Lance Armstrong’s Fall from Grace

We pressure stars to be perfect

Lance Armstrong dethroned.  Everyone has a strong opinion; either he was just the scapegoat  (poor him) or he is a lying, cheating, disgraced human being.  Me,  I try to  resist having a knee jerk reaction and (I believe innate) inclination to want to quickly classify someone as all “good” or all “bad”.  Situations are complex, people are complex.

Society tends to claim heroes, we declare them as admirable, role models and expect perfection of them.  Sports and movie stars generally don’t think of themselves as perfect (at least not in the beginning), that becomes a socially constructed expectation.  We don’t allow them to be normal and they in turn, want to achieve impossible tasks, like 7 straight titles or shattering world records.

The social pressure has created a generation that feels it must achieve, at any cost.  So when we look at Lance Armstrong (or Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt), we need to examine society.  If we did not put our stars on a pedestals, or pigeonhole them as heroes, perhaps they would be more comfortable being normal people.  They could simply be ordinary people who laugh, cry, struggle, hurt, achieve, and have great failures along with their great successes.

If we treat our stars like normal people, there will be no pedestal to fall from.  Lance Armstrong did a lot of good things in his life, and, he has also done some bad things.  But it is not for us to decide which way the weigh scale leans.  We can only look at our attitude and treatment of stars in general.

How about you, what do you think about how stars are regarded in our society??

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Actions Have Consequences

Cause and Effect

There are many theories on parenting, experts teach consequence parenting or attachment parenting.  These are great deliberate parenting styles, but really, whether we like it or not, we are always teaching our children that actions have consequences.  Parents may not even realize that every thing they do, every reaction they have, teaches our children “cause and effect”.

Johnny had a bad day and has a tantrum in the grocery store.  Innocently enough, Mom panics, feels embarrassed and buys Johnny a chocolate bar.  Lesson learned, I scream – I get a chocolate bar, I’ll have to try that again soon !

Unfortunately kids are learning some messed up consequences these days.

  •  I lose my phone, mom buys me a new one
  • I fail my math test, dad writes a nasty note to the teacher
  •  I miss the bus, I get door to door car service to school
  •  I don’t pick up my backpack from daycare, my parents carry it for me
  •  I don’t clean my room, it gets cleaned somehow (mom?)
  •  I don’t eat my dinner, I get better stuff an hour later
  •  I forget my homework at home, my parents will deliver it
  •  I scream and run around a restaurant, dad says, “hey stop that”
  •  I continue screaming in the restaurant, dad says “hey stop that”
  •  I continue screaming in the restaurant, dad gives up and ignores me
  •  I don’t do my homework, I still get to watch TV
  • I whine and sulk, my mom lets me have whatever I want
  • I get drunk and come home late, my parents nag
  • I tell my parents off, life goes on, no consequence

Wake up parents, it is your job to prepare your children for the real world, a world where speeders get tickets.  If you don’t go to work, you get fired and if you are late, you miss the train or plane. You are not doing your child any favours by not teaching him realistic cause and effect.  Do your job, it may seem harsh, but in the end, they will become responsible adults who know actions have consequences.

What Do I Love Doing??

I have been watching a few Ted Talks lately that all echo the same sentiment —  Find your passion or Do what you love.  That is great advice and I do think I do a decent job enjoying life.  But really, when I think about it,  I also spend a fair amount of time online or watching TV.  So is there something else I should be doing?  Something I am passionate about??

So what do I love doing?  I think if money were no object, for sure, I would travel more, perhaps volunteer or teach English far far away.  But really, I would not love leaving Al to do that.  On second thought, I am happy travelling with him a couple times a year.

So, what else do I love doing?  I  love being outdoors, walking, hiking, sitting, reading. I  also love cooking, trying new recipes. I love teaching one on one.  I like writing, can’t say I love it, since I am just not that good at it. But I would love to be good at it, so I appreciate it as a process, and I love that.  I like taking pictures.  The love is not there yet, because the skill is not there.  What is it Malcomn Gladwell said?, you have to do something 10,000 times to become an expert.

Skor Bars

I love reading the right book, but hate wasting time reading the wrong book.  I begrudge the time and money spent on “Fifty Shades of Grey” I also hate looking at book reviews to try to find the right book.  So I wait until someone gives me a book and guarantees that I will love it.  This is what happened to me and the Poisonwood Bible. I love Independent movies, foreign independent movies are even better.  I am also loving the television series, Parenthood. It is so authentic.

I love my family, love spending time with them.   I wish I could sit around with them, chatting about everything and nothing.  But when they are settled, I will visit them…..often.

I love Googling, the search for an answer, the perfect destination, the age of a movie star, or the life expectancy of a zebra.  You name it, I love Googling it !!

So where does this leave me.  I probably do spend too much time watching TV, but really there is not a giant list of unfulfilled desires in my life.  Still though, I feel the Ted Talks should motivate some change in me. So here are my four changes.

  1.  I will not watch TV for the sake of watching TV, it has to be a show I want to watch
  2. I make at least one new recipe a week
  3. I will take more photos
  4. I will write in my blog regularly

What about you, what do you love doing? And are you really spending enough time doing what you love?

50th Birthday Trip …. Where to Go?????

Where in the world should I take the Birthday boy??

Al turns 50 in June. This guy has been the love of my life for over 30 years. He has always put the kids and I before himself. The only time he has splurged on himself was for the odd piece of camera equipment. So, I have known for some time now that I wanted to give him an awesome 50th birthday trip. In case you are wondering, both of us really don’t want a birthday party, we love travel, so a trip is almost an unspoken gift we give each other for special occasions.

Criteria for the birthday trip
1. Al loves playing with his camera, the location has to have lots of photo ops.
2. Al is a nature lover, the trip would be spent outdoors in nature.
3. Al loves animals, as hard as they are to photograph, he is always chasing that perfect bird photo. So birds and animals have to be part of the trip
4. We both hate crowds, so a lesser known travel destination is preferred
5. We don’t like the constraints of other peoples itineraries, so no tours, cruises etc, The trip has to be independent travel
6. The trip has to be special and unique (like Al) It needs to have a “wow” factor.
7. We like to be active, and fortunately still are relatively fit, so the trip needs to involve enough activity
8. Weather, and this is more for me than Al, I really don’t like being cold and wet.
9. The trip can not cost an arm and a leg.

So I started with a list of options
Iceland, Yellowstone Park, Yosemite Park, rafting the Colorado River, Dominica and Puerto Rico. I googled my way to a fair amount of knowledge about the prospective locales. I really wanted to plan the trip as a surprise, but in the end, it was too important for this to really be THE trip that Al would love, so I started consulting with him.

But alas, I discovered something quite cool. That is when, I pretty much decided on my own that Puerto Rico was it. It is sea turtle nesting season around his birthday. It was meant to be, how cool would it be to see Sea turtles. I know it is not a sure thing, but snorkeling, caving, a rain forest and a good chance of seeing Sea Turtles. That sounds like it would be the perfect place for Al and I to celebrate a 50th birthday. Who knows, maybe he will even get dive certified by then.

So excited !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Update after the trip: Puerto Rico

Sea turtles on Zoni Beach, Culebra

Culebra Island, Puerto Rico

How I Long for a Return to Simpler Times

Life, and I mean shopping, has become so complicated.  If you have purchased a phone or computer lately, you know that.

But technology aside, shopping for everything has become so complicated.  I went to buy shampoo this week. You can’t find at bottle that simply says  “shampoo”, it is fine hair, colored hair, dry ends, damaged hair, sulphate-free, phosphate-free, normal to fine hair, normal to thick hair, moisture therapy and deep therapy.  Since when did hair need therapy?

Try strolling down the cereal aisle, the place where 5-10 cereals used to be.  Well, there is more than 5 kinds of Cheerios alone. Boxes dawn slogans like “fat free”, “whole grains”, ” high fibre”, “gluten free”, “sugar free”, “all natural” and on and on.

Same complicated story for peanut butter, bread, canned tomatoes and milk.  I can’t tell you the amount of times I have arrived home with a product that was not what intended to buy.

Then one must consider environmental issues, we need to check if the product is made from recycled materials, is recyclable, harmful to the environment or people.  Is it made by children in developing countries and what carbon footprint does it leave?

When did life get so complicated?  It is no wonder I HATE shopping, it is too darned complicated.  I pine for the days of simplicity, a time when I could go shopping in 10 minutes and didn’t have to pull out my glasses to read all the labels.

How about you?  Are you thankful for all the choices, or do you long for the days when things were not so complicated?

Things I love About Autumn

Geese flying overhead with that familiar honking, almost announcing the arrival of cold weather

Season of soups and stews,  the greatest comfort foods going

Vibrant leaves painted in crazy randomness, never ceasing to leave me in awe

Apple picking, a family tradition continued

Autumn decor, pumpkins, hay, mums and gourds

Long walks in the forest, with the rustle of leaves beneath my steps

The absence of pesky bugs, that annoy us in Spring

Rich colours,  a crisp blue sky, crimson leaves and breathtaking sunsets

The return to soaking in a hot bath, enveloping my body in perfect warmth

The first waft of smoke from a woodstove warding off the dampness of Fall

Temperatures comfortable for raking, walking or swinging on the front porch

Abundant fresh veggies at the market, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots and peppers

Raking leaves, making me miss a time we raked as a family

Hold me in Your Heart for Awhile

Not many people sit and plan their funeral or memorial service. As a matter of fact, I am not really keen on parties in my honour, it just makes me feel uncomfortable. I thought I would rather just disappear with no fanfare at all. However, the first moment I heard “Hold me in Your Heart” by Warren Zevon, I knew I wanted that song played at my farewell event. It made me realize that I actually did want to be remembered. Just have a listen to this song.

While I am thinking about that perfect final song, how about some other final requests.

Pre-service request. Organ or tissue donation. If at all possible, let the medical community use what they can. Now the service…..

1. No church service, I didn’t attend church when I was alive so it would be hypocritical to go now
2. No coffin, at all, period. So that ends the “open casket” debate.
3. Cremation please. It would be my preference to have my ashes spread in the wilderness, however, if family want a place to visit, go ahead and get a plot. Even better, would be a park bench engraved in my memory. The location doesn’t really matter to me.
4. Photos, photos, photos. Life was good and I lived it well, so celebrate my life with photos and slide shows throughout the years.
5. Play Warren Zevon’s Keep Me in Your Heart for Awhile
6. Don’t be sad! Set a time limit for sadness and then get on with living !!!! Life is Short, Live your Dreams, I’ll be watching you.