Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dreamer....

Dreamer, you know you are a dreamer
Well can you put your hands in your head, oh no! 
- Supertramp

I have always been a dreamer. Not in the good way where you set a goal and work to achieve it, instead I dream of scenarios and dialogue. Maybe being a shy awkward child, uncomfortable in social situations, led me to this way of giving closure to conversations I sat through quietly -all the while dying to give my input - afraid to look foolish with a stupid question or unpopular opinion. In hindsight I always thought, “That’s what I should have said.” Or, “Why didn’t I tell them they were wrong, and why?”  This internal dialogue lead me to wonder, “What would happen if person ‘A’ and person ‘B’ had a conversation, what would they say, and where would this take place. “ When I was younger I started writing some of these ‘stories’ down. I would get so far, and then ask my sister to read them and tell me what she thought. Eventually she refused to read them because I would never finish any. She said she didn’t want to get into the story and then not know how it ended. What? It’s simple. All she had to do was use her imagination to finish them off. Anyone can do that…or so I thought. I’ve since discovered that not everyone lives as much in their head as me.

 I have had people tell me that they don’t know how I come up with the plots and interactions between characters that I use in my scripts. Some will say, “I could never do anything like that!” and that seems so strange to hear, as I automatically think if I can do it, anyone can. I’m no great talent. The plays I write are the equivalent of a silly half hour sit-com pilot wannabe, but I must admit, nothing feels better than hearing that first laugh as the audience ‘gets’ that first joke.

I suppose it’s not the complete truth when I say I have no dreams in “the good way”. I am attempting to broaden my writing range.  My big dream is in the works. It’s a novel, of course. Whether anyone besides me ever reads it is another story, but I will be satisfied just to finish. And if I do finish, you should write one, too. After all, I’ve heard that everyone has a novel in them and if I can do it, so can you. Right?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

In My Hometown

Last week someone started a Facebook page about being from my hometown. My sister added me to the page and…wow! I had a hundred emails in no time. The first day there were about 700 posts, including a few from me.

A lot of memories were triggered, things I and hundreds of others had not thought about in twenty, thirty or more years. It diverged from the original posts - recalling places, old buildings that had been torn down, businesses no longer in existence or that had grown and moved - to include personal remembrances of school days, childhood friends and the mischief that sometimes resulted in those times. The posts have slowed down since the first day, but it is still a very active page.

Although I wasn’t born in this town, and when young, lived just across the bridge in the neighbouring community, most of my fondest…and worst memories can be found strewn across both sides of that river, so, therefore, I do consider it to be my hometown. Others who had grown up just outside of town have also joined this page and many of us have shared the same or similar experiences. In fact, I’m sure people from all over would be able to relate to a few of them; playing baseball or football in the back field, skating in the winter, milkshakes at the pharmacy or five and dime store, picking berries. People are not as different as they sometimes believe.

I look back to my childhood and am fascinated to recall how rivalries were born and then torn down. When I was in elementary school, our rival school was only a few blocks away and I clearly remember us calling them “Central School bums!” Once junior high bound, we found ourselves sharing a bus ride to school with these new friends, and we started calling the “townies” the bums. But, of course, junior high lead to the high school in town, so…it only goes to show that the more you get to know others, the more you can see the similarities.

Before I go, I would like to regale you with one last memory that popped into my head after reading some of those posts.

One summer the neighbourhood boys built a tree house in this huge, old, maple in the field behind our house. It sat about ten feet up into the tree, and was only accessible by the short pieces of scrap lumber nailed up the side of the trunk  One day while my cousin, Duane, was climbing down he lost his footing, but instead of falling to the ground, he slid, holding on to the trunk (scraping his arms legs and hands terribly I’m sure) and landed softly on the ground.  Shawn, who lived across the street from me had witnessed this unusual descent, and quite excitedly exclaimed, “Man! That was cool! Do it again and I’ll give you ten bucks!” Ah, the innocence of youth.


Billy Joel. Another wonderful piece of my youth. 
thttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ph7oZnBH05s&ob=av2eh.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Day In A Life


It’s a gorgeous, hot Sunday, the kind that lends itself to, what else, a trip to the beach.

A call from my sister-in-law Wendi, and plans are laid.  With sunscreen and bathing suits on, cooler and Barbeque packed, in no time we are on our way. My husband Mark, daughter Stephie, Stephie’s boyfriend, Jesse, and I meet up with Wendi and her son Lucas near the Bible Hill overpass to begin our trip to –my favorite - Melmerby Beach.

The worst part of the trip is the drive. When you’re hot, and anxious to immerse yourself in the refreshing, invigorating, salty waves, it seems too long, but definitely worth the wait.

Finding a spot on the sand for our blankets is the next task; as close to the water as possible, without blocking other’s view. Unfold with the wind, and down to spread perfectly. A little sand over the corners and the wind is not a problem.

I’m not a sunbather, so sandals, hat and sunglasses off, and into the water I go.  Brrrr. But the best way to get used to it is dive right in…so I do. Brisk! But it doesn’t take long to get used to it, and the waves are beautiful and bouncy. I swim out a bit, and then flip over onto my back. Ahhh, it feels like home as the water flows over and around me - I’m sure I must have been a dolphin or an otter in a previous life. I look around and see only a handful of people in the water. I can’t understand why anyone would come to the beach and never get into the water. That’s my whole reason to be here. I catch a few waves and body surf in, but most of them are the bouncy kind, and that’s alright, I’m just happy to be here.

I decide to get out of the water for awhile, as the rest of the members of my crew were already drying on the blankets. I reapply my sunscreen, cover up, don my hat and sunglasses and take pictures as Lucas and Jesse dig a hole, then proceed to bury Lucas up to his shoulders in sand. The sand is wet and heavy, so Lucas has to struggle to make his way out, but he does, and now it’s time for another dip.

Not everyone likes to stay in the water as long as me, so in the end, I’m out here by myself, loving the water and drifting with the waves. I finally decide it’s time to get out, as my hands are starting to get a little stiff from the cold, so I look to the shore for sight of our blanket. Um….After swimming out and drifting sideways, and finding myself somewhat blind without my glasses, I don’t recognize any familiar shapes on the beach. So, I climb onto the shore and walk uncomfortably close to various beach goers in search of my family. Meanwhile, they are watching me, slightly amused, as I wander, lost, across the sand, reminiscent of my parking lot car searches at the mall – I’m so glad I offer such amusement. I finally spot Stephie’s pink hat, and she waves. They all chuckle as I take my seat on the blanket.

After one last swim we decide to move on up to Powell’s Point Park for our barbeque picnic. Hot dogs and salad followed by a stroll through the woods, down to the water to take in the view, a few pictures and then we’re on our way.

We drop Jesse at the Highland Mall before heading home. I turn, and through the haze, I see the wind turbines atop Mount Thom, slowly turning - I guess it’s too hot for even the turbines to rush.

We wave to Wendi and Lucas as they take the off ramp to Bible Hill, and we continue home. I feel tired, but it’s a good tired.

Today was a great day.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Whole Lot Of Nothing

Even if you have nothing to write, write and say so – Cicero


There are a number of things I could be doing right now, but here I sit in front of my computer, wasting time. Not that sitting in front of my computer is always a waste of time, but I feel I should be doing something productive, like working on my next play or doing research for my future Pulitzer Prize winning novel (he he), or even looking for a job. But here I sit, wondering what to do on this gorgeous summer’s day.

I thought about going to the beach – I can’t believe I haven’t been swimming yet this year – and I even tried on my bathing suit. Yikes! Time to buy a new one, those extra pounds I’ve gained over the past year have me nearly spilling out!

The lawn could use a mowing, but you shouldn’t mow in the middle of a hot day…and besides, if I wait long enough, maybe Mark or Stephie will do it. Doubtful.

There’s always laundry, but that’s just it…there’s ALWAYS laundry. One more day won’t make a difference, it will still be waiting.

It’s too hot to bake, so that’s out. But strawberry shortcake sounds really good right now. Maybe a trip to the store to get the ingredients is what I’ll do. But wait, if I’m getting in the car anyway…. Ah, hell, who am I trying to kid? I’ve already got my sunscreen on, the only real question is, which beach?


*I wrote this yesterday, the water was beautiful. Today it was freaking freezing! But, of course, I went in anyway. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Farewell

Saturday I attended my cousin’s funeral. It’s hard to really put into words how I was feeling. Of course I was sad, but it was more than that. I was tremendously sad for his family and that his life had been cut short, but was relieved for him that his long, hard journey was over. I was proud of the way he had kept such an upbeat attitude and lived life to the fullest,  joking right up to his last day. And happy that he had insisted that 
everyone give him a hug before they left his hospital room.

As we were heading to the funeral home, I was hoping I would be able to hold it together until the service, and when I met up with some of my other relatives, I thought I was okay. On the table, beside the urn were placed some of my cousin’s favorite things including family pictures, a banana, Bits and bites, his cigarettes, a container of his favorite ice cream and a Tim Horton’s coffee cup, the original contents of the latter two replace with flowers ; that was him. It made me and the others smile. I noticed my cousin’s older brother, with whom I had gone to school, and went over to give him a hug.  At first I thought I would be fine, but then I started to feel the sting in my eyes and I was afraid I was about to cry and that I would set him off, as well. I decided that seeing the rest of my cousin’s family, especially my Aunt, before the service would not be a good idea, as I was afraid I wouldn’t just cry, but completely break down, and they didn’t need that. So I sat down, ashamed for not being as strong as the grieving family, and tried to keep my mind on other things for the next half hour.

I knew my cousin was a very well liked person, but it was touching to see every seat taken, every room, including the hallway of the funeral home filled. I saw people I hadn’t seen in years. A testament to how many lives he had touched.

Part of his eulogy reflected on his sense of humour. He was one of the funniest people I have ever met and you never left him without laughing or smiling at least once. A joke was made about his interest in real estate, and not to worry about getting a place in heaven, as he probably bought forty acres as soon as he got there.

His medical struggles followed him most of his forty-five years, but most of us outsiders never saw it get him down. His strength and humour kept him going as well as his optimism and his girls. He was and is an inspiration. A bright light has definitely gone out. He will be truly missed. I lift my cup of “Timmy’s” to you. Cheers!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Dad

When I was small, I would watch my father march on parade and a feeling of pride would bring a smile to my face. (Yes, I was an army brat.) He looked so smart and handsome in his freshly pressed uniform, and I thought he was the biggest, strongest man in the world; our protector. And I never felt safer in a car than when my father was driving – and that was back in the day when seat belts were something you tucked into the back of the seat and ignored. It was his arm shooting out across the front of me that was meant to keep me from going through the windshield in the event of a quick stop, and I had no doubt that it would.

Later, after my father left the service and got a job in his old home town, I used to love going shopping with him and my mother and sister.  It was a highlight of my week. My younger sister would hold Mum’s hand and I would hold Dad’s hand. He always seemed to know everyone we passed and would stop to say hello. I thought my dad was the most popular man in the world. It never occurred to me that it was payday and everyone from work was stocking up on groceries.

My dad is a tenacious man, a characteristic my daughter has adopted, and rarely waivers from his position on things, which made for some interesting…debates when my siblings and I were young. No matter how much evidence we gave, he was adamant that he was right. I learned that people sometimes have to agree to disagree, and that's okay.
 
 Although he had problems with his own father in his younger years, the father I know was a wonderful son up until my grandparents deaths. My father is not an emotional man and the only time that I ever remember seeing him cry was the day of my grandmother’s funeral. 

My father was never one to waste time once he made up his mind about something. And he never dawdles.  Family vacation were quick trips;  more of a long drive than anything. I remember one year driving the Cabot Trail in one day. I guess I developed my love of summer road trips from Dad.

As an adult, I came to understand, as all children eventually do, that my father was not perfect and not invincible. A few years ago, my father had a bad year and endured three surgeries. I remember seeing him lying week and helpless in that hospital bed and it really threw me, as I had always thought of my father as strong. I finally saw him as a fragile mortal human, but I also realized that his real strength is not in his physical body, but in his love for his family.

If I could give one defining characteristic of my father, I would have to say that he is dedicated to his family. My father worked hard all of his life to help raise us five kids and we all know that he would still do anything for us.

I have been blessed to have my father for many years and, if fate allows, many more to come. I can see my father in some of the things I do or say, as well as in my siblings’ demeanors. I guess that is a testament to his influence in our lives; his legacy.

I hope my father realizes how much he is truly appreciated by his entire family.

We love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Good Fight

After my family and I left our prairie home and moved to the east coast, my mother took me, my brother and sister to meet our Aunt, Uncle and their children. Playing in the yard with our five cousins were a few of the neighbourhood kids and I felt very nervous and overwhelmed to be meeting so many new people. Three months later we moved on to their street and I became good friends with the twin girls, who were the oldest of the five. We all went to the same school and Sunday school. After church, sometimes, my aunt and uncle would take me with them to my cousins’ other grandparents’ house for a homemade beans and brown bread lunch. (I can clearly recall the trophy room with animal heads on the walls and skins on the floor.) And in the summer, I would spend a few days at their cottage. They were always fun to be around and made me feel like I was one of the family.

As we grew-up, we formed other friendships and saw less and less of each other. Now that we are adults, we rarely see each other unless we just happen to run into each other, or at family functions.

Recently we’ve been seeing each other at the hospital as the youngest in their family is in palliative care. He has not had an easy life, as an accident in childhood damaged his kidneys and in the last three and a half decades he has endured at least 40 surgeries, years of dialysis and two kidney transplants. I believe his positive attitude, joke-cracking personality and two daughters are what have kept him going all these years. So it seems very unfair that it is cancer that’s got hold of him, now. I find it very hard to write…he’s dying, as it makes it feel real, but it is the truth.

They are a wonderful, close-knit family and have had to be strong for a very long time and I wish them love and even more strength, as my uncle will be facing his second round with melanoma… they have discovered two spots on his lung. Sometimes life hands you more than your fair share of challenges. All you can do is try to be strong fight the good fight.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Skin Deep

Most women do things that they believe will enhance their personal beauty. Even I have been known to hide my grey hair under a “Nice ‘N Easy” medium cool brown. And “Cover Girl” has taken more than a few of my hard earned dollars over the years. But do you know when to say when? Would you risk your life in the name beauty?

In our society, there are girls and women of all ages who believe the only way to feel accepted is to look like the women on magazine covers and on television, and will starve themselves in an attempt to attain an unrealistic, supermodel physique, regardless of the fact that their body type does not lend itself to the leggy, boy hipped, ultra thin style. In the past few years, eating disorders, such as anorexia, have become a serious problem among girls. People recognize the dangers accompanying the practice of such unhealthy behaviour, and I believe most people, (besides those in denial about their situation) upon seeing a friend or loved one heading down this path, would try to convince them that what they are doing is dangerous, and try to make them realize that if they don’t stop the behaviour, it could kill them.

That is the same reason why I try to convince people not to tan. Trying to look like Snooki from "Jersey Shore" is unhealthy, dangerous and if you don’t stop the behaviour, it could kill you!

When I was young I would tan believing it was good for me - that “healthy” glow – until I developed malignant melanoma. The irony does not escape me. Unfortunately, the cause and effects of skin cancer don’t seem to be fully understood by the general public.  I know some people who believe all that is required to rid yourself of melanoma is to have a tiny mole cut off and that is the end of it; just a little cosmetic surgery, no big deal.  They are shocked to see the large scar I brandish on the back of my right thigh, and to hear the stories I tell of others fighting for their lives against this disease.

Skin cancer is now the most common cancer in the world with melanoma being the most deadly form. Exposure to UV radiation, such as the sun and tanning beds increases your risk of developing skin cancer. Other risk factors include repeat sunburns in childhood, having fair skin, fair hair, many moles, and a family history of melanoma. I have dark hair, few moles and no family history, therefore, the major risk factor in my case was UV radiation from the sun.
   
It frustrates me that there seems to be a lack of knowledge about skin cancer among the general public, but more frustrating than the lack of knowledge is the apathy of those who do know - or those with feelings of invincibility - who continue to tan. Perhaps, in some cases, it is an addiction, as I have seen people with that almost orange, leathery look from multiple tanning bed sessions that is definitely not attractive, but more often they just don't seem to care.

Whenever I hear someone mention spending the afternoon outside specifically to get a tan, or see a Facebook status announcing a tanning bed appointment, it makes me cringe. Experience has shown me what the result of this behavior can be, but it is hard to convince others to change their mindset, even when the proof is staring them in the face. You are more likely to convince people to stop tanning by telling them it will cause pre-mature aging than by telling them it will cause cancer. It’s sad to see vanity trump health. And it is so disheartening to see this apathy when you know that, with a few precaution - use broad spectrum sunscreen of at least 30 and re-apply every two hours, wear a hat, sunglasses and cover up. Try to avoid being in the sun between 10 am and 4 pm - that skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers.

Even more unsettling to me is to see a child with severe sunburn. What are people thinking? Even if, for some uninformed reason, you think that tanning is not skin damage, why would you subject your child to the pain of sunburn when sunscreens are available in most every store?

Maybe it’s the lack of PR that has people in the dark…so to speak. The Skin Cancer Foundation doesn’t have anything like the instant recognition of the Breast Cancer Foundation’s pink ribbon, or the Lung Cancer Foundation’s graphic cigarette packages. Slip, slop, slap, seek and slide in okay, but most kids associate it with sunburn rather than skin cancer. What The Skin Cancer Foundation needs is something tangible...a mascot. Perhaps a sunglasses clad rodent named Melly the Mole to teach children the dangers of the sun....maybe not. But if we catch children young enough, perhaps instead of the steady increase of melanoma cases happening now, the incidence will start to decrease.

I know there are those of you who will continue to tan and that is your choice, but with any type of gambling, remember, you take your chances. The truth is that tanning is nothing more than skin damage and a dangerous perception of beauty. Now that you are informed, don’t let the cause and effect of societal peer pressure turn you into a cancer statistic.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Vanity Can Be The Death Of You: This Is My Story…

When I was a child, my brother, sister, friends and I spent most of our summers at the local swimming pool. Through the week there were swimming lessons in the morning, public swimming in the afternoon and, on occasion, public swimming in the evening. Between dips in the water we would spread our towels out on the black asphalt, lie on our stomachs and bake in the afternoon sun, trying to see who could get the darkest tan. I have to admit that I was in it to win it. The sun felt good on my skin and in my soul, and I could almost feel my skin darken more and more with each passing day. As a child, I didn’t sunburn so I didn’t have to wait to heal before lying out in the sun again. I didn't get my first real sunburn until I was 16 years old.

When I started my first full time job, I spent my summer lunchtimes walking the few blocks to the park with my sun tan oil, and soaking up as many midday rays as I could. (I loved the smell of my coconut scented tanning oil.) I’d go to the beach in my bikini to make sure every possible inch of me got good and brown – that ‘healthy’ glow. I got a few ‘good’ sunburns in my twenties as the only sunscreen I knew of back then was the umbrella sticking out from the centre of the patio table.

Just before I turned thirty I went to see the doctor…what about, I can’t recall. Before I left the office I happened to mention to her that I had a mole on the back of my right thigh that was so itchy I would scratch it until it bled. On examination she immediately made arrangements for a biopsy. It was fortunate I hadn’t ignored it.

I got the diagnosis four days after my thirtieth birthday; malignant melanoma, the deadliest of skin cancers. I was in shock. It’s not that I hadn’t understood why I had had the biopsy, as I knew she was testing for melanoma, it’s that I hadn’t really believed it could possibly be cancer - that happened to other people…it couldn’t happen to me! So many things ran through my head at that moment that I don’t think I heard half of what the doctor said following the diagnosis. Many people in my extended family had had cancer, most of whom had died, and I thought, “I have cancer, what now? How bad is it? Will I need Chemo or radiation?  What will happen to my two young children if I die?” I also wondered how I would tell my husband, whose youngest sister had died of cancer, that now his wife had cancer. I didn’t want him to have to go through that again.

It would be a week before I saw the oncology surgeon and learned what I had in store, and I found myself dwelling on the fact that I had cancer. I had a Halloween party planned for my two young children and their friends to take place in three days time and I didn’t know how I was going to manage it. No matter what I did or to whom I was talking, in the back of my mind I was always thinking, “I have cancer, I have cancer” it was like a mantra…I was obsessed with the thought.

It was Halloween day when I saw the surgeon for the first time and learned my fate was not as dire as I had dreaded; it was stage one. I had never realized the truth in the expression ‘Like a weight lifted off of my shoulders’ until then. I literally felt lighter.

I had surgery a week later in which the surgeon excised a one inch area around the biopsied site and used a skin graft from an adjacent area to cover the wound (Rhomboid flap). I was scheduled to see the surgeon one week after the surgery, and then every three months thereafter for the first year before it was cut back to every six months. I have had three other suspicious moles removed over the years, all of which proved to be non-malignant, thankfully.

It’s funny, for a long time after my surgery, even though I had always gotten a clean bill of health, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. I hadn’t had chemo or radiation and I felt that I had gotten off to easy; like I had cheated at cards and won and soon someone would yell ‘Aha! Gotcha! Now pay up.’ I didn’t feel worthy of calling myself a cancer survivor, I felt I hadn’t earned that title. It wasn’t until I heard other cancer survivors speak that I realized I had been thinking about it all wrong. My body had been invaded by a potentially deadly growth. It had been cut into, a piece taken out and a large scar left as a reminder. The sun which I had worshipped all my life was now my mortal enemy. And the fear of recurrence was ever present. Cancer had affected my life in a very real and substantial way.

Now for the part which I know some of you will roll your eyes at…just as I would have back in the day. The preaching.

Melanoma can kill you. Vanity is not worth your life. Sunlight is important for good health, but even a light tan is a sign of skin damage, even after the tan fades the damage remains and builds with each subsequent tan or burn. Not everyone who tans will develop melanoma just as not everyone who smokes will develop lung cancer, but the risk is increased. And if a family member has had it, your chances are, yet again, increased. At the very least it will age your skin and who wants to look older than you should?
Scar, nineteen years later

Skin cancer is now the fastest growing cancer, and one of the most preventable. More educated minds than mine have done the work and have concluded that the best way to avoid the possibility of skin cancer is to limit direct sun exposure by covering up and using sunscreen of 30 or more. (I personally like the Neutrogena with helioplex, as it is the only one which I have tried so far that feels light and non-greasy.) And eighty percent of UV rays travel through clouds and fog, so don’t forget to cover up on cloudy days. For those of you who believe sun beds are better, all I can say is that some tanning beds expose you to five times the amount of UV rays than the sun and that the World Health Organization has upgraded the classification of UV emitting devices, such as tanning beds, from a probable carcinogen, to a KNOWN carcinogen. Remember, any tan (not from a bottle or spray) is skin damage.

Everyone has free will and can decide for themselves what they are willing or not willing to do to protect themselves. And some people will continue to tan regardless of what anyone says but, as far as I’m concerned, I will cover up and protect the largest organ of my body…my skin. I don’t intend to be the corpse with that lovely cancerous glow.


*This is a great blog, check it out http://blackispink.blogspot.com

*Another melanoma warrior has lost his battle. RIP Uncle Floyd.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Mother's Pride, In The Name Of Love! (My apologies to U2)

If pride really is a deadly sin, then I must be dying and going to hell, as I am bursting with pride for my daughter. After four years of university - with its poor eating habits, all night paper writing sessions, stressing, studying, studying and more studying - my daughter recently made her way across the stage to receive her diploma. It is a particularly proud and exciting time for me as she is the first in her family to get a degree - her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins inclusive.
I did not attend university, so I could not advise my daughter as to what to expect during her post-secondary schooling. One of the schools which offered the program my daughter wanted to pursue was one my older sister had attended for a time and had enjoyed. It was a great school, not far from home, so the choice was made.

When my husband and I moved our daughter into her dorm room on that first day I encouraged her to engage in the frosh week activities so as to meet new people. And I was glad she had a roommate to keep her from becoming too homesick. Unfortunately, her roommate was even more homesick than my daughter and spent the first few weekends of school back home with her parents. Eventually, her roommate settled in and they became good friends, but those first few weeks were hard, as I worried about her being away from home, and homesickness had her emailing every day.

Her independence grew through the years. In her second year she had her own dorm room, her third year she shared an apartment with a friend and this fourth and final year, her own apartment.

So now, four years later, it is the time for her, and a multitude of other university students, to step into the real world and find out if the student loans were all worth it. After seventeen or more years of schooling, they face a future without a classroom. It is a time for them to ponder, “Now what?” They may wonder, “Do I use what I’ve learned to begin my career? Are there any openings in my chosen field? Do I go back to school? Can I afford to go back to school?” My hope is that a degree will give my daughter more choices and make life a little easier for her. Isn’t it the hope of all parents for their children to have a better life than themselves?
It was the thought of this hope and pride for my daughter that made it hard for me to hold back my emotions on that special day as my daughter went from graduand to graduate and I said to myself, "I am the mother of a university graduate." I find that tears well up in my eyes even now as I write those words. If pride is wrong, then I don't want to be right.
As she hangs her hard earned diploma on the wall, my daughter’s first thoughts are to kick back and de-stress for a bit before heading back into the work force. I suppose she’s earned a little time to relax and decide what to do next, after all, I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up!

Stephanie, we are all very proud of you! xo

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Put Them All Together They Spell Mother…

‘M’ is for the many things she gave me,

‘O’ means…Ow, I’m telling on you...MOM!!
They say that ‘the’ is the most used word in the English language, but I am willing to bet that ‘Mom’ is up there. From the time that baby utters his or her first word, Mama - or some variation thereof – it will be his or her most spoken noun throughout his or her formative years.

As young children, we saw our mothers as our constant companions, teachers, nursemaids and nose wipers. They dressed us in snowsuits, undressed us, helped us to the bathroom, and then re-dressed us in snowsuits. They were teddy bear menders, peanut butter and banana sandwich makers, birthday party throwers and monster-busters. When the monsters came out from under the bed, it was Mom who chased them away - apparently, moms are scarier than monsters. Whatever the problem, Mom could fix it. They were our life.
As we began our journey into puberty our mothers began to change. They became homework enforcers, facts-of-life tellers, “Don’t fight with your sister” beggars and training bra buyers – training bra…what were we training them to do? Sit pretty? Stay? Our mothers ceased to be our whole life. Sure, we still depended on them for the basics, but they lost some of their ‘cool’ factor. Our friends became more important.

When our teen years arrived our mothers’ transformations became complete. They were curfew setters, wild party going deniers, dress code givers and “I was your age once.” Insisters. They seemed to morph into a completely alien species that didn’t understand the important things in life at all.  
As we kicked and screamed our way out of adolescence and into adulthood we, once again, began to see our mothers in a different light. They were human after all.  They became, sounding boards, comforters, encouragers and friends. When we were teens, who could have known that mothers understood so much.

Now, some of us have become mothers and have entered our own stages of transformation; your children’s everything, their safe place to come home to, the bane of their existence, or their font of experience.
And we appreciate our own mothers so much more. We thank them for our lives, for nurturing us, for disciplining us, for trying to steer us in the right direction, and for comforting us when we make a wrong turn. We apologize for the sleepless nights, the anxiety and the grey hairs. We hope it’s all been worth it.
‘M’ is for mothers. They are the first people we love and, if we are fortunate, we get to love them for many, many years.

I love you Mom. Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What's On Your Mind?

Most people take it for granted that they will get up in the morning, shower, eat breakfast and take on the day. But what if you couldn’t get out of bed? Not because of any physical limitation, but because you just couldn’t force yourself into believing that it was worth it. Or, what if you managed to get up, but it takes you three hours to get ready to go anywhere because your brain forces you to perform rituals over and over again. It’s hard for most “normal” people to understand what it’s like to suffer from mental illness, but millions of people endure this kind of challenge every day of their lives.
One in five Canadians will, at some point in their lives, suffer from a form of mental illness. That means that you or someone you know, a friend or a family member is or will be affected.

Unfortunately, the stigma attached to mental illness keeps many of those suffering from seeking help, even though mental illness is a real illness just like any other medical condition. If a loved one had diabetes you wouldn’t tell them that it’s all in their head and to get over it, you would take them to a clinic where they would be taught how to cope with the condition and, if necessary, get medication. The same needs to be done for those with mental illness.

There are many forms of mental illness, but the one with which I am most familiar is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). When you have a chronic illness in your family you become more familiar with it than most. Many people, when they hear the term OCD, think of a germaphobe who washes his hands constantly, but It is not as simple as that. Hand washing is only one of the compulsions with which the OCD sufferer may or may not be involved, there are many others which may include opening and closing doors, or turning on and off lights. Whatever it may be, the compulsion to repeat a specific action a certain number of times is preceded by persistent, unwanted, obsessive thoughts that trigger anxiety, leading to the compulsion. And it is not a matter of telling the OCD sufferer that it’s silly and to just stop it, they already know that it is illogical, but imbalances in their brain chemistry forces them to do it - imagine a skipping record.

At particularly tough times, when the OCD seems to be winning, the depression is enough to keep a person in bed all day. Concentration on everyday activities, when these other thoughts run through their mind all day, is not an easy thing. And the guilt of not being able to do the things expected of them negatively affects their self-worth. It is easy to see how it can make someone feel helpless and overwhelmingly sad and tired. Even thoughts of suicide are a possibility without help. But it can be treated. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and medication can help to control the symptoms, but rarely does it go away. It is not a cure, it is ongoing treatment and like insulin to the diabetic, it gives them the chance at a rewarding, happy life.
One of the major obstacles in the life of a person with mental illness is prejudice. We live in a society where many do not understand it, and ignorance of anything can lead to fear and ridicule. Placing a stigma on those with mental illness is no different than racism, homophobia or sexism. Once society understands that it is a legitimate illness, perspectives will change; as Oprah says, “When you know better, you do better.”
So, tomorrow morning, when you are out taking on the day, remember that not all disabilities can be seen and compassion toward everyone will go a long way.
*Mental Health week, May 1st-7th, 2011.*

Monday, April 25, 2011

You Ought To Be In Pictures


I am a snap happy photo fanatic. There. The first step toward recovery is admitting that you have a problem. I don’t know if I fear I will lose my memory or if it’s that I think my subjects are just so great that they deserve to be immortalized in pictures. Whatever the case, I cannot seem to stop flashing…my camera.
When I was a girl of twelve, I got my first camera. It was a small, cheap, rectangular type that needed a flash bulb and tower. (yes, I am THAT old) My cousin and I took a few black and white photos (yes...I am that old, as well) at her place and I thought it was the greatest thing. The next step was colour film. 
Unfortunately, that camera was not like the digital cameras of today where you can take as many pictures as you like and delete whichever ones are not up to par. Back then you had to be sure of which picture you wanted to take before you took it, because you didn’t want to waste the film. All cameras were film back in the day, and when you were twelve, it wasn’t cheap. I would save up my allowance just to buy film and then go out into the neighbourhood to see if there was anything interesting happening. I accumulated quite a few films before seeing how skilled a photographer I was...or was not, as it cost more money to get it developed. And there was no one hour waiting either, it took a week or more before you got the pictures. We definitely had more patience back then. Eventually, when I started making money babysitting, I upgraded to disposable cameras which, although more expensive, had built-in film and flash to make things much easier.
It was always a fun, exciting day when I picked up my developed pictures. You never knew what you were going to get. Some would turn out, some would be black and some you couldn’t remember where they were taken or what they were supposed to be. The odd time you would even get a roll that was double exposed, something you never get with digital cameras. Since most of my pictures were of family and neighbourhood kids, when I had extra money, I would get “double prints” to share.  They were usually just pictures of kids hanging out or playing football or baseball in my aunt and uncle's back field, but to me, they were…connection.
Looking back, I can see that my camera was a liaison between me and the others around me. I was shy and, as such, not a big talker, so taking photos and talking about the resulting pics was one way for me to stay involved. A couple of years back I posted a few of said photos on my Facebook  page, much to the delight and feigned chagrin of my old friends, creating connections once again.
These days my digital camera is my constant companion, as I carry it in my purse everywhere. Although some people may get exasperated by my incessant snapping and never-ending on-line album uploads, my addiction is, for the most part, harmless. No intervention needed. Besides, connecting with friends… old or new is not a bad thing. Just ask Mark Zuckerburg.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

God's Country

I took an unexpected trip to the Annapolis Valley Sunday afternoon. The rain was blowing in sideways and it was trying to convince the car to follow suit. Thankfully, it was unsuccessful in its attempt.  Although a wet, blustery day, I could not help but think how fortunate I was to live in such a beautiful place.
The closer I got to The Valley, the more certain I became that we were sliding down the backside of winter, (giving it a good swift kick on its way out) toward the warming embrace of summer.  I headed downhill along the drizzly highway 101, past the panorama of Blomidon, with its seemingly purple painted cliffs and turned off at exit 10 toward my final destination. This time of year, green is my favorite colour and there was plenty to be found just off the Harvest Highway. I have to say, I have a soft spot for Wolfville , as it is a beautiful little town, and in spring, when the tulips have forced themselves up through the fertile earth and the grass refuses to wait to show its true colours, raining or not, I can’t help but smile.  

I’m not saying that Wolfville is the single most beautiful place in Nova Scotia, far from it. I have travelled from one end of this province to the other, and have often said, “I could live here.” Since most of my travelling has been during the warmer months, with winter and its harsh climate nothing more than a repressed memory, I can only attest to their summertime appeal.
As far as cities go, to me, Halifax is the perfect size and provides many great amenities.  Museums, shopping, cruising on the harbour, walking along the waterfront or through Point Pleasant Park, an evening of fine dining and live theatre, whatever your fancy, you can find it in Halifax. But as much as I enjoy visiting the city, my heart belongs to the rural shoreline.
The Bay of Fundy is fabulous and unique. Twice a day its powerful tidal waters slowly blanket its bare mud-flat bottom and climb the rugged fossil cliffs, only to descend back down the escarpment to expose its secret past.  One of my favorite places is Five Islands Provincial Park. The drive just to get there is beautiful, and my anticipation escalates until those mountain cliffs come into sight. It never fails to bring an awe-inspired smile to my face. Once out on the mud-flats It’s almost a reversion to childhood as you feel the mud squish up between your toes while walking along the ocean bottom, and squealing with delight as the water squirts up into your face as you step next to a clam hole or sink past your ankle in the mud.  And after the bay fills, another completely new vista presents itself for your awe and admiration. (As a side note, tidal river rafting is something not to be missed.)
But with all that the Bay has to offer, nothing draws me in like a swimming beach. I could never understand how anyone could sit on a beach all day and never set foot in the water.  It’s not a day at the beach unless you have “pruned” up. My goal is to eventually stick my feet into the surf of every beach on this little peninsula.  I’ve made quite a dent in the list to date, but I still have plenty to go.
 Melmerby Beach, just outside of New Glasgow is my closest beach of choice. If you get to “The Merb” at just the right time, the waves are perfect for body surfing. However, If you have small children Caribou/ Monroes Island outside of Pictou, or Rushtons down the road from Tatamagouche  might be more suitable. There have been moments swimming at Caribou when the water has been so calm that it seemed as though I was gliding through glass, and the marshlands around Rushtons are great for birdwatching. The Amherst shore is also close enough for a wonderful day trip.
Travelling a little farther from home, the South shore has many beautiful, sandy swimming spots. Martinique Beach near Musquodobit Harbour and Bayswater Beach in Blandford are two beaches that I frequent often. Rissers Beach near Bridgewater is also a gorgeous area. Keep in mind that I rate swimming beaches according to surf and sand quality.
Due to the restriction of time, most other spots that I have visited have been a onetime deal, but if I have to pick a favorite beach from each end of the province, the two that immediately come to mind are Port Maitland Beach outside of Yarmouth and Black Brook Beach on the Cabot Trail. Although Port Maitland is a bit on the chilly side, it is one of the most gorgeous beaches I’ve ever seen and Black Brook’s great waves are fun for boogie boarding or body surfing.
As the warm weather draws ever closer, and the trees start budding, I find my beach bag has begun beckoning to me. It will soon be time to stow it in the trunk – you never know when a swimming opportunity may present itself. I wonder what new cove or harbour awaits me this summer….

Monday, April 11, 2011

Knocking On Heaven's Door

"Out, out brief candle…” ~ William Shakespeare
Funerals are interesting experiences. If it’s for a loved one it is an emotionally draining time. If it’s for someone you haven’t seen in a while, you feel sad and may wish that you had kept in touch. If it’s for a friend’s loved one, you feel bad for your friend and hope that they get through the ordeal of the day without completely falling apart. And when you see people at possibly the worst time of their lives, what do you say?  “I’m so sorry for your loss.”, although true, sounds so trite. It may seem morbid to talk about death, but it is going to happen sooner or later to all of us. It’s not my intent to upset anyone; I’m just stating a fact.
The reasons for attending a funeral can vary. You may go to honour the life of the deceased, to say your good-bye to a loved one, to see relatives you haven’t seen in a while or to support the bereaved during their time of grief. Whatever the reason for attending, it is usually a very somber affair. But there are exceptions.   
Is it a bad thing to smile at a funeral? I think not. I recently attended a funeral where family members recounted memories of the deceased that brought smiles to the mourner’s faces (including mine) and even evoked a few chuckles, and displayed pictures of happier times with loved ones. I think it was a beautiful tribute.
As I leave a funeral, I always find myself thinking of the others who have gone forth to that “undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveler returns”.  The difference with this funeral is that afterward I found myself smiling and feeling grateful for those people who had been in my life.
As I think about my own mortality, it bothers me to think of my loved ones sorrowfully shuffling past my empty shell. I have decided that a “viewing” is not something that I would appreciate, once I “shuffle off this mortal coil”. Instead, I would much rather have every useable part of my remains donated to science and anything left over cremated and sprinkled over a cliff into the crashing surf.(I would love to spend eternity in the sea.) I realize that my loved ones may feel the need for a memorial service, and that would please me, but for God’s sake, none of that “Ashes to ashes ...” He has heard all of that before. Instead, just say “Here she comes, God!” That’s all that’s really needed; He already knows what’s in my soul.
I have no problem with spending a few minutes of quiet reflection or prayer, but I sincerely hope that instead of dwelling on my death, that my mourners spend some time celebrating my life and if anyone would like to get up to say good-bye, that would be fine as well, but instead of “Amazing Grace”, how about “For She WAS A Jolly Good Fellow” as a send off?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Ouch! I Bit My Mother Tongue!

OMG! Have you heard? FYI, the Oxford English Dictionary has a few new entries and, LOL, three of them are the previously mentioned internet acronyms!  You may want to tell your BFF, but, IMHO, it may be TMI.
What is happening to the art of communication? Formality in the English language seems to be becoming a thing of the past.
Linguistic expression, as the world, is in a constant state of transformation. Many who read Shakespeare do not understand, or appreciate, the vernacular of that day, and you will find few who take the time to embrace the fluidity of a Jane Austin novel. Two centuries ago letters home took on the importance of a memoir, as time and distance deemed it necessary to pour your whole life and sentiment into each dispatch. The flowery language penned by a loved one was inhaled as deeply as any fragrant blossom.
Even television journalism has lost some of its magic as cookie-cutter newscasters spew the same, overused catch-phrases with smiles on their beautiful faces. Where are all of the broadcasters with clever, engaging style, like that of the late Edward R. Murrow whose words flowed as beautifully and as passionately as the brush strokes of Monet?
I don't know if it's lack of time or interest, but in this brave new world of text messaging and carbon copy newscasting, to me, communication has become more graffiti than an art form. Although some might argue that graffiti is an art form, literarily speaking, I am referring to the classics as opposed to, "There once was a girl from Nantucket..."
 It is a grievous thought that the English language, as we know it, will soon pass into the afterlife and the reincarnation will bare only a slight resemblance to our mother tongue, as a series of letters and unintelligible computer symbols fill the illuminated screen. Optimistically, this will not take place until long after my demise. Realistically, the transformation has already begun, as curt, abbreviated text messages staring back from our cell phones replace the human connection of the personal call. And as the word 'you' has replaced 'thou', the inevitable next step on the linguistic evolutionary ladder will be 'yo'.
Perhaps, instead of lamenting the failing health of a beloved language, I should embrace the new 'accepted' slang of the younger generation; after all, I am nothing if not open-minded.  So, instead of bidding you a fond ado, my friend, I will simply state "TTYL...homey."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Perfect!







Everyone has their own idea of a perfect day. Mine would begin with a walk along a sunny beach, my feet pulling through the surf as it rolled onto the shore, the cool sea-spray splashing up my legs and quickly drying in the warm breeze, leaving only the salty mask tightening on my skin. The noon hour would find me lounging on a blanket with a picnic lunch as I dig my toes into the sun-baked sand, listening to the roar of greeting between sea and shore, and watching as the gulls fight over a crust of bread.  The afternoon would be spent playing in the waves, body surfing. There’s nothing like catching a great wave. A barbeque supper would follow, it wouldn’t matter what meat, but the veggies would have to be grilled as well. And this perfect day would end with a cozy campfire, complete with s’mores.
That would be my perfect day, but, of course, it would not be everyone’s perfect day. Your preference may be a day on the ski hill, four-wheeling through the desert, or just relaxing at home…which brings me to my point. Perfection is relative.
Whether it’s a day, a book, or a painting, everyone has their own thoughts on perfection. I’ll even go farther than that and say there is no such thing as real perfection, only perceived perfection. In fact, even what you perceive as perfection may be slightly flawed, but you choose, consciously or sub-consciously, to blind yourself to the imperfection, thus, rendering it seemingly perfect.
Example: My walk on the beach may include me stepping on a sharp shell, seagull droppings landing on my picnic blanket, or (and most likely) water going up my nose as I turn into an oncoming wave. But even with its lack of “real” perfection, to me, there is nothing better than that day.
The same goes for the people in our lives. We all know that people are not perfect, but we will, sometimes, choose to look past the flaws in them. Or better yet, embrace their flaws as a part of what makes them unique, as it is the sum of your all your qualities which make you a “perfect” you. In actuality, I am thankful for the lack of perfection; how very boring life would be without mistakes.  And It’s our flaws that differentiate us from one another, and that is one of the joys of life; variety.
So, I’ll take the nose full of seawater and the gull droppings on my perfect day, after all, I’m certainly not perfect, myself. The proof of that is in the URL for this blog - It has an extra “l” in it. I’m not sure how that happened, but when I noticed, I decided not to fix it. It’s perfect in its imperfection…just like me.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Extremely Super



I was mooned, last night.  Okay, cheap laugh. What I mean is that I ventured outside to take in the beautiful view of the full moon…sorry, I mean “supermoon”…no, it was even better than that, it was an extreme supermoon, which simply means the point at which the full or new moon is at its lunar perigee, or closest to the Earth. But at 356,577 km away, last night’s moon may not have seemed close to us, but in celestial terms, it just took one small step toward us in its monthly dance around the Earth.
The moon, being our closest neighbor, seems to hold the greatest fascination of all celestial bodies. Many tales have been told to explain the phases of the moon, eclipses, blood moons, and yes, super moons. And it has been blamed for natural disasters, acts of lunacy, and affairs of the heart.
It is a scientific fact that the moon’s gravitational pull affects the Earth’s tides, (That in itself makes me a fan of the moon.) but is it strong enough affect us directly?
What does that extreme supermoon last night mean? Nothing, really, except maybe some higher tides, although, there are some, astrologers in particular, who read much into celestial events. And those who follow these soothsayers believed last night’s event would create a world full of hurt. Sorry to disappoint you….
Of course most of us are not inclined to believe such dire premonitions, as deadlines for the end of the world have come and gone many times. But since the beginning of our sentience, mankind has been fascinated by the night sky and how it affects our little blue planet and its inhabitants. For mankind, it was the lure of the unknown which began the search for answers to the events happening around him - everyone loves a mystery -  and when it couldn’t be explained scientifically, due to lack of knowledge, it’s the imagination which raced to find a satisfactory conclusion. Constellations were not only given names, but stories to explain how they got there, and a whole pseudo-science was built around them and other celestial bodies. I have to admit that, as a teenager, I owned a book on astrology and used it to see if my friend’s personalities matched their signs, but that was all in fun.
To an astrologer the moon holds a part of our destiny within its grasp. To an astronomer, a full moon is simply a lunar phase that occurs when the moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun. To a poet, it might mean the life spring from which all romance flows.  Whatever your theories on the moon’s effects one thing can’t be denied, it is beautiful and everyone likes to be mooned…er, you know what I mean.

Monday, March 14, 2011

What’s In A Name?

When I was young, I didn’t like my name. There were no other kids in school named Shannon, (or Shanny as I was known in my early years) and some people could not seem to get it right, as I was called Shauna, Sammy and even Shane. I looked up the meaning in a baby book once, hoping it meant graceful or angelic, or something to make me feel that it wasn’t all bad. Instead, I found out it meant “old wise one." Just what every young girl likes to hear. Eventually, I grew to embrace it, and I figured it’s only a name, and what’s in a name? But upon deeper reflection I realize that, sometimes, there can be a lot in a name.
Shakespeare once said, “That which we call a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet.” This may be true of roses, but roses are not blessed with self awareness or the ability to internalize those “other” names which are capable of changing the sweet to sour.
Many kids in my old neighbourhood had nicknames, and I saw no problem with that, when they were welcomed nicknames. In fact, nicknames can sometimes be empowering, depending upon their meanings. But when they are the other nicknames, the unwelcomed nicknames, the hurtful, crippling name calling that can crush you, that is a huge problem.
I’m no psychologist, nor have I done any studies on bullying, so I can only speak of what I’ve observed over the years.
Contrary to the cliché, sticks and stones are not the only things that can hurt you. Names, the mean-spirited kind, can destroy your self-esteem and change your perception of your place in the world. There are many factors involved in determining to what degree someone internalizes this type of abuse and, of course, a person’s inherent personality is a huge factor. If you have a strong, self-confident, nature you may be able to get quickly past the hurt that these labels create and, perhaps, even fight back. But the quiet, sensitive, non-confrontational victims are easier to intimidate and put down.
Bullies, searching for a way to feel powerful, tend to seek out these less difficult targets, but when that momentary power trip ends, and their own insecurities begin to resurface, the bully needs another fix, and, unfortunately, they return to the tried and true victim and reopen the old wounds. Whether it happens between children or whether the names come from an adult, the aftereffects can last a lifetime and in the most devastating of circumstances, cut a life short.
I realize that bullying comes in many forms, and that physical forms of abuse are more apparent to the outsider. I also know that name calling is something that all kids do at one time or another, even if it’s as simple as calling a sibling dumb or ugly just once. But if you are told something often enough, without someone countering that negativity, you begin to believe it and a broken spirit can be much more painful than a broken bone.
So, what’s in a name? Plenty. But name calling is certainly nothing that is going to go away. There will always be ignorant, hateful, and fearful people who find satisfaction in making someone feel as badly as themselves. But in our own lives, we can help to curtail the propagation of this act by be mindful of what we say and how we label others, and by teaching our children to try to put themselves in the other person’s shoes before they speak. And there are always those empowering names we can use to help to rebuild a child’s’s self-esteem. Who knows, you could end up becoming that child’s hero. Now there’s a welcomed label .
However you feel about you own name, I hope that the next time you write it you think about the power that names possess and the people  whose lives you can influence just by the way in which you choose to wield that power.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Players


How many of you played make-believe as a child? I think it’s a safe bet to say that most of you did. The number of towels and pillowcases used as capes, over the years, probably runs well into the millions. And who can forget the beautiful princesses costumed in their mothers’ old party dresses, and boys, thrilled to find a broken tree branch with just the right offshoot to make it the perfect rifle?  And whether you were a superhero, a soldier or a princess, your imagination would transport you to another time or place. In my neighbourhood, backyards became battlefields, where the guttural sounds of exploding grenades and gunfire resonated from the throats of every pint sized soldier boy.  Old discarded scrap wood was perfect for constructing forts; ground level, as well as in trees. Our minimalist tree fort consisted only of a platform and railing, but what made it “cool” was the rope swing. What else did we need, besides imagination? We had the world…and beyond. How fun was that.
Unfortunately, most children’s affinity for make-believe diminishes, little by little, with each passing year, until, eventually it gets shoved aside and only rarely permitted out to sneak a peek into our rational, responsible, mature lives. However, if you are among the fortunate few, it will refuse to be stifled completely, and evolves into a more organized interpretation of that superhero or princess. It’s called amateur theatre.
Amateur theatre is much like playing – thus the use of the word players in reference to actors – not only do you get to make-believe you are someone else, but you get to build that fort…now called a set, and dress up…now called costumes. And you do it all just for the love of it.
As a teen, I had always loved theatre and the way it drew me into the story unfolding upon the stage, and had always wished I’d had the courage to audition for the school musicals. But my inner child was too shy to come out to play. As much as I had wanted to become a part of that world, feelings of inadequacy and fear of rejection held me back. I wasn’t ready to let go of my inhibitions and put myself out there for the world to see and criticize…nor did I think I ever would. Performing is not for the faint of heart.
Then, one day, not long ago and not far away, something magical happened. I joined an amateur theatre group. It was life changing. I didn’t know it at the time - sometimes you don’t recognize things for what they are until much later – but it was. My introduction to amateur theatre began with a giant leap outside of my comfort zone, jolting that playful little girl inside and reawakening my creative spirit.
Ironically, my teenaged fears of being made to feel inadequate or to be rejected were far from realized. Instead, I felt an overwhelming feeling of acceptance and encouragement from these “poor players”, and I still look forward to “playing” during every rehearsal. I don’t know if everyone feels as much of a kinship toward their fellow actors, or if I just lucked out, but not only have I made some great friends to play with, on and off the stage,  but a few have even become some of my favorite people.
If you’ve never experienced the world of amateur theatre, I encourage you to step out of the box and release your inner child. In other words, I’m asking, “Do you want to come out to play?”