Saturday, January 23, 2010

“Help Your Child to Wonder”

This was the title of an article David Suzuki referred to in a piece I read today about the benefits of outdoor schooling for kids.

“Think of how much more interesting and valuable math would be if it were made less abstract by relating it to natural phenomena, such as calculating the height of a tree,” he suggested (Outdoor Schooling has Many Benefits, 2009, David

It’s a concept worth hanging on to, in an age of computer games and other mediums that are creating more of a pull indoors. Playing outside is seemingly becoming a distant norm. I’ve even heard of schools canceling recess…Can you imagine?

Coincidently, I stood outside for almost an hour (and while in desperate need of a coffee) watching my three year old daughter play in the snow today. It was so magical for her - falling in it, throwing it in the air (and at me), trying to make a mini-sized snowman on her own, in addition to adding snow and eyes to the sad looking and half melted one we made a while ago. It was all I could do to get her in the house – lots of fuss – for the sake of playing in the snow.

Nature is so profound in many simple ways. It gives us so much, and I’m one of those who are in awe of its many wonders. I agree with David about getting our kids outside in nature to explore. And it’s not even that I have much time to do so – but I try. We live in a beautiful environment – and I cherish it tremendously.

So, I also appreciate this quote he cited by the late Rachel Carson, “If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow.”

Do we pave the way for a future of facts and figures or a sense of wonder? How about a little bit of both? It’s food for thought I guess – something to think about - as our children are spending less time outdoors, yet are the future determinant of the survival of our environment.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

At the Other End of the Spectrum: The Power of Technology

A few days ago, I expressed concern about whether we’re isolating ourselves in favor of communication technology (“Communication Mediums or Human Contact…?”). And although I maintain concern in this regard, and hope we can hold steadfast to each other – on a personal level – I also appreciate the opportunities that technology provides.

Sometimes it amazes me about how much we can do. I can connect with other people in the world that are passionate about similar issues that I am, have the opportunity to learn about and appreciate things that are important to people I’ve never met, stay in touch with people I care about that live far away, have a variety of clever networking opportunities at my fingertips, be aware of what’s happening in the world (outside of watching the news on television), and so much more. It’s no small feat - it’s ingenious – and we’ve come a long way.

I value the tremendous opportunities that technology provides (even though I’m still concerned about the demise of human contact). It opens many doors and enriches our lives in so many ways - a very powerful tool indeed.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How to Mend a Broken Heart…

“I wish I could hold him one more time,” I thought as I broke down and cried, yet again, for my beloved dog of 12 ½ years.

For those of you that haven’t had pets – you may not get the pain of losing one.

For those of you that have – I feel that you’ll understand the turmoil involved with the loss of an animal that you loved and that loved you unconditionally.

It’s excruciatingly painful. And as dramatic as that may sound – the feelings are real.

He’s everywhere I look around my home, inside and outside. And today, I gave his unused food to the animal shelter – a feat in itself.

I won’t go on, even though I could – go on and on about the dreadful ordeal of having to euthanize an animal that I loved tremendously (it would be more of a book read, than a blog).

I will say that the bond between a pet and its owner is a very deep one. Pets depend on us like children do – to meet all of their needs (emotionally and physically). And we depend on their loyalty, love and constant companionship.

I’ll miss my best friend dearly, and hope that the pain will get better. Right now it’s very hard.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Haiti: What’s a Person to do?

I still have the image of a woman’s face staring out from a pile of rubble, as rescuers uncovered her, in a show I watched today that highlighted some of the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti.

The conditions were described as being “like a sewer,” by a journalist there, and it showed one area with people ravaging through tons of empty boxes – literally throwing them in the air - in hopes of finding food that may have been missed.

In addition to the issue of getting enough food and water to the people, there’s concern about looting and violence now too.

There’s so much devastation and people being impacted, on so many levels, that it’s somewhat overwhelming trying to figure out how I – only one person – can help.

At the moment, I can only think of contributing with a donation to a reputable organization, such as Red Cross, and hope that it holds true that every little bit helps.

Otherwise, I’ll just have to stay tuned as much possible about the situation, and maybe will find more ways to contribute as the situation progresses (apparently there’s a lot of overlap with the help their receiving). But somehow, I feel like this isn’t enough.

But apparently, this is a situation that is going to take years to recover from – it’s said that Haiti is going to have to be rebuilt. So, there will be plenty to do during that time, on many levels. And I hope that they will have continued support for as long as they need it, because they desperately do.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Joy of Dancing

“The neck bone’s connected to the shoulder bones… The shoulder bone’s connected to the back bone… The back bone’s connected to the hip bone…” And on the song went as my three year old daughter and I danced to our hearts content – marching, turning, waving our arms and laughing.

It’s those great simple things that just seem to hit you out of the blue, and remind you that you’re alive and well. It’s amazing how such a simple little thing, like dancing with your toddler, can make you feel so joyful and like everything in the world is ok.

I cherish those moments, and realize at the time that I should (oops – that rigid word again) do it more often.

It’s amazing how being caught up in the moment, with something we really enjoy, can be a great reminder to do things we value more often. I wish that reminder would hit me in the morning – things I can do to feel happy – before I get entangled in a day of “to do” stuff.

I guess the best I can do for now is appreciate the fun times when they happen, and be available as much as possible, to have many more with my little one. So, at the very least, I have something to look forward to.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Communication Mediums or Human Contact…?

Upon losing myself in research lately about societal issues, a common theme that stood out for me was the imperative role that our communities play regarding our overall health and future. And I’ve found myself somewhat preoccupied about where we’re headed.

We’ve made great strides in terms of our rights as individuals and groups (although there’s always room for improvement), and have progressed tremendously with our many technological advances. But are we moving too fast in this regard?

Technology is amazing (hence this blog), and it’s allowing us to do things we wouldn’t have imagined only a few short years ago. For this, I am grateful! But what worries me is the thought of swinging too far to the end of the pendulum - advancing too much on the technical end - and being so overly preoccupied with our communication mediums or gadgets, to the point of minimal personal contact.

I’ve read studies about the widespread of loneliness and social isolation. It’s a profound issue in society today, which is pretty scary, considering how our advances in communication technology are supposed to be a tool to help us stay connected with each other. But our gadgets can only take us so far.

I’m hoping there isn’t a correlation between our increased preoccupation with gadgets, and less personal interactions and one-on-one time with each other.

Hopefully this isn’t where we’re headed – socially isolated (and lonely) technical junkies. But I guess we’ll see soon enough, the extent to which we value our gadgets more than spending time with each other. Only time (in addition to how we spend it) will tell.

I Love This Quote

“There comes a time when you have to stand up and shout:
This is me damn it! I look the way I look, think the way I think, feel the way I feel, love the way I love! I am a whole complex package. Take me... or leave me. Accept me - or walk away! Do not try to make me feel like less of a person, just because I don't fit y...our idea of who I should be and don't try to change me to fit your mold. If I need to change, I alone will make that decision. When you are strong enough to love yourself 100%, good and bad - you will be amazed at the opportunities that life presents you” (Stacey Charter, 2009,

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Years: The Allotted Time for the Weight Loss Band Wagon

Come the first week of January, television shows are brimming with ideas about weight loss – the hype is all about losing those extra pounds gained over the holidays.

Do we really gain that much weight in the span of a few weeks? And do we really need lifestyle re-hauls and new “eating plans” at this time of year, or are we products of good old commercialism?

I’m all for making important changes where necessary, and believe that nothing should stand in our way, whether it be weight loss or otherwise. But why have an allotted time of year to do it?

Wouldn’t it seem that after the holidays – when the turkey (with all the trimmings) and treats are gone – that we’ll go back to our usual way of eating again? Do we really need a special “weight loss plan?”

As much as I value setting goals and taking care of ourselves, I guess I see it more of a lifestyle, rather than a seasonal band wagon to jump on. But that’s just me.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

“That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”

Many of us say this as a means to muster up strength during times of adversity – when we need to be strong to get through challenging times.

This phrase kept creeping up in my head last summer, as I was doing some gardening outside. I don’t even remember a specific reason for thinking of it, but I found myself reciting it over and over.

I know it’s been a challenging few years for me – significant deaths in the family, a birth of my daughter, a major back injury, and lots of day-to-day stuff in-between – enough that had built up, I guess, to tell myself that I’ll be stronger for it.

Someone I know recently cited this phrase to me, in reference to a serious incident that happened to them. It’s amazing how such a simple phrase can seem to help, especially when you think of the alternatives, such as, “why me…?”

I’m glad I choose the first phrase, and hope I can continue to stay strong as I continue to work through the many challenges life has to offer, especially as I enter into this New (and hopefully a little easier) Year.

Are We Still in a Recession, or Not?

It’s hard to know for sure whether we’re still in a recession. One week in July the front page of a newspaper read, “Recession Over!” in big, bold letters. The Bank of Canada (BoC) said we were bouncing back twice as strong as the United States, and that our economy has started to grow.

The next week, it seems they may have spoken to soon. Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty said it might be too soon to declare an end to the recession, indicating that the recovery is only “beginning.”

Fast-forward to September 10, and the BoC backs up its controversial statement that we are recovering, and faster than expected. Good news, right? Up until you hear Prime Minister Stephen Harper say the recession is only “technically” over… Which is it?

It’s enough to drive you insane. The experts are bouncing back and forth like a ping-pong ball. And they make recovery sound so easy and generalized - that everyone will come out of it and be ok.

Are companies going to bring back the people laid off or fired? Are the publications that folded all of a sudden going to re-appear? Are people going to magically get their homes back? Its one thing to listen to the technical explanations about how the changes will transpire and when, but it’s another thing to live it and see the reality of the impact of the recession.

The reality is that many companies have closed – forever, and thousands of people have been impacted very deeply. It’s sad to think of the degree of distress this recession has had on people, and in ways most of us probably don’t even realize.

It’s not just the lost jobs, houses, and other major disruptions and stressors that we’ve been faced with, there’s a ripple effect that runs much deeper than what we see, that has caused more scars than we’ll ever know, and that will take a long time to recover from, unlike the economy.

And this economic “bouncing back” is dependent on conditions, such as a generous government stimulus package and low interest rates. The goal is an increase in domestic activity and consumer spending.

While this sounds hopeful in some regards - such as our economic recovery occurring faster than expected – it’s still worrisome. Just how long is it going to take Canada to get to a healthier unemployment level - for the wheels to start turning - to a thriving economy again?

I wonder if hoping for things to be the same again is realistic…? Once companies have shut down, that’s it - the damage has been done. All losses can’t be re-couped. I worry about the recovery of some industries and the potential for growth again once they’ve been hit so hard.

Do consumers go back to purchasing the exact same things they did before after a recession, or do they hold back, think differently – maybe more cautiously – and put their hard earned money elsewhere?

Will we indulge in the same luxuries and to the same extent after this recession? Or will there be a shift in those that have suffered - putting some of their eggs in other baskets? It will be interesting to see what happens. I truly hope we come out “stronger” as they are predicting. But we’ll see.