Monday, October 29, 2007

Warm fuzzies

When I got home from work today, the girls came running toward me.

Julie: "Mom - come see the brownies I made!" Sure enough, a fresh pan of delectable brownies greeted me in the kitchen. Just because she felt like it. I think I'll keep her.

Maddie: "Mom - come see the playhouse I made!" In the basement - in the big empty space that's still awaiting floor finishing from the renovation-project-that's-sucking-the-life-out-of-me was an imaginative play-world, complete with a princess who was attending her first day of school, assorted stuffed animals who were in the playroom at daycare, a computer made of a discarded box, and several other rooms that all had unique purposes. I think I'll keep her.

Later tonight, Nikki was telling me what songs she'd uploaded onto her new iPod. "This Crowded House song is on there because it reminds me of Grandpa." That seemed a little odd, since I can't ever imagine my dad listening to Crowded House. "It was on the radio when we were on our way to the farm when we'd found out that Grandpa died. I'll always remember that." I think I'll keep her.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Yesterday, I attended a “Gender in International Development” workshop where I heard stories of how, in times of crisis such as the tsunami that rocked the world, women are often doubly vulnerable. Not only do they lose their homes, families, and often their sources of income, but they fall victim to sexual predators, slave traders, etc. On top of that, they have to deal with aid organizations that are often paternalistic and exclusionary.

A few days before, I read the article about how, in the sports world, wife abuse is tolerated more than animal abuse.

A few weeks before that, I read Infidel, the story of Ayaan Hirsi Ali who grew up in a paternalistic, abusive, violent culture where abuse of women is not only tolerated, it’s expected. She is now speaking out against the discrimination of women in the Muslim world, and consequently she can no longer go anywhere without armed protection.

Around the same time, I heard of a local Christian church that has decided to take a step backwards and move away from allowing women to lead. I also heard stories of how frighteningly prevalent wife abuse is among Christian pastors. Some of the perpetrators feel their faith justifies their actions.

A month before that, I heard Ato G's story about some of the young girls we met in Ethiopia who have since died from female genital mutilation.

Today, I feel a deep sadness for all the women who lack freedom, security, hope, and peace – simply because they are women. I feel especially sad that far too frequently religion plays a role in propagating and/or justifying the abuse.

We still have a long way to go.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

We've come a long way, baby... or have we?

Just when you thought the women's movement had done its' job and you could quit burning your bras, you read a story like this. It seems there is more tolerance for wife abuse than there is for animal abuse - at least in the sports world. I'm thanking my lucky starts I'm not married to a professional athlete.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thirteen good moments in the last 48 hours

1. 4:30 this afternoon. Two days of chairing meetings - done.

2. Receiving a heartfelt compliment from someone who's generally critical of my work.

3. Feeling the energy in the room when, more than once, someone dared to say "What if..." and then proceeded to share a "blow your mind" good idea.

4. Introducing Steve Bell at the banquet and calling him "friend".

5. Listening to Steve tell stories of Ethiopia and sing the song.

6. Walking to the grocery store for milk in the drizzly rain after all was said and done and I could relax.

7. Eating the amazing food prepared by some of my favourite people who also happen to be the best caterers for miles around.

8. Realizing, at the end of a meeting with my team (the first of the two days of meetings), that it was the best meeting we've had since I started this job.

9. Watching the people I've hired since I started in the job and realizing I've hired well.

10. Being greeted at the door by two of my daughters doing a Charlie's Angel routine.

11. Words of encouragement from someone I admire.

12. Knowing I'd handled the talkative person in the room as graciously as possible when I had to tell her to "wrap it up".

13. Realizing I've developed some meaningful friendships with some people in this group of "business associates".

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

No title and basically no content either

I have very little brain-space for blogging these days, but I thought I'd at least come on and tell you I'm still alive and mostly happy and I haven't decided to ditch you for another set of blog readers on the other side of the proverbial fence. Here are a few random things you may or may not care about:

- I took Maddie to the cardiologist yesterday. She still has a slight heart murmur, which means she has a hole the size of a pin in her heart, but they assure us it will never have any significant impact on her life and there is no reason to worry. I felt a little guilty walking out of the heart clinic - most of the kids in there were regular visitors who really DID have heart problems (one had even had a heart transplant, and another had just gotten his wish from the Children's Wish Foundation and all the nurses were doting on him) and here I was with the healthy kid who didn't need to come back.

- There are about 30 people descending on me from all parts of the country this week, and I have to host them for two days of meetings and an evening banquet. I am SO not prepared. I feel completely scattered and disorganized. Fortunately, I've been doing this long enough that I'm pretty good at wingin' it and I have enough "back-story" to remember that it's often when I feel least in control that the results are the most positive and memorable.

- I helped put together a powerpoint for Rob's mom (Michele's mother-in-law) who died last week, and even though I hardly knew her, it was quite lovely going through her pictures and imagining what she was like as a young woman. She had the most beautiful, open, bold face in her youth. I think she would have been alot of fun to hang around with.

- I may live to regret it (if people start posting the kind of things on my wall that Joyce is collecting - yeesh!), but I joined Facebook. Okay, is it just me, or does it make you feel like you're back in junior high when you have to ask people to be your "friends" and then you sit and wait to see if they'll walk past your locker at recess and say "hi" even though they're one of the cool kids and you're SO not? I mostly joined so that I could hook up with the End Hunger Fast group that's linked to our new website, and now I'm trying to figure out what all the hype is all about.

- Today is World Food Day. If you are so inclined, take a moment today to prayerfully consider the over 850 million people in the world who do not have enough to eat. Approximately every 5-8 seconds, there is someone in the world dying from hunger-related illness. It's too much for the brain to comprehend, but as Mother Theresa said "if you can't feed 100 people, then feed just one."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Today was a "fumbling" kind of day. I made mistakes. I communicated poorly. I might have jeopardized an important business relationship because I treated someone rather brusquely before I realized what I was doing. On top of that, I had to have a couple of tough conversations with people who work for me. Feelings were quite probably hurt.

The mantle of leadership felt too heavy on my shoulders today. It was the kind of day that made me wish (at least momentarily) that I could throw off the mantle and just count widgets for awhile. Maybe just for a day or two. At least then I wouldn't have to make decisions or walk tenderly around relationships - I'd just count. Counting I can do. In fact I'm quite competent at it. 1. 2. 3... This leadership stuff... I'm just not feeling quite as competent today.

A few days ago, when I was cleaning up a corner of the basement for "the renovation project that will see my hair turning grey before it's finished", I came across an envelope addressed to me in my father's unmistakable handwriting. I think there were only two or three times I ever got anything in the mail from my dad. I wrote about another one of those times here. I could never throw any of them out, but I don't quite know what to do with them, so they have a way of popping up now and then when I'm cleaning. When I got home from work today, I re-read the one I'd most recently found. I needed it.

On a little pink scrap of paper (something that had been discarded from the Auction Mart where he worked - my dad was into recycling long before it was trendy), was this very brief note.

"The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him." Proverbs 23:24

I don't remember what preceded this note. The postmark says 1999, but I can't remember if there was something significant that happened that year that made my dad send me a note that, in his own way, said "I'm proud of you. You are a wise child." Perhaps I'd accomplished something that he wanted to honour me for. Or perhaps it was a time when I was filled with self-doubt and he thought I needed to hear that I was capable and that he believed in me.

I don't remember how it made me feel to get that simple note in the mail. I'm sure it choked me up a little. I only know how it felt to find it this weekend, four years after he died. And I know how it felt to read it again after a day that left me feeling anything but "wise".

I think I'll frame it and put it on my desk. Tomorrow when I go back to work, I'm going to need a little boost to help me move forward. If my dad believed I was wise, then who am I to doubt it?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Not-so-fun Monday

Pamela asked to see our October view for Fun Monday, and I had every intention of wandering around the neighbourhood today looking for the perfect shot to entice all of you to visit and to prove that Winnipeg is NOT the arm-pit of the nation, but it rained all day long AND I was stuck in the basement working on the "renovation project that just won't end". So you'll have to be satisfied with these slim-pickins'.

I stepped outside in the drizzle and snapped this. You can see that most of the leaves have been released from the trees.
This is along the side of the house - I snapped this a couple of days ago before the rains came.
I don't have a particularly inspiring view from my kitchen window, but when autumn comes, I like to watch the myriad of colours changing on our unruly shrub.
Here's a close-up view of that shrub. There seem to be a variety of plants that have managed to assert themselves in what is supposed to be a "shrub" bordering our property.

And here's a fairly common view in our backyard.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Check it out!

I don't normally post twice in one day, but I'm just SO excited that I can't resist. You just HAVE to check this out. It's the website for the new program I've been pouring a lot of passion, sweat, and a few tears into the last 10 months or so.

Go ahead - go there. Sign up on our "get connected" page. Watch the 2 videos I "executive produced" from my trip to Ethiopia with Steve Bell. Join our Facebook group. (If you want to make a donation, though, you may want to wait a few weeks - we're still working on streamlining that part of it.)

And then come back here and tell me you LOVE it - because quite frankly, that's ALL I want to hear. :-)

Okay, I'm a little giddy. This is a pretty big moment for me.

Cauliflower and milk

As I tried to relax in the bathtub last night, I heard this conversation:

“Who put the cauliflower on the shelf where the milk is supposed to be?”

“Not me!”

“I did! Because SOMEBODY had stuck the cauliflower where it got in the way of closing the door!”

“Well don’t blame ME!”

“Why would you put the cauliflower THERE?! That’s a stupid place for cauliflower!”

“Why are you always blaming ME for EVERYTHING?”

“Well where am I supposed to put the milk now?”

“That’s YOUR problem! I cleaned my share of the table!”

Sigh. Is it just me, or does your family also enjoy arguing so much that they can fight over cauliflower and milk? If you’re one of those really evolved families that calmly discusses everything and ALWAYS settles disputes without any raised voices, please walk away now or I may have to hurt you.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


“I know how to say red in French”
chirped Maddie
fresh from kindergarten
“It’s rouge.”

This morning
biking past the railway bridge
I stopped and stared in awe
at the brilliant leaves
still tenuously clinging to the vine

“I know how to say red,”
I thought
“with no words at all

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A two wheeled WHAT?

This morning, as I watched someone ride past on a bicycle, I wondered for a moment about the person(s) who invented the bicycle. What reaction must they have gotten the first time they rode through town on a self-propelled two-wheel contraption? Thank goodness they were bold enough to do it, even though they were almost certainly mocked a little for it. Imagine how many great inventions may have been missed throughout history because the inventor wasn’t bold enough to risk ridicule.