Monday, September 28, 2009

Missing You

I only have 10 minutes before I have to scoot out the door for week 3 of chaos. I thought I'd fill you in on how my first full week of placement, school and work went.

Overall, not too bad at all. I still love my placement , even though the last of communication between staff is frustrating at times it just pushes me to strive to do better at my end of things. I am learning more everyday and loving the people I support - they have been teaching me so much. I just wish I could introduce you to them all in person (I say this to Wally several times through out my week).

Work also went better than I expected, though it too holds it's own frustrations with a select few (or one). But I did enjoy it for the most part. It's amazing how your body adapts to the lack of sleep you once gave it and gives you the will to go on. I'm chuckling to myself because seriously I'm not fighting death, really it's just a busy schedule that is life to some people. I'll learn.

Currently I feel great and am looking forward to whatever my day holds. I am so blessed (though that saying is so cliche and I try not to use it often). I am missing friendships and connecting so feel free to hook me up :)

I miss my blog friends too very much and staying in touch. I do hope that when this is over I can blog often again - there's something about it that is just therapeutic and fun too.

Well gotta run!

Have a great day!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Today I finished my first full week of my placement for school. What can I say ... wow! It's going to be an intense 13 weeks to come!

You may be wondering what a typical day of my placement is like, or you may not give two hoots. Here's one of my days in short... (For the record I've decided to forget about editing and worrying about being a writer while I am blogging on the fly. I realized today how much I miss sharing my thoughts about my regular old days, so I figured rather than worry about perfection I'd just whip out what I could and if people want to read it, it's there).

Hmmmm which wacko day should I tell you about? Thinking, thinking, thinking ....

Yesterday is fresh in my mind, why not it? (I may share a couple of other first days too, but we'll start here).

I started my day later Wednesday because I would be going pretty late in the day. The first person of the day for me to see was a lady named Vivvie. She's 54 years old, crippled up pretty bad in a wheelchair because of an accident when she was 5 that left her non ambulatory, non verbal, and unable to do much at all with her one side. Vivvie has a clear mind but has refused to use any method of communication created for her which leaves her to only use her own sign language, moaning, and some pointing - leaving those initially working with her (aka me) ready to pull their hair out (not because of her, but because of me not able to understand). Vivvie cannot read but does manage to do a few things for herself like heat food in the toaster oven, however with much work and challenge.

On my first visit I was 'shadowing' a worker named Bill who is younger than myself, soft spoken, carries a somewhat nervous laughter but a gentle and caring way in all I saw him do. I walked in and met Vivvie, who had began preparing her lunch in the toaster oven and Bill quickly took over for her, getting her food ready, then busily cleaning up the cat litter, some other odd jobs, then proceeded to work with Vivvie on a grocery list.

Ok so when I heard Bill say that they would make a grocery list I thought 'This will only take a minute or two'. Boy was I wrong. I was wrong because if it were me the grocery list making would've consisted of me peeking through the fridge and the cupboards for what was needing to be replenished. Instead it took Bill a good half hour to forty five minutes. Why you ask? No, not because he's a man. Because Bill had Vivvie participating in the chore completely. Bill carefully and considerately went through the fridge, looking at each shelf and asking about any potential items that Vivvie wanted. Remember Vivvie is non verbal so to guess what she was asking for beyond what you were asking her about was a tedious and intense process of actions, moans, points and A LOT of guessing.

I watched as Bill was able to guess yogurt, bread, bananas, and the one that shocked me when he got home: a specific sandwich spread she hadn't asked for in ages. Like how did he do that?!!! Seriously he started with sandwich meat and figured out sandwich spread and the flavor and brand and everything!! I was beyond impressed.

When Bill was done making the list he said that he would have to pop out for a few minutes to get the groceries (in reality I think it was an eternity, or an hour and a half - whichever). He said I could get to know Vivvie better. Off he went and I sat while Vivvie went back to her meal. I realized quickly that her food was cold and she wanted it reheated but didn't want to ask me. I allowed her to try on her own to do it and when I saw that it was difficult I intervened and asked if she wanted help. She nodded yes. I helped her out while trying to chat with her all the while. It wasn't long and the food was ready.

As she ate I noticed Vivvie trying to reach for napkins a couple of times so I offered help and she accepted - I never knew how good it could feel to have help accepted. We're taught in school to allow and encourage as much independence as possible, that's what I was trying to do. Some people refuse any sort of help, when Vivvie accepted mine I was glad.

As time passed I was able to sort of chat with her a bit and she tried to chat with me. At one point she was desperately trying to tell me something and I was trying to guess. She was motioning as if she was opening a bottle with the side of her leg (popping the top off) and then drinking it. Then she'd tap on her chair. I would ask 'Are you thirsty? Do you need a drink?' and she would shake her head. She did it a few times and then gave up. I told her that I was no good for helping and that I was sorry. I was able to understand a few things (which I was overjoyed about).

A while into our alone time a couple of VON ladies whisked into her room to change her brief and prep her ventilator. They obviously had an awesome re pore with Vivvie and did a fabulous job connecting with her and giving me ideas on things we could do together in the future (Vivvie and I). Not long after they whisked in Vivvie began doing the same drink and tapping signs she tried with me (to no avail) and one of the nurses responded with 'You want some hard liquor eh?' They chuckled, I laughed. She was just trying to joke around! Ahhh. At that point I told Vivvie that maybe we'd go out for drinks when I was off. She then made signs of being sick to which someone interpreted them for me as she can't drink much anymore because she gets sicks. Apparently she was a partier back in the day.

The VON nurses also shared Vivvie's secret crush on Bill the worker and her affinity towards Antonio Banderas (sp?) - I loved it. Her sense of humour also came out when she was having difficulty breathing and was coughing pretty bad. She made some signs pointing to a hook in her kitchen and Bill knew she was referring to hanging up her doctor and then she'd pretend she was the cat (her catch is a bit evil) clawing at him. After which she showed her fist and then flailed her middle finger. Obviously her doctor isn't her favourite person. Obviously Vivvie had an incredible sense of humour (and perhaps some pent up anger).

In the end I came out of our visit together excited about the opportunities I would have to get Vivvie out and about while I was doing my placement. I will have 3 hours a week with her to do social activities and outing. Something she doesn't get really at all because all of her support is wrapped up in taking care of her daily physical/medical needs. Don't get me wrong, I'm a bit overwhelmed at the idea that I need to learn how to book the para-transit system, call VON (her health care staff)to organize help pre-outing and take Vivvie (who'd be relying on me for her communication - eek!) out into the community. However at the same time I'm so excited to be a part of giving someone the opportunity to live a fuller life out in the community and to experience all those things we take for granted. A simple trip to the dollar store, a meal at a restaurant, trip bowling or to the movies would make Vivvie's month. What a privilege I have. When I get frustrated (which may be often) I need to remember this.

Well, This wasn't my whole day, in fact it was only a third of it but it was one of the many interesting people I will be supporting for the next 14 weeks. I hope you enjoyed meeting Vivvie. I think I will try and maybe share a bit about each person I get to spend time with through my week. I don't think you'd be disappointed with any of their stories. Perhaps I will try and get a couple posted over the weekend.

I have to say it again - I love my job and I love the people I support even more ... and it's only just begun!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

No sleep

Ok so this is a random, 'I'm up at midnight totally wide awake, about nothing in particular' post. I usually write it in MS Word then copy and paste but I'm trying to live dangerously these days so I'll give this a whirl.

I wrote a post the other day about my first day at placement but it hasn't been finished or edited so it clearly hasn't found a home on here yet, we'll see if that changes. Since I haven't written much lately at all about my current situation maybe I'll fill you in and give a refresher.

Last Wednesday was my first official day of my final placement with school. This is basically like an unpaid job for approximately 30 hours a week (for 15 weeks). Mine is with an organization that does Supported Independent Living with people with developmental disabilities. I will be meeting with between 2 and 5 different people everyday either in their homes or supporting them at different programs through out the city. I have only met two of the people I'll be with and so far I've really enjoyed it and them. I'm sure I'll have some great stories too. I'm not sure how great I'll be at blogging, considering my life will be literally taken up by 8 hours of school, 30 hours of work and 30 hours of placement and some study time somewhere in there - EEK!!

Tonight I went out for my last evening coffee time with Sista to celebrate her getting the 40 hour contract that she applied for (you see she was doing my 30 hour one for only a year then returning to her old 40 hour job when Bro's 40 hour contract came up and she got it). I wasn't so sure I'd be able to survive the 30 hour work week without her understanding spirit. I'll be honest, I'm still wondering if I made the wisest decision. However, I keep reminding myself it's only for 13 weeks. I start my contract next weekend. Be on your knees for me!

The other night I was out with my girls: Lovie, Artsy, and Shell Bell (at an amazing Thai restaurant all should visit) and when we were leaving someone mentioned planning our next get together and I sadly said that they should make sure to take pictures because I would not be there. Shell Bell said that they should take a picture of me and add it into their poses so that I would still show up in the pictures. This gave me a great idea (well really corny but great too).

I thought, why not print off a few 8 X 10 pictures of my face and have different people take their pictures of me doing fun things with them, things I can't do because I will be too busy to join in? I attempted to recruit some peeps to help out on the weekend and had several reply, I just need to tell them my idea. Though this is a very cheesy idea I feel like it may be essential to my sanity. You see I have a great conviction to live right? I mean I try never to say things like 'I can't wait until this is over' (which I'll confess has run through my mind a couple of times lately) or 'Everything will be great once I get through this...'. I think these are terrible things to have permanently running through your mind because who knows if I'll be around until after the 'storm has passed'. I think that we should try to live wonderfully through the storm instead (I actually love storms).

That's my current dilemma, or should I say challenge. Yes, I'll say challenge. How to encounter a crazy, potentially stressful, hectic, tiring and insane schedule of new experiences, deadlines, and stretching of my limits without giving up on truly living honestly and loving it. One of my biggest pet peeves are people that hate their lives and don't do anything about it. Or they just complain their way through - I can't stand it. I say 'Change it!'

However some situations you cannot change and some situations you simply put yourself in to see what happens. I'd say that the latter is my case. I've done this completely by choice and am now trying to think of ways that I can not only survive what I've done but thrive during this time. I'm gonna need some help ...I'm gonna need lots of help. The best way to cure a situation like this is to laugh, a lot, so that's what I'm hoping I will do. We'll see if the experiment goes anywhere...

I realize I sound a tad on the psychotic side but we all do sometimes right? (Just say right), it is after midnight now and I am seriously feeling deranged at this moment. Anyway, not my most insightful post but it's me, take it or leave it.

good night.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

40 Day Adventure Summary!

Items NOT completed:
#1 – Stop eating sugary, baked goods and chocolate for 40 days

This one lasted exactly 14 days and I truly loved while I was doing it. I didn’t find it difficult at all not to succumb to my ‘addiction’ because I was really engaged in life. I’ve learned this is a day by day thing I will work on for life …I’ll keep you tuned in.

#13 – Have my closest aunt over for a sleepover

I was sad but not surprised that I wasn’t able to pull this one off. In fact I’m not sure why I put this one on my list at this point. I think that I figured by putting it on ‘THE list’ that I would make it magically happen. Here’s the catch. My aunt has been caring for her dying mother-in-law for the past few months, after losing a brother-in-law as well. I didn’t really think through her commitment and should’ve considered this before listing it. I will make this a next year thing for sure!

#17 – Cook a Vegan Meal

There is no reason at all that I couldn’t have completed this item. I had a recipe and the ingredients for it since week 1. I had every intention of at least doing it on my last day but fatigue overcame me. No deep excuses.

#24 – Talk to someone in my city that works with an organization that helps the homeless

Well I sort of did this one. I did e-mail (at two different times) the organization that I really wanted to go and see and talk to someone. However I only got one e-mail back and still no reply to the other one about getting a tour. The must be busy people because to set up a time didn’t seem possible, I go the impression that they were more interested in serious volunteers (which I will hopefully be in the future) because the first step in the process was to fill out a volunteer application before anything else. Bummer. (At least I learned where it is on my little bus ride/pursuit of the passport office).

Top Ten things I learned while on my adventure:

I like relish and mustard on my hotdogs (along with ketchup).

It’s worth it to spend money (if you have it) to go to a beautiful place to stay for a vacation – however I’ll bet I could do this again and prove you don’t have to spend money to find a beautiful place. It was worth every penny though!

Relationships and people are the most valuable and interesting parts of life – they cost nothing.

Sometimes it takes practice to try new things – you may not love it right away but as you get better at it and allow yourself the room to try, you may be pleasantly surprised!

Sometimes the little things are really the big things.

Not to sound New Age-y, but the power of intention is incredible.

Nature is beautiful – make time for it.

It’s ok to spend money (that you have) on yourself – just don’t forget to do it for others too.

Your intention for completing a task may be one thing but the outcome may give you something entirely different – be ok with it and take with you whatever you learn.

There’s no time like the present!

It feels cool to inspire people but even cooler see people act on the inspiration (especially when it’s yourself).

That’s 11 things … guess I learned more than I thought!

Overall I had an amazing time doing my 40 things in 40 days. It was a great excuse to try new things without getting flack from people (or myself). It felt liberating in so many ways and pushed me out of me comfort zone for sure. I’ve been trying to decide how or if I will do this again. I’ve pondered doing another list right away (carpe diem right?), or doing a 52 things in a year, but as I remember how this experience went I think that I will pursue to try new things whenever I get the chance and for those other challenges perhaps do an annual 40 things in forty days would be fun. There is something about having a timeline and creating an adventure that made doing these things different. I will admit it totally wiped me out (as I got pretty into it). I think a lot of it had to do with the offshoots of life I came across from it. I learned that just by stepping out to try one new thing you may meet one person that introduces you to so many others that are interested in doing life with you – It’s been awesome!

The one thing I have to remember there are no rules to living life except for one – LIVE!

Adventure Day 40 Part 2 - #19 – Buy a piece of lingerie and wear it

Once I got home from my bus outing, around 9 am, I crashed on our spare room bed where I LOVE to catch extra sleep (or just missed sleep). Unfortunately by body was not co-operating and I just laid there with my eyes closed for a good hour and a half. When I finally realized that a good nap was not in my future, I decided to head out and tackle #19 on my list - yet again.


Third time is supposed to be a charm but I’m sure there is fine print that negates the saying when sleep deprivation is involved. I charged in the store trying to place my mind over the matter at hand. I decided that perhaps I’d go at this scant outfit shopping from another angle (wondering if perhaps I should’ve stuck around my bus stop down town a few more hours until the skanky ladies underwear store across the street from it opened up – neon and leather would definitely make my ‘never would wear’ list). I decided to look at bras and such (you know the ones you’d never wear under your clothes).

I scanned the contents of the stored and grabbed about 5 different ones. I went into the change room and was not too shocked to find out that none of them fit. I was borderline tears as I thought about perhaps putting them away and never to return, when a sales lady politely asked how it went.
“Not so good, none of them fit.” I replied leaving things open for discussion, something I don’t normally do – especially in a bra store.
“Would you like me to measure you?” she asked.
It’s at this point I would usually say “No thanks” and move on to an underwear-less store. But I had a stick-to-it-ness in me today that shocked even myself.
So I responded with a “Sure” and succumbed to some stranger putting a tape measure around my boobs – oh the fun of it all. She was a very nice, gentle spirited young woman who seemed to understand my plight, which made the experience all the better.

When she was all done she said you are a C36 or a D34. It’s at that point I almost died laughing. I’d never bought a bra beyond an A or B (usually the latter); maybe that’s why they never felt right. I had renewed hope as I went back out in to the store to find my new size. I grabbed another 5 or 6 bras and was back into the change room to try them on, thinking that things would be a whole different story. My hopes were dashed.

One of the bras I couldn’t even do up. When I reappeared out of my change room once again carrying a defeated look on my face the sales lady said that I could look for different sizes and that her measurement wasn’t a for sure thing. Even though I would rather have shot myself right then, I went back out and looked for 5 more bras to try on. Surely SOME thing, SOME where would fit. My result didn’t change and I took that as a sign. I briefly contemplated leaving the store to cry in the car but promised myself that I would not leave until I had something I’d never worn before (you know what I mean). So I marched up to a silk fuchsia cami with black trim and cute little pantaloons to match (that, by the way, said ‘Gorgeous’ on the butt), I got what I guessed would fit and went straight into the line the pay. I’d had enough.

After trying on 16 bras that day and countless other outfits in my two previous visits I finally had my buy. It wasn’t the stretch I was hoping for (there are absolutely no puns intended anywhere in that phrase), but it was different and fun. I left the store relieved, a little disappointed and ready for my 40 days to be done – I was exhausted! I’m quite positive that there were tears again while driving home but am not sure if they were as much to do with things not fitting as it was my incredible fatigue. Either way I was glad to have accomplished all that I had.

**Side story: At one point while I was in the store this time there was a man, I’m guessing in his late twenties/early thirties, that was with a friend of his wife/girlfriend’s, buying his lady something ‘special’ to wear. I almost lunged at his neck when I sawing him leaning on the counter with his cell phone in his hand talking to his presumed love. I heard him say (wearing a sleezy grin on his mug) “We picked something out for you to wear…” pause “Yeah I think it’ll be ok. I like it.” (Grin continues) “Well it’s not really for you, it’s more for me. I’m the one that’s going to be enjoying it…” I had made up my mind in that moment that men were scum – ok I don’t think they all are. But this one certainly was and it was due to people like him I felt so horrible about myself that day. Ok I’m being irrational, but admittedly I wanted to do away with him …. And whoever invented lingerie. **

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Adventure Day 40 Part 1 - #5 & Attempted to complete #25

#5 – Take the bus downtown alone

I’ve been on a city bus before. Actually I took one everyday to school once we moved here, and even to work if I had to. But going down town and stopping somewhere unfamiliar and trying to find a way back on again and perhaps even a transfer to another scared me. Yes I am poultry ok, I’ll admit it. This was also an item that Wally was afraid for me to do, however he is overprotective so it doesn’t’ carry a lot of weight in the grand scheme of things. Anyway I’d left it to the end for a reason: I was avoiding it. But no more! It was day 40 and I was going to take a bus downtown AND get my passport all at the same time – now that’s adventure ladies and gents!

I woke up early and completely unprepared for a day with little sleep. I pushed myself to go out and catch the bus for 8 am – I was determined. I only needed to take a tiny walk to get to the bus that would lead me down town, a little different than the one I’m used to. My usual bus is a brisk five to seven minute walk, and the route is simply: up the street, down the street, up the street, and so on. If you get lost doing that you have big problems.

As I waited I noticed a different demographic in my midst. There were a lot more older and middle aged and working people than on my college route. I was a lucky gal that day because as I boarded I spotted a place to sit for my ride – yay! I settled in comfortably and began to observe. I’m not sure if anyone else out there does this but I ALWAYS do – watch people. It’s actually a fun activity to do while being taken to your destination. I look at their clothes and wonder what they do for a living, or if they do anything at all. I watch their facial expressions to see how they react to the world around them. I take note of what they fill their bus trip with: listening to music, singing music, or just musing quietly to themselves. You have time, why not speculate what people are really like under their perfect bus demeanor? (I know Wally would want to kill me for sharing this but I promised to be honest here). I actually wonder what people on the bus are like in their most intimate moments. Not in a dirty way (well mostly not), but really, sometimes it’s so weird to see people act so robotic on the bus and think that they are actually people when they get off the bus with families and friends (lovas).

This day was no different for me. I saw a middle aged woman who was perfectly dressed for work (I’m assuming). She wore a nice crisp white blouse and red shorts (well she had some article of clothing that was red, maybe it was her purse), anyhow she was ‘altogether’ looking, except that the buttons on her blouse were too far apart and it was sitting so that there were gaping holes which ended up showing her undergarments. I wanted desperately to tell her, but this woman looked so serious and business like that I was not about to say a peep to her. Instead I spent the entire time trying to avoid looking at the ‘train wreck’ – why is it so hard not to look?!

At another point there was a young man in his twenties with ear buds in and playing very loudly (I could hear his music from across the bus). He was seemingly oblivious to anyone else remotely surrounding him; he was rather entertaining to watch. Not because I could hear his music through his ear buds, but because of the dramatic performance he was putting on with his air drumming and mumble humming that loudly accompanied his ear bud music. He had no shame, I sort of wish he had just a little. His moves sort of reminded me of Stevie Wonder – except that I like Stevie Wonder.

Overall it only really took me maybe 8 minutes to reach my stop. I had no idea downtown was so close and this bus was so accessible, and that I could observe so many interesting people in such a short period of time - what a great discovery! I need to remember when my car is in use or out of commission that the transit system is always an option. It even adds a new dimension of free entertainment too!

#25 – Get my passport

Once I got off the bus I headed down (or up, who’s to say?) the street in the presumed direction of the passport office. I was on the look out for even numbers, 400 to be precise. Actually the building was supposed to be down two blocks from the bus stop and to my left exactly. I shouldn’t have had to even look for a number really. I’d been there before (or so I thought) and knew what I was looking for (or so I thought), I figured it shouldn’t be that difficult to find (once again, or so I thought).

Once I walked the two blocks I decided I would cross the street in the direction I thought the building would be (since it wasn’t clearly where the map said it would be). I started towards one direction and walked. And walked. First I passed a parking lot of the city newspaper, so that’s where it lived? Hmmmmm, interesting. Then I walked some more. Oh, I found the organization I wanted to tour that helped the homeless – note to self. Then I continued to walk and found … nothing. At least nothing familiar to me. I decided to cross the street and walk the direction I came from (the crossing of the street was do to the many homeless types that were loitering in front of the building of the organization I had researched – I have a long way to go ok). Anyways I went down at least 3 or 4 city blocks (felt like a hundred in the wooden, not-for-walking flip flops I had on), past the convention centre, and several high end hotels, I was really finding a lot down town, fascinating.

Finally I spotted the familiar location I was looking for. I had to cross back over to the other side of the street but at this point I didn’t care I just wanted to get into the line up. I was actually right on time for them opening up – woo hoo! I made it. Or so I thought…

I got onto an elevator that took me to my floor and I got off to be greeted by a sign on my desired location that said “Passport offices have moved to 700 Far Away St.” (I got the ‘sorry about your luck’ vibe from it too). At this point I was exasperated and exhausted. Not to mention frustrated and ready to kill. Sleep deprivation and blisters can do that to you. Don’t forget the impending threats of rain that clung in the air. At this point I had to make a crucial decision: Do I go back down the street a few more blocks and risk potentially killing an innocent by stander if I couldn’t find the office? Or should I give up for this day and try another time when I was better rested to deal with uncertainty?

On another day with more sleep in me (and better shoes on me) I would’ve stuck it out, but this day I was wiser. I decided that taking the bus was a good enough accomplishment and I would hold this strike against me on my forty day excursion. This was all about living not going to jail for murder over a passport (seriously, when I don’t sleep I’m a crazy woman). I threw in the towel and headed back to the bus stop to see if I could grab a nap before any other outings that day.

**End note: One week later I did in fact locate and enter the passport office and it took all of ten minutes for me to complete. I was proud that I’d finally gotten it done and now I am waiting for my passport to arrive. Can’t wait to decide where I’ll travel to first! **

Adventure Day 39 – Not my best day ever

The second last day of my adventure would not contribute to my list really at all but I do feel it’s worth telling you about. It was a result of some of the things I struggle with; it sort of gave me a ‘slap in the face’ and in the end reminded me that I am surrounded by people who care. So I’ll share it with you anyway…

I didn’t have a lot going on that morning because later in the day I had an appointment to donate plasma. I was loving the fact I was back into my routine of giving and it felt so good to be able to do it again. I made sure to eat a healthy, protein filled breakfast of cottage cheese and fibre one, followed by a couple of tall glasses of water and a tuna sandwich for lunch (lots of protein). My appointment to donate was for 12:35pm so I was trying to make sure I was on schedule.

However my blogging and e-mail checking, then remembering that the dogs needed an outing before I left, interfered with my punctuality. I didn’t think anything much of leaving a bit later than planned until I hit construction. That’s when the fists came out (along with some choice words). After stewing through about 10 minutes of traffic without even getting as far as a block, I raged right and tried to get to the street I was headed to another way. After sneaking through a bunch of unfamiliar streets I made it, only to encounter another bout of my favourite thing – construction. EEK!! Road rage would definitely be a good term for what I was feeling.

When I arrived 10 minutes late and apologizing for my tardiness the lady at the counter was calm and cool saying ‘Oh no problem!’ and me thinking ‘Yeah, I have work to go to right after this, there better not be a delay.’ (Like I have a right to say that after being late). I sat down and awaited my turn to fill out all the regular papers and answer all of the bizarre questions they would ask. (For example: Was your grandmother born in Africa? My response: Take a 3 second look at me and answer that yourself. Have you recently played with monkey feces? My response: If I was that kind of girl do you think I’d be here right now? Where do they come up with this stuff?)

Anyway, I was already thinking ahead to when they would take my blood pressure and hoping it’d be ok. I figured I would be because I tend to have low blood pressure but today I was a bit high strung. I immediately took my place on the scale (had to get it over with since we hadn’t been getting along lately), then observed something miraculous. My BP was 112 over 78 – nice! It was meant to be. I then re-answered all of the strange questions they asked (verbally this time – seriously how do they do it without laughing their heads off?!) Next came the final step, my protein and iron tests. A breeze … I thought.

I ate my wonderful breakfast and I had yet to fail their test. I had come close the first time but I had gotten onto a diet plan rich in good foods so I was confident. Until the lady peered over at me with a peculiar look. She tested it two more times. I failed the test. By one point. No donation for me today. The lady asked if I’d had my period recently – no, any diet changes – yes. And that’s when it happened I felt like I got smacked opened handed across my face. I was found out! My ‘diet plan’ had been abandoned for the past several weeks as I tried another new weigh loss method. This time it hurt, really bad.

I was visibly upset and in disbelief but the lady was really great with me. She said I could come back in 56 days to donate again. 56 DAYS!!!!! What?! I was in shock now, and was just realizing what I’d done to my body. I know it’s only plasma donation. I know it’s not that big a deal. But it was the one thing I felt proud about regarding my body, that I kept it in good enough working order to donate something useful to someone. I got in the car and I cried. I got home and I ate. I was so bummed out.

Then I realized I still had to go to work. Yikes! I am not one to call in and cancel a shift or not go, for any reason really. I am always there when I say I will be – always. This day though I thought (for the first time) of calling in and finding a replacement. I felt deflated and worn out, I wasn’t sure if I could do my job at all. It’s not the kind of job you can get through without some measure of sanity, strength and patience – none of which I felt like I owned this day. After a brief debate I decided I’d go because that’s how I work and so off I went, praying for grace.

When I arrived it was Bro and Muscles working and would be for the next hour. I was relieved because it was just them, no guys to support – one was at camp for another hour and the other would soon be home from a visit. We just hung out and I sort of mentioned my day thus far but tried to slough it off. I was pretty quiet (not my usual at work self), as I had been the day before at the staff meeting. Muscles made a few comments of concern about the melancholy Eva that had appeared, but again I tried to play dumb. My shift went well overall and fortunately it was an easier than usual night – I was so thankful.

At the end of the night when it was just me and the two guys, Sista showed up for some paper work. At this time Muscles and Bro had come back with another male staff to do something footfall related in the office downstairs. By the end of my shift at 11pm everyone was chatting and laughing up stairs and it was decided that we should go out for drinks. All but the extra guy staff separately drove to a restaurant with drinks only to find out that it was closing. Off we went all the way across town to an actual bar (and grill but it was open for hours longer). We found a table and shot the breeze (it sounds weird when you say it that way). It was so late and I was so tired but just sitting around with some friends talking about work (what else would we talk about) just felt good. It’s nice to have people that understand what you deal with everyday.

My day ended at 1am but so much better than it had started out. I left the bar knowing that I had people that cared (as there were many comments about my current status at that time). I later found out that Bro was a bit worried because I ‘looked like a basket case’ and that ‘Eva looked like she’d been crying’ when I came into work. I thought I had disguised myself well. You know those times you see people that don’t really know you after you’ve just had a bad experience and you can totally convince them its allergies or a headache or something. I haven’t known my new family very long and they already see through that stuff and care too. I am so grateful for this.

I curled into bed at 1:15 in the morning wanting so bad to avoid day 40 but knew that in 5 hours the alarm would be calling my name to complete my journey … and I would answer.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Adventure Day 38 Part 2 - #40 Go on a motorcycle ride

Clearly this was a busy day for my list, I was accomplishing things left and right. Next would be the item I allowed one of my friends to determine. Yes, it’s true, if it were up to me this item would never have turned up on my list. However when I was given the idea I couldn’t turn it down - since it was indeed the perfect example of doing something I would never try on my own (or even be forced to do), but also something I should for sure experience.

My first reaction to Lovie’s e-mail was that of ‘Oh no! I can’t do that, I’m way too chicken!!! What am I gonna do? I can’t turn her down, it really is in the spirit of the whole thing. But I really am too scared!’ After a few days of pondering I accepted to challenge and decided to even embrace it. Luckily I’d been really busy through out day 38 and hadn’t given things a whole lot of thought. It wasn’t until I got out of my car at the park we were meeting at and saw the helmet and leather jacket that I’d be wearing on my fun little excursion that I began to ponder my sanity.

As we chatted about this and that I nervously made a couple of jokes about my life insurance policy being up to date and asked about how firmly implanted Rider’s (Lovie’s husband and my riding mate that evening) organs were inside his body. I was truly concerned. For two reasons: First I was afraid that I would unintentionally zone out and let go, which would inadvertently make me a glorious piece of road kill somewhere and secondly I was worried that I could quite possibly squeeze Rider’s insides so hard that the would become his outsides. (Two very valid concerns in my opinion). However not so much for Lovie, I was glad she had mountain moving faith.

Once Rider had pulled up and I had suited up, he gave me a quick lesson in being a motorcycle passenger: pretty much stay straight in the back, relax and don’t freak out. Sounded simple enough. He said that he would start out with a brief ride through the park and wanted me to give him the thumbs up at the end to say whether I was adventurous enough to try a highway drive then on to a beautiful back road. I braced myself, took a deep breath and off we went.

The ride through the park was quite simple just going very slowly on a path. I thought to myself ‘This isn’t bad at all, what’s all the fuss about you chicken?’ When the end came quicker than I thought it would Rider looked back to see the status of our outing, I gave him the go ahead to keep cycling. Off we went through town and then cranked up the speed once we got to the country side.

I won’t lie; I had to do a lot of self talking to keep myself calm and to try to really enjoy everything: the ride, the scenery, the whole newness of the experience. It reminded me of those times I’ve entered a store on Boxing Day just to get a great deal, getting in there only to have forgetton that I struggle with claustrophobia. I have to literally stop myself in the store close my eyes, breath deep and say ‘It going to be ok, you can do this, it’s not a race, take your time, you’re going to be fine’, often several times while I’m there. Well this day was no different except for the speed, that my friends was out of my control.

As we headed onto a highway I suddenly noticed the difference in speed (apparently we were going as slowly as we could go on the highway – Rider was very considerate, which I am thankful for!). Right away the wind was whipping about and I had to consciously try to hold my head when we came to any slow down’s or stops in order not to crash my helmet into Rider’s. I certainly had no intentions of injuring my driver. I also continually reminded myself of the positioning of my arms. Were they strangling Rider’s liver? Was his pancreas still pumping insulin? Would he be able to digest his food as he always had done before when this was all over? I didn’t want to maim or injure anyone here. At one point when I was trying to enjoy the trees, sunset, and fields I found myself not paying attention as much to my stance. It was then my mind quickly gave me a glimpse into my future if I stopped paying attention (I know everyone says you’ll be fine if you let go, but I’m not yet ready to test this theory).

After what I’m guessing was about 20 minutes or so we arrived back at the park we started out in and it was time for me to get off the bike. You’d think by my reaction I was anxious to jump off, but I wasn’t. In fact I was ready for more (well, I was ready for a next time – my back was a bit stiff from my slightly over tensed body). In the end I LOVED my #40!!! It was awesome and I will totally do it again sometime!

If you ever make a ‘List’ my advice is this: leave a couple of numbers for other people to decide because it’s the things you don’t expect that you may end up loving the most!

Thanks Lovie and Rider!!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Adventure Day 38 Part 1- Another step in #25 & #36 Try 5 different kinds of cheeses

My day started out swiftly with an early trip to a somewhat far away land to get all of my documents signed for my passport. It took no time at all to complete this and by 10:30am I was back in my neighbourhood ready to tackle something else on my list before I had to go to a meeting that afternoon. I knew exactly which number I was to tackle: #36. Off to the Italian Bakery and Deli I would go!

I entered the store a bit disoriented as to where I should be. You see the only time I ever visit this place is with my one aunt when she visits and we generally only stick to the bakery section. They have THE best brownies (with little shaved pieces of white chocolate on top – sooooo good!), among many other yummy treats. But this time I was in for something different, something I would have to travel over to the deli section to get, my cheese! Sista had reminded my a while before that this deli usually has a couple of different kinds of cheeses out during the day to sample (if you were there at the right time) and I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity take advantage since cheese can be rather expensive. I went over and browsed around not immediately finding the free samples, instead I started to pile several various kinds of cheese in my arms that were new to me and within my price range.

As I rooted through I discovered the sampling area and hit the jackpot! They had two kinds that I’d never had before. I snuck a piece of Canter-something right away and quickly wandered about the store to ponder the new taste. It didn’t take long before I strolled right back to an area that had little melba toasts you could also taste. Canter-something definitely needed to be eaten in conjunction with a cracker or bread or anything, but overall not bad. Once I realized I would save myself a dollar or two by not having to buy one of the hunks of cheese in my hand I returned it and headed over to the brownies … even trade, at least price wise. I soon decided that I should try the other sample available and made my way back to the free cheese.

Asiago. I popped it into my mouth and right away loved it and noticed that it did not NEED a cracker – hmmmm interesting. I put back another one of my cheeses. Eventually I figured enough was enough and it was time to move on out so I could try the others that I bought - off I went.

When I arrived home I got out some grapes and wheat thins and sat down for my favourite kind of lunch. First I tried Nappi, thinly sliced light cheese with little flavour – I wondered if it was supposed to be melted. No patience for that today, it was good the way it was, just not bursting with flavour. Next, I tried the sliced Havarti with herbs and olives. This was a soft, creamy cheese that seemed as if it too would be good melted but also great as is, I decided I would have to try it in a sandwhich someday – thumbs up for it. Finally I had to get out the knife and open up the Wensleydale (sp?) with cranberries. I had heard of this kind off of a movie so I had to try some. It was also good, better to be spread (sort of) on a yummy cracker – very sweet. Yum! You may also remember that I bought Blue cheese early on in my 40 days and did not really enjoy it. I do like it in dressings and probably would in very small doses. Unfortunately no one mentioned that this is how one eats blue cheese. Instead I had gotten out a sharp knife and hacked off a chunk to eat with a little cracker and immediately spit it out and wanted to brush my tongue right away. Warnings need to be on the packaging.

The first half of my day was rather productive with my list. I very much enjoyed my cheeses and learned of new inexpensive ways to try it. I really do love cheese but it really is quite expensive no matter how you cut it (I have even asked for baskets of it as gifts - I am still waiting). I think it’s an amazing discovery and a rich commodity. I think I am learning too why you eat it with whine – I need to attempt that sometime. Another thing to try!

Adventure Day 37 – Beginning #25 Getting my passport

Adventure Day 37 started rather early for me for some reason. I’m not sure why but every once in a while I wake up with things on my mind and a need to do them right away. I probably was considering the fact that I had very little time to complete my list and I really had to get on it, so I did.

I think it was 4-o-clock in the morning when I decided I should start working on my passport papers … sounds logical to me.

#25 has been on my ‘To do’ list for years actually, and I finally had to push myself to do it. I’m not sure why I thought that is was so much work, maybe it was the trip to the government office and the potential wait time I would have to go through in line. Maybe it was all of the tedious questions you have to answer on the application, or getting that stupid picture that truly makes you look like an inmate (and it’s supposed to convince them you are good to travel overseas eh?). Whatever it was that delayed my intentions I was determined to overcome it or at least try this time.

I actually began my paper work for my passport early in my adventure but when I went to save it before printing I accidentally lost everything instead. Needless to say that really ticked me off and sent #25 on my list to do only when I absolutely had to, apparently that was Day 37. Early morning work must sit well with me because I completed my papers, printed them off and was inspired that evening to whip over to the Wrinkleville mall where my car towing/travel place is that I could quickly get my mug shot done. I couldn’t believe how fast it went, I guess that’s because it was 7pm and everyone in Wrinkleville was already tucked into bed. I was the only person in the store and had my pics done in a couple of minutes (along with a couple of maps necessary for my fall placement at school). Why didn’t I do this sooner?!

Next that evening I called up my accountant who lived about 50 minutes away to see if he could be my guarantor for my papers (only because I didn’t know anyone in the city I lived that I’d known for long). It was set that I would visit early the next morning to have them signed. Wow, once again I ask, why did I wait so long?

Between my early morning paper work and my evening photo shoot I had made an appointment to have my hair done. This sounds like a normal thing to do but for me it’s always an ordeal. You see I didn’t just make an appointment for a trim but also to have a little colour done. This is always a scary thing for me since the last time I asked for some natural highlights put in I got a bleached streaky look that made me want to hibernate for the winter. Not to mention the wonderful bowl cut and hack job done on my bangs. I’m not a huge fan of hairdressers but my friend Shell Bell had been sporting a lovely haircut so I stepped out in faith and asked for her hairdressers’ name and made an appointment right away.

Another reason I don’t get my hair cut or coloured often (rarely coloured) is the cost. It just seems so ridiculous to spend money on something that’s just going to grow out in a matter of days. It seems a bit vain. However I had decided to put this on my next list then when I saw Shell Bell’s hair I thought ‘Why wait? There’s no time like the present!’

I ventured out to a new hair artist and was pleasantly surprised with both the work she did as well as the price – both very good! I had also made a date to meet with Shell Bell and her two little girls (who I am delighted by) after my hair was done, so off I went for another wonderful visit.

I had babysat Flower and Rosebud early in the summer and had a ball with them. You see I had only met them a couple of times before but we all seemed to click and ended up having a great day together – we were all sad when it was over. It was a great time to be able to see them again and go to the park together. When I arrived Flower (who’s 5 I think or almost) greeted me with a hello and showed off her beautiful black and white flowered top with lots of sequins on it which added lots of sparkle, of course Rosebud (I think 2 ½) couldn’t’ be out done and she too showed me the lovely dress she was wearing (the same one she wore the day I looked after them – I smiled and told her how cute it was). Apparently Flower told her mom that she was getting dressed on her own and picking out something special for my visit, I was honoured.

We enjoyed our time together outside and I wished I had longer but I was on the go once again. As I left I was thankful for the chance I got in June to spend the day with two little girls that I had not known previously. It’s kind of funny; it was totally on a whim that I answered a facebook plea for help from Shell Bell to offer to babysit for the day (I had no other plans or work to do – why not help a friend?) It’s something I normally would’ve paid no attention to because I didn’t really know her kids and I live a drive away, but the desire to be adventurous was already brewing (ok so babysitting a couple of little girls isn’t all that adventurous, but it was a step out for me).

I am thankful in so many ways how doing new things and blogging about it has brought people into my life or brought those already there in a bit closer. It’s these kinds of things that I enjoy the most!

Adventure Day 36 - #14 Walk into a place and get a pedicure

Before I make myself out to be a liar I want to set the record straight: I have indeed gotten a pedicure before. The catch is that I’ve never done it for no reason, it’s usually been before a wedding or something (or maybe I just needed an excuse to go and do it). I will admit I find it intimidating doing anything for the first time in a new place. It’s always nice to get a referral to go somewhere or to go with someone else. It was no different with this number except that the person who joined me for a pedicure invited me to join her - I readily accepted.

The person I shared this number with was Sista. Apparently she visits a pedi place every now and then and said she got a decent deal on it – I’m all about a decent deal, especially when it comes to doing something unnecessary.

We met for lunch (it seems essential to a girls’ afternoon out) then went to a little place called ‘New York Nails II’. The name of this place is absolutely hilarious to me for two reasons: First of all we live in Canada, second of all everyone that worked there were Asian and barely spoke English – a little off the beatin’ trail to New York in my opinion.

As soon as we arrived we were told to go to the colour wall and pick our paint. Sista went with a light bright orange and I a deep red, I thought I would try and match my ‘40 days’ purse (the colour actually looked like black in the end). We then got to take our seats in a couple of side by side gigantic massage chairs. Not long after we were seated the chairs were turned on and boy were they an experience!

I’ve never had a pedicure done while enjoying a massage chair before so this definitely added to my overall pedicure experience. I had no idea a chair could do such things! It really does work you ALL over. I had no idea my butt could be contorted in such a way. The weird part is when Sista saw my face and the seemingly immense discomfort I was in she said “You can change the settings you know, or shut it off”, I couldn’t do it, I felt obligated to get every cent out of what I had paid for my pedicure (even if it had nothing to do with beautifying my feet). I replied with “No, this will give me A LOT to write about … a lot”. Although looking back, I am now speechless about the chair, let’s just said it was a love-hate thing I guess.

As we sat and soaked our feet two Asian little ladies came to work away the calluses that had developed. First they cleaned, then trimmed, a little cuticle work, some cream, then the filing – and I don’t mean our toenails. If you’ve ever had a pedicure you know what I mean. The point when they bring out the huge rough file to help you say good-bye to all of your dead skin. Well, as my lady worked away (all the while speaking fluent something-or-other to the other little Asian lady) she immediately noticed my stiff reaction. I really tried to relax and just let her work but it was killing me! She finally asked “Tick-o? Tick-o?” I quickly replied “Yes, it tickles, a lot!” For some reason I had the absurd idea that if she realized how ticklish it was for me that perhaps she might try being more gentle or careful somehow – boy I was dreaming! She continued to torture each of my feet (along with all of my nerves too).

After the filing work out, more soaking and cream she eventually got to painting my nails. Thankfully that wasn’t uncomfortable – I was starting to wonder why pedicures were considered a ‘treat’. In time we were able to leave our souped up lazy boy chairs to sit on a couple of office chairs with our feet sitting under a giant fan (which by the way didn’t feel like a fan at all – I think it’s just there to make you think you are getting more for your dollar).

The whole experience took about an hour and a half I would say and an interesting one it was. Definitely different than any pedicure I’ve had before! At one point I thought ‘I could get used to this’ and at yet another point I thought ‘Beauty is painful man! Why do we do this?!’ overall I had mixed reactions. I will certainly do it again because there is just something great about getting your toenails painted evenly and perfectly by someone, they were so shiny – they looked fake.

I’m ok with fake every once in a while …

Friday, September 4, 2009

Adventure Day 35 – A regular day at work with lots of fun!

Yes my adventure was my work day for 35 and it’s never an understatement when I’m talking about my job. I have to say I love that I get to laugh so much at work (sometimes appropriately and sometimes to only keep sane, never the less I do laugh). This day was no different in the humour it held for me. Here are a few of the funnies I got from Day 35 at work:

Guy, Muscles and I were sitting at the kitchen table while Guy was eating. Muscles and I were joking about the fact that he (Muscles) wanted my blog address and had for a while but I was holding the information regarding it high over his head for a suitable ransom. Muscles describes himself as an eight year old kid who can’t stand not knowing something that others know and gets irritated and obsessed with it until he finds the secret out. I loved this and so I taunted him every chance I got. Apparently he had talked about wanting access to my blog for weeks at work, since he first heard about it. Once I found this fact out I tried to use it to my advantage every chance I got – this was too much fun!
Anyway, as we all sat at the table and I teased Muscles very discretely (not actually mentioning the blog itself), Guy (who is very defensive over anything negative that is said about his favourite staff Muscles) piped up after a while and said: “Eva you need to stop being a bully or I’m going to call the police on you!” At which point Muscles thanked Guy for his defense (as I glared at Muscles). I may have added another jab because Guy then reiterated “Eva, you shouldn’t be a cyber bully, I’m going to call the police on you if you don’t stop!” Finally at this point Muscles decided it was a good time to let Guy know that all was ok and that we were only joking around.

At one point later in the day Guy stated to me that “This house is a democracy, not a relationship!” something I’m sure he heard from his favourite staff. However I think the quote was supposed to be: “This house is run by a dictatorship, not a democracy!”

Later in the afternoon Guy suddenly ran up to me and was in a state of hurry. He said: “Eva, can you please time how long it takes me to go to the bathroom? Red (another staff) is the fastest person I know that can go to the bathroom – that’s a girl. I want you to time me.” I said sure and started watching my clock.
After exactly 60 seconds Guy returned from the bathroom and asked what his time was. I told him precisely one minute (in an excited tone). At that point I asked him if he remembered to wash his hands.
He was rather annoyed and replied “Yes. Why does everyone always ask me that?!”
“Well, you were really fast and I just wanted to be sure you did.”
He quickly put both of his hands around my neck and said “Feel. I washed them, they’re still wet.”
I was rather uncomfortable at this point (with the two of his hands clenched around my throat ‘n all) and I must have looked it because Guy then said “Why the look on your face?”
I replied with “Well your hands are around my neck and that makes me nervous. Can you please take them off?”
He sort of gave me a half smile and asked “Are you worried that I might choke you?”
“Maybe a little” I confessed.
“Don’t worry Eva” he said with a huge grin and a hand patting me on my shoulder, “I wouldn’t choke you because I think you are cute.”
Wow what a relief!

Another point during my shift Hottie (Guy’s description of another certain staff) and I were sitting during a meal with Guy at the table. He says “You know I just can’t seem to control my behaviour when ___________ (insert name) is working. Some staff just cause me to go out of control. They are the ones I try to get to quit because I don’t like them.” Hmmmm I’m thinking Guy is a lot smarter than everyone gives him credit for (aside from the fact that he tells on himself).

Just another day at work!

Adventure Day 34 - #3 Go to Catholic Mass

I had been looking very much forward to the day I would get to go to my first official
Catholic mass. I had been to one a few months ago while doing a placement at a Catholic school. I had really enjoyed working at that particular school as well as the mass the school attended together each month. I have briefly mentioned a friend of mine (sort of, I think we could say friends), that was raised Protestant and had turned Catholic a few years ago and who is currently seeking God for direction regarding the Priesthood.

If you are Protestant you are likely very surprised to hear of such a thing. Having been raised Protestant I was. Usually we are known for converting Catholics into our ‘more real, lively faith’. I have never really known a Catholic personally who practiced their faith (that’s not a knock, I just haven’t known any), so hearing Father Al’s story (my friend) really took me by surprise. Not only that, but the part that made/makes me curious is that he lives a life of calling rather than habit. He doesn’t assume what his path is, he seeks it out day by day (well it appears that way to me). I know only a couple of people well in my life that do that. Interestingly these people are single, are not bogged down by owning stuff (house, big things, etc), and they intentionally leave their lives open to where God could be leading them – no assumptions. I look up to these people to teach me what it looks like to live by Spirit rather than my man’s opinion and expectation.

It has been through some interesting conversations (e-mails) with my friend Father Al that I became interested in attending a Catholic Mass – hence this becoming #3 on my list. I have to admit I wanted to accomplish this number much earlier on in my adventure than I did. However I became intimidated by attending a religious ceremony alone without knowing the meaning, expectation and the duty of the unaware onlooker. Though I have grown up deeply involved in church throughout my life I have been very ignorant of Catholic practices. To help myself out in this endeavor I made a plea on facebook (I am very thankful for facebook) not expecting to hear a peep, when all of a sudden I had an offer! I was shocked!!!

Not only did I have an offer of a companion to go to mass with but this person was a former Catholic, someone I knew well, and they were willing to go to the Cathedral of my choice – could it get any better than that? My date was none other than Aims!

I was so excited when she offered to come the one hour drive to help me experience #3 and admittedly I was a bit baffled as to why. I mentioned before that Aims has a bit of a trucker’s mouth yet a heart of gold and she doesn’t hesitate one minute to tell you what she thinks. Though she was once Catholic she sort of made the turn to Protestant when she married and had a child of her own and has been growing ever since where she’s at. I did not think that she would ever want to come and spend her Saturday night (she truly doesn’t get out and about kidless often) driving a ways to go to mass with me, when I knew there was little in it for her.

Not long after she arrived I didn’t pretend to understand why she’d come to do this and I just came out and asked. She answered me on the way to the church: “I’ve started my own list Eva, both Bub (her husband) and I have. It’s time I started doing stuff, trying new things and getting out more so here I am!” Wow! I couldn’t believe it. I knew she was sincere because she had not yet come to visit me in my new home nor had we visited (aside from our outing a few weeks prior) in several months. She had truly taken the idea to heart. The odd thing was that I had only mentioned my list briefly. I hadn’t gone into any long drawn out explanation, just a simple ‘this is on my list because…’ I was stunned that Aims had been influenced by a single conversation about mass and tequila.

As we entered the church I followed Aims after her actions (I didn’t mimic, just observed) and we sat a third of the way from the back of the church. What a beautiful sight it was. Murals everywhere, stained glass, high ceilings, everything that could make a building stunning surrounded me. I later decided that there could have just been the organ playing in the background and me sitting alone and I would have had a deeply spiritual experience. As we sat, we quietly discussed what may happen and what I should do. Several times words had flowed out of Aims’ mouth that required the traditional crissy cross Catholic thingy (I told you her vocabulary left a bit to be desired – at least in a church setting). I had to hold myself back from laughing a couple of times – not the best way to quiet myself.

The service began and we watched a processional, then listened and participated in some singing (lead by a beautiful voice), then commenced the sermon, some readings, followed by communion (which I skipped out of respect and ignorance of what the rules were). (By the way it was the Eucharist that really spoke to the heart of Father Al in his experience). By the end I have to admit I was a bit disappointed. Aims helped me feel a bit better as we were approaching the parking lot by saying: “Well, I have to say, as far as mass is concerned, that was *made a sounds with her tongue blowing out of her mouth, along with a thumbs down sign*.” Of course I took this lightly as I know Aims had never practiced Catholicism from the heart but rather out of her family tradition, and only as a youth.

I came away with many more questions and a desire to learn the whys about many more things. (When I eventually got home I did send off an e-mail to Father Al letting him know of my experience and am yet to get a response. I am curious to hear what he thinks, but sure that I will try another mass sometime, perhaps somewhere else).

My mass experience may have ended there but my evening with Aims did not. She was game for a meal out and some good time together. I was pleasantly surprised and took in every minute. After much driving through the city trying to find a certain restaurant, then choosing another and accidentally driving in the opposite direction, we finally found a Vietnamese place to go where we were able to sit and enjoy some good food and conversation.

We had such a great time! In fact I don’t think we’ve ever had an occasion like it (at least not in several years). She has a way of making me laugh like nobody else (remember I don’t really laugh easy), but that night for the first time since I was a kid I sprayed water through my nose from laughing so hard (can I just say that water is far more painful than milk coming out the nose). We talked and talked, about all kinds of things. We’ve never really spoken all that seriously about life and spiritual things but that night we did and it was really cool. At the same time we were able to have fun and relax too!

Though the focus of my evening was originally one thing, the lesson and gift I got out of it was something totally different. I had hoped for a real spiritual experience of learning something new and seeing through different eyes. Instead I got a true gift of meaningful connection and friendship with family that I had grown away from in recent years gone by. We shared priceless time together that meant something. It wasn’t really planned (yes mass was but the rest wasn’t) it just happened out of a different intention.

Time and time again I am seeing the benefits of why it is so important to try to do things out of the ordinary and just attempt walking in different waters, because you will meet amazing people along the way. Perhaps people you’ve already met before somewhere else, but whom you meet again with new eyes and a fresh heart. That’s what Day 34 gave to me, a wonderful, wonderful gift of eye opening light.

Now I just pray the electricity stays on …