Friday, December 18, 2009

Walking for Memories

I work every day, with people who spent their lives as independent people.

These people have families, friends, co-workers and loved-ones but through twists of fate and biological events, dementia has stolen their memories, their sense of time and place, their awareness of loved ones and their own personhood.

Every day, I witness the power of memory to bind people together. I see how reminiscing with residents who have dementias and Alzheimer's disease, can help bond both family members and residents together as well as bond staff to residents.

The act of remembering is an act of love. Remembering for someone who has forgotten is an act of selflessness.

I decided to register a team from the LTC facility I work in, to help raise money for Alzheimer's and related dementias research.

Please visit the link attached to this post, to support my team in our goal to raise $1000.00 by the time we walk together in support of all of our residents and our loved ones who experience dementias.

Many thanks.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Who is Caring for Whom?

I am privileged to have found work in my community and within the long term care industry.

The LTC facility I work in is filled with some of the most caring RN's, LPN's and Care Aides one could have the privilege to meet.

The facility is also filled with some of the most wonderful residents, who call the facility their home and with whom I am grateful to share time.

Every single day, from the day I began work in mid-October, I have had a moment of learning or a moment of gratitude. Every single day, the residents feed my soul and show care and concern for me and my own well-being.

I have been showered with kindness and generosity from residents whom I now feel are part of my extended family.

I have been told I am beautiful and lovely, I have been called a sweetheart and a darling, a sweetie and a pretty girl. I have been asked for my hand in marriage and I have been "adopted" by new grandmas.

I am reminded every single day why I chose to study aging and the aging process and my choice is reinforced every day.

I am proud to be in this industry, I am proud of my education, I am grateful that I can use it every day in a home filled with complex dementias and constellations of differing needs.

I am honoured to be surrounded by residents who welcome me into their home and their hearts.

I feel very cared for, by the very people I am there to help care for.

A Rite of Passage

It feels so odd to be done.

Writing and studying took three years of my life in graduate studies, but I've been in post-secondary education since 1997.

I have steadily been learning for 12 years.

Now, I'm done.

So much stress, so much money, so much time and pressure, so many details, so many questions and now...nothing.

Sweet, sweet nothing.

I don't have any deadlines, no approvals, so meetings with committee members...I'm free.

So is my brain.

I'm taking fiction back :)

I have earned my M.A. and now, I can read anything I want for fun, for entertainment, for amusement, for pure joy.

Taking fiction back is a rite of passage.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


On the eve of the biggest event in my life thus far (besides my birth), the eve of my long-anticipated thesis defense, I sit and I reflect...

My mind can't help but wander to moments and people that have meant so much to me and without whom I wouldn't be here. I wouldn't be in this place. I would never have sought more for myself. I would never have even considered I was capable of more...

I was never supposed to finish high school. I wasn't supposed to be smart. I was supposed to turn out as a disappointment. I was supposed to be limited, not only by my birth into a complex and troubled family, but also to be limited by myself.

But because of one person, early on, who always pushed me, believed in me, stuck up for me, loved me and saw something in me that no one else did - I am here. I am sitting here, on the eve of my Master of Arts in Gerontology thesis defense, reflecting on her.

I am thanking her for every moment she put into me, for every kind word, for every stern word, for every moment she made me shine, for every moment she made me feel safe and for every moment she reinforced that I was worth more than I thought and that I was capable of more than I ever imagined.

I am thanking her for every window she opened after so many doors closed on me.

I am thanking her for loving me like I was her very own.

Marjorie Geldard Glover, of Houwden Clough in Yorkshire, U.K., thank you for everything. I'll be toasting you tomorrow night, as we share in the celebration together. I'll raise a glass of pink champagne and thank every lucky star in the sky, that when I was falling, you were there to catch me.

I love you. I hope I have made you proud.

Monday, September 21, 2009

TD Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup on Tsawwassen Beach

THIS is why we do it.

Over 300lbs of miscellaneous, large-items were found along the beach.

Over 152 golf balls and 8 "toys" were found in the tidal flats.

Team 1 sets out towards the ferry causeway.

Abandoned Cars embedded in the beach in Pacific Rim National Park

Over the past few months we have been inspired by the 100 Mile Challenge, the eat local movement, films like "Blue Gold: World Water Wars" from Purple Turtle Films and Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth". We went to the Vancouver Aquarium and found literature on Ocean Wise and found out that there are entire restaurants who's menus are built on local, sustainable and ocean-wise foods.

In May, we spent a week in Tofino in the Pacific Rim National Park. We were so taken aback by the raw, natural beauty and the power of the ocean. If you took some time, you could imagine it looking not much different before people (specifically in later history) came in to log, fish and use the resources for profit. We went for a day-long walk on the beach during our week there and came upon a stream that flowed right over the whole depth of the beach, on its way to the tide line. This stream was a different colour. It was the colour of rust. As we followed the stream further, the colour of the sand also became rust coloured and further still, we found the source. Car parts. Batteries, tires, wheel drums, entire car chassis, steering columns...and among the 5 or 6 whole car chassis we found, there was also the added bonus of slowly leaking engine oil and gasoline. Oily rainbows slicked the sand and the stream as it meandered its way into the tide line at the ocean. This, automobile pollution, left in the sand and dunes, in a National Park that citizens of Canada and visitors from around the world laud as an epitome of nature preservation. We were dumbfounded. How had this been left? How had no one come to remove these car skeletons and clean up the oil and gasoline? How does this still happen? Why?

While out on our Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary RHIB, we have seen plenty of garbage and debris floating on the surface of the water: Tim Horton's disposeable cups, Starbucks cups, aluminum cans and plastic bags. We can't stop to pick it up. That's not part of our mission in the CCGA-P.

But, we then came home to Ladner and went looking for something to add our energies to, some sort of thought-into-action gesture that COUNTS for something. To make things better on a scale that we CAN have an impact on.

This weekend, we did it. We got together with strangers, united in our intent to clean up a shoreline.

We found the TD Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup through the Vancouver Aquarium web site. We found out that during the September 19th through 27th span, not only Canada, but the World was participating in shoreline clean-ups. We sifted through the Canada-wide map and saw that zero shoreline cleanups were registered as open to the public in Delta. So, instead of waiting for some intrepid Delta coordinator, we decided to site coordinate our very own. Why wait?!

It has certainly been a learning process. Site coordinators have to perform a veritable plethora of tasks: register the site, communicate with the municipality, register the cleanup with them, organize the municipality's pickup of the garbage and recycling, communicate key information with every person that registers as a participant, make sure to familiarize oneself with all the media Q & A's, know the history of the event, INSPIRE PEOPLE TO PARTICIPATE, make sure the data cards are filled out correctly, compile the data and send everything back in.

We met our volunteer crew at the local Tim Hortons - both an easy-to-find meeting place and a convenient source of doughnuts and coffee :)

We caravaned down to Tsawwassen Beach, set up, signed waivers and talked data collection. The beach itself is approximately 3 kilometres long and stretches between the ferry causeway and the border at Point Roberts. That's a lot of ground to cover...

I set the first team free on their shoreline cleanup quest. Within the hour, more people showed and some residents of Tsawwassen Beach came out to participate. I sent them off as Team 2. An entire family showed up ready to go, and I sent them out as Team 3. With 12 people scouring the beach and the tidal flats, still more people came out to unofficially participate. They brought me garbage they had found on their own, and I catalogued what they found so the data wouldn't be lost.

Tsawwassen Beach was supposed to be a "clean beach" because residents do their own daily cleanup. However, at the end of the afternoon, after 3.5 hours of shoreline cleanup, my three teams and 5 unofficial participants had collected and cleaned up over 300lbs of large item garbage including deck furniture, construction debris, re-bar and a railway tie. They collected over 60lbs of recyclables and 180lbs of regular garbage that could be catalogued.

Strange and unique to Tsawwassen Beach, was the collection of approximately 152 golf balls embedded within the tidal flats all along the stretch of beach.

I'm immensely grateful to all of the participants who registered and all of those who just showed-up and gave their time and energy to remove all of that human-derived waste from the shoreline and tidal flats.

I'm very proud of what we all accomplished yesterday and we're already thinking about what to do next year.

I can only hope that next year, more people in Canada and across Delta will come and participate in the TD Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup to help conserve shore and ocean habitats, keep beaches and the food chain garbage-free.

But no matter what, even if its just me and my partner, next year we'll be out there again. Its so worth it. So, so, so worth every, stinky, filled garbage bag.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Key to Friendship

What is the key to friendship? To a genuine connection? To a blend of people who understand each other on subcutaneous levels without or perhaps in spite of, superficial differences?

Is it really only birds of a feather stick together?

Is it that opposites attract?

Is it that two people agree on all things? See the same things through the same eyes?

Is it a healthy blend of difference of opinion built on a base of shared experience?

Is it a foregone conclusion, that to maintain a friendship, two people give each other unconditional "yes"'s to questions? Does one bite one's tongue, refrain from sharing harsh truths in order to keep the other feeling supported?

What is the role of a friend at the crossroads of opinion?

Personally, I don't think compromising truth for the sake of the "yes" requirement is the key to a real friendship.

Perhaps I've lost the key to that door.

Well, they do say that when one door closes, another will open. Maybe I'll take my chances with some windows...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

One step forward, hurry up and wait.

He finally said it. He finally told me that September was NOT going to be feasible, that I would be lucky to get to defend the thesis by the 2nd week of October.

All this time, he has not answered my direct questions about September. Now I know why. Now I'm on the hook to pay for a whole extra semester just for the privilege of defending the thesis.

Grad school feels like extortion.

My positive spin will be, that Fall is my favourite season. That Fall is about the ending of one season and the beginning of another. That Fall is about finishing and then resting. Fall is about celebrating bounty with loved ones and friends. Fall is about giving thanks.

So, I will defend my thesis in October. (OK, make that November). I will finish the grad school phase of my life and move forward into a new phase of life. I will celebrate this rite of passage with my partner, my loved ones and my dearest friends. Tequila and I may break up. But not until after the celebration. I will celebrate the bounty of the Fall and give thanks.

Then, I will rest. My brain will hibernate until spring. In the spring, I can read anything I want. Yes, even FICTION.

Right now however, I must hurry up - and wait.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The What-If's

I have a case of the what-if's again. Those dastardly, continuous, nagging worries that ride a merry go 'round in one's mind.

So many what-ifs...

What if I don't get to defend in September, before the deadline when I'll be on the hook for a whole semester of tuition?

What if I don't defend successfully?

What if the Government doesn't follow through on the promise to provide me 2 years of public service employment when I successfully defend my thesis?

What if there are just no jobs IN the government to be had by the time I get there?

What if I get a job that I hate?

What if I can't find a decent job at all, on my own?

What happens if my savings run out before I find employment?

What happens if I get a job that has NOTHING to do with my specialization in Gerontology and health promotion?

I wish I could quiet my mind. I'm getting tired of the merry go 'round...

Monday, July 6, 2009

The High Road, the Low Road and Leaving Baggage Behind

In the past week, the past and its dreaded baggage came snapping at my heels.

I hate baggage. I also largely hate my past and do everything I can not to spend precious energy thinking about it or moseying down memory lane.

I have an ex. I also have an ex-house and an ex-dog and ex-cat.

When it was painfully clear that happiness was unattainable in the relationship as it stood and that no changes would be made by the ex, I left the ex and 95% of the accoutrements and trappings that went with the ex-relationship.

I didn't look back. I didn't really miss what I didn't take with me (except for the ex-dog and the ex-cat...I still miss them). What I haven't needed in the past 6 years, I couldn't anticipate needing in the future. After all, a person can always attain more "stuff"...we do live in a capitalistic, retail-therapy world of sorts.

There were things I asked for, documents that were important that could seemingly never be located by the ex and I just had to accept that they were gone forever.

Until last week.

The ex's new spouse contacted me through my own sibling, to tell me they are trying to sell the ex-house and that a whole upstairs bedroom was filled with my former-relationship stuff. I was to provide a location for drop-off so they could put the place on the market. The one caveat being I wasn't to go to the ex-house. That would make the ex's new spouse uncomfortable.

Seriously? I left him, remember?

Anyway, things spiralled into a must-remove-this-weekend situation. The ex's new spouse got so intent on ridding her space of my haunting past, that she broke down and called me to arrange this sifting and dumping of the past. She called ME. Impressive.

I told her to throw everything in the garbage. To me, it could only BE garbage. Its detritus of the past...I don't want to carry it around with me...and why the hell is it still sitting there 6 years post-split?!

Reality? The ex was "never comfortable" throwing out my wedding dress, my old undergrad text books, receipts from Canadian Tire for that ex-hose, dried out acrylic paints or ex-wedding photos.

Some of us like to cling to the past and others of us like to shed it. I'm a shedder.

I gave in, went solo to the ex-house, made the ex's new spouse uncomfortable, visited with the ex-dog and ex-kitty, sifted through the detritus of the ex-relationship and gave explicit go-ahead to shed the remains of the past.

I came away with some pots and pans I was previously not allowed to have, a locket with pictures of my grama and grampa inside and a heart-shaped box my mom painted for my 21st birthday.

When I left with these useful items of the past, I felt heavy. Weighed-down. I realized it wasn't the stuff in the trunk, but the feeling I always carried when I lived in the ex-house with the ex-spouse. Going "home again" meant going back to why I left in the first place, again. I hate that feeling.

When I got home and showed my partner all of the new-to-us old stuff, the phone rang. We were in the middle of organizing, so we didn't answer.

The past called again, to tell me that he found my undergraduate degree, in its folder, and that I could come by the next day to pick it up.

The past wanted me to have my educational attainment just took 6 years to accept letting go of that piece of paper. Every time I asked for it, from the moment I left, right up to a year ago, this degree was impossible to find. Mysteriously vanished.

Perhaps it was held ransom until the ex was prepared to finally go his way as I go mine.

I'm taking the high road, unburdened by stuff from the past. I won't cling to mistakes, failures, pain or the unknown through stuff. I choose to travel light.

I wish the ex and his new spouse, many happy years of gathering new shelves, closets, basements, attics and garages full of detritus marking their past.

May it never come biting at their heels.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Birthday is a Birthday is a Birthday

Growing up, each birthday was a milestone. Each birthday was a source of excitement bringing with it a set of new physical and cognitive skills that moved you farther away from being a child and closer to being an adult in your own right. Closer to the ability to act autonomously, to make your own decisions, steer your own rudder and direct your own steps.

Year 1 was momentus for moving from being an infant to a toddler, for gaining control of muscle groups that let you hold yourself up, control where you look, what you do with your hands and feet and eating solid foods.

Year 2 is even more significant - within two years you have gone from helpless, wordless and controlless to a moving, uttering, running and terrorizing little human machine. With any luck you're parroting every swear word your parents utter. Each year is more significant than the one previous. Each year counts for something and we took stock of those things that counted.

As a child, each birthday was cataloged through photographs of a cherubim-like face covered in cake icing and a near clothingless body running around the yard with balloons and laughing uncontrollably. Action shots and stills of a person in the making, being celebrated for their potential and their survival to date.

When we reach legal age, we technically become adults. We can purchase alcohol and speak for ourselves, sign contracts and move on without parental intervention. We still celebrate ourselves and our milestones, but the chronological numbers begin to pass by with little or no meaning, slowly increasing but lacking in ordinal significance.

At some point, when I wasn't paying attention, the numbers stopped meaning something. At some point my chronological age stopped being meaningful or significant to me. My subjective age is made up of my life experiences and the age I "FEEL" inside. But my subjective age and my chronological age don't match. In fact, they are at least a decade apart...

I think that in this age of longevity and healthy aging, the meaning of chronological age has shifted. "Retirement Age" is meaningless as a common reference because so many people work well past age 65. "Middle Age" is no longer life in your 40's and 50's because life expectancy is a moving target. If 40's are the new 30's, then 30's are the new 20's and so on...perhaps that's why we expect teenagers to behave like children for much longer?

All I know is, I appreciate being celebrated. I appreciate people cataloguing my birthdays, eating cake and sushi with people I love and who love me, I appreciate good wine and good company, laughter and cake icing in places it shouldn't be. I appreciate every 365 day journey around the sun that I have experienced so far and will have in the future.

I don't care about the meaningless number...I do care about how I feel inside.

I feel ALIVE.

I'm going to take my balloons for a walk in the sun as we set out on day 2 of this cycle around the sun.

Photo by DaddyPete

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Back to the Drawing Board

As expected, the hate mail arrived.

Follwed by a hate meeting.

90 pages of edits, redoing analyses that were done in January and scrubbed, taking out graphs that were put in there at request, doing 6 new tables to replace tables that I spent hours doing, and redoing an interaction graph because it doesn't look "good".

Now its a panic to edit everything, write the discussion / conclusion section afterwards (because I can't do it now that the results section is effed up), get everything cleared and to the committee for THEIR edits and changes so I can defend some time in September.

Grad students...we're not bad people, we just make bad life decisions.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Amazing how a little "solid" can make you feel like flying!

I broke down and emailed my Uber Supervisor last night. I haven't heard from him in 2 weeks and I have no direction, no tasks, no idea if my thesis draft is total crap or worth the effort.

No idea whether to expect hundreds of lengthy changes and edits like with my thesis proposal (cue doom music), and if so, when I would get the chance to begin making it better.

So I emailed him in an anxiety-riddled moment at nearly midnight last night. Holy desperate grad student Batman.

This morning, the dreaded answer arrived in my email box.

Did I dare open it?

Ohhhhh....Gods, I clicked on it...

The following made me jump for joy:

"[I]t looks solid so far with only minor changes. Can you begin to draft a discussion and conclusion (with limitations and future research sections)?"


You're going to have to peel me off the ceiling. If I find a swing set, that's where I'll be until dark!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Carpe Diem in Tofino

For almost all of my adult life I have wanted to see Tofino. It is a divine and fabled place to me. The roar of the ocean, a beach that stretches for endless kilometres and raw wildlife that surrounds a fishing and surfing Mecca.

For years I have put it off for so many reasons: I didn't have enough money, couldn't get the time off to go, couldn't afford to stay once I got there etc. I'm that person that tells people that its so easy to find excuses NOT to do things we wish for, that we have to spend energy looking for reasons to do it anyway.

That's right, be afraid and do it anyway. But for years, I couldn't take my own advice.

Until this past week on the Island. We decided to be afraid, and do it anyway. Carpe Diem.

So we Carpe'd Tofino.

It took my breath away. The first view of Long Beach left me speechless and all I could do was laugh and cry at the same time.

We spent hours upon hours on the beach, exploring the rocks, poking around in tidal pools, playing in the sand, deciphering animal tracks and basking in the sun.

On the third day we saw wales exhaling from the beach. We even saw them rolling around in the shoal of herring they were feeding on. That was an amazing sight.

The roar of the waves is hard to describe, you have to see and hear it to believe it. Watching it, you couldn't help but feel awed and reverent for the power of the ocean and the natural balance of things.

Tofino is a place in transition though. Its raw beauty and powerful natural surroundings draw people from all over the world. No longer a hidden gem for fishers and surfers, Tofino is being populated with resorts and shi shi poo poo restaurants and boutiques. A bagel and cream cheese with smoked salmon was priced at $11. In a fishing village.

So the wealthy want a piece of Tofino too and they want to sell YOU a piece of Tofino at a profit. They want to build resorts that cost $900 per night so you can see the ocean and hear it, play in it wish all the brand name gear and eat a gourmet meal every evening.

There is such a huge contrast between the wealthy tourists and the everyday surfer / camper. How will they continue to co-exist? The cost of visiting Tofino is skyrocketing. Getting a campsite reservation at the one National Park campsite - Green Point in the Pacific Rim National Park - is nearly impossible. Tofino is overrun by people from all over the world, desperate to experience Northwest Coast nature in its most raw and beautiful and the more we flock to Tofino, the more we contribute to ruining its very essence.

We did Tofino on a very small, low budget scale. We camped in the shoulder season, made all of our own meals, didn't take any whale-watching tours or surfing lessons and tried to leave as little of a footprint as possible, except when we were barefoot on the beach.

I love Tofino. I miss Tofino. I can't wait to go back again...I just hope Tofino is still Tofino when we finally get there.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The road to success is mined with edits, changes and hate mail

I sent it.

I opened it today, I scanned it, I considered messing with it and realized I can't even SEE it anymore.

I have worked on it for hours on end, days in days out for months. I can't see the thesis for the data tables.

I decided to just send it to the Uber Supervisor.

It's May 1st, Beltaine, bonfire time. New beginnings, new growth.

I can't just hold onto the draft in perpetual fear that its not perfect for several reasons:
a) I like my sanity (fleeting though it may be)
b) I'm a perfectionist and no matter how hard I try, I can't achieve perfection
c) Uber-Supervisor is even more of a perfectionist than I am and I can't meet his expectations no matter how hard I try
d) There will be edits and changes from the WHOLE committee, not just Uber-Supervisor. May as well get them kick-started.

In the meantime, I'm going outside to celebrate the sun. To celebrate relieving the weight of the beta draft from my shoulders. I'm going to set aside the hamster wheel and let my shoulder rest.

I'm going to have a glass or two of sangria, light a wee bonfire and drink to the possibilities of edits, changes and future hate mail from my Uber-Supervisor.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Le Guilt

Ahhhh...Le Guilt.

Hello again old friend, you've been shadowing my steps closely of late.

I've been working at the thesis for so long, carried the pressure to perform and achieve, do more, be more for three years now, such that when I take a moment or a series of moments for myself, Le Guilt pops up to nag me into returning my shoulder to the wheel.

I couldn't do it today. I couldn't face that 90 page, 16,000 word beasty. Just did not have the mental capacity. Couldn't face another day of coefficients, significance levels, *** things and probability odds ratio tables.

The sun was out. It was really really out. The wind was warm. The ocean smelled amazing. The sun sparkled off the waves.

Tomorrow you will have me trapped in the wheel again, Le Guilt, but today my brain and my soma are all mine.

I'll just be guilty tomorrow, to the power of pi.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Small Victories & Owls

At this point in my journey up the ivory tower, I'm ready to pull out hair over even the smallest hiccup and there have been several, including the notorious latte-laptop mashup and the SPSS 17.0 install fail.

Sometimes the journey up the ivory tower feels someone has most definitely smeared it with butter and is sitting at the top watching me grapple for a finger hold. Bastards.

But then there are days when a wee small victory opens up the horizon and the ivory tower gleams just a little less buttery in the sun.

I figured out how to make all of my results tables and graphs show up in their own tables of contents. Yes, I beat down that formatting wolf at the door.

Take THAT little red riding hood!

Then there's the sleep...well...the in-between sleep sleep. The kind where you have been woken out of your slumber by the sound of a mated pair of Northern Spotted Owls at dawn. Every morning at just before 5am the owls call to each other for a few minutes.

I'm being awoken by Athena's animal totem.

I'm going to use that to my advantage.

Look out, I'm named after Athena...goddess of warfare and wisdom (thus the owl) and now the owls have come to wake me up every morning. I'm sure Athena's arrow is next.

I'll save the arrow for someone really deserving (politicians beware).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Paranoid Academiosis

I have truly become the embodiment of a paranoid academic.

This morning my whole world stopped. I mean stopped. I think I may have stopped breathing. I certainly didn't stop sweating. That might have been the heart palpitations though...

I never leave the house without my flash drives. Upon those magical flash drives are my thesis draft and all the notes, data output and graphs, tables, journal articles you could imagine make up the gigantic recipe of thesis success.

I couldn't find them.

I couldn't find my bright red pencil case in which they rested either.


Thesis vanished. 3 years of work and stress and insanity vanished.

The parrot just watched me lose my marbles.

Wanna know where my flash drives (and thus thesis ingredients) were? They were in my gym bag. Because at some point I decided to go to the gym and take my flash drives with me, just in case calamity struck while I was working out. You know, in case the place burned down or Thor hit it with a thunderbolt. I somehow figured taking my thesis to the gym was a good idea.

But then I left the flash drives in the gym bag. In the car.

I had a paranoid academiosis breakdown this morning in front of the parrot.

He's judging me, I just know it.

I hope this is all worth it. My mind can't decide and my body just thinks I'm coo-coo.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Upwards Over the Mountain

Life isn't finite.

Life is for living.

Life is for right now, right this second.

Life is a walk up the mountain and when we reach the summit we see.

Lori thank you for being a friend. Thank you for teaching me about being strong. Thank you for teaching me about bravery. Thank you for never giving up. Thank you for accepting our love. Thank you for your dirty sense of humour. Thank you for the boob comments. Thank you for being there.

I wish you a quiet and restful sleep, far from pain my friend. I know we will dance again together, when I make it upwards over the mountain.

Until then my friend. Love always.

"Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance."
~Kahlil Gibran~

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Coffee+Laptop=Caffeinated FAIL

"Lindy Lou, you just cannot have nice things."

That's what Gramma told me. She said it early on in my life and at the time I just brushed it off. I'm a tomboy after all.

Well this morning, I heard a distinctly otherworldly "I told you so" moments after my spare travel mug filled with my workout reward latte threw itself all over the left side of my laptop keyboard.

I caught it. Too late of course. It turned my laptop upside down. I wiped it off. I turned it off, took off every key tab, dried it off and put each one back on. Yes, in the right order.

When I turned it back on, I couldn't get past the password prompt...because the "U" key was stuck and the backspace key is broken off and the left arrow key just won't go back to the way it was.

I turned it off again. I had a moment of shining brilliance. It hit me. THE BLOWDRYER! Yessssss....I will dry out the keyboard.

Part II of caffeinated FAIL commences.

I melted the following keys into art pieces: "Z", "X", "C", "F", Space bar.

Thus I have a long List of the Fallen due to today's caffeinated FAIL:

"Space bar"
"Left Arrow"

I'd like to thank those keys for their years of faithful service and for their sacrifice. Their time was over much too soon. I'd like to write a poem in their honour, but poetry just isn't my bag, baby.

I'd like to thank my friend Keith Ramsey and some other Twitter pals for their collective suggestion to try using an external keyboard, which is indeed allowing me to use my scarred and disfigured Toshiba laptop.

I've never paid much attention to how things look. Its the content of their character that's important to me.

Well that and I just can't have nice things.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Change is the Only Constant

Yesterday someone told me that "Good ideas alter the power balance of a relationship and that is why good ideas are always met with resistance at first".

That simultaneously gave me hope and disappointed me.

Why the resistance? Letting go of control is such a need that positive change and good ideas that don't come from you MUST be bad?

How does one market openness to change, openness to IDEAS, openness to trying to those who are late adopters?

How to be resilient in the face of closing ranks against change and ideas?

Its tiring.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Random Act of Cookie

This morning on my march to school the sun was shining and Bob Marley was playing in my ears. "Sun is shining, riddim' is sweet ya...make you wanna move your dancin' feet. To the rescue, here I am..." and at that moment I passed a man, tucked into a vent fronting onto Hastings Street. His face in the heat of the vent. Asleep on the sidewalk.

To the How can I rescue the homeless.

Well, I can't.

What I can do, is share. I can share coffee and a cookie. I know its not much but coffee and a cookie in the sunshine is Bob Marleyesque.

So, I brought the man a coffee and a giant chocolate chip cookie (mmmmmmmm cookie) and I hope that at least brought a "sun is shining" moment to his day.

Thank you Bob Marley, I feel like I'm a rainbow too.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Resistance to Change: Bend vs. Break

What is it about change that frightens people?

Is it having to relearn how to do things that have become second nature?

Is it having to adjust to new energy, a new direction?

Is it having to pay active attention?

Is it fear of being left behind if they don't adopt the change?

Confucius says "Change is the only constant" and I have learned this to be true.

Why ask for change, and then when it comes, resist?

I prefer to bend in the wind, versus snap.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What a Difference an Age Group Makes

This is my life. This is what I'm living and breathing and eating. Yes, data output, analysis and highlighting pen fumes...not to mention a bloodstream full of caffeine and worshipping at the feet of the fickle SPSS goddess.
Last week, just before seeing my thesis supervisor to go over the latest iterations of my regressions, I discovered that I had one too many age groups in one of my data set analyses. Not a big deal, right?

Wrong. This extra age group of individuals aged 30-34 years meant my sample population was inflated by 6,777 individuals.

Ohhhh how I miss each and every one of those 6,777 people. Not only did each and every one of them add power to my correlations, but they helped with the significance of those same correlations...
What was blatently interesting 10 years ago and super cool 10 years into the present, are summed up as "meh". Still sorta there but not as blatently super cool (as nerdy data analysis goes).

Yet, I carry on, highlighter at the ready, nerdy brain hopeful for interesting correlations to write about in the thesis...
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Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Walk to Remember

Today, Roan and I walked to raise money to help find a cure for Alzheimer's Disease and related dementias.

It was a sharply cold winter day, despite the low sun.

The numbers of people participating grew slowly over an hour and a half. Gradually the group grew to include older adults, families, dogs, children of all ages and even some people with physical limitations. The Red Hat brigade was there in force, with their special crab hats.

Roan and I sat at a table in the gathering room, waiting for the event to start. As we waited, a barbershop quartet sang next to us and serenaded us with a stirring rendition of "Unforgettable". That brought me to tears...

An entire family, "Team Iole" participated and each wore a picture of Iole on their backs. Iole won't be forgotten even if she can't remember anymore. That, and people like Iole, are why we do this and why we'll do this again next year...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Being Afraid and Saying it Anyway

My brother sent me a link to a video of a secular Arab woman talking down fundamentalist behaviour and small mindedness in the Middle East.

This woman is called a heretic because she calls herself a secular woman who does not believe in the supernatural...

This woman calls for Muslims as a whole, to contribute to the greater good for humanity before demanding recognition and respect.

She is very brave. I can only hope people listen to her...

Friday, January 23, 2009

I dream of...Turtles?

I have vivid dreams. I always have. I have also always had dreams laden with animal totems and symbology.

Last night's was no exception, except for the fact that I have never dreamed of turtles before now.

I dreamed that I was at an aquarium of sorts, filled with turtles. I jumped into a large tank and instead of swimming around in it, I sank to the bottom and then rocketed myself vertically, up out of the high that I touched the over head lamps.

I then fell back into the tank, all the way to the bottom and being VERY intentional about not touching the bottom with my feet. I then set myself up and rocketed out of the water again.

I remember musing to myself that this felt much like I was a dolphin, porpoising out of the sea...and I continued 3 or 4 more times smiling hugely and laughing and loving every second of the speed and the water and the feeling of flying all combined.

When I was finished I was resting on the side of the tank, in an area where turtles could bask in the heat lamps. As I rested, a turtle took its time walking towards me...I remember saying "Oh here it comes, I'm in for it now...". The turtle climbed up on me, walked across my chest towards my right shoulder. There it stopped and looked intensely at a mole-like thing on my shoulder (where I DO actually have a mole). But this mole was grey and shaped like a volcano with a lid. Literally, a stopper or cork of sorts. The turtle started mouthing this lid / cork...pulling on it until the stopper came out.

Immediately, I felt a jolt of electricity run down my arm and into my hand. It felt as though the stopper in my shoulder had been holding back some of this electricity, some of this impulse...and the turtle had released me from this blockage.

I felt so grateful and so relieved and excited.

Then this morning, I decided to start blogging...

Interesting that my right hand is the one I'm composing my thesis with?

The Red Queen Lives

Has anyone paid real attention to the increasing frequency of large outbreaks of bacterial infection such as the Lysteriosis outbreak at a meat processing plant last year as well as a new outbreak in leeks in Quebec:

What about the salmonella outbreak in peanut paste and derivative products all around the world?

Now, an Avian Flu scare has farms in Abbotsford, BC. under quarantine:

I don't think this is just happenstance. I think that even though human beings have stopped operating under the effects of natural selection on a species-wide level and we're not "evolving" any further, bacteria and viruses continue to evolve...and I think they're making a comeback.

This is the Red Queen theory in effect...its playing itself out. We haven't "beaten" bacteria and virus strains with our medications and treatments...we have staved them off for a time, allowed them time to mutate and adapt and they're fighting back.

Dragging myself uphill by my lips

The data analysis continues.

Crosstab hell. Logistic regression output all over my floor. Pink highlighted boxes of percentages and observed frequencies...

Plenty of good significance level, plenty of power in the sample populations in both data sets.

Now I have to write my interpretation of it all, draft graphs of everything and explain it all.

I wonder if I have to energy or the will to finish this...I started it. I wanted it. I drove myself until I got it. Now, I struggle to put aside a couple of hours daily to work on it.

Do I really care whether or not it gets published in a journal? The academic overachiever in me says yes. The person inside me who is weary of being a student and just wants to go back to earning a living, says meh.