Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Powerful Man

This has turned into a Random Pride Fest this week ... and I'm okay with that!

I often try to explain to people what Mr. Awesome does for a living but it never really comes out right. He's a Power Lineman for our local hydro company. He's the dude who keeps the power on ... or puts it back on after mother nature has knocked it out. Mr. Awesome spent four years in a tough apprenticeship program to gain his Journeyman ticket and he takes great pride in being one of the elite guys tough enough to do this job.

These guys work outside in all conditions, at crazy heights with an insane amount of electricity coursing through the wires they are handling. They get called out in the dead of night, in the wee hours of the morning and in the middle of holidays and family gatherings. They miss birthdays, Christmas mornings and a lot of sleep to do the job they love, to do the job that's needed. They don't seek any recognition, fame or even thanks. They are linemen and that's often thanks enough.

This is a documentary trailer about linemen. This is what Mr. Awesome does.

Storm Soldiers

So, the next time its thirty degrees below zero or there's a raging storm or its Christmas Day and your power goes out ... and then comes back on ... take a minute to say thanks and offer a prayer of safety for the boys on the line, the ones climbing towers, doing hotwork and working hard.

I always do!

Never go to work mad, start each day with a kiss,
In this type of work, who knows what you'll miss.
Tell your kids you love them and also your wife,
Storms a coming, be late tonight, the lineman's life.
~Poem, A Lineman's Life from

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

8 Kinds of Mischief

Yesterday we celebrated Mischief's 8th birthday.

Eight years.


They're gone.


As I decorated the kitchen on Monday night for the Big Birthday Breakfast Celebration I started thinking about Mischief and the awesome kid he is. His wit, spunk and charm amaze me. I'm in awe of his confidence and courage. His sense of humour, compassionate heart and creative mind are things to behold! I was so overwhelmed by the gift he is that I sat down right there and wrote a Top 8 things we love about Mischief!

8. His fantastic smile.
        From the first time this little blue eyed heart breaker crinkled up his nose and flashed his crooked smile at me I was hooked. He was the happiest of our three kids, always content to roll around the floor or jump around in his exersaucer and it took no effort at all to make him laugh. As he grew he realized that one quick flash of his baby pearly whites was all it would take for a get out of jail free card! Even now, its tough to be strict with him when he turns on that smile!

7. His great big caring heart.
          If ever a kid was born with an extra measure of compassion and empathy its him! Mischief is generous, sensitive and concerned about the happiness of others. He is the king of compromise and almost always puts the needs of others first. He loves to help out whenever and wherever he can ... sometimes to a fault! Just ask my mom about how many times Mischief has 'helped' by rearranging things in her house!

6. His wicked good sense of humour.
          Mischief can tell a joke and take a joke. He's a little self deprecating and he can spin a good tale. Often times, he keeps us entertained at the dinner table with stories about his day ... complete with several alternate endings that would make the story funnier, sadder or scarier. He's a hoot!

5. His endlessly curious mind.
          Mischief's mind never stops! He is constantly trying to figure out the meaning of songs, stories, people's actions ... of life. He wants to understand everything. In fact, he often reminds me of that movie Short Circuit; Number 5 needs more input!

4. His outstanding imagination.
          Whether he's spinning a tale, recreating a favourite scene from a movie or playing in his room he always has the most elaborate costumes, sets and back stories. He is a fantastic little actor and a wee creative genius. I love watching his wheels turn as he works his creative magic!

3. His flip-floppy amazing stunts.
          Although his antics have been known to cause near heart failure in me, I am in awe of how agile, fearless and flexible he is! He loves to test the limits of his physical strength and gravity and just like a cat, he always lands on his feet  - well, almost!

2. His wild, crazy, boundless love.
          This kid is a lover, not a fighter (usually). He is a faithful friend, a loving sibling and a precious heart beauty. He is the master of sneak attack hugs, sweet baby kisses and monster cuddles. He has no problems laying a little login' on a person who needs it and it makes his heart sing when its reciprocated. He loves like he lives, boundlessly, fearlessly.

1. Our very favourite thing about Mischief ...

He's ours!

Happy Birthday, Little Buddy! 

  • It's the merry-hearted boys that make the best men! - Irish proverb

Saturday, October 13, 2012

It Doesn't, You Do

We've had a heck of a week, how 'bout you?

We've been dealing with some stuff, catching up on life and just trying to make sense of some senseless things so I've not spent a lot of time reading the news or checking out other blogs this week. Until tonight.

Tonight we had dinner, lingered over a cup of coffee and then I caught up on the news while Mr. Awesome cleaned up from supper. That's when I stumbled across the story that has rocked the cyber world. Its the tragic story of Amanda Todd.

If you Tweet, Facebook or have eyeballs, I'm sure you've seen snippets of this story somewhere. Miss Todd was a teen who made some foolish mistakes, was stalked, baited and bullied and ultimately took her own life. She was fifteen. She was precious.

I read the news stories and then I watched the video she made shortly before her third and final suicide attempt. In it she tells her story, how she was made a bad decision when she was thirteen that turned into two years of being hunted, taunted and humiliated. She tells of several school transfers and even a move to a different city to try to escape the inescapable. She finishes off her video by confessing how alone she feels, how its a struggle to live.

Watching that video after the week we've had made another, very popular YouTube video seem like a joke. Awhile back a bunch of celebrities did a series of anti-bullying videos called 'It gets better.' The idea was to give kids who are bullied hope that things get better when you're older. The thing is, they don't.

Mr. Awesome faced a situation this week where he was yelled at, humiliated and belittled by another adult. This guy used information he had gained during my illness to take jabs at Mr. Awesome where he was most vulnerable. He exploded without warning, exhaled and felt better while Mr. Awesome was left rattled.

Maybe this guy was having a bad day. Maybe he was worked up about something else and Mr. Awesome was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe he didn't realize how hurtful he was being. Or maybe he knew exactly what he was doing and he's just a jerk. I don't know. What I do know is that what he said and how he said it was hurtful, unnecessary and cruel.

I also know that Mr. Awesome is better than this situation. He's better than this unkindness. He's better than this act of self indulgent, immature behaviour.

Bullying is bullying no matter how old you are. Unkindness hurts whether you're 15 or 45. Being victimized is humiliating whether you're in the schoolyard or the workplace. It doesn't get better. As long as people are people and selfishness reigns, it doesn't get better.

But you do.

You get stronger, smarter and more resilient. You learn that cruel people are that way because of what's in their heart, not because of what you do, what you wear or what you say. You learn that people who carry a lot of baggage take wide swings and they don't care who they hit. You learn that one ounce of truth wrapped in a ton lies and anger becomes twisted and warped. You learn that its not about you.

So the hope we need to give our kids, the lifeline they need to stay connected, to stay tethered to this life is this; It doesn't get better, you do. And you never have to be alone.

Not ever.

I know God will not give me anything I can't handle.  I just wish that He didn't trust me so much.  ~Mother Teresa

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Love Well Lived

Last week two families who are important to me lost people who are important to them. Mrs. N was the mother of my parents' friend and JM was my uncle's best friend. To look at these two people they couldn't be more different but in truth, the distance between them is not so great.

Mrs. N was the quintessential lady. She was the picture of grace and elegance. I can't ever remember seeing her without her lipstick on, hair neatly arranged and her outfit tastefully accessorized. But that stuff is just surface, just window dressings, her true beauty came from her generous heart and loving nature.

Mrs. N was a mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend. She was a long time member of the church I grew up in; she attended there with her son, daughter-in-law and their three beautiful daughters. She was their Nana but she became Nana to us all. When I think of her all of my memories are of her smiling and loving on someone, whether she was cuddling a newborn, catching up with an old friend or giving one of her granddaughters a quick hug, she was always smiling. She loved boundlessly.

Now, like I said, on the surface JM couldn't be more different from Mrs. N ... on the surface.

JM was rough around the edges, a little scary looking at first glance and a brick of a man. He wasn't tall but he was huge and he could come across as an intimidating individual ... until he smiled. Its been years since I've seen JM but I remember him well from so many summers, at the campground, with my extended family. He was always up for tossing us kids around the pool, joking around with whoever was nearby and telling stories, usually about the teenage misadventures he had with my uncle.

JM was my uncle's buddy. They met when they were five years old and from that moment on they loved each other as brothers. I didn't know JM very well but it speaks volumes to me that my uncle loved him as he did. I do remember that he had the greatest laugh that came from his heart and danced in his eyes and that he was always so full of life and love.

That's where these two strangers are the same, in their love.

Mrs. N's heart was always open and she loved her people without conditions or limits. She loved, even when life got messy. She loved through joy and sorrow, hope and disappointment. She loved fiercely, generously, endlessly. She loved.

JM also loved deeply, sacrificially. He loved with courage, with protection, with hope. When things got messy, he loved. He loved enough. He loved enough to look past the situation to see the person, he loved enough to set aside his desires for the greater good, he loved enough to let go of what he held dear to keep hold of those he held dear. He loved enough.

As I write this hundreds and hundreds of people are gathering to celebrate Mrs. N's life and love. There will be songs sung, eulogies given and precious memories shared. The church will be filled with friends, flowers and joy mixed with tears. She lived a full life and there is much to celebrate.

But JM will receive no such send off. The path his life took in recent years has made it impossible for him to be celebrated in the same way. For the safety of those he loved most, there will be no mass send off, no over flowing church, no tribute to a love well lived. Instead, JM's people are left to grieve independently, to remember in solitude. What a contrast to the man I remember, the laughing, loving, life of of the party.

So, today I say a prayer for the families, fill my heart with sweet memories and whisper the names of two people who have set the bar high and lived excellent examples of love. These two people from very different worlds but still, so very much the same.

I'd like to think that they know each other now, that they've met in heaven. I'm sure Mrs. N has told JM all about her beautiful family. I'm sure that JM is entertaining Mrs. N with his stories and his mischievous laugh. And I am sure they both have carried all the love we've given to them, that they have clothed themselves in it, that they hold it close for it is a promise that we will see them again someday.

To Mrs. N.

To JM.

You are remembered.

To love another person is to see the face of God.
~Les Miserables

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


This is something I wasn't going to share because its personal, embarrassing and a sore point for me but after seeing a video that was circulating Facebook yesterday I decided I couldn't stay silent.

On Monday I took Mischief to his gymnastics class, like I always do. I found a seat at the edge of the mats, like I always do and settled in to watch my boy tumble and swing and run, like I always do. My regular mom pals weren't there to hang with so I was on my own. 

Within minutes a couple of other moms found seats near me and started chatting ... to each other ... but loud enough for me to hear.  Their conversation begin generic enough but took a unnecessary judgemental turn pretty quick. They had been talking about a mom and tot fitness class that one of the moms was attending.


"The instructor is great, she gives a lot of tips about how to have a healthy diet too."


"I have always chosen a healthy lifestyle."

All right.

"I mean, why eat junk when you can eat fruit and veg? I'm not a vegetarian, I mean, like, I eat meat once in a while but just organic stuff. Toxin free, you know."

Good for you.

"I just don't get heavy people. I mean why choose to be fat when you can be healthy?"

Huh? Did she just say that? Was she looking at me? Nah, I'm just being paranoid.

Louder, "Heavy people just need to have some self control and then they won't be heavy. Just put down the cookie already!" Laughing.

Seriously? Just watch your kid, Random, just watch your kid and ignore the rude nutter.

Louder still and leaning a little forward, "I don't buy it when heavy people say they try to lose weight but can't. If they were really trying it would come off. Fat people are lazy, I think."

Thankfully, at this point the lady's friend (who, to her credit, was visibly uncomfortable with her pal's take on the subject) was finally successful in changing the subject. They went on to talk about childbirth and doulas and my pal's husband arrived and provided the perfect conversational distraction for me. I was distracted but still kind of bothered.

Now, this isn't the first time a stranger has felt the need to comment on my physical appearance. I have experienced the full gamut of busy body encounters, from the loud talkers to the outright confrontations. I have been told that I am a bad example to my daughter, that if I loved my family I would lose the weight so I could live longer, that I should be ashamed of my lack of self control. I have been laughed at, teased and judged because of my size for most of my life. Even as an adult, people have discounted my character because I don't look 'the part' and yes, it hurt.

It hurts.

But here's the thing that prompted me to write today, here's the thing I just realized ... comments like that, conversations like that are bullying. Just the same as if I was being held up against a locker in a junior high hallway. Just the same as if I was knocked down and kicked in the schoolyard. Just the same.

Now, I'm a grown up and although rude comments hurt my feelings, I don't feel powerless and victimized. I do feel irritated and disappointed. I feel confused and frustrated. I do wonder what is going through the heads of the self important people who can't keep their opinions and judgements to themselves. I do wonder how we expect kids to be kind, to stop bullying when we as adults can't stop.

Adult bullying happens all the time, all over the place. It happens in the workplace, in the malls, at the gym and over a cup of coffee with friends. It happens but we assign it different labels, as grown ups. High pressured sales. Competitive advertising. Right of passage. Joking. And my personal favourite, 'sharing' information out of concern.

No matter how you cut it, its unnecessary, its mean and it needs to stop. We need to stop it. We need to have the courage to stand up, be an example and chart a new course. We need to use our influence to change what must be changed.

So, to the video. It speaks for itself, really so all I'll say is this lady is classy, brave and fabulous. And I'm proud of her!

The cruel words of one are nothing compared to the shouts of many.
~ Jennifer Livingston

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cool like That

So, I just came from a Welcome to Middle School night at Crafty's school and although I am ready to collapse into my bed with my ManMug of coffee juice and a good book I just had to write tonight. I had to ask the question "Who told you that?"

Here's the deal, I was talking with my pal this evening and she was filling me in on the first month of school as her little dude, Ace, is chatty and Crafty is selectively communicative. Ace and Crafty are buddies, they have been since grade three and now at the ripe old age of ten they figure their friendship has weathered the test of time and being pals with a cootie-filled member of the opposite sex isn't so bad.

They hang out at recess, chat their way through class, help each other out when they can and sit together at lunch most days. It was during one of their lunchtime hang out session that they discovered that they weren't cool, or at least they weren't sitting at the cool table.

The story goes that Ace and Crafty invited another pal to join them at their table. This kid politely said that although he liked Crafty and Ace and considered them friends he couldn't sit with them because they weren't at the cool table. My pal said that Ace wasn't too bothered by the comment but I was.

So, this rant is for you Ace!

Who told you that you're not cool? Who thinks they get to decide what cool is and what it is not?

Don't you think cool might be having friends who like you, accept you for who you are and not for what you wear, where you sit and who you talk to? 

Don't you think cool might be having your pal's back, walking with them when they can't run on their own and making them smile when it feels like the world is against them?

Don't you think cool might be grooving to the party in your own head, being able to laugh at your own jokes and knowing that you are loved just for being you?

Don't you think being cool might be being confident enough to be goofy, being secure enough to take a joke, being brave enough to be silly?

Don't you think cool might be living with kindness, treating others with respect and doing your best to be your best?

Maybe they're right Ace, you're not cool. You are a freaking rockstar!

Shine on. 

Rock on.

Because you're cool like that.

What fun is it being cool if you can't wear a sombrero?
~Calvin & Hobbes

Monday, October 1, 2012

Understanding the Pink

Check Yourself.

Check Yourself.

Check Yourself.

Have you been?

I've been delinquent with the reminders. Sorry. But I hope you've been taking care of yourself anyway. I hope you've been giving your girls a little attention and making sure that they (and you) stay healthy. I hope. I hope. I hope.

This weekend I was invited to attend a football game. The invite came from my cousin's 16 year old son, Caleb, it was his football game and the theme was pink.

Caleb is a fantastic guy and he was an adorable kid. He has morphed from a pudgy cheeked infant and a wee blond charmer into a magnificent young man. He is full of humour, kindness and warmth and I love that I get to call him family.

Caleb's entire family is kind of fantastic. His dad is a pastor and writer who often gives me encouragement (or a kick in the pants) to keep writing, keep living the life I was created to live. His mom is one of my closest friends and has walked this past year with me; supporting me, laughing with me and loving me. Caleb also has three unique and wonderful siblings who make me laugh and melt my heart. 

Like I said, this is a fantastic family and I have come to expect compassion and respect from Caleb but what I saw on Saturday blew me away. And it wasn't just Caleb, it was his whole team!

Once a season these boys go pink. They dedicate one game to cancer awareness and they go all out, raising funds and more than a few eyebrows. The funds go to CancerCare Manitoba and the eyebrows are in reaction to the pink tape they cover their helmets, shoes, socks and arms in. Last year Caleb wrapped himself in pink with the rest of his teammates but this year the pink went deeper.

I haven't spoken to Caleb about this too much but his mom and I have had a few chats. I know that hearing that I was diagnosed with breast cancer just a few weeks after the pink game last year had an impact on Caleb. I know that he has been worried about me during treatments and that he was relieved to see me getting stronger. I know that he now understands the pink a little bit better. And I know that it was really important to him that I was in the bleachers this year.

As I sat and watched the game my mind was flooded with random thoughts about Caleb, his team, his coaches, the other team and the fans. I couldn't help but reminisce about the boy Caleb once was and wonder about the man he is maturing into . I was impressed by the respect, discipline and sportsmanship his team exhibited and the dedication and care the coaches had for not just the kind of players the boys are but the kind of people they are, too. I was conversely baffled by the lack of sportsmanship and restraint the opposing team had and what a poor example of self control their coach was, but that's a rant for another day.

I watched this pink zebraed boys and felt as though they were playing just for me. For me and the more than 200,000 women in North America who will be told this year that they have breast cancer. These teenage boys played for strength, for health, for life. For Hope.

They played their hearts out that game but the score wasn't in their favour. After the game I gave Caleb a hug and told him I was proud of him. Hours later his mom texted me to thank me for attending the game and to say that Caleb was sorry that they didn't win. I told her he did.

His team may not have won the game but they raised money, awareness and hope. They stormed the field in a sea of pink. They played a clean game, a respectful game. They finished well. They may not get it now but in some games there is no winning; in some games just making it through with your head held high and the ability to live, to breath, to stand is winning enough.

Here's to the Transcona Nationals. Here's to a game well played. Here's to Hope.

Here's to Caleb!

Once you choose hope, anything's possible.  ~Christopher Reeve