The little things

I was watching television and a commercial came on where a local farmer was talking about how grateful he was to still be working and supporting his family during the pandemic. He held a beautiful little boy in his arms as he spoke and it made me want to cry.

Earlier in the day, while driving, I heard an appeal for the Salvation Army. Covid has placed more and more people into homelessness and they are asking the public for financial help for the needy. They advised their workers would still be out this holiday season with their collection plates, despite the risk of Covid, because the need is so great,,,,,and again, I felt my eyes well up. (Jeez, I’m turning into such a mushy old lady)

I think, like anyone, I have taken much for granted because I don’t recall being so sensitive to these simple messages of need, and I don’t know if it’s Covid, or sentiment, or age, but I find myself appreciating the ‘little things’ more than before.

There’s a group of young people who beg for money at a local major intersection and I used to ignore them because I wondered as to the sincerity of their ‘need’. I always thought if they were able enough to withstand the elements and the humiliation of begging on street corners they were probably well enough to get a job. Now, I just open my window and hand them money. No judgement, not anymore. I am blessed with a home, a warm bed, food, and a loving family. Who am I to judge the needs of another? And if they are scam artists just looking for an easy ride, so be it – the universe will even things out, with or without me. (That’s not my job) I’m just glad I have what I do.

I wonder, do you ‘see’ the need. Do you ‘feel’ the suffering. Do you, like me, feel the pain? There have been worse ‘blights’ to hit the world, but not in our generation. Are we fully appreciating the impact….because if we are personally unaffected, how can we? Are we honestly, sincerely, doing what we need to do to help our fellow man?

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling the emotional impact of the suffering. I see it in the eyes of strangers. I hear it in the pleas of those asking for help, and I feel helpless to do more because I don’t know what to do…..so I take the time to give thanks. I take the time to appreciate all I do have. I help where I can but often that isn’t enough. I am not wealthy, but I will share with another in need until I can’t. And I will take the time to appreciate all that there is to appreciate. The sunrise, a sale on beef, family, an umbrella in the rain, friends, wine, health, access to medication, life, and all the other stuff we take for granted in a normal world. Even the material stuff, yes, even the stuff we covet deserves thanks,,,,,because we have it. How lucky are we?

Feeling gratitude eases our burden, so just say it,,,to everyone, to no one, to the universe, to God, if you pray to one….. just say it, ‘thank you’.

See, now that didn’t hurt, did it?……bet you feel lighter.

How much knowledge do we need?

I love technology,,,,to a point. It has given us the ability to get a recipe, manage a home repair, find directions, simplify our banking, even get news bulletins up to the moment. But how much do we really need,,,,,before it adversely affects our lives? 

I’ve touched on this subject before but it still really peeves me. You’re in a wonderful conversation with friends, there’s banter and opinion back and forth. This could go on all evening making for some great conversation, great jibes. An issue is at hand and all are charged to enjoy a lively discussion….then someone pulls out a cell phone or an ipad and ‘googles’ the answer to your subject argument then proudly proclaims the answer….and the conversation is dead in the water. (Well wasn’t that fun)  You know, there are times when technology isn’t ,,,,fun. Sometimes it’s a conversation killer stopping a good debate in its’ tracks.

I was reading an article recently about artificial intelligence, a scary thing, but I couldn’t help but marvel (shudder, actually) at the advancements we’ve made. Man has the ability, or so it seems, to simulate the thinking patterns of the human brain. (are we so predictable?)  Moreover, the goal and current challenge of artificial intelligence technology is replicating the ability to reason and problem solve. Think about it, we already have self-driving cars, and it’s proclaimed that they will be better than the human driver. In fact, artificial intelligence boasts the capacity to understand or learn any intellectual task that a human can. So can it create a human replica, a robot?  And if so, am I the only one who doesn’t get this? Why would we want this? (what ever happened to ‘ignorance is bliss?”)

Technology is progressing at alarming rates, not always a good thing, but a proud testament to our ability, ok, I get that. We’re a smart species. There is some research available that supports our ability to create a race of ‘people’ that would by far surpass our own abilities. (Again, why would we want this?)  Is it a question of proving our intelligence?  (Ego?….wouldn’t be the first time man has been propelled by ego) Are we so driven to ‘redevelop’ our species that we are blind to the inevitable repercussions of it?

What happens when that self driving car malfunctions, blows a circuit, looses a gasket? Surely it’s only as reliable as the human who programmed it? What happens when/if that ‘robot’ we created suddenly decides to ‘think outside the box’, chooses a different outcome, and/or turns against its’ creators? In our quest to create the ultimate perfect being we may well nullify our own authority because eventually these ‘man-made’ creations will start to think on their own (so they say) and, dare I say it, take over?

Maybe it’s all hype. Maybe not. There’s a huge library of information available on ‘AI’ (artificial intelligence)volumes in fact,  that will impress,,,,, and shake you to the core, and it all shmecks of a sci-fi movie. At the end of the day it claims to be able to replicate the human race, in a perfected way. The downside is that it can also challenge the human race, because it is perfected. (weird)

Ok, so maybe we have the ability to create a ‘better-than-us’ race. What do we hope to achieve with this? Who’s going to be there to give us notoriety?  The thought that we could one day be ruled by a ‘man-made’ society is frightening, at least to me. Because robots are incapable of love, and kindness, and compassion, and emotion – they are only capable of what they are programmed for…..by a human, they cannot surely behave in rational human ways. Don’t we need that? These are traits that cannot be replicated. And if robots can in fact be trained to ‘think’ rationally, it follows then that they could also think irrationally, which leaves the option open for them to revolt, retaliate,,,,,,, dominate?

I’m no scientist, no genius, and after reading a few articles and one book on the subject (by no means an authority) I’m sufficiently frightened enough to wonder why, on earth we would ever want to create something that could eventually dominate us. (takes me back to the old ‘Frankenstein’ movies)

I get technology, to a point, because it is a challenge to test our ability, see how far we can get, and it brings endless convenience into our lives; the internet, self check-outs, cell phones (how did we survive all these centuries without them!) By contrast it also eliminates manual labour, leaving more and more unemployed. It adversely affects our socialization skills because we no longer talk face to face, it’s all text, cell, email. And while the internet brings a plethora of information instantly, it also provides an unregulated platform for pedophiles, pornography and scam artists, so technology it seems, is a double edged sword.

Maybe I’m just old fashioned. I like using a cashier to process my purchase, and I gladly answer my land line when someone calls, and while I have had numerous conversations on text or email, my first choice is live, face to face conversation. I enjoy the many benefits of technology, online banking, surfing for recipes or information, or shopping for that hard-to-find item. I get the convenience. I even get the need to ‘prove’ our intelligence. I just wonder if in our quest we aren’t going too far. Do we really need to recreate the human brain, the very one that could conceivably outwit us?

Someone, please, tell me, why would we want this?

Patience, patience

If patience is really a virtue I’m the first to admit I am not virtuous. I have a really hard time tolerating idiocy. Now I realize that the world is full of all kinds of people, and I can’t decide if I’m just oblivious to the normal ones, because lately I seem to be encountering more than my fair share of blithering idiots.

While on a road trip with friends a few weeks ago we stopped to get coffee at a McDonalds Restaurant in rural Nova Scotia. A friend and I went in while our spouses waited in the car. She placed her order through the automated kiosk but I preferred to go to the counter for my order because I don’t like having to pay for my 99 cent coffee with a card. I waited several minutes at the one and only cash station but no one on staff came to my aide. Seeing my friend had already obtained her order I figured I’d better use the kiosk after all. I quickly keyed in my order for 2 coffees, paid with my card, and waited for my receipt. It didn’t come. Instead I got a message on the screen that said it was unable to produce a receipt and referred me to a cashier, so back to the counter I went (muttering any number of unholy oaths) 

A young man who looked about 13 asked if he could help so I explained I’d placed and paid for my order but had no receipt. He stared blankly at the cash register clearly regretting that he’d come to serve me. After several seconds of punching keys unsuccessfully he called over the french fry guy, who also looked to be about 13, and explained the issue. The two of them punched the keys for another few minutes while I muttered more oaths under my breath. (all this for a cup of coffee)  My friend was on the side lines sipping her coffee and thoroughly enjoying my predicament.  

Finally, giving up on technology, they asked what I’d ordered and advised they’d just give it to me because they didn’t know how to reproduce a receipt (Mother Jesus, help me) I told them that was fine but I still wanted my receipt because the transaction went through my account I wanted to reconcile the charge to my statement. (I’ve actually had duplicate charges go through so I get copies of everything I charge electronically) French fry guy tells his colleague he’d better get the manager and they ask me to step aside because there’s another customer behind me. I turned around and told the man they had a team of specialists working on my order and he’d be better off using the kiosk for his. He actually listened and smiling, moved to the automated order terminal.

After a few minutes the young man returns with the manager (I think) in tow, and I’m relieved to see I’d be dealing with someone with more experience – the ‘manager’ had to be at least 15. I glance around to make sure I am in a McDonalds Restaurant and not the local daycare while the young man explains the issue to the manager. (more muttering of oaths) By this time I note 2 coffees are sitting on the pick up counter unclaimed, likely mine. The girl working the drive through window sees the confusion and comes over to help (cause yes, that’s what we need, another teenager to lend some expertise….more cursing) and all 3 stare helplessly at the cash register.

After several more minutes of punching keys, head scratching, and exclamations, the manager finally hits the magic button and tadaaaah, my receipt pops out. He looks clearly surprised, but puffs up his prepubescent chest when his colleagues applaud his success, (doesn’t take much to impress these geniuses)  but at this at this point I could care less. I grab my now cold coffees and run, muttering again, under my breath.

This past week I went to my local grocery store to pick up a few things. List on hand, I grab a cart and head into the produce aisle.  There’s a man ahead of me scanning the tomatoes so I wait the required 6 feet behind him. He’s got a face shield on and rubber gloves so I’m thinking he might have pre-existing health conditions that warrant sturdier measures to prevent covid infection – no problem, I wait. He’s picking up one tomato, then another, returning each to the pile after close scrutiny. I see him lift another to his face as though he’s sniffing it but I can’t imagine he can smell anything through the plastic face shield. Seeing he’s not going anywhere any time soon, I decide to get some of the other produce on my list, I’ll return for tomatoes later.

I wheel over to get my lettuce, onions, etc, then swing back to tomatoes only to find he’s still there, groping each one as though searching for a bomb. (what the hell????) Surely he’s got to be done soon, so I wait. (I never would’ve imagined a tomato could be so interesting) There’s another woman also waiting, just across the aisle from me. We both watch as he feels each tomato almost lovingly (ok, this is getting weird) Our eyes meet and she smiles and shrugs, then she veers off in another direction, not prepared to wait. I do the same. I may as well get the rest of my list done while tomato guy gets his thrills.

My list was not long so within 10 minutes I’m heading back to produce and believe it or not tomato guy is still there. (get an inflatable woman already) Tired of being the nice guy, I pull my cart up next to his, lean over and grab 2 tomatoes plopping them in my cart. As I prepare to move away, he stands up straight clearly affronted, and says,”excuuuuuse me!” (I guess I invaded his space) to which I replied “you know, you might be a good candidate for curbside pick up”. (ok, in my head I was really thinking he’d be a good candidate for a looney house)

Is it unreasonable for me to be intolerant of idiocy? I like to think I am a tolerant person, considerate even, of another’s idiosyncrasies, but some of these whack-jobs really test my patience. (could this be why I have high blood pressure?) It just seems that there’s an inordinate number of looneys and morons roaming this planet and I seem to be bumping into every one of them. Maybe it’s the full moon theory, or maybe I need to go out less. I do know that patience really is a wonderful trait to have,,,,,sure wish I had some.

The Flu Shot

It’s flu season, and that means getting the dreaded flu shot. Now I don’t have a problem with needles but I know a lot of people who do. My two young granddaughters, aged 3 and 5 had to be bribed to go to the doctor for the flu shot, and even then it was a major ordeal but you can make allowances for children. It’s a little harder to accept excessive drama from an adult.

My husband, like many people, has an aversion to the sight of blood. He literally gets weak in the knees and has on occasion passed out (although that hasn’t happened since his younger days) I can handle blood, not huge amounts of course (that’s why I couldn’t go into medicine, that and the whole enema thing….ok, and also I didn’t have the marks) but I can certainly manage cuts, scrapes and needles.

Some thirty years ago I was at work and my husband was home with the children. We’d been having trouble with our automatic garage door opener and despite warnings from EVERYONE to leave the repair to a professional, my husband, handyman that he isn’t, decided to tackle the task himself. Needless to say the garage door came slamming down causing quite a loud noise throughout the neighbourhood, and taking a small chunk of my husbands thumb with it. (He was lucky he didn’t lose more,,,,you don’t mess with 200 lb doors that have lost their tension)  He was then seen running into the house. When he didn’t emerge in a reasonable period of time, a neighbor who’d witnessed the scene went inside only to find my husband slumped on the floor in the bathroom. She managed to wrap the finger enough to staunch the bleeding and by the time she was done my husband had ‘recovered’ sufficiently enough to remain conscious. (To this day he still refers to that accident as his brush with death, and he claims parts of that thumb are still without feeling providing a ready excuse to avoid most household tasks)

On another occasion around the same period our two year old son was playing with a lawn chair and caught his thumb in the joint while closing it (what is it with the men in my family and thumbs?) causing a nice slice around his whole finger. My husband grabbed him and ran inside calling for me (I was in the basement doing laundry) By the time I could make it to the kitchen my son was happily rinsing his bloodied finger in the sink while my hero leaned unsteadily against the wall. I cleaned up the wound, propped my husband up and took our son to emergency for stitches. Now I would’ve thought an aversion to the sight of blood would be over ridden by necessity, but apparently not.  I’m not sure what would’ve happened had I not been home but I’m guessing my two year old would’ve ended up nursing his father until I returned.

A number of years later, the same son, who was 15 by then, (and clearly a klutz) cut his finger while halving a bagel. The cut was significant enough to warrant a trip to emergency as it clearly would need stitches. My husband insisted on going with us – ‘he could do this’. While I sat in emergency with our son, he was out cold in the back of our car (I just left him there) Suffice it to say his aversion to the sight of blood was, and remains, significant.

This past Friday we went in for our annual flu shots. (He played a round of golf in the morning preceding our appointment because he knew he wouldn’t be able to play after,,,,, you know,,,,, the procedure). He took it like a trooper; rolled up his sleeve, held his breath and turned away, and I was pleased to see he kept the moaning to a minimum. After we got home, I went out to rake leaves (we have a TON) and my husband went to lie down. He was ‘stressed’ by the ordeal. Later he would move downstairs to his lazy-boy where he indulged in a rye and ginger to help dull the memory of the traumatic experience.  Today I asked him to vacuum and he held up his arm limply and said he couldn’t,,,,his arm was still weak.

You know,,,,,I think we’d both be less stressed if he just got the flu.

Curious minds

You have to admire the curiosity of children. They explore with a sense of wonder, not knowing what the outcome will be,,,,and not anticipating the consequences.

I have a friend who has 3 young children. One day her toilet starts to overflow when she flushes it and after attempting unsuccessfully  to plunge the clog out she reluctantly calls for a plumber. (never a cheap call) The plumber, unable to remove the clog, proceeds to drain and disconnect the toilet. The plumber is puzzled by the solid blockage and the mother sees dollar signs flying out the window. After what seems an eternity (he charges by the hour) he produces the source of the clog,,,a big green apple. Two hours  and $175.00 dollars later the toilet is fixed and the plumber departs so the mother calls her children in to the kitchen to get a confession. Knowing neither of the three children will own up now, she washes up the now bruised apple and offers it to the children as a snack. Two immediately accept. The third says he’s not hungry….we have our culprit. Turns out he just wanted to see if it would go down. (now he knows,,,it doesn’t)

I went to school with a girl who shoved a cherry pit up her nose to see if it would come out the other nostril. It didn’t. In fact it had to be removed by a doctor in emergency. Lesson learned,,,the hard way. (wouldn’t it be easier to just ask someone?)

My granddaughter shoved a mint up her nose because she thought it would make me laugh. I didn’t. (at least not until after I’d extracted the offending candy with tweezers) Needless to say ALL candy is now distributed with a warning in my house.

When my son was 3 he wanted to see if the thermostat could turn counter clockwise. It did, of course, but once wrenched in the wrong direction it cost just under $300 to repair.

Children do what they do out of curiosity. They’ve no way of knowing if the outcome will be favourable or not, until the act is completed. The dilemma for us is that we don’t anticipate what they’re going to do. I would never have expected a child to try to flush an apple down the toilet, and I can’t imagine why anyone would shove anything up their nose (it’s gotta hurt) yet they do. Maybe we need to think like a child, with complete trust that all will be ok no matter what we do.

I suppose it’s this same curiosity that prompts a child to dip their popsicle into the flower pot just to see what it would taste like. (ok, that was one of mine)  Or the child who fabricates a story just to see what the reaction is. (ok, also mine,,,,,ok, that was me…I had issues)

At the end of the day I guess it’s a good thing that our children have this sense of curiosity. It reaffirms that their brains are at work, always turning things over in their minds, always asking questions.  Sometimes it just catches us off guard and sometimes it’s expensive so we need to be vigilant. If a kid is too quiet, something’s up….check it out quick before you need to pull out the cheque book or  make that mad dash to emergency.

Ideally most infractions are relatively minor and the resulting damage insignificant. In fact, more often than not we can probably thwart a potentially disastrous act of curiosity or comment  by reasoning. For example, recently my lovely granddaughter mentioned that a woman she spotted at the park, while we were playing, reminded her of me. I saw no similarities so I asked her what she thought was so alike about us and she replied “she’s spongy, like you”. Now this is a prime example of a situation where discipline and reasoning could be employed. I simply told her I saw no such similarity…..and advised that Christmas for the next three years was cancelled.

See, reason isn’t so far off……..

Character

The character traits that define us as individuals are the very ones that also distinguish us, and there’s an endless list of adjectives that describes our traits, good and bad, and we are all capable of both. To many the image of being in good character is paramount and they consistently strive to maintain their squeaky clean reputation. They’re the good Samaritans, the boy scout who helps the old lady with her groceries, the friendly neighbour who helps you shovel your driveway. They feel good being the good-deed doers, and the world needs them because they restore our faith in human kindness.

By contrast, there are those who feel no such ‘kindness’ to the world. They have a singular focus and it centers around them, their creature comforts, their popularity, and reputation matters little, as long as they have what they want. Now these are not stupid people because they know how they are perceived by others is integral to their mission. Without the buy-in of the public they cannot achieve their ultimate goal of self indulgence so they master the art of manipulating others to ‘see things their way’. And if that doesn’t work they just blatantly lie because, it’s not a lie if they really believe it. At the end of the day it comes down to their character traits and how much or how little shame they have.

The waiter who offers to clear a colleagues table on the pretense of helping out then he pockets the tip. The dog walker who ‘looks away’ and appears not to notice their pets ‘deposit’ to avoid having to clean it up (ok, ok, a minor infraction, but this one really cheeses me off) The one who steals, the one who lies, the one who intimidates, all with the goal of getting what they want, because their satisfaction is the ultimate goal and their reputation matters little. I’d like to believe these flaws in their character are learned because it would be hard to accept that we are born with such damaged character.

Watching the news recently I was astonished by a story about US President Trump taking excerpts of Doctor Faucis’ statements with respect to the handling of the global pandemic by federal public health officials, and twisting the words to make it look like a compliment to his presidency. (It was this that prompted my topic for this blog) The man has no shame and less character. Now granted, some would say there’s no such thing as an honest politician but to blatantly plagiarize anothers comments to build a political reputation?  How desperate are you for a compliment? And more over, how stupid do you think your public are?He points the finger of blame at everyone but himself, and takes credit for everything positive whether he’s the maker of it or not. (He is a cockroach, and as we all know cockroaches are resilient creatures. You can beat them with your shoe but they simply will…not…die!) If he can be so duplicitous in the bold face of the public, just imagine how shifty he likely is in private, i.e. what kind of character is behind the mask?

Character by official definition is “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual”  but I believe it should include “the behaviours one displays when no one is looking”  because that’s when a persons true character is revealed.

Great Expectations

There are some in this world who feel entitled. They ‘expect’ that everything in life should be good, if only for them, and this expectation can often manifest in positive outcomes. (are they on to something?) Poverty, illness, issues with family and friends; these are situations destined for others, not for them. And if they can get through life unscathed, lucky them, because the reality is that life will occasionally disappoint us, all if us, regardless of our ‘expectation’. And how we recover from these disappointments will form our mindset and dictate our path.

We all harbor feelings of insecurity – some just hide it better than others. Feeling ‘beneath’ others, not an equal, for no apparent reason. We expect others to surpass us, to live better….because why? Are they more deserving? Is it youth? Or maybe our upbringing? I took the better part of 50 years to find my confidence and now that I have it I see the error of my ways, the error of my thinking. I was so intimidated by others I perceived as successful…more successful than I, I shifted the blame on everyone and everything but me, until I eventually realized I was the maker of my own destiny, sort of. I ‘expected’ not to shine, so I didn’t, at least I thought I didn’t.

More importantly I came to realize that expectation plays a great part in our overall self-image. If we ‘expect’ that others are superior to us, they will be, because we have just inadvertently elevated them. And if we see others as more deserving than ourselves, they will get more, because in doing so we have joined the line that feeds them. They expect to be adored, and we’re right there expecting to adore. Until we mature. Then we get a better sense for what is and isn’t ours, what we should and shouldn’t expect from life and others. Maturity, it seems, gives us perspective, and confidence, and clarity, and it resets our expectations. (and it’s about time!)

Life isn’t a bed of roses, and if you plan on it being so, prepare to be disappointed. People will disappoint you. ‘You’ will disappoint you. It’s all part of the learning process and what we need to adjust is the ‘expectation’. I expect to make mistakes. I expect to suffer some hardships. I expect to disappoint another, not intentionally. And I expect that others will occasionally disappoint me. What I expect in return is knowledge, and grace, and the respect of those walking this path with me, and most importantly, I expect humility, because we are all flawed.

I’ve learned from previous experience not to anticipate the actions of another because in doing so I set my expectations too high and was ultimately disappointed.  My strategy is to aim for the mid line, just above mediocre, so I abandon any notion of ‘great expectation’, and to date I’ve not been disappointed. (I still set high standards for myself however….old habits die hard it seems)

So much of our expectation is based on what we think another is thinking, and that’s never good, i.e. it never works, especially when it comes to men. Here we need to be clear.

When my husband didn’t provide the worship I expected on past occasions I realized I needed to change his expectations.(I curled up my chubby little fist and told him if he didn’t start playing the role of devoted husband, he’d soon be the disappointed wife)

And for my anniversary this year I got 2 bouquets of flowers, 2 potted plants, a heartfelt card, and a lovely dinner. It only took 38 years, and a final but lethal threat of personal injury, i.e, I just had to change his expectation. Who knew it could be so easy?

Does President Trump really have covid 19?

I have little to no interest in world politics but I am somewhat captivated by the events going on in the US. President Donald J Trump has (supposedly) tested positive for covid 19. Does he really have this deadly virus, or is he faking it to gain the sympathy of his followers and/or national attention,,,just in time for an election?  An election he’s losing ground in.

I was watching the evening news and the entire hour was absorbed by the story of his returning to the Whitehouse after just 3 days in hospital. He would have us believe he’s made a miraculous recovery from the very disease that’s already killed $210,000 Americans. But then he’d have to wouldn’t he? He did, after all, downplay the seriousness of it from the beginning. And if he were to, say, recover from said disease, quickly, easily, well now, that would make him look like the all American hero, yes? (and just in time for an election, how timely)

Renowned Doctor’s Jonathan Reiner and Jeremy Faust, interviewed on CNBC commented on Trumps return to the Whitehouse while still technically contagious, as ‘reckless’ and ‘dangerous’. They cite his actions ‘send a bad message’ and ‘he continues to put lives at risk. He removes his mask knowing he has a deadly contagious virus with little regard to those around him’, and Trumps’ response was “Don’t be afraid of Covid, don’t let it dominate your life.

Doctors acknowledge he has been administered steroids that could cause mania and psychosis, and it is at question whose decision it was that authorized his discharge from hospital while under the influence of these drugs (the unanswered question here is ‘what reputable doctor would?’) So far no one seems willing to give the public a straight answer.

The Whitehouse claims Trump is tested every day for covid 19, yet they can’t confirm his last negative test. Why?

If the president does in fact have covid 19 why is he given the benefit of  resources most don’t, i.e a top medical team on site, 24/7, all while he still downplays the virus. What about the people who died in overcrowded hospitals, waiting for ventilators?  Why weren’t they given the benefit of top notch medical care? At least they took it seriously.

I have some serious doubts that the US president has, or ever had, the covid 19 virus. If he does, I think he’s making a show of strength to reaffirm his initial message that covid 19 is nothing serious, as he slowly succumbs to it. But I wouldn’t put it past him to fabricate the whole event as a campaign ploy to bolster his popularity.

I watch, as the world does, to see how this unfolds, but I have little faith in the integrity of this individual and more than ever, I am grateful to be a Canadian.

My lesson in positivity

My daughter had her first baby this past July, right smack in the middle of a global pandemic. Now she was fortunate in that our infection numbers are quite low so her partner was able to attend the delivery but that’s where the ‘normalcy’ ends. Typical of any first time mother, she keenly feels the isolation of being confined to home with an infant, but the confinement is much more pronounced during a pandemic because she can’t even toss the stroller into her car and wander through a mall or a library to clear her head and get out once in a while. No coffee with a friend. No mommy-baby play dates…..no gathering with anyone, nothing. Her ‘outings’, such as they are, are limited to walks through her neighbourhood with the baby and her dog so I wasn’t surprised to note she was feeling a little blue of late. Who wouldn’t?

To try to cheer her up I suggested we do a road trip to a local seaside community. The drive has a lovely view and there’s a great restaurant right on the water with an outdoor patio so I told her lunch would be my treat for her. My plans for a wonderful day were formulating.

I knew she was excited at the prospect because when I came to pick her up she was all dressed up. Even the baby had on a special sleeper. She was running late when I arrived and needed still to walk the dog so I parked the car and we did the walk together. Once back she wasted no time putting the dog in his kennel and loading up my car with the car seat and stroller. We had limited time because her dog required medication in 4 hours so we needed to hit the road. (ok, cuts the day shorter but I can work with that)

While driving we both noticed the temperature was rapidly creeping up, contrary to the weather forecast, and we both acknowledged that we were over dressed for the humidity. Then the baby woke up, clearly hungry, so I suggested we stop at my house which was on the way. She could feed the baby and we could both change into lighter clothing, so we made the stop.

An hour later, baby changed and fed, I gave her a nice summer shirt to wear, telling her to keep it because it looked good on her (and I knew she liked it) and we started out again on our road trip, well aware that our 4 hour outing would now be reduced to 3 hours. I worried that this wouldn’t be enough time to give her the ‘outing’ she needed but it’s all we had.

The next hour was therapeutic. While I drove the baby slept and we talked, or rather she talked. She poured out her feelings of isolation. She wanted so much to be the same high energy and outgoing person she was known for, but the demands of a newborn baby, the fatigue that comes with it, and the restrictions of a global pandemic, don’t make it easy to socialize, and, typical of a woman and mother, all this made her feel guilty. (why do we women think we have to do it all, all the time?) I confided my own feelings of isolation when I was a new mother (and I didn’t have a pandemic to deal with)  and assured her her feelings were quite normal. Every new mother goes through a blue period after childbirth. It’s a monumental change to your life and compounding this change with the restrictions of a pandemic only amplifies it. Talking it out and giving her someone to relate to who understood seemed to take some of the pressure off her. By the time we arrived at the seaside restaurant an hour later, she was laughing and joking, more like her old self, and it’s a good thing cause we’d just have time to eat before heading back home. I made a mental note to plan for more time next time and she commented on how much she was looking forward to a nice lunch on the patio with a glass of wine.

We unpacked the stroller, got baby into it, and walked up to the restaurant only to find it closed. The sign on the door said they were closed every Thursday (who closes on a Thursday?) Disappointed and knowing we didn’t have time to drive around looking for another venue, I spotted a hot dog vendor in the parking lot across the street. (I know, how lame is that? But I promised her lunch and there simply wasn’t time to go elsewhere) We crossed the road and she settled onto a picnic table by the water while I ordered our gourmet lunch, a cheeseburger, a bag of chips and a Pepsi (not quite the elegant lunch I had envisioned) but we made it work and on reflection, she didn’t seem as rattled by this as I was. I had so wanted to treat her to a relaxing day and nothing was unfolding as I’d imagined but she seemed ok with it. We joked about our fancy lunch, marveled at the view over the water and actually ended up having a nice time, despite the circumstances. I was stumped.

Once done we packed everyone back into the car and headed home taking the highway back instead of the lighthouse route because we were already late, and like before she chatted the whole way back. Her mood was lighter and brighter and by the time we got home we were both laughing and joking about our disastrous day.

I was playing with the baby and lamenting all that had gone wrong with this day, vowing to make it right, when I heard her answer her phone in the other room. It was her husband and he must’ve asked how her day outing had gone because I could hear her reply excitedly  “Oh it was great! We got a burger from some guy on the side of the road and I got a new  shirt!” 

And that’s when it hit me. She hadn’t seen the things that had gone wrong focusing instead on what went right. She was actually happy with how the day had unfolded, and I was humbled, because this was when I realized that this had been a valuable lesson to me, on positivity. My mission to help her see the brighter side of her life inadvertently taught me how to see the lighter side of mine. The disappointments of my planned agenda were inconsequential to hers because all she saw was that she got out on a lovely sunny day, had lunch at the seaside, and got a new shirt (ok, a used one, mine, but new to her) and nothing else mattered. Life is good, unpredictable, but good.

How’s that for a lesson in positivity!

It’s not you, it’s me

It’s no secret that men and women ‘see’ things differently, and we react differently to pretty much everything. A man will tell you we’re too emotional and read too much into a situation. A woman will say he’s insensitive. At the end of the day the woman will take the heat for two reasons; we simply want to see an end to the conflict (cause there’s another bone we have to pick and this is taking too much time) or, we’ve guilted ourselves into believing we really are at fault here….and therein lies the real issue. Women are too quick to take the blame when things go south in a relationship.

Now take my husband for example. I tell him he should vacuum, the floors are a mess,,,,so he does. The next day I notice the same dead bug on the floor behind the door, the feathers from the throw pillows, still on the floor by the couch, so I say again….”you should vacuum”. He looks affronted and says “I did vacuum, yesterday”. So I take him by the hand and show him….the dead bug…..the feathers,,,,and he takes a stand. How could I not show him where the dirt was? “You said vacuum,,,,you didn’t say where or what?….You should’ve told me”, and he looks at me accusatorily. So, I throw up my hands and say, ‘you’re right! How could I ask you to vacuum and not have the sense to tell you where the dirt was?’ (shame on me) But is it really just MY responsibility to ‘see’ the dirt?

Ok, so maybe it is you,,,,,, and me? (whoa, there’s a sobering thought…..me wrong? Could it be?) Perhaps, perhaps, being wrong is a collective effort.

Or not.

I’m heading out to get groceries and run errands so I ask my husband to help me by folding the laundry. (sounds simple enough, yes?) Well, first off, he takes no notice of the fact that the dryer never seems to stop. I return home, a good 3 hours later, exhausted, with a trunk full of food (having hit every discount food store I could to save money) and he’s still in his lazy-boy watching a golf tournament. I ask why the dryer is still on and he replies, innocently, ‘it didn’t beep’. Annoyed with him, and, dare I say it, the dryer manufacturer for building a dryer that fries clothes, I open the dryer only to find the whites and sheets I put in are so hot to the touch you could fry an egg on them, and you could smell the ‘burn’ in the fabric. Realizing he’d dropped the ball (but it really was a good tournament….) he scrambles to pull the clothes out and into the laundry basket while I haul in the groceries. (Because he can continue to watch the tournament while he ‘folds’ laundry, and I can carry in the 300 pounds of groceries…yes, this works) And you know what? I do it….because it’s easier than explaining why he should…and that’s my mistake.

He, on the other hand, folds my favourite camisole into the corners of our bed sheets (so I wouldn’t find it for a week), mistakes the foam cup of my sports bra for a kitchen sponge, filing it accordingly in the utility drawer, then complains that his golf cap ‘shouldn’t have seen bleach’ because it could smear the logo (Now I could at this point, note that it was HE who tossed his NAVY BLUE cap into my load of whites….but I won’t) Suffice it to say, I should know better….ya think?  So I ruminate on this and ok, maybe lose it a little. I lay into him about everything I do, and everything he doesn’t,,,,,,and he ‘shushes’ me. This is a critical shot in this tournament…it’s where the win happens, and he holds up a hand for emphasis.  And that, is his mistake.

Time for me to take a long hard look at myself. Did I overreact? Did I miss something vital? So I embark on a mission to evaluate the situation. I review in detail (ok I analyze to death) my criticism, my reaction, my judgement of him and his reactions, and after careful analysis I’ve come to the only rational conclusion.

It is you.