Just sit DOWN, woman!

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One recent morning I sat down at my kitchen table to savour my first cup of coffee of the day.

Yes, that is news. I sat down at my table. With coffee. To drink it. In one place. While doing nothing else but drinking my coffee.

As I sat there, uncharacteristically still, I realized I don’t remember ever doing that before. In the ten years I’ve lived in that house I don’t remember ever just sitting still to enjoy my coffee. As a rule, I grab my mug, race to shower, sip it while drying my hair, lose the mug when I go to the laundry room, find it again when I retrace my steps and finally throw it in the microwave to warm it, losing it again.

I’ll find the mug that night when I’m thawing something, or steaming some veggies. I discard the contents… two thirds of a mug full of a nasty, cold, bitter creamy brew.

I think this is something I need to work on. I have no excuse to be as busy as I am. I am sure there are many many working moms who find time to sit in calm reflection before they hit the ground running each day. No, that was NOT a joke… I’m sure there must be some out there somewhere….

Taking those few minutes each day to calmly begin, to contemplatively warm up my mind before I kick start my schedule has to be good, no? I am sure if I found time for that, I would be more creative & focused, kinder, with more patience and resilience.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaaaa!!!!!

Yeah RIGHT!

But at least my coffee would be hot ’til the last drop…

Sigh.

Impossible Loss

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The community I live in and love has been struck hard by tragedy in the last month. Two young families have lost their Dads…quickly, shockingly, unfairly. The two families have 5 children between them, all 11 and younger.

The two men, both dedicated outdoors men were friends. They worked together, shared similar passions and lived their lives with enormous intensity and capacity for joy. They died 3 weeks apart, separately, in two completely unrelated tragedies.

Last night on my flight home from a visit to the big city I brushed up close to that pain. I sat with the sister in law of the most recently lost husband, father, friend, Daddy. Her heart was in pieces, visibly. She was lovely. She was so sad, so worried for her sister, her little niece and the shell shocked boys. Their father died trying to save them from a river; them and the son of the woman sitting next to me for 3 hours. I felt…still feel, gutted. I am grateful that I was there, able to help her with her own young daughter, be a new face, a new ear, a new mirror to look in to see who she is now.  As she told me the story, my heart broke again and again.  At one point, she said, there were six people in the river, all drowning. Half were there to save, half were being saved. All were at risk of being lost. Too few safety measures afforded by the resort they were visiting, so many people, so much crying and fear and screaming, so little anyone could do. And so, one Daddy died. One husband is gone. So many lives are forever changed.

I wasn’t there. I don’t know the family personally, though I feel so connected to them. I felt that connection even before meeting this woman who has so much to try and block from her memory, so much to move forward from. I felt that connection because I am a wife, I am a mother.   I feel that connection so much more now, having had the little girl with the saddest face I’ve ever seen sit on me, play with my phone and take sad photos of herself. This little girl has just lost her Daddy; she is 3.

The two families, linked by friendship and interest and passion and love of the outdoors are now linked by sorrow, loss and tragedy.  I am now, forever, linked to their story. I will never erase from my  heart the sight of this woman, this heartbroken sister, the aunt of these children in shock. She almost lost her own son and father to the river, lost instead her brother in law, her sister’s joy and her own sense of security in the world.

She said it was so awful. So horrible. So unbelievable. She has touched my life forever.

Yukon, we have two families who need us terribly right now. 5 children who will need all the support we can provide. Two mothers whose worlds have just been turned upside down, and who haven’t even begun to measure what lies ahead. I want to do something. I wish I could do something.

Powerfully Powerless

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Personal power. What is that? It’s not the same thing as personal strength. Personal strength I have in spades. Power I have far less of. Far less than I’d like, far less than I’d need to change any of the important things I believe need changing. I have strength, I have determination, I have drive and I have fortitude. But I don’t have power. I can influence, I can suggest, I can advocate and I can agitate. I can irritate, I can instigate and I can pester. But I don’t have Power.

I can’t make you do what I think is right. I can’t make you do what I think you must. I can’t make Him do what is so clearly needed. I can’t make them change the way they think, they act, they enact, they legislate. I can’t. I don’t use that word often. I can’t. Power is not something you can simply have by believing you have it. Power isn’t something I can drum up like confidence or belief or faith or mule headed stubbornness. I don’t have the power to make change happen.

I will lend my voice. I will stand to be counted. I will wave a banner or hold up a sign or sign on the dotted line and do my level best to be a force for change. I will speak loudly in my biggest  small voice and demand to be heard. And I will often feel small. Smaller for trying. Smaller for caring. Smaller for giving such a huge important damn.

There is so much change I feel is needed; little micro changes in my own life, larger macro changes in my community and giant leap forward changes in my country and the world. I am tired of trying to be powerful. I am tired of being chicken little. I am surprised so few people seem to notice. The sky might be falling but you seem fine… you seem not to notice it, you seem okay. Maybe, since power is only really available to a few, and I don’t think those few really play for my team, I should work on cultivating contentment. Stop seeking the power to change things, and seek instead the comfort of apathy.

Happy July everybody. The sun is shining so it’s all good. Right?

It’s tiresome, but I know I won’t be able to cultivate apathy. I am hard wired to give a damn. To keep pushing. To keep trying to jump just high enough to make sure you hear what I want you to hear. That’s ego, I guess. But it’s also a desire to connect, to work for things that matter to me and to demand I don’t just give up. I am going to always push against the easy if the easy feels wrong, feels like the lazy way. So chances are if you and I know each other in real life I have annoyed you at least once, or will.  I’ll work on that, but I will also keep working for what matters to me.

Can’t help it.

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There’s something disgusting out there!

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There’s something disgusting out there. On the ground, on the sidewalk, just there – where I was about to step. It’s your spit! It’s the sputum you ejected violently from your mouth, right in my path. Where my FEET go! Where my SHOES go! Where (oh save me) my BARE FEET might go!!

I have never, in 46 years, needed to “hork a loogie” onto any sidewalk anywhere. Is that how you spell it? HORK a LOOGIE?  It’s fun to say, but how incredibly repulsive. How is it necessary? WHY is it necessary? Honestly, I am not particularly prim, not exceptionally la-di-dah.. I’ve let rip a nice loud anonymous fart once or twice (shhhh… no- let me take that back. I AM prim and proper, and now very embarrassed).

I do not see the need do not see the need do NOT see the need EVER to expectorate publicly. Mucous (cringe) and phlegm (gag) do not belong in the street. If you absolutely must divest of some nasty products please, use kleenex. Use a napkin. Use a paper towel or a good old fashioned linen handkerchief (but do not expect me to touch that thing, let alone wash it).  It is the oral equivalent of taking a dump, right there on the sidewalk. Sorry for the straight talk my friends, but that’s the truth.

Public spitting is  illegal in Singapore, Guangdong Province in China, London England, and the extremely civilized city of Saskatoon Canada. Saskatoon has it right; they have a bylaw, Bylaw No. 8994 in fact, called “The Public Spitting, Urination and Defecation Prohibition Bylaw”. You see?! They have it right… they have grouped spitting with the rest of those waste expulsion processes that rightly belong out of sight, and out of the flow of human traffic. Should you choose to “discharge phlegm, saliva, chewing tobacco juice or any other substance from the mouth”, you can expect to pay $100 for your first offense. It’s only fair.

Your spit, my spit, ANY spit is gross. It’s how illness is transmitted.  It’s a fetid, germy little stew.  As a citizen, I should not have to wade through your bodily waste as I amble down Main Street; ice cream cone in hand. Actually, the whole thought of mucous (bleargh) and phlegm (retch) makes me almost lose my lunch.

So, friends… shall we start a little revolution?  A little brigade of fed up citizens giving horkers the hairy eyeball and a mini lecture? Should I start carrying around little packets of tissue and insisting offenders take one or else? Should I employ my handy dandy little smart phone and upload photos of those people who insist on littering my city with the byproducts of their sinuses? Maybe I will. Maybe I will.

So, unless you are running a marathon (though seriously, I carry tissue when I run), climbing a mountain or performing some extreme sport, put it politely in a tissue or keep it in your head. There’s just no reason for that kind of nasty to ever see the light of day. And believe me… I’ll BE that crazy lady with the tissues. Just watch me. And smile…I just want to take a quick photo!

 

We are genius.

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It has recently come to my attention that I’m a freakin’ genius. No, don’t laugh… seriously! I have mastered a set of skills so highly specialized that many people don’t even know they don’t share them.

You’d think I’d hoard this magic, keep these powers to myself, but you’d be wrong. I WANT to share. I have willingly offered mentorship to anyone who is interested. Sadly, so few are interested… in fact I can say with honesty that, to date, no-one has actually wanted to learn.

So I will remain, for the foreseeable future, one of an elite few. A member of an unarmed group of specialists who know one another on sight, and know impostors in a moment. We are all around you.

We are the brave. We are the powerful. We know how to change a toilet roll, replace a paper towel tube, fold towels, sweep under the edges of the cupboard, sort laundry, close cabinet doors and refill liquid soap dispensers. We know how to empty the lint tray, pull gunk out of the kitchen drain and put a new bag in the trash bin. We understand that milk lives in the refrigerator, that food left out overnight goes bad and that brown bananas taste better. We know how to cap the toothpaste and collapse a stroller. We can tell you where you left your blue jacket and which type of peanut butter you prefer.

We are mothers. We are legion. We are genius. We are tired.

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Live from Yukon, Eagle’s nest web-camera, 24/7 (Updated link April 2014)

Live from Yukon, Eagle’s nest web-camera, 24/7

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Baby eagle # 1 hatched this morning; Mom was just feeding him/her a very first meal of meat. Amazing to watch! Thank you to Yukon Energy for erecting the nest alongside the beautiful Yukon River and for installing this webcam. We are so lucky to have a window on this eagle family’s development. So exciting!

I’m a size 10. So I’m gross?

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I grew up as a dancer… ballet, tap, jazz, non stop competetive dance from the age of 5 until I finished high school, having won the top prize in my Provincial competition… best of the bunch. I battled my body all through my teens… fingers poked at my “midriff bulge”, fingernails dug into my derriere and told to LIFT IT! LOSE IT! PULL IT IN! SUCK IT IN! My years as a young woman were rife with negative body messages, blatant and more oblique…as a dancer, there’s no such thing as too skinny. Predictably, I succumbed to the pressure. I stopped eating. Everyone around me feigned shock and horror, but I shrunk and I won the BIG prize, so the dismay was muted. Once I’d won, I started eating again and everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief. It wasn’t a PROBLEM I had, it was a SOLUTION… I’d lost the few extra pounds I carried and clearly it had all been worth it…, no?

I stepped away from dance for about 10 years and, strange truth, I got slimmer. I stopped obsessing over my weight, found a man, got slim. Got REALLY slim.  When I got married, my nearly 5’6″ frame carried only 118 pounds, barely a size 2. I wasn’t dieting, wasn’t sick, wasn’t trying to be slim. I ate chocolate, candy, chips, pancakes, you name it. I also smoked… that did it for me. When the babies started coming, I got slimmer and slimmer. With each baby, my feet got bigger and my boobs got bigger… otherwise I shrank almost immediately to the size I’d been before birth. Then I’d get smaller. I had 3 babies in 4 years, nursed each one. I smoked (I will forever be ashamed of this) during my pregnancies…yes, I cut WAAAAAAY  back to a few a day, but still. I then carried, chased, ran after, held, rocked, fed and cajoled those three babies while blessed with a hyper drive metabolism.  I also taught dance… up to 14 classes a week of jazz and tap. That burns a lot of calories.

Then I turned 35. I took a desk job, and thankfully I quit smoking at last. My metabolism did an about face and I began to gain weight. I now struggle to maintain what I feel is a healthy weight.

I don’t have a thigh gap. In fact I didn’t even know what that was until a few months ago. I have a bit of a pooch.  I need an actual bra, with cups and a bit of underwire. I have birthed 3 children, and there is evidence of that in various body parts. I’m also 46… there’s no escaping that though I’m no stranger to Dr. Botox.  I ride my bicycle when it’s warm, run, work out (not religiously), and salsa dance. Even so, I cringe when I step on the scale, cry when I can’t fit something that I want to wear, and have learned to despise shopping for pants, skirts and dresses. I’m okay with tops… so long as they are all big, baggy, hide my flab and don’t strangle my (apparently) freakishly large upper arms.

And I hate my body. I hate that I am no longer a size 2, 4, 6 or even 8. I hate that I get the “full body check tsk tsk” from the hyper cool gay sales guy at Le Chateau. I hate knowing that I am teetering on the very brink of “plus size”. Me. Hot, beautiful, strong, fashionable, powerful ME. Plus size. Scared. Horrified by my own body. How can I overcome this? How do WE, as women, overcome this?  I can cover it well with nice clothes and good shoes, but don’t expect to see me in anything clingy. Ever.

Mike Jeffries, in a 2006 interview which was made enormously public this week has declared that his brand, Abercrombie and Fitch will not carry XL. In fact the largest size they carry is 10. My size. MY SIZE. Anything larger than me is plus size and has no place in the fashionable universe. No. Nononononono.

I resent the idea that a woman of my size (average) and weight (absolutely dead average) is a plus sized woman. Who decided that?  What does that tell my daughters? I have two gorgeous, stunning daughters who are each within 15 pounds of my weight. They both hate their bodies, both think they are fat. I accept my culpability in that… how could they grow up with me and my warped body image without absorbing some self hatred at least by osmosis?

I have a couple of links for you today. One is a remarkable video curated by Dylan Lambi-Raine, Kayla Hatzel and Sarah Zelinski; 3 classmates in the Gender Studies program at the University of Saskatchewan. This video shows objectification of women… AND of men, in stereotypical roles and demeaning and degrading poses. Oddly the reflected version, images of men being objectified, is no less disturbing.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/story/2013/05/08/saskatoon-viral-video-university-of-saskatchewan.html

An interesting bit of history: the 2006 Salon article featuring Mike Jeffries in full dreadful flight:

http://www.salon.com/2006/01/24/jeffries/  It’s just a big old trash bag full of political incorrectness and awful misogyny.

So Mike Jeffries, go away. The cool kids don’t like you. Voice in my head? Get lost. Please? The truth is I’m actually pretty gorgeous, at least that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself. Every single day.

Philanthropic Blackmail: Marketing Fail

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Yesterday I posted a rant about marketing, more specifically about BAD marketing…marketing fails. Since I published it, I keep remembering or spotting more of these ridiculously bad ad ideas and marketing schemes.  I’m going to focus on one today, one that has really started to piss me off.

It’s the faux philanthropy bait and switch ploy you see almost daily on Facebook. I saw an awful one today.  Green Giant has graciously agreed to donate “up to 5000 cans of green beans” to Food Banks Canada. That’s great… they should be doing that anyway. That’s good corporate citizenship… hell, it’s also a tax write off. Instead, they have found a way to turn it into some pretty sleazy self promotion.

Here’s the problem: General Mills, Green Giant has a promotion tie in with Food Banks Canada on Facebook: “For every LIKE on Facebook we’ll donate 2 cans of green beans up to 5000 cans”. That’s right. 5000 cans. They needed 2500 likes to trigger this donation, too. So let’s see; 5000 cans which retail at what… $1 per can? So that’s a $5,000 donation. Well, thank you very much.

General Mills had a good year last year; profits were up, shareholders were happy.    What I see, beyond the much needed donation of 5000 cans of  green beans to Canadian Food Banks is a widely shared Facebook marketing campaign with huge reach, great feel good payback and lots of piggyback credibility by pairing with such a reputable charitable organization.  And all for $5000. Wow.  That’s a pretty powerful media buy for only 5K.  Think about it… what else can $5000 buy you if you’re an ad buyer? Nothing. Not 30 seconds on tv, not a 1/4 page ad in a national magazine. Nada.  And you can be sure that most people will forget to “unlike” the page, and will have their newsfeed cluttered with Green Giant marketing from now on. Well played, General Mills.

That’s a lot of reach for not a lot of green… and I see it again and again and again. And you know what? I hit “like”.  I hit like so those damned beans would get to the Food Banks Canada shelves, where they really are needed. But I hate it and I know I’m being manipulated and I think it’s pretty tacky marketing.

I love Food Banks Canada. I’ve served on the board of our local Food Bank and appreciate the powerful advocacy work FBC does, and the way they are able to secure generous food donations from major food producers in Canada year after year. I am thankful that Green Giant  donates food to Canadians in need.  This week is Hunger Awareness Week in Canada, May 6-10, and the message needs to get out and out and out that there are far too many hungry people in our country, and a staggering number of hungry children.

If you want more information on what you can do to help Canadians struggling with food insecurity or to learn more about the true demographics of hunger in this country, visit http://www.foodbankscanada.ca/

If you are in Whitehorse and want to know how to help, please visit http://www.whitehorsefoodbank.ca/

If you live in the US,  Feeding America is a great place to start: http://feedingamerica.org/

Faux Facebook Philanthropy is blackmail – just donate the damned food. Fail.

Marketing Fail

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I love a good ad. I don’t mind being sold so long as the seller is creative, clever, honest and interesting. Humor is big too; make me laugh and I’ll remember you. I might even look for your product next time I’m in the market.

For the sake of argument , I’m going to post a few of my least favorite marketing ploys… I call them marketing fails.

Marketing fail #1

Flyers on my windshield.  All those flyers that people throw to the ground in disgust or laziness… now there’s LITTER with your name and phone number on it blowing in the wind. Fail.

Marketing Fail #2

Dancing sandwich board guys. Seriously. This sorry sucker bouncing up and down at the intersection is less likely to inspire me to want the pizza he’s stumping for than cause me to rear end the car in front of me. Distracting drivers is a BAD plan. Plus I KNOW he is desperately trying to make a living, but being paid under the table or minimum wage. Fail.

Marketing Fail #3

Cinematic, flashing, massive, hyper-lit crazy ass highway billboards. These things are bigger than my HOUSE, they flash, they whiz and zing and practically throw confetti at a never ending stream of drivers flying past at highway speeds. Add text and you’ve got a pile up on your hands. Never mind my cell phone, government… regulate THIS.  Fail.

Marketing Fail #4

Tits. They don’t sell me anything. Sorry. Got my own, thanks. If mine don’t inspire me to drop change, hers sure won’t. Tuck them back in and make me think or make me laugh. Those girls just make me uncomfortable, and that doesn’t make me spendy.  Fail.

Marketing Fail #5

Bullshit. My hair will not be 10x thicker in 2 weeks. My waist will not be 6″ smaller in 4 weeks. Don’t guarantee my money back, just tell me the truth, for pete’s sake. I’m not that stupid. Fail.

Marketing Fail #6

Minimizing the risk. 140 Happy Calories my big fat North American ass. Junk is junk is junk no matter how you fluff it up for the cameras. Soda, GMO food, high fructose corn syrup, it’s all garbage and it’s all bad for me. Don’t insult my intelligence by pretending it’s only “part of the big picture”. The big picture is it’s all bad for me and you’re lying. Marketing fail.

That’s my first shot at this. There’s more… I could go on and on. What about you? What do advertisers do that really knocks you flat?

I have a family, I have disposable income, I buy;  sometimes for good reasons, sometimes because I’m a sheep, and sometimes because some clever advertisers have done a good job of convincing me that I really should try their product.  If the ads were clever, honest, and the product really is all they said, I’ll become a customer. If not, I’ll just be annoyed,  I’ll tell my friends and I’ll keep my money, thank you very much.