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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.
Channeling my inner Sinead O’Connor. Someone once asked me why I wore so much make-up here. I’m not. It’s no more than usual. Only there’s no hair or anything on my head to distract you….

This woman’s experience, to be exact.

There’s been a lot of talk lately – although more of it about one man’s actions than alopecia itself. So here’s a little something about experiencing alopecia. Please bear in mind everyone who experiences this does so differently. We all have unique comfort levels, priorities, insecurities, opinions, needs, etc. etc. etc.

I’d been working at Vancouver 2010 for about three years, and there were another six months to go before Games. Vancouver 2010 is by far one of the best work experiences I have had (and I’ve been lucky enough to have many wonderful work experiences). That said, it was 3 1/2 years of constant deadlines. What made this job hard wasn’t the work itself, it was the relentless nature of it. I was part of the incredible Brand & Creative Services team, and workload just got bigger and more complex as the Games approached. There was never a down time. I loved it.

I had also been in a long-distance relationship for about a year, with a man living in the UK — which brings its own ups and downs, challenges and rewards.

I thought I was handling it all pretty well, with a regular routine of yoga, working out in a boxing gym, swimming, time with friends – all the good stuff.

Then our incredible Design Director Leo passed away from a massive heart attack – he was 39, younger than me. Leo and I sat in the same pod of four, and worked closely together on a number of pretty incredible projects – many still in production at the time. The first ten days after he passed, I found my shoulders up at my ears. Full on tension, all being sent to the top of my head.

As soon as I, and my shoulders, started to relax, my scalp started feeling funny. Then it was on fire. I noticed hair in my hands as I washed each morning. For some this is “normal.” For some it’s a daily thing to find hair in their hands when they wash, doesn’t mean anything unusual is going on. Not so for me. For me this was a clear sign something was up.

Pre-alopecia me. Hanging out with The Ladies Who Dine.

I started asking my friends if they noticed anything – could they see that my hair was thinning/falling out? They all said no. Ben, who is over 6 foot tall, assured me that all looked well from his angle (I’m 5’3″).

Still, it kept happening, and soon it was even more obvious to me that something was up.

I now had a bunch of complicated feelings battling inside me:

  • For years I’d watched my mum and her sisters have their hair thin as they aged. Was this karma for those not-so-nice thoughts I had about that? About not wanting it to happen to me?
  • Was there something seriously wrong with me? Was there a serious physical issue?
  • Was everyone looking at my head and judging my hair or lack thereof? (Yes, I am aware of the self-centred nature of this…clearly people have better things to think about than the hair on my little head…but still, the thoughts, the insecurity, the fear…it takes over at times. I am only human.)
  • “Snap out of it” I’d tell myself.

Around and around it went.

Pre-alopecia, with my sisters and mum.

After a couple of trips to my doctor, the word “alopecia” became part of my vocabulary. My first visit was too soon for it to be obvious, on my second it was clear. At about this time I started wearing cute little hats/toques every day. That’s how self-conscious I was. That’s how thin my hair was getting. I walked around in fear of losing my hat, or of having someone yank it off. I just did not want anyone to see what was happening on my head. I did not want to field questions, or talk about it. I wanted to wake up and have everything back to “normal.”

Next came the appointments with dermatologists who specialize in scalp/alopecia. The one I really wanted to see didn’t have an availability for two months. Alopecia isn’t life-threatening – there’s no sense of urgency or emergency. However, I was a walking mass of mixed emotions, afraid I’d break down if anyone said anything to me. I didn’t want to wait two months to have alopecia confirmed. I wanted confirmation so I could figure out what to do about it and move on.

I ended up seeing someone at St. Paul’s Hospital. What an experience that was… It’s a teaching hospital, and I was greeted by a medical student who asked why I as there. I explained and took off my toque. He left to get the doctor, who came in, took one look at me and said “I’ll be right back.” A few minutes later he entered the room with five students, asked them to look at me and give their opinion/guess as to what my issue was. Hell, the thought of that still makes me feel a little sick, and it’s been 12 years. A bunch of words were thrown out by the students – most of which I don’t remember, other than “Lupus.” Lupus? Come on! The doctor finally interjected, confirming it was alopecia. He then spoke about what could be done to help, the first step being injections of corticosteriods all over my head. The students left, and he proceeded to administer the shots. Mostly they didn’t really feel like anything. However there were a few spots at the bottom of my head, just above my neck, that hurt.

The doctor noticed the tears in my eyes and said, “Oh, you’re crying!” My inner voice wanted to scream “NO SHIT I’M CRYING! I’VE JUST BEEN TREATED LIKE A SCIENCE EXPERIMENT, WITHOUT EVEN ASKING ME, AND NOW YOU’VE JABBED A NEEDLE INTO MY HEAD, MULTIPLE TIMES!!! Instead, what came out of my mouth was “Don’t worry about it, happens a lot these days.” With that, I left.

Had he asked me before getting the students in, having them shout out guesses, and discussing me like I wasn’t there, I would have said yes and it would have been a totally different experience. Instead, I left feeling like I was some kind of weird, whacky science experiment.

I never went back there again. Luckily the other docter I wanted to see had an opening come up a couple of weeks later. Thankfully it was a much better experience all around.

My niece Ellie, rubbing my head. People loved rubbing my bald held, and I was very much okay with that. I love having someone play with my hair, except I don’t have the kind of hair people like to play with….so this was a nice treat.

There was now about a quarter of my hair left, and it was time to decide what to do. For the record, I have never had a thick head of hair. Having only a quarter was not a pretty sight. My hair was cut in a bob just above my shoulders, with bangs, which didn’t help either. So, what to do?

I went to a store specializing in wigs made from real hair. I tried on every kind of hair style and colour I could. I’d say it was “fun,” but it was all still too raw for me. I’d always wanted long, thick, curly hair. It was one of the first wigs I tried. In that moment I learnt why it is I do not have long, thick, curly hair. It looked ridiculous. Too much hair for my little face. I took pictures of myself with the various wigs on, which I sorely wish I still had. Unfortunately they were lost when my laptop fried the following year.

I wasn’t convinced a wig was the thing for me. Didn’t matter which wig I had on, I felt I was playing dress-up. It didn’t feel like me. And I don’t know how to be anyone other than me. The thought of feeling like this day in and day out didn’t sit well. Besides, I started every day either going for a swim, to a hot yoga class, or working out at the gym. What the hell would I do with the wig then? Certainly wasn’t going to wear it.

I’d already started contemplating just shaving it all off, but that was a scary prospect too. Me, a woman, in her 40’s, walking around with a bald head?

After talking to my long-time hairdresser Haul, he opened his salon for me on a Sunday evening, so nobody else would be there to witness this. I really didn’t want anyone to see me without my hat on. We brought a bottle of wine in order to make this as ‘celebratory’ as possible, and chatted as we always do. Then he said it was time to take my hat off and do it. “I look like I’m a cancer patient,” I said. “I’ve worked with plenty of cancer patients,” he replied. I sat down, and took my hat off. As I dialed my sister Hélène so she could “be there” as it happened (she had been encouraging me to shave my head), Haul got to work. Chitt chatty Haul was gone, and before I knew it, half my heald was shaved. As my hair fell to the floor, so did my worry, so did the stress of the the 2 1/2 months leading to this moment.

It was also a relief to see there were no strange bumps or dents or acne on my head. Seriously, you don’t know until it’s all gone!

Haul and I looked at each other, smiled, and agreed that we should have shaved my head a long, long time ago.

We also joked that he should have started with the middle of my head and given me a comb over, and taken photos. There’s no way I could have done that though – not until all the hair was gone and I was happy with the woman in the mirror looking back at me – could I have joked like this.

From a photo shoot. Shiny bald head. Baring all. This is me.

Haul had also booked a family in for hair cuts, well after he knew we would be done. We decided to put my toque back on, and when the mum and her two teenagers arrived he introduced us. He told them he’d given me just about every hair cut and colour out there (true story), but it was the first time we had done this…and he lifted my toque, exposing my freshly-shaved head. The 17-year old son said “wow, that’s sooo cool!” And with that, with the acceptance of a teenage boy, my confidence started coming back. For the record, his mum and sister also said they liked it. It’s just he was way more effusive in his reaction.

Now came the test of “wearing” this new non-hair-do daily. I was nervous as I walked into the office that Monday morning, still sporting a toque. Then my friend Julie asked me to take it off so she could see what it looked like. Julie’s reaction was so heartwarming, as was my friend Carla’s. Carla was sat at her desk, and upon hearing Julie, turned around and said “You look so beautiful.” More insecurities dropped. I didn’t wear my hat again that day.

The next morning I walked into my gym wearing a sporty Nike head cap. My trainer Richard looked at me and said “you shaved your head, why are you wearing that? Take it off.” So I took it off – hey, after years of working out with Richard, I was used to following his orders! He said I looked great, others who came into the gym said the same.

After that, the only reason I wore a toque again was temperature. It was November…you realize quickly how much heat you lose from your head when there’s nothing covering it.

My friends Terry and JoAnne throw a themed Christmas party every year (non-COVID year, of course). When Terry said he wanted the theme to be “bad hair, bad make-up” I said YESSSSS! I knew exactly what I’d do. One tip: be careful of using carpet tape to adhere a wig to your freshly shaven head. I cut out the bald area of the wig and needed to make sure it stayed. Another party-goer looked at me and said “Wow, you go all out for a party!” I didn’t have the heart to tell her I’d been shaving my head for two years. I left this party and went to another, hosted by Carla. Hers was not a themed party. Hers was a pretty party. I walked in with the comb over wig on. I didn’t know the first two people I saw as I entered, and the look on their faces was priceless. I smiled and said hello. Carla heard me and replied “Lise is here!” Then she walked around the corner, saw me and exclaimed, “Take that thing off!” Oh man, this still makes me laugh so hard.

Even though it was barely 2 1/2 months from the moment I initially noticed hair loss to shaving my head, it was a long road to get there – filled with doubts, tears and “why?” questions. The road also included a lot of support from family and friends. Friends who introduced me to others who had alopecia with whom I spoke and learnt. When I told my friend and boss Ali that I was going to shave my head because of alopecia, she sent me an email with photos of her “favourite super model, who was known for having a shaved head.” Shawn, a co-worker and friend, told me I was “rockin’ the bald look.” My friends Laura and Vicky, who looked at me in disbelief when I told them I’d gone to the wig shop, and said “Why did you do that alone? We would have gone with you!” In truth, although I took some physical steps on my own (well, ALL physical steps that is), I was never “alone.” With me, battling the fear, the insecurity, the “why’s,” was the support of my friends and family.

Even with all this support, it wasn’t always roses and sunshine. I remember looking at myself in the mirror one day, and seeing a woman with black boots, jeans, a black t-shirt and a black pleather jacket.
“Be careful,” the voice in my head said. “You don’t want to look too butch.” Whaaaattt??? No matter what, the insecurities have a way of popping back in, and sometimes with the craziest of statements.

I got used to my bald head quickly enough. And then, I lost most of my eyebrows. Weirdly, they fell from the inside out – leaving just a few brow hairs on the sides. A bald head was one thing. No eyebrows on top of that was another. I went into MAC and was taught how to draw my brows. Problem was, I apparently have a tendeny to touch my face a lot. The first time I drew on my brows and went out for dinner, I got home and noticed I’d smudged them all over my forehead. Clearly this wasn’t going to work. I just needed to get used to having no brows. Fortunately, they came back quickly.

On the plus side, I never needed to shave my armpits or legs, and it did give me the best “bikini wax” ever.

They say alopecia is an auto-imune condition, inflammation that causes hair to fall out. The dermatologist I saw for well over a year told me it was likely a gene I have, and an emotional stresser set it off. That made sense to me. My completely un-scientific explanation is that after Leo passed, I held a ton of stress in my shoulders, pushed it all up to the top of my head, and fried the inside of it. No wonder my hair fell out.

For some, alopecia comes in a spot or spots on their head. For me it was all over, and it was aggressive. For some, alopecia is a life-long condition. For me, it lasted about two years. Let me tell you, I was naiive at first, thinking that it would all come back immediately after I shaved my head. The body, however, needs time to heal.

The photo shoot I ended up doing to comemorate this time in my life led to an article in Best Health Magazine. My photographer had been in touch with the magazine about a different article and had submitted some of my photos. They chose to do an article about alopecia instead. Thank you Cathy Empey – I am forever grateful for these beautiful images.

Although my hair is back, I often consider shaving it off again – especially when summer comes. Let me tell you I LOVED my little tanned head! It also makes dealing with sweaty summer days easier when you don’t have to “worry about your hair.”

All this to say…like most things in life, alopecia is a very personal experience. Although shaving and walking around with a bald head felt right for me, it won’t for others. Although wearing a wig or hat or scarf every day didn’t feel right for me, it will for others. It’s all good – everyone needs to do what works for them, what makes them happy.

To those of you who approached me at a time when I just didn’t have it in me to talk about it, I am sorry. I did, and do, appreciate that you took the time to ask. It’s just that sometimes I got tired of answering the questions. I’m still only human.

Lastly, I really wish I’d written down all the interactions I had with strangers while I shaved my head. Not one of them was mean or insensitive. I leave you now with a few of my favourites.

Vancouver 2010 – behind the scenes at the nightly medals ceremonies at BC Place, watching them on the monitor backstage. Thank you Byron for capturing that moment for me.

1.The first time strangers said “God bless you” to me. I was producing the medal ceremonies at BC Place, and decided to go into the audience to watch. Two women sitting behind me got up after the ceremony and said “God bless you and your family.” Confused, I looked at them and repeated the same greeting. As I ran up the stairs to the concourse level and my office, I stopped and thought “ooohhhh! They think I have cancer, that’s why they said that!” You see, eventually you forget you are walking around with a shiny bald head, because it becomes “normal” to you – at least it did for me. So when these women said “God bless”, I couldn’t figure out why. It took a few moments to come to me.

2.The time I was at the Ukranian Centre with The Ladies Who Dine for perogi night. An older man (also with a bald head) came to me and asked what I did to get my head that shiny. It was so cute. Unfortunately for him I didn’t have a secret to share. I’d shaved in the shower that morning, and it was just shiny. Before leaving, he looked at me and said, “I knew it would be okay to ask. My wife and her friend said I couldn’t, but I knew it would be.” Yes. Totally fine to ask.

3.The time I was in Mexico post Games, at Bikini Boot Camp (now that’s a way to rest!). A fellow boot camp attendee looked at me and said, “Why did you shave your head?” We talked, and eventually she also asked, “Don’t you like how I just came out and asked?” Yes. Yes I certainly did. It was just a question, one borne from genuine interest. Natalie became, and still is, one of my favourite people and good friend.

4.That time I did a photo shoot, and my bestie Julie came with me “to creative direct” and lend moral support. It was a long drive out to the valley for this shoot. I had decided I wanted to commemorate this time. Like I said, I naiively thought my hair would all be back quickly. Julie not only came with me to the shoot, she came with me to pick up the cd with the photos when they were ready, and sat with me at Olive Garden as we looked through them and ate lunch. I’m so happy I have a photo of the two of us that day. That shoot also provided me with the photo I use as the banner for this blog site – it’s perfect for “random thoughts from Lise’s head.”

With Julie at the photo shoot. The support and love of friends and family – and even strangers – means everything.

5.That time I was walking through Yaletown with my friend Sheena, and a man who had been sitting at a café jumped up, tapped me on the shoulder and told me how awesome my shaved head was. He went on to say he felt it was wonderful to see a woman with the strength and confidence to do that, and that I looked great. I’m pretty sure I looked like a deer in headlights at the time — I don’t do well when surprised like that. However, whoever you were, I very much appreciated it.

6.That time an older lady stopped me in the grocery store parking lot. She said she had been diagnosed with cancer, was considering shaving her head, and wanted to know how it felt. She had to be in her mid-sixties. After asking her how she was doing, and saying I hoped all would be well, I assured her it felt great. Then she asked, “But what do the men think?” I looked at her and said, “The young men like it.” It’s true. Men my age usually didn’t say much – likely skirting it because they thought it was cancer (which is why I appreciated the actions of the man in the moment described above). She shrugged her shoulders and replied, “Well, that’s good for you….” I smiled and said, “No, that’s good for EVERYBODY.”

If you have stayed with me to the end of this, thank you so much. Hopefully I’ve given you a little insight to what it means for a woman to face alopecia.

Be well.

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!

On the road – or rather in the air – again!

Okay, it’s no Love In The Time of Cholera, but hey, we can’t all be Gabriel García Márquez!

On September 1, 2021, I made my way to the airport for the first time in 17 months. Given the last 10 years of my life, 17 months without a flight of any kind was a very long hiatus. And this was going to be different, that I knew. Heck, it was already different – given I’d had a PCR test done and was carrying the results with me so I’d be allowed to board the plane (and enter the destination country).

The airport was relatively quiet – although not as empty as when I made my way back to Canada from Tokyo in April of 2020. Still, not all outlets were open, and airport lounges either closed or operating at reduced service levels. Not that it makes much difference to me, as I rarely eat or drink much in the lounge.

With fewer flights available, and less than full, I wonder how the airlines are surviving. Cargo, I suppose, is the answer to that.

My journey took me from Montréal to Istanbul to Jakarta. Both in Montreal and Istanbul I had to show a number of different documents to ensure I could board – not only the PCR test result, but additional paperwork stating I was allowed to enter Indonesia, which had closed its doors to international travel. After a 14-hour layover in Instanbul, I waited patiently as the proper approvals were obtained from Jakarta. When I was finally given permission to board, I found my seat and relaxed. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to find myself on a plane, getting ready for an 11-hour flight.

The arrival in Jakarta was smooth – with signage clearly indicating where to go, forms to fill, and validation of all documents.

I was allowed in. So far, so good.

Now came the eight-day quarantine. I wondered how I’d fare as you can’t leave the room at all during this time. Turns out I was fine. It didn’t bother me at all. I’m not sure what that says about me? I was working all day anyway, so it didn’t matter where I was. I started my days with a breath work and meditation routine, and on some days yoga. As much as I’d vowed I would do the yoga daily…that didn’t happen. Oh well…

Meals were delivered three times a day – in a little black bento box. You could choose an “Asian” or “Western” meal. I mostly stuck to Asian, except for breakfast.

It was usually cold, luke-warm at best. Any time it did arrive “hot” was cause for celebration. Can’t be easy to prepare meals and deliver them at different times to a bunch of rooms. At one point I think there were almost 30 members of my team in quarantine!
I quickly learned that for breakfast all I really wanted was fruit. No need for eggs and potatoes (and sometimes rice and pasta) for breakfast for this girl!
I was intrigued by the lovely, although strange, colours of “pudding” that showed up – never enough to actually eat it though. Purple, blue, green, pink…I have no idea what kind of pudding it was, but the colours of the rainbow were well represented. It’s consistency was also interesting – very “jelly-wobbly.” Those baby bananas though…those I could eat all day long!

In short, it wasn’t the best food I’ve ever eaten, but it wasn’t horrible either. Besides, what did I have to complain about? A meal was delivered to my door three times a day, the food was edible, I didn’t have to make it, and I didn’t have to clean up. There are definitely worse things (like no food at all).

Some of my coworkers told me they went a little squirly at day four. Likely because none of the windows opened, so we couldn’t let any fresh air in (even hot, humid air is better than no air!).

By this time airlines and countries had been dealing with COVID travel for over a year, and the systems in place were pretty smooth. Still, it was odd to be on relatively empty flights.

Returning home was different. It was end of November, and clearly people were traveling for the holidays. My flight from Jakarta to Istanbul was full, as was my flight from Istanbul to Montréal. I’m sure the airline was happy for that. Thankfully everyone wore their masks, and all airlines provide you with some disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer and extra masks.

Other notable differences included countries now requiring passengers to upload their vaccine proof prior to finalizing flight check-in, ensuring pre-qualification. For my time in Istanbul, this meant having the Turkish app downloaded on my phone, which was required for entry into the country, into malls and stores, and for purchasing a transit pass. For my return to Canada, it meant downloading the ArriveCan app and filling in all the requisite information about my vaccines, pre-departure PCR test and arrival quarantine plan (in case it was required). I know many other countries are doing the same.

Flight plan maps certainly have improved! I do like waking up after a nap and seeing how far we have flown. I continue to be amazed that we can step on a plane and within a relatively small amount of time find ourselves in a completely different part of the world.

My latest trip demonstrated airlines are now able to adjust depending on the destination country. Before flying to Germany at the end of December, Air Canada required I upload my vaccine proof. This pre-qualification meant that upon arrival in Germany, my documents were barely scanned (most importantly though, I have the stamp in my passport!). For my return from Germany, I didn’t need to upload my vaccine proof, but I did require a PCR test within 72 hours of my departure flight, with a negative result, of course. The PCR test and ArriveCan app, were the only requirements, as I am a Canadian returning home. Upon arrival in Montréal I was tested, and had to isolate at home until my negative result arrived – which luckily came via email the following evening.

Unlike the November and December flights home, the flights to Frankfurt and back were half full at most. Makes for nice comfy flights for me, but it can’t be good for the airline. Let’s see what happens to airlines and the cost of flying as this COVID thing drags on (hopefully not much longer…please!).

One thing is for sure, if you are flying anywhere these days do your homework about requirements before you go anywhere (including prior to your return home).

Safe and healthy travels!

Once out of quarantine I was on another flight – to Papua, Indonesia. Well worth arriving to this beautiful (and remote) spot! It’s a five-hour flight from Jakarta. That said, seeing a parking lot for retired planes at the end of the runway left a less-than-secure feeling! I suppose there’s not much else to do with retired planes on a small island…

This week I feel the need for a little levity. So here’s another dabble at some creative writing. I had a lot of fun writing this one.

I hope you enjoy!

Ooohhhh is she reaching for me? Yes…I think she is…



Not me…

She went for the spatula again. Ugh. Why the spatula? I can mix those scones just as well as the spatula can. Even if I am made of wood and not rubber. 

I may be crazy, but I think there’s just no replacement for a wooden spoon, and I’m so happy that’s what I am. 

I love it when I am called upon to soften butter – even cold butter is no match for me! My favourite though, is when I get to mix chocolate chip cookies. The creamy batter and the nuggets of chocolate are a joy to swirl around. Chocolate chip cookies are also a guarantee that I’ll get tickled by the kids in the house as they lick the batter off me. One of these days I am going to laugh so hard I’ll split, I’m just sure of it!

Every now and again I get to take a bath in a pot of hot soup or sauce. I especially like that when it’s cold outside. The days where curry or chili is on the menu, I bask in the spices and and hope that I get to lounge in their warmth for a while. I always feel like I have had a spa treatment on those occasions. Although, I could do without the turmeric and how it turns my natural wood tones yellow.

There are a few of us wooden spoons in the kitchen and I like that. When I wake up from my recurring nightmare of being used to spank a naughty child and breaking in two, they understand and can calm me down. We aren’t sure this ever really happens, or even where we heard about it, but we know it’s not something we ever want to experience. We would all much prefer to remain here and in use until we’re just too tired to work again.

It’s bad enough we get thrown into the dishwasher and have to put up with hot water forcefully splashing all around us, almost to the point of drowning. I can’t begin to imagine how much splitting in two after whacking someone would hurt. I much prefer it when she decides to gently wash me with in the kitchen sink with her hands and the washcloth. A bath, a massage and a warm cloth. Now that just feels good.

Hmmmm. As I lay here and wait for her to call upon me again, I’ll just think of that – a bath, massage and warm cloth.

Aaaaahhhhh bath time!


Special thanks to A Simple Sketchbook for bringing Sammy to life!