Kindred Spirits

Some tunes never get old. Xavier Rudd has authored many of those tunes. There is great power and beauty intrinsic to his work.

–Sam

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Conversations on the margins (4)

“When a person tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t.” — Louis C. K

I attended a conference in February of this year bringing together youth from across the country. Both Rube and I were invited and chose to attend. We spent three intense days in Sudbury, Ontario. Memorably, one of the first panelists to speak concluded her story with, ‘I’m not here to make you comfortable.’ This person was to be our new room-mate and what followed was a fly on the wall’s perspective on how everyone processes hurt, hope and life in general, differently.

I had to leave the room, go to the end of a deserted hallway to practice my version of mindfulness wearing my noise cancelling headphones. And later, to write these posts.

Canada is a big country. We are so diverse. Each of us brings something to the table. I don’t know what we would call ourselves together, if not Canada. And I don’t think being called Canada is a bad thing. Maybe Canadian is not your go-to identity, and it doesn’t have to be the only one.

Honestly, I when I say Canadian, when I see myself as Canadian, I picture mountains, and forest and pancakes with maple syrup on the weekends. Snow, hockey. Warmth as a people. Poutine, bannock, smoked salmon…

I think of all the natural resources we have used and abused, how the CPR was built, the people that came looking for help and a new home, and the people who were forcibly taken from their families and forbidden to speak their languages. I know we had a reputation as Peacekeepers and innovators, how people say this is the best place to live in the world. And yet, who is really living, in houses barely standing, without safe drinking water or a place to sleep? Out on the streets plagued by addiction and prejudice and systemic practices and policies some so insidious that we barely take the time to notice where we’ve come from or where we are going. There are whole people and pieces of our past and present that we actively ignore or remain ignorant about.

But life doesn’t stop. one word doesn’t have to define a person or a place or a people or culture or way of life. One of the youth presenting on Inuit culture and history explained that in the Inuit language, what outsiders, settlers and policy defines as ‘traditional knowledge’ is simply, ‘What we have always known’ to the Inuit, because they know that life evolves, people adapt, cultures change and grow over time. Having to adhere to policy created yesterday, in order to keep their culture and traditions alive now, is making it harder and harder for the Inuit to maintain their way of life in today’s world.

When asked the question, what do you call this land, if not Canada? What do you call yourself if not Canadian, both my sister and I had a bit of an identity crisis. Canada is where we come from, the country and culture we identify with. Without that, who are we? Even if Canadians aren’t sure what our culture is, at least it’s something. As we both noted, we have no national food we can agree on, except maybe beer, no traditional dances or ceremonies that we all share, or even any unique clothing (the Japanese have kimonos)…. The toque, while practical, seems a rather sorry specimen to represent the nation.

And we both came back to family. Our small family unit is our culture, our identity, our roots. Mom, Dad, Sam, Forrest, Ruby. This is us. Everything we know, everything we have become, everything we value is represented within this small circle of extraordinary people. Which is heartbreaking and beautiful and profound. **I wrote about this exact phenomenon here on this blog years ago, in a series titled The Originals (2014) and to know my sister feels the same was amazing — love you so much more than we ever say it.

We can learn so much from each other and from indigenous peoples. So have conversations, celebrate, dream big and ask uncomfortable questions.

–Sam

Up fur it?

Rabbits are herbivores, they are small, they are sociable and trainable. They are soft, they are cute, you can take them for walks. They don’t bark or make any other weird noises as far as I know. They are clean. They eat carrots and smell like fresh hay.

I would most definitely consider getting a rabbit as a furry buddy 🙂 Also intriguing is the idea of being a committed canine co-gaurdian in partnership with my brother. Currently, time and space is at a premium, though.

–Sam

 

Full to the brim

Today was a bit of a strange day. Not really had any down time until this very moment. Was nice to get out of the office for a bit (it was sunny!) and to collaborate inside and outside BB 🙂

The new database is running, and Matt and I are nearly set up, but there are still many questions and new steps involved. Some things make sense, and others just really don’t. For example: Why now does a record for a single patient need to be closed 3 times over, using 3 distinct and frankly dizzing processes? 😛 Once used to be enough. The whole Admin thing is currently easier said than done and I’m dying to get it caught up, collected and complete. We are all trying our hardest but it’s still a bit of a mess.

I’m feeling everything so intensely lately that ‘restful’ seems to have disappeared from my vocabulary. Perhaps the weekend will help to usher it back in.

–Sam

Conversation on the margins (3)

The conference my sister and I attended in February brought together indigenous and non-indigenous youth from across the country.

The first ice-breaker I participated in went like this: 35+ people in the room, we take a piece of paper from a hat that gets passed around.

Instructions: each person has the name of their animal typed neatly on the paper, you can look now, but don’t tell anyone what is written — the purpose being to find your partner by the end of the game.

Step one: Get up. Wander around. Mingle. Make the sound of your animal and sonically identify your partner. Sit down again once you’ve found your new buddy.

Sounds easy, right. Right. My animal was… A JELLYFISH… Anyone?! What sound does a jellyfish make? Laughing on the inside and grinning wryly on the outside I step into the circle of chaos full of barking dogs, mournful moose, crying loons, crazed sheep…

I’m willing to take risks, I’m happy to meet new people. But attempting to float gracefully around the centre of a circle of strangers staring pointedly and throwing nervous and puzzled glances at you is just ridiculously awkward. First thing. ON THE FIRST DAY!

I’m the last person. If the floor wanted to swallow me up, I’d have no objection. I look pleadingly towards one of the bubbly facilitators, who reaches me, reads my slip and exclaims, ‘Oh! That’s beautiful! We can do it together!’ Awkward reaches a whole new level as everyone zeros in on the two of us: willowy and light on her feet, her jelly impression is as close as anyone is likely to get, and mine equally as distant. Nobody responds. We float some more. The facilitator is totally committed, and I’m dying inside, trying not to burst into a fit of hysterical giggles.

‘Jelly fish? Anyone? Is anyone here a jellyfish?’ the facilitator finally asks. Silence. ‘Any jellyfish here?’ She tries once more and after another extended pause, a tiny voice whispers ‘Me.’ I scan the crowd, identify the mortified speaker whose round face is now very pink, sit down beside them and introduce myself, “Hi! My name is Sam. Nice to meet you.” “Nice to meet you” they reply.

‘Ok then! Great job everyone!’The facilitator claps her hands in delight and we move to the next activity.

I never did get my new friend’s name.

Mish-mash

From April 5th:

I should go make dinner.

But first…Today was a good day. I am terribly excited for the weekend, having many good things planned. I’m finally warm and mostly dry. I’d really love to grab a few boxes, a frame and a coat rack. Things are coming together. Personality tests are intriguing. Soundtracks, scores and music in general make me so happy –I rediscovered Tunefind where you can uncover all sorts of goodies.

I’m ready for summer. Please! 😀 I’d give almost anything to shed a few layers and swim at the beach. Ice cream is always good, too!

Happy to be home and have the house to myself for a bit.

That’s about it.

–Sam

 

 

Chicken Soup:

I went into the thrift store the other day and failed to exit empty handed.

I found 2 books: Chicken Soup for the Dog-lover’s Soul, and a nice hardcover copy of a book already on my shelf at home.

I’m trying to read more this year, and I think I’m doing ok at it. I’ve read/am reading: House in the Sky, The Hobbit, The Magician’s Nephew, Thinking Like a Mountain, and snippets from the Outlander series. I’d like to boost that with a visit to my new library in the next week or two.

I’d have to agree that my mom’s chicken soup is delicious and has healing properties, and is certainly good for the soul. The books are just as good. I’ve read a few and now own two.

I received Chicken Soup for the Horse-lover’s Soul as a gift one year and it remains one of my most cherished books. Now, the canine version sits on my desk at work, so if you come across me laughing hysterically or sobbing quietly during breaks, that’s your explanation right there.

 

One snug bug…

April 3: Today was pretty great. Stayed level-headed. Listened to some good tunes. Nothing earth-shattering, which was nice. Lots of quality chocolate and quality time which made it even better.

Took a bite, chewed, swallowed.
Laughed.
Listened. Slept.
Success

And, further discoveries will be made tomorrow.

Cheers,

–Sam

Sharing: how it’s done

I am human. I am one person, and I do my best to survive and thrive during my time here on Earth 🙂

I am the kind of person who likes to imagine/build/know all the inner or at least basic workings of something and how it fits with the bigger picture. I like going after answers, generating new leads, gathering information and asking all kinds of questions.

I just can’t understand how the systems in place can be so crappy sometimes, how long people limp along doggedly working towards a goal that could be reached so much quicker if the user was considered and consulted first instead of last, and if consistent and reliable methods of communication were established and maintained.

My team is amazing and the new office is great. But the past few weeks have had some highlights best described as awkward. The thing that gets me the most though, is that as good as we are about sharing knowledge and supporting one another, there are days when it seems there are as many people in the loop as there are out of it.

Also, the fax machine is on strike and my assistant is on a wonky schedule, and I’ve literally got referrals up to my ears irrespective of if I can actually ‘see’ them on the new system, which keeps insisting that the numbers are down.

I love when I can really sink my teeth into something and spark a bit of a revolution, being allowed to follow its evolution through to resolution 🙂 However, lately everything is being presented like it’s as easy as A, B, C, 1, 2, 3. And I say: what about the rest of the alphabet? What about words, stories and languages? What about fractions and negative integers and other mathematical possibilities? And usually all I get in response is “That’s quite thought provoking” or “Sorry, I have to go” 😀 This makes it fantastic when I’m able to find a fellow enthusiast to work alongside.

What’s your vision?

–Sam