Monday, December 31, 2012

Things one should outgrow:

feeling pressure to party on New Years Eve.

#stayingathome
#electricfireplace
#movies
#wife&I
#happyanniversary

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Yearlies

What art awaits?
Inspired by Rude Cactus and his "yearlies," I included more than my favourite reads this year. Why? "Art doesn't have to matter to a lot of people to matter a lot." ~Jeb Dickerson

I always apply the same criteria to art regardless of the medium: sincerity. That difficult-to-explain but easy-to-feel genuineness always affects me. And, for me, some linger.

My favourite 2012 reads:
-Quiet by Susan Cain
-Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
-Blood Meridian by Cormac MacCarthy
-What it Is by Lynda Barry
-You are Not So Smart by David McRaney

My favourite 2012 movie experiences (I haven't seen many yet):
-Tree of Life
-Being There
-The Grey
-Drive
-Bridesmaids
-Looper (late entry)

My favourite 2012 television experiences:
-Game of Thrones
-American Horror Story

Songs that moved me again and again this year:
-Gold in Them Hills Ron Sexsmith
-U.F.O. Coldplay
-Abide with Me Emeli Sande
-Garden Noah Gundersen
-In My Veins Andrew Belle & Erin McCarley

Friday, December 28, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Things one should outgrow:

worrying about the perfect gift.

This is a photo of a gift under our tree from my teen son. It's difficult to tell from the photo but upon close examination, I'd say it looks like it was wrapped by a lobster. But who cares? I don't care how gifts are wrapped. I don't care about gifts. I care about the people attached to them. They are the gifts: my son, my daughter, my wife. Our families. Our friends.

"The only gift is a portion of thyself." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Things that deserve the stink-eye:


I did something very, very stupid. Okay, not very, very stupid, just regular stupid. Plus a little bit more than that. One might call it “guy stupid.” But my heart was in the right place. Everything went wrong quite innocently.

Available here.
Here’s what I did: I bought some Christmas gifts. In September.

That’s pretty organized isn’t it? One might say exemplary time-management. I suspect that I was in the one percentile of all men who bought Christmas gifts in September of this year. Whoa. According to my pea-brain, that’s a big deal. Like maybe an on-the-news kind of big deal. Okay that’s probably idiotic but the truth is this: I will never, ever do that again.

Before I explain why, I will say that I did not do this because I’m attempting to be a reformed last-minute-shopper. I’m totally ok with last-minute shoppers but that was never really my style. I’m more of an all-at-once shopper. Mostly I like to “get it over with a few weeks before Christmas.” And by get it over with I mean I prefer to complete my entire Christmas shopping in one single day, a sort-of marathon shopfest. Yup, I’m a dreamer: this never seems to work. So this year, when I suddenly realized that I was in the perfect place to shop for some quality items that members of my family would probably appreciate, I did just that. Within fifteen minutes I bought several gifts for them without being caught, along with some decoy items for myself which would explain the bag I carried out of that gem of a store. And do you want to know how I felt? Proud. Smug even.

As the saying goes, “prideth goeth beforeth the falleth” (close enough) because here’s the thing: when I returned home I hid those purchases and now, three months later, after much searching (swearing), I have no idea, absolutely no idea where they are. Plus there’s one more glitch: I can’t quite remember what I bought so I don’t know what I’m looking for. Sheesh.

And so this is exactly why guys leave their shopping until the last minute. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Why can't we see that?

The little prince's drawing demonstrates
how blind we grown-ups can be.
Sunday: A few minutes ago I watched my teen son through my office window. As I write this he's down the street skating at our local neighbourhood outdoor rink. It's a warm winter Sunday afternoon here and watching him, I noticed someone else is skating there now too, and together they are shooting a puck around.

Saturday: Yesterday, I visited a store to buy a gift, and the boss and his employees surprised me by offering to assemble it while I did my other shopping. I know the boss, he's a good guy and sometimes we talk about our Scottish heritage plus our daughters went to school together. I returned later to thank them and pay my bill.

Friday: After a great day at work, a friend asked me if I'd heard about the school shooting in Connecticut. I hadn't. A group of us sat together in disbelief, frustration, confusion, and then in debate and then finally, in silent bewildered respect for those teachers and those children. Later, I had my first migraine. I hope it's my last. Struggling through that pain, I thought about my brother and his daily battle with cancer, what he endures and how he copes and how thankful I am for his unconditionally devoted wife and how much I wish we could be together and how much I wish there was something more I could do. And then my wife joined me where I sat in the dark and she gently massaged my hands; her touch soothed the ache in my head and she sat with me while I endured essentially nothing in comparison to what my brother faces every day. I also thought about those grieving in Connecticut and how my wife's pure compassion was so soothing and transforming for me.

Compassion: even outside of our closest, trusted relationships it's the very thing that joins us and also dissolves what divides us, strangers or not.

People: dissolve what divides you from others. Start small in the biggest, biggest place: your own family. Leave some compassion here and there in your life too. On a skating rink, in a store, at work.

And leaders: we need a society based on compassion.  Compassionate health care. Compassionate use of power. Compassionate policy. Preventative compassion. Is it really that difficult? Is it really that complicated? Isn't that what you want too? Isn't that what we all want? Isn't this what we need to do to protect our children? Why can't we see that?

"Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction." ~Antoine St-Exupery in The Little Prince

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dear Winter,

Enough already?

How are you? Wait. Let ME answer that. You’re enjoying yourself, aren’t you? This is all very entertaining for you, isn’t it?

Remember last year my old friend? Last year your heart just wasn’t in it, was it? Last year you phoned it in, didn’t you? Don’t try to deny it. Essentially you called in sick. Repeatedly. In fact, you took a vacation. And you deserved one. After years of slapping us here and there with snow and ice and sleet and freezing rain and so on, you really did. But this year, you seem a lot different. Oh sure, some days you’re still sweet yet I think it’s important to let you know that, overall, you’ve changed. You really have.

I’d say you got your mojo back. Yup, you sure did. The word “hammer” comes to mind. I don’t really want to point any fingers but what did Edmonton ever do to you? You might want to talk to someone about that. Here in Northern Alberta, it’s like you’re toying with us. Bone snapping wind chill one day, stick-your-tongue-out fluffy flakes the next, followed by a week without the sun. One day it’s 1-2 centimeters, the next it’s 5-10. One day it’s dry bare roads, the next it’s like four-by-fouring down the highway. I found it especially entertaining driving home the other night on snow-packed icy roads through a blizzard and then guess what? The snow stopped long enough for me to spot a grader. In. The. Ditch. It’s a special, special day when graders hit the ditch. I’d like to say I remained confident for the rest of that drive but the truth is my knees became grape jelly. But Winter, despite that nuttiness, I did indeed make it home again. What do I have to complain about right? (Actually shoveling. Every day. That I can complain about too. Just sayin.)

Oh Winter. I love you. I love skidooing and sledding and this barely veiled sarcasm but sometimes Winter, sometimes, I want to karate chop you in the neck.

Sincerely,
Everyone

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

I have.


The awkward. The uncomfortable. The moments you want to just shake off and pretend they never happened. 

Sheesh eh?

Have you ever bent down to listen more carefully to some adorable child who then immediately open-mouth sneezed in your face? I have.

Has someone ever woken you with a phone call but you assured them repeatedly that you had indeed been awake for several hours and by the time you finally move on to the point of the phone call no one wants to talk anymore because the lie hangs there like someone just opened up a big old container of egg salad? I have.

Have you ever had real, honest conversation with someone and then referred to that someone by the wrong name? Yup. I have.

Have you ever caught a ride with someone and then discovered they drive like a toddler’s attention span but it would be impolite to say something so you grit your teeth and gasp only on the inside? I have.

Have you ever eaten the garnish? I have.

Have you ever wasted precious time obsessing about your own stupidity? I have.

Here’s the thing: not experiencing the moments that you could have done without would mean not experiencing the moments you could have done without. Where’s the fun in that? 

Just. Enjoy. Life. More.
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