Look to the Sky

I left work late tonight, as is often the case these days. But I guess the days are indeed getting longer, because instead of being dark the sky was full of brilliant tiger stripes of colour – pink and red and orange and wisps of blue. The city skyline was a barely lit silhouette, and at the end of the wash of colour was the outline of the mountains and a brilliant, golden glare as the sun started to sink behind the horizon. It was incredible. Stop-to-take-a-picture incredible. (But of course no picture I could take would ever do it justice.)

I breathe deeply when I see sunsets like that (even if I’m in my car). And in doing so I pause, sometimes just figuratively and often just for a moment, and think about something other than what I have to do next.

brick wall

Your comments on my post about missing inspiration were interesting. Good interesting, even though I don’t agree with many of you, including my mother. (Sorry, mom.)

Here’s the thing: I like that wide open space of a new year. I love the anything-is-possible feeling. I thrive on change and possibility and new. Day-to-day life gets boring pretty fast, and if I don’t have something to jolt me into a new perspective I will blink and 20 years will have gone by and my small boys will be big and all I will remember is how much laundry I did.

That is not how I wish to live my life.

I realized, upon reading (and railing against) some of those comments on that last post, that I don’t necessarily want some huge, gigantic goal and I’m not really looking for change. But I also don’t want to let life just happen. I prefer living with intention.

That’s why I’ve chosen one word as a guide post for the last few years. It’s why I have a life list and why I breathe in sunsets.

Northern lights in night sky

So where does that leave me? I’m not sure yet. I will probably start by committing to my one word for 2014 (and sharing it here). I’m going to make some changes to my day-to-day focus and schedule. I’m going to move away from feeling stuck in the everydayness of wake/feed children/commute/work/commute/feed children/put children to bed/walk dog/do dishes/fold laundry/repeat.

I’m going to look to the sky. And see where it takes me.

Explore: Life in Pictures, Vol. 6

The end of 2013 whipped by. Last time I did a photo update on my word for last year we were finishing summer and transitioning into kindergarten and I was getting ready to go back to work. And now it’s 2014. January 7 already. Before I know it May will be here again and the snow will be gone and 2013 will seem very far away. So here’s the end of the year in pictures.

I didn’t do much in the way of exploring, at least not in the traditional sense. But we hit some milestones and had some fun, and I guess that’s what it’s supposed to be about anyway.

Someone turned one.

eating-cake

You would think he didn’t like his birthday cake.

cake-ick

But you’d be wrong. He devoured that piece.

cake-bite

It was a good birthday. The last first.

birthday-paper

Christmas came even though I wasn’t ready, as predicted.

Christmas-cards

It was fairly low-key – a rare thing in my family. But we did the obligatory (and enjoyable) things. Now I just need to clear the detritus from my living room. (I did mention that it’s January 7, didn’t I?)

zoolights

We had a cold snap in there too. A very, very cold snap. Did you know you could get ice an inch thick on the inside of your windows? In Alberta you can.

ice-window

But winter is beautiful. At least I think so.

winter-sun

So we took advantage of it.

green-coats

We walked, and found signs of beauty and love.

bridge-locks

Winter lasts for a long time here, but sometimes you just have to throw yourself into it and become one with the snow. (Literally, even.)

sledding

He looks like he’s not enjoying himself (or maybe he just thinks the hat is goofy) but he had a blast. Deep snow is apparently quite fun when you’re one.

snowsuit

We had some losses…

lost-tooth

…but many more wins.

sunset

And so ended 2013.

#iPPP is back for 2014! Join Greta from Gfunkified and I for #iPPP (iPhone Photo Phun), a weekly link-up that requires nothing more than a blog post with a photo from a phone camera (any phone camera, not just iPhones). We want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favourite phone photos of the week. 

Crazy Runs and Mountains

One lovely summer evening, my friend Tamara and I were running by the river. Tamara, you should know (because it’s relevant to this story), is a little bit crazy. She runs crazy races in crazy costumes and thinks nothing of getting up crazy early on a Saturday or Sunday morning to run 10k.

I should have kept this in mind when registering for a race she told me about.

Alas, I didn’t think about any of that (which might have been because she bought me ice cream after that run by the river). Instead all I heard was “Banff” and “night race” and “glow sticks.” I heard “five miles” and mentally translated that to 8k and decided all of those factors added up to a race that I should register for. I’d get to run in the mountains in one of my favourite towns, it would be my first night race, and the distance was just enough to push me to run a little bit more than I had been. So I registered, booked us into a hotel for the weekend, and considered myself quite adventurous.

Somewhere between registering and race weekend I started thinking of the race as 5k (instead of five miles), and it wasn’t until I was talking to a co-worker last week about our weekend plans that I remembered. “Um, isn’t that race five miles?” she asked. “Um, shit,” I thought. Yes. Yes, it is. Ah well. I’m sure it will be fine, I figured.

Racers in the dark near the start line

Racers in the dark near the start line

And then race day came and we headed out of town. My mom (who always manages to catch these things) saw on Twitter that the race course had been changed because there was a Grizzly on the original course (and I don’t know about you but I certainly don’t want to be eaten by a large, hungry, male Grizzly who’s stocking up before hibernating for the winter). And I looked at the description of the race and realized the course had us running straight up a mountain road. The original course, which I hadn’t bothered to check because adventurous people don’t worry about these things, also had us running straight up a mountain road, but there was also, I think, more of an over-and-around element to the original course. The revised course was pretty much exactly straight up the mountain and then straight back down again.

Did I mention it was snowing?

It had snowed all day and I’d been up that mountain road many times before (by car, thank you very much) so I knew how long and steep it was (and how icy it would be coming back down) and I wondered what I had gotten myself into.

I couldn’t do much but ignore the butterflies in my stomach and put on my Yaktrax and see what happened.

Glow sticks going byRunners with glow sticks

What happened—the details—doesn’t really matter. It was part painful and part exhilarating, part dark and slippery and part beautiful. It went from a ridiculous-sounding idea to actually quite fun.

Mostly, it was a reminder that every once in a while we all need to do something just a little bit crazy.

 

I’m joining Greta from Gfunkified as co-host of #iPPP (or iPhone Photo Phun), a weekly link-up that requires nothing more than a blog post with a photo from a phone camera (any phone camera, not just iPhones). We want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favourite phone photos of the week. Link up below!

GFunkified

Things I Learned as Campaign Volunteer

The election in Calgary is over and I can’t say I’m sorry. The amount of vitriol spewed, on social media especially, was disheartening for this campaign newbie to see.

I volunteered (for the first time) with two campaigns – the campaign to re-elect Mayor Naheed Nenshi, and with my friend Misty Hamel’s campaign when she decided to run for public school board trustee. During this process I’ve learned a lot of  things that are relevant to both politics and life. (Maybe mostly the latter… Let me know what you think after reading this.) Here are five of those things:

1. Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and do it. 

The conversation about Misty running started months ago, but for a variety of personal reasons she only committed right before the nomination deadline. Despite running against an incumbent and someone who had been campaigning for years (who had connections and a significantly bigger bank account than we did), Misty dove head first into her campaign. She got the required signatures in two days, submitted her nomination papers, and bravely stood before the media to declare her candidacy. And then she started studying. She read stuff she needed to in order to be completely up to date on the issues, she learned more about the wards she would be representing, and she unabashedly joined the conversation. I’ve told her more than once that I couldn’t have done it, and I’m not just blowing smoke. I greatly admire how passionately and thoroughly she approached this endeavour.baby on the campaign trail

2. Everyone can contribute something.

Our group of friends includes those who are politically involved and savvy and those for whom the idea of door knocking incites tremendous fear, and yet no one hesitated to help out. We had people creating websites and Facebook pages, distributing flyers, and writing campaign material. Others repeatedly put the message out to their networks and went door knocking with Misty. People helped her prep for the candidates’ forum and went with her to provide moral support. The lesson: You don’t have to be politically savvy (or even interested) to be part of doing something good for your community.

3. Talk to people on social media like you would talk to them in real life. 

I am astonished, truly ASTONISHED, at the way some people talk to others on social media. Because Misty was an unknown with many great qualifications that happen not to include a background in education, certain people felt she was fair game. And those who supported her were called everything from stupid, liars, and cowards (for stating things that are true and publicly available in meeting minutes, no less) to “mean mommy bloggers.” They’re hiding behind screens and I dare them to say that to our faces. I doubt they would, but nevertheless if my children, years from now, saw my comments on social media I would want them to be proud of how I represented myself.

delivering campaign flyers4. Politics is about people, not politicians. 

I learned this on my first night of being involved in Nenshi’s campaign. He has a reputation as being a person more than a politician, and nothing I saw in supporting him suggested that wasn’t true (or that it was just for show). There are many ways we can inspire people, and being involved in a political campaign is no different. Remember the people. Treat them like people. It’s not that complicated.

The other thing about being involved with Misty’s campaign is that I got to work as a team with some women I love and admire and, politics aside, that was a really positive experience.

5. Whether you win or lose, you can still change the conversation. 

Nenshi won, Misty didn’t, but they both changed the conversation. Nenshi has been doing it for years, but Misty did it in under a month. She raised some valid points about the system she wants to be a part of and she challenged her opponents on things that matter. They both did it with humanity and heart.

And, after all, isn’t that what life is actually about?

Explore: Summer in Pictures (Vol. 5)

We had rain last week, cool after what seems like endless hot summer days. The water park in our community closed has closed. Fall is here.

But, oh, the summer was good.

Through no actual intent or forethought on my part, I planned my maternity leave perfectly. Going back to work in October (one more week! Already! How can that be?) is a beautiful thing. I had the summer to explore, play, and travel with my family. I think we made the most of it, and now I’ve had September to help with the transition to Kindergarten.

(And speaking of exploring, I’ve given up my Yummy Mummy Club blog. I just decided it’s time to focus elsewhere.)

In any case, I realized it’s been a while since my last one-word update and what I’ve been exploring, so this is a bit of a photo dump to share some parts of our summer.

We did a few different trips over the last few months.

rocky-mountain-lake

We went to the mountains. We looked way up at them, and we looked down at the world from their peaks.

Jasper-mountain

Finally, after much anticipation, we went to San Diego. We dipped our toes in the water.

san-diego-ocean

We played in the sand. (This is his “beach face.”)

Connor-beach-Coronado

Oh yes, we went there.

Legoland

And it was a hit.

Lego-car

San Diego is such a beautiful place.

lifeguard-station

One night after Ethan was asleep Connor and I went for a walk along the boardwalk. Well, I walked. He wanted to go in the stroller, which he very much does not fit in anymore, but we managed to get him all tucked in there. He hunched beneath the canopy, so quiet I hardly knew he was there. We walked, all along the boardwalk and out to the end of the pier. We got ice cream. It was lovely. The perfect evening.

san-diego-pier-sunset

Below is the view from our room on our last night. I wasn’t awake nearly late enough to fully appreciate it. (I love marinas.)

Yes, San Diego was great. (We even got to visit Tonya.)

san-diego-marina

We also visited our best friends.

best-buds

And got in touch with dinosaurs.

dinosaur-hand

We went Stampeding.

stampede-barrel-race

And even dressed the part.

stampede-with-Ethan

We camped. (This is his “hi!” face.)

Ethan-camping

And we went to farmers’ markets.

Fruit1

Lots of ‘em.

fruit2

Yes, it was good.

baby-sunglasses

How was your summer?

Linked up with iPPP.