03.10.18

What was Beautiful:

The Tavares Strachan exhibit at the Frye Gallery, The Shape of Water movie, surrounding mountains in the crisp morning sunshine.

What made me Laugh: 

Not quite Narwhal

also this picture of Riley that her dog walker took:

What I’ve been up to: 

Coming into spring…planting seeds, planning out my garden…but I did also pull out some knitting last night just to sit and think.

What I’m reading:

So much! My library books are overdue but I have come across a ton of interesting tidbits:

Choosing the right relationship  vs. What if it Wasn’t Love? 

and from Why Anyone Would Want to be a Wife to the Breakdown of the American Marriage.

I didn’t say it was light reading! but finally, the Mercy of Moving On and the Importance of a BFF. We just all want someone to talk to (although apparently,Americans have Fewer than ever Close Confidantes)

And something to believe in.   I’ve been reading a lot about secular Buddhism and art shrines after Religion for Atheists.

Moving from Empathy to Compassion as an act of Self Care. 

and Everyone is Miserable, here’s what we can do about it.

Are you good at job hunting? I don’t think I need to take that test.  But I do need help Getting un-stuck.  And I know some people who need to read The Difference Between Feedback and Criticism.

The evolution of housing is something I think about a lot. We have so much space and spend so much time in the same small parts of it – usually staring at a screen. And possibly related, What does a Future with no Jobs Look Like?

And How to Know if you’ve levelled up as a Person.

Levelling up as a diver would definitely (for me) be diving in a flooded underwater prison. Or an opal mine.

Levelling up as a reader undoubtedly means reading everything Yrsa Daley-Ward puts out there. One More time with Energy.

A bit on Fernweh (“far-sickness), a “nice” woman-owned tattoo parlour and some beautiful illustrations of mythical beasts.

More on the #metoo movement – whose name I am starting to hate. let’s call it what it is – the systematic sanctioned abuse of women. And certainly related, Masculinity in the Age of Trump.

5 Things You Should Do Every Sunday Morning (just in time for the switch back to standard time tomorrow)

And perhaps most importantly, How not to Cheat Yourself out of Life’s Joys

2.22.18

What was Beautiful:

All this wintry sunshine. It’s my favourite weather and I wish I had more time to just soak it all up.

Dinner at Anna Lena in Vancouver. Amazing spread and seriously good service.

What made me Laugh: 

Going through my grandmother’s brooch collection with my sister.

What I’ve been up to: 

Art class – and actually making some art at home too!, running up and down I-5 to go diving / dining / visiting / snowbaording, etc., and trying to get the yard to look like less of a disaster before the tulips come up. Also what feels like a lot of Work.

What I’m reading:

Portraits of Retired Sex Workers: The Gaze Turned the Other Way – an utterly amazing photo essay at Medium

Another, also involving the elderly – You & Me on a Sunny Day

The secret lives of Narwhals, because duh. Who doesn’t want to know what the unicorns of the sea are up to?

New Poetry by Indigenous Women. I’ve been on a super poetry bent lately and was grateful to come across this.

A request for “fun facts” about me prompted a Google search for Canadians and “Degan” and returned these gems:

36 Delightful facts about Canada, Weird Facts about Canada that prove it’s the Most Interesting Country Ever  (did you know we eat 55% more Kraft Dinner than Americans do? That must be in the prairies. Or all those communities that are too far away from grocery stores),  Urban Dictionary entries for Degan that suggest my name means, “to put hos before bros; to ditch friends to be with a girlfriend” or “A fucking idiot who copies people’s words and drives an accord”. Ouch! At least I am from the most interesting country ever and I know that Accord should be capitalized.

Icicle Creek, a poem by EJ Koh (along with many other poems a friend sent me in response to a request for new poetry recommendations).

The Gift & Power of Emotional Courage, at TEDx. I’m always going to click that link and this is a good one.

Rebecca Solnit on the #MeToo Backlash. I deeply respect her thinking and writing and this is a subject that I can’t let go of yet either.

What Cross-country Skiing Reveals About the Human Condition…timely because of the Olympics but relevant to me because poetic. Via Nicole Gulatta, a poet, and it is indeed poetic, “Every winter sport is — in addition to being an inspiring triumph of elegant majesty — also a total hassle. It is not easy to convert your soft, frail, squishy, warm human body into something that can survive in the hard world of frozen water. It requires all kinds of logistics: fitting, strapping, buckling, bundling, clomping, shivering. But the effort is worth it, because the frozen water unlocks superpowers we would never otherwise have. It allows us to glide, slide, soar, whoosh and hurtle. Skiers go flying over moguls at 75 m.p.h. Speedskaters shoot over the ice, leaning and pumping, weaving through competitors. The payoff for the ridiculous logistical nightmare is the gift of fluid speed.”

Does Marriage Even Make Sense Anymore? at Medium. “People marry to show their family and friends how well their lives are going, even if deep down they are unsure whether their partnership will last a lifetime.” “This (often illusionary) feeling of security is enhanced by the legal binding of one to another. It makes it more difficult to leave, and thereby relates to possessing. In short, we want to marry so we can hold onto another.”

Comfort is a Silent Killer, linked from the article above.

8 Things Everyone Should Do Before 8 AM. I hate titles that tell me what to do but this does make sense. Wake up, get in the zone, get moving, put the right food in your body, get ready, get inspired, get perspective, do something to move you foreward.

Are we post lifestyle? at Medium. “The alpha and omega of modern advertising is that we want to be the person with the thing pictured more than we want the thing.”

2.09.18

What was Beautiful:

My brand new baby niece.

What made me Laugh: 

Dogs in the snow, Maceo with her fishies.

What I’ve been up to:  Workity, work, work, work, which means inventorying, and assessing the data from inventory and trying to help out as much as I can, having come into the project mid-way. Then running up to the interior and seeing all the family super fast, learning more about the school to prison pipeline at SVP, seeing an absinthe-themed burlesque show (with absinthe service for our table of course), seeing a seminar on cave diving and exploration and then dipping into Howe Sound for a bit of (non-cave) dive exploration with friends, catching a flamenco show at the Kino Cafe on my way home. Then more late nights and long hours in war rooms, topped off by a trip to Whistler to play in the snow with the dogs. I am tired! But it’s all been a slice and I get to take a break from both I-5 and conference room food / chairs for a while, so I’m grateful for both of those things.

What I’m reading this week:

The 50 Best 1-Star Amazon Reviews of Ulysses. Even the headline made me laugh in anticipation but there is some good stuff in there.

1-866-MRTR by Ann Carson, at Brick Mag.

Don’t Date a Girl Who Travels …unless you can keep up with her. And if you unintentionally fall in love with one, don’t you dare keep her. Let her go.

This anthropology research assistant job posting at UW. Just for kicks.

Winter

Blackie Spit

“The winters were cold and bitter now, like the brothers of kings.” – Anne Fleming

This has been the coldest winter in a while, certainly in my lifetime and in fact in the last 66 years. Our friends from anywhere else in Canada laugh at us but we have no winter coats, we have no snow tires, we leave the house without gloves or boots and even though I once got the Hardiest Camper award in Girl Guides, I have been complaining a bit.

Trout lake

My grandfather used to send me letters occasionally, almost until he died at 97. He lived most of his life in remote parts of BC and for as long as I’ve been alive he lived alone in a log cabin on a huge acreage in Crawford Bay. So when he sat down to write a letter, they were like little paintings of a world he knew very well; the deer have come down to graze on the driveway, the hummingbirds are active now, it should be snowing soon. I think of his letters often when I look out our window onto the tree on Water Street and notice that the crows are nesting or that the leaves are budding. It seems amazing that we can take notice of such small details when we have all of this information and input flying at us, but I am glad we do and I make a point of doing it often.

My friend just posted this status on Facebook: “The sunset is amazing! The sky looks like it’s on fire. Standing in a crowded bus so cannot take a photo. Look now if you can.” That’s the spirit!

Whistler

We had a bit of snow on the weekend but it’s warmed up enough now that we are sure to expect grey and rain the rest of the week – much more typical for a Vancouver winter but it means that we have come inside. It turns out that as long as the sky is not dishwater grey and just as wet, I am happy to be outside. I decided to take a photo every day of 2014 in an attempt to have a visual record of what I’ve been up to and also to improve my photography skills. But even looking back on two months’ worth, the vast majority of them are outside. I’ve been up to Whistler boarding a few times,  diving pretty regularly (even cleaning out trash from lakes!), and hiking (or at least walking or dog-parking) with Riley. My drysuit decided that the dead of winter was the best time to fall apart so there were a couple of really short dives before I got a sexy new suit but even that was ok. I like being outside.

Crab park

This is old news. When I was a kid I was always playing outdoors –  first in the driveway, then the yard, then the creek behind our house and then the mountains and ocean behind the city. And this year I’ve had lots of time to play outside. My career coaches / books / websites keep asking ‘what would you do if you didn’t have to work?’ and I have determined that I do absolutely have to work. I don’t like have endless amounts of time on my hands but when I do, I fill it with reading and writing and playing outside.

Crab park

I’ve been reading a lot about the change cycle and finding your dream job and I think I will write a separate post about that but after months and months of thinking about it, I feel like I am finally getting close. It’s been an interesting journey (and I will write a post about that too) – almost interesting enough that I considered being a career coach myself but in the end I am back at digital communications and media. It’s the only thing that makes sense and I am enjoying digging in to it, but I am glad of the process that has led me to volunteer at the David Suzuki Foundation and the Museum of Vancouver, taking a Cabinet of Curiosities museum class at UBC and a whole whack of other classes online, going to Seattle for the IN-NW social media conference, putting on a whisky tasting and all the things I’ve learned along the way. And it’s been fun but I am anxious to get going.

Sea

Last month I attended an award’s dinner where my dad received a lifetime achievement award with his business partner. I am so proud! And so envious. He has worked hard all his life and loved every minute of it and is an absolute inspiration to me in my search. We are still moving to Seattle in the summer and I am focusing forward, checking out companies and careers as well as diving, hiking and networking groups. I’m really looking forward to the refresh but first I have a whisky tasting to put on and Riley’s first birthday to celebrate and then we are off to go diving in the Revillagigedo Islands (Socorro) off the coast of Mexico.  This is a life dream of mine and has been in the works for quite a while but it will all be worth it to dive with giant mantas, humpback whales and their calves, dolphins, eels, tuna and sharks (hammerheads, Galapagos, silky, white tip, silver tip and maybe even whale sharks)! Check this out: https://vimeo.com/64876316.

Trains

What I’m Reading and Listening to this month:

Sunlight on the Water

Sunlight on the water

Today it has been 10 years since my mom died. It feels like a big day and I want to spend it doing something big to commemorate her. My sister and I talked about going back to Venice where we scattered her ashes, but over this years that plan has faded and instead I got back from the Bahamas late last night on a completely unrelated trip. In past years, on her birthday and mother’s day and the anniversary of her death, I’ve looked through photo albums or bought flowers and carried them around with me or threw them in the ocean, not entirely sure what to do. Usually I make a point of wearing the locket she gave me and end up at the beach – a place that was special to both of us – in contemplative silence, worrying the cool weight of the silver…but what I really want is to talk about her.

A lot of time has passed and while the grief has faded like everyone said it would, her death changed my life. Before she died I thought nothing bad would ever happen, or at least I imagined bad things happening in kind of a benign, abstract way. Life was golden. So it seems fitting that when I remember her, I remember sunlight. She was an incredibly warm person and she radiated that light in photographs and in person; when she smiled (which was often), when she fell over sideways from laughing (also frequently), when she was waving to me from the table in the restaurant where we met for wine on Fridays (I was always late so she was always there) or when she opened the door with a flourish of excitement when I came for dinner. Helen is Greek for “shining light” and it seems to me that she was always smiling. I know that can’t be true – no one smiles all the time, but when I think about her, I still feel warm. That hasn’t faded.

helen

Many other details have. I am losing the hard edges of memory and they details are overlapping on themselves as they disintegrate with time, like sunlight dancing on water. At one moment you see your reflection and then it’s gone in a glint of light or maybe the flash of a fish just below the surface.

It gets a bit complicated because while I do conisider her very much my mom, I’m adopted and she was my birth mother so I also have an adopted mom who I love with much. It matters because I met Helen as an adult and I only knew a couple of her friends well. Most of them I’ve completely lost contact with and very few of the friends I had then are still around. Stupidly I never introduced her to my adoptive family. So when I want to talk about her I have to rely on myself. I am frustrated with myself for forgetting but I haven’t been telling stories. There has been too many years of not talking about her and so I will start now with what I have left – her smile and her light.

When I was connected with her through the adoption agency, I wasn’t sure who she would be or what I was getting myself into but I did know that I did not need another adult to judge and criticize me. I agonized over that letter (possibly even more than I did over this blog post) but finally decided that I had nothing to lose and wrote everything out in detail. I tried to tell the whole story of who I was with my whole heart and when she wrote back full of warmth and love, I finally felt understood. I felt like I had come home. We met at the boulder on White Rock Beach and sat there talking until it was dark and cold – then we went to a cafe and talked until it closed. Matt is the only other person in my life that I’ve felt this close and connected to. I miss her so much.