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My 816 square feet

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I’ve been meaning to write about our little “house” for a while now and when the opportunity to write a (de)tales post for my friend Cara’s blog came up I took it.

Here’s a teaser:


My cool architect brother-in-law would call our home a ‘two flat’ – we call it a really small upstairs. When we first moved in, people would often ask how we could live in such a small space. “Wow, good for you,” they would say.  Or a friend would allude to “what’s next?” because this could never be a long term housing solution for four people.  It played on my insecurity of raising a family in a small (and poorly laid out), rented, half-a-house. I knew it would be a while before we could afford anything bigger to rent, let alone buy, especially because the average price of a barely livable home in Vancouver is nearing 1 million dollars.

To read the rest and check out Cara’s great blog click here.

Canadian/American “Relations”

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As you know, every once in a while I like to post a funny story on my blog because I love laughing. For lack of a better cliché my heart has been heavy lately with all sorts of sad news.  I wrote this story a while ago but it is on Momentum today. In fact, some of my readers may remember this story from it’s original debut (i.e when it happened).  I hope that in the midst of all the news, you will have a laugh.  

As a dual citizen who has lived in both countries, the relationship between Canada and America is of great interest to me. Here is a brief reflection on my experience, as well as, a hilarious story of two clashing countries.

Canada-US-flag-pinI’ve lived roughly half my life in the US and half in Canada. I’m about 970 km (600 miles!!) away from completing a full circle around North America.  My extended family is all from Canada, but my dad’s work moved us to the US when I was three.  I basically grew up in a “Canadian” household in California. I learned from a very young age that Americans know next to nothing about Canada.  For example, in my very diverse Southern California school, we had “Around the World” day, where kids would bring things from their country of origin (or their parents’ country) and hold up their country’s flag during a school assembly.

When the teacher was collecting names of kids that were born in other countries, I raised my hand and got to represent one in this assembly.  At first, my teacher looked at me sideways. I’m sure she was thinking, “What is Jane talking about? What country is she from?”

You can read the rest here

 

Just a little JT for ya

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My husband doesn’t really like birthdays. He doesn’t like to receive presents or be celebrated in July. These feelings unfortunately affect how much he likes celebrating other people’s birthdays (i.e. MINE!).

However, once in a while he busts out some crazy outlandish gift for me.

Little did I know this year would be such a time. He could barely keep the smile off his face when he walked in the door after work on my birthday. After begging me to let him reveal this epic gift before we sat with our kids and enjoy the cake I baked myself, I finally caved and said, “Fine! Tell me!”

 “Oh Jane, this is like five Vitamixes all in one.” (Just in case it was going to be the crazy-go-nuts- birthday year, I figured he should be prepared with an idea so I armed him with that of a Vitamix).

 “This is going to be something that we look back on and say – Remember when we did that?”

 “Tell me already!”

 “We are going to see Justin Timberlake!”

 “Whhhaaat?”

I wish I could explain all the reasons this was so absurd. In brief: He hates live music, we can’t afford it, he never buys me big presents, I had never mentioned this concert. However, we both love JT! So four months later we booked a babysitter and headed downtown. Of course we left around 5:30 because if we are going out for the night, we are going out..for…the..night. The 5:30pm departure was almost as good of a gift as the concert itself.

We had a lovely pre-show meal where no one needed a chugga-chugga-choo-choo to get their dinner down.  We pursued the cheesiest (literally, a dinner full of dairy) dinner possible because our household has had to go without such things to help remedy some health problems one of our sons is having. We miss the cheese. Dane went for ‘quarto-cheese pizza’ and I had something called ‘beer-cheddar macaroni au gratin.’  This of course was accompanied by beer itself. No one even spilled their drink! I remained in my seat their ENTIRE meal! And my favourite, no one got up from the table and came back with as many spoons as he could carry (oh the joy of dining with toddlers).

We were living the life and the show hadn’t even started yet.

We rolled ourselves down the street toward the arena, err…venue. Because, you know, “venue” is just another word we use when we normally go to see hipster indie bands. I saw the Civil Wars like FIVE years ago!! Ever seen  the National? Yeah, me either.

We arrived a bit early (read: we had an hour to kill before any sign of JT) and thus did plenty-o-people watching while DJ Freestyle Steve (or something?) tried to wrangled the crowd by offering to move people from the nose bleeds to the floor. Although we had a back wall to rest our heads on, DJ Steve neglected to notice us and move us to the floor. Instead we stayed in row nauseatingly-high and created back stories for those who passed by.

JTI59109

We argued over whether the person a few seats to our right was a guy or a girl (I was right, he was clearly a guy despite his feminine moves and slim figure) and whether or not the two women in front of us were actually the parents of the three swooning teens next to them. We figured if they were the moms, then the young fans made a blood pact with each other to completely ignore their moms and show the world they brought their fourteen year old selves into the city alone on a Thursday night. They fooled no one but the moms were playing along nicely.

The show was insane. Six back up dancers, about fifteen musicians who danced while playing the guitar, piano, sax etc.  Lights and a stage that carried the performers across the floor, above the fans.  Once Justin made it across the floor, he did back to back covers of Michael Jackson’s Human Nature and an old (aren’t they all old?) Elvis song.

I hate to confess the highlight for me was when the boppers in front of us went still (and clueless) as JT sang Poison by Bel Biv Devoe. Now you know who is closer in age to JT babes. That would be me and the Grade 8 mixed tape referred to as “Jr. High Hip Hop.”  A quick glance to my left and I see a woman my age mouthing along…”That girl is pooooissson.” YES! Amazing.

Enough about the music, back to the people watching.

We saw another set of parents with their daughter and friend but these JT fans decided it was in her best interest to not ignore the grown ups.  Although we may not be as ‘cool’ as the tweens in little black dresses (ouch), we WERE cooler than the parents looking disgruntled as they waited out the pre-game show. I can’t imagine what kind of angst went down at the dinner table that night.

“Your mother and I have decided you can go to that concert with Kelly.”

“OH..MY…GOSH..thanks dad you guys are amaz…”

“And your mother and I will go with you…”

And said teenager girl collapses in disbelief onto the kitchen floor.

We were definitely cooler than those parents. Our kids stayed home with Meghan, their favorite babysitter, had ice cream, played LEGO and got to stay up until 7:45!  Ben, although only five, does a pretty sweet rendition of Mirrors. And Sam, closer to three, prefers the female genre (watch out Sam, Katy Perry is coming to the arena in September).

Speaking of female pop stars, as we were walking back to the train (during the second encore = coolness epic fail), we heard a somewhat over-served woman doing that drunk yell where you don’t really think you are yelling.

Young woman: Don’t you dare say, he is better than Beyoncé!!.

Slightly less drunk male friend: Well, I was just saying, um, he danced and sang for three hours with only one short break. It was amazing!”

Young woman: (with typical beer-infused voice inflections): Well I don’t care what you think, no… one is better than Beyoncé!

Male friend: I’m just saying, he was good.

Young woman: Well, BeeeYonCe, could have just stood up there [insert her body swagger and fierce finger snap] and said nothing and noooobody is better than the Queen B.

He then escorted her very high heels and this overly tired thirty something couple on to the train.  Note well, it was at least 14 mins past 12 when we got home.  Luckily no one turned into a dancing pumpkin.

Hang Up and Feel

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This video of Louis C.K. on Conan O’Brien has quickly gone viral for obvious reasons. Louis C.K. has become a funny yet poignant critic of our culture over the last several years (not to mention he basically made Tig Notaro famous and she if freaking hilarious!). The video went viral because of his “slam on smart phones,” as he repeatedly says he hates smart phones and doesn’t want his kids to have them. I’m sure most of us saw the link on twitter, facebook etc. on our smart phone. All irony aside, his basic premise is smart phones give us an out on feeling our emotions because they always give us something to do instead of pausing to experience how we feel. 

He offers a brilliant commentary on our avoidance of emotions. He talks about how people don’t want to be alone but instead choose to avoid those quiet moments where we actually begin to feel our feelings. He argues that we want to avoid those moments so much that we text and drive. He reminisces about a time when he was alone in his car and he began go to that dark place where he realized our world is really sad (of course a Springsteen song brought him to this place). He talks about reaching for his phone to text and catching himself about to avoid the sadness. Instead he pulled over and wept (apparently he “cried like a bitch” – which I sure just means “a lot”…).

If you think of those times when you are meeting a friend for coffee and you arrive first and are forced to sit alone at a table. What do you do? Take out your phone. It is so hard to be alone or appear to be alone. What if we actually let ourselves be alone and feel what is going on? The wise CK says we should, …”stand in the way of [the sadness] and let it hit you like a truck…you are lucky to live sad moments.” He goes on to talk about how his sad moment was met with profound happiness. In a way, allowing our sadness to be felt, we clear the way for our happiness.

Working with me often results in facing our emotions head on. I give time to let the emotions wash over us. By taking the time to do it we say this is good and worthwhile. We acknowledge what we don’t want to feel and that we would rather avoid. And then we wait for a shift. Sometimes the shift happens within a few minutes, other times it is weeks or months. But when it happens we realize it is worth it. Going “there” is worth it. We shift to a new place and gain a new perspective. Sometimes a good cry just makes us feel better. Other times we actually begin to feel healing take place.

Christians especially have a lot of trouble with this. We think if we rely on God our sadness will dissipate or that we “shouldn’t” feel sad because God is here with us.  In fact, this is just the opposite.  God is not only here with us, he is right there in the midst of the sadness. Who knows sadness better than Jesus himself? No one.

When you work with me we don’t just give time to sit through sad moments but I also take time to celebrate and be delighted in the moments that deserve celebration. Coaching is about the being (sitting in emotions – emotions of all kinds) and doing. People get a lot done when they work with me. They achieve their goals, they start new businesses, they gain satisfaction and joy in their lives. These are reasons to take time to celebrate! To say, yep, I did it! I am good at this.

Is it time to put down the phone (or not pick it up) and get real with what is going on?