Learning to Live by Osmosis

I’m just back from my annual “Fubar Family Vacation” at West Edmonton Mall. The kids love it. My parents like it well enough. They’re in Inuvik the rest of the year so the casino is an exciting switch from the Legion meat draw. They walk the mall less and less as the years go by, aching feet and all. But I still marvel at how well kept they are, considering they are deep into their seventies.

It’s not just a daughter’s positive thinking here, I post pictures and people comment on how they look “the same”. That is, the same as the teacher they knew way back when. (Dad taught high school math, accounting, and French at one time. Mom taught grade 2 or 3, sometimes in a split.)

They are deep into their seventies and they are now just going grey. Their minds are still sharp. I’ve got theories about why:

  • All of their adult life was spent in the Arctic. Less ultraviolet. Clean air.
  • They drink a lot of water. Mom told me as a kid to start each day off with a tall glass. I do. I do. Then she gave me a coffee (Euro parents are all about balance).
  • They worked to live; off every weekend and all summer except for the trips to the Teacher’s Store in August and all those years Dad organized the regional Arctic Winter Games trials. Yes they took marking home but heck, they were teachers. They didn’t obsess nor were they workaholics.
  • They had a five minute commute. On foot.
  • Hobbies weren’t seen as besides the point. Dad lived for his cabins and fishing and flats of beer. Mom puttered with plants and plowed through books. They now have a greenhouse and big flowers in the yard. Dad likes to try new recipes. Mom frets about the mess. It fun to watch.
  • But the most important thing is SLEEP. They sleep and have always slept A LOT.
Let Sleeping Children Lie

Let Sleeping Children Lie (Photo credit: stewickie)

It has to make a difference. In a small town where kids can play outside without helicopter parenting the folks slept in. Maybe they didn’t sleep but they stayed in bed listening to the radio.

There are years we’d come home for lunch and Dad would nap for 15 minutes after eating.

After the Legion he’d eat and go directly to bed and sleep 12 hours. Oh beer. Mom didn’t drink much but never rushed anywhere.

English: Barack Obama delivers a speech at the...

English: Barack Obama delivers a speech at the University of Southern California (Video of the speech) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The year Obama first became President he turned completely grey. I don’t think it was because he got the keys to the bombs. He knew those were coming. He knew the truth of it all would be horrible. But he was probably already sleeping fewer hours than he should. And then take a few hours off of that. Bam! Grey hair. Wrinkles. Stress.

I often wonder how I came to be the kid and now woman who races everywhere and lives on fast forward. Maybe mellow skips a generation.  Maybe I’m wrong about the sleep. Maybe water is enough? And the radio?

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Life – Work and Particle Physics

I’m having a day full of moments.

It so far includes the sound of snow crunching on an early morning dog hike where I felt like I was part of this mountain. Then joytears as I reached a hard fought battle against slow metabolism and middle age. A battle fought with a great group of women whose stories I’ve loved hearing over the last six months.

My heart ached a bit as I drove away. I’m going back to work and will have to weigh-in downtown. I’ll miss them.

Then while off to celebrate with a store bought coffee I listened to this interview on CBC’s The Current with a retiring bigwig at BMO financial.

She said so many interesting things.

She always wanted kids and counts her children as her greatest joy and accomplishment. Me too.

She enjoys her challenging work and even with bad bosses from time to time and career setbacks feels a great deal of satisfaction. Me too.

She’s lucky to have the kind of man who never expected her to do more at home than him just because she has the breasts. Me too.

And she’s lucky to have been able to afford a live-in nanny. (silence)

But the most striking thing Sherry Copper said, at least to me, is how in retirement she is working on finding a way to “be still” because she doesn’t know how.

So on what already was an awesome morning Sherry Cooper – you’ve just made me smile.

Good for you all who can meditate and silently read for days on end all by yourself. Good for all of you who’ve done Outward Bound and reached higher places than you thought possible.

I’d go nuts with just a volleyball to talk to. And when awake, I really need to keep moving. And I need to get out of the house.

I get bored at parties where people attempt to one up each other with witty banter or show off some new-to-them knowledge. I either dance or fall asleep.

English: animation showing a micron particle h...

English: animation showing a micron particle having a brownian motion inside a polymer like network (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m a huge believer in chaos theory. And Brownian motion. It’s not the kind of thing you have to “apply” to your life, because that would be counter to the principle. It just IS my life. (And random frenzy can be justified when you apply math)

Motion is important. So are mornings. When people brag about about how they are night owls and how that makes them better people somehow I tend to turn a song on in my head. We don’t all have to have the same clock. Mine is big and floppy. And my inner alarm has always rang early. (you can dance in the morning too)

People are important. Engaging with the world is good for my soul. I am still shell-shocked from my two years in a home office.

There needs to be rest, and sleep, and contemplative silence. But not too much.

So my sabbatical has been full of adventures and projects. I owe great thanks to a great neighbour pal who is even more social than I am and always up for anything. (The whole “stay at home” mom title needs to be reworked by the way. The moms I know are busy in the community and at the gym, volunteering etc.)

I am choosing to continue working in the chaos of broadcasting because it feeds me. It’s not a desk job. I have to lift heavy tripods and work with a team of bombastic personalities. I fit in.

I will panic every day wondering if I will be home in time for the kids.

Somehow we’ll muddle through.

Somehow I know we’ll be okay.

My daughter’s first full sentence was “Where we go outside?”.

It continues.

I just hope one day when I’m forced to be still, she’ll crack me out of the home, and wheel me around the Seawall.

And if I can still talk, I’ll remind her about how she too was happiest in the stroller, moving.

So CEO Sherry Cooper, you need to quit learning how to be still. If you’re not made that way, you’ll be miserable trying to do it.

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