word, eh?) of journals, each with about 4 to 5 days of entries - because I am clearly not organized enough to assemble a train of thought on a regular basis.  As I looked through the events that merited chronicling, I found one entry from 10 years ago.  I was on the 'eve of my youth - days before turning 40, dealing with all the emotions surrounding what I believed to be my twilight years, I turned my thoughts to the things I still wanted to do, see and accomplish.  I made a list of 50 things - a kind of bucket list - that I hoped to do in the next 10 years.  Like so many other articles (like my car keys) it got lost in the stuff until today.  Here is my list...

50 things...
1.  Still be married to the one I love and make sure he knows it. - check
2.  Work at a job I have passion for - check
3.  Be friends with my kids - check
4.  Preach a sermon - check - in PCA chapel
5.  Get a motorcycle licence -
6.  Get a tattoo - check
7.  Go on a cruise - check - California/Baja  - Jan 2006
8.  Take a missions trip with Dan - check - Colombia Feb 2010
9.  Jump a train...albeit a slow one...to the next stop
10.  Be speeding ticket free - hahaha - by the skin of my teeth and lots of charm!
11.  Go to Hawaii - check - August 2008 & Sept 2010
12.  Travel to Europe - going to Germany in March 2011
13.  Read through the Bible - sigh...getting there
14.  Eat sushi - check- Nighs took the PCAS staff out toSushi King at Paul's retirement
15.  Drink a cup of coffee - check - first and only in Colombia Feb 2008
16.  Take a belly dance lessons
17.  Own a sports car - preferably a convertible  - pending - 50th Birthday present July 2011
18.  Find Amanda - check - daughter I gave up for adoption - found March 2002 - aka Amy :)
19.  Go to the Grand Canyon
20.  Paint and frame a masterpiece
21.  Raid a garden in the middle of the night and eat stolen peas
22.  Write a book
23.  Spend a whole day at a spa
24.  Scrapbook my life
25.  Learn how to make lefsa like my mom - check - but not till she died unfortunately
26. Drive a bus -  check - got my bus licence for PCA
27. Be content in whatever state I am - check - most days anyways  ;)
28. Jump off a cliff - check - same time I did #45
29. Learn sign language
30. Drive across Canada
31. Watch the sun set then rise without sleeping in between
32. Go to a major league baseball game  - check - Padres game -April 24, 2011
33. Be a Grandma - but a cool one - check - to Isaac & Silas
34. Take an overnight canoe trip
35. Go one week without TV  - check- the first week of Guys and Dolls
36. Be a red head
37. Skinny dip
38. Toilet paper a house
39. Make a quilt
40. Do a "personal" photo shoot ;o)
41. Sleep under the stars - check - many times with my kids on the trampoline
42. Tell a stranger about Jesus - check - explaining to someone #6
43. Sing on top of a mountain
44. Swim in a waterfall
45. Go white water rafting - check - with Sr class 2006, 2008, 2009
46. Learn to kick box
47. Stay in a Fantasy room at WEM
48. Read the Hobbit (changed this now to watch all LOTR movies without falling asleep)
49. Visit Muli, my Compassion Child - in Kenya
50. Live without regrets - in process

So, without even referring to this list for the last almost 10 years, I have actually been able to check off 19 things.  I'm hoping to get more crossed off in the next 262 days...unless I misplace the list.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

its quiet...too quiet

It's funny how so often in my life I would ask my kids for just a little peace and quiet.  "Can you please turn that music down?"  "Do you really have to play hockey in the house?"  "Stop fighting!"    I longed for the days that I could hear myself think.  I have those days now.  As I sit here the only sound is the clicking of my keyboard and a hollow tick-tock of the clock on the wall.  It has been a year now with just the two of us.  There are things that I really really like...no, not being able to walk naked around the house - although that is most likely one of Dan's perks.  It is nice having drama free conversations on a regular basis.  I like eating cereal for supper sometimes ... just because we can.  I like being two.    The things I don't like is the missing laughter or jokes.  I miss playing games and movie nights - especially the chick flick marathons.  And I kind of miss the sound of distant gun fire and explosions bleeding through the walls from some ridiculously violent xbox game.

We spend so much time, energy and cash on these little critters and just when you get to the point that you really really like them - they leave.  Doesn't seem quite right - but then again it does.  Its an investment that if tended carefully, yields greatly.  Sure they are gone and on their own - starting their own little nests, but being able to see them succeed - and even sometimes fail, but get back up - is such an amazing thing to watch.  I made a million and two mistakes as a mom but somehow it seemed to work out okay.  They are terrific human beings, making an impact in a world that has chosen them. 

So many of my friends are in those crazy noisy years.  I love to follow their journeys through Facebook statuses, pictures and blogs.  It makes me nostalgic and sad and happy all at the same time.  It got quiet too fast...but there is always GRANDKIDS!!!  Bring it on!