Unresolved

fireworksI don’t like to make New Year’s resolutions. Well, not officially. To be honest I’m always making resolutions. The only thing special about the New Year’s ones is the timing. The fact is, I am constantly making myself promises I fail to keep. I will eat less cheese and more salad. I will spend more time walking and less time on FaceBook. I will accomplish some great project instead of frittering away the evening watching YouTube.

You know how it goes. Really, the only resolution that I should ever make is to stop making myself unrealistic promises. But that, ironically, would just be an unrealistic promise.

So tonight, as I prepared to flip the calendar page to a new year, I decided it was time to rethink the whole resolution thing. Time to write some resolutions that will last past the first week of February. Time to get real.

So here goes. In 2016:

  1. I will screw up lots. I will make less-than-perfect decisions and do things that annoy my children and my co-workers. It won’t be for want of trying to get it right, but because I’m human. And that’s just fine.
  2. I will want some things I can’t have, get some things I didn’t know I wanted, and in general end up with what I need, even though I don’t always know what that is until I have it.
  3. I will learn new things about myself and work really hard at trying to put those things into the words I need to explain them to those around me.
  4. I will try to wear shoes that make my feet happy.
  5. I will eat too much dark chocolate and not regret it. Because actually, is there such a thing as too much dark chocolate?
  6. I will read great books, and feel like I should read more.
  7. I will visit with great friends, and feel like I should spend more time with them.
  8. I will write, and it will never feel like enough.
  9. I will keep resolving to make changes, both small and large.
  10. I will only succeed at making some of these changes, but I will keep resolving the others over and over nonetheless. And that, too, is because I’m human, and is also just fine.

And life will continue to be all the surprising and astonishing and mostly wonderful things that happen while I am stubbornly and naively making other plans.

Happy New Year!

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Fifty (plus) Things of Happy: an exercise in Gratitude for the Longest Night

I owe this post to the inspiration of one of my favourite bloggers, Fish of Gold. The instructions for this challenge are as follows:

If you’d like to join in, here’s how it works: set a timer for 10 minutes; timing this is critical. Once you start the timer, start your list (the timer doesn’t matter for filling in the instructions, intro, etc). The goal is to write 50 things that made you happy in 2015, or 50 thing that you feel grateful for. The idea is to not think too hard; write what comes to mind in the time allotted. When the timer’s done, stop writing. If you haven’t written 50 things, that’s ok. If you have more than 50 things and still have time, keep writing; you can’t feel too happy or too grateful! (OK I confess my time may have been a bit off the 10 minutes because I was interrupted in the middle, but you get the idea…)

To join us for this project: 1) Write your post and publish it (please copy and paste the instructions from this post into yours) 2) Click on the blue frog at Tales From The Motherland  3) That will take you to another window, where you can past the URL to your post. 4) Follow the prompts, and your post will be added to the Blog Party List. Please note: the InLinkz will expire on January 15, 2016. After that date, no blogs can be added.

Please note that only blog posts that include a list of 50 (or an attempt to write 50) things that made you feel Happy or 50 things that you are Grateful for, will be included. Please don’t add a link to a post that isn’t part of this exercise; I will remove it. Aside from that one caveat, there is no such thing as too much positivity. Share your happy thoughts, your gratitude; help us flood the blogosphere with both.

In latter years, I have begun to feel the cosmic turning point of the winter solstice as a more fitting start for the “new year” that the arbitrary turning of the calendar page that takes place on January 1st. The solstice is, after all, nature’s new year. The day the days begin to lengthen towards the spring. It has been so unseasonably warm here this fall that it seems a bit odd to think of the days returning when we have scarcely gotten started on winter, but still it is nice to look forward to the day when we don’t both arrive at and depart from work in darkness.

When I came across this challenge on Fish of Gold’s blog this evening, it seemed like a fitting way to mark the turning of the sun towards a new year.

So here I go with my list of things that made me happy in 2015.

  1. helpful catDark chocolate
  2. Raspberries
  3. My kids
  4. My sisters
  5. My mom
  6. All my nieces and nephews.
  7. The rest of my amazing and slightly wacky extended family.
  8. My cat, even if she is evil incarnate.
  9. forestWalking.
  10. Trees
  11. Walking in the trees.
  12. Listening to my sister sing.
  13. Writing—just about anything.
  14. Young adult science fiction. Yes, really.
  15. Anything at all by Margaret Atwood.
  16. school booksTeaching teachers.
  17. Making collages.
  18. Making pie.
  19. Making chocolate chip banana muffins for my niece.
  20. My sister’s Facebook statuses.
  21. My other sister’s impromptu dinner parties.
  22. The call of a loon.
  23. Any body of water larger than a mudpuddle.
  24. Houseplants that don’t ask a lot of me.
  25. Creative coworkers.
  26. A manager who makes things happen so that I can get things done.
  27. Good butter chicken.
  28. Coffee with a good friend.
  29. Lunch with a good friend.
  30. Dinner with a good friend.
  31. Heck, just all the good friends. Old and new.
  32. Brilliant musical theatre.
  33. The sense of accomplishment I felt from driving all the way home from Toronto by myself.
  34. red bootCousins.
  35. Small indulgences.
  36. Red wine with spinach pizza. (see above.)
  37. Anything that involves Feta cheese.
  38. Not having lymphoma (long story!)
  39. My artificial hip.
  40. Jeans that fit.
  41. Red boots.
  42. Shedding my mortgage.
  43. Rocking chairs. Just in general.
  44. Did I mention trees?
  45. And water?
  46. And trees by the water?
  47. My favourite black shirt.
  48. Tattoos.
  49. backClassic videos on YouTube.
  50. Used bookstores.
  51. The full moon on a clear night.

Happy Solstice!

Welcome Home

 airport escalatorA few year ago, when the design for Winnipeg’s new airport terminal was in the consultation phase, the citizens of the city spoke fervently about not wanting to lose the iconic escalator where they had greeted their loved ones for decades. The design team took heed, and replicated the escalator in the design for the new terminal. Everyone who arrives on a domestic flight makes a grand entrance at the top of this escalator, and hopes to be met by someone special waiting at the bottom. The escalator is, in many ways, Winnipeg’s official symbol of coming home.

Today it was my daughter coming home—back in town after four months away at school. She was excited to be coming back to reconnect with friends and family over her holiday break. I was equally excited to be meeting her.

I like airports. I like people watching in airports. I like the shiver of anticipation that vibrates through the crowd—the undercurrent of anxious excitement that swirls around those who are coming and going and waiting.

Of course the problem with people is, well, some of them are better company than others. I sat down on a bench to wait and was promptly subjected to overhearing a racist tirade by the middle aged white woman across from me–something about aboriginal Christmas Hamper recipients who “take advantage.”

I wish I was better at delivering snappy comebacks to strangers. As usual, I just felt silently ill.

I’ve been immersed of late in the reports of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission—struggling to wrap my head around the appalling manner in which the first residents of this land were treated by a group of newcomers. Wearing my lifelong privilege with increasing discomfort. Finding myself more and more intolerant of intolerance.

airport arrivalsUnwilling to remain in earshot of my racist neighbour any longer, I vacated the bench to wander the increasingly crowded waiting area. Evidently someone else of significance was expected at the top of that escalator. By the time the arrival board announced that the plane had landed, the waiting area at the foot of the escalator was filled with TV cameras, reporters with microphones, and people holding up “Welcome to Canada” signs.

My daughter was one of the early ones off the plane and down the escalator, and we watched together as her celebrity travelling companions made their grand entrance—a Syrian refugee family arriving to be greeted by their Manitoba sponsors.

airport drummersAnd then, out of the crowd emerged the drummers. I had read earlier that, across Canada, Indigenous people were making plans to extend a special welcome to the newcomers. Still, witnessing it first hand caught me off guard. I fought back tears as the group of women stood at the foot of the escalator and drummed and sang a welcome ceremony, their chants echoing through the massive arrival hall.

Welcome home. Everyone.