Archives for category: Random Thoughts

It’s time! I have decided!!! Time to see what’s happening outside this warm, cozy, dark and noisy space. I mean, I could stay here forever…but I feel like this space is getting smaller by the day. I don’t know why, but it sure feels like it is. Is that even possible? I think I’d also like to move around and unbend parts of myself that to date have always been bent.

How long have I been here anyway? No idea. Not even sure I know what that question means.

Okay…how do I get out of here?

I think I need to push here…use this part of me…I think it’s called an “arm.” PUSH… Nope. That’s not it. I think all that did was make HER turn over.

Maybe I need to use this other part…the one that’s longer. Wait, I have two of them…”legs,” that’s the word. PUSHHHH.

Nope, that’s not doing it either. Sure made HER move though.

Okay. Let me use this big round thing…my “head” is it? Let me use that to push. Can I push with it? Or just bump whatever it is that’s holding me in? I can push with it! I think all of me is helping it push!

Oh hey…what was that? Feels like SHE is rolling around now. That always makes me feel a little sick.

I think SHE’s really moving now, not lying down anymore. Yup, definitely moving. I like it when SHE does that. I don’t know how I know my home is a “she.” I just do. Kinda like I know I’m a she – I just do. Whatever being a “she” means… Guess I’ll find out one day – I sure hope I do anyway.

I’m feeling a little too warm now. Did SHE wrap us up?

Brrrrrr…now I feel like I was hit by a cold wind! What was that? Did we leave what SHE calls her home?

Okay…settling down again. Mmmmmm I like this soft, rolling movement. If I’m not careful it will lull me back to sleep. Use your head. PUSSHHHH!!! Was that a cry I heard? Is this hurting HER? I’m sorry. I don’t want to hurt YOU, but I do want to get out of here. I’ve heard YOU talk about it for so long, and about life out there, and I really want to see it!

We are up and moving again. Strange though, because I kinda feel like I’m being pulled downwards. Does that even make sense? We’re up, and yet I feel like as I push, I’m being pulled down.

Oops…we are sitting again. That’s making it harder for me to push out of here. I feel like we are rolling. And there are soooo many voices now, loud voices. Who are these voices? I only recognise HER and HIM. I don’t know these other people. They seem to be telling her what to do. One more push and I’ll rest and listen to what they are saying. I hear the strangest things sometimes.


Oooohhhh, that was a good one! And SHE’s settling down again, that helps. Let me try that again.


I think I’m getting somewhere now! Wait. What are they saying?

Don’t push Mme. Carrière. Don’t push! The doctor isn’t here yet!

Who is this woman trying to tell HER what to do? Wait, SHE is speaking…

I’m not pushing! But this baby has a mind of its own.

HAHAHA! Thanks! Thank you for knowing I’m in charge! That made me so happy. Now I’m even more excited to get out of here.


Wow…that’s a new sensation. It’s not quite so dark anymore. Wait…

Wait…Am I sure I want to leave here? It really is warm and cozy and I feel so safe and loved.

Oops…I’m just sliding now. I barely need to push anymore. Actually, I don’t think I’m really pushing, I’m just moving. I guess there’s no stopping this now!

Now who’s that? That voice is new, and it’s quite low…but it’s not HIM. What’s he saying?

Bonjour Mme. Carrière. It’s a girl.


What is THAT noise? Is that coming out of me?

It’s so bright out here. I had no idea.

Oh – now I can stretch my arms and my legs. What fun! That feels nice.

No no…don’t wrap me up tight…I was still stretching…It is comfy and soft though, so maybe it’s not so bad.

Weird! It’s like I’ve just moved through air.

Aaaahhhh, there SHE is! Even if I’m now outside of HER, I know it’s HER. I recognise how SHE smells and feels. I hope SHE’s happy with me. I feel like SHE is. I really want to open my eyes and see if SHE’s as beautiful as I’ve imagined all this time. But I’m so sleepy now…I’m not sure I can.

Maybe just a little peek. I can do that.

SHE looks like an angel!

And HE’S here too now! I like this. It’s feels so good. I’m happy I did this.

I can’t help it…I’m falling asleep. What did they say? It’s 8:00am? I have no idea what that means….Later. I’ll figure it out later…


Note: Years ago my mum told me there was a physical attribute to all her children’s births that she could tie to their personalities. I asked her what mine was. This was her answer.

You woke me up at 5:00 in the morning. We went to the hospital right away, and the nurses were all telling me not to push. I told them I wasn’t pushing, but that this baby had a mind of its own. It was funny because the doctor was short, and barely taller than the bed I was on. He came running into the delivery room and said, “Bonjour Mme. Carrière. It’s a girl.” He made it just in time.

So…when you decide you are going to do something, get out of your way.

I love that story. Even though I’d kinda liked her to have softened it a little. Not so much like I’m going to bulldoze over you. Am I determined? Yes. I won’t push you out of my way though 🙂

For years my mum would call me on my birthday saying she had almost called me at 5:00am to wake me up, just like I did her. She never went through with that threat though.

Love and miss you mum!

Mum and me in Dublin, when my brother Y and I took her to Ireland. Priceless.
I was shaving my head at the time – which made me easy to spot. A friend sent me a photo of the telecast when she saw me, and my sister N said she scared her family when she yelled at her tv.

In the bowels of Canada Hockey Place, the medal ceremony team of 28 was jammed into an office between the USA and Canada locker rooms. We were constantly shushed by the Venue team “so as not to mess with players’ heads.” In the arena, the crowd roared, stomping their feet so strongly the walls shook. Please God, let Canada win, I thought.

End of the first period – Canada leads 1-0.

The mood was both tense and celebratory. Everyone knew this could change quickly, so nobody dared say much. The medal and flower bearers and presenter escorts were in costume, as were the RCMP flag bearers. I continually reminded myself to breathe.

End of period two – Canada leads 2-1.

Excitement filled the air. The flower bouquets were taken out of the cooler, every bud and leaf inspected. The medals sparkled on their wooden trays. It was almost like they couldn’t wait to be seen, admired and cherished.

God, please let Canada win! I couldn’t remember the last time I had prayed this much. Normally I’d be watching with friends, cheering and yelling until my voice was hoarse. Instead, there were no words, and my stomach performed more summersaults than a Cirque du Soleil acrobat. I looked at the chocolate chip cookie one of my medal bearers brought me…I still could not eat.  

Time came to line up the medal, flower and flag bearers in the tunnel behind team USA’s bench.  The presenter escorts waiting at the ready to bring the IOC President and the International Ice Hockey Federation President down from their box once the game ended. One final check ensured everyone remembered the protocol and choreography. Once the final whistle blew, the ceremony had to be ready for broadcast within three minutes.

With everything set to go, I took my place at the front of the line.

One minute left in the game. Canada still leads 2-1.

I saw the logistics team coordinator move towards me with the piece of carpet I was to put on the ice as a guide for the on-ice logistics team.

“Don’t bring it yet,” I said. “What if the US scores and ties the game?”

No sooner had I spoken these words, the horn sounded. Team USA had tied the game with 25 seconds left. The game presentation lead (an American) played the buzzer slightly longer than normal – his personal little celebration of the USA goal, which made me smile.

Along with the home-town crowd, I was momentarily stunned into silence, but quickly found my voice and shouted: “Pick up your trays! Get back into our room!” The heavy trays had been laid on the floor in wait.  “Goooo! We can’t be in the way when they go into their locker room!”

Time dragged for everyone as it sunk in.

I looked at my medals ceremony team: “as soon as overtime starts, we need to be ready. First goal wins, and we have no idea how long it’ll take… seconds…or…hours.”

With the players back on the ice, we lined up, again, waiting in the tunnel –  ready to either make our way onto the ice or run back into the office. No one said a word. We were all on pins and needles.

Please God…let Canada win…I prayed one more time.

7:40 into overtime, the building erupted as Sydney Crosby scored.

Thank God!

Once the USA bench cleared, I stepped onto the ice and placed the carpet, indicating how the medal ceremony was to line up. Weaving through a jubilant Team Canada and deflated Team USA, I helped pick up gloves, sticks and helmets strewn on the ice, and threw them onto the players’ benches.

Then I saw him. Stevie Y, team Canada’s General Manager, and my all-time fave. He was walking towards me. Oh man, I thought. He’s so HOT! This is it! This is my chance to jump him! But I can’t. I’ll get fired. Doesn’t matter, it’s the last day! But I can’t. Paige (my boss) would be disappointed. So I stood there and watched him go by. Damnnnn!

I coaxed crying USA team members to line up in jersey order, so their names could be announced as they received their medals. Seeing these grown men cry very nearly brought me to tears. You don’t really “win” silver do you? You “lose” gold. Hopefully in time they would be happy and love their beautiful medal. Meanwhile, I needed to rush them into place and soon found Paige at my side helping me do just that.

After ensuring my co-worker had the Canadian team lined up, I radio’d Matt. “Go for Ceremonies!”

As team Canada received their gold medals, I watched from the USA players’ bench. Soaking in the atmosphere, I thought to myself, BEST WORK DAY EVER!

ABOVE: watching my team make their way onto the ice for the ceremony, and likely talking to Game Presentation. BELOW: tucked in behind the USA bench, watching the Canadian Flag go up, and singing the anthem. I felt so happy, proud…and incredibly tired!

My grandfather Georges. Even though the photo is old and blurry, even though it was taken before I was born, there is a familiarity to it.

My brother Y recently shared some photos of my grandfather that he’d been given by our uncle Gilbert. I love seeing these old photos, and these sent me back into my first memory….

….I am happily sitting on the floor. The warmth of summer is cooled by the hard wood beneath me. Light from the mid-day sun streams in through the window, illuminating the long hallway. Giggling away, I enjoy the freedom of wearing only my diaper. 

As I start to crawl, a shadow appears. It is larger than life, cutting through the sun’s rays. I feel my excitement rise as he bends down to pick me up. I reach out to meet his arms. His strong hands, roughened by years working the farm, are a sharp contrast to the softness of his lips as he peppers my cheeks with kisses.


Just like that the memory fades. The more I try to to focus on grandpapa’s face, the more it evades me. It’s like trying to tune an old black and white television, whose picture has been invaded by crackling, fuzzy snow. The more I try to adjust the rabbit ears, the more I try to force his face to come back, the further it retreats.

I stop and let the warmth of the memory take over. It fills me like a cup of hot cocoa on a blustery winter day. A love balloon encircling and hugging my entire being.

My grandfather died when I was 22 months old. This fact, at times, has me questioning my first memory. I hold steadfast though. It is a feeling I can barely describe. I know in my bones, in my soul and in my heart it is him. Grandpapa Georges. 

From this first memory, where his shadow filled the hallway and he bent down to pick me up and hold me in his arms, to today, I know he watches over me. 

He is a part of my morning meditation routine. As I thank my Spirit Guides for always looking out for me, I see him standing at the front of the pack, a big beautiful smile on his face.

Some things you just know. Some things you just feel. No need to analyze or delve deeper into it.

Grandpapa Georges. I can’t even see his face in this image, and yet, the man I see here feels infinitely familiar.
Grandfather Georges and Grandmother Cordelia. She passed away well before I was born – my dad was only 13 at the time. From all accounts she was wonderful and well loved. I wish I had met her. And strangely enough, even though my grandpa’s face is more clear in this photo, it feels less familiar to me than the other photos. Maybe that’s because the memory I see in my head is so blurry…

Photo by Anete Lusina on

I love me a good massage. For that matter, I love me almost every kind of “therapy.” Massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, reiki, reflexology, cranial…all of it. This is foremost on my mind today as I have spent the past six weeks dealing with recurring pain in my right lower inner calf. One day I can barely put any weight on it, the next it feels better. At times it just feels “off”, not painful, but not right. It’s been frustrating. Along the way I’ve seen two chiropractors and a massage therapist twice. They all provided temporary relief, but it just didn’t stick.

Then I had the session that I think finally resolved things. I went to someone who practices Chinese medicine, combined with other techniques that include chiropractic adjustments and cranial therapy. I’ve gone to their centre in years past while in Montréal, and when I received the email saying they were open, I called.

I’d forgotten that they would start by warming my back muscles – using their knuckles and elbows to massage both sides of my back, from shoulder to foot. Then they get in between each vertabrae as I exhale. After flipping onto my back, it’s time for some traction and cranial work. This is usually done with two people, one at my neck the other putting one hand under my back and one over my heart, right shoulder and right side. It’s always my right side apparently…

This time it also included some soft movement of my hips and pelvis – possibly the cause of the pain in my right leg. One hand was placed under my lower back, the other across my lower belly and right hip. Once that was done and I found myself lying on my back, my body already felt so much better. My body was returning to its normal state.

Sometimes I think it’s a ploy – put me into a place of deep contentment and relaxation, and then CRACK. With my muscles, and entire being, at ease, my skeletal system is ready for adjustments. This starts with a move I don’t always enjoy. Cotton is placed in my mouth for me to bite on. Ethan’s hands cradle my head – one on my neck and the anther under my jaw – and YANK! a quick tug that I feel all the way down my spinal cord. This time, it brought relief to my lower spine and tailbone. It’s the first time I’ve actually enjoyed this maneuver. The “cracking” of my neck, upper, middle and lower back that ensued created longer and louder “cracks” than I’ve ever heard before. Clearly my entire body was wonky.

Not anymore. I left that session feeling better, both body and soul – albeit in a zombie state for the remainder of the evening. I slept well and woke up to a new day, feeling better than I have since May 9th. So grateful for that.

The number of therapy sessions I’ve had over past month and a half has made me think about the value of touch. It can be incredibly reassuring, relaxing and healing. And in pandemic times, as a singleton, these moments are few and far between. Shall I thank whatever happened to my knee/leg/hip/sacrum for providing some? A little silver lining maybe?

I have always loved having someone lightly move their fingertips across my back as I fall asleep. That sweet touch just lulls me into the world of happy dreams. Just ask my ex-husband. I would always say “please draw on my back.” Eventually his response became “I hate your back. I love you, but I hate your back.” Thankfully, he usually acquiesced. The time I dated a man who automatically did that, without me ever asking? Well, I thought I’d found “the one.” (Clearly not only because of this, but it sure did help!) Apparently drawing on my my back as we cuddled and fell asleep wasn’t quite enough to make that relationship last. Damn shame.

The very first time I went for a massage my therapist had a book in her office tilted “Hands That Heal.” Lisa was amazing, with hands that certainly healed. I would leave her office feeling like I was walking on clouds – both physically and mentally. She always said “don’t drive!” I wish I hadn’t lost track of her. Last thing I heard, she’d moved to DC. Lucky are those who enter her office.

All that to say, hands certainly do heal. I’ve had a regular regimen of massage and acupuncture for years now, and I won’t be changing that any time soon. As I settle into life in Montréal, and discover my “maintenance team”, I am ever thankful to those that help me maintain a healthy and strong body and mind.

Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata on
Vancouver’s Kits Pool. One of my favourite places on the planet. I was swimming one evening, as the sun was going down. One of three people in the pool. All of a sudden, Canada’s Snowbirds flew by, in formation. Gorgeous.

3, 2, 1, breathe. 3, 2, 1, breathe. 3, 2, 1, breathe. As my body glides through the water, I feel weightless. My entire being is smiling.

There’s something about swimming that, for me, is incredibly meditative. I sit in meditation every morning, but this is different. Breathing every third stroke means my mind is focused on only that. Other thoughts happen, however they don’t stick around. I can’t dwell on them, because, well, I don’t want to drown.

Not only is swimming wonderful for me physically, it’s effect on my state of mind is beautiful. No matter how I feel before I jump into the pool, I feel better when I jump out. If I’m down before, I’m happy after. If I’m stressed before I jump in, I’m relaxed when I’m done. If I’m happy before, I’m even happier after.

When I jump out of the pool, I feel like my belly flattened during the swim. It hasn’t, but I don’t care, I hang onto that feeling as long as I can.

It wasn’t until I lived in Vancouver and discovered Kits Pool that swimming became a regular thing. A lengthy 137 meters of bliss. To put that in perspective, Olympic pools are 50 meters in length. Located on the beach, it opens the May long weekend and closes in September. I started going regularly, almost every day.

So as this May long weekend came and went, I traveled to Kits Pool in my mind. Some friends were there in person. Lucky them!

When I first started going, as much as I tried, I couldn’t freestyle an entire length. I needed a coach. A friend told me about Steven, a former competitive swimmer giving lessons at the Vancouver YWCA. I signed up and was amazed at how learning a few techniques completely changed my swim. We worked on all four strokes, which made it even more fun. Kits pool became a breeze. Not having to turn until 137 meters meant I could really get lost in the swim.

I look back fondly at my summer of “funemployment”, when my friend Stu (also not working at the time) and I were at Kits pool every day. We “laughed” at those who had to be at work. By the end of that summer, I was a whole other shade of brown, my skin so tanned that my lily white butt glowed in the dark. I remember waking up from a nap on the pool deck, looking around, seeing someone close by and thinking, “that woman in a black bikini is here every day. Doesn’t she work?” I then paused, took a look at myself and laughed. There I was, in a black bikini, not working, at the pool every day. I eventually met her at the yoga studio I frequented, and we had a good laugh. Turns out, she was working – early morning hours meant she could swim in the afternoon.

I eventually signed up for Intro to Masters Swim classes at the YWCA – preferring to try it out in a more relaxed environment before committing to an actual Masters. My first Masters was at the West Vancouver pool, which started at 5:30am! Thankfully I lived a seven-minute drive away. I could roll out of bed at 5:00 and be in the pool on time.

Steven then convinced me to join a Masters Swim group where he was a member. “The coach is Russian, really good, and works all four strokes,” he said. As much as I shouldn’t have been in the same pool as Steven, I joined. There were four lanes filled with former German and Canadian national team members, and me. Thankfully I was always in a lane by myself. I did the same drills as everyone else, just nowhere near as many. I loved it.

The last time I was in a Masters Swim, I joined with one of my besties. I would pick her up in the morning, we’d swim, then head to the office. We’d been doing this for months when she said something about it being the gay and lesbian masters club. I stopped her mid-sentence. The what? Not that I gave a shit, I wasn’t exactly rolling out of bed at 6am to find a guy. Nor was she, as she already had a boyfriend. It did, however, explain the looks we were, and weren’t, getting.

In the years I’ve spent working and traveling around the world, I’ve always been able to find a pool.

In Istanbul I really lucked out. There was an indoor pool right beside our office. One of my coworkers came with me to translate as I met the manager to set up a membership. When told everyone had to wear a bathing cap, my objection fell on deaf ears. My hair was super short, and I never wore one. When the manager insisted, I asked if men with hair on their chests, shoulders and backs would be wearing a full-body wet suit. They didn’t find it as funny as I did….but seriously, these men have more hair on their body than I have on my head!

In Baku, Azerbaijan, I joined a club near my apartment. Rarely were there other women swimming lanes. If there was an empty lane when I arrived, I jumped in and nobody came near me. Local men did not want to swim with a woman. Worked for me! I love it when I get a lane to myself.

Aaahhh, the memories.

COVID hasn’t been pool friendly. But that’s changing now. The local YMCA is open again, accepting limited numbers for lane swims. So I’m back in, pretending to be at Kits pool. Come June 24th there’s a local outdoor pool opening, and I can not wait to try it out. Seriously though, it could be open now, it’s certainly warm enough!

3, 2, 1, breathe. 3, 2, 1, breathe. 3, 2, 1, breathe. A must in the pool, and a lesson for life outside the pool too. It’s always a good reminder to just breathe.

Kits pool, Kits beach – here’s to being back there again. Meanwhile, thanks for all that you have given me!

With mum in Dublin. One of my brothers had the great idea of taking her to Ireland, before Parkinson’s put her in a wheelchair. To this day one of my most favourite of trips. Thanks for letting me tag along Y!

Mother’s Day is a double-edged sword for me. A day filled with conflicting thoughts and emotions.

On one side, there’s my mum. Like most, I think about her a lot on this day. Then again, I think of my mum daily so this isn’t different from any other day in that regard. Although mum left us 6 1/2 years ago, she’s always around. In my thoughts, in my heart, in the faces of my family. That is a very good thing.

When it comes to my mum, let me simply say:

If there is strength in me, it came from her.

If I know what it is to be compassionate, it’s because she taught me.

If I know what it is to be true to myself, it’s because I learned it from her.

If I know what it means to really love someone, it’s because she showed me how that’s done.

If I know what it is to live, and leave, this life with grace, it’s because I watched her do that very thing.

The words “thank you” don’t feel like enough. But it’s all I have. That and a determination to live a life that would make her proud.

As much as I miss her, I still feel her presence and am eternally grateful.

Then there’s the flip side of that double-edged sword. After trying for years to have children, it just didn’t work. It was a dream I was forced to abandon. At times, Mother’s Day delivers a sharp cleaver to the heart. You think it would dull down after all these years. And in truth, some years I don’t feel much. Seems there’s no rhyme or reason to it.

And there’s the flood of messages everywhere, like:

  • “there’s no love like a mother’s love” (thanks for making love a competition, Hallmark)
  • “the best thing I’ve ever done”
  • “the most important thing I will ever do”

On, and on, and on. As much as part of me believes there is truth in these statements, part of me also realizes that not every mother feels the same way. There is such a broad spectrum of experiences, desires and feelings on this topic. All I know is what is real for me. I’ve felt pretty much every emotion in regards to the subject.

Like that day when I got the final “it’s not going to happen for you.” It was my birthday and not even 8:00am. Happy birthday to me.

I went from the doctor’s office to my office, sat at my desk and got to work. I pushed back the thoughts and feelings about what I’d just heard. Then…a few hours later…the very lovely human that sat beside me sent out an email to the office announcing she was pregnant. Their first child. A parade of people came to her desk that day. I was genuinely happy for her, and even more crushed for me. Talk about conflicting emotions! With every person that came to congratulate her, I told myself not to break down and cry. I could do that when I got home. Now I look back, laugh and think, why the hell didn’t I just go home??? The things we do.

I’m not sharing that story to make you feel bad in any way, or feel sorry for me. I’m just explaining how Mother’s Day delivers a mixed bag of emotions to me. I have felt love, anger, joy, pain, indifference, sadness, bitterness, relief, resentment, gratitude – you name it. Emotions bouncing through me like a ping-pong ball.

I continue to scratch my head over statements like “you don’t know real love unless you’ve had a child.” Does my not bearing a child really mean I don’t know what it’s like to love a small human so much I would do anything and everything for them? I beg to differ with that….

Some have said I should adopt. Friends even said they would be more than happy to help out if I wanted to have a child on my own. Now, I applaud those who say yes to this. It just wasn’t for me. I didn’t want to have a child without a father. I didn’t want to go to a sperm bank. I didn’t want to use a donor egg. None of that felt right. As selfish as it is, I wanted to look down at a little face and see myself, and the child’s father, reflected back. Which doesn’t mean I don’t at times wish I had done it.

So here I remain. Not a “mother.”

Here I am, enjoying the life I do have. What else would you have me do? Do not, however, think that I don’t have children “because my lifestyle wouldn’t allow it.” For that matter, how about we all stop judging people because they do or don’t have children? I am sure if I had children, I’d love my life as much. As I said, what else would you do?

A friend of mine told me that in Buddhist tradition, we have all been mothers at some point – in this life or a previous life. I like that.

So…all those jumbled feelings aside…Belated happy Mother’s Day to everyone. Those who have born children; those who have adopted children; those who have mothered other people’s children; those who have supported friends and family who have children; those who have tried so hard and couldn’t have children; those who have tried so hard only to lose the child/children; those who have simply chosen not to have children; and all those I’m not thinking of right now.

If you’ve read this all the way to the end, and are now completely confused by what I’ve said, or tried to say – welcome to life in Lise’s head. Trust me when I say, this is but a small sampling of what goes on in there!

Who knew this was hiding deep down?

I’ve never been one to write poetry. As someone who always loved English classes in school, poetry was the worst part. It just never came to me. Imagine my surprise when this little piece fell onto the page. It was very much an “emotional vomit”. For years it has sat in the dark. I’ve reread it a number of times, but never, ever, wanted to share it.

Until recently. In a discussion with a group of writers, poetry came up. If I was ever going to share, this was the time. My heart pounded so strongly, I could barely hear the sound of my voice. Admittedly though, I nearly crapped out. I came very close to not reading it.

It was interesting to see the reactions. I know what this poem means to me. It’s personal, which is why I hadn’t wanted to share. Would people know what it was really about? Seems not. Everyone brought meaning to it based on their experiences, their lives, their points of view. It was surprising and awesome.

These words are not a window into my thoughts and feelings. Right. And even if they were, so what?

In the spirit of sharing, in the spirit of releasing whatever meaning is still attached to this piece…. Here’s the first poem I wrote – many years ago.

Let it mean what you want it to mean. If that’s nothing, well, I’m a-okay with that too.

I Am Not You

You came to me in a time of need
Settled in so I would not bleed
The comfort was great
But is it too late?

It’s time to move on
Stifling me is wrong
Your intentions are honourable
But the result is frustration

I feel like I’m stuck
Too deep in this rut
I want to move on
I need to live life full on

Thanks for all that you did
For keeping me safe
For allowing me to breath
I’m ready now to be
So please set me free

I am not you

I am me

Episode 1: Bring on the vinyl!

Listening to these makes me so happy! Who, but Rod Stewart, would wear a bright pink suit jacket and match the background to it? Also, am I the only one looking forward to the Tears For Fears “Songs From The Rocking Chair” LP??? I mean, it’s still a good 20-30 years away, but I’m looking forward to it!

After years of listening to music only through my mobile or computer, it was time to get back to listening to music the way it is meant to be heard (other than in person, at concerts, of course!). I love having music in the background while I work, write and read. I come by this honestly, as they say. There was always music playing in the house growing up. My parents both played instruments and sang (note: do NOT ask me to sing if you value your ears!). With twelve of us living under one roof, you often found more than one source of music playing. The best was the sound system in the living room with the record player, radio and tape deck.

With stores closed, I went online and found this beauty by Victrola. They have many different designs, and I was drawn to the retro look. I can not tell you how much I LOVE IT!

My new toy, which provides hours and hours of joy.

As much as I had been looking for a record player, I was happy to find Victrola (hey, might as well call her that) also plays cd’s, mixed tapes, FM, USB and has bluetooth connection for all the music on my iPhone. Perfect! Of course I also decided to purchase the stand – need somewhere to put the LP’s I’m going to be buying!

I was so excited when it arrived. First I took out my cd’s, which had been in storage for over seven years. Funny enough, when they arrived in Montreal and I unpacked them, one of my nieces laughed and said, “who listens to cd’s anymore!” Um, this girl, that’s who! Back to my Matthew Good, David Gray, Live, George Michael, Nora Jones, Ben Harper and so many more.

Thankfully retail opened up again, and with it came the overwhelming desire to run to a vinyl shop. What will I buy? What will I buy? I needed to limit myself so as not to blow the bank account.

Yes, clearly I enjoy me some Adam Ant. From Dirk Wears White Sox to today. If you ever come across his biography “Stand & Deliver”, just buy it. The time in which he grew up in London, and the people in his circle, are fascinating – as is the remainder of his story. And then there’s Robbie Robertson. LOVE this album. If you want more on him, watch the “Once Were Brothers” documentary (about him and The Band). He too has an amazing story, has played with other incredible musicians – and is Canadian!

I have no idea what happened to the LP’s I used to have. Apparently I have two old boxes at my brother G’s house. He bought our family home, and my boxes have been there since I finished university and set out for London. I hope they include a few albums, and look forward to finding out (and generally to seeing what the heck they contain – it’ll be like opening a time capsule).

The crackling of the needle as it first settles onto the rotating vinyl makes my heart sing. And then the music kicks in. It’s amazing that this is still the best way to capture all the subtleties of what’s been recorded. We really owe it to those born in the age of digital music to sit them down and have them listen to vinyl. There’s nothing like it. I am heartened by one of my nephews recently asking for (and receiving) a turntable. More and more youngsters are finding their way to vinyl.

Sitting on the floor, pouring over the album cover and the inner sleeve with its photos and lyrics as the album plays was always an exciting part of getting a new LP. I can confirm it still is – even if these are songs I already know.

I’ve also rediscovered radio. In particular CBC. I used to listen to the radio a lot – even slept with it on for years. I’m really enjoying the varied programming CBC provides. For instance, as I write this, a Sarah McLachlan concert from about 10 years ago is playing. Haven’t listened to her in ages, and man, that voice! Over March break they had children under the age of 18 call in to say how they were dealing with a break where they can’t see their friends (um, let me tell you, a lot of six-year olds are playing chess!!!). There are comedy shows, literature shows, a multitude of cultural shows, and so much more.

Victrola may be a small, compact unit, but she sounds really, really good. Definitely the best thing I’ve purchased in a while.

Well, along with the albums of course! I’m rationing myself, so that I don’t buy everything at once. I also find I get overwhelmed trying to pin down what I want to buy next – there is such a thing too much choice! Every now and again something makes its way from the back of my brain and a lightbulb goes off. It happened to me last week. Out of nowhere, I thought “The Psychedelic Furs!” I now eagerly await the arrival of two of their LP’s.

It’s an eclectic collection for sure. It will likely continue to be so as it grows, which quite frankly, is the perfect definition of me.

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on

Sometimes just stepping off, or jumping, into the unknown is in and of itself the victory. Sometimes venturing out of our comfort zone is really what it’s all about, no matter the result.

Last week was a bit of a test for me in this regard. For the first time ever, I submitted a piece of work to a writing contest. Actually, I submitted pieces to two contests.

The first one was easier for me. It’s the CBC non-fiction contest. The only criteria was a word count of no more than 2000. And clearly, it must be non-fiction. Done. Submitted. I like that little story – but then it’s about my life, or rather a certain experience I look back at fondly. So of course I like it. To this competition, I even submitted a second piece! It’s much shorter, and about my first memory.

Cool. Felt good to submit.

Now comes the waiting to see what, if anything, comes of it. And I do mean wait… The “long list” gets published in September. Ugh. I’m sure there are a great many entries, so it’s not that surprising. Still, I’d like to know sooner than that! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I expect to win or even be long-listed. I’d just like to know. I guess I still need to learn how to just let it go and accept the not knowing. Always a work in progress!

Then there’s the second competition. A piece of fiction, which had to include a black notebook and a $20,000 windfall, and be between 600-2000 words. For some reason, this one felt uncomfortable. So much so, I nearly didn’t submit! I went back and forth in my head – I will, it’s a good little story. I won’t, it’s just a silly story. I will. I won’t. And on and on.

At the last minute, I did. Why not? I’d done the work, so might as well. And this one is actually already published online. Maybe that’s why it made me feel uncomfortable – knowing it would be there, living online. It’s a site called Vocal – a forum for writers to submit their work, build readership, enter competitions (with prize money) and even make a little money. The more your work is read, the more money you make. It’s not a lot of money, mind you – it certainly won’t make you rich, but hey. Why not?

Shameless self-promotion side-bar. Would you take a few minutes to read my piece? As a new contributor to the site, it would be good for my profile. And if you want to “like” my piece, that would be awesome too. And really, NO PRESSURE! Apparently you need to sign up to be able to “like”, and that could be taking things too far. If it is, just step away.

Ugh…enough of that.

If you had told me a year ago that I would write and submit three pieces to two competitions, I would have looked at you sideways and said “really?” I’ve always enjoyed writing, but hadn’t put much thought into it. Now that I have done this, I feel a sense of accomplishment. That’s right, whether my work is deemed worthy of a prize or not, it feels amazing simply to have sent it in.

Sometimes you just need to take that step. Even if it feels like you’re jumping off a swing into the abyss. What’s the worst that can happen? People won’t like what I’ve written? Oh well. Not everyone’s going to think my pieces are fun, or good or exciting or well-written. I’m not trying to please everyone. I’m just writing, and putting it out there.

And the putting it out there feels good. The putting it out there is the accomplishment.

I can’t seem to help myself these days – I’m still thinking about travels past and future. Why not? So here are a few more fun and whacky moments that make me smile.

Photo by Mike on

1.Ever receive a call at a phone booth, that you weren’t expecting?

Okay, I promise there will be stories from places other than London – but this one, this one is something else. One of my best friends had come to visit, on her way to backpacking through Europe. Just before leaving Canada, A.M. had started dating T, but he was not on this trip. One evening we were hanging out at my apartment in St. John’s Wood. Allison’s brother C and my boyfriend R walked in, announcing there was a call for A.M. What???

Every day A.M. would call T from a payphone at the park right across the street. He would call her back so that she didn’t have to keep loading the phone with change. T was missing her, and his friends at work told him to call. He resisted at first, knowing she wouldn’t be at the phone booth waiting. Then he figured why not just call?

As the pay phone rang, C and R were walking by, and decided to answer. When they heard someone ask for A.M., they told him to hold on and came to get her.

Crazy. Funny. Awesome. We could barely believe it, and still laugh at the memory. FYI, A.M. and T are still together, happily married.

2.Dutch passport control.

I was in Belfort, France for work, and heading to Amsterdam for a quick visit before flying back to Vancouver. I left my little inn in the mountains at about 5am, which in and of itself felt strange. It was dark out, nobody was up but me, and feeling like a spy in a novel, I slipped out the door.

I decided to take the train from Belfort, as I love train travel. The journey took me from Belfort to Brussels, where I boarded the train to Amsterdam. In Antwerp the train would split into two separate trains, both going to Amsterdam, but by different routes. Before we got to that stop, the conductor looked at my ticket and told me I needed to change cars to be in the train that matched the route on my ticket. I did what I was told.

Once we crossed over into Holland, Dutch border patrol came on to check our passports and tickets (ah the days pre European Union!). The conversation that ensued when I showed them my passport and ticket was this:

Him: You are on the wrong train. You need to pay XXXX more (I can’t remember what the amount was, somewhere around $40 Canadian). Cash, of course.

Me: But my ticket is for Amsterdam, and this train is going to Amsterdam.

Him: But you should have been on the train going via the western Dutch border, and this train is going via the eastern Dutch border.

Me: But we are still going to Amsterdam, and my ticket is for Amsterdam.

Him: You are from Canada, right?

Me: Yes, I am.

Him: Sighing….It would be like if you bought a train ticket from Canada to Mexico to go along the western border, but got on the train that went down the eastern border. The price would be different.

How the heck was I going to argue that one? First of all, Holland is the size of a postage stamp – unlike Canada. Second, who takes a train from Canada to Mexico? Third, if there were trains from Canada to Mexico, would you have to board in Winnipeg…and decide if you wanted the east or west coast route? I had to bite my tongue not to laugh in his face.

I paid. The experience was well worth the cash. I hope he enjoyed a nice dinner…

3.Airport transfer in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

I have a full post on this little story, so I won’t go into great detail here. Suffice it to say that it remains one of my favourite experiences. Sometimes you just have to trust that the universe has your back and that all will be well – despite someone taking your passport and boarding pass because you apparently needed to have your luggage tags changed, even though they were checked into your final destination when leaving Bangkok.

It was a good reminder that in this day and age of technology, where travel is easy and you don’t have to stop and speak to locals, it is always better to actually do so. They might even buy you breakfast, just because.

4. Lufthansa special treatment.

It’s not often you are met at your plane and chauffeured to your next flight! We had left London an hour late, which meant I landed in Munich at the time I was to be boarding my flight to Rome. I asked the attendant if I would be put on a later flight. After looking into it, she told me a vehicle would meet us on the tarmac, I would be taken to border control so they could stamp my passport, then driven to my plane. I would make the flight. I asked her if my luggage would also have a car – she didn’t think it was as funny a question as I did.

It was something else. When we got to the plane for Rome, we arrived at the same time as the busses of people from the terminal. The busses would not unload until I got out of the vehicle and on the plane. Instead of not making my flight, I was the first one on. Mind blown.

My luggage did not get so lucky. It arrived the following day.

5. Columbian Adventure – my first military check point.

While in Bogotà, a friend and I were invited to a little island off the north coast called Isla Fuerte.

We flew from Bogotà to Montería, where we were picked up at the airport and driven through the countryside to the coastal town of La Rada. From there we would take a 30-minute boat ride to the island.

On our way to La Rada, we were stopped by Columbian military for a “routine check”. Andrés (our host) asked us to give him our passports, and get out of the jeep (we all had to). He assured us there was nothing to worry about. This is a man who worked in government and was involved in the sport/Olympic world, and has a house on the island. He was no stranger to this. To me, being out in jungle like countryside, with military officials and their machine guns checking our documentation felt surreal.

Thankfully, he was right. It was “business as usual” for them. And we were quickly back on the road. Phew!

6.That time I got to sit in the cockpit for landing.

Clearly this was pre-9/11. I was flying from Vancouver to Paris via London and couldn’t sleep, so asked to go speak with the pilots. The airplane was a Lockheed 10-11, and the cockpit had a crew of three – pilot, co-pilot and navigation guy. There was also a jumper seat behind the pilot, which I was invited to sit in while we chatted. Eventually a flight attendant came to get me as they were about to serve breakfast before landing. I said my goodbyes and thank you’s, and the pilot said “see you again on your way home.” I mentioned I would be flying back to Montreal, not Vancouver, and he said he flew that route as well. “Then I’ll see you, and maybe be in here for take-off and landing?” I figured it didn’t hurt to ask.

As breakfast ended, the flight attendant came to find me and asked if I wanted to go back into the cockpit. I nodded as my insides screamed HELL YES! I buckled myself into the jumper seat, which gave me a clear view out the window. Our pilot had asked the co-pilot which runway we were assigned. It was runway “5”. He requested a change to runway “1”, and I watched as the city approached. Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, St. Paul’s Cathedral all came into view. The crew was pointing everything out to me, and I didn’t have the heart to tell them that I’d lived in London for a year and knew what I was looking at. The plane was on auto-pilot for much of the approach, and then the pilot took over and landed us safe and sound. As they did their post-flight communications and checks, I whispered a thank you and silently left, not believing my incredible luck.

As I look forward to the days where travel will be allowed again, I marvel and chuckle over some of the experiences I have had. Travel is truly a wonderful education.

Get out and see the world – if and when you can. There’s so much to experience. You don’t have to go far, and it doesn’t have to cost you much. You just need to open your eyes, ears and heart and see what’s out there for you.