Accounting for my plastic campaign – Week 1

Week one is done! Starting strong is natural, finishing strong is certainly a challenge.

My self-imposed rules were set last week:

  1. Commit to change
  2. Do my best
  3. Go easy on yourself – I don’t have to be my own worst enemy
  4. Do not beat up others who are slow to join campaign
  5. Be accountable

I know it is the training phase and I need to establish my baseline. I figure it is the same as getting on the scale for the first time in 3 years, so expect a shock.  I also must follow rule 5, be accountable: be truthful and embarrass yourself.  Yet to do so puts me at odds with rule 3, which advises not to beat myself up. Full disclosure is a fallacy and leads to boredom for anyone reading the blog, and given the embarrassing result could imperil rule 1, committing to change. CHANGE IS HARD!

Mo’s Baseline Report

My journal was indeed placed on the counter above the garbage and I recorded the plastics that made their way into the garbage. Of course, this is the plastic our municipality does not accept as recyclable. It includes cellophane, plastic bags of all description, styrofoam trays, those sort of things.

Truth.  I only recorded one full day. It took me a while to relocate the journal.  I entertained my family on Day two and cleared the habitual junk off the counter before anyone arrived.  So the accountability exercise was then forgotten. I wish to invoke rule 3. I wish to be easy on myself. I may wish to redo this exercise commencing tomorrow for a period not to exceed Monday to Friday.  I think the data is incredibly important, but I acknowledge what I end up with will be incomplete, yet telling. (You know I will stuff the journal away again, don’t you.)

My list included the following for Day 1:

  • lid to cereal container recyclable and later removed
  • Plastic protector on new cereal box – garbage
  • Toothpaste tube – garbage, toothpaste cap – recyclable
  • 3 baggies used for left overs – garbage
  • Shake and Bake bag – garbage
  • Plastic ice cream wrapper – garbage
  • ripped doggie poop bag – unused – garbage
  • Enormous plastic lawn fertilizer bag – garbage
  • Enormous soil bag required for planting tulip bulbs – garbage
  • Plastic wrap from left overs (never even ate the left overs) – garbage
  • 2 outdated cranberry juice containers, cleaned but stained – recyclable and removed from garbage
  • Also, used the municipal garbage container, which now contains two used doggie poop bags, however I retrieved one unused poop bag from the bog in the park, so net harm is less than one bag. It is “less than” because otherwise the plastic bag in the water would have broken down into micro plastics and polluted the water habitat in short order. This has longterm impacts on birds, ducks and fish and possibly insects and I do not know what else.

In spite of all that horrible plastic, I was quite pleased with my performance. I told the truth for one day. I did not unfairly blame my beloved husband for picking the accountability week/ day to do his gardening, as that would be so unreasonable. I could heap praise falsely on the lack of regular plastic garbage, so as to hide the fact that I postponed cleaning the rest of refrigerator after the cranberry containers made the list. That would be so misleading, so I confess.

In truth, I felt severely guilty at my propensity to buy things in plastic containers.  A case in point was hand soap.  We have three bathrooms and of course the kitchen sink.  I could understand if I had four containers of hand soap and even four more in reserve for replacing them.  I had twelve plastic containers of hand soap and no inventory of replacements. I also had matching hand lotion, that is seldom used, to match the twelve hand soap dispensers, all with matching shapes and design and often with cute plastic trays for the hand soap and the hand lotion to sit in.

But there is always more behind the story

Have you ever counted the plastic containers in the expensive cabinetry we have placed in our bathrooms and kitchens?  These are the places that we have to lock when toddlers come to call. They are filled with cleaners to get rid of the scum that accumulates in the sink from the hand soap and hand lotion, etc.  Often toxic, they come in thick plastic containers.  So I counted all those. I have 40 plastic bottles in that category.  Most of these products are discontinued.  Many of the containers have less than an inch of product peeking through the bottom of the plastic cylinders. They are sitting there because of the time and water required to wash them out so that I can dispose of the containers.  I don’t want to use the products because they are old and I most likely have replaced them already with other bottles. Sigh!!!!!!!!

The worst and most egregious count must be disclosed. Bath soap, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion, face cleaners and face creams in plastic containers only. We have 44  containers for two people. We also have to protect our skin from the sun! There are at least four such plastic containers and two more for insect repellant. I have two drawers dedicated to travel size jars and samples from the cosmetic aisles that I would rather just estimate as 100 plastic items.

Report Analysis

So as you can guess, I need this plastic purge in the biggest way.  I am not a hoarder qualified for the America Most Wanted shows, but I am unimpressed with my habits.

If I recycle all the excess, is that a net gain or net loss?  The plastic exists now, harm is done, so I am not adding to it if I give them to recycling.  But will I just go mad and replace it all again?  No, the point of this exercise is reduce plastic purchasing by buying what you truly need and if possible in packages that do not use plastic.

Help please!  What else does shampoo, conditioner and lotions come in? Research is required!!! Buying in bulk means thicker plastic containers. Does bulk buying help here?

Rule 3 Go Easy on yourself

So what is a girl to do after such a reckoning!  Seek out nature – walk the dog. Calm the mind. Ummmmmm ahhhhh.

Jersey and I left the house ready for a new purpose.  Breathing in the fresh air, we started walking up our town road, passing through one road in the subdivision to access the nature trail.  When what to my wondering my eyes should appear, but a super sized garbage bag, empty and near.  It was a sign!  A means to save my wicked soul! Penance! I jumped at the chance to clean the road side as we walked through the neighbourhood and the trail leading to our nature park.  This walk can be trying on my evangelical nature.  I silently growl and curse the littering public. I now know that I am every bit as bad as those littering, I just hide the stuff at home. So, why not give those littering a helpful hand, a good example, a clean environment!

Jersey enjoyed the activity tremendously.  She sniffed and pawed at the ditches and road sides as I proceeded to fill up the garbage bag.  She rolled in mud and who knows what.  While she was readying herself for a big bath later, I was similarly smearing dirt and mud from my head to my toes.  Of particular note were my favorite red leather gloves and the cuffs of my favorite down jacket! I donated the gloves to the bag at the end of litter drive and did the laundry including the coat.  It was a cold and overcast day, so we did not meet a soul, thankfully! Nor did I motivate others to the cause with my service to the community and the environment.

Actually, I was sad when I finished my task and tied up the bag.  There was so much left to do! I abandoned the bag next to the underpass. Do not despair.  After we had completed our walk, I drove back to the spot, retrieved the bag and brought it home.  It more than filled up the space in our garbage container. Zero harm! The garbage bag was thrown away unused anyway, it would have broken down after several years and turned to micro plastics in our water shed. At least it was used to clean up and not left for the ducks and geese to choke on.

One might think I did a miserable job with plastic and waste to look at our garbage bin this week, but I felt really good about it.  I gave back to the community by cleaning up.  I know what I threw out, which improves my mindfulness, and it has sparked my ambition to do less harm and even make my own compost.

The remainder of the week was focused on minimizing garbage until garbage collection day.  I composted!  I have my first bucket (small bucket albeit) of compost material. Jersey and I will do another few walks to finish the clean up before the snow flies. Once again, we will commit to plastic research and plastic reduction.

Did you know compost containers also come in plastic?  Oh…. my head hurts!

Week One concluded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today is the beginning of my plastic reduction- fingers crossed!

Last week I listened to a woman on the radio say:  “If everyone did just one thing to reduce plastic use, think of the impact that would have on the world!”

Now that makes sense. It’s a catchy kind of concept that I can remember on a daily basis and I can easily repeat it. In fact, after listening to that interview, the comment kept popping up in “the front of my head.” I confess all that stuff in the back of my head is doomed. So, I challenged myself often over the past week, choosing to do little things to reduce my plastic use. Regrettably, I can only remember a few things:

  • I now keep my washed reusable coffee cups in my car instead of in the cupboard. Now when my mind and body craves caffeine while I am driving, I can use my cup to avoid the plastic and paper coffee cups going to the dump!
  • It was time to replace my hand soap in the plastic dispenser, so I chose a cake of Dove hand soap.
  • I ordered reusable mesh vegetable and fruit bags for my supermarket shopping. However, they shipped them in a large box with plastic bubble wrap. I was shocked!  They are mesh bags that could have fit in an envelope. I really didn’t want all the plastic bubble wrap. I felt a little defeated.

It turns out I am normal! Alli Johnson of Newfoundland, Canada mentioned: “Any change takes time, and not everyone is extraordinarily disciplined,” she said. “I think that the only way you’re going to succeed at something like this is to go easy on yourself, and to allow yourself to slip up.”

Obviously, I wasn’t getting much plastic reduction by being spontaneous last week. So, today I committed to a plan.While I will most likely slip up, a plan may avoid many such incidents!

Step 1- To thine own-self be true

  • I put a journal on the counter above our garbage container. As of today, I can record plastics that go in our recycling and those that land in the garbage.  I will soon possess a list of all the plastics I dispose of in the course of a typical week. In the weeks to come, I will also track my plastics in order to determine my progress.
  • I have placed a compost bucket under the kitchen sink.  Lets see if I can reduce my use of garbage bags and at the same time enrich next year’s garden!

Step 2- Once I know what the problem is, set goals to reduce my wicked ways

Step 3- Be accountable, or in Catholic parlance, go to confession.

Essentially, this has become my great challenge and I am the only one in my little marathon. I can begin by taking on as much as I can cope with, improving on my progress over time.  I do not have to beat myself up, or beat others up as we learn how to reduce the use of plastic. I will have fun doing this, I am not punishing myself!

In this one woman race, I think it is fair to use my e-journal to track my progress. This is it!

My journal eagerly invites feedback.  So please let me know what you think and what you are doing that relates to eliminating plastic in our environment! In return, I will keep this blog light, hopefully funny. I promise to tell the truth, with a minimum of embellishments!

This week is research time.  What does a typical two person family with a pet produce in plastic garbage? Who knows if I am a sinner or a saint? What goes in compost and what does not? We are not vegans, how do we buy a fillet of salmon without Styrofoam and plastic? I never feel good about Styrofoam!!!!!

Tune in next week! Not only will I summarize my research, but I will be musing about bench-marking and goal setting. And yes…that can be amusing material… What to know about the stinky business of composting, when you don’t have a nose for the result!

A simple story for Christmas

It has been a while, hasn’t it? Christmas Eve is a splendid time to revisit the blog community, after two years of not writing a blog!

As you may know from my old blogs, my precious Chocolate Labrador, Heidi, died three years ago after a tremendously naughty and nice lifetime of 15 years.  After all, she was a Labrador and all they are capable of is naughty. There wasn’t a nasty bone in her body.

As fate would have it, my children love animals and dogs in particular. Two of my handsome boys have Chocolate Labradors, Bella and Jersey.  There is an open invitation to Bella and Jersey for doggy sitting, sleep overs and occasionally to stay as company when I am alone. I was unbelievably lucky to have a week this past November with Jersey as my companion.  Jersey’s owners run in marathons, so they needed a sitter to run in a Texas marathon. I love doggy sitting and besides it would ‘up the ante’ on my daily physical fitness routine.

The week was everything you might imagine.  We jumped in bed early, curled up with my book and snuggled into the lengthening winter nights.  Jersey adapts well to her surroundings, so by day two she was under the blankets on my husband’s side of the bed with her head and right paw on his pillow.  I have to admit I let her!  I prayed madly to the patron saint of animals, Saint Francis of Assisi, that my son and his girlfriend provided Jersey with regular flea and tick treatments. (It worked!  No fleas!!! Thank you Saint Francis!)

By all measures, it was a fantastic week.  My biggest regret was how quickly the time went. It was already day 7 and I enjoyed my Jersey time like it was a vacation. So, what better way to cap it off but with a nice lengthy walk, not a marathon, but an indicator that I was a suitable sitter for the dog of a marathon runner, who finished her race in under 4 hours.

I live in the country, on a farm. We walked through the farm everyday that week.  We walked in our local park practically everyday. But for as long as I have lived here, which is now 33 years, I have never walked from one end of our road to the other.  It is approximately 5 miles either way, so that would be a round trip of 10 miles; not 26.2 miles that comprise a marathon, but not bad.

It was a cold and crisp day, but we had been spared any snow. Not even a puddle had begun to freeze up yet.  I put on two sweaters, my thick hiking socks, my new skinny jeans, followed by my relatively new Helly Hansen Newport jacket.  Finally, I donned my very lovely new Asics Fluidride Dynamic Duomax GT 2000 sneakers …and out the door we went!!!  We would make our mark that day as distance strollers of the senior citizen variety. In truth, we were fake senior citizens, Jersey is a mere 7 years old and it is really none of your business knowing how young I am.  Agreed?

Jersey didn’t have her regular collar that week, as she lost it hiking with her owners the week previous. Christmas was only a month away and opportunity for enhancing Jersey’s closet was beckoning! I made a mental note to look into colour coordinating collars with my wardrobe for her next visit on Christmas Eve.  Instead, on that November day she was sporting a lovely blue body harness with a red lead clipped onto to the body harness. The colours of the harness and lead didn’t match, but being a dog, I didn’t think she would mind.

I willfully abandoned a colour matching opportunity. My son had instructed me to use the gentle lead (red) when taking Jersey walking. A gentle lead is a fabulous product that is just as it is described, gentle. It effectively signals walking commands to the dog. I also must compliment the designer on the multitude of colours! The gentle lead is also referred to as a head collar which goes around her nose but is not a muzzle. Regrettably, I did not pay enough attention to the demonstration and couldn’t figure out how to loop the gizmo properly. Our other strolls went charmingly with this mismatched body harness ensemble. I gently wrapped the lead around my left hand and we took off as colourfully as a maple tree in autumn.

As we walked, I soaked in the impact of a picture perfect day.  Very little traffic.  The skies were a little grey, but the cloud cover was high, leaving the impression of an endless sky. As we got comfortable with our pace, I unwrapped the lead from my hand to give Jersey more freedom. We went up hills and down again. My Fitbit was just clocking off steps to beat the band!!!! Ah, now I must admit I am competitive.  I regularly complain about my husband’s fitbit giving him more steps than I get with mine. He usually wins hands down on a daily basis. My husband wasn’t about to catch me this day, 10 miles would amount to a clear win on a work day!  Oh, the benefits of dog sitting abound.

Having a wee bit of a safety background, I was alert to the road conditions. Country roads have their own hazards.  The shoulders of this road were very narrow.  This couldn’t meet city codes, surely.  As we crested our last hill, I noticed how deep the drainage ditches were and I tested the shoulder of the road only to find it was soft. Safety first! Spot the hazard, assess the risk, find a safer way, every day! We were already 5 miles down our road.  I decided that at the first opportunity, we would cross to the other side of the road and test the shoulder of the road there.

Out of no where, we spotted a black swarm of birds rising from the field across the street.  I recognized this as Starling Murmuration.  It is well known in the United Kingdom, but less noted in our Canadian neighbourhood. Essentially, it appears as a black sphere that changes its shape as it swirls across the sky above you.  A mesmerizing spectacle.  I instinctively wrapped the lead around my left hand to make sure Jersey would stay by my side.

Documenting the murmuration on my Samsung 4, I felt very fortunate to have witnessed the dance up above.  Realizing the shoulder of the road was soft, Jersey and I decided to cross the the opposite side of the road.  We were practically at the end of the road with 5 miles under our feet!  I was feeling one with nature, gazing once more across the farmer’s field.  This was sheep country, lush green fields with enough for the sheep and the starlings to be well fed before the winter.  There we stood facing the field, toes to ditch, mesmerized.

A sheep moved!

Jersey is a dog, a sheep was scampering away, a dog must respond!  With my left hand, attached to the lead, no ground ahead of me, I had a split second to respond.  That second is quiet detailed, so forgive me for taking sometime to explain.

Jersey’s instinct was to take command of the situation and perhaps corral the sheep. My instinct was to hold  Jersey back.  These are incompatible instincts. She leapt forward to cross the ditch, but gravity being what it is, she went across and down.  My arm attached to this movement sent me forward and down, head first toward muddy, slimy looking ditch water, rocks etc. At some point in that split second, my left fist stopped hanging on to the lead and Jersey was free to scale the opposite side of the ditch and run along the fencing.  I don’t even think she barked. I remembered I had one hand free to protect me and extended the right hand in an attempt to escape the ditch.  As no doubt you are anticipating, my wrist and hand took the first impact, followed by my face sliding over the rocky bottom of the ditch.  My legs were still splayed over the wall of ditch and my Asics super sneakers were dug into the bank.  I remember thinking, this can’t be good. Spitting the mud out of my mouth, I wasted no time getting up. With brown dripping hair, mud caked jeans and soaked coat, I emerged from the ditch. A colour coordinated being that suitably matched the dog!

I had to get control of the situation!  I commanded Jersey to come back,  the way a high pitched whining maniac might try to do.  It was met with the response such maniacs have come to expect. I was ignored.  Jersey paced back and forth on the opposite side of the ditch, wondering how to command the sheep on the other side of the fence.  Sputtering and trying to wipe the mud away from my eyes and nose, I thought of throwing a temper tantrum, but reminded myself instead that one must be dignified and in control. Even so, Jersey remained unimpressed with my command to come back. Resigned to my place in the world, I scrambled down the ditch, retrieved my Samsung 4 and crossed the ditch, remaining upright this time. Jersey responds well when you are next to her, so I did eventually take control.

Several split seconds had passed and there we were back on the roadside of the ditch, facing down another 5 miles.  I guess school must have been over for the day, because suddenly there was lots of traffic.  Some folks even slowed down to have a good look. My hair, my coat, my jeans were a spectacle. My hair had no other choice but to lie flat across the left side of my face, dripping. I had been at the hairdressers that morning.  The back of my head was perfect, the hairspray should be commended. But the spray and the style were unable to withstand the drenching of the ditch!

All was not lost.  Dignity is not just what you look like on the surface, it is the person you are inside! My left hand was in command of a very muddy lead, wrapped tightly around my hand once again.  Jersey walked in step with me, instinctively keeping her eyes to the path below her. My right wrist was throbbing, as if to the beat of our feet.  I looked at the miles ahead and the friendly passerby’s who must have thought I was a bit of mess to be outdoors and in public, but they just didn’t know the inner dignified me. We continued to plod on a little ways.  I occasionally wiped my face, the way windshield wipers wipe the car’s windshield.  I was able to assess how lucky I was, my face was merely chipped in a few places, nothing major.

I remembered my phone.  I called my husband.  He was gone out! Fortunately, he is a twin and his twin was at work and available!

One and half miles of walking later, my brother-in-law rescued me.  He drove Jersey and I back the remaining 3.5 miles to my home. By this point I realized my right wrist had enough for the day, so in a pathetic sort of way, I asked if my rescuer could continue his service. Graciously, he opened the truck door, unlocked the door to my house, unzipped my coat, and unbuttoned my outer sweater that had big metal designer buttons suitable for dignified me.  He then bid me adieu and took off liked a scald cat.

Well, I am happy to report that my son and his girlfriend came home that evening and Jersey went home with them.  My clothes actually came out of the wash in great shape. My glasses were not broken or chipped. My phone has a wonderful video of the murmuration. My wrist is almost as good as new. Jersey has been back for a sleep over.  We have not attempted my 10 mile jaunt, but we will. I promise to be: a) dignified, b) in control and c) colour coordinated, d) stay out of ditches and other nasty places, and, e) use the gentle lead which would have saved the day!

Until now, I did not share this story beyond my immediate family. I thought it would make a good story and consequently be a reason to recommence writing my blog. I offer this as a simple present, a Christmas chuckle in particular, to my friends and all those who liked to read my blog.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and/ or Seasons Greeting to you from Mo!

Collaborating with my friend Bobo

What a great idea, with writing 101.  Cheri coached us to:

Reach out to someone for an interview or collaboration. This person can be someone else whose work you admire.

I selected INTERVIEW MY FRIEND BOBO, a fellow blogger, who I definitely admire.

Then Cheri advised, when you think of someone, reach out via their contact page.

Presto! I also checked that box the Mo way. I visited BoBo at http://www.bouzaneconsulting.com/what-does-it-take/

Cheri’s idea was that I would start right away. I was so excited!

I felt it was pure serendipity. BoBo contacted me before she was aware I was looking for her! She spoke with Hubby and asked him to tell me to call her, she had an idea!

As was sung in Fiddler on the Roof: Wonder of wonder! Miracles of miracles! I called BoBo. She was out! No problem, I resorted to email!

“Serendipity!

 You have an idea to share that between the whirl wind of my life and your destination changes, I may have missed.

 But, I need to collaborate with a fellow blogger I admire by Day 19, which is next Thursday!!!!  Are you interested still?  I am thinking your idea is a collaboration?  We could start with Day 19.

 Let me know your thoughts.  Can I call you on your cell phone?

 I can do an interview even.”

The next day BoBo and I met at a coffee shop of our choosing.  I will leave out the long string of emails as we batted back and forth different times and different places.  I have at least five favorite coffee shops and BoBo is not without a good few herself, the best being her house. Best yet, they are all South West! (if you don’t get that reference, read my blog Vanessa, I don’t want a map.)

BoBo is nothing if she isn’t fun! She hid in the most obscure part of the café. But having spent much of my life dedicated to dogs, I sniffed her out.

With a latte in hand and a chocolate dipped oatmeal cookie, I began my interview with my collaborator.

Mo: BoBo, what do you think of my work so far?

BoBo:  You have really come around over the past two and a half weeks.  You seemed to struggle a bit at first but you settled in after a while.  My impression is that you come alive when you write about your past.

Mo: I need a lot of help on the technology piece.  I just don’t get it.  It may be I am too old, but I don’t think so.  I accidently click the back arrow in the top left hand screen and I lose my post- I don’t save drafts in time. So, my struggles are most likely caused by little old me.  If you could have watched me the night I tried to place a gravatar on my account, you would have cried, and not because you were laughing. Then there was the night I lost my new post three times while trying to add a theme and widgets. I resorted to buying a theme, but the charge didn’t go through! And it will be no surprise to you that I didn’t get the theme either. By day light I had a mauve background and white page for free, which may be the only theme template I will ever have!  It matched the bags under my eyes, I just had to have it!

BoBo: If you aren’t one in a million Mo! All you needed to do was phone me.  I can teach you all that stuff in half a day.  What I want to know is where you want to take this?

Mo: Ahhh.  My interview was just ripped out from underneath my feet! Sneaky little devil you are BoBo!

I am not really sure what I want to do with this.  I really enjoy writing, rewriting and maybe I even like editing. I love opening the email assignments lately. I just sit in my room and look around it, searching for clues, inspirations.  The night I wrote the open letter to BooBoo, I looked up on Mom’s bookcase and there was the picture of BooBoo my niece Pascal painted for her. It was still wrapped in plastic because Mom didn’t want to take a chance of spoiling it. I also used a picture of the painting for the blog.

When I connect with something, my fingers just dance across the keyboard. I enjoy writing and that must explain why I am so sleep deprived today!

BoBo: I get the impression some days that you are heading toward a book?

Mo:  Once again BoBo, great interview skills!  To answer your open ended question, “maybe.”  Part of me is just content to write each night. I like the prompts and now know if I am stuck I can go to the Daily Prompt. It may take me a while to find it, but trust me, I will eventually.

You are right though.  I have always toyed around with the idea of a book. When I read Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society  I was enticed. I find the early 1900s fascinating and I loved the style of that book.  Letters from friends are so exciting. They relish the topics that inspired the letters and they are often filled with amazing descriptions and tales drizzled with emotion. Of course, Bridget Jones Diary was refreshing. It is more contemporary, but so alive.  I feel like I am reliving the tweets in the second Diary, but I would have to resort to fibs when it comes to numbers of followers or likes. Even so, I could be inspired to be Bridget.

The rest of the chat strayed to other topics and we agreed to get back together soon. We hugged each other and went our separate ways.

The next morning I received this email from my blogger friend:

“Mo,  I’m not sure whether I want to hug you or give you a good swift kick!

My day starts early and usually with 1/2 an hour of catch up on emails and scanning the priorities for the next 24 hours.  The first thing I do is take a quick look at my phone to see if there are any overnight messages to deal with and, of course, your blog pops up right away.  I can’t wait to read what you’ve written so I read directly from my phone with one eye open and one closed. This is while I’m still snuggled under the covers, before my bath or coffee.

So today I started my day in tears. You painted your picture so vividly that I was there with you. I felt your grief and saw you climb in beside your Mom seeking the comfort you needed. I saw your Dad through Heidi’s eyes.

Mo, you are gifted. Do not stop writing. You are growing with every paragraph you put to print.

It was wonderful to sit and chat with you yesterday.

Take care, may God bless and keep smiling.

B”

I can only pray that I don’t disappoint BoBo. BoBo is a story teller and poet.  She also tells spectacular tales. I am blessed to have her as my friend and I feel sure as the wind blows she will always be there! She will inspire me with her stories and motivate me to keep going.

I feel so lucky having taken on a blog.  I have a wonderful niece, Rebecca who dared me to write my experiences in a blog as I wore each and every item in my closet. She was my start, my inspiration. I regularly reblog Rebecca’s fashion posts. They are as beautiful as she is. I don’t want to disappoint her either.  Rebecca is BooBoo’s cat whisperer.

With the connections I have made through blogging 101 and writing 101 I feel supported.  If I do little more than disappear daily into My Reader, I will have gained from this experience enormously.  Once again, tonight I want to thank Cheri and everyone involved in these courses. You have helped me improve beyond my expectations.  Wordpress is now making my world go round!

Collisions with moments of the past

Tonight I attended a gala event associated with an industry conference.  These nights are pleasant occurrences, with the best of the host province’s arts and culture.  This night had local folk music, entertainment, fiddlers and some very impressive rap artists. Sitting beside me was someone new to the industry but unbeknownst to me a person from our family’s past.

As the night wound down, I felt quite satiated. The food was great, the dessert was decadent and the entertainment, as I said, was tremendous.  It was now possible to talk to others at the table. We carried on the ordinary chit chat, right down to where we each spent our careers. Suddenly, a little brown mouse scurried across the banquet floor! I raised my feet to the seat of my chair while I shrieked.

The gentleman asked, “You have spent your adult life on a farm, surely you are fine with mice?” I stared at him quizzically.  I knew this acquaintance had told me he worked in the policy arm of the Department of Agriculture, but I hadn’t realized he knew my family was involved in farming. It turned out that part of his career coincided with an abrupt change in my husband’s business career.

Let me explain.

At the tender age of 17 years, I met my husband for the first time. He was “older” than I, at the mature age of 21 years. He impressed me with his vision of where he was going.  I was mystified that he was someone who grew up in the city, but was embarking on a farming adventure. He was setting out to build a hog farm in the country.  The land was cleared of its trees, rocks were picked, land was tilled, new soil sown for hay and the foundation of two hog barns had been established. He had a big tan coloured truck and a rather attractive tan of his own.  I was a smitten!

Kate, my older sister, had told my mother that this new boyfriend of Mo’s was a bit of a hard ticket. He apparently had numerous traffic accidents and for the first time in my existence Kate wanted to keep me safe! Nonetheless, this new boyfriend won not only my heart, but my grandmother, my mother, sisters and brothers admiration as well.  My father reserved judgment and waited more than twelve months to even say hello to him. Hog farmer or doctor, this new boyfriend was the real deal.

Five and half years later we were married. I moved from the lights and noise of the city to the dark skies and quiet of the country. My first year married was a little on the frightening side. I was used to the sounds of buses, transport trucks, fire trucks and ambulances outside my house. I had traded that noise for an occasional dog barking at night. I quickly learned how to bury my head in the curve of my husband’s back, drape my arm across his chest and snuggle in until the first light arrived in the morning.

My husband’s farm was well established from a production perspective by the time we were wed, but we struggled to make the venture viable.  It took many years and a lot of sacrifice to get it in a sustainable position.  But my husband seemed to be born with all the skills to create a successful farm venture. Throughout that farming career, we also created our family, energetic boys to keep us on our toes.  Our boys had their own unique family stories involving hog farming, their first rubber boots, coveralls, helping Dad in the barns and running their obstacle races around the bales of the hay. They had an idyllic upbringing.

Compared to my husband, I am the naïve one. I thought our life was impossibly challenging when we were first married, then it was a matter of taking control and showing the farm debt agencies we were no fools, then it was clear sailing from there.  But naïve I am no more. Tonight’s encounter with someone from the Department of Agriculture brought 1993 back with a sudden jolt.

In 1993, my husband and I were in our thirties.  Our son’s were 12, 9 and 4 years old. The province was struggling with its deficit and a new government was recently sworn into office. Agriculture was a traditional industry but not a particularly large one and segments of it were considered expensive to support. Unfortunately for us, we were in one of those expensive segments.   We had a disease free hog herd and while seen as an accomplishment and a marketing advantage, it was small and inconsequential.  Dairy and chicken were more mainstays of the province’s agriculture industry.  You could hear the economic storm winds stir around our precious farm. My husband was quietly considering options, but I was naïvely distracted. My days were busy with accounting and raising my children.

By the day of the government’s budget, the writing was on the wall. The hog industry, with the stroke of the budget pen, was to be no more in our province.

My husband was a pillar of strength in the days that followed.  He took quick decisions to save as much capital as he could. He confidently moved with the change, not wasting time lamenting the apparent unfairness. He sold our stock immediately, shipping our breeding stock and growing herd to a farmer in another province.  He then disassembled our equipment and penning and sold that to a farmer, again outside the province. With time on his hands, he and his fellow hog farmers set out to make their case to the governments and their agencies that they had dealt with over the years. Many other people outside our industry added support to our cause. By the end of six months, my husband and his fellow hog farmers had negotiated a suitable deal for our industry’s exit from the province.

What seemed like a nightmare to me at its outset, ended amicably and gracefully. The life lessons gained from this challenge were a reward in themselves. Yet tonight, when this new acquaintance shared his connection with my family’s past, I was bombarded with old unpleasant memories.

I would like to thank this blog for bringing me back to the full story. I wouldn’t change a solitary moment in 1993.  We had an opportunity to rise above the turmoil of that day, tackle the down draft of a bad economy and come out strong enough to set root again. Many of us face the unexpected and hopefully stories like these will give others faith that the sun will rise on a new tomorrow.

What is in a picture

photo-mid air jump 1-d9ae785dfb2d

When I consider something I have never done before, it can look like this picture.  It looks like something someone else will do, not little old Mo. I have been wrong.

I never dreamt that I would be on facebook, then there I was.  I never dreamt that I would be at the gym, then there I was. I definitely never dreamt that I could jump from the floor to a higher platform, then I did.

I have listened intently to athletes as they shared the importance of visualization. You need only listen to Heather Moyse retelling her Olympic success stories to catch the fever of achievement. Heather and her team mate Kaillie Humphreys won two gold medals at the Vancouver and Sochi Olympics.  Heather was a late comer to the sport of Bobsledding, beginning her training at the age of 27.  She had a serious physical set back that could have sidelined her, but she persevered. She needed the support of her family and before the Olympics made the brave decision to train, not at the state of the art Calgary site, but at home in PEI.  Yes her talent and competitiveness played a huge part, but her ability to improvise, compete and visualize  were also key.

I am the absolute opposite to Heather Moyse.  I am not athletic, I tend to accept that I can’t do physically challenging things and I have not consciously and deliberately visualized achieving a physical goal. Yet, listening to Heather explain her pursuit of a second gold medal in the bobsleigh really tempted me to try.

At our local Goodlife Gym, I eyed the stack of platforms.  I had watched a few others take the platforms out and jump from the floor to the platform in one simple jump. It looked effortless.  Eventually I told myself just to walk over to one of the lower platforms, I picked one approximately 18 inches off the floor. It is important to remember that I have no athletic accomplishments beyond the elliptical and cross trainer. I told myself that I could do it and I visualized doing it.  With my positive and negative voices bombarding me at the same time, I walked quickly toward the platform, bent my knees and jumped.  I reached the platform easily and reverse jumped off again. I repeated this 12 times.  I plan to keep training until I can jump at least three feet off the floor.

Now I know a few more things about myself:  I listen well; I can out motivate my defeatist voices; and, I can still achieve lifetime firsts late in my career.