December 30, 2012

Seven Year Itch?


Dear Kate,

It was in the late afternoon on December 30th, 2006, a winter’s silvery sun coming in through a leaded glass window. An impossible light on a cloudy day, but it was the the day I said ‘I do’ to Kate which makes anything possible. That makes this year our seventh anniversary. Ever heard of the theory of the Seven Year Itch?

For us, in the past seven years, there have been no fewer than four major renovation sessions occurring in two different houses. There has been one neurotic dog, and two lovely, irrepressible irreplaceable children, not to mention several cousins, and more weddings. Five (or maybe six?) strollers. Many Sundays singing hymns. A thousand family dinners. Three degrees completed and/or conferred. Six vegetable gardens.  Six seasons of raking leaves. One Transatlantic trip, two sojourns to sunny southern climes (Hola, and might I add Aloha!), and a number of other domestic flights. Lotsa drives to Kamloops. Numerous cross border jaunts. Terrible sickness. Deaths, even. 2,190 days. 2,190 nights, many of them sleepless thanks to aforementioned irrepressible children. One baptism (ps, we need to get on that other one).Two cars, a few new sets of skis, and a cargo bike. Nine job changes. Nine. Conferences, conference calls, board meetings. Thousands and thousands of commuter hours. 84 power bills to pay. Just as many telephone bills. Two high school reunions...and I could go on... and on... and on...

Thankfully, there are the unquantifiable moments: Any number of nights on the town (though amounts diminish greatly post-baby arrival!), movies on the couch, walks and bike rides, opportunities to hold hands. Discussions over wine or tea. crackling fires. Heated discussions that required no extrinsic source of fire. Snowball fights. Stargazing sessions. Tears shed, which you were there to catch, and I yours. Hugs and kisses (probably in the neighbourhood of 2,190 a piece since there’s at least one of each a day). Upset, depression, heartache, want, wonder, joy and laughter.

There have been terrible, unforgettable moments during our time as husband and wife. But moments is all they add up to. There are bad days and tough times, but there is no such thing in my life as a bad week, month or year. The parts are not the sum. It is all divisible by you, and the equation always comes out as a positive.

Moments, good or bad, are never dull and there is always you, always ‘us’, and my love grows with each tick on the clock.

With all named above, and all unnamed yet to come, I ask you:
Seven year itch?
Never heard of it.

I only know love, and family and all those things I signed up for and how thankful I am for it.
Then. Now. Always. Happy Anniversary. 

December 14, 2012

My response to Connecticut


Sometimes, you can’t just say nothing, do nothing. Maybe this post is just for me, but that’s fine. 

Sometimes, news–news totally disconnected from your daily life, from your world—reels you in, and it’s all you can think about. 

The story of the tragic shooting in Connecticut is just such a piece of news. Human nature draws us to tragedy, not necessarily because we get pleasure out of it, but because we have an unquenchable thirst to figure out what must have gone wrong. Who did what, and when, and why. And how do we fix this. 

I admit I was driven to distraction this morning obsessing via my Twitter feed over just those things, wondering who did what, and when, and why. 

My afternoon, though, became my response, and you will see it below.

Regardless of the senselessness of those things we can’t now forget, of the innocence lost in moments of horror, let us more fully embrace the innocence we can still find our daily lives, and be thankful for the good in the world. Today, I, along with my wife and two-year old, found good in my world watching my four year old totally own his role in his pre-school Christmas play. I heard children singing. I watched joy and belief on little faces as Santa came in the room. I felt security and warmth as my two year old clutched to me in reaction to the same event (she’ll grow to love him, I know she will!).

Keep talking about gun control, access to mental and other health care services. 

But don’t forget to believe the way kids do, to sing out loud to carols and Raffi songs...and remember to get it on tape.

Cheers,
Stu 

video

November 26, 2012

A Few Movember Looks...

This month, a bold experiment has taken place: I have grown a moustache. Movember, as it is known the world over, is a widely accepted practice nowadays and I have been pleased to take part in it despite the chagrin of my wife, mother in law, female colleagues... well, basically any female. 

But it is all in the name of a good cause: promoting awareness of men's mental and physical health. On the physical health side, prostate cancer awareness and research is the primary reason for Movember. My Uncle John is, as we speak, fighting his own battle against prostate cancer, currently in the midst of a string of some 32 radiation treatments. It is with him in mind that I primarily decided to join in the Movember campaign this year, and happily, with no fundraising target for myself whatsoever, I've been able to raise several hundred dollars so far. And my fundraising is part of  a larger team effort through my work: 40 of us have raised around $7,000 and our broader firm network across the country has taken in $85,000 to date, with hopes for $100 K by the week's end.

But Movember is by no means all serious business. to the contrary, dressing up with this moustache has been kinda fun. To that end, and without further ado, I submit to you, a gallery exemplifying some of the ridiculous ways one can dress up their Mo if they wish to do so!


You have to ask yourself one question....

Does this Mo look goofy?

Well, does it?

PUNK?

It sure does once you throw your dad's vintage disco shirt on with some aviators!

Okay, so the shirt is actually the draw here, not the Mo.


But it can get cheesier...

Once you add a sweet fuzzy hat! Disco Stu!
Alright, that's enough of that! To close, as I mentioned, I am raising funds! I'd love for you to donate to my cause, and you can do so by checking out my Mo Space at  http://mobro.co/stuchase. If everyone on my blog mailing list contributed five bucks a head, my totals would shoot way up! But even if you don't, I hope you get a kick out of a few additional images on my Mo Space page! Thanks! can't wait to shave this thing off in a few more days!

November 17, 2012

What Blessings Can Look Like...

Blessings: how do you define them? Count them? Experience them?  

One year ago today, November 17th 2011, it could have been much different. It could have been a day much like any other day. But if it was, it would have made a day not long after it a terrible day.

Confused yet? Just stay with me.

It had been an odd week leading up to November 17th. There were mounting concerns that my mum’s vision was failing, leading to headaches and other things. And on November 17th, a very odd thing happened indeed. My mother in law showed up at my office.That's the type of thing that could only mean bad news!

The sense of unease that had been building through the past few days came to a head: My mother in law was there to tell me my mum had undergone some emergency MRI scans, and the results yielded unwelcome news: brain tumours, one of them potentially life threatening without near-immediate surgical intervention.

So now, maybe you have begun to understand. Without November 17th being the day that it was, a few days later would have been much worse. As terrible as it felt to have that lightning bolt realization that your mum is in trouble, it’s a lot more pleasant a thing than finding out a week later that your mother died on her feet in her kitchen, or something like that. So I am thankful that November 17th played out like it did. Without the action that was taken, an even more traumatic scene was the only likely outcome. So mum was unwell, but still alive.

That's Blessing # 1.

November 2011. Lots of questions! Lots.
The week that followed was still torturous, as family came to grips with the current situation, and did it’s best to tear away at the layers now in our hands, which were still not well understood. Post surgery, past the initial trauma, the conversations inevitably turned to ‘how much time is there?’. The surgery was a success, you see. The large tumour that could well have killed mum was removed. Symptoms almost immediately reversed. But two more tumours, smaller, in other areas of the brain, were deemed inoperable. So again, the question of ‘how much time’. The answer always came back the same: “no one can tell for certain, but presume a year.”

A year, by anyone’s calendar, is better than no time: Blessing # 2.

Fast forward through intense radiation. A Christmas season unlike any other. Months of suffering for mum through the after effects of having one’s brain radiated intensively. Quarterly re-scans to see if the brain was “behaving” itself following treatment. And, of course all the highs and lows that can come with travelling such a stormy sea,

Doctors were thrilled with her results. Come the Fall of 2012, we hadn’t initially been sure really sure if mum was still going to be her old self, but she was. She was great, in fact. She had lost weight—a peculiar side effect of all she had been through, but with the result of making her more mobile. The dark veil of most of the symptoms of treatment had been lifted, and we were seeing Wendy for who Wendy was and is.

Through all of that time, no matter what was going on, no matter the latest opinion or projection, mum did manage and has managed to maintain something: an unbelievably positive attitude. As far as I’m concerned, a key to her survival.

Let’s call that Blessing #3.

And let’s just bring it right up to Blessing #4. November 17th, a full trip around the sun since “that day”, and mum is still here, and she’s got more time yet projected to stick around. Yes, she has had another check up recently that confirmed the brain cancer is progressing again, and yes, she has had another bout of low-dose radiation...which is actually Blessing #5, as many in the same situation as her had progressions much earlier on, were not able to take a second round of radiation to the brain, and were, by this point, gone. But not mum.

Ahoy there! Wendy aboard 'Boomer' with Jamie, Fall 2012
A year ago, none of us had any idea what Nov. 17th would bring, though we were told time and time again that this day would not be for my mother. How pleased I am, for all of us and for mum, that Nov. 17th this year will pass, perhaps largely unnoticed; just another day on the calendar, and that mum can live it. She’s got a trip lined up in the very near future, and we’re all looking forward to another Christmas together this year.

Mum, you’re a bloody miracle. Thank you for your spirit and perseverance in the face of all that the last year has thrown at you. We are so proud of you, and stand amazed as each day, you manage to beat down more and more of the odds: Happy November 17th.

sunshine, reading books, and watching your grandkids play in the grass... these are the good things in life. summer 2012

October 2, 2012

Good Things Come in Threes...

Three is my favourite number.

Where possible, I always adopted it as a jersey number for various sports teams over the years. A triangle is my favourite shape. The Holy Trinity. Three cheese pizza. Three’s company. Once, twice, three times a lady. Three blind mice

...wait, what?

Never mind, the point is this: Good things come in threes, isn’t that what they say? I presume, then, that the fact I’m turning 33 is a VERY good thing. Two three’s sitting right there next to each other? BAM! Bring on advancing age, I say.

I've just come away from a great home cooked dinner with friends and family, all on the heels of a satisfying day at work. It all makes a guy pretty thankful for where he's at (editors note, third small child in photo below belongs to one of said friends. we haven't recently spawned a random third child...).

Things don't generally stay the same for long, though, and as much as I like how things are, I suspect—check that, I know—33 will be a year of much change. Our house is about to start getting torn apart for a big reno in a few weeks, so we’re moving into a rental space for a while as we get the work done (living in five months of construction zone with two small children + dog just to save money = totally false economy!) . So in mere days we’re moving the whole house out so work can begin, only to move the whole house back again in five months or so when the work is done!

At some point in the next year, I’ll need to change jobs again—I am only in a maternity leave coverage role right now, and as much as I love what I’m doing, I have to give the job back to someone else!

My son is in preschool now, but come September. 2013, he’ll be a kindergarten kid. As well, our daughter will be old enough to start some preschool after her third birthday, so these two things in combination will be a big change to the flow of the household movements.

There is one more change coming--doesn't feel so good--that at best we can only slow down, but not stop, much as we might want to. Facing up to the reality of mum’s situation has been tough this past year, and it will only get tougher. If there’s something from the past year that doesn’t need to change, it’s the steady stream of positive thoughts, prayers and white light that everyone has sent out in mum’s direction. It has worked well so far, no need to change anything in that department.

Long story short, good or bad, here is to change. 32 came in like a lion but (generally) went out like a big fluffy lamb. Here’s to more 'baaaaa' in year 33!

July 30, 2012

A Week Without Shoes



An early morning + two ferries with drives in between + mad rush to get gear on to a water taxi + uphill climb to get gear up a steep ramp at low tide = no inconvenience when I think back on the week spent on Savary Island at the mouth of B.C.s Desolation Sound.


For one bliss-filled week, I, along with my mum, brother, sister and all our respective spouses and kids basically took over the entirety of the Savary Island Resort, a small but amenable complex two thirds of the way west on the small sandspit that is Savary Island.


Mother nature was smiling on us, and from the time we greeted our resort hosts Kim and Michael until the time we left, there was barely a cloud to speak of let alone a whisper of wind. All that sun only leaves one thing to do on a tiny island: visit every beach you can pack in.


Seven kilometres end to end, a kilometre wide at its widest and 300 meters at its narrowest, Savary is plenty easy to get around on a bike or by foot, and there’s water nearby no matter where you go. We splashed in the shallows off the white sand of South Beach, and combed for all manner of sea creatures in the tidal flats of the North side of the island, where you cannot take a step without ending the life of some tiny mollusc, a sand dollar, a snail, crab, or at the very least crunching through a broken oyster or clam shell, already dealt with by a sea otter or ocean faring bird. At this point, I know what you’re thinking: “yeah, but it’s still the Pacific, and northern at that, so the water is cold, right?” Wrong! At it’s best times, as warm as a bathtub, at its worst, just pleasantly cool. Savary is enviably situated at the confluence of some tepid tidal and current movements that make the water surprisingly warm, and crystal clear!


For all those pescatarian and above, my brother will happily recount one mid week meal that consisted solely of salmon caught that morning, prawns fresh caught by the local fire chief that afternoon, and clams and oysters dug up from the mud that day at low tide. D-freakin-licious.


The island is pretty “off the grid", which is awesome. It’s solar panels, well water and pack out your garbage for the most part, so distractions such as cell phones and televisions didn’t much play in to the equation! There are very few vehicles and the locals like it that way (though we did get in a traffic jam invovling a golf cart, our bikes, two dogs and a small pickup truck...), with a single dirt road running the length of the island and a few other side roads that are only marginally vehicle friendly. Bikes and ATVs are the order of things! We had our bikes and it was the best way to get around!  More on the resort itself: hand built by it’s owners from the logs felled and milled from the lot, The resort features four bunk houses, each with a queen bed and two top-bunks, so the twelve of us that were there took over the space quite nicely. We all shared a communal kitchen with two stoves, two big fridges and an industrial sink, with a wrap around bar, comfy couches and benches and drawers full of books to read during your stay. There are no freezers, so if you decide to go, meal plan accordingly! Outdoors, an undercover big table next to a great big barbeque ensured fine al fresco dining. There are no less than four hammocks of varying descriptions, which ensured fine al fresco snoozing. A huge fire pit encircled with chairs, a nice courtyard and a grassy badminton /volleyball net ensured...you guessed it... fine al fresco fun.

There is also a sizable outdoor shower as well as men’s and women’s shower and bathrooms. The resort also has two luxury suites if you don’t fancy “glamping” with your family in the bunkhouses, all self contained with everything you’d need (ie, king sized beds, personal kitchens, forest and ocean views, personal sundeck...). As a guest, the owners are willing to put you to the test...with a potential payoff! The resort  has a contest whereby you, as the guest, can cook Kim and Mike a meal... if they deem it the best of the year, they’ll give you a free stay at the resort! My sister in law took them up on this challenge, putting together a Souvlaki meal that had me drooling (though, I might add, my sister in law was the family researcher who found this resort for us all, and she managed not to tell the rest of the family this contest was up for grabs! ... SnEaKY!) Good luck to her as the year progresses!


As for the rest of our experience, I took more photos than one might consider reasonable, but as “they” say, pictures speak louder than words. I'll spare the audience the show of all 336 pcitures I took and leave you with a video instead.  As it is, it's my sis in law who is the uber talented photographer and has her own studio--don't be surprised if you see her Savary photos showing up on her website! So, aside from me saying that the Chases had an idyllic, restful, sunsoaked vacation all together, I’ll just let the video do the talking ;) Suffice it to say, you won't necessarily recognize all the players in here, but you will see a consistently contented look on all the faces!!



June 1, 2012

Talking to your kids about death

"Daddy, I will miss you."
"When will you miss me, buddy?" I replied, quizzically, having only just recently gotten home from work.
"When you're dead."

---------------------------

In grade nine, a friend from my neighbourhood I’d know since kindergarten committed suicide. In grade 11, a classmate died ice climbing. One of my brother’s very best friends died in a car crash not long after high school. My sister was friends with a man executed for no reason in a gang- style shooting, he himself having no gang affiliations whatsoever. Wrong place, wrong time. Another acquaintance from high school days, a brilliant and promising doctor, was mowed down a few years ago along with his fiancee in a hit and run on the night they were engaged. In 2004, a friend of mine, barely into his 20’s, succumbed to his illnesses in his sleep. Five years ago, another high school classmate and her boyfriend—both experienced backcountry enthusiasts—died when a snow cave collapsed on them. A few years ago, before kids of our own, my wife and I attended a memorial service for an eight month old. Just in the past year, another high school classmate attempted to kill his girlfriend, and then hurled himself off a bridge, ending his own life. Another friend from the high school era lost her battle with cancer this year. Last month, as my last post attested to, another friend was lost through a tragic mishap during what should have been a great adventure. You can also pepper in various circumstances of cancer taking away loved ones, friends and colleagues, the evidence of which you need only search this blog to find.

That is a long winded intro to say this: I'm old enough. I "get it". It is little wonder, with all of these types of things whirling around us, and many of them quite recent, that my three year old has recently seemed a little bit obsessed with death.

Adding fuel to his fire and more on his level, the Vancouver aquarium, which we frequent, has also had the recent deaths of belugas, a dolphin and a sea otter to deal with.

We don’t particularly believe in skirting the truth with our kids when they ask us the genuine questions about “what happened” or “where did they go”, but the fact is, the concept of death is still a very abstract thing to our little people. I, personally, believe in God. Our family belongs to the United Church of Canada, though our participation rate has been extremely low in the past few years as our kids find the church environment to be, shall we say, a sensory overload. So it’s not as though the kids have had a whole lot of influence outside the home on concepts of an afterlife.

So how do you handle it? I’d love to hear other people’s experience with this subject. Whether you believe in God or gods, or no such things, death is a subject common to all and presumably just as scary a subject to have to broach with a child! With exception of the intro, which happened last night, our son has been relatively quiet on the subject in recent weeks, but he’s a thinker. And it’ll only be a matter of time before he asks another question that we will struggle to find the right answer to. He has come to understand that perhaps there is this place called ‘Heaven’ and that people like Granddad Jim, Granddad Gord, the beluga and the sea otter (and our neighbour’s cat, also recently deceased) are all hanging out there. But much of the “understanding” ends there.

It’s a tough thing, when your three year old has already heard of death and witnessed illness to the point they are concerned with their own mortality and feel prompted to ask their mommy “when I get older, and you are older, will you get sick and die?”

It’s a tough thing when asked, to explain that ‘a graveyard is where people’s bodies get put when they die’ and ‘no, underneath it is not heaven, though it is a place we can visit to remember people who die’.

It’s a tough thing when asked, to explain that ‘no, you can’t get to heaven in a plane, and no, you can’t visit, period’.

For all of the people I have known who have died over the years, be they close friends or family or merely casual acquaintances largely from my past, I have at least had the benefit of being old enough to understand that illness happens, that tragedy, with seemingly no point of logic, happens and that it’s important to ask the questions about it and grieve it if you must, and find some peace, however you manage to do that. Less of an option for a three year old and a two year old, I think, when there are still so many puzzle pieces of life still scattered about.

I wish I could sit my kids down, right now, and explain it all out to them and lend to them the understanding that “these things happen” all in one long lecture about reality. But “life” is overwhelming enough for people so young, let alone explaining “death”.

My son asked me, a few weeks ago, as I was preparing to attend a memorial for my friend “daddy, are you going to work?” He was confused, I think, because it was Sunday and I was wearing a suit—generally a practice reserved for Monday to Friday. I said “No, buddy,” I’m going to say goodbye to my friend”. And he answered me by asking “the one that fell?”

It is foolish to think that children so young do not listen, hear, understand, and think at length on our words. We owe them a duty to be honest about even the toughest of subjects, to respect that they are intelligent beings that know a lot, and think about more than they say. I am hopeful that the simple honesty we try to employ with our kids neither over simplifies the realities nor overburdens their developing minds.

I say just love ‘em, talk to them in a way you would want to be talked to if you didn’t understand, and the words will come out right. Some bridges you don’t want to have to cross, but everyone comes to a span at some point, and some are pretty narrow. I don’t think it’s about not looking down, but about knowing where to put your feet as you go.

In the meantime, I’m glad our son is generally more focused on loving preschool, loving his bike, and digging up worms in the garden with his sister. These are the things I’m glad to be able to explain!!

April 29, 2012

Remembering Lenami

At the time I got the call from my old boss, I was agonizing over spreadsheet data, spending what little time of sun there was over the weekend working on a head count, slicing data this way and that way.

At the time I got the call from my old boss, I was having trouble making sense of it all.

At the time of the call, I was grumbling under my breath about not brining my mouse home on the weekend, instead navigating the jungle of Excel spreadsheets with the trackpad on the laptop. The numbers were turning into four letter words.

After the call, the anger was gone, the four letter words replaced by a name. And after being awash in data and figures, there was a clear number in my head: One.

What my former boss called to tell me was that, in case I hadn’t already heard or seen the story, Lenami Godinez was dead.

Lenami Godinez, a witty, intelligent, interesting, soft spoken but self-assured 27 year old, born and raised in Mexico and living in Vancouver for the past nine years. She was also my friend and office mate in a very recent past; sitting ten feet away from me, eight hours a day, Monday to Friday.

"Lenami" is the word--the name--in my head, and ‘one’ is my consideration of her one life cut short this past weekend after a freak hang gliding accident that saw her freefall to her death.

One. One weekend that I stayed at home with the family to do family things, and do work things while the kids were napping.

One. One weekend that Lenami and her boyfriend chose to try something new, something adventurous.

I will remember Lenami for all those reasons stated above—a warm personality and a pleasure to be around—and more. She was passionately concerned for the environment, and she wasn’t someone who just talked about it. She tried to act for change, whether it was attending a free public lecture on global warming or making career moves to put her closer to an end goal of being able to affect change (she was hired on to the Ministry of Environment in past months), and even her choice of boyfriend was eco-considerate, he being an environmental engineer focused on renewable energy. Lenami was one of those people who stood for something, and you couldn’t help but admire her for it.

Willing to try new things, there were plenty of weekend outdoor adventures to be had that I would hear about when she came into the office in the mornings—bike trips, camping, painting apartment walls crazy colours while her boyfriend was away, finding her way into a random Karakoe bar with her boyfriend’s birthday entourage, subbing in for a local Ultimate Frisbee team... adventure comes in many forms, and Lenami was often looking for it, big or small...which is why even with an end so sudden and shocking as this, I am glad to know she was being herself, exploring the natural world in a brave, exciting new way.

Crunch the numbers however you like, but we only get one life on this earth. One. I will try to hold on to the thought that, before the fall, there was that one moment of new exhilaration, of stepping off the edge, of leaving land behind and being above it all like a bird.

My heart goes out to your boyfriend, your family, and your many friends, Lenami.

You will be missed, but today, we know that you are soaring.

To learn about a scholarship established in Lenami's name through Simon Fraser University, please visit http://www.rememberinglena.com/
Please consider making a donation.

April 13, 2012

Dear Heidi,

First, happy second birthday! Let’s just get that out of the way! What a year it has been, watching you grow and develop into the adorable lil’ blonde bundle that you are today. Sure, you’ve still got to fill out some of that blonde hair—can you say mullet?—but the rest of you has filled out just fine! You are our little Tank! Make no mistake, at the age of two you can hold your own against your brother, though you’re only half his age, give or take.


It was a shaky start, that April 14th two years ago, but we knew we’d arrive at this day and you’d be claiming victory over any sense of prematurity. Apparently this is the point when “they“ stop considering your adjusted age to account for your early arrival. Today, you are a two year old, and only that.

But we as your parents know that you "caught up to your age" a while ago. We’ve been delighting in your whole sentences for months now. We’ve been marvelling at your agility and we’ve been awed by those lungs—which two years ago needed help to get going—that now carry the tune of ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ just as well as they rattle the window panes when you’re hollering about some perceived injustice. Music to our ears all around.

I know you’re still figuring out what it means to be a “little sister” and I don’t think that’s a challenge you’ll settle much before you and Sacha finally move out in your later years (but not too late, please and thank you). But what a sense of pride I have on a day like today, when I look back at the last 24 months to see how far you’ve come; to realize the potential of your growth and think that two years ago, I held you—almost all of you, for you were so wee tiny—in the palm of my hand.

The interesting thing about you being child #2 is that I have a sense of what your next year will bring in terms of expected milestones: better language skills, better eating skills, learning to ride a bike, etc. But even though I know it’s all coming, I don’t for one second think it won’t be amazing as it unfolds, for you are the only you, and you’ll bring your own unique flair to each benchmark and new skill. But, as I do in these letters, I’ve gotten ahead of myself. For the moment, I’ll just celebrate your second birthday, watch you eat cake (make sure you stuff as much in your mouth at the same time as possible, as is your particular style), and beam with pride at the most adorable little girl I’ve ever seen in my whole life.

Happy birthday,

All my love,
Dad.

March 27, 2012

Three months with no post?

Well this is out of character.

I've never been a daily blogger-far from it--but I don't think in the many years of writing on StuLand have I ever gone so long as this!

But today was one of those 'take pause' days, and I feel like checking in.

My work has kept me busy since the new year. It's a new job, and it's wonderful. I'm busy, and, dare I say it, creatively fulfilled. Maybe that's part of why I haven't been on here!

As I said, it is busy work. But today, for a few hours in the middle of the day, I had a chance to move my writing projects aside, take a walk, and sit down and listen to a few people from the Potluck Cafe & Catering. A unique social enterprise in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, for the last 11 years potluck has been leveraging their money made through sponsorships, donations and their catering business to bring healthy food, nutrition education and dignity to residents in the Downtown Eastside, one of Canada's poorest neighbourhoods. I sat in the cafe and listened as their executive director spoke in her passionate way of the work that they accomplish; the lives that they change and have changed, and the sustainable model that they use to do it with.

Fast forward to 5:30 pm. Once I left the Potluck Cafe, the fast pace continued unabated for the remainder of the day. I had to ride as fast as I could to make it home in time to quickly switch backpacks, throw my son on the back of the bike and pedal on over to his first ever swim lesson.

Sacha has been... tentative... at times in his life. He proceeds with caution into new situations and usually wants a parent onside at most times. Not ALL times... but most times. Okay, so he's three. This is not that surprising. Imagine my delight when today, despite me getting him late to the pool, he simply asked if I was going to be on the pool deck for him to wave at, then flung himself into the water; into the care of a swim instructor he'd never met before and the presence of a few lesson-mates he'd never met before. I spent the next half hour sitting in a chair just watching. Yes, giving the occasional wave when called upon to do so, but otherwise, just to watch him splash around, being the first to volunteer to try the tasks suggested by the instructor, and generally just being present in the moment and enjoying all of it.

I guess today was a bit about finding inspiration where I didn't expect it to come: in the words of someone who didn't preach about what they did to help the poor, but was so passionate about their work that you couldn't help but be a bit amazed. And, in the simple actions of a three year old, who, as it turns out, taught me something today. I'm ten times as old as he is. I guess I just usually expect it's going to work the other way around.

Things have been moving fast lately. It was really nice to slow down and see a few things worth seeing.

And to close, because I know y'all like pictures... here's lots! these go back to Christmas, my sister's baby's Christening and a few other randoms! sorry for the mishmash!