Summers, growing pains

Life, it seems, is never dull.

I don’t think I’ve been bored for more than 5 minutes for all of recent history, by which I mean as much and as far back as I can remember, and most especially the past 3 years….

In the beginning of 2015, I moved out of my volunteer role at CMHA and into that of staff receptionist. December 2015 marked the end of my battles with the Ministry of Social Development and Innovation, as they were once called… Words can not describe the pain of that experience nor the relief I felt at being told that the pain was now ended. I also graduated university. But Mr T. was in bad shape and Christmas that year was a rocky one for a few surprising reasons.

In 2016, I started working full time. I went to Quebec that summer for 2 weeks to cheer for my brother, competing at Mont-Sainte-Anne. It was an amazing experience, very hot, and lots of fun. Fall was full of challenges, and a seeming truckload of isolation and stress, because I remember attending a series of counselling sessions seeking some guidance for my lost and weary soul, asking that this Christmas be better than the last. And it was.

2017, from what I can recall had snow until March, a heatwave, a fire up the street, and a crazy amount of work with CMHA on the the North Shore in transition, with myself and my team headed to our new home at the Vancouver-Fraser branch. First stop Vancouver, second stop, New West!

2018 in progress, and Today: Jury is still out on whether this year will be Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down, or Sideways 😀

I chose to move from a home I loved to keep a job I love. Stress-levels were sky high from January-June, what with moving home and office, learning new systems, meeting new people, exploring new territory and managing expectations. I feel like now, at the end of August, maybe I’ve succeeded in taking a minute for myself and am strong enough to get to where I want to be, again! Evolution is fascinating.

So, this post is really about me taking a moment to remember where I came from, where I am and where I am going. And more than anything, I want to go home. Right now I have a roof over my head, but it is not home. Not for me. I feel at home on the Coast, and I felt at home on Lonsdale. I feel at home when I go camping. Home is supposed to feel safe, bring you joy, and here that is rarely the case — I’m lucky if I can carry enough groceries through the door to make a meal, or a chance to speak anything heartfelt to anyone outside of work. And I feel like everything I do is viewed as disruptive or suspect.

I haven’t gone camping yet this year, and that is a crime. Nonetheless, there is a definite camping vibe happening here for me, in that my consumption of fun, fast and low impact foods has increased dramatically and I feel like I have to hike everywhere, and it’s a if I’m in a pup tent in the rain while the neighbours are glamping around in their vehicular monstrosities, eating steak, and watching cable, unaware of the spectacle they have become or the waste they create. Don’t get me wrong, I love tenting in the rain, just the contrasts, duration and cost is starting to really get to me. **Note also that usually my camping experiences are much more fun, and come with much more ice-cream or hot chocolate depending on the time of year 🙂

Home is a very important place. I had hoped for the best in this arrangement, and got much less. Life is harder and a lot less fun than it has been for a while and I am eager to change that. I have lost some independence, but strengthened my resolve. I have a plan and I will act on it to make sure better days are ahead.

And… seven hundred words later, this post is about to conclude. One last thing: I’m thinking about getting a tattoo.

–Sam

 

person holding a green plant
Photo by Akil Mazumder on Pexels.com
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Street snap

I don’t take a lot of photos, and I’m not in a lot of photos.

Here’s one I really like though! From the trip to Quebec with Forrest, Mom and Dad (summer 2016– you can read about our adventures here on this blog, if you so desire 🙂 )

–Sam

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Ocean-going vessel

via Daily Prompt: Rhythmic

The waves slip by and the boat rocks gently. The sun is warm on my face and the sky is so blue it hurts. It’s clear and crisp and beautiful and I am in a state of bliss.

It’s just past noon and fall is upon us. Everything is tucked away safe and sound, the tourists have gone, the vacation homes have been vacated and that all-consuming anthrpo-centric view of the world has softened, allowing nature and its rhythms to come into focus.

The Great Blue Heron on the piling, the fish around the bouys, otters snoozing, seals bobbing, sea gulls calling. A family of ducks paddles past their larger mates, Canada Geese on shore. The water is like glass.

I continue stroking a few meters off-shore. Pause to look back at Dad just behind us –my mom and me– enjoying the single life, cruising softly through the shallows. I smile and look up into the Earth’s brilliant atmosphere, so thankful for the ozone and my transition lenses.

At this moment, I have no worries. Mom sits directly behind me in the double and it’s her feet, not mine that are responsible for the rudder and our direction, or lack there of. I’m snug in my PFD, with whistle and grub easily to hand. Ever since the dive into the digital age, I struggle with PFDs, always wanting to say PDF instead.

My stomach rumbles. I reach into my breast pocket and pull out a granola bar. I’ve stroked my share, time to refuel.

“Want to pull up here?” Dad asks. “Sami’s eating now,” Mom tells him.

“These are really good” — nuts and grains and fruit and chocolate. To die for!

“They are aren’t they,” Mom agrees. “Even Forrest, trolling the cupboards the other day was like, ‘Mom, these are a little too good. Do we have more of them?'” I laugh.

“Well, I don’t know that you, as a member of the MPPS are allowed such unsanctioned snacks…”

“Ummhmmm?”

“Mom and Pop Paddle Society”, Dad clarifies, earning twin grins. “Break times are strictly observed,” he continues while peeling down his own wrapper and taking a first delicious mouthful.

“Too late!” I say gleefully, cramming the last bit into my mouth and turning to watch the seals swim at my  2’oclock.

We paddle a bit further, turn around and paddle back to the truck, taking an interesting detour under the pier before hauling the kayaks out of the water and back home to a hot shower, music and nachos.

It was a fabulous weekend.

My heart belongs to the sea, and the forests and to superb incarnations of nachos, granola bars and chocolate.

What is your favourite snack food? Feel free to comment below 🙂

–Sam

It’s all fun + games

Until somebody gets hurt…

Christmas Day:

Twink was the perfect gentleman, looking smart in his business bow and chewing cheerfully on his new favourite florescent green, rubber ‘rock’ #bestchristmasever ❤

RB the BT made a break for it and ate 150 grams of chocolate with tinfoil and I wanted to roll my eyes, laugh and cry all at once. Shit happens 😛

 Family game night:

Tumbling Tower. Myself, I had no illusions. I was the most likely loser, hands down. Forrest, the most likely victor, hands down. Says he: “I won’t lose; I’m after Sam.” Famous last words, bro 😀

Return trip:

Many happy returns and the 2 of the longest crossings in recent memory later… Waiting to be directed off the boat, I laugh until I cry, at some form of hilarity conjured in my weird and wonderful brain.

Rube to Mom: “Sam’s crying,” in a matter of fact tone. “Oh? Why?” Mom asks conversationally. “No idea,” my sister replies, voice tinged with amusement.

Mom: Laughing, “Well, at least you can keep yourself entertained, Sami.”

“We would have no idea if she were ever having a seizure,” my sister remarks dryly.

Me: Laughs harder.

Fast forward and the three of us are standing in line at the check out. “Haha! That’s funny! I crack me up.” Rube grins, looking up from her phone. “Look, see?”

“Hmm, well, that makes two of you,” Mom laughs. I cackle and Rube grins wider.

Just walking along and… boom!

Forrest commenting on some of the stories he hears at work, building crutches with the same stuff you see on the space shuttle…

“They say, ‘I was just walking along, and they broke. Just like that.’ But honestly? It can’t be done; the only way those tubes might break is if you ran over them multiple times in your truck.”

Days later I hit some black ice at the crosswalk and go down hard, as my Stix get ripped from my arms and slide into the middle of the roadway just before 9am. Prime traffic time. And I thought, Well, we’ll see now, maybe, how many passes under the tires it takes for them to bust. Thank God I have a spare pair at home. And, yes, Flip, that hurts! was in there, too 🙂 Apparently, it was the 9:54 lull, because not one car made an appearance during that 90 second interval.

Now:

Work went well, but I’m overjoyed it’s Friday. Tea and hot mincemeat tarts (and chocolate) is the best. Sitting here watching life outside my windows, listening to the Wailin’ Jennys and admiring my tree 🙂 Looking forward to 2017!

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Picture: Mr T on Christmas Day, 2016 by Ruby Riesco

Take a bow

via the Daily Prompt: Ovation

At first dig, I had nothing I wanted to write for this prompt. All my ideas seemed incomplete and inconsequential, fluff, filler. And I wanted more than that today.

And then, well, the ball started rollin’.

There was discussion over Christmas about the good, bad and ugly of growing up a part of the Coast’s fiddle culture, body image, stage presence, musicality and artistry and the importance of having fun and working hard to prepare for a performance that is enjoyed by both audience and artist(s).

And yet more discussion on disability and community, and sensational, inspirational media stories that just feed the public’s appetite for warm, fuzzy feelings and miss the real meat of the story. Quarterback takes friend with Down Syndrom to Prom or B.C. man documents his journey to overcome cerebral palsy. Everything is laid out so black and white: what an inspirational story, what a handsome, selfless young man, what a good friend, his parents must be proud. Life is hard, but with the right attitude you too can overcome! Sorry, but in my opinion, this is not news and I find the commentary misguided and the focus misdirected. Having healthy, loving relationships is important for everyone. Becoming stronger, healthier and happier and working your ass off to get where you want to be in life is admirable no matter who you are. Disability is not a deal-breaker. Nor is it breaking news. Stop it. Please, and thank you! 🙂

However, this story deserves to be shared, because it is a beautiful, artful performance by a truly talented individual, in tribute to Lenoard Cohen and in the spirit of Christmas. This deserves an ovation for all the right reasons. Enjoy!

–Sam

 

 

Retreat

via the Daily Prompt: Retreat

“Write it all down,” my mom told me once, when I was flailing in the dark and not sure anyone gave a crap about the pain I was living through. And I did. All the things I cannot say, I write. It keeps me from retreating and pushes me forward. It just feels right, it feels good. To just write. To just be. To just be me.

I attended a Qmunity workshop recently. The point was made that not everyone identifies with the gender binary, that oftentimes, gender is ambiguous or fluid and how many people struggle to find a representation of gender/preferences that allows them to be true to themselves and also be accepted and represented by a society where the binary is the norm.

And then the question was asked: Why do we have to identify at all? And I was like, “Yes!”

I get so tired of labels sometimes. They have their uses, sure. But sometimes, it’s nice to just let it be. To let a person be. Without burying them under a gargantuan pile of labels, assumptions and associations.

Case in point: strangers still will greet me by saying “What’s wrong with you?” and I want to say, “Do I look broken to you? Most normal people start with ‘Hello’ first…” 😛  So, in most cases, that’s how I respond, with “Hello,” and take it from there.

That’s all for today.

In a world where you can be anything, be kind                           — Unknown

 

 

Hush

via the Daily Prompt: Discover

I like unplanned early mornings, mornings every once in a while — in my case at least –where you just happen to wake up at 3am or 5am when the world is quiet and still or at least not moving quite so fast. Sometimes I read, sometimes I just breathe, sometimes I’ll watch a movie. It is so restful, to just breathe with the world, silently and watch the stars (or the snow!) and hear the wind in the trees for a little while and go back to sleep before all hell breaks loose and the day begins and you need an actual plan and to take real action. Those early hours are an unexpected and welcome gift to myself; I’ve rediscovered their unique properties.

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PC: Pexels/Pixabay.com

High gear

via the Daily Prompt: Calm

I haven’t been calm in the usual sense, for quite a while. There’s a frenetic energy in and about everything, or just in me personally, I’ve lost the ability to tell.

“Next! Next! Next! Hurry! Next!” seems to be running through my head constantly these days. I need to plan a home stay-day, those are the best. Shower, cut my nails, put on some warm, comfy clothes and just putter 🙂 Nowhere to be, no one to see, nothing needing to be done; time to take the pressure off.

Looking forward desperately to a few days away from the city, taking the guesswork out of meals and hugs with a degree of physicality and comfort. Fingers crossed I can see my dog’s eyeballs and everything goes smoothly for the next few days.

 

 

How goes it? Interviews and other things

Does anyone really know the answer to that question? I don’t. Maybe it’s because it’s not so much one question, as a series of questions.

How do you feel? Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually.

What big events have occurred? Love, loss, celebrations, defamations; social, political, personal, economical, environmental…

Mentally, I feel good. Physically, my shoulders hurt and my feet are wet. Emotionally, I’m rather undecided at the moment– my head says ‘follow these steps and call it done’ my heart says ‘Yeah, I get that, but… Are you sure??? Are you sure, Sam???’ Spiritually, I feel safe and grounded in my beliefs.

I’ll come back to the ‘events’ piece. It can basically be summed up, for now in two words: a lot.

Have you ever noticed that some interviews are fabulous, and others are just so terrible that you stop listening after the first 90 seconds?

Sometimes, it’s the interviewer, sometimes it’s the interviewee. If they were both awful, I don’t think there would be an interview to broadcast… Timing, clarity, communication, style, adaptability and the types of questions, and answers, and their phrasing and progression all play an important part in pulling together a solid interview, one that’s enjoyed by all parties. Not just anyone can make it happen.

I have many things I am passionate about, knowledge I would be happy to share, thoughts I would love to express. Sometimes you don’t know you have an answer until the question has been asked– that has been my experience lately. Like, wait… you want an answer to that? Really? Because I have it! Here! Nobody has asked me that before, much less actually desired an answer and been prepared to listen to it.

The past four weeks have helped me to heal and be seen and understood in small, but very important ways. To heal that hole in my chest and remove the incessant snark in my head arguing everything I value is dirt, and draining my power of self-posession, despite evidence to the contrary. And to be seen and understood. Two very powerful things.

Validation can come from friends, family –and sometimes you need that, after being overwhelmed by outside influences. And on the other hand, sometimes an informed outsider with a fresh pair of eyes and some valuable life experience can allow you to look at the situation, and validate your experience of it in a way those closest to you couldn’t possibly do. Thank you, B 🙂

Having spent the last little while being expertly interviewed, after a fashion and then interviewing myself, these are the compelling truths I have rediscovered:

  • I have power
  • I have value
  • I have been hurt
  • It’s ok to cry
  • I am compassionate, strong and a fighter
  • I am intelligent, and courageous in the face of fear and opposition
  • Words have power — and sometimes, when words fail, “That really sucks!” sums it up beautifully
  • I am worth getting to know

Here’s to a future filled with beautiful things,

-Sam

 

**Good friends, good food, great art, fresh air and clean, happy beings!

Composed while imagining dinner, looking back on the day, listening to Israel Kamakawiwoʻole, Joni Mitchel, Johnny Cash and others, hoping my dog is loved and my family is happy and warm.

The Scene

via Daily Prompt: Flee

I feel creaky today. I need to flee the chaos and crawl under the covers. Get cozy and re-charge. Yes, I know it’s only Monday, but I’m beat.

–Sam