The way we are………

We are more alike than different,…..

  • We all like food free ……race, gender and ethnicity aside. We have preferences but free makes an otherwise undesirable meal worth a try. We get suspicious when things are free too, yet the best things in life are free. Hugs, laughter, sleep, love, family, friends, prayer, salvation, forgiveness, silence and even exercise…and the next best things they say are expensive…… Even ‘free’ health care… no matter where it is offered free……it comes with a cost, sisters and brothers one of which is waiting.
  • We all talk too much at some point……..just give us the right company, moment and circumstance and even the introvert will not shut up. I especially pay attention to myself in this regard.
  • We are all afraid to speak the truth, we all manage expectations, we all hide and cover behind many things, some are very dangerous things too.
  • We all love our comfort zone but hate routine. We all curse the heat and hide from the cold.
  • Everywhere you go, bad things happen to good people. For example, people have mishaps on buses, in taxis and on trains…the difference with here is you can’t ask the driver to give you a stop for a roadside leak or a bathroom stop. So I guess you got to do what you got to do…..unfortunately.
  • I dont know of a driver who doesn’t try to beat the red light……..
  • We all hate to carry ‘garbage’ around but some of us do it anyway, and this one is ubiquitous. So I got to thinking……why are some places so nasty and filled with garbage and others aren’t? Why are some places such a dump? Are we products of our environment or do we dictate what happens in our environment? Well I figure, garbage disposal has to become a science if you want to get it right. Its no magic wand or special people phenomenon…….its about having an efficient collection system, having a disposal unit every couple steps and ticketing those who disobey and are caught. Canada is applauded for being clean, yet I still see garbage strewn around at times……I find it very confusing as its usually a few steps from a garbage can. Unless its the wind…………
  • We all do irrational things in the name of sports and ‘red yeye’…..oh yes that one is universal. Sports is one thing that is seemingly immune to economic recessions too. I guess because its an outlet……just like Facebook. The worst part is when there are no boundaries or limits, that’s when I say “God please help us.” With everything evil lurks in the shadow of good.

Am I blaspheming?

Hockey is to Canada, what soccer is to Brazil and Football is to USA, athletics is to Jamaica…….

Now you would think that since I am encroaching on foreign land that certain things I would know, well I didn’t. And it hit home when I was invited to dinner………..

I was greeted by a sea of orange and blue jerseys ( the colours of the Oilers) well at least I knew that much. The Oilers are in the NHL playoffs and apparently some matches had been held before and they had won a few and there was more to come…..None of these important, life-threatening facts I knew……(I guess I need to watch more TV or be on social media or have more friends)…..but of course I kept this to myself.

Needless to say, I couldn’t help but wonder if I were committing Canadian Sin…….except that this time I didn’t feel I need to repent of my sins and worse than that I felt apt to repeat the sin. I am sorry Oilers and Hockey fans in general, I just dont have the energy or the interest to learn a new game……that’s hard work. Much the same way that I feel I will break out in hives, I figure -if I study anything more for the rest of my life.

Next morning I noticed something was going on with all the flags on cars and the sea of orange and blue………Thanks to a friend I now know the name Wayne Gretzky and Connor McDavid…..

And today I feel vindicated too as I found a Canadian ‘soulmate’, someone who does not love hockey. He however warned me that I must at least know who won a game…….Thanks Bob.

Why I Exercise……..

I ate so much junk the other day, I knew I had to do something to remove the ensuing guilt. I was less worried about my arteries.

So I got home, got dressed and set out…….I wanted to challenge myself to something new. The steps I thought………

As I walked to the bus stop a child no more than 5 years old rode past me on his bicycle. I was awashed with shame….. “how hard can this be?” I thought. That’s my new project for the year……at least that’s safer than skiing. And furthermore a bicycle has to be cheaper than ski equipment and gears. Then I could ride more………funny how we always do better when the thoughts are in our heads.

I run and walked to the steps after leaving the bus. I was excited…….I took off, up I went two at a time. In no time I was out of breath and energy. By this time, others were running and walking past me, up that incline. ” I think I can”…….. “I think I can”……….although I dare not even think, I have never breathed harder.  Number 111- and I was busted. At least I have a good view. Now I was being lapped left right and center, by those running and walking. “This is my sixth time”I heard a lady tell another lady…….”six times” I thought I will not make it past two I am sure. And for the first time I understood why people had their water bottles. I was at war and I wasn’t rigged for it. I made it to the top….the view and the air were spectacular, now those are good motivators. I did my routine twice just as planned although I couldn’t do another one even if I wanted to, and going down was just as bad as going up. My legs were heavy and I was just ready to pass out. I got down safely and decided to cross the road to the park on the other side of the road.

As I trudged through the trees, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe some of those wild beasts may be around. Especially since I didn’t see any other humans over there. I found myself praying and asking God to please don’t let any of them be anywhere around. It was only when the ordeal was over that I thought how weird I must have sounded to God. Usually it’s people I would be asking for protection from, not animals.

I hate  drudgery, predictability and routine…..however, I accept that life is that way. And just as I have no control over time or the seasons (imagine waking up this morning – Mid April to snow) I have none either over the how life ebbs and flows. So every now and then I will challenge myself to something new…….like the 250 step trail up that darn hill. Because doing so, as hard as it is, is a break to the monotony.

The Refuge

I was always of the view that everyone left their homes for the same reason…….. I can be really naive at times. But I seriously thought that. Makes me wonder if we see objectively or judgmentally? Many days the boredom get to my head…………

Since I came here I have met a few people from varying countries. And of course conversation leads to conversation and so things come out… thing that I am finding is that people are here due to varying conditions at home.

Some because of the safety of their kids, and for their kids to just be kids and get a chance to play.

Others are escaping a grueling and competitive education system that causes children to commit suicide in droves.

Others are escaping war and persecution- yes the perennial reason.

Many have escaped a life of real poverty and despondency.

Many needed a retirement haven, better health insurance, some needed to create a family.

And then there are those of us, who have no such real and compelling reasons to come. We came because we could and because the grass looks greener over here and we are just needed a new lease on life or an adventure, a better life we like to say. I have my doubts about that now, but early days yet. In any event, just like pepper pot soup we all mix up in the same pot…………trying to figure out the Canadian dream!!!

Seeing Red

Red is one irresistible colour, its fiesty, in your face, cannot be ignored kinda colour…… I got to thinking, does Red have a meaning?

As a child I was told I was ‘red’ in colour,…….then we hear of maroon red, fire engine red, crimson red, garnet, ruby red, garnet, magenta, cherry, merlot……… Whichever it is, one thing is for sure without red things would be quite dull and uninteresting.

Take a look

I see, I hear red everywhere. Traffic lights, code red, danger signs, leaves in fall, red lips, being ‘red’, red trench coats and who can resist red boots, red doors, red houses too.

On days like these……….

As I walked on the cool crisp morning……it suddenly dawned on me that I really like to walk. Surprise, surprise ….. Beth. One of the reasons is that it’s not very hot now and my mind is free to wander when I walk…….and without a doubt it is exercise. That rationale is especially good for my conscience.

So as I walked pass the GoodLife Fitness studio I thought about all the fitness studios and gyms that are around. There are so many and they all seem to have their fair share of patrons- male and female alike. Sometimes I think to myself that everybody here has some exercise regimen, because aside from the gym so many people jog and walk their dogs too. I cannot imagine that there is someone who doesn’t exercise in fact (unless it’s the same set of people doing both) ………….so I asked myself, why does this business thrive here but can hardly survive in Jamaica? Do they eat more here? Is it the weather? Are people starved of social activities and thus it is really done for reasons other than exercise? Is it just to pass the time? Or is it because whole sections of stores and malls carry dedicated lines of active wear? Is the tail wagging the dog? Do people here have more disposable income or are they just more aware of the benefits of exercise? But then I asked myself, does it matter?………

I love words so it’s only fitting that I love books. Today I came across a real bookstore- I could touch and smell the books and all at once I remember my Saturdays at the library as a teenager. So much has changed but it was heartening to see the clerk so busy……..people still read and still read books……….. good old paperback or hard cover in hand. Then I remembered I was not in Jamaica.

‘ When pigs fly’…….. that my friend, is the name of a gift shop I came across. I loved it, the things inside made me laugh so hard…….the funniest birthday cards and magnets . Now I know where to go to get my giggle on. So here are a few of the words I saw on the magnets.

May your life be as good as it seems on Facebook………..I changed my password to incorrect so whenever I forget it will tell me…..” your password is incorrect” I am running late, does that count as cardio… get to live once, but if you do it right once is enough” 

So I have another wedding to attend here. Two in less than two years, I don’t remember attending so many weddings in quick succession at home. I guess we don’t marry that much home, or my friends are single. I would think a little bit of both. Thus as I searched for a wedding card, I almost committed the ultimate sin………but I guess I am not the only one as the cashier was on her toes. Canada is one of those countries that permit same sex marriage, so it follows that they would have wedding cards for those couples. As I browsed the wedding cards  I saw a beautiful one which says ‘ Mrs and Mrs’ of course my eyes did not see that. I saw what my heterosexual brain was trained to see. Had it not been for the cashier, I would have had a major embarrassment for her wedding. Whewww!!!!!worst than that, there is a label around these cards which says SAME SEX MARRIAGE, even that my eyes ignored.

I just love when I get the Chance to go back in time and that’s what Whyte Ave did. The only thing missing was a couple of cool friends with whom to hit a tavern like ‘The Black Dog’ ‘Hudson’s Tap house’ or ‘ Tavern on Whyte’. I also missed us playing dress up in the clothes I imagined the citizenry wore back then in the late 1800s. I found myself wondering if they did exactly what we do now on this street or whether they had some other purpose. Although, to be honest I can’t see them doing that in all that clothes……….but then again I can’t see myself wearing those clothes either. period.  Somehow I still wish I could go back 100 odd years………was there garbage on the streets? Did they smoke and ignored each other too? Did they have street vendors, and ‘chariot’ stops, flyers on walls and graffiti?

Then at the end of a day of walking………..a lady at the supermarket told me I smelled good. I said “thanks ” politely, but my skeptical mind started wondering all kinds of things. Come on Beth, people still do give genuine compliments, why else would she go out of her way to say something nice to a stranger……… She is not necessarily soliciting you…..👇🏽👇🏽👇🏽👇🏽

I listen to a podcast weekly and I recently started listening to a six part story Called ‘S- TOWN’ yes the S literally if for that same S word. The main character is a 48 year old genius who lived all his life in the same small rural town. He gets bout of depression all the time, not just because of the corruption in his town but also because he regrets never leaving. I still do miss home, everyone knows that, I do not hide that at all. However, I knew when I left too that I had to do something more with my life. For one, I couldn’t stay nestled under my mom’s wings forever and secondly I have always maintained that I must try everything at least once. Otherwise, I don’t want to reach 60 and have ‘coulda, woulda, shouldas’, although listening to this man makes me realize that could happen as early as in your 40s. So yes, I do miss home and nothing will change that, but I am glad too I took the leap and moved- I have no regrets. After all……..remember what I saw as outlined above…….we live once, and if we do it right, once is enough.  Nothing I tell you can take away from me this experience and the best part is, I did it my way (in my best Frank Sinatra voice)

Some days I try to do it all…..other Saturdays I just stay home in my bed…..but most days I try to do something kind for others.  I have specific things I am working on; like helping with my old Sunday school and trying to learn more about grief support………but other days it’s just random acts of kindness………..on any of those days I tend to put my personal agenda at the bottom. So yes we need to ‘look not only to our own interests’ but this also means I don’t ignore mine either (oxygen mask theory).  I set the boundary around knowing that tomorrow is another day, just like Scarlett …….’ tiday nuh kill tomaaraw’ mommy would say. And if tomorrow doesn’t come for me, well even when we die the ‘inbox’ will still have things in it…….right.!!! At the time of writing I am still having hair issues…….boy the weather has wreaked havoc on my hair, or maybe that’s just my excuse. I haven’t been giving it the TLC either.

And would you believe I have been taking the bus over a year now and didn’t know they were equipped with cameras. Dense me. Although, I always wondered exactly how they would know who the legitimate claimants were, in the event of an accident. Well, I learnt today…….that many didn’t wait on an accident, they fabricated slips and falls and put claims in, unsuccessfully of course. But they do try. Makes me think once again, that people are indeed people. Time and space and location are minor variables in the mix of things. They try it too at Safeway, and Walmart of course.

Sparing the Rod…….

I have heard it multiple times…….. “unless you become a parent you don’t understand what it means to really love”. I can’t argue with that because I am not a parent but I can argue with that too, because I am a child of God and he endowed me with the capacity to love. And after all I can love anything… even my dog or a hampster…….I have heard too of kids who have categorically stated they love their parents more than their own kids. I figure it would be a mighty long debate if we venture to ask who loves who more. 1 John 4 v 19……”we love because he first loved us”… maybe that’s one way to explain it. For we well know that God’s love for us is unsurpassable, unconditional and infinite.

Now I have seen some really horrific things in the name of parenting and love. Kids who are allowed to run amok because parents are afraid to scold them, tell them no or worst yet fear they will lose their love. Now I don’t know why parents would think that, for I know that the bond between parent and child is not something easily broken- if it can. You know like how Paul says nothing can separate us from The love of God.

Kids need discipline and boundaries for them to become functional adults. You get only one chance. You don’t get to edit and correct, so model for them the right way to engage and proceed in this uncertain complex and unfair world. You don’t love them when you spare the rod……a few years back that meant you would get a good ‘back-siding’ when you step out of line or ‘fly pass yuh nest’ like my mom would say. These days that rod means something different but I am sure it doesn’t mean there are to be zero consequences and no boundaries. You see the Bible is timeless, it’s words are applicable for all times.

Tipper (my dog) was not a very good mom, for she would have her litter twice or more per year and she would pay no attention to her young ones- in fact she would abuse them, I think she even ate one on occasion. She I can tell, hated being a mom. Mom’s goat on the other hand was so different, she had a ram who could not be found one day and she cried non-stop and would not eat the whole time her kid was missing. I felt for her so much……..this for me is the same dynamic we see with humans. Some were born to be parents, others not so much, some of us are not sure while others definitely not, and in no uncertain terms. Makes me wonder if animals were not instinctive if they would be pro- choice or pro-life too.