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.

A Manifestation of Love

During the day I get sweeping, gushing feelings of exhaustion, which essentially force me into the bed for a rest. But while I rest, I also think. And it’s quite nice to do.

This past holiday season – between Christmas and New Years, I did something very important: I re-watched for the umpteenth time Pride and Prejudice with my mother. The BBC version. The best of versions. She and I have watched it so many times. Countless times. There’s no one else I’d rather watch it with, and frankly it’s not half as good if I watch it without her.

So, we make our cups of tea and sometimes there’s a small plate of cookies. Then, we climb onto what is the most enormous bed ever, being a king-sized bed, with a gorgeously thick duvet cover, and settle in for a little bit of viewing. It’s not all watched at once, because it is quite long, so when we embark on watching Pride and Prejudice, I have  the additional please of knowing that there will be several sessions of tea, cookies, bed and viewings.

She may have her knitting, and I may have my phone. But mostly I think we have each other and the company of the Bennet Family. Because inevitably as we watching the show, we will end up holding hands and laughing at whatever witty thing just happened on the screen.

I love Pride and Prejudice, but even more I love holding hands with my mom. I love that space and time of being together. This is probably literally the first time I’ve mentioned the  action ‘aloud’ but there you have  it. It’s unspoken, and feels perfectly natural. It didn’t always happen, since growing up I wasn’t so into ‘touching other people’ – but living in a different country for a while from one’s family can make one more sentimental….and it carries on from there.

Anyhow, I really value my relationship with my mother. And I value those little moments. And I value that we get each other in a way that never needs exploration.

So I’m lying in bed ‘napping’ but really thinking about all of this, which makes me think a little further. My mom and I are close, in an unspoken way. It’s very hard to describe beyond Mom and Daughter – close friendship doesn’t capture it enough. But I think that scene in the bed does. So what about my other extremely important relationships? How are they best captured?

Well Zsolt and I… I mean… it’s captured every day in every moment. He is my husband, I am his wife, and we are for one other. So I’ll just leave it there because I think that is saying enough and frankly it’s all too big to hold in words on this blog. It’s like the intangible relationship with my mom, but so unique to itself.

My Dad and I – that is such an easy one. Our moment, I feel comes in two ways. One is simply the way we exchange. I’ve blogged about this before. The ‘he gets me every time’ and the ‘I get him right back with a zing’. I’m not sure he loves this arrangement, but it’s a dynamic that is more about love and habit than it is about anything else. And then the other way, the smaller moment of a hug or a smile. This is new for me because, like I mentioned, I don’t much love being touched. But in some moments, some important moments, a hug is okay.

And then that unique relationship with my brothers. It’s so different than my parents  or husband or best of friends. It’s not so sentimental, but … but maybe it is?

Big brother little sister – What moment or gesture marks its meaning? I think, of late, it has been his kindness and support. He loves to push – all his life he has pushed, and in his adulthood he’s harnessed that into the power of pushing people to live well. I, however, don’t love to be pushed. Ha! Not at all. So we find our medium ground. But more than that – beyond how he makes me juice and reminds me I should exercise… the real bottom line is we’ve learned how to support one another. Supporter and supported in turn, as needed, in different ways that life poses challenges.

At least, I think so. It’s kind of a new one for me to consider.

And then big sister little brother. I really am not sure the marker for love here – except that I care for  that guy like crazy. Like nutso.  Like bonkers. Growing up he was literally at times my closest friend, but probably too young to understand that, I think. In adulthood we have our own lives, but still these occasional wonderful moments. The other day he surprised me as he and his girlfriend took me out to see The Gift of Lights here in Ottawa. It’s a camp ground that was covered in Christmas light displays, and you drive through slowly and it’s quite surreal. Well we put on Pink Floyd and it was fantastic. How can you not love an evening like that? We even hit up my parents’ hot tub in Kanata afterwards. It felt like being a teenager again.

And then there are my closest friends. What moments make those relationships? The conversations, I think, more than the individual actions. The chance to exchange on ideas that are either about life, or culture, or just picking things to pieces and better understanding the world. God I love doing that over a cup off tea. Maybe they can best be represented by cups of tea 🙂

Anyhow, when I stop and think about it, there are so many kinds of very important relationships in my life. It’s quite fascinating how they are all so different in function and form, but bottom line all so very much filled with love.

Next, I hope to watch Anne of Green Gables with my mother. It’s a much longer series, produced by TVO (I think?) and a great classic. I have not watched it 1000 times before, but maybe 500 times. So, this is something to look forward to once again. And those cookies. Geez, my parents make amazing  cookies.

MALL walking!

It’s eleven PM and I’m starting this blog post. Too late for spelling or grammar concerns. Too later, really, to be blogging. But what the heck? Let’s go for it.

Lately I’ve taken up an interesting sport. It is called “mall walking” and it’s quite the event. You see in Canada winter is cold. In Ottawa, where I live, it’s also snowy and icy and creates chaos for a person who lives downtown, doesn’t own a car, and needs to walk on the icy, uneven, potholed sidewalks of the city.

But the weather is beautiful on a crisp winter day, and the mall isn’t too far from my downtown location. So while downtown and not at my parents place, it’s a bit tempting to risk the short outdoor walk (even though my oncologist scared the heck outta me around breakages in bones, etc.) and go to the mall for a little bit of movement.

Yeah, I’m basically behaving like an elderly citizen. But I get it more, you know? Things like chemo and the change in body really make you get it. Mall walking – it just makes sense.

So the other day my brother took me walking in the mall.

First, it was absolutely adorable. He and I walked the precarious sidewalk towards the Rideau Center Mall arm in arm. I mean, come on – when do you walk arm in arm with your brother? NEVER, in my experience. But we did! I was quite excited about the whole trolling the mall thing, and he was happy to humour me.

So we take a walk outside. But by the time we actually reach the mall I’m wheezing like a … well… a person who cannot catch their breath. Unfortunately, my lungs have been giving me trouble. But that’s why it’s good to get outside and push them a little. Push, as my bro says, so that the body knows where to aim and grow towards.

Right, I’m wheezing on the street corner, catching my breath. But we made it – because the entrance is JUST RIGHT THERE. Screw the wheeze! Let’s keep going! I proclaim to him and a few random people passing by.

We continue up an incline. Screw the wheeze, screw the wheeze, screw the wheeze I say as we chug along. Because goodness knows I can’t just shut up and conserve my breath. No, I cope through chatter.

And finally we reach the entrance to the mall food court. Basically, we’re hitting up the most exciting part of the tour first, because there is plenty to see and do in a food court.

Including getting a massage!

We go in, take a seat on some comfy stools and my traditional-Chinese-medicine trained brother gives me an awesome chest and shoulder massage.

So we go from holding arms, to massaging.

Not weird at all.

Ha!

But screw it, I was in 7-heaven. Every walk should pause mid-way for a massage. Plus, it really helped to reinvigorate me for the remainder of the mall walk.

Then we take off (but not before deciding that as a reward for this very productive walking excursion, we’d buy some BUCHIPOP, sold in the food court and made by my brother’s girlfriend – it’s her drink company – on the way out!)

And off we walked into the mall.

I guess the key to a good mall walk is not to actually go into many shops. It’s more walk-by browsing. Otherwise things become rather stagnant. However, of course, if something catches the eye than by all means stop. Of course, I’m doing it wrong, technically. WAYYYYY back when I was 20 and worked for Old Navy,  I’d see proper mall walkers in the morning before anyone actually began shopping in the mall. They were a serious bunch. They didn’t stop to shop because the stores were not even open yet! They would just charge around the mall over and over – really proper and serious mall walkers.

I’m more like… a contemplative walker. I enjoy the sights and sounds. I enjoy the conversation.

JP, my brother, carried my coat. Very gentlemen like. So first there was arm-in-arm strolls, a massage, and then gentlemanly behaviour. WEIRD! But to tell you the truth, his carrying my coat is a great relief, and I can use that energy for explore and gab for a longer period of time.

Eventually the walking felt complete. I bought my rewards BUCHIPOP and we headed back to the apartment.

While I do spend most of my time at my parents, it has been very nice to be downtown too. If for no other reason than the chance to spend more time with my brothers – they both live downtown – and of course, for the occasional visit to the mall.

Arm in arm we walked home together. And it was it such a good time. I’ve decided that I will take the memory of that mall wall with me into my radiation appointment this week.

Targeted radiation – cyber knife. For all the spots in my brain. I have three days worth of sessions. First day 1 hour with the face mask on,locking me to the table. Second two sessions – 1.5 hours and 1 hour back-to-back with the face mask on, locked down. Third session, on the Monday – 1.5 hours and 1 hour back to back with the face mask on, locked down. (VERY good, but psychologically challenging)

The only way I figure I’ll cope with this, is to take in all the stories and moments I’ve been enjoying – from you – to think about as my brain receives laser radioactive surgery.

I will think about the mall walk with my brother. Think about going to the tea house with my oldest friend and the hot chocolate we used to order. Think about Pink Floyd and Christmas lights. Think about dancing with my husband. Think about PWC and eating a gooey pizza with my also-wants-to-be-a-writer-and-we-also-love-to-gossip co-worker. Think about shelving books at Chapters and escaping to the back room. Think about going out west with my Dad. Think about Pride and Prejudice with my mom. Think about car rides with my cousins. Think about kicking some ass in the gym class self-defense module and earning a reputation for being crazy. Think about BOLO. Think about riding bikes in Balaton. Think about brunch with friends. Think about my writing, how you react to it, and what I want to do with it going forward.

Think think think.

Thank you so much for all of your messages. I was nervous to put that post out. SO nervous. But it was good, and I’m glad to have done it.

I’ll take all of you in with me to those radiation sessions. And we’ll get these spots under control.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

PS NO SPELL CHECK TONIGHT> Maybe tomorrow. Maybe. I’m always embarrassed by the errors. But better out then never published. And things can be reviewed later.  Gooood night!