Ponderings Posts

Social Media vs. What We Need Most

Social Media vs. What We Need Most

I finally figured it out!

In our fast-paced world where billions of dollars are invested in finding ways to attract our attention, we succumb to the temptation of reaction versus proaction.

When I open Facebook, I’m not actively stepping out with conscious thought or plan. I’m scrolling, refreshing, liking, ignoring, clicking and reading, getting bored, refreshing again, and on and on and on.

I can spend hours in mind-numbing reactive mode.

Life, however, requires that we be proactive if we’re to move forward, make an impact, feel significant in some way or other.

Reactive is easy, and unproductive, a cunning trap that robs us of what we need most: Purpose.

Proactive takes work and thought, but the potential is great.

Prompt #2 Waking up in the morning…

Prompt #2 Waking up in the morning…

PROMPT:  Waking up in the morning – tell what happens.  April 2015

What is a prompt? Check here for an explanation.

Oh, that Saturday would come quickly, but maybe it would be better if it didn’t come at all. At least I know what’s happening today. I mean, I’m getting up. Well, I will when the alarm goes off, I’m sure not going to jump out of bed early like he always does. But yeah, I’ll get up, and stumble to the bathroom in the dark. Because, of course, he wouldn’t think to leave the light on for me. Oh, that spring would arrive, with longer days, and morning sun, enough to illuminate our gloomy hall.

It is gloomy, but my feet know it well. I guess I don’t really need the light, and when I turn on the bathroom switch the glare pierces my poor, dilated pupils.

But that’s not what I was thinking about. I was thinking about today, and not… well, not…  Saturday. Today. Today I’ll get cleaned up, grab some juice. I know. I know. Breakfast is the most important, yadda yadda yadda. Who cares? Juice is enough. And that’s the routine. Juice, a jacket, grab my school bag, throw in an apple and a package of chips left over from last weekend, and out the door. Before he sees me. Before he has a chance to say anything.

Today will unfold like one of those click-clack toys I had when I was little. Each panel flops down, releasing the one behind it, becoming the top, and then the middle, and all the unordered hours clack and clunk together, from class to class, from course to course, from teacher to teacher, until I’ve run out of clicks to clack. Then back home and make dinner, because, of course, he will expect it to be on the table when he gets home.

What kind of sense does that make? Really! He works his eight hour day sitting around in some office and I do my six hours at school. Then he’s off, with nothing to do but entertain himself. Me? I have at least an hour of homework, a couple more of studying. And I’m expected to do half the chores and make supper for us. He’s lucky he doesn’t complain about my cooking. If he did, I’d stop so fast.  Sometimes he doesn’t look too thrilled with what I put on the table, but I think I come up with some pretty creative add-in’s to Kraft Dinner and Hamburger Helper. If you go to their websites you can find all sorts of ideas. I really do try to keep the menu varied.

Shoot. There goes the alarm. So today gets to be like yesterday. And yesterday was the template for tomorrow. And each of them a predictable, reliable click-clack of hours. No surprises. No joy either, but at least no surprises.

But it won’t be predictable soon. Nope. Soon it’s going to be the day I dread, and desire, and deny all at the same time. Why can’t every day be an uneventful school day? Why do other days need to be loaded with landmines?

He says he won’t be there. He says this was my call, my pursuit. He says he supports me in whatever I’m going to choose, but he’s not going to influence my decision.  I know, I know. That’s what I asked for. Well, that’s what I told him I wanted when I began this search. But then it was just an idea. Then the journey, the outcome lived in my head and I had total control.

Oh, the things I imagined. Sometimes I’d see her as beautiful, or matronly, kind and gentle, or slender and energetic. The closer I get to THE DAY, though, the more my imagination dives into murky waters. What if she’s ugly? A drunk? Mean and selfish? What if she has tattoos? What if she’s a ….  a …. a… slut?

She left us for a reason, but he’s never told me what it was. He just says that one day she wasn’t there, and he didn’t know if she was coming back, and he reported her missing but the police never found her, and we just had to keep going.

I was in kindergarten. I don’t remember her much. Just that I kept looking out the window waiting for her to come home. I’m not in kindergarten anymore. I’m in Grade 10. I haven’t looked out the window waiting for her for years. Instead I looked on line. I googled. I Facebooked. And I found her.

So now I have to see her. I mean, well, I want to see her. Because I’ve committed to that. But it’s not the same as when I imagined. Not now that it’s going to happen. Really happen. Oh, that these school days could go on forever. But after tomorrow, it’ll be….



Horrors and Helpers

Horrors and Helpers

The horrors depicting the wrath of Hurricane Harvey have  had us glued to our televisions this past week. Now we’re seeing segments depicting ordinary people rescuing, helping, and reaching out.

We seem amazed at these stories of people caring for strangers. Impressed. But why? Have we become so isolated in our self-sufficient society that serving strangers in need is now outside the norm?

I read one account from someone in the flood-ravaged area. “Today was an exhausting day, trying to help the community, but also inspiring, as those that could, helped those in need. Mothers were driving up and down the streets, delivering sandwiches, water, etc., men were hauling furniture to the sidewalk, football players were carrying broken furniture, and junior high students were carrying clothes to their homes (that were okay) to wash for people, and some were just hugging each other and crying!”

We’re hard-wired to help. It’s what makes us human. And yet, other than our immediate social circle, we do it so rarely it’s become an anomaly, a one-off from normal day to day living.

The question then is, does helping matter, beyond just the recipient? I think it does. Helping, serving with no thought to personal gain instills a purpose bigger than ourselves. Junior high students taking a stranger’s clothes home to launder them? This is purpose, action with a meaningful outcome. Purpose means our life has value.

Toddlers desire purpose naturally, begging to help, to be part of the family’s tasks. But we, as a society, focus on teaching so the child can be left to do things on his own. Independence is our god. As a result, when everyday opportunities to serve arise, we see them as interfering with our plans, draining our resources, or as people taking advantage because, really, if they tried harder they’d be able to manage on their own, wouldn’t they?

One outcome of a catastrophic natural disaster such as Hurricane Harvey is to remind us that we are made to serve one another. Pressed to reach out beyond ourselves provides opportunity to experience the fulfillment that comes from altruistic purpose. Perhaps if we reincorporated such practices in our ordinary lives, we wouldn’t need disasters to bring our purpose to light.

Sometimes I wonder: If a person does a kindness but no one captures it to post on Facebook, does it really count?

Photo Source: New Yorker 08.26.2017

How to Move a Senior, or Help a Senior Move

How to Move a Senior, or Help a Senior Move

Mom needed to move from her house to an Assisted Living apartment. She knew it. We knew it. Everyone knew it. We, her kids and grandkids, were prepared to do the work, but that didn’t matter. Mom still felt responsible to make the decisions, supervise the packing, arrange for movers, deal with the utilities, and stay on top of all the details. It was overwhelming. Every time she broached the subject, we began to psyche ourselves up, only to have her back off again. We were ready to scream! But then we got an idea.

Lets do it backwards.

First Mom settled on the Assisted Living center of her choice. We visited the place a few times, made the decision, did all the paperwork, got the required medical, set up direct withdrawal – all that was a big job, but doable on its own.

A move-in date was arranged. Next decision? What to take? Over a few days we helped Mom put stickies on all the furniture, pictures, linens etc. she wanted to take with her, while everything was still in its usual place. We didn’t agree with all her choices, but we let her stay in control. Things could be changed out later.

My brother drove down for packing and moving. Not much was going, so this piece wasn’t hard at all. We rented a truck and the deed was accomplished in one trip.

I’ve read that it takes a senior about four months to adjust to a new living situation. That was certainly true in Mom’s case. She needed time to change her mind, as well. Knowing the house was still there, still livable, helped her not feel this was an irreversible decision.

Gradually Mom began to feel safe and secure. She liked being able to go to the dining hall and have hot, cooked food served. She liked having people to chat with. House-keeping and occasional home care help took the pressure off. She was actually beginning to like this!

Mom needed the freedom to change her mind. She did want the end table she’d left at the house. Where was that lovely picture from the hallway? Why isn’t it here?  No, I don’t need this quilt, or that lamp. They can go.  With each visit we moved a few things back and forth which was pretty easy.  During this period we were all catching our breath, getting ready for the next step.

The grandkids lived out of town, so we took photos of all the items we thought family members might want and posted them online with the agreement, “First claimed, first served”. The grandkids each picked something they liked. Grandma was thrilled!

Now to reduce the rest of the clutter. Instead of the usual garage sale, we chose to have an open estate sale. My brother drove down again for this event. Nothing was priced. Nothing was packed. We let people wander through the house, take what they wanted, and pay us what they felt was reasonable. They were amazingly fair, and it was really low-key.

Anything left over was divided between Goodwill and The Dump. We hired a guy with a truck and paid him out of the estate sale proceeds. Again, very low-key.

Finally we put the house on the market.

We were thankful that we could afford to pay Mom’s rent at her Assisted Living apartment before selling the house. We kept good records of who paid what, and when the sale was completed, we reimbursed ourselves for our expenses.

Moving for a senior is huge. Moving a senior is just as huge. Going at it this way helped all of us stay sane!

How Edmonton Keeps Crime Statistics Down!

How Edmonton Keeps Crime Statistics Down!

I don’t know about other major urban centers, but Edmonton has it figured out! Here’s how to keep crime down. Or at least crime statistics…

Set up two citizen call-in numbers. One is for emergencies, the other is to report a crime.

Crime Statistics - EdmontonWhen the caller reaches line #2, have an answering machine direct him (or her, but we shall use the generic him; please, no flack), direct him to indicate which crime type his experience falls under. If it falls under more than one, as in personal, vehicle damage under $5000, or property theft from vehicle, he may become frustrated or confused, hang up and not call back. Stats down one point. YAY!

Crime stats - edmonton

If caller persists, direct him to an online report form. If caller does not have access to internet, Stats down one point. YAY!

crime Statistics - Edmonton

If caller does have internet, and is sufficiently incensed by the crime committed against him to still want to file a report, direct him to the online report form.


Allow caller to answer 7, 496 questions, some of which will require caller to pause while he calls to get an estimate on repairs (as in replacing the 2 smashed out side windows of our son’s truck), or looks up the value of the property stolen (as in the replacement cost of our neighbour’s barbecue). By the time caller reaches the end of the report form, tell him the session has timed out. Please begin again. (Neither our son nor our neighbour followed through.)  Stats down two points. YAY!


As of today, Edmonton’s June statistics do not reflect the mini crime spree that occurred in our back alley last night. However, our tenacious neighbour, the one now missing a barbecue, is tracking down the fella a few house away who has a security camera. Maybe he caught someone on video!



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