Under my tree

I had a particularly good day yesterday for a number of reasons, one big one being the boost of steroids and food. But this experience I feel is worth turning on the computer to capture at 2:40 AM.

Zsolt and I were relaxing on the front porch last evening, enjoying the massive sway of maple leaves mixing with a breeze and the gold evening light. Zsolt was mentioning how his friend enjoys recording short videos to remember the feeling of a place, rather than what it looked like alone with a photo.

This made me think a little.

I think, I replied, that I like to actually be in a place that has captured a piece of who I am, rather than a picture or a video…. being there, in that spot, whether it be an evening by the lake in Balaton or sitting under the tree I have literally grown along with all my life . . . that is what is really is to remember who, and what i am. That is when a piece of what makes me, me, shines. It reminds me that life is far more than a picture, or film, or a place to sit, a thing to let happen, a bed. These experiences are pieces of what I am. They make me, and they remind me of what I am.

So, I like them best. Far better than any form of art or screen.

Places that make me:

Under my tree

Balaton in the evening

The pond in Rockliff

The lake in Jasper called Horseshoe

The pool with family on a hot day

A drive with the window down and the music blaring

Eating into an orange that drips with sweet tangy juice

Sticking my face into a watermelon on a hot day

Warm cookies that are home made, not too sweet, and mine

A cup of tea and milk

Ice water

Little mountain villages with water down the middle

Home

Travel

Love

Zsolt

Dusk

I am all of these things

 

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Adventure is Worthwhile

Years ago my parents attended a psychic fair. There’s one in Ottawa, held each year, I think. Anyhow, they were there and my dad got to talking with one of the psychics. I suppose she must have given him a reading. And surprisingly part of that reading related to me.

“Your daughter is going to travel the world, and there’s nothing you can do to stop her,” said the psychic.

“Catherine?” he asked with a fair amount of disbelief. I mean, not disbelief that I’m his daughter – but that I would have ever considered traveling. As a child I hated not being home. When I went to camp my parents had to fax me every day, just so I could cope with being away. One day the fax came through with only the cover sheet – I balled my eyes out.

So, he doubted her prediction very much.

adventure-is-worthwhile

And then, one day, I went off to travel the world, and there was quite literally nothing they could do to stop me. (Even though before leaving for Europe Dad did in fact warn me, “don’t go falling in love with anyone while you are away.” Ha! Well, we know how that ended up.)

All that to say, I have been adventurous. From going to camp, then moving to Jasper for the summer and working at a Tramway, to moving to Quebec City for a month of solitude and French, to backpacking with my brother in Europe, to almost becoming an Au Pair in Sicily, to living in Hungary, to studying in England, to crossing the Atlantic by ship, to eating the best pizza of my life in New York, to Iceland and Portugal and Malta and Greece and Havana, and all the incredible places I’ve been gifted enough to visit.

Life has been an adventure. And it has been, as the great Amelia Earhart stated, worthwhile.

As you may appreciate, adventure can be big and it can be small. It can be choosing to raise a family, it can be buying a home, it may be travel, or diving into a passion project, it can be trying something new, it can be saying “I want this for my life” and then chasing that down, it can be a new recipe in the kitchen.

Anyhow!! One of the dearest gifts I’ve received from my adventures have been the relationships – the friendships. My goodness, what incredible relationships life has brought. It’s a theme I’ve explored in Bumpyboobs before – how living here and there can create heartache, because the fact is you always need to say goodbye. But you know what? The good friendships, the REALLY good ones – they keep. They just keep. My best relationships came from taking chances. Even if that chance was simply reaching out and saying hello to someone new.

Examples/Stories!!

Zsolt: Went back packing with little brother. Experienced fear like crazy. It was my first time in Europe and so far away from home. Each new city terrified me for the first day or two, (and then it was technicolour brilliance of adventures.) Met a man I thought I could marry. MARRIED HIM.

The creative writers: I won’t name them. But here’s the jot-note story. Moved to England with boyfriend. Eeeep. Arrived with nothing. Worked in a miserable job for 6 months. (still made friends!) Decided job was miserable. Applied for Creative Writing program, despite being sure I wasn’t good enough and was pretty sure a career post-MA would be hard to pin down. Was accepted. Spent every last penny on International Student fees. Met people who LOVE writing. Met people who would help shape my passion for writing. Met people who had such compassion and fascinating stories, and who dared to share their writing over many cups of tea. Met people who would be incredible FRIENDS FOR LIFE.

Zsolt’s PHD: This was Zsolt’s adventure, but I stuck my nose in. Zsolt applies for a PhD in England and GETS ACCEPTED. (Even though one teacher at his school in Hungary told him he’d never make it through a PhD degree in England). Leaves everything in Hungary and moves to England with girlfriend (me). Struggles like hell with the pressures of a PhD in a new country, all in English, with big expectations. Bonds with those who are doing the same, and facing their own big challenges, and they all persevere together. Kindly, he invites his girlfriend to join him and his colleagues for lunch every day at the Staff Club on the uni campus. They welcome her as if she belonged amoung this group of incredible scientists. Those same colleagues begin to invite their partners to join us for lunch too. Friendships and families form. We are blessed.

The Tramway: Again, no names. But here is the story. Am inspired when 15 years old after visiting the park to move to Jasper for a summer after high school and work. Do as planned. Work on a mountain. Live in a shit hole. Meet the BEST DAMN PEOPLE you could ask for. Go to the club every other night and we sweat through our clothes with the dancing. The next day, everyone gets on their bikes and heads to the glacier lake. Or the veranda at the Fairmount. Or the grocery stor. Or that tree in the park with the perfect kind of shade. At work, we savor what it feels like to look across the world everyday from the peak of a mountain. And we wear very ugly uniforms of green vests and mesh pants. Those people matter to me, and I still value the important friendships that have lasted from that time.

Working for Amnesty: Accepted a job in August, found out the cancer had become worse in September. Still began job in October – took the risk that it might wear me out (It did at first! But then it lifted me up.) in exchange for doing what mattered to me in life. Met people who inspired me to strive for better things, and helped me realize my potential. Worked 1.5 years before I had to stop. CONQUERED MY DOUBTS and grew a better relationship with myself.

Adventure is worthwhile.

These are big examples, but there are so many smaller ones I could list here too. Podcasting, publishing, applying to work in a book store (was I good enough to recommend books?!), inviting people to attend pumpkin carving parties (because I am terrified of social rejection), and many other things. Small things matter very much.

Adventure is worthwhile. But in every day life, so is risk. So is commitment and just a tiny bit of passion.

Hesitation is reasonable, but ultimately, it’s for suckers. Do plan and learn. Me? I worked boring jobs to save, applied for visas,  entered contests I’d never win and took opportunities never knowing what might and might not work, what might or might not fail, or where it all was going. (I also took many naps, cried too many times, ate a lot of cheese, and watched a lot of Netflix, ’cause I ain’t superwoman.) Somethings worked, others didn’t. Try, try and try again!

But, despite feeling rather aimless occasionally (*ahem*, okay, often), I strive to remember that my big personal regrets are all from times I let my fear and insecurities me. Not having a baby. Not chasing after a boy. Not running for class president. Delaying what I want because I didn’t know how to do it well  (learn how if it matters so much, and ditch perfection) … and from those moments I have taken much too.

Regrets happen, and so does fear, and frankly this is real life – opportunities will at times be missed.

But…

Adventure is worthwhile. Risk is worthwhile.

You are worthwhile.

Now, give the world a chance to realize that. Stop hesitating and dive into life. (You know who you are!) I promise, I will keep doing the same. Together we’ll see what happens next.

(High five!)

Considering the time, that is all I want to say about that. Sorry for being SO very didactic towards the end. This blog post has somewhat carried me away on a sentimental TEDTalk-esque wave of PREACH, LADY, PREACH!

 

P.S. Thank you to you-know-who for inspiring this blog post. YOU are so very worthwhile, in every way. 🙂 Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

P.P.S.

I’d like to dedicate this post to Jasmin. She truly challenged me to face my fears when I attended her retreat Stretch Heal Grow through Rethink Breast Cancer. She had metastatic breast cancer and passed away recently. If you’d like to learn more about her adventures, check out her story and considering supporting her incredible project as a legacy to this women.

The Big Trip

It is Tuesday afternoon. Zsolt and I are knocked out and still in bed. He is working between his sniffles (the man has a cold) and I am blogging between my aches. The timer is set so every 45 minutes we get up and do some movements together. It helps a lot and the pain I felt all weekend is loosening its grip. It’s a pretty nice day together, despite our utter exhaustion. He is sick, and I should probably be 10 meters away from the man at all times, but damn I missed him so much. I cannot bring myself to leave his side.

This past weekend was the Big Trip for my father and I (I wonder how my Dad is doing today? He’s back at work while Zsolt and I get to hang out in bed!). Dad and I headed out west for the weekend to visit with family. It was a very good visit, but a challenging one too. I may as well tell it like a story rather than recounting just takeaways. After all, life in reflection is really about the stories – takeaways have little impact without them.

Thursday evening Dad picked me up 3 hours before our flight was due to leave. Normally I’d oppose this, but he felt it was important and I figured it was easier to not argue. So! We got there early and settled in. The plane left on time, we jammed ourselves like a bunch of sardines onto the flight, and then whoosh! we were off to Edmonton.

Fact: I was worried about flying. Reality: I had reason to be worried about flying. My body is not a fan!

After we arrived in Edmonton all seemed well, but I woke up in the middle of the night with throbbing shoulder pain. It got so bad I had to wake up my father in the other room around 2 AM. Poor guy gave me a treatment in the middle of the night. Thank goodness for being born into a family of health care practitioners. Not everyone can call upon their chiropractor and energy guy at two in the morning. After the treatment, I eventually got back to sleep. And the next morning, we went out and got me a very flat pillow (best for my neck and shoulder), a cute little heater, a hot water bottle and a kettle in which I could boil water for the bottle.

Take Away: My Dad was so kind. And, I’m high maintenance!

The weekend itself was all about getting to know family. I liked the little moments – things like car-ride conversations, getting tea, comparing book lists, doing some painting. The big event was the family reunion on Sunday. My aunt held it at hers, and so many people came. It was quite something. A few I had known in my adulthood years, but many not. It was very meaningful to establish these connections again. There’s just such a difference in perspective in this phase of life. As a kid and teen you want to slip away during family events, but now I want to know who these people are – what makes them them?

And I found the questions arising again and again: how are we the same? What makes us family? What in you do I also see in me? What is being passed on to the next generation of kiddos (there are many kiddos!) that I know is in myself too?

For me this weekend was about friendship, family and legacy. Growing up without sisters, it’s good to connect with my cousins – particularly the ladies. And now not having any kids, I wonder what of myself will ever ripple forward? It’s so self-focused, I know. Don’t get me wrong – I see these people and they are their own bright excited adorable ambitious surprising sparks. They are their own. But to recognize a little this or that of something I also hold is a comfort. It’s a weird comfort.

Dad caught up with his family – saying both significant hellos and goodbyes. (He had his own important journey this past weekend.)

I loved this. Everyone we met with was a keeper of a story. Everyone would recall a ‘remember that time?’ story about everyone else. One bit og history after the other, I think the older generation rebuilt their connections, and the youngsters learned a little something.

Here’s an example. My one uncle (the youngest of many brothers) once shot a pistol bullet through my Dad’s window where they lived (back when they were kids) as retribution after my Dad (one of the middle brothers) got that uncle’s baseball bat chopped into pieces. Why was it chopped into pieces? Because the oldest brother initiated a machete-vs-bat fight with my father. The wooden bat, used by my father, lost the battle.

CRAZY.

That’s the tone of many stories. 🙂

Take away: way too many things for this blog post.

Hmm. And now we are back in Ottawa. Walking off the plane, through the airport, was a struggle. An emotional struggle considering what was to be faced upon our return, and all the emotions and connections we knew we were leaving behind for a very long time.

Today was a day for being in bed. It’s now much later in the day, and I’m finishing this blog post. The doctor called today, Dr Canada. Not only am I not eligible for that study I thought I’d go on, but it turns out there are spots of cancer in my brain tissue now. Before it was just in the skull… not anymore. Turns out the game is changing once again. Turns out life can be pretty hard sometimes.

But you never know. The underdog keeps fighting – and a story much expected to go badly can something surprise you. Hey, if the Ottawa Red Blacks can shock the CFL with their AMAZING win the other night – who knows what other awesome moments are in store?

The most awesome of moments from this past weekend was actually not a moment. It was my Dad. He was awesome. Being with him was lovely, loving and fun. I’ll cherish this weekend not only because I reconnected with far-away family, but even more so because I got to be with my father.

He’s definitely the best takeaway I could ask for.

me-and-dad