Boys and their toys

My husband is an average guy. Like most men he helps around the house, minimally, (I have to tell him when it’s time to vacuum because apparently until I do he can’t see any dirt).  He doesn’t really cook except to make croutons, which is an excruciating process that takes over half my kitchen. He does however, do dishes (I think he sees it as the price he pays for food)  He’s never cleaned a bathroom in his life and likely never will but he does help with the laundry,,,,except folding fitted bed sheets,,,,they really confuse him, so he just rolls them into a big ball and leaves them for me.

In short I’d say he’s pretty typical,,,,until it comes to his ‘toys’, the favourite being golf toys, balls specifically. He can’t have enough. My garage holds all the things you’d expect to find in a garage, buckets, tires, tools, holiday lights, shovels, gardening equipment, etc. The only difference is all of these things have golf balls in them. There’s shoe boxes without shoes, rubber boots and grocery bags full of golf balls, flower pots full of,,,not flowers, wait for it,,,,golf balls. I hazard a conservative guess that there’s well over a thousand golf balls stashed in my garage and it doesn’t end there.

When I was hosting the rehearsal dinner for my sons wedding I had ordered 13 rotisserie chickens. When I picked them I made sure to clear out the trunk of my husbands car so I could line them all up flat across the trunk to ensure there was no risk of them over turning. While driving home with my cargo I heard a whoosh and thumping coming from the trunk but I disregarded it because I knew I’d cleared everything out. When I got home and opened the trunk my chickens were covered in a sea of golf balls. Unbeknownst to me there’s a hidden shelf in the upper back of my husbands car where he stashed dozens of balls, all of which came cascading onto my chickens.

Now I’ve indulged my darling this little fetish because until very recently it never posed any real threat to his safety, it was just weird. (did I mention that he periodically pulls some of his stash out and washes them? He spreads them out to dry all over my kitchen counter then neatly loads them all back into boxes, boots, pots, bags, whatever, and stuffs them back into the garage, or the closets, or the trunk of his car….this guy’s certifiable)

Anyway, recently we were visiting family in Toronto, where he returns once a year to play his home course (I visit with family and friends, which is what most sane people do on vacation) and it was here that his compulsion for collecting golf balls finally posed a risk to his safety.

After playing 18 holes of golf, my husband decided to play another few holes alone and while he rounded the course hitting his balls he scoured the rough for any stray balls to add to his collection (because the thousand balls he has aren’t enough) Eventually he came to a riverbank where he spied a plethora of balls shimmering in the river bed,,,,JACKPOT! No one was around so he felt courageous (or stupid) and decided to brave the currents.

Now I should preface this by noting that the day before we had had a heavy downpour so the river was higher than normal and fast flowing. This would typically cause one to take caution but my husbands obsession with getting those balls over ruled any logic, so he approached the riverbank. Clutching 3 golf clubs in one hand he stepped onto a patch of tall grass,,,at least that’s what he thought it was. Turns out the tall river grass had flattened down from the weight of the rain water and when he stepped onto it he quickly realized there was nothing below, i.e., no ground. Falling forward into his empty step he toppled head over heels into the river. Panicking he focused only on righting himself so that he could get above the water and stand, and when he did he was minus his glasses and one of the three golf clubs he was holding (the latter was a bigger concern to him because it was ‘his new wedge’) He also injured the tendons of his hand, the one clutching his clubs (because holding on to his prescription glasses wouldn’t occur to him)

Now, like most, he was shaken by the events, but not enough to deter him. He gave up on the notion of getting the balls in the water, and his glasses were long gone with the current, but clutching his two remaining clubs he made his way to the edge of the river and climbed out. Soaked through and muddy he did what any normal male would do,,,,,he went back onto the green and finished up his hole.

Eventually he squirshed his way back up to the clubhouse ignoring the curious stares, where he showered and changed into dry clothes. He recounted the tale to a few golf buddies in the clubhouse and mentioned to the boys in the pro shop that he’d lost his new wedge (the fact that he couldn’t see three feet in front of him without glasses was irrelevant) and pitifully showed them his injured hand.

Later that day he was to meet me at my fathers’ house for dinner but it’s hard to drive when you can’t see, so he took the public transit, groping his way to my fathers’ where he once again recited his tale. I pointed out that he was lucky he didn’t hit his head in the tumble and knock himself out – he could’ve surely drowned in that river,,,, but he was till stewing over the lost wedge and concerned that his injured tendons would now affect his grip.

Now this tale does have a happy ending in that we were able to have his old glasses couriered to us (thanks to a kind neighbor who was more than happy to help after she stopped laughing) so he could once again drive. And his missing wedge had been fished out of the river at some point and anonymously returned to his golf bag, so you would think that in all this he would’ve learned a lesson. This could’ve ended very differently, tragically, and it should’ve been a wake-up call, but it wasn’t. Only days after we’d returned home he was out on the course, looking for stray balls in the woods. It would appear that a boy and his balls are never parted, for long. Now a rational mind????? Apparently that was left in the river!


Political ‘slurling’

We are in the midst of a federal election.  I am not as interested in politics, as I should be, I suppose. I just don’t get it….and I really don’t want to, but like it or not, I am exposed to a healthy dose of our political climate for the duration of the election. (which is too bloody long!) So, fine, I listen. And I do honestly try to keep an open mind because this is important (at least that’s what my husband says)  and  (apparently) I have a voice, so I listen. But what I see and hear is never what I expect. Please, help me here, because I’m so clearly missing something. (and I’m missing all my favourite tv shows for these blowhards airtime!)

Every commercial I see features a party leader depicting their ‘vision’ for us, for our country, and how they, as a leader  will ‘bring us to the threshold of success, locally and globally’…, no  wait, that’s not it. It should be it, but instead what I see is the start of the temper tantrum.

In the one hour taping, each candidate is allotted a fixed number of minutes to speak their piece, then the microphone is turned over to the commentator who summarizes the events, after which one opponent is declared the ‘leader’ of this particular debate. Sounds fair enough….but this sophisticated plateau rapidly loses ground as soon as the horses are out of the gate.

The first opponent takes the mic and from the minute he opens his/her mouth the political ‘slurling’ starts. (ok, I made that word up,,,,SLURLING. It’s a combination of political ‘slurs’ and ‘hurling’, ,,,’slurling’… pretty good huh?) Anyway, whatever we call it, it happens. The candidates spend all their time trashing their opponents, their platforms, their projected policies, etc. Their committees spend every waking minute searching the archives, public meetings (birthday parties, funerals, who knows where they’d stop) looking for ‘dirt’ on their opponent. And invariably they find something because we are all, at one time, young and stupid, and we do things, we say things, recklessly…..innocently, naively, but that doesn’t matter anymore, because only now is it relevant.

I endure the entire debate (painfully) because I know it’s my duty as a citizen to make an informed decision on election day as to who will represent my interests and the interests of my country going forward. (isn’t it enough I have to endure their commercials?)

Weeks have passed and the political ‘slurling’ has ramped up because when the public do not respond as expected to whatever sordid story the opponent has dug up, they just go deeper. They’ll find more dirt, and if it isn’t dirty enough, they’ll ‘re-interpret’ it on behalf of the public (because we’re so stupid?) No, in defense of the public! And the message here is clear,,,,, if we vote for this candidate, we’d have to be morons.

Does anyone understand my confusion here? I would love to trust, respect, support and revere my political representative. Just find me one worthy of it.

Why do they have to come out slinging accusations instead of boasting about their own accomplishments?  (could it be they have none?)

Why can they not spend valuable publicity time enthusiastically listing the many attributes of their platform, instead tearing down the platform of their opponents? (could it be the opponents have something better to offer and they feel threatened by it???) Just imagine a candidate laying out his proposed agenda and his opponent, saying “Wow, what a great idea…wish I’d thought of that!” or “Hey, let’s work together on this for the benefit of all our fellow countrymen!”  It’ll never happen.

Do they think we are so gullible that we would take what they say at face value? When these candidates look out at their audience during these debates, hurling their accusations against the opponents, do they see ‘stupid’ stamped on our foreheads?

I suppose the political campaign agenda has been long since established. Offer the world, i.e., spew the crap,  knowing you won’t deliver,,,, just say what you have to say to get into office. Once there, dodge all historical issues or any with long term commitments, i.e. do only what makes you look good for the duration of your term….until your next big promotion. Beyond that, just smile pretty for every photo opp.

Now, after the debates I honestly thought I’d vote for the candidate who took the higher road, the dignified one. Unfortunately there wasn’t any because at the end of the day, when the politician smells defeat, they pull out the big guns and that’s when it really gets ugly.

Why would anyone go into politics?

Political slurling

The Four Seasons

Let me begin by clarifying that this blog is in no way about the famous American pop band of the same name. When I talk about the four seasons here I refer to the seasons of life, my life, and because I live in Canada where four seasons of weather occur, I draw on each as a metaphor of sorts.

In the spring of our lives, between birth and age 25 years, we are exploring. Everything is new and exciting, and we embrace each experience with wonder and awe. Just like the new spring blossoms, we are pure and unblemished and beautiful, and the future holds only promise and optimism because youth is beautiful. (I relate this to my childhood where I recall discovering games and school and friends. I played, I skipped, and I loved to sing. I was of average size with very straight blonde hair (it was natural ly blonde then) and I loved my family. My teen years were uneventful, unlike many.  I did not experiment with drugs or alcohol, nor did I break curfews. In short I was a meek and mild young girl content to follow the rules. (my sister was a challenging teen so I guess I figured that was enough for my parents) Home was safe and secure and life was good)

In the summer of our lives, from 26 to 50 years, we experiment with the innocence  of our spring. We are brave and independent, setting lofty goals with confidence because we can conquer anything.  We succeed, sometimes we fail. We evaluate what we want out of life, set priorities then hone our skills to forge ahead on our chosen path. We are still somewhat  ‘green’, like the summer leaves, in that we’ve physically peaked but there is still much room for trial and error and mental growth and maturity. We are confident, cocky even, because we think we know it all, and unlike the spring of our lives our appearance now reflects the wear and tear; no longer pure and unblemished but still beautiful because we are strong and dynamic. (Now this is the season of life I found most challenging. I chose my career path (actually my mother chose it for me – she was quite overbearing,,,,but I digress) Let’s say I ‘accepted’ my chosen career path. I found my partner in life, and I grew a spine. No longer meek and mild I started speaking up for myself,,,, maybe too much? (my husband would say I never shut up) Tired of straight hair I experimented with new looks, perming my hair until it frizzed like a giant brillo pad and restoring my ‘natural’ blonde hair colour. I worked hard and played harder and by the end of my summer my appearance clearly reflected my wear and tear. A little older, a few lines on my face and pounds on my middle, and not always as confident as my cocky exterior displayed, I strutted my stuff. Sometimes I had to face my own shortcomings and much as I initially resisted, by the late summer of my life I found it easier to come clean,,,,and life was good)

In the autumn of our lives, between 51 and 75, (that’s where I am now) we take stock of all we’ve learned. We reflect and sometimes regret the impetuousness of our youth. Most importantly we accept and forgive because by now the cockiness has left us and we now see ourselves more clearly, not always perfect, and honest enough to admit it. Like the autumn leaves we now bear the scars of lessons learned along the way in a colourful display that proudly declares that we’ve finally come in to our own and we’re ok with it.  We now know what we want out of life and we boldly go for it but we tread lightly now because physically we are weakening. (I have found the fall of my life to be the most gratifying to date. I take pride in all I’ve accomplished and let go of regret. Instead of judging or criticizing others, I now laugh at their uniqueness, and you know, that’s very freeing. (Why didn’t I do this sooner?) I stopped stressing over what I haven’t done and celebrate what I have. I accepted, finally, that my hair is painfully straight and gave up trying to force it to curl (I think it’s because I was distracted by all the grey that was now peppering my ‘natural’ blonde) I let the dust in my house collect because I’d rather spend my time laughing in the company of others. And most importantly, I found my spiritual side. Life has a deeper meaning. Like the typical fall colours, I am now brave enough to sport flaming red lipstick and leopard print pants because they’re fun and what others think really doesn’t matter anymore – this is me, and life is not just good, it’s better)

In the winter of our lives, from ages 76 to 100, (should we live that long) we seek reconciliation. Life has given us many opportunities and we acknowledge how we managed them, honestly. We share our hard earned wisdom with those younger than us hoping they won’t make the same mistakes but knowing full well each has a path to walk, and many are laden with hurdles. We no longer regret, rather we span our seasons with gratitude accepting that which we acquired along the way, good or bad. And like the winter, so drab and colourless, we are wrinkled and tired, still beautiful but in a different way. No longer are we strong of body but our wisdom is now matured thanks to the experiences from the spring, summer and fall of our lives. We are, for all purposes, complete and perfect, and we finally see clearly our reason for being here. We find and reflect inner peace, taking our due position in our communities as respected elders. (too bad we had to wait so long, huh?) We have earned this. (frankly, I can hardly wait to reach the winter of my life cause when I do I’m not doing a damn thing! I’m gonna sit back and enjoy the fruits of my labour. I’ll still sport outrageous outfits (maybe more so?) I will speak my mind and let you work for me because I spent a life time working for you. In short, this wrinkled old lady is gonna ride what’s left of her roller coaster ride with gusto,,,,,just try to stop me! There may be snow on the rooftop but there will always be a fiery spirit in the hearth)

And just like the four seasons we have come full circle, and if we are fortunate enough to make it through all four with our noodles in tact we will have fulfilled our life’s purpose. We came in the spring and played. We grew and learned in the summer. We reconciled in the fall. And in the winter we accepted with gratitude all that we’ve experienced. Truth told, it goes by fast so don’t close your eyes for too long lest you miss an important season. Life is good… very good!

four seasons

Yoga Revisited

The benefits of yoga and meditation are broadly advertised and the routine is rapidly gaining popularity as a busy population realizes that the practice of calming the mind really does improve your life.

I originally tried yoga a number of years ago on the advice of my physician. She said it would help regulate my blood pressure and ease the stiffness I would invariably encounter with arthritis and aging. (we’re all gonna have this) At the time yoga was trendy. Studios were on every corner and yoga ‘gear’ was widely available. The issue for me, was twofold.  The first was time. Yoga and meditation require us to slow down; each practice requires no less than 40-60 minutes of complete focus and surrender and I found it difficult to allow myself that down time. I’m a doer and if I’m not ‘doing’ something I feel as though I am not productive and being non-productive, in my opinion is being idle, and idle is not in my DNA.

Secondly, I struggled with the average age in most yoga classes, i.e., I was always the oldest in the group by a good 20 years and therefore the least flexible. I couldn’t keep up, and because I was often the only one who couldn’t, the instructors catered the routine to the majority. I went less and less often until I just eventually stopped going altogether.

Ever since I last tried (then abandoned) yoga I’ve struggled with the aches and pains typical of my age, then about a year ago, while on vacation, I noticed a gentleman, a few years older than I practicing his yoga on the beach, unconcerned about who might be watching. This impressed me so I dug a little deeper into my own psyche to find out why. I researched the practice of yoga and meditation and it turns out it’s a very individual spiritual and physical practice. There’s no ‘team’ effort required, or desired and it’s in no one else’s interest how well you do it, or if you do it for that matter. This fellow was oblivious to any spectators nor did he care, and the spectators,,,,,well, they didn’t seem interested either. (ok, now we’re getting somewhere)

One of the things I felt uncomfortable about in group yoga classes was my obvious lack of finesse. I couldn’t manage most of the poses and when I tried I couldn’t contain the gasps or groans that accompanied my efforts. I was self-conscious and felt on display in a very unflattering way.

Then about a year ago, after a strained muscle in my lower back literally laid me up for weeks, I decided something had to change if I was to enjoy life over 30. (ok, well over 30) I’ve always been active so it wasn’t lack of exercise that plagued me. What I needed I realized, was a routine that focused solely on flexibility, and this could only be achieved through a disciplined practice of focus and intention.  This would require patience (which is not my forte) In short, I had to revisit yoga.

The trendier yoga studios that once peppered every street corner eventually closed, leaving only a few that advertised a variety of classes, from beginner, to yoga for seniors, and everything in between. I searched out studios near me, read up on their founders and reputation, then bought a 1 month pass. I was relieved to see a number of people in my age range in the first class, (actually, there was a couple noticeably older) and even more relieved to see that their mobility, like mine, was limited. The instructor guided each move in a very broad sense, constantly stressing that we should work within our own limitations. She focused on breathing techniques to work through difficult poses and offered numerous variations to each pose that ensured anyone, regardless of ability, was included in the class. After the 1 hour session  I felt limber, light even, and I vowed to return the next day for another class.  (amazing what a good instructor can do)

Over the next few months I attended a variety of classes and experimented with the different instructors. Some are much tougher than others and ask you to push your limits, but always in an encouraging and supportive way. And at the end of each class we are reminded to slow our breathing and focus our intention inward, and in doing so we unconsciously prioritize our daily lives. If you truly embrace the practice of mindfulness you will reap enormous gratification from every activity, every day.

My blood pressure is regulated. I can bend over to tie my shoes without straining. I sleep like a rock and no longer wake with stiff joints. But most importantly I see things differently. People and events have a deeper meaning because I no longer simply scan life. Yoga has disciplined me to read the emotion and participate fully in each encounter. I take the time to stop and listen, to appreciate, and this in itself is the greatest feat because the hardest thing for me was slowing myself down. I guess I realized that rushing through life would only bring me closer to death and I’m not ready for that.

Now I don’t want to preach, nor am I on a mission to recruit anyone. I just want to share a valuable life lesson because I wish I’d found this practice sooner. I still can’t do all the poses and likely never will. I still unwittingly groan or gasp in class, but I note I am not alone. I also note nobody notices or cares, so focused are they on their own practice. Yoga is a lifestyle, one I advocate hugely. Love yourself enough to embrace the practice of yoga and meditation. You’ll be so glad you did!

Yoga revisited