Making Memories....

It doesn’t get any better than this …..

 Summer in the beautiful sunny Okanagan.  As a little girl I would come to the Okanagan camping with my family, my memories are so vivid they feel like it was just yesterday.  I can still remember sitting up on the lookout above Osoyoos, feeling the sun on my face, the breeze blowing my pony tails and looking down at the lake in absolute awe.  Thinking this was the most beautiful place on earth and as it turns out, I was right.  Coming from a northern BC town, going to the Okanagan on summer break was a true adventure.  Don’t get me wrong, Terrace, BC is exceptionally beautiful and world renowned for fishing and hiking and most outdoor activities but it so geographically different from the Okanagan.  It felt like a world away to a six year old.

The times  spent camping in a huge old canvas tent  with all my sisters and brothers, picking cherries and eating until we were almost sick, swimming in the lake until dark day after day, building forts and riding bikes, nothing could compare, and it made for great stories when school was back in September.

Sadly, there aren’t many of those old camp grounds left, they’ve been replaced with high end condos, resorts and cottages now but luckily memories can’t be redeveloped or bulldozed.

I’ve done a lot of the same type of camping with my children, from the Kootenay’s to Terrace and everywhere in between.   I know when they look back; their memories will be as mine are, irreplaceable and I’m so incredibly glad that I took the time to enjoy them, their time, my time.  

Unfortunately as our lives get busier, all too often it’s the most important things that lose out.   We have to constantly remind ourselves not to let life pass us by, live for the moment.  You can’t go back in time and re-do your children’s childhood; you can’t relive those missed adventures.  You only get one shot at life and it shouldn’t be put off for next weekend, next summer, next year.  

As a dear friend of mine reminded me on more than one occasion - sometimes next never comes.  

Love and miss you Sally Habib and thank you so much for reminding me to live large!

Ten-Year-Old Is Growing Up Strong In YMCA Community

As kids grow up, they are greatly influenced by the environments in which they are raised. This includes their home, community and society. Children who have access to nurturing, stimulating and safe environments have fewer difficulties and experience better health, learning, relationships and well-being. 

 That is why for Aiden Houston, age 10, being a part of a community at the YMCA has made such a difference.

 “Aiden is a volunteer and member at the YMCA’s H2O location,” explains Aiden’s mom, Makenzie Houston. “Volunteering gives him a sense of purpose. He walks to H2O twice a week after school and is learning to be more independent and self-confident.”

 Makenzie was 16 years old when Aiden was born. As a single mother she has worked hard to provide him with the best opportunities she could offer but it hasn’t been easy. Thanks to local donors who support the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign, Makenzie and Aiden are able to participate in Y programs and services they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford. 

 “Through the Y, Aiden has met friends, he has developed a passion for riding on H2O’s FlowRider surf simulator and he has some great role models to look up to. I have also noticed a difference in Aiden’s happiness. He used to go to his grandparents every day after school and watch TV or play video games and would be grumpy and tired when I’d pick him up after work. Since he has been volunteering, he is proud of himself and a lot happier.” 

BC has the highest child poverty rate in Canada. Nearly one in five kids live in low-income households in the Central Okanagan alone. With numbers this high, it is necessary for community members to lend a hand. 

“We are so grateful for YMCA donors,” says Makenzie. “Being a part of the Y has been really good for our family.” 

What is Normal

 “I just want to be normal.”

“That’s not normal.”

“Can’t you just be normal?”

Normal. Possibly the most abstract concept in existence. 

Normal is ever-changing, elusive and for some, the holy grail of quests. It is also in the eye of the beholder.

By generally accepted definition, it means conforming to a standard, usual, typical, or expected.  

Which is fine, if you are describing something like body temperature, white blood cell count or caffeine intake. Then, normal is most certainly something to strive for.

But for the most part, normal is not a word I am awfully fond of, and most certainly not something I strive for. At least, not anymore.

And why would I? My normal is not the same as your normal. Heck, my normal is not the same as my own normal of a few years ago, or, come to that, yesterday. But I spent a lot of energy throughout my life attempting to achieve it before I finally decided it just wasn’t for me.

And who gets to decide what is normal? That’s what I would like to know. THEY do, I suppose. Another of those abstract words we pepper our lives with. 

They say this, they say that… they they they. No one ever tells you just whom THEY are. 

But THEY influence us daily all the same, those nameless, faceless societal gods.

I had a visit with an old friend yesterday. He and I have been drifting in and out of each other’s lives for 3 decades now. Every few years we arrive in the same spot, try to fill the gaps on what has happened since the last visit, tripping over thoughts and words and never fully managing to complete the pictures. 

Neither of us has led what our families might consider a normal life, much, I am sure to their consternation. 

And that friendship, those ports in our stormy lives when we happen upon the same spot in space and time, might just be the only normal I have. The one constant that remains steadfast, though neither of our lives truly do. 

My point, and I do have one, is that if we were just a little less worried about normal, perhaps we would be a little better to each other in this world. 

Perhaps we would not be worrying about who is using what bathroom. 

We would not worry about whom is marrying whom. 

We would be less afraid of how a person prays or worships, or if they do at all.

Perhaps we would be less judgemental, less violent, less angry. 

We might, just might, even look at the world and realize that what should be normal, the only thing that should be normal, is no one on the planet going to bed hungry, cold or afraid. That waking up should not be a moment filled with dread. 

That needing help should not be shameful, or impossible to find. 

It should not be normal for us to fear one another. It should not be normal for us to try to change each other. 

It should not be normal for us to accept dictation from the faceless THEY when it comes to our physique, appearance, standard of dress, gender identity or sexuality. 

And it most certainly should not be normal for us to harm one another because of any of those things.

And yet, it is. We have accepted it, in so many ways, as normal. How sad is that?

There is some shift that needs to happen. Some change in our collective normal beings that needs to occur.   

I am not sure if that will ever happen. But we can try… one small acceptance at a time.

Normal. 

Whatever ripple of life you are dancing in now is your normal. May it remain a constantly expanding and graceful thing. May your normal include new experiences, more love, more acceptance. May your normal allow you to reach out when you need help, and reach back when others need it.

May you change normal.

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