Lest We Forget

During World War Two, my daughters’ great uncle was captured after his plane went down in the European countryside.   He was held in a prisoner of war camp until he and a fellow Allied soldier escaped.

After a fortnight of dodging German troops in the marshy swampland, they eventually found passage over to England.

A short time was spent recuperating in England, and then he was released home to Canada.   Arriving first in the United States, up to Ontario and then home to Vancouver Island, the record of his journey home appears relatively uneventful.

Only a few hours after his arrival to his parents’ homestead, his mother discovered that he had taken his life in his childhood bedroom.  It was June 1st, 1945.

The inquest after his death revealed that he received no greeting from The Red Cross, which handled the repatriation and “welcome Home” aspect of Veteran’s Services at that time.

Medals awarded, both posthumous and prior to his death proved his bravery and service to country.    A model soldier, a hero.  Lost.

This year, lest we forget our heroes that have returned home safe, yet not fully sound. They still live with images and memories that will not dissipate with the passage of time.  We have soldiers that are hurting, and they must be helped.   And never forgotten.

Canadian Armed Forces has a section of their website dedicated to this issue:

Suicide and suicide prevention in the Canadian Armed Forces

There is an effort to remember those lost;  Renata D’Aliesio’s article last week in the Globe and Mail tells of the “Soldiers of Suicide” Memorial.

Military memorial commemorates Canada’s soldiers of suicide

You can also find out more on Honour Our Canadian Soldiers

Alison Howell’s article in the Globe and Mail today discusses the need to for our new government to further support Veterans on their return home in the modern age.

For my children – the link to your uncle’s name in the WWII Book of Remembrance.

WWII Page 514

My Parents

October 10,2015, marked my parents’ 45th wedding anniversary. Their ceremony was held in a beautiful stone church in Red Deer, Alberta, and they were surrounded by their closest friends and family.

Carol and Art are both humble and do not like the spotlight, but as their daughter, I feel that it is necessary to share a bit of why I think they are incredible.

Mom and Dad are the first-born of their respective families; Mom of six and Dad of seven. I know how much their siblings look up to them as I see and feel the admiration through my relationships with my aunts and uncles.  

Growing up, I did not always appreciate the good parenting I received.  As a mother of three teenage daughters, I now wonder how my parents dealt with their troublesome offspring with such patience. 

They both have incredible hearts and show their love quietly through their actions. My dad can always be counted on to ensure that my oil is changed and that my van is in working order. Dad volunteers in many aspects of the community to help those in need of assistance. He is one of the most intelligent people I know 
Mom is patient and kind; she is one of the nicest people I know.  She is a caretaker, whether it be a member of her family or a neighbour in need.  Any friend I’ve ever brought home is always welcomed (and most often fed as well). 

They are the most amazing grandparents to my daughters. My kids love visiting the farm, meeting extended family and joking with dad’s coffee buddies. 

I am so proud to call them mom and dad.

I love you both.  

  
   
 

That Woman

I was speaking on the phone with a young woman yesterday and after we said goodbye, but before the connection was broken, I heard the young woman declare to her companion (to whom I had spoken with as well), “I just love that woman”.

Wow, I thought. That is quite touching. It’s neat to hear someone proclaim their affection for you when they think you’re not listening.

Then I started thinking about how incredible it is to have this young woman think so highly of me. She is a very talented athlete, humourous, intelligent and a personable human being. She is highly loyal to her friends and can be trusted to look after her responsibilities.

The companion she had with her is an amazing person as well- she’s a champion of the environment with high political aspirations, witty and intelligent.

I am quite proud of these ladies; it’s always a pleasure to spend time with them and hear about what’s going on in their lives.

So who were these young women that were on this call with me?

My daughters- Kim and Michelle.

My 30 Day Challenge(s)

A friend of mine recently completed the 30 Day Vegan Challenge. 30 days of all vegan cuisine, focusing on local ingredients.

Listening to her story on how the challenge helped her to curb her candy addiction made me start thinking about accepting a challenge of my own. Thirty days to a new habit… I can do that! But there are so many other things that I need to cut out or start doing in my life. Where to begin?

Vegan?!?! No way! I enjoy my steak too much. Plus, my daughter just found a great recipe for beef jerky. And bacon is a food group of its own. I decided to pick three or four things that would help to improve my health, creativity and contentment.

Last Sunday, I gave up bread. Why give up bread? There are too many times that I end the day with “did I even eat any vegetables or fruit?”

And it’s been okay so far. I made Kale Chips for the first time today and we inhaled them. Amazing! I am now on Day 8, with only one slip up on Tuesday last week – I made scones for a meeting, and I can’t let baked goods leave my home without the obligatory taste test. Quality control, really.

But it’s such a hard food to kick. One of my best friends is allergic to gluten, and I don’t know HOW she survives. I’m just committing to omitting bread and wheat for a few days; I can’t imagine trying to avoid it for the rest of my life.
… I keep thinking of the pita bread in the freezer screaming to be made in to chips to have with homemade humus… yum… .. 22 days..

So what’s next? This week begins with a more active habit. Rather than ‘stopping’ something, I’ll add to my week by ‘starting’ something. This means I will walk or run everyday. I was in a fairly regular routine before the summer began, but it fell off. I sporadically ran or walked during the summer and need to get back to the routine by getting out daily.

The two weeks after will be my blogging and “random acts of kindness” in some order. I have been starting to blog more regularly, which is better than the monthly/bi-monthly/once-in-a-while that I’ve been posting in the past. The concept of “random acts of kindness” is one that’s always intrigued me. I have always done nice things for others, but true “ROAK” has anonymity at its core.

Wish me luck!

What would you challenge yourself to do for 30 days?

Summer Bucket List

I was challenged to make a “Summer Bucket List” – things that I wanted to do before the summer was over.

First on the list:
1) Stand up on a paddleboard. I’ve gone out a few times over the past couple of years, but have been too scared to stand up.. worried about falling in. So I’ve knelt the whole time. I don’t recommend doing so….. hard on the knees.

2) Spend at least ten nights off Coast before September 15th… This is to force me to take some time off.

3) Run. I miss running.. I haven’t gone for any kind of run since I broke my ankle in 2009. That’s a long time.

and just to ‘force’ the issue…

4) Register for a 5km run
and
5) Register for the BMO April Fools’ Run… this is a half-marathon between Gibsons and Sechelt. It’s held the first Sunday in April.. Last (and first) time I did it was in 2007. Time to start training!

6) Find Five heart-shaped rocks. As of July 13, I’ve found twelve. The first day I sat on the beach, I found five… in under twenty minutes..

7) Wear a dress or skirt once a week. Too many times, I get dressed in the morning and then change because I “don’t like the way it looks”. I need to challenge myself out of my comfort zone. It’s a tough battle. See The Elephant in My Head

For the kid in me… and for my kids too..
8) Go to the Zoo. I haven’t been to a Zoo in years. My kids haven’t been to one in a long time either, plus one of my cousins is getting married at the Calgary Zoo later this month. I’m not able to make it to the wedding, but I can go to the Zoo in her honour.

9) Go to Playland
and
10) Go to the PNE. I would love to walk around the displays and just take a look around.

In September of last year, I realized that I had not gone swimming ONCE during the entire summer.
Hence, the next four items:
11) Swim in six different lakes in July
12) swim in six different lakes in August
13) Swim in the ocean five times in July
14) Swim in the ocean five times in August
(the last two will likely happen when I try to stand up on the paddleboard)

15) Hike the Skookumchuck. I have lived on the Sunshine Coast for 20 years (officially on September 13th, 2014) and have yet to see the rapids. I’ve heard them, but have not gone far enough to see them..(my kids were much smaller, and did not want to go any further on the trail. We were close to the end of the trail. So very close.)

16) Write a short story. I love to write. Before I had kids, I would write short stories, poetry, song lyrics…. you name it. Now I barely find the time to read, let alone write. Am I any good? Does it really matter – as long as I do it!

17) Listen to a busker play for fifteen minutes and give them $20.. There are very talented musicians all around us and I never take the time to stop and listen…or give them a few cents.

And here’s a few that didn’t make the original list because they came up by surprise, but are now complete!

18) Jump off the rocks at Katherine Lake.. I have the bruises (and sore body – I belly-flopped) to prove it!

19) Attend the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts – technically, haven’t attended yet, but I have purchased my Sunday Pass!! I’m really excited to be going; it’s my first time, plus Grant Lawrence is one of the featured authors on that day! The Festival is August 14-17 .. more info at http://www.writersfestival.ca

20) Spend some time with my bestie Vicky and her family… they were able to take some days and come out for a visit. We had such a great time! now to just spend some time with my other besties.. (you know who you are)

As I type these, I realize that there are so many other things that I’d like to do this summer..

21) Random acts of kindness… we all need more of these. I think one a day is a good start..

22) Attend a farmer’s market at least five times over the summer.. So many of our local farmers, producers and artisans depend on these events to help grow their business. Buy Local!

23) Spend more time doing what my daughters want to do. ‘Nuff said..

24) Spend more time with my husband..

25) Listen to music more often… and different types. I’ve had everything from John Lennon to Blake Shelton to Paul Simon to Eminem playing tonight. Eclectic.

So there’s my list (before I keep adding to it). What would you put on yours?

Today I am a Mother

This morning I am a mother.

I am comforting my grade seven child. She’s upset that her class field trip to Victoria has been cancelled due to labour disputes. A field trip that has stemmed from her science class talking about the Sakinaw salmon months ago.

The Sakinaw salmon morphed in to a discussion on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and how the Federal Government introduced legislation to drastically change the structure the DFO. This led to my daughter and a classmate initiating a letter writing campaign amongst their other sixteen classmates to their local, federal and provincial politicians. Their teacher was incredibly engaged, able to use the students’ enthusiasm to promote cross-curricular competencies in social studies.

The students met with their local MLA Nicholas Simons.

Their MP John Weston visited them just last week in their classroom, interviewing a few on their thoughts.

The trip to Victoria was to be a two day event to tour the Legislature and see the seat of government in our province, and experience Question Period. This is a trip that the students have been fundraising for weeks to make happen ; through car washes, sponsorship requests, bake sales, face-painting, and bottle drives.

As a trustee that is involved in local and provincial advocacy, and well versed in the current situation, I can explain all the issues to my daughter. I can tell her how the Province is trying to balance their budget in order to maintain BC’s high financial rating.
I can tell my daughter about how the Liberals campaigned on a ten-year deal with teachers during last year’s election, but how minimally education came up during debates and through all sides during the election campaign.
I can explain how in balancing the provincial books, this means that Education funding is remaining static to districts, which leaves school districts across the province with a shortfall as they try to staff classrooms, cover rising costs of Hydro and BC medical insurance premiums; maintain aging facilities; and deal with the ever-changing provincial directives on cash management and labour policy.
I can tell my daughter about how the publicly elected trustee governance board at BCPSEA (BC Public School Employers’ Association) was fired last summer and how Minister of Education Peter Fassbender appointed a public administrator to oversee the organization, which then resulted in a scramble by BCSTA (BC School Trustees Association) to consult with boards across the province to establish new bargaining structure suggestions prior to legislation regarding BCPSEA was introduced, legislation that has not materialized, nor is it on the immediate horizon.
I can tell my daughter about the bargaining positions of the BCTF and BCPSEA are incredibly far apart, ranging in cost estimates of the millions to billions of dollars, and how depending on which side is presenting the information, the amounts fluctuate.
I can explain how many days the bargaining teams have met since last year, approximately sixteen months ago; how many nights they have spent away from their families, trying to find common ground in the chasm that separates them.
I can explain to my daughter how her teacher is caught between very difficult pressures between his employer and his union, which is why the trip was cancelled.
And even though we have had all of these discussions in my home, the conflicting messages that are circulating regarding strikes, lockouts, and the labour dispute are confusing to us all, let alone my daughter that is missing her trip to Victoria.

But this morning, I am a mother – I have loved up my kids, and given them hugs, cuddles and kisses, and reminded them to be kind to their teachers and fellow classmates, to the staff at their school. I am frustrated for my children, for their teachers, for the trustees and districts across the province, for all of us caught in the middle.

Let’s hope for a negotiated settlement that is fully funded by the province.