A Funny Thing Happened on the Road to Success & Happiness…I Failed, I think?


I haven’t been on here for awhile, I know.

If you’ve followed this blog of mine, you’ll know I began writing it the day after I had a heart procedure.

The plan…practice writing daily and become a better writer!

And I must say, I did succeed in that endeavour.  I wrote my very first book, a memoir, and self-published it three years later.

I went through cancer and three jobs.   I gained a massive amount of weight due to the cancer treatment and just as I began to take control a vehicle accident occurred leaving a back injury that has pretty much shut down much of my physical activities.

And it seemed for a time that the rains of hell had found me. At the end of this,  depression ensued and engulfed me.  Much of what I was writing had a victim / poor me mentality to it…and I loathe this attitude in myself.

Thus I did not share and my posts on this forum began to dwindle.  Why should I post that which I despise about myself?

I have notebooks full of my pain.  Pages are lovely things, are they not?  They do not a question and you can express anything you want.  It is your choice to share, and I just could not.

I have people tell me how remarkable I am, what a lovely person I am. And you know, it is strange to hear this and impossible at times to believe this as I look in the mirror decidedly disgusted with who I am at the moment.

Yet it is the love of my friends and family that has allowed me to develop this patchwork heart of mine.  They can’t be wrong I insist to myself.  I must live up to whatever it is that they see that I don’t.

I get that the last five years or so have been tough. And I could well wax poetic on the injustice of it all.

I won’t.

Physical pain has become a daily thing that I manage. And yet I still get to enjoy the sunrise and the turning of the seasons.  I still have this wild imagination that is begging me to write the stories working through the passages of my mind.

I am blessed with the people that I call friends.  And it for them and my family who encourage and insist that somehow I matter that I push on, that I will work to honour not only myself but all those who’ve given me their love to hold always and forever in my heart that I must respect and nurture.

This is what I need to get me through the day.  All the mistakes and bad choices I’ve made recede.   I’ll get through this.

And yes, at times I feel like I’ve failed yet again.  But then I’m not even certain what it is I’m seeking other than some peace of my being.

To just say, I’m happy with who I am. I am complete.  How good would that be?!

I’ve come close at times, or at least I thought I did.   I work at being my authentic self, which I must say continues to reveal parts of me like that of an onion being revealed one thin layer at a time.

Still, gotta be honest to myself first and foremost.  At times it is hard as I take in the world today.  I remind myself that all I can do is walk through this world with the thoughts and ideas that may benefit who we are as a people and hope the love and appreciation I feel will spread.

I’m back.  Coming out of the dark recesses of depression.  Accepting once again that yes, I am a smart and genuine woman.  Accepting that I am a loving and giving individual.

Yup.  Well Namaste my friends.

Thanks for checking in, for following my ramblings. There will be more to come.  Have no doubt. And always I look forward to hearing from you.

Cheers!

 

 

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Education vs. Technology


These days I look at our education system with a deep sense of sadness and befuddlement.

What are the cornerstones of our educational base now?

At one point they were reading, writing & arithmetic .

Why are they no longer ‘teaching’ children these fundamentals?

They are not teaching children how to write any longer.  They are not teaching them how to spell.  Children have iPads now that they work off of with calculators to assist in the math areas.

A recent article spoke of children coming into school not having developed the muscles to hold a pencil or pen in order to write.  Here are the two schools of thought that currently seem to exist.

“One school believes that learning handwriting is important for children because they think fine motor control and how you organize your thoughts develops with your writing skills. But the other camp believes that we’re moving into a world where [everything] is done on computers, so learning how to write by hand is an outdated skill.”

I believe and know for fact that the first school of thought  is based on proven theory and writing should never be considered an outdated skill.  It should be an absolute necessity.  Now more than ever!

I am absolutely appalled though that schools are moving toward technology at such a rapid pace without any thought as to how this will impact the youth of today years from now.

One person bemoaned on their blog how ‘dangerous’ pens and pencils are and that they should be banned from the classroom!  The reasoning was infantile at best.  The writer of that blog post insisted that pens and pencils can and have been used as weapons.

It is not the pens and pencils that are the issue.  It is the children’s behaviour.  I cannot recall throwing pencils at other students.  That is not to say it didn’t happen.  The children that did partake in this type of behaviour were quickly reprimanded.

And if a child displayed such disruptive behaviour there were usually underlying and more serious issues at play that would require further investigation to help the child.

And as we know, technology has created some major hindrances in child development and brought about things such cyber-bullying.

As a child I loved getting school supplies.  I would get a new pencil case, pencils, erasers, rulers, geometry kits, pens, binders, and packs of loose-leaf paper,  We had the duo-tang folders to put the paper in and I would label each folder with the subject matter that it would contain.  This was based upon the colour of the folder as well.

I loved the smell and newness of everything.  In elementary school we were given ‘scribblers’ by the schools. This was how you practiced your penmanship and spelling.

So the big thing was having a cool lunch kit.  I do believe the last one I may have had was a Partridge Family one.  I also had a book bag made from a cheap vinyl and yet these items gave me a sense of belonging.

We were given projects to do and book reports to prepare.  There were certain things the teacher looked for.  One was indeed penmanship.  And I worked at this.  My mother and oldest sister had beautiful handwriting and I aspired to write as they did.

Writing and reading were the two things I loved most about school.  Arithmetic…well, it scared me a bit back then.  Being that I am someone who learns best by visualization, those early math books weren’t very good at allowing me to do this.

Still the problems presented such as (i.e. a train traveling 45 mph arrives at 10 PM.  Another train travelling 65 mph arrives at the same time…what distance did each cover?) always gave me pause to think.   And while they often confounded me at the beginning, they eventually became the ones I really like.

They were like a mystery to me.

What I liked about them is they assisted with critical thinking and they helped in terms of developing the brain’s cognitive and figurative functions.

Being able to assess and determine a variety of issues is a good thing.  And it is the lessons from my youth that have helped enormously to shape the person I’ve become.

I feel children are being robbed of an education if they are not being taught to read, write and spell.  If they are not being taught to calculate math manually as well and are solely reliant on technology then what happens ? For example what happened to play?

Parks and playgrounds now sit empty. Why?

Here is another excerpt.

“Of course, there are so many other concerns when it comes to kids and devices with regard to social interaction and the development of emotion.

“Whilst there are many positive aspects to the use of technology, there is growing evidence on the impact of more sedentary lifestyles and increasing virtual social interaction as children spend more time indoors online and less time physically participating in active occupations,” Karin Bishop, an assistant director at the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, told The Guardian.

Flanders echoes those concerns, and points to emerging literature that indicates that extended screen time may be creating problems for children, including an increased prevalence of ADHD, a lack of good interpersonal skills and an expectation of instant gratification.

But he also doesn’t think that it will result in scaling back on tech in the classroom.

“Right now, schools are still emphasizing learning the alphabet by tracing the letters with their fingers and writing them out with pen and paper,” Flanders says.

“But I think 30 or 40 years from now, that’s going to be a thing of the past.”

I really believe that schools need to have a concise educational plan.

For example:

Grades 1-4:  No computers in the classroom.  (All learning  is based on the tried and true methods of working with paper, pencils and pens along with text books.  The use of reference materials, such as dictionaries, thesaurus’ and encyclopedias should be encouraged. )

Grades 5-7:  Begin to introduce computers into the classroom as a tool, nothing more.

The emphasis should be on developing children’s skills and abilities to become engaged and plugged in adolescents.  The formative years are critical in terms of assisting our children to develop such skills.   To think that writing is going to be an ‘outdated skill’ is damn well frightening to me.

The page has been the one thing in my life that always listened.  I could pour out everything and anything onto that page.  It was now purged from my youthful soul that was shattered at that time.  Had I held all of that in, had I never been able to express the hurt, the angst, the fear that existed…I’m not certain I would even be here.

A counselor told me that they had encouraged a female patient to journal.  She hedged at the idea.  Later it would be discovered that the girl did not know how to write.

Writing gave me a voice.  It enabled me to express the feelings that were locked inside  that verbally I found so difficult to share.  Even if no one else ever saw the words written they were there.

Don’t take these skills away from children.

Read below what is replacing paper and pen.

‘Written communication among kids and teens today has morphed into such a confusing mixture of acronyms and emojis that it can almost make hieroglyphics more easily understood. This is why it’s important for parents to be up on the latest text slang.

“Text lingo practically changes weekly and a lot of the times, parents have no clue what their kids and their friends are saying,” says Titania Jordan, chief parent officer of Bark, a software program that monitors, detects and alerts parents to potentially dangerous conversations on their kids’ cellphones, and email and social media accounts.

“I’m surprised at how many parents still don’t know what ‘Netflix and chill’ means.” (For the record, it refers to hooking up, not actually watching Netflix.)’

And yet we readily hand our children cellphones and tablets that connect them to what, I am no longer certain.

Read Ray Bradbury’s book released in 1953 for ‘Fahrenheit 451’.

Below is a summary of the book as written by The New York Times.

‘Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of twentieth-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future.

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.

Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.

When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.’

This has a chilling ring of truth to it.  The T.V. has now been replaced by iPads and Tablets.

Will there come a time when books are no longer necessary, when their value is no longer worth the pages they’ve been written upon?

I for one certainly hope not.

 

 

A St. Patrick’s Day Poem…Inspired by Dr. Suess


Power of One by Nancy

March 17, 2017 – St. Patrick’s Day                                                         Nancy Pilling

Inspired by the master…Dr. Suess!!!

I am Sam…Sam I am!

I do not like green beer and lamb,

No, no…I do not like green beer and lamb,

Even if my name is Sam!

I like my beer with a golden hue,

A full body with a malted flavor,

That delights the palate but adds  a wee kick too!

Green beer began,

With that damed Leprechan!

‘Fiddle dee dee!  Fi Fie Fo Fum!

He shouted gleefully as he twiddled his thumbs.

He wore a tattered green top hat,

Boots and britches that did not fit well,

Ah! But his top coat of green velvet did look mighty swell!

The fiend had a face ugly as sin,

With a loud cackle he held up his glass,

And with a devilish grin,

He challenged the folk with a passionate cry,

‘Drink yee a toast…

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Good-Bye Stephen…and Thank You!


Stephen Hawking passed away this week.

When I heard the news there was a certain element of sadness…which was more for his family than anything else.

This was a man who lived a remarkable life…to its fullest!!!

And what a life!  He was a remarkable human and man who had a remarkable career.  He was funny, charming and immensely inspiring.  Stephen leaves a legacy where he challenged all of us to think, to really think.  Deeply!

Despite his physical ailments Stephen enjoyed life through 76 years on this planet.

Some of the things I loved about this man was his humility and humour.  He did not swell to the ego of academia.

His writings reached out to all of us and invited regular folk the opportunity to really understand on a level never before offered to ideas never before contemplated nor comprehended or shared before.

That was his brilliance in a nutshell.

Stephen was challenged constantly by his peers and always answered them with quiet honesty and fact.

I loved his curious mind and his desire to explore one of our most baffling and intriguing frontiers…the space time continuum.

At times in my life I have felt an connection on some strange level to Stephen because of my own interest in time and its very concept.

I am certainly no physicist…and so far from the very notion it is just crazy!

You see I had a fear of numbers in my youth.  I am a visual learning.  Text books back in the day did little to impress formulas on my youthful self.  Memorizing things was the way to go for a time, though what practicality of what I was trying to embed into my neurons made little to no sense and consequently slipped into the depths without consequence.

I did come to realize that this world we inhabit is ruled by numbers to a certain degree and in many ways I felt I’d been left behind as I just didn’t get it.  Not at all.

As I got older these interests that I had in time, in space  I began to embrace in my late 30’s.

I began picking up books and those books, such as ‘A Brief History of Time’  I read with a voracious appetite.  Not only were doors opening but ideas were springing forth and thoughts with regard to exploring the ages.

I watched shows, documentaries and I  hungered for knowledge.  Wanting, desiring, needing.

Like billions of people before me and I am certain the billions that will follow, I wanted to know where we came from and what our purpose was.

I was a single mother with a beautiful child.  I can recall, on one of those nights when sleep just would not come, I slipped from the house in my red velour house coat and sat on the curb in front of my rental home with smoke in hand gazing up at the stars above.

And I looked up into the night sky and pondered for a moment if another being was gazing out from their home planet into this great expanse we call space wondering if someone was looking out at them just as I was.

Pink fuzzy slippers peeked out beneath  the house coat as my cigarette burned down and then I ground it out after one last drag.

I wondered if they ever felt the way I did, and in that moment which is about 28 years ago, I felt an energy move through me.  Powerful, quiet and remote.

With the underlining message ‘I was not alone!’

And I felt mesmerized, connected and defined all in one swift moment.
I’ve had these sensations a few times, though they’ve been sparing, in my quest to connect.

Perhaps it is just the human condition.

Yet these moments are, in my mind, defining ones.  They are moments that give me pause and shape and direct or re-direct my life.

And Stephen Hawking is one of those whose energies, just by the words he has written touched me a way I had never known.

Having read his work I realized the things I thought about, the things I was ‘secretly’ exploring were not foolish or stupid notions and they certainly were not secretive.

In fact, Stephen Hawing’s work confirmed that my odd curiosities had merit.  Maybe, just maybe I had the makings of a brain after all.

And this came from a girl whose beginnings were demeaning, from a girl who had not had the privilege to finish high school; this from a girl who had been homeless at 16 years of age….and from a girl who was trying so desperately to  be a woman her young daughter could look up to and respect.

The way I saw myself back then was dismal at best as I lacked self-confidence in the worst way.

Yet I read and those books, articles and everything in between they stamped their collective meanings and interpretations on me.

Some I  held fast to these readings, dissecting and  observing everything, while others I questioned and reviewed before I spit them out.

Even those that I did not agree with helped me to learn and grow.

I look at someone like Stephen Hawking who had this fabulous mind, so well tuned, and it was this muscle that rendered him genius.  Those neurons that fired collectively from abstract thought to cohesive and formative ideas that were then developed into factual principles that challenged all of us.

Stephen has offered this world a deeper, more complex understanding of our own  humanity in many ways.

And here I am on this Friday evening after a long week at work, in a local pub and some four beer in, considering this planet, this thing we call space and the concept of time itself.

What does it mean?  What is it?  And where does it go?

Considering this thing we call life, I ask and challenge myself, here and now, what can I do to give back to this world, this planet to make it better?

Is it even possible?

Still the chance that there is some simplicity to all this  that we must try.  We are increasing in numbers on this planet,

Perhaps if we all try to:

  • Respect each other
  • Respect this planet we inhabit
  • Conserve our usage of her resources
  • And never ever forget to love!

We can make it a difference.

A Thought or Two or Three or…..Part One


I got to thinking about oppression.

EB8EN8 TREISTER HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL SCULPTURE
MIAMI BEACH FLORIDA USA

Of what it does to an individual, what it does to groups and the lasting impact it can have on a society.  Globally oppressed states have a tendency at times to become radicalized.

These are, of course, my thoughts and observances that I’m jotting down here.  I try to look at this world with thoughtful contemplation.  Sometimes this is not always the case though.

Sometimes it is just with a sense of sadness and at other times with hope and wonderment.  I prefer the latter.

There has been a shift lately with with the #metoo and #timesup movements.  They’ve had a powerful effect and so they should.  In fact, it is long overdue.

And it is not just those of us who’ve been assaulted or preyed upon sexually.  It is about being categorized as ‘less than’ or viewed as an ‘accessory’.

I too have been sexually assaulted and been made to feel as if my worth in this world was of little to no importance.  And I know the percentage of women who have experienced these issues as well is staggering.

I was watching a news feature on CBC last week.  Iranian women were standing in public , their hijab on sticks being waved in the air as if to surrender.

It was anything but!

You see they were protesting against the laws in Iran that make it compulsory for a woman to wear the hijab while in public.

The first woman to do this was promptly arrested.  So began the protests and the campaign of #whereisshe?

February 11th, 2018 marked the 39th year since Iran made it a law that a woman cannot go out in public without wearing the hijab.   I have included the link to an article on this subject at the bottom of this page.  To date about 29 women have been arrested and it is likely exceeded that number at this writing.

Oppression of women has been a global issue for thousands of years, if not from the beginning of our time.  And I wonder why this is?

There are men now feeling a little intimidated by this movement.  To those men who feel they are being ‘silenced’ I say this.

What you feel is but a shadow of what many women have lived with for thousands of years.

We have lived our lives in fear, lived our lives without a voice and have had to abide by laws forbidding us rights over our own bodies.  And this is just the tip of the sexual divide.  And that women in areas of this world still cannot show their face in public and are circumcised (mutilation of female genitalia) in this day and age is so very tragic.

Men will never know the full impact of how they’ve treated their counterparts as there really are no words.

What we need to do is move forward.  It starts from the cradle.  We need to teach and build that education on respect, love and equality.

Let’s give it a try, okay?

 

 

http://theconversation.com/how-iran-uses-a-compulsory-hijab -law-to-control-its-citizens-and-why-they-are-protesting-91439

 

 

 

The First Time


It is a cool and wet Friday evening here in New Westminster.  I’m at a local eatery waiting on dinner.  Typically at the end of the work week I dine out for the evening meal.

On this evening the World Junior Hockey game is on.  Canada and Sweden are battling it out for gold.  And Canada wins it!  The boys are young.  The elation and joy on their faces is palpable as this is likely their first really big win.

Sadly one of the Swedish players was reduced to tears and threw his silver medal into the crowd.  Likely the first time this player has felt defeat in such a stinging manner.

But then there is just something about firsts’, isn’t there?

Some of them become defining moments in our lives, both the good and the bad.

Our first steps, first words, first day of school dutifully recorded by doting parents.

I can’t say that I recorded every little thing my daughter did for the first time, however, my memory of certain events that were firsts’ are tied to the emotions felt at the time they occurred.

My daughter was around 9 months old when she took her first steps.  Pushing herself up onto wobbly legs she pitched her entire body forward into an odd little run.  Her upper body gained velocity quickly leaving the legs trying desperately to keep up.  The balance ratio not yet configured resulting in the inevitable fall.

And for me it was a combination of elation and terror felt simultaneously.   I rushed toward her trying to prevent the fall to the floor or at least its impact.

That fall hurt.

Confused, the lips trembled and the tears exploded as the wail sounded.  I scooped her up and soothed the child and then began teaching her how to find that balance.  Holding the arms just so, centering the body then taking a step.

My daughter discovered too that if balance was lost it was better to drop down onto your bottom.  Easier to recover and not nearly as painful.

I cannot recall her first word at this writing.  Did I record everything?  No, not really.  for me it was the emotions attached to each new milestone that she reached.

When I returned to work full-time after moving back to Vancouver I found it difficult to leave her in daycare.  That first day, week, month I cried as I left the daycare.  I remember her first day of elementary school and her last day there.  I remember her first day of high school as well as her last.

And there were many firsts along the way.

 

 

 

My first heartbreak came when I was about 6-7 years of age.  I was in love with Mr. Ed, the talking horse.  I watched the show enamored by the Palomino that talked saucily to to Wilbur.

I informed my father that I was going to marry Mr. Ed when I grew up.

Unceremoniously  and with rather callous disregard he groaned and rolled his eyes.

“Don’t be stupid.  You can’t marry a horse, besides the damn thing will be dead long before you are of the age to marry.”

And my young heart was crushed in that moment.

The series began the year I was born 1958 and ended in 1966.  Mr. Ed died in 1968.
Yet the love I felt for the character of that  horse are still fondly remembered 50 plus years later.

My first crush was on Bobby Orr.

I, like so many other children in Canada, caught hockey fever.  Hockey Night In Canada was watched on a grainy black and white T.V. every Saturday always.

Later when Vancouver was awarded an NHL team my sister Norma and I would sit listening to Jim Robson call the game on the radio while playing penny poker.

My first live game was on my 13th birthday.  I was in 7th grade and my dad took me to see the Canucks take on the Bruins.

I felt torn that evening between my loyalty to my team and my love for Bobby.  That would be the closest I would ever come to Bobby and amazingly Vancouver Canucks won that evening 5-4 back in February 1971.

I’ve had so many firsts that have had a powerful impact on my life.   Some good and some of it bad.  I try to hang onto the lessons gleaned from these experiences, the good and the bad.

There was a saying back in the 1970’s.

‘Today is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life.’

Indeed.  I will try to live it to my fullest potential.

Namaste.

 

 

Happy New Year! Welcome 2018!


 

A full moon beams down on this clear and cold winter’s night.  Fog is beginning to roll in and the moon will soon be a silvery shadow if we see it all.

It is New Years Eve and I am staying at home this year.  This will be a quiet night.  A time to reflect on the year that was.

I’ve got cheese and wine as well as beer.  I’ve got a blanket wrapped about me.  I’ve taken in a movie and am watching the televised celebrations in downtown Vancouver.  I like that they have it on T.V. now.

As the countdown began I raised my glass up and shouted Happy New Year!  I made phone calls and texted as many people as possible then watched the fireworks display before going to bed.

Welcome 2018!

2017 had begun with a sense of desperation and an overwhelming exhaustion carried over from years prior.  I began the year by withdrawing from so many activities and organizations I’d been involved with.

Still I recognized that depression had once again settled in.  I was isolating myself.  All the insecurities and yearnings once again tossing me to the curb with all my perceived inadequacies washing over me.

I found it difficult to post any of my writings last year as well.  A notebook is always with me ready to record anything that I need to purge onto the page, however, those ramblings were often sad and coming from a dark place inside me.

I thought of Gloria Vanderbilt talking about how the rainbow comes and goes.  I’d read that particular book in 2016 and there are a few passages that resonated with me and still do.

Mid-year I began to emerge from this bout of depression.  I am focused on the new job I began nine months ago.

I’ve started a new book.  I am hoping to have the first draft completed by Spring 2018.

I need to become more disciplined and dedicated to my writing. I’ve got so many stories  I want to tell. Time to get to it.

I am focused on my health as well.  The vehicle accident back in 2015 mucked me up big time.  Now I need to just try and find a level of fitness that I can maintain.  I need to continue to work on my emotional well-being as well.

Time to get to it.

I hope that 2018 is a stellar year for everyone!

Happy New Year!

Peace.