Pocket NINJA!!!

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I know a she-lion of a mother who told me a story about the power of pocket ninjas. When her kids were in school and feeling worried, bullied, anxious or alone she would ask them to think of her as pocket ninja mom… there, just out of sight, and ready to fight evil for their sake.   I love the idea of the pocket ninja. I love the idea of a secret weapon, a tiny little warrior ready to do battle for me if I need a champion.

Our family has a huge collection of Playmobil, and I have a big bag of it at my desk for kids needing diversion while suffering through Mom or Dad’s meetings.  I had, in that bag, a few ninjas and aliens that I have pressed into service throughout the office for various purposes… mostly comical. About a year ago a colleague was very stressed, preparing for a big presentation. It was one of those presentations that would impact someone’s career and life, so she was feeling the pressure of wanting to get it exactly right. Remembering my friend’s awesome mom-ness, I offered her a  playmobil guy to carry in her pocket to her meeting… a genuine pocket ninja, even down to the black clothes and sword.

She took the ninja, made a rock solid presentation and I believe won her case.  She had a little toy in her pocket to fidget with if things got stressy, but really… how anxious can you be when you’re playing with a hidden toy and remembering the goofiness that went along with receiving it?

That ninja has had many subsequent adventures… he has done a series of yoga photo shoots (he’s really quite agile), has been photographed in many exotic locales and has put a few miles under his groovy headband. He has, however, failed to return from his most recent journey… his adventures have carried him beyond my reach and his loss has been felt a time or two.

My colleague, upon hearing that pocket ninja had gone on to bigger and better things (or maybe just fallen behind my office bookcase?) worked a bit of magic.  She surprised me this morning with a new and different, but possibly even more kick ass pocket ninja (shhhh…the other ninja might just be hiding, and he isn’t very forgiving).

THIS ninja has not one, but two swords. A black sword AND a grey sword. He has a groovy removable helmet too, which almost makes up for his inability to do any of the more challenging yoga poses.

As talismans go, perhaps a little plastic guy with a yellow head is not as powerful as some. He does, however, fit in your pocket… more than you can say for some groovy crystals I’ve seen. He also has a bit more street cred than a St. Francis medallion on a chain, and I’ve yet to see a medallion depicting even ONE ninja sword, never mind two (no offense intended).

All joking aside, it’s awesome to have something to carry (or think about, or remember) – a reminder that somebody, somewhere, has your back. It’s great to know that there’s a little army ready to stand up for you, even if it’s a really really tiny army….pocket sized.  Those pocket ninjas are Mom powered…friend powered… and you know they’ll kick ass if they need to!

Keep hatred out of school policy, please

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The community I love has been engaged in emotional debate for the last several weeks over the treatment of gay students in our Catholic schools. There have been protests, meetings, letters to the editors and calls to radio hosts. Discussions have centered on whether a publicly funded school administration can be permitted to openly and actively encourage discrimination against some of its students.

The Bishop in charge of the school’s religious education program and guiding principles has published a document which was, until recently, posted on the school’s website. This document acts as a guide for teachers and school administration on homosexuality and the treatment of homosexual students.  It calls homosexual urges a “disorder” and labels homosexual acts an “intrinsic moral evil.” The Bishop said that  teachers are discouraged from using words like “gay,” and “lesbian,” and that a Gay-Straight Alliance isn’t allowed at the school.  A side effect of this policy has been plummeting morale amongst the school’s staff and students. Another impact, of course, is a sense of impunity for those keen to demonize young people who have identified as gay, or even those who just “seem gay”.

This  is all happening at the same time as the flood of equality messages and images, the anticipated decision to strike down Prop 8, the chorus of voices growing louder and louder reminding us that we are not allowed to teach children to hate… and yet, it’s still happening.

This is Canada. I know that in the US there are different ways of doing things, churches have different and perhaps greater powers than in Canada, but here, we separate church and state. If taxes are being used to fund a school, it has to teach in accordance with the laws of the land.

If you want an entirely faith based curriculum, then open a charter school. Charge tuition. Do not depend on the public purse.

I say all this, and even so… my daughter is enrolled in this school. Two of my three children have attended this high school. Confused? Yes, me too. My upbringing was Catholic, my husband’s Anglican, but neither of us are practicing, and we are not religious people. I have had occasional bursts of interest in attending church, but will confess the interest was largely social and based in a desire to create structure and community for my family.

When it was time for my kids to start school, the options were the nearest public school (at the time a poorly performing, underachieving school), french immersion (not our choice) or the Catholic school. The Catholic school had a wonderful principal, great morale, high achieving students, an inclusive philosophy and felt loving, warm and wonderful, so we chose it for our children.  Until very recently, the high school had the same warm and welcoming energy.  That changed with leadership changes in the school and in the church community.

As a result, gay students are now being targeted.  In one case, a locker was spray painted with the word FAG. The principal refused to investigate or seek to remedy the situation in any way. The newly “out” student was told if she didn’t like it, she could always change schools. So she did.  And then, as these things do, it all went public. And things have started to change, in a hurry.

I believe churches can teach what they believe. People can attend the church that best suits their belief system. Do I believe it’s okay to preach hate? Do I believe it’s okay to sanction looking the other way when acts of violence are perpetrated based on hatred? No. I understand that it’s a Catholic church, and the Catholic church does not support homosexuality or agree with same sex marriage. Fair enough. They don’t support pre-marital sex either, or birth control, but if a teenage girl gets pregnant, she is treated with  compassion and respect  while a homosexual student is not offered the same respect, or any reasonable protection from discrimination.

I know  several gay teachers within the Catholic schools in our city. We have, in our family, long questioned the morality of practicing a way of life in secret while teaching your students that your own way of life is wrong…is an intrinsic moral evil.  That, to me, is a hypocrisy so damaging it defies understanding.

Now, the government has stepped in and advised the school their policy must change, MUST align with Human Rights legislation in our Territory. The offensive policy has been removed from the school’s website.

But the young woman whose locker was spray painted, her dignity was rejected, her very self was dismissed and that’s not going to go away because a website administrator took a policy offline. And the other kids who have suffered similar insult and assault in that school, with the pervasive disregard for the rights of every single one of its students will not feel less harmed because now, finally, the policy is changing. And what about the kids who have been allowed to think that gay bashing, even in its more subtle forms, is okay? Who’s going to go in and reprogram them?

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My baby girls are 20 & 16?!

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What a crazy emotional week for me. My eldest turned 20 years old today and my youngest will be 16 on Thursday. How? How can this be? I swear to you that only a few weeks ago they were little and snuggly and damp, all sweet breath and need and warm cheeks and lullabies.

My first born is preparing to launch… this nest has grown too small for her. She’s off to a real city, a bigger city, a new fresh start…school, friends, the BEGINNING of it all. My youngest is still half mine, half belonging to the world. So hard for me to separate, she is so much more ready than I am. 16 is nowhere near as old as it was when her big sister turned 16.

When your first child reaches a milestone, a threshold, it’s HUGE. 10 is so mature. 16 is SO incredible, so grown up. Since you’ve never been there before, it’s all enormous, especially because the younger siblings seem so… young, in comparison. Now, as my “baby” turns 16, I look at her with shocked eyes and wonder how on earth this young girl can be so near to being grown. How can I imagine letting her do the things I let her older sister do, especially now that I KNOW better!

When I grew up as the eldest of 6, I was the trail breaker. I had to fight all the fights, win all the  battles, break down the door for my younger siblings. Once my parents got through battling with me over every living detail they had lost the will to fight… at least that’s what I assumed. Maybe they just decided they’d best pick their battles and trust in the universe a bit. Either way my younger sisters had it WAAAAY easier than I did.

In my house, it’s the opposite. I was so innocent, so naiive as a mother I let my eldest do things I will NOT allow my younger daughter to do. I know… now I KNOOW so much more than I did then. Poor kid 😉 Her big sister was supposed to clear the way, not alert me to the risks!

Either way I have these wonderful 3 kids, all of them growing up in their own way and following their own rocky paths. I want everything fabulous, magnificent, exciting, scary and exciting for them. I want them to be explorers, adventurers, life long learners, readers, do-ers, sharing kindness and their gifts along the way. Thankfully too, my son’s birthday isn’t ’til Fall, so I have some time to recover before getting all emotional again.

Can they possibly do that without growing up? Without growing away? Without leaving me? Please?  This is a week of joy, of remembering, of story telling… and of being a big soppy sobby emotional puddle. Happens to me this time every year. Hard to avoid; two birthdays in a week… Happy Birthday Emily, Happy Birthday Chloe.  Love you both bigger than sunshine.

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Why Matches are a Perfect Gift

ImageA while back I blogged about a box of beautiful matches, their use and misuse, and my sadness when they were all gone. A smallish thing, but Moms understood the value of beautiful objects and rituals. My friends understood… more than I knew, apparently. 

My blogger friend Donna (The Redneck Princess) emailed me the other day asking for my mailing address. She is talented, beautiful & crafty.  She often has contests and so on on her fab blog, so I didn’t think too long about what I might have won, just gave her the address and carried on. 

Donna and I are friends through her younger brother… “Little Jimmy”, we called him. He’s a great guy who now lives in the same Yukon town as me.  Donna is a couple of years older than me so we only knew one another peripherally in school. Over the last little while though we’ve become online friends through a gang of awesome crabby women approaching our best years. She and the rest of that gang of foul mouthed awesome bitches have become my posse, my safe place. I am one lucky lady.

This is what Donna sent me:

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Isn’t that just about the best gift ever? A BEAUTIFUL box of matches, just for me. Just for lighting a beautiful candle  when I want to just be Deborah, instead of Mom… or wife. 

So I want to say thank you to Donna – wow… what a hugely awesome thoughtful and kind thing you did!

And now, I will try to find a way to do something as kind and thoughtful for somebody else.  What a nice challenge… I’ll be watching you, my friends. Watching and listening for a chance to make your day like my lovely friend Donna made mine. 

Happy, happy Thursday friends!

So not cool

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I sometimes humour myself (yes, there is a U in humor in Canada) that I am cool… cooler than moms were when I was a teenager, that’s for sure. I dress in clothes my daughters borrow, they almost never shudder with shame when I approach them in public and their friends think I’m “awesome”, at least sometimes.

So today in preparation for our upcoming holiday I went to the drug store and bought myself a couple of new pairs of sunglasses. One pair is pretty, more for around town in a sundress; the other is more serious, for out on a boat in the Pacific, or hiking in the blazing sun. So I put on the “real” pair… both of them burst out laughing…doubled over laughing. Ouch.

I am soooo not cool.

I was a 13 year old dork. A nerd. A dweeb-y loser in the wrong clothes from a weird family and I was a dancer… weirder and weirder. If there’s one sensation I remember clearly it’s trying to keep my head up while walking past the cool girls sitting on the cool bench in the front foyer of my high school. They laughed, snickered, raised their eyebrows, giggled. No matter how hard I’d tried to patch together an outfit that looked sort of like theirs it was never right. I had hand me downs (even as the eldest of 6) and didn’t have a hair cut in a salon until I left home at 17.  My look always looked like what it was; leftover, home made, a bit desperate.

Now as an adult and as a mother, clothes matter to me. Having nice clothes is important, and it was always important to me to make sure my kids had what they needed to blend in. If they want to stand out and wear something different, go for it, but at least for them it’s a choice.

And teenage girls giggling at how I look, even my own teenage girls, well that’s a sharp kind of hurt that I thought I was over. Guess not. And my girls certainly didn’t mean any harm.

So, just to prove to my husband that the glasses aren’t stupid I put them on. And he laughed.

Seriously. Who says they have to come with me to Mexico anyway…it looks like I have 3 plane tickets available…

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The glasses I bought…. turns out they’re for over prescription lenses. I don’t actually wear glasses…

My Bliss List (first draft)

ImageI have about 27 seconds to type this before my husband takes me out for dinner; it’s Valentines Day and despite my snarking about the fraudulent nature of the festivities, a girl does like to get all shiny and prettied up and adored.

So I am drafting a list…. seriously, first draft only. I will post this and THEN think of about a million other things I wish I’d added… thus the first draft title.

My Bliss List (or things that make me stupidly happy)

-Extra hot double tall lattes, no sugar (actually sugar makes it better, so WITH sugar)

-Extra hot baths; the exact right temperature when you get in, where it burns just a bit but it’s not so hot that you pass out right away.

-Bathroom fan; it drowns out the sound of the kids yelling at each other while you soak in the blissfully perfect bath.

-Support garments. Need I say more?

-Shoes…perfect, fabulous, stunning, sexy, ohmygodwhycan’tIweartheseeveryday Fluevog shoes… (see photo, above)

-Holidays in the very near future

-Awesome plan to spend time with my lady friends, good wine, good food… bliss bliss bliss

-Going for a fantastic dinner tonight at a gorgeous restaurant where the restaurateur knows my name, hugs me upon arrival and is just so lovely it makes it all even more shimmery.

Gag. Who wrote all that smarmy crap up there? Me?! Well… who knows. Maybe Valentines Day agrees with me more than I knew.

Cheers all… hope it’s a blissful night. I’ll update the list later. What would YOU add?

Life is short, and all that.

ImageSo what’s it going to be for you? The thing you will most regret, lying on your deathbed, breathing your last? Will it be the trips you didn’t take, the book you didn’t write? Maybe the bucket list items that never got checked off?

Not me. No, I’ll have lots of trips not taken, books not written and all that, but that’s probably not what I’m going to regret. At least it’s not what I fear I’ll regret. I’m afraid I’m going to regret not living enough. Not loving enough, not laughing enough, not making the most out of the friendships and relationships that matter to me. Not having enough sex, not getting my hands and feet dirty often enough, worrying too much, staying too closed and careful.

Life is not the good china. It can’t be saved for when company comes. It’s gotta be used… used up. This is a lesson I need to teach myself every day. You’d think, by age 46 that I’d have clued in to that by now.

I’ve gotta shift the crap around, the crap that keeps me from doing the things I love, the things I want to love, the things I fear. I have to find a way to be fearless in the way I used to be, or fearless in a way I want to be. Maybe not even fearless at all, but brave enough to just take a deep breath, plug my nose and jump into the deep end of living.

So that, my friends, is my Valentines wish. I want to really live. Live big, loud, ugly, funny, beautiful and awkward. Trip, dance, fall, get dirty, embarrass myself, try again, Look foolish, say the wrong thing (at least I said something), make a new friend, mend a lost friendship, find my centre, get lost, get dizzy. Be real. And have more sex 😉

Cheers…

Valentines….Meh

ImageValentines Day. Woot. Woot. I am the Scrooge of Valentines, I swear it. If there were a workhouse to send all those damned little cupids to I’d have their diapered little baby bottoms shipped off faster than you can say pass me a Hershey’s kiss.

Blackmail. It’s blackmail. You have no escape. if you’re married, or in a relationship, or you’re a parent, you’re hooped. You’d better love up… you’d better spread that chocolate joy around… a stuffy here, a sucky card & a heart shaped box there, a flower over that-a-way, some koochee koo over this-a-way.

Christmas is a holiday I can get behind. I know it’s commercialized, I know I’m being manipulated from about September 1 onward to buy, buy, bake,  cook, make, wrap, consume and stress, but at least it makes sense on an historical level to me. Valentines? Meh. Some old guy dying in a jail sends his gal a note and the people at Hallmark lose their sh*t.

I do it… I buy the sucky card, I buy the freakin’ chocolate, the little cutie stuffies for the kids, I decorate the table before dragging my butt to bed the night before, but seriously. Who am I kidding? I love them every day… I prove it by continuing to feed them. I only do this Valentines nonsense to ensure they are sufficiently manipulated and will thus provide adequate chocolate in return.

However, if somebody wants to prove they love me, they can indeed feel free to lavish any sort of gift upon me any day – February 14th need not be the only day of the year.

Ommmmm.

Countdown to Mexico!

ImageThree weeks from this very moment I will be in Mexico. In the very place you see pictured above. The house there on the left is where my husband and I will sleep, the teenagers in the house on the right. Ahhhhhh. I need to take a moment to let that really soak into my psyche. Three short weeks and my toes will be deep in warm sand, my fingers wrapped around a cold glass, my eyes squinting into the hot sun. Amen.

Doesn’t that just sound like poetry? Sand, sun, water, relaxation, no work, no phone, no emails, no chores. Just 4 teenagers. Wait. Right… 4 teenagers. Better make that TWO hands wrapped around nice cold glasses…!

I’ve reached that point in pre-holiday delirium where every thought is framed by the holiday… need to make sure I buy cat food “for the housesitter”; better call the doctor’s office to make sure I have antibiotics “in case someone gets sick in MEXICO”, gotta get that project finished before I take my HOLIDAY etc.

I’m glassed over. I’m checking the weather in Yelapa, talking the kids through what to do if someone gets stung by a scorpion (as if I have a freakin’ CLUE!). Anyway, we are adequately supplied with Immodium, Benadryl, hand sanitizer and electrolyte replacement packets. We’ll be golden.

The one regret I have, of course, is that I’ll have to come home. When we were waiting in line in Mexico two years ago to come home, a lady in front of me stepped out of line, said “sorry, not ready to go home” to her friend and did NOT go home. How awesome is that? I have had dreams about that for the last two years. When I moved to the north (the REAL, top of the world Canadian north) 22 years ago, my actual intent was to move to Mexico for a year. Yep, I know… went the wrong way. Took a one year job, met a man, got married, had babies, etc. etc.

So each time I go to Mexico, a BIG part of me wants to just…stay. I walk around wondering what the hell happened… why is it that I don’t live there?

Yeah, yeah. I like my life, I like where I live (love it even), and can’t imagine what life I’d be living if I hadn’t taken the path I did but there’s that part of me that wants the parallel life… why can’t I have both? My real life, my Mexico life… I guess it’ll be a goal then. Sell the house here in the Yukon and find a way to live that dream of so long ago. Yes… that’s what I will dream of.

Dream of, work toward, plan for. Pronto.

Adios, amigos. Hasta Luego!

Aside

On grief, loss, friendship and hearts that can’t be unbroken.

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I spent last weekend with her in the beautiful home they built together on top of a hill overlooking a river.  A home they dreamed of, worked toward and loved. It was the realization of a lifetime of hard work and planning… truly their dream home. They shared it for three years, and it made them so happy. There is so much joy everywhere in that house.. in every tile, fixture, deck chair. I’m happy I visited a year ago, with him proudly showing off every bell and every whistle.

When people have been a part of your life for, well, your whole life, it’s hard to measure their importance. This woman is not my mother, this man was not my father. They occupy a different, separate space in my heart that’s hard to define.  I have so much love for them that I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about or been fully aware of.  His death has hit me hard;  not the same as the loss of my own Dad, but still a powerful hurt.

Sitting with her last week, holding her while she cried, listening to her try and make sense of this bleak new universe,  I realized I had nothing wise to say. I have no words to make it better. I can’t fix anything. When she turned to me with a panicked and confused look on her face and asked “when will I remember? I keep thinking I can’t wait to tell him about our visit”, I felt helpless. I want so badly to mend something for her, to answer even one of her millions of unanswerable questions.

So I will do what I can… tiny, inconsequential and impotent as I feel. I will send her random texts reminding her that I love her, I will phone her, send her beautiful pictures and powerful stories. I will send her music… all her music is so deeply entwined with his memory that it hurts her to listen right now.

I know I will do so much less  than I want to for her.  What I truly want to do just can’t be done.