Walking and How To SAVE ____

Well I’ve been procrastinating in posting my latest stats for my hypothetical Walk Across Canada.  My life has been busy lately.  The sister and her family drove out from Alberta to celebrate Easter with us.  They stayed eight days and filled my house with lots of noise!  Happy laughter, exciting squeals, mad shrieks, sleepy whines.  It’s lovely and tiring all at the same time, to go from a quiet existence to a tumultuous one.  I was sad to see them go.

Now on for my stats.  Since the last time I posted back on March 15, I’ve walked 342.43 km at an average pace of 6.25 km an hour. My total to date is 1185.13 km. So if I was hypothetically walking east from Prince Rupert along Highway 16 towards the Alberta border, I would have reached Jasper early this week.  I would have passed through the scenic Robson valley and the small town of McBride, BC (which if I could only find a reason to live there I would, as it appeals greatly to me with it’s open valley bottom rimmed with lofty mountains on either side––perfect for a small ranch with horses and chickens and garden!)  To learn more about McBride click here!

PRtoJasperI would have walked through some of the most gorgeous mountain scenery in Canada (in my opinion).  It’s not as well know of course as Jasper and Banff, Alberta, but I find the Robson Valley and Mount Robson quite spectacular.  Last summer I stopped on my drive out for a quick hike into Overlander Falls near the Mount Robson Campground.  I plan on exploring the area more when I get the opportunity.  I would love to do a few more longer hikes into the back-country.

Eventually I would have crossed over the provincial border into Alberta, the province of my birthplace and what I consider my home province.  I’m a prairie girl through and through, but mountains are my second home.  Closer and closer to Jasper I would see great swaths of normally green forest now a browny-orangey-red of dying pine trees.  Evidence of the pine beetle wrecking havoc.  It’s sad to see.  Other patches show places where forest fire has ripped through.  The highway is tighter here and the valleys narrower and deeper as the mountains walls rise up steeply.  Ponds and lakes glitter brilliant aquamarine and rivers foam white as they tumble over rocks and boulders.

Jasper is smaller than Banff and a little more isolated.  But I find it busy and crowded.  Too many tourists for me.  I have enjoyed stays in the off season, but haven’t had much opportunity to explore in the summer.  I’ve explored Malign Canyon in -30, enjoying the spectacular ice falls.  Malign River starts at Medicine Lake and flows through a limestone network of underground streams to come out in Malign Canyon. I was intrigued to hear that scientific experiments have been done and they discovered that water disappears into underground channels and has reappeared in far off lakes one of which was Pine Lake (near where I grew up in Central Alberta) which is a heck of a long ways away.  Apparently there is a whole network of underground rivers and what not that extends hundred of thousands of miles around. JaspertoBanff

I’ve decided on my figurative walk that I would turn south towards Banff and travel along the Icefield Parkway through some of the most iconic and scenic National Parks of Canada.  Jasper is 1095 km from Prince Rupert.  I’ll start charting my way from Jasper, AB now.  From Japser I’ve walked 90.13 km.  I will have passed by Athabasca Falls (one of the most well-know waterfalls in the park and very impressive despite not being very tall) after 32 km.  Sunwapta Falls at 56 km and would be 8 km short of reaching the Glacier Skywalk in the Columbian Icefields which holds the largest expanses of ice south of the Arctic Circle.

Last summer I drove past the Skywalk a couple times and considered stopping and trying it out, but for the mad amount of tourists there and the fact that I wanted to keep driving. The glaciers can be visited in the summer and one can go on tours that takes you up on them in glacier buggies with massive tires.  The great sheets of ice are impressive even though they are shrinking. Scientists are trying to figure out how to stop or slow down the shrinking rate of the glaciers. Which reminds me of what my son was up to this week.

My son this week has turned activist.  His mission is to save endangered animals.  He and his friends have been reading up on animals that are in peril of going extinct and they have spent hours drawing posters and coming up with a group name.  They decided on S.E.A.  (Which stands for Save Endangered Animals, of course)  Their poster features a few animal drawings and a blurb about why they are endangered.  It also says to contact them for more information on how they can help save these animals.

So I asked him what he’s going to tell these people when they contacted him.  He didn’t know what he was going to tell them exactly, he just knew that he needed to do something––anything.  “Raise money or something, mom.  They can give money and we can save them.”

I thought about how our children are learning to “save” things by giving money.  It seems to be the go-to thing.  Give money to Save Animals, Cure Cancer, Fix Climate Change, Stop Poverty and Bring about World Peace. More money, more solutions right?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

I showed him a site that is marketing BEE Earrings that will SAVE THE BEES.  I looked everywhere on their website to see where and how that money they say they will use to save the bees is going to be used. I couldn’t find anything.  I wonder if it’s just a ploy.  Preying on people’s sympathies. He was very upset that people would take advantage.  I asked him how he could do differently with his SEA program.

He had to do some hard thinking and decided he needed to do his research and background work first.  That deflated him a bit and I wondered if I was doing the right thing by pressing him.  I asked him, what we could do to save the bees without giving money to buy unnecessary trinkets.  His ideas centered mainly on lifestyle change (drastic ones of course because that’s how kids think), such as getting rid of our vehicles and stop using pesticides and the like.  He was totally willing to do it!  Now he just needed everyone else to do it too.  I personally don’t want to give up my vehicle, I’m kind of attached.

Change how we live is hard to do.  Especially when it requires us to be unselfish and to make sacrifices.  We would far rather give money than change our lifestyles. And because there are so many many worthwhile and necessary causes out there in this world, it becomes rather overwhelming to know even where to start when it comes to changing our lifestyle.

In trying to teach my son.  I realize I’m teaching myself.  Some thoughts we discussed in how to help save endangered animals (which can apply to many other things such as missions or humanitarian aid or curing diseases) are:

Pick one that’s close to you, or that you are passionate about. (Closest to home is sometimes the easiest to get yourself physically involved with, my son decided to focus on the Vancouver Island Marmot)

Educated yourself, read up on what you would like to help or “save”.

Research how others are going about saving these animals.  And then do your homework to see which one is actually making a difference.

See if there are practical changes you can make in your lifestyle that will help.

Raise awareness among your peers––by not shaming or pointing fingers (this is what he decided his posters and S.E.A. group would be about, bringing attention that there are endangered animals, to his friends and schoolmates).

Bring it to the attention of your community or government, if possible.

Only then, give money when it’s going to places it will be effective. (which means do your research on the groups or organizations).

Sometimes, a cause or need arises and you feel strongly you need to give too or lift a hand.  Sometimes that is exactly what you need to do.

Any other thoughts on how we can Save the _____________ ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Trying to Make Sense of a Tragedy

A terrible tragedy happened the other day that has captured the attention of my nation. A bus carrying a hockey team to a playoff game crashed with a semi-truck and 15 people were killed. My immediate thoughts were of the anguish of the parents and families. My second went to the bus driver. My third to the community.

I am a mother of a son—an only son—and I can imagine the terrible shock and devastation of receiving news such as this. Blindsided. Their whole world imploding.

I have driven a school bus in the past and can conceive the horror of something such as this happening (though hope to never truly know). It’s a bus driver’s daily fear.

I have lived in small towns that have been hit by sudden and terrible accidents. It’s like a bomb has gone off and it’s shocking and heartbreaking and horrific; the wreckage and carnage is left permanently imprinted on the people involved.

The whole of Canada is in shock and mourning.

Everyone I know is trying to show his or her support in some tangible way. Hockey sticks left on porches. Green t-shirts or jerseys are being worn. Honorary badges grace Facebook profiles. News posts and updates are being shared hourly. Vigils held. Fundraisers. Lights on national monuments changed to green and gold. Flags at half-mast. You name it, it’s like the whole country is jumping on a bandwagon of grief and support for this community and it’s wonderful to see everyone trying in their small or big way showing support for the grieving and devastated community of Humboldt Saskatchewan.

As I scrolled through my Facebook feed among all those sympathetic articles, I saw a lonely post about a couple moms who are starting a support group for parents who have lost a child to substance overdose.   And I wondered how they felt. They lost a child but there is little or no show of support for them. Thousands of parents across this country have lost children to overdoses. Thousands upon thousands in the last couple of years. It’s at epidemic proportions.  It is touching every community in this country.

And yet I don’t see hardly anyone banding together to support these grieving parents. They are isolated and left alone in their grief. No one is putting up giant needles on their doorsteps. Or badges on their Facebook pages. Little is done in the way of fundraising or vigils. Instead there seems to be a conscious effort to sweep it under the rug.  As if, out of mind, it can’t touch us.  (Until it does.)

But that’s different, you might say.

And . . .

But they did it to themselves.

They deserved it.

They knew what they were doing could kill them.

You might even be outraged: It’s shameful and dirty and not even on the same page as innocent, valorous, hard-working teen-aged hockey players!

I’m quite sure I’m not even covering half of what these parents hear people say about their children.

But I sit here and I wonder.

Would it make a difference to me if my son died in a tragic bus crash (part of a hockey team) or if he died in an alley all by himself from an overdose?

My first and emphatic thought:

The most important thing to me, would be that he died. This is what would matter above all to me.

How he died is what matters to everyone else.

And unfortunately that is what seems makes the difference in how people show and give support.

It seems to me that some deaths are deemed “acceptable” in society and others are considered unacceptable.

Some deaths are almost glorified.

Everyone tries to be a little tiny part of it in some way.

(Why? This phenomenon baffles me as I hear people talk about the tiniest of connections they have with someone involved in a tragic death, as if this makes it more important somehow—or them more important by association or something of that sort.)

Some deaths are considered shameful.

Everyone steers clear of being involved.

(Why? Is it because we don’t want to be tainted? As if by association we will be brought down into the ugliness and mess?)

Consequently, some grieving parents are surrounded by a whole country extending condolences, support and prayers and others are left isolated and alone in their grief—forgotten or avoided, maybe even shunned.

Death is death.

It comes for us all.

One way or another.

And leaves it’s wretched mark.

My point in writing this is not to knock the outpouring of prayers and support for the people of Humboldt, SK. but to hopefully draw attention to the forgotten people in our own communities, the ones nearer to us that may silently be stumbling around in their grief and shame over their child’s death. The ones who are trying to make sense of a death that happened in a more disgraceful way.

Maybe we need to ask ourselves:

What do we hold in our hearts towards them?

How are we treating them?

My hope is that we will be ever more quick to come alongside these parents (no matter how their child died). To we would check our judgments and assumptions and understand that it doesn’t matter so much how they died, as to the fact that they died.

That we would be prepared to reach out and support and pray for them, never to leave them alone or forgotten or slandered.

That we would in some sense help to wipe away the sting of death.

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The Blessing of Having Nothing

It’s a lovely spring morning here in the Pacific Northwest.  Yesterday when I stepped out for my morning walk I noticed a change in the air.  It smelt like spring––melty, muddy, grassy things.  The quiet of winter is over.  Birds were singing.  Not just the winter birds that occasionally twitter now and then, but the summer birds are back!  A whole red-breasted robins serenaded me as I walked by.

I had to ask around, since it’s my first winter here and I wasn’t too sure if the robins actually migrate from this milder coastal climate.  I hadn’t noticed them all winter, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t around.  But yes, robins still migrate south for winters and now they are back and heralding SPRING!  Yaaay!

The snow is melting.  It’s soft and slushy.  But there is still a tonne left to go before we start seeing lawns again.  I tried walking along the packed path we created in the snow that I’ve used all winter to get from my backyard to the walking path.  It was an acrobatic exercise trying to stay on the hardened path.  When I slipped off.  I was still up to mid thigh in wet snow!  Still, it is melting!

Daylight savings time of course this past weekend, is still kicking the stuffing out of me.  The schools here took a two week spring break starting the Monday after.  I thought that was wonderful.  Now I’m not too sure, because I have kind of continued on the same schedule as before.  That first day of school is going to rough, no matter what.

In the past two weeks I’ve logged 163.97 km at a pace of 6.43 km/hr.  My pace is picking up.  My distance not so much.  It’s hard to find places to walk right now, other than in town, and walking in town is boring.  I can’t go as far on the back roads anymore since the snow is too soft and slushy.  So we wait and hope the snow melts fast and doesn’t come back.

So in my hypothetical Walk Across Canada, I’ve logged 842.70 km to date since I started January 5th.  If I had started in Prince Rupert and were walking along Highway 16 heading east towards the Alberta border, I would be past Prince George and very close to Penny, BC.  I don’t know anything about Penny, BC.  I don’t even remember driving past it when I drove this highway four times last summer.  Looking it up, it’s just a dot on a map. If it weren’t for a handful of permanent residents and a community hall it would be a ghost town.  For the longest time it was the last remaining community still receiving it’s mail by rail, however that ended in December 2013.  It is a community with no services, in or out.  However if you want to look up it’s storied past, including how it only had a one mile section of road in town (and 21 cars) but the only way in and out was by train for the longest time, click here.PRtoPennyBC

Today I was thinking about interruptions.  How I so don’t like interruptions or deviations from my plans.  I’m not much of a planner, but I do like to set a routine for my days so that I accomplish certain tasks that I’ve set upon myself.  The start of this week was spring break.  My husband was supposed to be gone all this month for work.  He surprised me last Friday by coming home.  His work had been interrupted by another more urgent task that he need to come back and apply his full attention to.  It was good to have him home.  He was supposed to return to his other work Tuesday morning.  Monday night, that plan changed.  Then he showed up earlier than usual Tuesday afternoon and changed my plans for the afternoon.  Then he got a call and he had to leave just before supper.  I felt a bit deflated and thought about just not making supper for me and the kid.  Then when I had decided to just subsist that evening on PB-J sandwiches, the husband returned and suddenly supper was back on.  I felt a bit scattered.  For a few days we didn’t know if he was leaving again or not and so we lived with uncertainty.

You’d think I’d be used to this.  Interruptions and change has pretty much been my life for ten years.  He comes, he goes.  I stay, I adjust. However, it always takes me a moment (or a day or two) to get over being disturbed by the change in my plans.  Some times are harder than other times to let go of my own agenda, to bend and cater to another person’s agenda.  Sometimes I feel like that all I do as a mother and a wife is accommodate everyone else around me and never getting to do what I feel I need to do.

During that time of adjusting and adapting, I’m working through and letting go of the idea that if I can just focus on my own agenda I would be able to accomplish or create great things.  That if I wasn’t interrupted all the time I could be Somebody someday.  You know, a Somebody who is lauded and admired as having achieved or produced something wonderful and great––something that helps humanity and this world be a better place. I wouldn’t be wasted potential.

“Oh look at her, she had such potential. 

If only she had focused harder–– 

Not been so distracted by interruptions.

She could have accomplished so much.

What a waste!”

Oh the little voices I hear in my head.  Such downers.

Then I remember a couple things.

I remember a lecture series by Peter Reid, that I listened to when I was nineteen.  The thoughts expressed in this lecture has had a big impact on my life and especially in this area.  It was about Blessings.  But not the type of blessings you usually think about.  These blessings take some careful consideration.

These are the Blessings of Having Nothing.

I only remember a few of them, two blessings in particular:

The blessing of having no reputation and the blessing of having no agenda.  These two I  remember and implement whenever I find myself struggling with interruptions and feeling like a waste of potential.

In my own words, the Blessing of being a nobody is that I am released from the demand to be a somebody. 

My study sheet says it this way: “The Blessing of being Nobody is that we’re freed from trying to be somebody.  Jesus made himself of “no reputation” and therefore never lived under the pressure of having to keep up a reputation among men.”

You don’t find Jesus lording it over people that he’s God’s beloved son.  It is the Father Himself that endorses him with a voice from heaven. “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”   As followers of Christ we are encouraged to emulate him, and Jesus never catered to people. The way he lived was contradictory to what we usually deem a successful life.  It could be said, he wasted his potential, but he was living with a different standard in mind.

Paul the Apostle points out, “You were bought with a price, do not become slaves of men.”  When we evaluate our self worth by what others think of us, we are putting ourselves in a position of bondage to them.  Always trying to build and market our reputation to our community can become all-consuming and exhausting.  When we stop promoting ourselves, we are freed up to look out for others, to advocate for their well-being. As well, when we leaning into this blessed privilege of being nobody, God is free to shape us into Somebody.

“Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.” ––St. Patrick

This brings me to the second Blessing of Having Nothing.

The Blessing of having no agenda is that you can be present and available at all times for all people.

It is in the blessing of interruptions.  The blessing of pause.  The blessing of being still.  Again I look to how Jesus handled interruptions.  Was he not the one to stop the shooing disciples and say, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them.”?  Was he not the one who commended the woman who interrupted his supper to pour perfume on his head, while everyone else around him muttered indignantly at the waste.  Or how about the woman who bled for many years and reached out for healing by touching his cloak, and effectively interrupting his process to go heal someone else?  I could go one, but as you can see, Jesus was able to roll with interruptions.  Welcomed them even.  He did not look at the disruptions as a waste of time, or a waste of resources. He lived with an intentional awareness of His Father’s agenda, not his own.

I need to reject the lie that says I must DO SOMETHING.  If we are always trying to do something (Big and important), we are always frustrated when we are doing what appears to be nothing (big and important). When I live with an intentional awareness of God here with me, as in, He is the Vine and I am the Branch, then I am freed from incessantly trying to accomplish anything of spiritual worth or eternal value in the lives of others.  I can just live!  The interruptions that come are no longer seen as deviations but as the interval between old and new starting points.

It is when I live with no agenda and no need to be somebody that I find I no longer commiserate over being wasted potential or a nobody.  I’m able to enjoy the common and little moments spent with the people in my life.  I able to live expansively and generously with my time, noticing and recognizing each and every good thing that happens.  I’m free to receive each good and perfect gift that comes from the Father of lights.

Look at the birds of the air; see how they sing.  Look at the flowers of the field; see how they bloom.  Here one minute, gone the next.  But ever so beautiful!  They are nothing.  And yet, what would Spring be without the robin’s song or summer without the wildflowers bright colours?

Now I must go at get lunch ready for my loved ones.

Bless!

 

 

 

Walking and Daydreaming

Just a quick note to update my Walking Across Canada Stats: I’ve walked 167.53 km in the past 2 weeks at a pace of 5.82 km/hr.  Total from January 5th to March 1st is 678.73 kilometers.   If I was hypothetically walking from Prince Rupert along highway 16 that would put me roughly 40 kilometers from reaching Prince George!  I’m east of the geographical center of British Columbia now.

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I’ve added a couple of different things to my routine these past few weeks.  Started working for a Bed and Breakfast type lodge. I’m helping out with some housekeeping and odds and ends.  Might be doing some cooking for them in the future.

And I’ve been writing on a fictional story this week.  It’s been years since I’ve done that!  The creative juices are starting to flow.  While I’m walking my dogs I’m day-dreaming up story lines, characters and plots.  I’m trying to answer some tough questions by using a story.  I’m curious to see if I’ll stay enthused about it in the coming weeks.  I tend to get excited about an idea, but then the demands of being a wife and mother and working on daily menial tasks set in and I lose my focus.  I’m hoping not this time. I’ll probably need encouragement! Or someone to keep me accountable, and off mindless social media scrolling.

My walks the past 4 afternoons have been in pleasant weather along a quiet logging road.  With no fellow walkers to interrupt.  The dogs are quiet.  The road is quiet.  But my mind is not.  It’s been churning and turning this week.  Ideas! Images!  It’s a wonderful feeling!

Reading good fiction has always inspired me, as I find I learn so much from stories.  I remember things better if they are in story form.  I find abstract ideas are easier for me to understand in story form.  I dream one day of being able to put some of my ideas into fictional form and have them enlighten and help someone else.  Or at the very least bring enjoyment.

I want to open people’s minds to some of the different places in Canada I’ve been, some of the history, geography, the people and the landscapes.  I’ve been privileged to work in some unique and isolated parts of this country I call mine.

Some of the better fictional books I’ve read this past month that have been inspiring for me are:

Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum (a hard look at what it takes to survive during WW2 as a German woman.  All about hard choices and not having choices.)

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig (about an autistic girl who carries a secret that she can’t get anyone understand.  A lovely and thought-provoking read.)

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo (a introspective read on choices we make for love.)

Beartown by Fredrik Backman (5 stars from me!  Wow!  Character driven.  Again the choices we make and how they affect others.)

Please feel free to recommend reads to me! 

I love books that are character driven and  that ask hard questions and attempt to answer them with the story.

 

 

 

We are Loved, and so are They

Well as I sat down at the computer this Friday morning and wonder about what I should write about this week? I’m a little distracted having spent the morning trudging through another dump of snow and spending a good hour clearing my driveway. Winter is becoming long and boring––tedious as Ginny would say from the delightful novel “Ginny Moon”  which I highly recommend and you need to go out and get it from the library or download on from kindle and read it right now!  Okay, let’s move on. Next! Please.

A topic has reoccurred for me this past week. Four things happened that brought to my attention the Us Against Them mentality.

So I guess I’ll explore that today.

Firstly, there was the school shooting in Florida on Valentine’s Day, which has people on my social media and in my life debating back and forth about what needs to happen to prevent this from occurring again.

This is not something that will be solved easily or quickly and as a parent of a kid that goes to school (even in Canada, because guns still get into our schools too), I wonder like so many others, “What can we do to keep our children safe?”

Do we do as some suggest and have airport-style security screening for our kids to go through every morning?

Do we have armed guards on patrol through and around the school?

Do we have stricter gun control laws that will make it harder to purchase of guns?

Do we have more intensive screening for mental illness and more mental institutions to put the unstable ones in?

Do we take away the gun free zones and allow citizens to openly carry guns?

Do we arm the teachers with guns and teach them to be prepared to fight back?

Do we teach our kids defensive training?  Do we arm them?  Teach them how to fight back?

As I considered each of these solutions, I wondered if most mentioned are not actually solving the problem but just making it worse. Like put on Band-Aid on a wound with sepsis and pretending all is better now––until of course the infection rages out of control.

And what is that Problem? Can we identify it?

It’s scary, some of the ideas that have been coming out. Scary in that I think most are divisive and separating people into “Us and Them” categories. Finger-pointing and stereotyping combined with an attitude of superiority can so easily spiral downhill fast into great violence.

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Cue the second thing.

I go over one evening a week to help a friend learn to read. This friend is a refugee from Africa. She goes by the name Janet now. Her story as a refugee, as she told me, is long and unspeakably sad. Janet’s family lived in Rwanda and farmed cattle. However she was born in the Congo––a refugee from the start––when her family fled the violence happening in their country.

Janet was told by her grandmother when she was a young girl, “Our people are tall and beautiful with long, thin noses and those other people are short and ugly with big, flat noses. We stay away from them. We don’t have anything to do with them. They are bad.” And even though she was a young girl Janet questioned her grandmother’s reasoning. Why? Why should we hate people just because they look different than us and act different than us? They are still people like us, aren’t they?

“It is the way it has always been. Stop asking questions.” She was told. But she hasn’t, thankfully!

Eventually Janet’s people were forced out of the Congo, and she landed in Uganda, where she again needed to flee and was able to gain refugee status to Hong Kong. Later, she was sponsored to come over to Canada with her children.

Janet was never able to go to school and her heart’s desire has always been to learn––to be educated. Her greatest wish is to be able to read the Bible for herself so that she can teach her people a better way, because right now they continue on in their ignorance, with an “Us against Them” mentality, that has only brought grief and destruction.  She is working hard to learn how to read and write and is so very grateful for the opportunity to do so––Finally!

As she was telling me her story I thought of a cartoon I read earlier that day. I showed Janet this Calvin and Hobbes Cartoon and helped her read it. (by the way, Janet is learning to read in English and English is the 9th language she has learned to speak. She may not think she’s educated, but she beats me in that department by a long shot!)

This cartoon has Calvin teaching Hobbes a new game called WAR. In this game the first one to get shot loses and the other wins. They shoot each other with suction darts at the same time, look at each other and give up on that game, because it’s stupid and walk away. Janet laughed and immediately says “Nobody wins at war. Everyone loses. Don’t I know it!”

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Finally, this morning my kid came out and started telling me about the book he finished reading. In this book black cats were considered bad luck, so a company that manufactured mousetraps started a propaganda campaign that blamed the black cats for all that was going wrong so that the people would kill off all black cats.   Then this company would let thousands of mice loose and because so few cats were left there would become a mouse problem. Then the people would buy lots of mousetraps and the company would make a huge profit.

My kid thought that was terrible the black cats were discriminated so harshly against. “Just because they are black, doesn’t make them bad!” (The kid has always had a fondness for black cats and has consistently picked the black kittens in the litters we’ve had to keep.) He was quite outraged and so we had a deep discussion of how this happens very frequently in life to people. Sometimes on a small scale, and sometimes it spirals out of control and we end up facing a holocausts like those of WWI and WWII.

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I cautioned him to beware of the Us against Them mentality. I told him he should not unmindfully accept whatever someone tells him about other people. He needs to question when someone tells him he needs to be afraid of someone else because they dress differently or eat differently or look differently or believe different things. To question when someone tells him that he needs to protect his rights because if he doesn’t those people will take over and leave him with nothing.

To question when someone says we’d be safer if those people were got rid of. Locked up. Kicked out. Killed off.

To question if someone says we need to fight back because otherwise those people will take our freedoms.

I told him to be careful of being sucked into an angry mob––because angry mobs are notorious for causing normally quiet, peaceful people to stop using their brains and act in terrible and violent ways.

He needs to question whether what the mob says has to happen for justice is actually true.

We talked about how it was important to go to school and learn how to read so educate himself from all sides of an event––Not just the side he taught. He needs to make friends with people different from himself and learn their stories. He needs to be able to see things from their perspective.

Unfortunately, I’ve come to this understanding in my adult years and I am still learning myself how to ask these questions and seek out new and different perspectives. I was conditioned most my life to fear difference and other perspectives than my culture and people group.  I’ve been trying to break free of that conditioned mindset since I’ve become more aware of my own ignorance, and it’s not easy.

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So if I can teach my kid now to ask good questions, and seek out a variety of answers.

If I can teach him that nothing is ever as it seems on the surface but to dig deeper.

If I can teach him that wisdom is like mining for gold and silver––hard-work and careful consideration and not just a quick one-size-fits-all rule that lies about on the surface.

If I can teach him that we are all alike underneath––we all bleed red.

If I show him the simple truth that We are loved, AND so are They and to go out and spread that truth.

And to pray that truth catches on with others and others and others––like seeds scattered far and wide.

Then my hope is that he’ll be far further ahead when he reaches my age and will be able to accomplish so much more in helping to bring peace on earth to all peoples!

That he will be part of that great harvest produced from all those seeds sown.

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The Ugly Lofty Standard

Two weeks have flown by since I last posted my stats for my figurative Walk Across Canada. I was walking with a flu/head cold the first week of February as well as fighting my way through some pretty heavy snowfalls. It was a dark and miserable week in which I kind of just wanted to give up on life. However, the cotton-filled head feeling eventually went away, my energy returned and the snowfalls lessened. Things were looking more hopeful and then we had five days––5 WHOLE DAYS!!––of sunshine! Oh my stars! It was like Creation began all over again! It was such a break from the dismal weather we had been experiencing prior! New Life filled my bones! Night and Day difference! Energy rebounded. I’m such a greedy person when it comes to sunlight. I’m like a desert plant that just soaks up that one rainfall and blooms overnight!

So in between February 2-15th I tallied 164.48 km which puts me up to a total of 511.2 km since January 5th! I’m still averaging a pace of nearly 6 km/hour despite the nasty footing and deep snow I was dealing with. So I’m pleased.

If I hypothetically started walking from Prince Rupert, BC along Highway 16, I would be approximately 50 km shy of Fraser Lake, BC. Fraser Lake has a interesting landmark that I would like to hike one day, called the Mouse Mountain because it looks like––wait for it––a mouse!  It sticks up high above town and you can see it a long ways off as you drive around the lake on Highway 16.  Apparently the lake is temporary home to thousands of migrating Trumpeter Swans and is dubbed the Swan Capital of world!  Who knew?  I didn’t.  But that’s cool because I love swans and E.B. White’s book “The Trumpet of the Swan” has always endeared to me the Trumpeter Swan especially.  It is also a great area for fishing.  It looks like there is a lot of nifty things to do there, and I’m going to put a two things on my Bucket List such as explore the RED ROCK VOLCANO area, and hike up MOUSE MOUNTAIN.  You can find out more info regarding Fraser Lake, BC and surrounding areas if you click here.

Walking of course gives me lots of time to think, and a few things happened this past week that had me thinking extra hard on a couple things.

First, this past weekend was Family Day weekend here in BC which is a bit of a mid-winter holiday time that gets people out of their dark lonely houses and trying their hand at some sports or outdoor activities they aren’t necessarily involved in all the time. There was a couple free skates happening at the local arena and my son (who is Canadian and NOT involved in hockey) wanted to go skating. I haven’t pushed skating super hard with him yet, though I myself really enjoyed skating.

The kid has only had the opportunity to skate maybe 1 to 2 times a year prior to this year and it’s been nice to see him get out on skates more as we live closer to an arena. He’s pretty much fearless now on skates and blasts around on the ice, looking to my eyes a bit like a drunken sailor. Arms wind-milling, body lurching and recovering and then tipping far off balance again to the point where I have to look the other way and cringe because OH MY GOODNESS he’s going to kill himself or wipe some poor unfortunate soul out. And I find myself often trying to give him pointers and things to practice, sometimes to the point that he gets mighty upset with me and tells me to back off because I’m ruining his fun.

But this Saturday he came up to me all grins and smiles, bursting with confidence and said, “Mom, I’m such a good skater now! I’m nearly as good as R!”

R, his buddy, is in Hockey and has been since an early age. R is a great skater and moves with the agility and confidence only years of practice can give. My kid next to R is so obviously not a skilled skater.

Immediately the words nearly spilled out of my mouth to point this out that he wasn’t really a good skater yet and tell him he had a long ways to go until he was, so he needed to practice harder at doing this or doing that. I wanted him to be aware of his shortcomings and mistakes so that he could fix them. But I clamped my mouth shut (for once) and said to myself, “Shut up. It really doesn’t matter that he thinks that he’s great at skating. It’s a GOOD thing that he’s proud of himself and sees himself in such a positive way. So just keep your mouth shut and put a smile on it.” He skated off oblivious to my inner turmoil, and continued to blast awkwardly around the ice with a huge smile on his face. He really was a lot better than he used to be, it’s just that he has so far to go yet.

I took him skating another day with a couple his friends who have only been skating once or twice and The Kid next to them was obviously much better at skating that they were. I overheard him giving pointers to them as they toddled out on the ice–– inching their feet forward. “I find if you just do this…” he would then give a demonstration of how to push sideways with the skate blade to create movement, “that you can go further faster and it’s easier!” and he would demonstrate what he meant by skating off ahead of them and they would watch in admiration and try to copy as he skated back to their side and cheer them along.

I thought to myself, “It’s a little like the blind leading the blind.” And chuckled to myself, but was so very pleased to see the kid trying hard to pass on what little knowledge and skills he had gained to help his buddies. I saw that in the teaching, he was learning himself. That in the teaching he was confirming the skills he wasn’t that good at yet and was honing them.

There is definitely a lesson in this! Sometimes those with great skill can appreciated and even encourage those with lesser skills to teach others with no skill because they know this bit of truth––we can often learn things better by teaching others. Teaching others challenges us to think through why we do things, and in the thinking through we can find the reasoning of why we do things the way we do it, or we can figure out new approaches or different angles that might further us along in our skills and knowledge. Teaching encourages us to work harder at getting better. Of course we can only teach what we know and if we don’t know a lot, we won’t be to teach very much. This is when we need to have the humility to learn from those who have more and greater knowledge and not just think we have it all together since we are already teaching others.

I think this is especially true in the Church culture. People are teaching others what they know of God, but most aren’t very knowledgeable or only know what they have been taught. Teaching about God or the Bible should push the people teaching to learn more and also to reach out to those who may have greater and possibly broader knowledge. And those who have that greater learning and understanding shouldn’t lord it over those who don’t, but instead lift up and encourage with grace and gentleness.

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Later, while I was walking and thinking about all these things, I thought about the second thing. How I love my kid so much, and am bonded with him like no other on this earth and yet I am so very hard on him. It made me sad to think over the ways I’ve hypercritical with him and I wondered why do I do this? What makes me speak to him the way I do, and expect from him the things I do, when I would never deign to speak that way to another kid or person; I would never be as harsh or critical with them as I am to him.

When I catch myself speaking that way to him I cringe because I recognize that it’s awful and yet I don’t seem to be able to stop because frankly this is how I speak to myself. This is the ugly lofty standard I hold myself to and so I hold him to it––because he’s mine and I guess I feel like he’s a part of me. And I’m so ashamed.

Where do these expectations come from that I place so heavy upon myself? Have I been conditioned to be this way by my parents, the church culture I was raised in, the Christian school I attended? Is it my personality to be hard on myself? Was there a traumatic (in my own mind) event that caused me to hold myself to an exacting standard? Was I made fun of as a kid and so now work hard to never be made fun of again? Why is it that we do the things we do not want to do?

These are the questions I’m asking myself, because I want to root it out and expose it and deal with it, so that I can stop being so critical with myself. I want to stop letting my shame and fears dictate my words and my actions especially with those I love the most.

I don’t want to be this harsh, critical parent to my son. I want to be an Encourager, a Cheerleader, and a good example of loving myself, loving others and loving God to him.

And so I walk and I think and I look for answers . . . or better questions that will lead me to consider things from a different angle––that may bring help and healing in this area for me.

What do you think? Are there any other questions or thoughts regarding this I should be considering? Do you struggle with the same issue of holding yourself to high exacting standards? If you do, are you holding all your children to that standard, or just one of your children in particular?

Loving Ourselves into the Lives We were Born For

Recently I read a blog of a mom of four kids who is living with a Stage IV cancer. She’s living preparing to die and leave her loving husband and four young children. Her blog is detailing all that she’s dealing with and her thoughts as she processes all that is happening to her and her family.

It’s a tragic blog to read, and yet at one point as she’s detailing what’s she managing to do in these days as she prepares to die, I found myself feeling inadequate by a couple of her statements, in which she lamented her loss of energy to take on her usual tasks. She was having a hard time accepting that now she was finding she needed to take a nap in the middle of the day in order to make it through. She was sad to give up on so many of the tasks and activities she so enjoyed doing and only had time for a, b, c and d, e, f . . . j, k, l . . . and I found myself thinking despondently “this woman is sick and dying and she still manages to get all these things done?!!!! How in the world? She still does more than me––a fairly healthy, cancer-free individual! And she’s just now needing naps in her day? I need naps like EVERY day!” And I had to quit reading the post, because the little nasty voice in my head started poking at me and telling me how I was failing at everything, that I was a loser, that I just wasn’t living up to my potential. And I wandered around feeling pretty blue for a couple of days, and then I got sick with the flu and felt even worse, like I was just a waste of space on this earth.

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Then a newsletter from a Service Dogs organization I’ve supported in the past showed up in my mailbox and as I was reading through it, I came across an article detailing a Puppy Raiser’s experience with two different dogs that she had worked with to become assistance-helpers for disabled people.

The first puppy she raised was a very loving dog that had boundless joy and endless enthusiasm. So much so that when this puppy was moved from puppy kindergarten to Beginner classes she was unable to deal with higher levels of distractions and became a huge distraction herself. She then had to watch from the sidelines because she couldn’t handle the classes. But even that was so very difficult for the exuberant puppy that just wanted to be part of everything going on.   One day, another trainer saw the struggle of this puppy and her Raiser just to get to class and she made a call––a direction-changing, life-changing call. It was decided to that this puppy’s abilities were not what was needed to be a assistance dog, but could be useful elsewhere. This puppy had failed as a service dog candidate, but is now in the SecuriGuard’s Detection training program and doing great. Her weakness in one area became her strengths in another! What a wonderful thing! That made me cry, because I was so happy that she wasn’t deemed worthless to still be a working dog, but that someone saw her potential in another area and was wise enough to advise a change.

This same Puppy Raiser later got another puppy to train who was the exact opposite in manner of the previous one. This puppy was laid back and quiet, always taking a nap. So much so, that the raiser was concerned that she wouldn’t have the drive to work and or be a nervous or timid dog incapable of preforming the necessary tasks of a service dog.   However with lots of hard work and effort, this puppy is maturing into a confident and reliable dog that is capable of handling high amounts of distraction without losing her focus––exactly what is required of a service dog.

After reading this I got on the phone with my mom and we were asking each other how we were doing. Words such as, feeling low, feeling blue, feeling energy-less came out, and I told her about the lady with cancer and how that made me feel, and my mom exclaimed that she felt the same way! Many times she’s lamented over how other women seem to be able to handle a heavier load than she feels she’s capable of, and the kicker always seems to be someone who is still ticking off many tasks on their To Do Lists and dealing with a major or life-threatening illness at the same time. It has always makes her feel inferior and lacking.

I looked over at my large fluffy dog lying on his bed beside the patio door. He’s a Large Guardian type dog and he loves his home and his naps. He sleeps probably 20 hours a day. He has no problem with it. He loves his naps.

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I remember my sister-in-law who is a certified puppy picker-outer, and what she asked me when I was thinking of getting this pup. “What do you want from this dog?  What will this dog need to do?”

I thought about it and decided I wanted a dog that would stay close to home, guard his property and it’s critters and not need a lot of maintenance. I did not need a dog that required a lot of attention from me and was on the low-energy end of the spectrum. I did not need a hyperactive dog, I needed one that would be calmer and had a quiet, but strong and steady demeanor, but one that would fly into action when required to protect his home and his family.

The puppy I ended up with has matured into pretty much that. Of course there were some days when he was a pup that I had my doubts. He had a lot of energy those first few years and was not an easy dog to train––he is a more independent thinker. However he has calmed down a lot and as long as he has some busy moments and is able to guard his home from predators, he’s a happy and content dog.

So I wondered out loud to my mom, that maybe we should think of how there are so many different breeds of dogs out there and how each of these breeds are bred for such and such a purpose. Their breeding along with their personality makes them suitable for certain tasks. If we require a Husky type to be quiet and not run, it’s miserable. If we ask a Border collie to never go outside and play ball, it would freak out and probably cause mad destruction of your house. If we require my Large Guardian type to be out fetching things, it’s a no-go.  If we want a small dog to take on big dog tasks, it’s just wrong and dangerous.

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Maybe, we need to stop and ask ourselves, “What kind of person am I? What is important to me? What do I think I have been born to do?”

In my experience, I’ve seen that there are high-energy people and low-energy people. High-energy people tend to have a great drive to take on a lot of tasks, activities and responsibilities and they also have the ability to thrive for long periods of time at a frantic pace.   And then there are others who have a lower-energy approach, and a quieter drive in life. They have capabilities to take on activities, tasks and responsibilities but do so at a slower pace and with a more single-minded focus, instead of being a juggling master.  And then there are those who have a high-drive and strong desire, but physically have a lower-energy level. Life isn’t as clear-cut for these people. Go figure that I fall into this category. It’s one of my greatest frustrations in life.

Nevertheless, being a high-energy person or a low-energy person doesn’t make one more important or worthier than the other. It’s not about the amount we are accomplishing. It’s not about comparing how much she does with how much I do. It is just necessary that each is stepping up for what they are good at and doing what they are capable of doing at that time. Sometimes I think we all try to force ourselves into the same mold, with the same output and get all upset when we compare.

We all make choices with what to do with the time given to us. Usually we make choices to what we feel is important and what we feel we can handle. Sometimes I hear what other women are accomplishing and I feel inferior, but then I think, that maybe I think I should be doing those things, not so much that I want to be doing those things.

I like a clean house with everything in its place, in order to have the time to do that, I give up time that I could commit to something else. I can’t do it all. I’m a lot like my mother. More lower energy than I’d like to be. I wish some days I had the energy to get up and do a billion and one things and instead I manage to clean my house, make home cooked meals, walk my dogs and usually read a book.   Whereas another woman gets up and wishes she could just clean have a cleaner house, make a home-cooked meal instead of bringing home takeout again, read that one book she’s had on her self for a decade and instead accomplishes a billion and one things at her full-time job. Neither of us is content because we always want to be someone else doing someone else’s life and tend to look down upon our own life and ourselves.

Hello! Dogs don’t compare themselves to other dogs. (Except maybe little dogs; they always seem to have an inferiority complex that they take out aggressively on anything bigger than them.)

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I told my mom, to picture herself as a Large Guardian dog. (Which is a funny picture, because she surely isn’t very large!) Sure she’s on the lower energy end of things, but when it’s required of her, she always finds the energy for the urgent task at hand, and does it well and above standard. She takes care of and fiercely protects her home and her loved ones. That’s her calling. She can be proud of that. She can live with purpose in that.

So I’ve decided that that lady with cancer who is accomplishing far more tasks than I am in a day, even though I’m cancer-free and mostly healthy, well I’m going to clap my hands and praise her and thank her and bless her, because you know, it’s a real gift she’s been given to have energy to accomplish all that she must before her life ends. She has an urgency that I don’t have or need to have at this moment. There is no way most of us are capable of keeping up such a frantic pace, all our lives.

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I know for myself there are times I need to conserve my energy in preparation for those times that require more from me, I know I can’t sustain a long period with a heavy and demanding load without breaking down physically, mentally and emotionally––my personality and energy-level isn’t designed to function that way.   As well, when I come to slower-paced, less demanding times I need to recognize these moments as gifts to sit and bask and think and ponder and mediate and rejuvenate, instead of feeling guilty and ashamed that I’m not outputting as much as others. I’m in a quiet time right now and what I need most in my life right now is quiet and solitude and not so many tasks, and if that means I’m not accomplishing as much then I need to be okay with that . . . for time being.

When it’s required of me, I know I will do what is necessary to accomplish the important and urgent things that need to get done––the rest I will get to eventually when it becomes vital or necessary to do so. I will make sure my home is clean and wholesome food is on the table, and my soul is fed and I will be satisfied. I will be content. I will be at peace. I will be thankful.

And I will love myself into the life I was born for, and I will love others as they live the lives they were born for––even those that accomplish a billion and one things a day and those that manage maybe only three.

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If you want to learn more about that Service Dog organization I mentioned: Click Here for the Link to Pacific Assistance Dog Society or PADS and check out the wonderful work these people and dogs are doing!