Saturday, September 24, 2016

And here's to a strong woman.

When I mention my mom, I explain that I am who I am, because she is who she is; I mean this in both ends of the axis: from the generous spirit that surrounds my soul to all that crazy that I produce. She has a relaxed, vivacious personality and a carefree and boisterous lifestyle, where for me, I am an utmost planner (until I throw all caution to the wind and decide to just get that tattoo in Asia) and stress seems to be the glue that holds me together. 

I seemed to have inherited her good parts, too, including her kindness. My mom volunteers at countless organizations. From helping out at marathons, theater productions and volunteering by teaching children with physical disabilities to ski, to welcoming anyone and everyone over for cinnamon buns, dinners, providing a room to spend the night, even a house to live in, my mom is as caring as they come.

She’s also very opinionated and won’t hesitate to rock the boat, on very important things and sometimes, just to cause a scene. When she picked me up from my flight from Peru, she had a full blown yelling match with the parking company that dinged (quite badly actually) her car. This scene was something I’ve seen in my childhood on several occasions: a lady refusing to take shit from anyone. Jet-lagged with a bacterial infection, I simply smiled shook my head at the office match. The end result was her very bluntly posting about the company and her respected car on Facebook. Needless to say, her car got fixed.

She’s an independent woman with a respectable job, happily working alongside men and, she owes a lovely house, all on her very own. This wasn’t always the case, and she’s flourished through the ashes, it seems, as only Carolynn would. Though there will always be some struggles, she’s successfully been without a companion to financially support her. She’s the reason why I’m such an advocate for Economic Feminism: Inequality comes from having to rely on a their partner, financially. Hell, she’s the reason why I’m a feminist at all.

My mum and I have had our disagreements, to be sure. All three of us girls have. But mum, you can’t raise three girls to be strong, independent women and then get angry when they don’t agree with your opinions. The thing about her is, you never wonder what she’s thinking. I say this about my Sister, Shawna, all the time but in truth she’s gets it from my mom. I’d expect anyone to take that as a complement.

My sisters and I rely on each other for moral support if we’re battling it out with our very vocal, self-assured mother. We sometimes joke about getting the case of the CC’s (Crazy Carolynn’s) when we verbally explode on someone. Never piss off a McNeil (Ziegler) Girl, we smirk. But seriously. 

Ultimately, it was my mum who let me move in with her so I could pull myself back together. I think I’ve moved back in with her at least three times and counting (Hello February, 2017). And, when I was waking up with work sweats at four in the morning making lists of what must be done the next day at my dreadful job in the Kootneys, it was my mom who said, "It's time, time to go traveling". And, it’ll be her watching her Grand-Dog for four months while I put adulating on pause next month.

I wouldn’t be who I am today without watching her shamelessly be who she is. My mom tells me that she’s proud the life I’ve chosen, but really it’s mutual. I’m so proud of the life that she’s built and chosen to live so freely.



Shit, have you told mum? - Shawna, Megan, Kirstin.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Bushbabes

I still introduce Theresa as my Forced Friend. Minutes after entering my new home (which I would claim as mine for the next year), and after concluding a ten hour drive she appeared, as requested by my dear landlords, at my door as chatty and extroverted as ever; with that, the wine bottle uncorking began, as did our friendship.

Julia and I were introduced, ironically, at a less than friendly Collective Agreement meeting that was put together by our company. With her being relatively new to the job as a Supervisor and me being new to my admin position, we had much to discuss. We found a shared love for our dog-children and tarot card readings.

It took mere days to introduce the two together and even less time was needed for me to consider them my closest of friends. Each of us lived on our own down the same dirt road in the woods; we quickly referred to ourselves as the Bushbabes.  I’m not sure I’ve ever before met girls who both displayed such self-worth through their conscious choices to live the lives they wanted rather than the conventional once outlined for them. Their confidence and contentment came from their preference to be single until they found their soulmate rather than settling for anything less. Their intelligence could be easily seen from the attention and thought they put into their ever developing and influential careers.

Theresa’s sister, Anna, spent a summer with us, helping out with firewood and whatever adventures we found over the weekends. For three months she was a fabulous fourth addition to the Bushbabes. That girl has the largest of hearts, and given a little sassiness, she will be reaching great heights of happiness in her life. Our nights were filled with campfires and champagne on Julia’s ranch, potlucks and wine tasting in Theresa’s log cabin and hot tubing on my Acreage. Rarely ever did we venture into town; there was simply no need as we had all the entertainment we needed.

As time passes it always creates change and Theresa left our shared road, and Vanderhoof, just after the New Year. We did have the pleasure of a Bushbabe reunion earlier this week, which we ventured into the little city and branch out of our traditional ways by having lunch at the local Pizzeria.  Naturally, this was quickly followed by campfire and wine in the woods.

Though our personalities are dramatically different, for about a year the three of us were independent, bad ass women each living alone on some land. These girls have made me love my time here so much more than they could comprehend and the impact they have made on my outlook on life going forward will far exceed that short stint on that dirt road, The Bearhead. 



Not all girls are made of sugar and spice. Some girls are made of sarcasm, wine (champagne) and everything's fine.


Sunday, September 4, 2016

I don't know how she does it

I took on some Auntie responsibilities and watched my two nieces (8 and 1.5 respectably) Friday night to Saturday night, and truth be told, I’m still recovering.

I shoed Megan and Justin out the door around 5:30PM assuring them we were more than capable to all get along and my mom was flying into town later that evening, so I wouldn’t be outnumbered. We had a great evening of playing at the park, eating a well balanced dinner of whatever they would eat (Danika opted for toast, strawberries and apple pieces. Whatever.) Danika and I ate ice-cream sandwiches and watched a Christmas movie in the month of September. After I put Natalie to bed this is where things started to sort of go downhill.

My mom’s flight was delayed so she didn’t arrive until seven the following morning and after her sleeping in my car for the night, an hour from Megan’s house - like mother like daughter as I did the same thing when I has an early flight to New Brunswick - and I slept on an air mattress where my energy was spent keeping myself warm rather than actually sleeping, we were pretty well spent before the day even got started. The day was comprised of three meltdowns (I almost had one myself), and a full day of struggling to entertain two kids with a dog on a rainy day. I left Megan’s house at eight that evening and heading straight for my friend Julia’s ranch, where I drank some red with appys, where I confided to my two girlfriends that I felt like I failed pretty hard at being an Aunt that day. After a mere 24 hours of watching these two kids, even with my mom graciously granting me a two hour window where I could run seven miles of relief, I still left that house pretty close to tears.
Honestly, I don’t know how to parent. I know how to Play Hard with the girls and be the silly (and sometimes airheaded) Aunt that manages to convine them to eat their dinner when Megan’s about to jump of the ledge. Before this weekend, I was happy enough to say I could change a poopy diaper and leave it to that. I don’t know how to discipline or have important conversations with tiny humans. I was unsure when to ignore a sassy comment from the eight year old, or when to hold tight on a discussion with her about a bad word coming out of her mouth, in which she retaliates that it wasn’t even a real swear word. After telling her that if it isn’t a nice or kind word, it shouldn’t be said, and the conversation ended with her rushing off in tears. But I wasn’t the only one who created some hurt feelings as she openly counted down the hours until her Dad and Megan came home and Natalie cried for mum, mum, mum whenever such items as a toothbrush was taken away.

I mean, it wasn’t all bad. We had a great time at the park, had some pretty fun conversations and kitchen dance parties and the night ended with an unrequested and very unexpected hug and an I love you, Auntie. Danika uses Kirstin and Auntie interchangeably, which I’m completely good with, but when she selects the second option, it always makes my heart happy. 

To all the mum’s out there, I don’t know you do it, specifically mothers, who still take on the majority of the child raising while working a[nother] full time job. It’s simply incomprehensible, I couldn’t imagine doing that Every. Single. Day. I have full respect for all those women who choose to raise any child. And I know you mother’s out there keep telling me that the tantrums, the sleep deprivations, the diaper-rash-cream-body-paint-incidents are all worth it, but I’m going to take your word on it, because it’s just not, as Megan says, it’s not my cup of tea.

So, after a good night, wine induced, sleep and a easy three mile run, I’m able to make my way up to the barbecue, take between my legs with a game in hand for Danika and Natalie. I can’t help thinking, will they forgive me?



The way we talk to children becomes their inner voice.

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Secret of Life

“Remember the little things in life, because one day you’ll look back and realize that the little things are the big things”, tucked away on the wall of local coffee shop, The Perk. 

While sipping on my bold coffee (I’m a Dark Roast girl now, boys)
and nibbling away at my warm blueberry muffin, slathered in mounds of butter (still working at the vegan thing, 80% there), I was sneakily stealing five hours worth of internet at the local coffee shop, The Perk. I was trying to organized the whole Bangkok, Thailand to Katmandu, Nepal flight thing while not contributing too heavily to the steadily climbing credit card bill. I noticed the above gem of quote tucked away on the deep grey wall, which made me roll my eyes and sigh as I asked myself how quickly I will blow through nineteen months worth of savings for a trip to Asia. It was an eye rolling worthy quote because it was all too truthful; and the answer to my dollar dilemma: rather quickly.

A couple weeks after my Asia debacle that I stood baffled in the grocery store when my Niece Natalie danced in excitement pointing out Dora (the Explorer) on the pull-ups we were going to buy for her. Peeking out from under her new hat (about to be purchased for pennies) she pointed and continued to call Dora’s name as walked down the aisle. “See, it’s the little thing in life” Megan said.

And that got me thinking about some things. I suppose I need to have fewer expectations on the big adventures that I plan, and perhaps even a little less pressure on life itself. It wasn’t the overall trip to family Jasper that was amazing, but it was having an honest conversation with my older sister, and being genuinely interested in her new, married life. It’s the parts and pieces of life that make it enjoyable: eating four Susie’s (creampuffs) while reading a Feminist Theory book at a bakery in celebrating your eight mile Saturday run.

So, I take a breath and realize that plan this grand trip knowing, that it’s not really going to be the trip itself that’s going to make me feel like I’m living my best self, but it will be those little things.


 The secret of life is a good cup of coffee – Faith Hill