Monthly Archives: December 2011

Merci 2011

Often the end of one year and the start of the next are bittersweet. I get mildly morose and the passage of time is magnified in big, bold letters blinding me to all else. It’s not the celebratory occasion I look forward to the most. I’m not pining for the latest dress, evening bag or shoes. Jewelry I’m always pining for. I love Christmas, but we can skip right to the end of January after that. By then most people are finished wishing one another a Happy New Year’s.

I sound like a grumpy old man. I’m not. A man. Nor grumpy by nature. Except when I’m sleep-deprived, which I kind of am right now.

There are different thoughts floating about in my head this year and my insides feel oddly in line with one another. It’s made me look backward and forward as many are doing in an unusually positive way.

I’ve had many incarnations during my adult life. A ladder-climbing, corporate mucky muck. Following several years on shaky rungs I realized I didn’t like ladders very much because they’re quite unsafe. Plus I much preferred being around for my son when he needed something. Like food and a clean bum. I had the option so I jumped off the ladder. Once he could manage a toilet by himself I joined the ranks of the part-timers in the editorial world. It meant less time away from home, more artsy fartsy speak and fewer suits. By the time the Chiquita came along I was working from home and that rocked.

Then an evil spirit possessed me. 2011 began with me firmly ensconced back in the corporate world. I must have had a very specific form of amnesia and forgotten how much I hated ladders, and office politics, but the memories came flooding back quickly and I was soon plotting my escape.

  1. Research business idea that came to me watching an episode of Lost – we were behind ✓
  2. New business plan made ✓
  3. Website created ✓
  4. Hunting for clients – never ending process ✓

I jumped ship and realized I don’t suck at swimming.

The decision allows me to be present in my kids’ lives in a way that was physically impossible with others dictating my time. Now I’m around just enough to drive them crazy, which is my obligation. I signed a contract. I can get them to after school sports, do homework with them again, feed them snacks – which usually means making them eat the veggies left over in their lunch bags – and rouse them in the morning. Although I typically need more rousing than they do. Caffeine dependency remember?

There are also morning and afternoon school drives with my 12 year old. Many days are quiet as his nose is buried in a favourite book. Other days we talk. A 12 year old boy bouncing ideas off his mom…like his thoughts on the motivation of the characters in the latest book, an upcoming field trip to an adventure camp, the flex on his new stick, the decibel level of his buddy’s burp in the dressing room. All very highbrow and it’s with his MOM. I don’t take that for granted.

And then there’s the really scary thing I’ve done. This. Jack Straw Lane. It’s me putting thoughts out there and being willing to accept if they’re a complete flop. That nobody reads them. That they stink. Or just maybe it’s me having the cohones to start writing again after so many years of letting my pens run dry. Maybe it’s the impetus I needed to take a look at my aspirations and say, “It’s not too late.”

I’ve wandered with this post, but it’s all to say that as I anticipate the New Year’s Eve family celebration we traditionally have it is with a sense of peace, some trepidation and a whole lot of excitement for the things to come in 2012.

Bonne Année à vous tous / Happy New Year to all

Lists are better than flying midges, sort of

Lists come at us like flying midges in a swamp between December and January. Although midges are really more common during the heat of summer. We can’t escape lists because we truly do need them. Really. We do. They say so.

It seems people, or maybe just women, have a crazy curiosity to know what the Best Of, Worst Of, Fave, Hopefully Never To Be Seen Again group of products, songs, people and general stuff was for the closing year. Even if we didn’t give a thought to which fashionable socks to wear with our wellies in April, somehow we have an avid desire to review these vital bits of info during the final days of December. Then there are the What You Can’t Live Without lists for the New Year. It’s a miracle we can still feed ourselves without them.

How did we become like this? Do the lists somehow validate how much we achieved in the preceding 12 months? Or justify what we didn’t do? Will they better prepare us for the battle ahead in the next 12 months? I’m counting on it.


You thought I was getting all philosophical and academic on you? Nope. I’m just as guilty and my minor list dependency is problematic which is why I harassed my kids into providing me the names of their favourite books. These are on their Totally Enjoyed It or Going to Stay Up All Night Reading lists. It’s contagious.

For the 12-year-old, hockey-playing, snowboarding, bicycle riding athlete who loves video games AND books and reads in our two official languages…for the 6th time, please turn the lights off NOW:

  1. Harry Potter – J.K. Rowling
  2. Hunger Games Trilogy – Suzanne Collins
  3. Le Petit Nicolas – Jean-Jacques Sempé and René Goscinny
  4. The original Hardy Boys series
  5. Voyage au Centre de la Terre – Jules Verne
  6. Notdog – Sylvie Desrosiers

For the 7-year-old, horse-mad, constantly moving, budding musician and skater who sees everyone around her reading and thinks it’s cool to have her own library:

  1. Les Secrets du Poney Club – Stacy Gregg
  2. Ivy and Bean – Annie Barrows
  3. Clementine – Sara Pennypacker
  4. Les Fées des Animaux – Sara Meadows
  5. Journal d’un Chat Assassin – Anne Fine
  6. La Bicyclette Hanté – Gail Herman

Please study these carefully like you’re supposed to. They will bring you much health and happiness. Or was that last night’s fortune cookie?

The dreaded D-word

Have. To. Write. It’s more difficult than I thought it would be after taking several days off to celebrate. I love time spent figuratively putting pen to paper or with my nose buried in a book. For research purposes. Between chatting you up here and the other serious moments trying to form clear sentences as I attempt to shape a story more than 500 words long, I spend a good portion of my day at the keyboard and relish the time. Perhaps so much so because most of the day is pure chaos. In an I have kids, a husband, 3 pets, a business, after school sports and a life like everyone else way.

I’m not sure whom to blame. Never myself, so hold the recommendations. I ate way too much chocolate. I know I say that a lot, but this time I did. Even for me. Slept an average of 4/24 hours. Consumed more caffeine daily than I normally do during an entire school week. Had several bottles of some wine. Ran a big fat 0 kilometers. Could it be that what my brain and body need now is proper nutrition, more H2O and oxygen pumping through the blood stream?

Hang on…

Just pouring another coffee.

I really need to get back into the swing of things. Is that swing – the dance style or a swing – the thing hanging from a tree? I’m going with a swing because I like trees and that slightly panicked feeling when you think you’re going airborne at the apex of your swing. Anyway, I have ideas jotted down on lists scattered about and way too many loose ends in the serious stuff so I’m resorting to the D-word. Discipline. Time to find mine. And maybe time to give my coffee machine a bit of a vacation. I’m certain it groaned this morning as I came downstairs.


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