I can be a little obsessive. Just ask anyone who knows me. I worry about my kids (well, I suspect every parent does that); I worry about my friends’ kids. I frequently worry about strangers’ kids. I worry about my Mom. I worry about my home. I worry about the environment – a lot.
In a time when people – even dear friends and family – are divided over just about everything; in a time when most news channels cover stories that have been carefully crafted and custom-designed with a very specific viewer in mind, it is impossible not to take a side. Do you lean to the left? There are news channels guaranteed to mirror exactly how you feel about every possible news story that interests you! Do you lean to the right? We’ll provide you with news guaranteed to make the left look like idiots! Just watching the news is pretty much certain to leave you feeling confused, torn, frustrated, anxious, and likely, pretty angry.
I am not a great traveller. There, I said it. I am a homebody. I like my quiet routines. I love my cat. I love my dog. I like knowing that my little domain is safe and cared for. I like keeping an eye on things.
I have a few childhood memories that will always haunt me but one of the worst happened in one single, terrible moment. I must have been 6 or 7 years old and we had been visiting my Grammy and Grampy. I remember that it was a beautiful summer day: we had all gone somewhere – I don’t recall the location now – with the exception of my beloved Grampy, who had opted to stay at home that morning.
Upon our return, as our cars pulled into the long dirt driveway that led to my grandparents’ humble little country home, I was the first to tumble out the car so that I could go find Grampy and excitedly tell him all about whatever amazing thing we had just been doing. He was unusually hard to find: I ran all through the little house, scouring every room for him.
For as far back as I can remember, I always wanted to make a difference. I wanted to do something amazing: something that I would always be remembered for. I wanted my name to be recalled with admiration long after I was gone. I wanted my children to be proud of their Mom. I wanted to feel proud of myself.
I chose a profession in education: a place where it is easy to make a difference – if you want to – every single day. For most of my career, I worked in adult education; adult literacy, to be exact. One would think that working with adults who are learning to read and to write would be about as fulfilling a career as one could aspire to. Instead, I worked far, far in the background: writing and overseeing grant proposals for our annual funding; preparing action plans and strategic plans for the government to approve and therefore allow us to keep doing what we were doing for another year; training the teachers who would actually get to teach an adult how to read for the first time, as well as teaching them the myriad life skills that the statistical majority of us take for granted: skills that feel like a mountain to the adult learner who is absorbing them for the first time.
With the above in mind, buy local, or if you cannot, buy items made in countries whose values align with your own;
Make ‘kind’ your default as often as you can;
Get your money out of RRSPs – and into a more spendable, less taxable, more easy-to-pass-on-to-your-kids format – while you still have a pulse (a banker gave me this advice);
You do not have to rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. The new detergents work better if they have food enzymes to help them break down better. It’ll save you loads of time, reduce the cost of your water bill and it will be much better for the environment;
Grow something you will be able to eat;
Take good care of your things and try to fix them rather than replacing them, whenever you can;
You really don’t forgive for the other person. You forgive because it’s just too toxic for you to carry that anger around;
Whatever awful drama or tragedy you are going through, time will make a difference. Hang on…
If you have kids and you don’t have a will, get one done up. In many places, you can legally draw up your own will so it doesn’t even have to cost you all that much;
Re. the above: if you have specific wishes, write them down! Tell your loved ones where they can find that information. And review your own wishes periodically. You will be surprised how they change over time;
Also re. the above: make sure a person you trust has Power of Attorney over your finances and your health decisions, just in case the day comes when you are unable to make those decisions on your own;
Regardless of how important you think you are in a business or an organisation, you are easily replaceable (and soon forgotten). Almost everyone retires at some point. Whatever work you do, it may be the centre of your existence now, but the time will come when you are obsolete. Rare are the people who work until the day they die of old age. Make sure you have a real life to fall back on when you do retire (and start early if you can);
There is nothing – nothing – human about ‘human resources’. Never, ever forget: they are not there for you; they are there for the system;
Re. the above, systems are never there for you; they are there for themselves (and especially, for their bottom line). The best you can do is to be your own best advocate;
Breathe. And stop to just look around, as often as you can. Leave your phone at home from time to time. It’s really, really beautiful out there…
Living isn’t the point. Making a difference isn’t the point. Making your mark on the world isn’t the point. What did you learn? I think that is the point…
I love music. It fills me; heals me, sooths me and brings me out of any dark mood. I am the type of person who reflects deeply on the hypocrisies and the idiosyncrasies of life and I often get mired in the muck because of it. Sometimes, when I have gone way too far down the rabbit hole, some little voice will nudge me to my music lists and remind me that there is something that always makes me feel better.
In my country, Canada, today is the second official National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
There were 140 federally-run residential schools all across Canada that operated between 1867 and 1996. The intent was to ‘teach the Indian out of the child’: complete assimilation, in other words. The children were forcibly removed from their homes. Their hair was cut; they were forbidden to speak their native tongue; they were forbidden to practice their spirituality and their traditions; they were not allowed to go home and they endured unimaginable abuse: either of neglect, physical and sexual abuse, or worse.
After a near-drowning at age 5, I was always a little fearful of water as a child. Canadian summers are hot, though, and my mother – likely glad to have us out of her hair for awhile – always encouraged my sister and I to head over to the local outdoor swimming pool with our friends. I was not a very good swimmer, but I spent many happy summer days paddling around that little pool with my friends. Just thinking about those days brings back to mind the sharp reek of chlorine, the delicious feel of sun on our skin and the muted din of dozens of kids shrieking, laughing and simultaneously calling out to their friends. Continue reading “Celebrating My Accomplishments Pandemic Clean-Up: Post 5”