Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I Can't Win for Trying

Have you ever been in a situation where no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try or how much you compromise, you just can't win?

And these situations are always the ones where each person you speak to about it gives you conflicting advice.  So you suck it up and try every single piece of advice you're given, to no avail.  And the most painful thing about all this advice is that everybody is so sure you just haven't been trying hard enough or doing it the right way.....all completely oblivious of just how hard you actually have been trying.

Well the other day someone said the most revolutionary thing to me.  "maybe you're trying too hard".  I don't think I've ever heard that phrase before.  It seems so completely counter-cultural.  Isn't our whole North American Society built on the tenet of success being a direct result of effort?  That your life is exactly what you've worked to make it?  If you are dissatisfied with your body, work at a diet and exercise plan.  If you are dissatisfied with your job, work harder to make it better. 

But somehow the words ressonated as sound to me.  I am so tired of trying, it's exhausting!  And trying is not getting me anywhere, which is so demotivating.  There should be a "never give up" prize!  It's hard to keep stepping up to bat when you strike out every single time!

So, I am officially done.  I'm not going to try anymore.
Here's the weird part, making this decision has been completely liberating.  I'm not sad, or feeling like a failure - I just feel free and lighter somehow.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


It's amazing how living a week in a poverty stricken area changes your perspective.  I spent all of last week on a Mission's Trip in Benton Harbor, Michigan.  In true American style this extreme poverty was side by side with opulence.  St. Joseph's, just a 2 minute drive across the bridge reminded me of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Benton Harbor Vs. St. Joe's

Don't count them totally down and out though, they've got some pretty cool ministries and programs going on, like I'm Saving Myself.

Hardest week I've had in a while: outdoor work with no shade, all week - in an extreme heat warning. Cold showers, with a 3 minute time limit, not that it mattered, I would start sweating again before I had finished drying off.  Very very little sleep... which always makes things feel worse.

There were some awesome highlights too - getting to finish a house, and see our handiwork; swimming in the lake; the foot washing ceremony; Kilwin's ice cream; fireworks in the parking lot....and my biggest highlight - I got a Rap!  Yep, that's right, some of the kids were freestylin' - and Juan rapped about me :) Mostly that I had cool hair, and was wearing a pink shirt, but it was awesome!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It's only a Felony

I spent all of last week in St. Petersburg Florida for work.  Now if you buy the city's advertising, St. Pete's boasts Florida's best beaches, and a great and friendly marine life (including manatees and dolphins) which often comes to shore..... Not that I would know, I saw little more than the inside of the hotel and my office.

It thunderstormed every single day that week, and the humidity kept climbing - even when you thought it couldn't get any higher.  It was stifling, and I feel like that's an understatement.

I had some trouble sorting out a flight home, and ended up staying through to Saturday.  So I found myself late Friday afternoon bored out of my mind, with work completed and stuck in the hotel because of the storm outside. 

To pass the time I decided to make use of the Spa located in the hotel, and get a manicure.  It was a very expensive manicure ($27) which I anticipated as a Spa located in a Hilton Hotel.  So despite the fact that it's about twice the price of a manicure at home, I went ahead and booked it.

I arrived for my manicure, and was introduced to my manicurist.  She was completely covered in tattoos, including one on her bicep which I thought was Freddy Mercury, but it turns out it was Burt Reynolds.  Not a problem or anything, just an unusual look for a manicurist in a Spa in a fancy hotel.  She also had a ring through the middle of her nose, which looked like the ring you find in a bull's nose.  And to top off her look, she had several piercings in each ear, with her primary piercing having spacers in, and the hole was looking big enough to carry the nail polish bottle in it.

Normally when you get a professional manicure, there are numerous steps include a hand and wrist massage some cuticle clean-up, and a soft filing of the nail bed itself, not just a sharing of the nail.  I got a very quick soak, nail shaping file, and then the polish.  That's it.  I paid $27 dollars for less care than I give myself at home for free.

So putting that aside, I was of course chatting with my manicurist.  I have no idea how we got on the subject, but she mentioned that she was ineligible to vote, because she was a felon.  Not the typical thing you expect to hear form your manicurist.  Then she went on to explain that it's not a big deal, it was only a DUI with a drug possession charge.  Trying to take it all in a stride, we continue our conversation.  So we get on to how she can in fact go through a process to have her record expunged, that it takes 10 years and that it can get expensive.  When I suggested that she might want to start the process sooner than later, since it is a 10 year process....she said she had started it, but you have to have a clean record for that 10 year period, and she was recently arrested again for a DUI.

At this point in my experience I was at the tail end of my pretty crappy half service manicure, but I had a strong conviction to smile and say it's great, and tip well.  I was most definitely not interested in incurring the wrath of my felon-manicurist.
She was in fact a nice girl, who had obviously gotten herself into a bit of a cycle of trouble.  In retrospect, I wonder if this is an intentional strategy on the Spa's part to ensure good revenue.  Not a bad plan if you ask me - it most definitely worked on me.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Best Laid Plans

I have always considered myself a very logical and rational person.  In fact I have prided myself on it.
I think my ideal state might actually be Vulcan.

I remember going to a funeral in support of a work colleague who's baby had died unexpectedly.  I was in the car with 3 other colleagues, and I said something to effect of "I think I am a cold person".  I was contemplating how I often find I am not as emotional or upset as a situation seems to warrant.  I actually have a little trick I employ to keep from crying - I do math in my head.  It's amazing how multiplication tables can stave off tears.

So this being my Modus Operendi - I have been a little taken aback this week as I have come to the  realization that I am ruled by my emotions just as much as the next guy, in a very surprising way.

I noticed how I allow the way I feel about something to drive me to believe that thing is true, and find "evidence" to support that feeling of truth. 

For example when I wake-up feeling like I look good today.  Somehow on those days my clothes fit a little bit looser, my teeth seem a little bit whiter, and my hair seems a little bit less unruly.  If I wake-up the very next day feeling unpretty - my clothes feel tight, I often say I feel like I look like a sausage stuffed into a casing on days like that.
In reality, it's unreasonable to believe that the girth of my figure or the whiteness of my teeth can perceptibly change from a single day to the very next day.  Now the frizz in my hair...that's a whole other story.

This holds true for more than just my appearance.  It somehow manages to effect my intelligence as well.  Do you ever have days when you just feel dumb.  On those days I somehow seem to loose a large percentage of my vocabulary, ability to do simple mathematical tasks like split a bill or figure out a tip, and blank out on trivia knowledge I would normally have at the tip of my tongue.

What I haven't yet put my finger on is what sparks my emotional condition on any given day.  Is it like a bowel movement, predicated on whatever I consumed emotionally 8 hours earlier?  Maybe it's all driven by whatever I dream about.  I never remember my dreams, so this possibility certainly makes it more difficult to control.  And there in lies the rub - because without understanding what sparks emotions, how can we work to drive different emotions.

I guess the real power lies in not changing your emotions, but acknowledging them, and behaving as if they weren't there.  Which bring us back full circle to the mertis of being Vulcan.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Seven Year Itch

It's been 7 years, well in November it'll be 7. 
And in truth, I've been very happy. 
Well, ok, I've started taking it for granted. 
I don't feel that same rush of excitement I used to feel at every look, every drive.  My pride of ownership has diminished. 

And lately my eye has started to wander.
I never thought it would happen to me, and I really have no legitimate reasons to be discontent....
When I signed the contract, I made this commitment for the life of my vehicle - and it's been a very very good car to me.

Ever since I caught my first glimpse of the new Nissan Juke - I can't stop looking.
I don't know why I am so enamoured - but man did I fall hard.

My grandmother always said "love is blind, and lovers can not see" -  I never considered how that extended outside of romantic love.
I don't know a thing about the Juke - no ideas about it's safety rating, fuel efficiency, repair history, resale value - not even how it drives. 
I have completely lost my heart over the superficial appearance of it.

And my mom is shockingly not helping.  My naturally frugal mother, when I told her I really like the new Juke and find myself thinking about buying one more and more often actually encouraged me to go for it!
Who are you, and what have you done with my mother?!?

If this is what marriage is like, oh boy am I in trouble!  No wonder people lease instead of buy.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I used to be Opposed to Gay Marriage....

It's true.

Not because I was on some tyrannical rampage to eradicate the LGBT community, or out of some homophobic fear.  My opposition was never aligned to the limiting of human rights or civil liberties.

I had a hard time with sharing the word marriage. 

I remember having a conversation with a friend of mine around the time when same-sex marriage became legal in Canada.  Probably not unlike how the recent political conversations around the same issue have brought it to the forefront for many Americans these days.  I said to my friend (I can't actually remember who it was I was speaking to) that I would have felt so much more comfortable if the government had chosen to call it something else.  I didn't actually have any issues with the mutual rights, respect or privileges, just the name.

I feel like marriage is a specific religiously defined and culturally adopted institution, but because it remains at it's core a spiritual union - I had a hard time sharing the name.

But the reality is that a percentage of the people who get married, heterosexual marriage - do not necessarily consider it a spiritual union.  I would guess it's a rather large percentage (but I am only guessing based on limited anecdotal information).  So we don't use the word marriage to mean what it was originally defined to mean.  Nobody's ever put a stink up about that.  I never complained or even considered it a problem when it was an opposite sex couple. 

So if we've adopted a relatively civil and non-religious definition of marriage, then what is the issue with once again changing or expanding that civil definition. 

Now before any of my religious friends jump in to disagree - consider that I am talking about a civil definition.  For those of us who recognize or engage marriage under it's religious definition, we do so in parallel with it's civil definition (hence a marriage license).  But not everyone who gets married embraces both definitions.  We've been making a logical thinking error - it's called the "Fallacy of Affirming the Consequent"

Here's the sad part we have neglected to focus on.  In being exclusionary we've actually been oppressing others.  Where's the love in that?  In the Bible Jesus tell us that the greatest commandment is to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind: and love your neighbour as yourself."  If love is the greatest commandment - how is our deciding that one group of people (no matter what criteria we use to identify the "in group") should be treated better or deserve more rights than another.

Furthermore, we're all equally eternally damned up-front, because relationship with God, and eternal life is not something we have the ability to earn.  It's a gift freely given, and open to be received by all.  Once received, this gift does not equal to perfection or perfect living...and we all continue to struggle through this "mortal toil".

So again, I ask - what right do we have to condemn another?!?!

We live in a world where unspeakable atrocities occur daily.  Children are forced to kill others as soldiers, serve as prostitutes or slaves, die of diseases or starvation.  The majority of the world's population lives in poverty, with limited access to clean drinking water or food.  With no opportunities to be educated or build a better future.....

Imagine the world we could live in, if we choose to focus our energy, individually and collectively on speaking out against injustice and famine and other atrocities.  That conversation is what should be at the forefront these days.....