The Carport

Close your eyes and dream about your favourite places.  Sandy beaches, the cool pool, green golf courses, snow covered mountains and boisterous football, baseball or hockey arenas are just a few of my much-loved destinations.  Couple a great location with family and friends relaxing, drinking, eating and shooting-the-breeze and you’ve got the recipe for the sweetest of memories.

Wait.  Stop.  Before you start to think that this another boring hallmark card blog full of sunshine, roses and the wonderful wondrous wonders of family … let me set the record straight … nope … not today.  I want to talk about architecture, setting and ambiance.  Let’s chitchat about my carport.  That’s right, the place where I park my car every evening!

For those of you that may not know, a carport is a covered structure used to protect vehicles from the elements. It’s not a full garage and does not have four walls.

carport

My carport has just the right amount of room, just the right amount of shade and is built at just the right angle to catch the warm summer breeze.  It’s a diner and a banquet hall.  It’s a night club, a dance floor and a barbecue stand all in one.  I can spill things and no one minds, yet it’s covered and protects me from the elements.  It doesn’t cost a penny for us to use!  It’s my favourite place on earth.

The laughter!  Oh the laughter!  Crazy games and competition are often part of our carport functions.  Special occasion or no occasion the carport’s got it covered.  When asked what my nephew wanted for this grade 8 graduation, his answer was simple and direct, a carport party.  Done deal buddy – done deal.

carport grad

On a sunny summer Saturday we hold our annual carport Olympics.  Everyone gathers round, and starts warming up and stretching.  We reach in and pick a name out of the hat and divvy up the contestants into partners.  That’s right.  Pit one against the other.  It’s time for the games!  Seriously, our family loves to compete.   Bean bag toss, washer toss, hopscotch and marbles.  The sillier the game the louder it gets … yet the compete level never waivers.

We’ve done it all in that carport; Sunday suppers, engagement parties and funerals.  The carport is our convention centre.  Don’t forget beer pong.  Plenty of beer pong has been played in that carport!  Flip cup too.  Folding tables and lawn chairs are always at the ready.  The shiny silver cooler sits on the side-wall and awaits the ice and beverages that quench the thirst of adults and children alike.

carport beer pong

Blogs about family meeting places are all focused on great vacations and church; and while I truly enjoy both … my carport is an every-day, any-day place where we can holiday, retreat and get together.  It needs repairs but I think that actually adds to the comfort and character of the carport.

The carport is legendary in our little corner of the world.  Yet it is merely the container, the vessel, the holder of the real jewels.  It simply provides the backdrop for the treasure within.  The people and the memories bring the carport to life and give it significance.  Do you have that special place that draws everyone together?  You know, that spot where if the walls could talk they’d have plenty to say.

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I’m Just Wingin’ It!

I don’t know about you, but I like to think that I’ve got my sh*t together.  Responsibility.  Accountability.  Duty.  Diligence.  Dependability.  On the surface I’ve got all the buzz words buzzing.  The song of life is humming along.  Family.  Marriage.  Home.  Work.  Friends. It all fits together like a perfectly assembled puzzle. 

But, if you get out your microscope or put on your spectacles or even simply just pay close attention, you’ll note that objects may not be as they appear.  Shhhhhhhhhh.  Whisper.  Avert your eyes.  Look away.  Now lean in … shhhhhhhhhhh … Truth be told, I’m just wingin’ it.  Yep.  It’s true.  It’s all smoke and mirrors, as the magician would say.  I’m literally flying by the seat of my pants.  Simply muddling through.  Winging it!

muddle

Hey!  In this crazy high stakes “game of life” … I don’t even know if I’m playing the game right?   I do follow the rules … ALWAYS.  Honest.  Loyal.  Trustworthy.   

Do I consistently win the game?  Heck no!  Is it always fun?  Nope!  Regrets?  Sure.  Would I change anything?  No way!   I love my life.  Cracks.  Faults.  Imperfections.  I created this masterpiece.  Artwork is a matter of perception; much like beauty is perceived; and my impressionistic collage is indeed priceless to me.

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I certainly can’t profess to know all the intricacies of daily living.  I don’t see how anyone can figure it all out and be flawless at all things.  Life if full of surprises.  Sometimes we have to wing it.  Juggle.  Dance.  Duck.  Take chances.

Guess what?  I’m not alone.  Janne Robinson tells us “To be Successful, Sometimes We just have to Wing It.”  Robinson tells us “You have to be brave enough to take big swings, new swings and know the chance of you completely sh*tt*ng the bed is a possibility.”  I get it. She’s right, winging it involves risk. 

On the other hand in Stan’s blog Winging It – Stupid Quotes he tells us  “We have a lot of stupid “wise sayings” out there. The ones I’m talking about are the ones that everyone knows, that everyone thinks, “Oh, so true”, but that are still stupid.”  So maybe “winging it” is one of those ridiculous and annoying clichés … or even worse … is it an excuse?  No, to me “winging it” is an attitude not an excuse. 

Winging It 4

I’ve made my peace and I’ve come to the conclusion that after 50ish years, this old dog isn’t about to learn many new tricks.  So, I’m just going to keep meandering along.  Winging it.  Laughing.  Loving.  Learning.  Nike has it right.  I’ll just do it.  I’ll embrace the day to day ebb and flow.  I’ll figure out what I need to, when I need to.  Winging it can be stressful for some … it isn’t for everyone.  So?  How about you?  Are you winging it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Have This Friend …

Yes.  I really do “have that friend”.  I know.  I know.  It sounds like one of those stories where I am about to weave a crazy embarrassing tale about my imaginary friend while I am actually revealing my own conundrum.  Nope, that’s not the case.  Honestly, I really do have “that” friend.   I couldn’t make up some of our stories if I wanted to.  My BFF really is THAT person.

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In a recent article on Today.com;“Why it’s so hard to make midlife friends — and 5 tips on how to change that”  Gabrielle Frank discusses different ways to make new friends in our 40’s and 50’s and the difficulties that some women have.   Thankfully, I am one of the lucky ones.  I love making new friends … but I don’t worry about it.

I have this friend …

On the Celebration of Friendships website, there’s a section called Shasta’s Friendship Blog.  The blog is a collection of stories about friendships.  It’s bang on!  She nails it! http://www.girlfriendcircles.com/blog/

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One of the guest blogs on that site is Danielle LaPorte.s An Ode to Girlfriends.  OMG, it is one of the funniest and most touching glimpses at girlfriends that I have ever read.  It is my very favourite. I encourage you to check it out.  I shared it with my friend.

I have this friend …

There was this one time … funny but all of our stories start like that … there was this one time … anyways …

There was this one time when we planned a celebration for my friend’s birthday. A pub crawl sounded like fun. We were going to walk to 10 bars on the same strip that evening. It was an ambitious undertaking and required an early start of course. Well, we made it to 2 bars that night. Barely a hop … never mind a crawl. The next morning when my friend stated quite definitively that her biggest regret the previous night was singing a Carpenters song during Karaoke; I just shook my head and told her that she wasn’t even close to listing her biggest regret. As the flashbacks came to her throughout the next day, apparently I was correct. We still laugh about that night.

Another bar crawl, another night, another occasion. Somehow I ended up in a snow bank that time. My friend did what all good friends do. Laughed at me and took pictures. I think we are done with bar crawls for a bit.

Recently, there was this time that we took a 7-day road trip with our ladies hockey team. Of course we were room-mates, its just easier to bunk with your sister friend. I do believe we slept for a grand total of 15-minutes over those 7 days. The social itinerary was very full … and when we weren’t planning team activities, we most certainly were participating in them.  Just as an aside, our team really did actually play hockey during this adventure as well. But, no matter where our paths took us over those many days and nights, we always made time for 4am chats recapping, advising and laughing at the day’s events.

There was this other time … we got into an argument. Now we laugh about that too!

We’ve helped each other through some rough times.  Sometimes life deals you bad cards.  We lean on each other.  We’ve cried and yelled.  We’ve talked and we’ve listened.  We are both stronger, healthier and happier people as a result.  Each of us ready for the next challenge and both of us proud of the ones we’ve conquered.  We’ve witnessed the best and worst in each other. No matter. She’s gets me and I get her.

BFF

This picture is extra funny because my friend hates peanut butter.   Haha.

popcorn and pop

That’s better.

Popcorn is my favourite food in the whole wide world.  Guess what?  My friend loves it too.

Yep.  I’ve got this friend.  She’s got stamina. She’s strong willed.  Both traits I wish I had a little more of. She’s fun.  Crazy.  Spontaneous.  I can’t even begin to tell you some of the Lucy and Ethel situations we’ve been in.

Everyone needs “that friend”.  I wish it for you.  A sister or brother friend that gets you!  Mingle.  Socialize.  Friendships are the peanut butter to their jelly or better yet … the popcorn for their movie …

Do you have that friend?  I’d love to hear about them.

Aging … But Maybe Not Necessarily Gracefully!

As Danielle Steel so eloquently said, “I’m not an aging gracefully type. But I do believe in aging with grace”.   Okay.  Okay.  Maybe “grace” is an overstatement.  I’m aging, that’s a fact.  I’m not very graceful, sadly, also a fact.  Is acceptance the equivalent to grace?   So much has been written about mankind (and woman-kind) as we age.

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As the old cliché goes … only two things in life are certain … death and taxes.  Well, isn’t that just dandy?  Surely, I wouldn’t have asked Julie Andrews to sing about either death or taxes as my favourite things.  But, as it is with everything in our lives, we have choices.  I choose to quietly accept the fact that I must pay my taxes.  However, on the other end of the spectrum, I choose to wrestle with aging as best I can.  It’s not graceful … and it’s certainly not always pretty … but it makes me happy and keeps me active.  I win some battles and I lose some battles, but I always relish the challenge.

I enjoyed reading Terry Carr’s Blog Dear Self:  Do Not Fear Aging

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/terry-k-carr/dear-self-do-not-fear-aging_b_4634416.html?&

The fear of aging is real.  How will others see us?  “It is a privilege to get old.”   She’s right.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans website promotes a blog entitled Promoting Physical Activity to Older Adults

http://health.gov/paguidelines/blog/post/Promoting-Physical-Activity-to-Older-Adults.aspx

While I enjoyed this read and shared the views of the author, please let me get something off my shoulders … just for the record; I am not yet officially a “senior” yet.  While I’ve endured my 50th birthday, I have not yet embraced the “senior” title.  Whew.   Just sayin’.

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After raising my children, I now have time for myself and enjoy getting out and being physically active and social, the proverbial win-win.  It’s time to walk the walk rather than just talk the talk.  I am very proud to say that I’ve done just that.

I am now a female hockey player (that may be using the term “player” rather loosely) and having the time of my life!  The Women’s Hockey League in my hometown has over 300 women between the ages of 21 and 70+ playing the great Canadian game!  I’ve made best friends and stay active during the winter skating hard and having fun.  I started playing in my 40’s and still look forward to playing in my 50’s.  Games are fun, the dressing room chatter is classic and the post-game beverages are refreshing.

http://www.womenshockeyleague.ca/                                https://www.facebook.com/WHLSSM

This past April, I was lucky enough to be part of a team that travelled to Windsor to be part of the CARHA World Cup of Hockey.  https://www.thecup2016.ca/  A fantastic 7 days, with awesome teammates in their 3o’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.  A week that I will never forget.

The pictures speak for themselves.  It really was as much fun as it looks!

Canadian Beavers 1

Canadian Beavers

I play golf in a Tuesday night ladies league during the summer and enjoy mixed slo-pitch during the warmer months as well.  I’m not the best at either sport but the activity and the laughs are just what I came for.

So let’s all get out there.  We are all aging; some more slowly or quickly than others.  Embrace aging and all the opportunities it presents.  Get active.  Get social.  It doesn’t have to be pretty.  It doesn’t have to be “graceful”.  Find your inner child and reignite your competitiveness.  You may not be the best at the activities you enjoy but trust me; the good far outweighs anything else.  Make the happy aging choice … you’ve earned it.

COM0011 -Social Media for the Less Fortunate

A commentary and reaction to:  “What Does Poverty Look Like on Social Media”   

My interests in Social Services and Social Media are intertwined with many branches, wires and strings.   The lesson to reach out and help others starts at childhood, when we are taught to be good to one another, the core of kindness and empathy.  The roots stretch as we become adults and are politically engaged with the notion of charity and helping the underprivileged.  In my own personal case, the reality of the less fortunate is an every day aspect of my work life.  I am employed by Social Services.  Ontario Works clients,   Community Child Care clients and  Housing clients;  they are all part of everyday life in our offices.  These are difficult times for many families.

Social Media is a young medium driven by younger generations.   Social Media can even be described as a generational tool (another blog for another day!).  When reading the commentary about poverty and social media, I was struck by the section entitled “children drive the families need for social media”.  This statement hit me hard.  The reality hit home.  As parents we do what we can to for our children.  Financial hardship, overridden by pier pressure and blocked by financial barriers creates a conundrum for families as well as Social Service providers.  The expense of the technology required to access social media such as internet connections, laptops, cell phones and tablets can create a gap in a child’s access to social media and all that it offers.

Our Social Services organization is launching a social media campaign.  Communications with clients, employees and the community at large is the reason I am enrolled in this Social Media course.  I will be keeping the children in mind in our social media messages.  We can’t leave the children behind.