The long road home

We went to Victoria today. It was a beautiful day to take a ferry, barely a cloud in the sky.

We played a game there and it didn’t go as planned. We outscored our opponents 7-3 in the final two periods, but it couldn’t make up for the eight goals we’d spotted them in the first. That’s a big deficit to recover from.

These road trips are long. It takes between thirteen and fourteen hours to complete it in full. No matter, I’ve always really liked them. It gives everyone a chance to be in closed quarters and allows a little extra bonding that you aren’t afforded when everyone is driving their own car to the arena.

Before the game, it’s always a little quiet, a little low-key, a little sedate. Coming back, it can be more festive depending on the results. If you win, the bus can be a veritable party. If you lose, it’s a little quieter. There are beverages, there is pizza.

We’re heading for the ferry now and the sun is getting ready to set. The night is drawing to a close and, with it, the weekend, but we are still a long way from home.

Overall, we had a really nice weekend. On Friday, we got to spend time with friends we hadn’t seen in way too long while eating some pretty decent snacks.

Yesterday, we woke up and when thought about what we should do, we both declared that NOTHING would be the perfect day. A quick trip to the library, Whole Foods and London Drugs for a couple of quick errands and we pointed the car straight for home.

Today, this trip.

How was your weekend? What were the highlights?

Rethinking Instagram

There’s something I’ve been thinking about for the last couple of weeks. It’s something I may have been very wrong about.

To start, let me rewind.

So, nearly four months ago, I quit Instagram. Here’s part of the reasoning I cited at the time.

And here’s the main thing: I have a fundamental opposition to pictures being showcased more than words. It’s obstinate and it’s old school, but it’s something I’ve never come to terms with. Instagram has always made me feel like it arose because suddenly 140, then 280 characters were just too many, like words got to be too hard so we were resorting to looking at pretty things instead. That’s never felt right to me. Don’t get me wrong, I like pretty things, but I like my pretty things with a little more depth.

Interestingly, after that, I made the statement that “Instagram stories just make it worse.


Because here’s the thing. What’s got me reconsidering my position? Instagram stories.

This summer, I’ve been working full on with some social media projects again. In all of them, I’ve started using stories to support the main posts, share extra information, show off some behind-the-scenes action. The opportunity to view the stories of others has helped me better understand what’s going on there, but it’s also made my time on the platform a lot more enjoyable.

It actually reminds me of when I first started using Twitter, back in 2008. I maintain that Twitter is still more challenging to really get, but Instagram stories came at me in a similar way. Until I got some really hands on experience with it, i couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the big deal was.

Now, I get it.

I’d also started to notice that I was missing news on some of my favourite businesses and people. Much to my dismay, not everyone uses Twitter and certainly many don’t use it like they used to. I’d love to be able to change that, but I know it isn’t easy – on the nerves or the heart sometimes.

So, I went to my counsel of two and asked, “should I get back on Instagram?”

Now, both are Instagram embracers so I kind of knew what I was going to get…and maybe that’s what I wanted. Their support.

First up, Hillary sold me on it, especially stories. Full disclosure, I’ve been keeping tabs on her via one of my business accounts and, well, it kind of started to feel a little bit creepy. She spoke to my true heart when she said that, for her, it feels like old school blogging. Anybody who knows old school blogging still has a place for it in their heart. Le sigh.

And speaking of old school blogging, my loooooong-time blogging partner in crime Rebecca chimed in this evening, also likening it to blogging. She says she liked that she can use one photo to tell a whole story in her feed while adding, “the extra authentic stuff (read: minutiae and daily random moments)” in stories. And pointed it out that it wasn’t as much work as keeping up a blog.

These two women are pretty influential for me and I trust them so I went with it and reawakened my account. (The only reason I hadn’t deleted it entirely was because I knew I wouldn’t ever be able to get my handle back.)

So, I’m going to give a shot again. I don’t really know what that looks like. I don’t know how it feels. Come find me over there and help me learn to love it. Who should I be sure to connect with? Tell me who you think I should follow and why.

The people who have your back

Something so weird happened today. I can’t even get into it because it’s just so bizarre. I had this whole other post going, but then this dumb thing I can’t tell you about surfaced and it just kind of derailed the theme of it all. We’ll get back to that tomorrow.

The details are petty and stupid and laughable and they never amounted to anything, but they were also frustrating and kind of a distracting time suck.

Here’s what I found most notable: two of my friends were angry about it. Both even said – and separately – “I think I’m more upset about this than you are.” And you know what? That felt kind of nice. I don’t know that I’ve ever really experienced that before, at least not knowingly. I’ve been on the other side and felt emotions on behalf of someone else, but if anyone has felt anger for me, I never truly realized it. To have them emotionally shoulder some of a situation that I’d best describe as annoying was good for me because, though I wasn’t particularly upset, I did have to unpack it.

To know that there are people in your corner, who’d go to bat for you, who’d have your back and who’d celebrate absurdity alongside you, that’s priceless. Even before yesterday’s tarot draw, I’d been contemplating this with without quite being able to articulate it, but the reference to creating “one’s own circle of kindred spirits” really spoke to me. And today’s experience was a definite sign that I’m on the right track. 🙏🏻

“There’s only one thing more precious than our time and that’s who we spend it on.”

None of this is mine. Nothing more than the intention to share it. I’m lucky enough that someone wanted to share it with me. It’s from the mailing list of a site I’d never visited before, The Daily Stoic. Here’s the story.

Of the Stoics, Seneca seems like the one who had the most fun. He’s the one who it’s easiest to picture spending time with friends or mingling at a dinner party (in fact, he was known for his legendary parties with hundreds of guests). Whereas almost all of Marcus’s writing is private and solitary, and Epictetus’s comes to us in the form of lecture notes from his students, a sizeable chunk of what survives of Seneca are the letters he wrote to his dear friend Lucilius.

We don’t know too much about Lucilius, except that he was a governor of Sicily and possibly also a writer. Nor do we know much about who the guests at Seneca’s parties were. But from what we do know, we can gather than Seneca was social and had a large circle of friends and acquaintances with whom he spent a lot of time.

Which begs the question: How did he choose these friends? We can hope—and expect—that Seneca’s many friendships adhered to the rule he put down to Lucilius in one of those famous letters:

“Associate with those who will make a better man of you. Welcome those whom you yourself can improve.”

It’s an impossible thing to know really—even for ourselves—how we came to know most of the people in our lives. But how they stayed in our lives? How our acquaintances evolved into friendships, that should be easier to figure out. And Seneca’s rule is a wonderful guide because what he’s describing is what friendship is about. A process of mutual improvement, benefit, and enjoyment.

We become like the people we spend the most time with…so we should choose wisely. And we should choose widely because life is too short to live lonely or narrowly—even for a Stoic.

I think about this a lot. I mean A LOT a lot. How do the people we spend time with impact who we are? How do they help us meet our potential? Or hinder us?

I respond well to diversity. The friends I like to surround myself with inspire me, they support me, they challenge me. They are different than I am – they have different hobbies, they are of different ages, they come from different backgrounds. They bring experiences, opinions and interests that are not that same as my own. I don’t often learn to share them, but I like to be aware of them and understand them. New perspectives, unique adventures, fresh eyes. They also give me something to aspire to. I want to be more like them in some way. I like positivity tempered with realism and complaining without solution is a major turn-off. They mean what they say and they say what they mean. And even though my most precious people have all of those things in common, they are all still radically unique. 

I focus a lot on effectiveness in my life. It’s my nature. Whether I’m at work or in my personal life, I want results. I want to see the additions and subtractions that result from my actions. The positives and negatives, the contributions and the distractions. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to hone my friend group to include only the most meaningful relationships. Lately I’ve felt it important to be more diligent about that and it’s actually been a big happiness booster. More time with people who make me better, less time with people who don’t. It’s become something that has become very important to me. 

People need people

It’s good to have, you know? I’ve started to be reminded of that more and more.

I ran into a little, let’s say, situation at work today. Put simply, it was second hand story about some particularly disappointing and shameful behaviour. THANK GOD I had a couple of good girlfriends who are also coworkers I could run my reaction by. As it was, they were both off-site, but also just a text message away. They knew the players, they knew the politics and they totally got my response. One of them was able to step in to join forces with me to right the wrong while the other was there to be the voice of reason and supportive fury. Together, the three of us came up with a plan to correct the damage that had been done. It can’t be repaired overnight, but it will be made right. I’ll see to that.

It was good to feel the camaraderie, to know that there were people out there I was connected to, who’d listen to my gripes, who’d tell me if I was off-base.

Later, a totally different friend came into my office for a quick visit. He’s one of my closest hockey friends. As the season is basically over (does anybody even care about the Stanley Cup anymore?!?) we haven’t had a lot to talk about lately, but as a regular sports guy, we’ve made it work with other news, reviews and recaps. He’s a big baseball guy (Yankees) so he was one of the first people I reported to after I had my baseball dream. What was my baseball dream, you ask? Well, it was just a dream I had a few months ago, just when the baseball season was getting underway. I’ve been to a dozen professional baseball games in my life and a handful of them were good. It isn’t my sport and that’s okay. The dream, though, it was that I was a baseball fan, a real and dedicated one. I even had a completely random team: the St Louis Cardinals. What? How? Why? Who knows. But I told him about it and he was thrilled. He could even accept that it was different than his team (although he did admit to liking them.) I think he was just so excited I had actually shown an interest in any team.

A few weeks later, he checked in with me…

We laughed. He said he could hear me saying my response which is what I’d been going for. Perfect.

Not about to let a good dream die, today when he came by my office, he brought me my very first piece of Cardinals merchandise – a t-shirt. I was thrilled with it and we laughed some more.

It was a pretty challenging day, but I got to hit it off with some new people and to remind myself of the pretty great ones I already knew. Being as independent and reclusive as I am, I sometimes forget how much people (myself included) need people. It’s okay if I’m limited to just a few people and not all people. I still need – and take joy in having – some.

Have a great weekend!

I need to get out more

And by that, I mean I need to get out WITH PEOPLE more.

A new phase has begun for me and here’s what makes it different: it involves people more. Also: I don’t hate it.

I’m an introvert. Sometimes I feel like an extreme introvert. As such, it’s really taxing for me to be around other people, especially in group settings. I burn a lot of energy being in groups and trying to work in a team. It also takes a lot of effort to prepare myself to be around others. I don’t have any kind of social anxiety, I quite simply just don’t really like being around people in general*, but I’ve already kind of covered this. I could happily spend an entire weekend alone in our apartment without ever thinking of needing human contact.

*People in general = the general public. My people are a different story.

Find this image and more here
To say a new phase has begun may be a little overzealous, but I have started to open up to new people and new relationships. By that I mean that, for the first time in a long time, I’m feeling excited about new and existing relationships and enjoying time with others.
I’ve been out on a few occasions recently and it’s reminded me how much I really do love people (though one-on-one or very small groups is still my preference) whether I’m just meeting them for the first time or revisiting old acquaintances.
Today, I went out with some of my Mom’s extended family – my second and third cousins, I just found out (thanks to this article.) We all get together every so often, but we’d skipped a year or two in recent past. This was a reunion as one of my second cousins was in from out of town and she and I hadn’t seen each other since I was eight. It’s always fun and I was looking forward to the get together, but it still weighed on my mind most of the weekend. As I walked home, I felt so happy to have been with them, to have made stronger relationships, caught up on what’s what and even met a few relatives I’ve never known before. It was a really good time!
This isn’t out of the ordinary. I often feel a ding in my energy just at the thought of going out to meet even my closest friends. I push through and actually go because I know it will be worth it, but I do have to coach myself. I wish there was an easier short cut to the loving glow I feel after the fact and that it wouldn’t take so much mental work to get there in the first place.

It is getting better, though. I’m remembering the joys of looking someone in the eye, exchanging a smile and connecting over shared experiences. I think it may have something to do with brighter days as we head into summer. Whatever it is, I’m trying to roll with it and have a good time.

Class reunions, yea or nay?

Last week, on an episode of The Social, the lead topic was: would you go to a high school reunion? Here is a link.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but I only really feel nostalgia for a handful of mostly things. I can think of a couple of people who played parts in my history who I’d be happy to see for a coffee or something like that, but the idea of a free-for-all of ALL the people I’ve known showing up at the same place and the same time? That’d be a hard pass.

I went to my ten-year reunion and I quickly knew I’d never go to another one. It was perfectly fine to be there. Thankfully. It was a boat cruise so if it had been horrible, talk about being trapped! and I was never part of a specific group and I had friends here, there and everywhere, but I guess my style of connecting with others (quietly, in very small groups, ideally pairings) revealed itself early on. It has never been fun for me to socialize in groups and I derive little satisfaction from it. There is no ickier a possibility than one in which a large group has been invited and nobody knows exactly who will show up. It’s like party roulette. No, thank you.

As I mentioned, there are a handful of people I would be really happy to see one-on-one, but, by and large, I’m of the belief that if we’d wanted to stay in touch, we probably would have.

I have one friend from high school with whom I still keep in touch and she is my opposite on this topic. She’d attend a reunion every year. She loves them. I just tell her to have a good time and come around for the highlights once it’s done. She’ll say, “remember so-and-so?” Most often my answer is no, but I’ll definitely show up for the stories.

Have you – would you- attend your high school or other reunions? Why? If not, what has kept you away?

A Year of Birthdays

Did you watch last night’s episode of Modern Family? A Year of Birthdays culminates in one big birthday celebration, but I won’t offer any spoilers about that.

The episode takes the viewer through a year of birthdays throughout the family, reflections on what went right and what went wrong (in some cases WAY wrong.) As always, there are highs and there are lows, but the entire family is there for all of it.

I have big feelings about birthdays. I love them. If you’ve ever told me your birthday, it’s likely that I will remember it. I cringe when people say something flippant like, “it’s just another day.” It isn’t. Not to me. I try to respect my loved ones’ feelings when they say they don’t like celebrating, but I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not always good at it. Usually it just means that I’m good at keeping it quiet while privately sending them my birthday love vibes.

In our family, birthdays are often a low-key dinner affair. The birthday person gets to pick their destination and everyone reports for duty. Occasionally, we’ve done something a little more celebratory – we once had a poker party for my dad’s birthday and we’ve had a couple of Super Bowl birthdays for my mom, a few times I’ve done a bowling party. Mostly, though, it’s dinner and cake. I often have fantasies about changing that, about making birthday celebrations a bigger deal. When I say this I don’t mean a huge party every time and for everyone, but a meaningful experience that truly honours the person celebrating. I have a few things in the works so stay tuned.

What do birthdays mean in your family? How do you celebrate?

You get what you give

A long time ago, I made it a personal policy to never chirp people about their teams. That went double for times when their teams had lost or were in a tough place. It’s just such a dirtbag move and, to be honest, it’s insight about a person’s true nature. I knew that wasn’t one of the traits I wanted to foster in myself. Nobody needs that kind of negativity and I certainly don’t want to lay it on people I actually like. Mostly, though, I did it because I knew how shitty it felt to be on the receiving end and I was leaning into my belief that if I treated people better than that, then they’d do the same.

I knew I’d done well when the Falcons advanced to the Super Bowl just over two years ago. Throughout the whole week before the game, I received message after message saying good luck, that people were cheering for Atlanta and other words of support. It actually felt really nice. Even though I wasn’t actually part of the team, it still felt good that people thought of me when they thought of them and that they genuinely wanted something because they knew I wanted it. Sport can be so great sometimes.

After the Falcons lost the game, nobody (well, okay, except one person) I know said a word other than sorry. Nobody chirped. Nobody slagged. I got a lot of messages of condolences and congratulations on my team having a great season. And that went on for weeks.

I was reminded of that again tonight after the Blue Jackets got knocked out in game six of their second round series. I was sad, but was it ever a lot of fun to watch. And that’s why I like sports – for the fun of it. Again, I received a few messages from friends talking about how much they’d been hoping it went on longer. Thoughtful and kind to be sure.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the kind of friend I want to be and the kind of friends I want to have and, while I may have many questions still, this is one thing I know for sure.

No photographic evidence

I’ve inherited a trait I consider really bad. I rarely remember to take photos of people. Meals, cats, totally out of focus and way too zoomed in moons, I have a thousand of all of them. But when it comes to spending time with other people, I almost never remember to capture the moment.

This isn’t really new. I mentioned it to my mom earlier this year – that we have never really documented our holidays and experiences – and she just kind of shrugged. My Grandad, her father, used to take great photos of all of us. We spent a ton of time at my grandparents’ house when we were little, but eventually as we aged, we got busier and got over there less and less frequently and, as such, our photo documentation decreased.

As we grew into adulthood that continues on. I didn’t take photos, but neither did anyone else. Every so often, someone in the family comes out with a handful of photos from a Christmas past or a summer barbecue, but they’re usually of just a couple of people and don’t tell much of a story.

In recent year, we’ve started going on family vacations pretty regularly and this is one of the only photos that we have from any of them.

I’m used to it, but that doesn’t mean I like it. In fact, I almost always make an internal resolution that today I’m going to take lots of photos. Today, like all the rest of them, I often don’t. In fact, I didn’t take a single one over our near four hour family Easter celebration.

We had a great time including:

  • A little gift and goodie exchange
  • Badminton in the back yard
  • A delicious meal
  • Watching an intense double OT hockey game and debriefing on the earlier one
  • Deciding on and booking the next family trip

But we also had a great time just hanging out together and catching up.

I came home feeling really warm and happy about the family time. Then I remembered that I’d utterly failed in my plan to record some of the festivities.

On one hand, it makes me happy because it means that I’m somewhat successful in my pledge to be the woman whose phone is virtually invisible. On the other, however, I would really like to be able to look through more photos, to share them, print them. I want to have photos of loved ones up in our home. I want to be reminded of good times whenever I look around and I think that would be a real happiness booster.

I just don’t know how to make taking photos when I’m in the company of others a habit, but I want to try.

Are you good at recording time spent with loved ones? If so, what’s your secret?