8 Ways to be a Good Customer (and avoid the bad juju)

Ahh the joys of customer service. *she says as an involuntary twitch travels over her left cheekbone.*

I suppose this vocation needs no real introduction because all of us, at some point in our lives, have probably partook in such means of work.

Except, maybe that’s not true. Maybe, there is a portion of human beings who have never had to take an order, clean up after someone or do anything remotely of the sort. Because, correct me if I’m wrong here, I feel like if everyone knew what it was like to work in customer service, well, there just wouldn’t be as many delusional asshat customers as there are.

But that’s not the way we humans work is it? I’m as bad as the next guy. Just a few weeks ago I was a total jackass to the cashier at the gas station because they had changed their pumps to prepay and they hadn’t thought to reach out personally to me and let me know this vital information in advance.

Why did I feel the need to stomp around like a friggen maniac because I had to go in the store and pay before pumping my gas? Now looking back it was outrageous of me and I hope to God that the gas-bar attendant got a good laugh in at me on account of my temporary insanity.

However, I received all of that bad juju and more in karma today at work. It was pretty much a day from hell. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I need me some redemption, I need to make things right again in the universe. I can’t deal with anymore “hell-days” so I’m here to right my wrongs.  

So here it is. Redemption.

A list. Because everyone loves lists.

8 Ways to be a Good Customer (and avoid the bad juju):

  1. When entering a business location if greeted, it is wise to greet back in a friendly/polite manner…as is, and has always been the social norm since, well, pretty much forever ago. When one does not greet back it is awkward and makes actually no sense at all; leaving the greeter to conclude that they must be in the midst of a total fucking chode-monster.
  2. Do not, under really any circumstances, ask the person behind the register if, “anything is good here.” It’s a completely senseless question. Like, I’m not sure what you expect the answer to be but in pretty much every scenario, whether it’s an employee/owner/volunteer, they are probably going to tell you that the product is good. Even if it is some little shit employee, they aren’t risking their job to tell you all the gruesome truths and malevolent corporate secrets of this establishment. Sorry to break it to you, but nobody is going to think twice about spewing out some rehearsed line, “of course it’s good…Everything is good here at Daisy Dukes Dildo Shack.” So save everyone a lot of weirdness and just don’t ask and judge for yourself.
  3. This one is more for just the food service industry so it pretty much involves everyone on the face of the planet. Do not, I repeat DO NOT, go into an eatery during lunch/dinner to inquire about anything other than eating right then and there. No, they do not want to hear about your cutting edge new knife product. No, they are not interested in your organic vegetables. NO, they cannot give you a minute of their time. Why you ask? Because they are balls to the walls busy with people who are actually spending money at their establishment. Try again in the downtime…or don’t, nobody cares.
  4. Do not treat a cashier any different than you would treat the owner of a business. Plain and simple.
  5. Many of us like to talk about only eating and shopping locally. It’s great. It’s actually fantastic because it is a community minded way to be. I applaud you for that. The thing is, when you shop/eat locally that often means you are doing so at tiny Mom and Pop businesses. Sure they may have fantastic food and yeah, I bet every lunch hour that you go in there they are just hopping busy. That doesn’t mean (even in the slightest) that they can afford employees. So, before offering your breadth of knowledge just know that the last ten customers probably said the same, “looks like you need to do some hiring” spiel before you. And despite the general consensus of these people who have never come close to seeing the financial books of this establishment, unfortunately, that doesn’t make their suggestions even a little bit more attainable.
  6. Sometimes businesses run out of stock. Don’t argue with the staff about it. If they are out they are out. No amount of “well this is ridiculous!” will change that.
  7. If you notice a customer in front of you being a right ol’ bag-O-dicks to the cashier, please by all means, say something. It is in fact your business as a human being to stop the blatant verbal abuse that customer service people endure daily. Be the difference.
  8. If you’re sort of shy and non-confrontational, that’s okay too, once the cashier has so aptly moved the smacktard on his way, show the person behind the till your solidarity by rolling your eyes and saying quietly, “what a jive ass turkey that slime ball was” and then promptly pull yourself out of the 70’s and continue on with your day.

 

Heed these words my friends! And know that out there somewhere there is a retired front desk associate wearing an avenger’s shirt that is two times too small bottling up karma, watching and waiting for the perfect moment to throw it in the face of some twittlefuck who has told off his last cashier.

In other words, the bad juju’s a bitch, and she’s coming for ya.

 

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Paninis & Writing

There is one thing you need to know before you carry on reading this little thing of mine. One thing that may or may not change your thoughts on whether this relationship of ours is going to go any further. One thing that might indeed change EVERYTHING.

Well this is awkward, it seems I’ve amped it up so much that I can never make it sound as awesome as it needs to.

So here it is: right now at this point in my life I have exactly three things on my brain. My kids well-being, the panini palace and writing.

A while ago Sophie told me she wasn’t exactly fond of me writing all of these, she says “embarrassing” I say “adorable” stories about her. So I will respect her wishes and the tales of the children will have to be kept to a minimal. Which leaves us with paninis and writing.

Hence, if you choose to continue frequenting this account you will probably be reading about a whole shit-ton of misadventures which Jamie and I find ourselves getting into daily at the shop. That and my ridiculous obsession with pop culture, I will probably throw that in here somewhere too. Example, Vampires. Another example: my love for Mindy Kaling…She’s so fucking cool.

Ahem, allow me to paint you a little picture here.

It was lunch-rush and busier than we’ve ever been before. INSANITY to be exact. But good insanity. Exciting insanity. We were running into each other like chickens tend to when their heads get cut off except babbling back and forth so perhaps more like a pair of challenged baboons. I was panting for the love of God! Panting! I’m so out of shape.

Then everything froze.

Now everything did not actually freeze to be literal, it’s not like there was some kind of super natural force which actually stopped time or anything. This was more of an emotional freezing moment where I looked at my husband and this sandwich kingdom we have assembled and I couldn’t be more honoured to be in this thing with him. Like, how did I become so lucky to have found a partner who I can raise a family with but build a business alongside too? It is nothing short of a miracle.

Time jumps back to reality and Jamie runs past me clutching his hand. He returns to the line a few minutes later with his index finger wrapped up like a mummy and two clear plastic gloves on over top.

“Did you cut if off? Do you need stitches?” I ask with not a hint of yarn in my voice because my husband has literally cut off the tips of his fingers several times before in his career and had to get them sewn back on. So this was a serious and vital question at the time.

“No I just sliced it down the middle.” He said. Then we disinfected what needed disinfecting (becasue a restaurant is nothing without clean and proper health standards) and continued on with the lunch-rush because stopping just isn’t an option these days.

I’m not going to lie, it’s been a tough go of it lately. We are feeling the debt that we created when setting up the shop and it’s proved to be a lot more difficult than we anticipated to begin paying it down.

Of course, it’s all part of it. This is the big shebang of starting a business. Them’s the ropes, as they say. We get it. But if you’ve ever had debt hanging over you, if you’ve ever felt that suffocating fear of relying utterly and completely on your next day’s sales, your next week’s paycheque, I’m sure you can feel where we are coming from.

So today, this fantastic day that we were not expecting but eagerly hoped for had finally come! At one point as I slid in beside my husband on the line and poured a bowl of soup we caught each other’s eyes. He looked at me and smiled this smile that just said, “I may have just sliced my finger open but that’s okay because we’re doing it! We are making this happen!” and it gave me a stomach full of butterflies.

It was a long day, twelve hours to be exact with even more paper work and planning to be done once I arrived home that evening. When they say starting a small business ain’t for the faint of heart, believe them, they wouldn’t lie to you. **I don’t know who “they” are but they sure know their shit.

When Jamie got home we cracked a couple of beers and talked about the day. It was in fact the busiest one we’ve had yet and despite our aching feet and weary brains it was our day! We had done it. Sure there were a few mishaps but we recovered. We moved forward and now are ready for another day, and that my friends, feels fabulous!

 

 

 

Unqualified Business Advice

 (So I wrote this essay for a friend who is thinking of opening up a small business…And then I thought I would share it with you guys, becasue well…that’s what I do.) 

 

***

So you’re opening a business.

Well you’ve come to the right place. *She says while looking around maniacally and rubbing her hands together in a untrustworthy manner.

Who I am kidding, I have no clue why you came to me for advice! I’m not suitable to give a cat clad in denim overalls business consult. But here you are needing some encouraging words, and if I can do one thing, it’s string together a few fancy sentences. So here goes nothing.

Not to mention, we’ve have had our fair share of “learning curves” worth of wisdom that I’d love to impart on you.

To start off strong and brash let’s begin with finances. The biggest thing that we learned (the very very hard way) was to over-estimate EVERYTHING. So you go ahead and make up your business plan and say you work out that you are going to need forty thousand to get everything started, you are probably actually going to need around upwards of sixty. Otherwise six months in you will find yourself pimping out your pets to the crazy cat lady next door to pay the electric bill and savaging through couch cushions for rent money. Well, it probably won’t come to that (**looks around awkwardly) But in all honesty there are so many hidden costs around every corner when it comes to something of this magnitude. We are still (and probably always will be from now on) discovering new things in which we knew nothing about and yet having to fork out dough for – no pun intended, actually, pun definitely intended.

Because in the end, everyone (EVERYONE) wants a piece of the pie…again, pun most certainly intended.

Which brings me to the next point. If you are having to get contractors in make sure you do your homework. We got screwed around something awful when it came to our contractors. Sometimes they were just downright ripping us off, or simply not installing things correctly, or—get this—not pulling the permits that they were supposed to pull before working on our bay! So, make sure that you really know your shit when it comes to the contractors, your permits for the work that needs to be done and so forth and so on. This was definitely one of our sorest spots when getting everything up and running, it ate away a lot of our budget and threw us for a loop. *revert attention to pet pimping comment.*

The first few weeks we were open we had at least four or five people trickle in a day telling us how we should run our business. They wouldn’t buy anything, or even surrender a kind comment about our hilarious puns or funky decor. No, apparently their job was to tell us that they’ve “worked in the industry” for thirty years so obviously they have some valid points to divulge upon us. They would proceed to nitpick at every tiny detail that we had put into our place. From the fact that we were charging TOO LITTLE for our product to how they make chicken salad and their recipe sounds much better than ours does.

Finally when we would ask them what restaurant they owned they would say, “oh no, I don’t own anything, I’m a line cook over at the Ramada, have been for the last ten years.” Or something similar. My point is, once you have a solid plan and have begun proceedings on your business everyone with a mouth and two cents is going to want to tell you how to run your shit. Just remember that you are the one who has had the wherewithal to move forward with your plan, trust your instincts and do your thing! Of course if you hear some good advice, take it gracefully but also with a grain of salt. Own your ideas, your goals and your creations. Because they are yours and yours alone.

Man alive there is so much more I could tell you! I could fill a book with all of the mishaps that went on. It seems to me that the things we were really stressing about in the beginning we’ve yet to find trouble with in the now! And all of the things that we never thought of are what is wreaking havoc in our lives daily. I know it feels big, like unimaginably big, like so big that you really have to wonder why the hell it is called a “small business”. But as you move forward, every day you will conquer another few things on the long list of have-to’s. Eventually, you will have jumped more hurdles than what you have in front of you.

And man, that’s a good fucking feeling!

But as for newly-fresh, still in the idea stage of things; make sure you have a strong foundation to build on (did I just say that? Ew, gag me with a spoon).

As a general overview when starting out I think it is important that you build good strong relationships with, your financial adviser, lawyer, accountant (if you don’t have one, get a recommendation from someone because they are your LIFELINE to a business! Although Jamie and I are pretty brain-dead when it comes to numbers so that’s why we are so reliant on him)

Even before you really start building your actual business it would be wise to form relationships with all of these professionals because they are the ones who are going to help you achieve what you need to…but don’t rely on them too heavily because they are expensive as all fuck.

Well hope you enjoyed this ridiculous essay I ended up writing on just some of the crappy things that may happen to you when opening a business.

It really does feel like a lot, it may seem insane and completely unattainable right now. It’s not. It’s just a matter of organisation and planning.

But most importantly rummaging up the courage, having faith in your goals and taking the leap.

 

To Whom it May Concern,

 

If my life were the water that fills a five gallon bucket I would currently be overflowing. Between my beautiful husband, kids and our family business I have about a 2 inch depth left for writing. And that’s okay; that is more than enough to work with…until I want to focus on growth.

A few days ago Sophie told me that she didn’t want me to write on the computer about her anymore. It came to me as a shock and at first I wanted to cry because that is what The Blogging Mama’s foundation has been built upon. It’s right there in the name for fuck sakes. What the hell am I going to do now? I thought.

I always told myself that as soon as the kids said that they wanted me to stop writing about them I would. No questions asked. But I just didn’t think it would be this soon. Well it is and now I have to come to terms with it.

However it’s a good thing someone up there is looking out for me and my compulsion to string sentences together or I’d be a bloody headcase right now. The entire point of writing is, A) because I couldn’t not write and B) because everyone needs something that reminds them of who they are.

A few months ago I really started going strong with some fictional short story writing. It is going well despite the fiction market being a tough barrier to breach-worlds more so than non-fiction platforms. After all anyone can write a funny blog about parenthood (well, mostly anyone) but it takes some special (Steve King) talent to transform an entire world into fictional lore over someone’s home computer screen. Ahem, challenge accepted I do say.

Which brings me back to the damn bucket. Yeah of course I could keep writing funny stories about me, Jamie and the shop. I could perhaps slip a few quips in regarding the small humans. I could keep doing what I’m doing and stay the same forevermore.

Or, I could try something different. Hone in on a new set of literary skills. Follow every urge in my body that is screaming at me to challenge myself to see what the results could bring. Maybe I am not made for fictional writing. Maybe I just won’t make the cut. But if so, at least I will have tried. At least I will know as I lay dying and decrepit on my hospital bed in 60 years from now (I’m very healthy) that I put myself out there and I did all I could do.

So with that my friends I bid you adieu, for now at least. I am going to take an indefinite hiatus from The Blogging Mama in hopes of finding the time, energy and creative well in which to pen a new kind of story.

Adios Amigos, I’m sure we will meet again (because I’m going to use most of you as fictional characters in my cool new stories. MWAH MWAH MWAH—evil laughing: going to have to work on that.)

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The Fundamentals of Making Future Friends

I’m not socially awkward in a wearing dark clothing and mumbling in tongues kind of way…actually, it is quite the opposite. Which may be worse. I don’t really know yet.

I’m okay at taking orders and playing it cool at work. You know, mention the weather and talk about the weekend festivities, boring monotonous small talk I can do—begrudgingly.

It’s when that special thing happens and I feel a click with a fellow human being that things tend to get a little strange.

Have you ever met someone and within minutes of talking with them you’re thinking, “I like you! Now Imma be your best friend.”

 

You start imagining the two of you on a bowling team rocking out in eighties style bowlers shirts with a wacky name like, “Lord of the Pins” or “Ball Burners.” High fiving and drinking beer. Oh how wonderfully odd it would all be since you don’t even like bowling!

No? This never happens to you? Huh, I see. I’m sorry. I’m so so sorry.

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Happens to me on the daily. I get super creepy about it too. I start making all kinds of deep and intimidating eye contact. Really just getting right in there because I feel like if I look at my target hard enough I will be able to tell if they want to be friends too. I’m not going to lie, hasn’t worked yet, but I’m pretty sure I’m close to perfecting the method. I’ll tell you about it when I do.

If staring at them wasn’t bad enough, I start babbling. Small talk doesn’t cut it when it comes to the friendships of Lindsay’s. I don’t want to know how your damn weekend was Best Friend. I want to know what your political views are; let’s fight about it for a while then agree to disagree and come out of our conversation both a little better for having expanded our brains and mindsets.

I want to hear about your views on all of the hot topics in the world today. What sparks passion ablaze in your soul? What gets you talking and doesn’t allow you to shut up? And more importantly than most anything else, do you watch Doctor Who? Are you a 10 or an 11? Me, personally I’m an 11 kind of gal. I just can’t get past the whole Doctor, Amy, Rory team—greatest trio in television history. Oh how my hearts (I wish) swell when I think of those three. And well, now that we’re on the subject, can we please talk about the fabulous River Song? I mean, if I could be one woman in all of the fictional world…Yep obviously it’d be her. Oh the adventures! But I shan’t say too much because, you know, spoilers.


 

Wow, okay so that paragraph sort of got away on me there. Ahem, I apologise especially if you have no idea who, in fact, the Doctor is. That was just a bunch of wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey stuff. Jesus, what am I doing here? I’m sorry I have a serious fandom problem—nothing a little fish sticks and cust…OKAY, I’m seeking help.


 

Back to the question at hand though, so what does one do when they are trying to drag out all of this intimate and vital information from their future friend of fantastical proportions? Well duh, you start talking about really really personal stuff that’s happening in your own life. Obviously, they will reciprocate the sentiment and the two of you will become the Bestie Bests while revealing your innermost secrets within the first few hours of meeting. It’s not brain science guys.

I do like to make a habit of taking my own advice whenever possible. So when attempting to befriend a person I fancy I will begin by staring at them in an intense manner. keeping in mind to smile, because people like smiles.

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This picture has not been distorted…That’s just my face.

I then proceed to ramble about what brought Jamie and me here to the city and what our goals and aspirations are in this great big universe. Often I will tell them my woes of living with psoriasis and how I forget things quite often. I will divulge my love for watching cats videos on You-Tube right off the bat because, who doesn’t love a good ol’ cat VS cucumber vid?! And I use words like universe, humans and fantastical a lot while engaging in said conversation.

So in conclusion you guys, if you ever happen to be in my midst and I start acting like this, I’m not having some sort of an episode or anything I simply want to be your friend.

I’m not saying that my friend finding technique works every time, but there are a group of select weirdos peppered throughout time and space who’ve succumbed to my peculiar bonding rituals. For that small wonder I will always be thankful.

We sail through this life with premeditated and superficial conversation at the tip of our tongues. It’s called common courtesy and I suppose it’s something we must all pander to sometimes.

But isn’t it a beautiful thing when, occasionally, life plops in front of you a fellow human who wants to chat about something a little more significant? Never take that for granted. It could be the beginnings of an exquisitely unusual friendship.

“I hate having to do small talk. I’d rather talk about deep subjects. I’d rather talk about meditation, or the world, or the trees or animals, than small, inane, you know, banter.”

-Ellen DeGeneres

 

The Working Joe and The Human Condition

Something sad and not at all nice is going on guys. I’ve been noticing it more and more as I progress deeper into my role of Panini Provider for the People.

But before I get into that I want to tell you about a “study” I read a while ago—I put this in quotations because quite frankly I’m not sure if one can consider it a “study” when the suggested posts under it had titles like, ‘drinking copious amounts of beer now reveal health benefits’ and ‘scientists can now tell if someone is gay or straight by the dilation of their pupils’. If I was ever going to use the hashtag #facepalm it would most certainly be right now.

Anyhoo, regardless of what you want to call it, the thingy I read told me that it is no longer politically correct to ask someone what they do for a living…Like, are you fucking kidding me right now?

No no, it is now bad form to inquire as to what your new small talk buddy partakes in during the daily grind because their answer may or may not be “cooler” than your answer. THUS hurting their oh so fragile feel-bads.

There are reasons upon reasons why people choose the jobs they choose. Sometimes it’s for the passion it evokes in them. Sometimes it’s for the security it provides. Sometimes it’s because they just really really like working with small rodents or dynamite or whatever. Most of the time, if you ask someone what they do there is usually a pretty sweet/funny/semi-interesting story to go along with it. Humans are remarkable that way; we are forever selling mundane antidotes as interesting tales of adventure. Writer of this blog…prime example.

If you ask me, as long as you’re earning an honest living, then you’re doing pretty damn well in my books.

However *holds pointer finger up in exaggerated motion* not everyone feels this way.

Not everyone deems “The Working Joe” as a respectable way to earn a wage. I know this because I’ve seen it first hand and it makes me realise how innocent questions like, “What do you do?” can be made into a hurtful faux pas.

For the most part when a customer comes in, Jamie and I are able to talk with them, get a few laughs and all around have a glorious 5 to 10 minutes of chatter while we cook them up the greatest sandwich in the world. And sometimes the exact opposite thing happens.

A customer will stroll in and look the place up and down. They will see Jamie and me awaiting their arrival from behind the counter and begrudgingly address our cheerful, “HELLO!” with an uninterested, “Hey” of their own. They will look at the menu boards and choose a sandwich all the while trying their damnedest not to make eye contact with us because that could mean talking and stuff.

They will stare awkwardly out the window pretending not to acknowledge our presence. Even though both Jamie and I are undeniably loud at existing. Always have been, can’t help it. 

And that’s fine. Sometimes people just really don’t want to deal with the small talk of strangers. I get that. I can admire that even. Here I am HAVING to be the chipper chicken (where did I come up with that one, I astound myself sometimes) day in and day out! It’s exhausting.

But what I don’t get, what really burns me up, is when the people who come in acting this way completely and utterly change their attitude towards Jamie and me when they find out that the shop we are working in is actually ours. 

All too soon we’ve become exciting. Now we seem worthy of their conversation. And it makes me gasp, gasp I say, with shock. Why is business owner Lindsay more appealing than cashier Lindsay? Why is it now in their interest to be civil and kind to me when moments ago my reality bored, perhaps even annoyed them? How could the mere title of my job have changed their opinion of me so drastically?

So my end conclusion is that “studies” one finds on the internet are weird but sometimes can hold some weight when splattered onto the right framework. But mostly they are probably lame. But *again with the exaggerated finger* being the asshat that belittles a fellow human for working a job that in their stilted definition deems ‘dead end’ is by far a thousand times lamer.

So please, next time you find yourself out and about rubbing shoulders with society tell your stories, be weird, make the mundane look beautiful and most importantly show the asshats how spectacular the human condition truly is.

The Art of Generosity

My parents are coming, my parents are coming!! This is the single most looping thought I’ve had all morning. They are coming to see me (I guess the kids and Jamie too) and I couldn’t be any more excited. Well, I could be but I have to save some energy for work today.

Colleen and Dan Sawyer are pretty much the greatest parents in the entire fucking universe! The proof is in the pudding (did I just actually use that phrase!?) when it comes to how unbelievably supportive they’ve been through our current year’s life changing events.

As you well know these last few months have been trying. There were times when we weren’t sure we would be able to pay the bills and moments where failure was a precipice we tottered on often.  I would call my sister-in-law and tell her my woes.  I would cry to my brother about how scary this thing we were doing was. I would straight up avoid talking to Mom and Dad because I didn’t want them to see how unsure I was about absolutely everything in our life.

However, like families do, when Dust and Ashley would be over at my parents for dinner the topic of Jamie and I and our panini problems would surely come up. Nothing malicious, just general concern about how we might be doing all the way down here in the thick of the Southern Alberta heat. Literally and metaphorically.

Except Dad, he would hold strong in his resolve that we will be just fine. Dad is and always will be the voice of reason when things start getting dramatic (something that can happen quite often with me and Moms active imaginations). He would say, all they need is to get the word out, it is going to happen for them. It’s all about word of mouth.

One thing about my dad is when he is not dreaming up some outlandish plan of action he can be impossibly logical. He’s wonderful like that.

So the day I phoned my parents to tell them we had to close early because we sold out of all of our food at the shop, the words did not come as a surprise to them.

As I told Daddio how busy we’ve been and how the people of this city seem to be falling in love with our sandwiches I could hear a smile on his face. This was quickly interrupted however with ideas and thoughts on how to keep up stock and prep so closing shop early doesn’t have to happen again. Better to be open and making green than closed because we were not prepared adequately. Oh how I adore that guy!

As usual Mom had a plethora of questions to ask about the shop. From how early I go in in the morning to what kind of characters we meet on a daily basis. My mom, like me, is a junkie for people. Who will they be? What quirks make them tick? She wants to know what fascinating history has brought them to where they are today. And she will indeed get this information out of them, in the most subtle of ways all the while making a person feel like they are undoubtedly the most important human on the face of the planet.

Her enthusiasm when it comes to me, Jamie, the kids and astounds me. She has this unbelievable way of making us feel like we are doing god’s work. Even if it is just pressing paninis for a living. We spoke for hours that morning on the phone. After I hung up I realised that I need to call them more. Talking with them brings me this extraordinary feeling of triumph. An overall sentiment that is better than it was before I heard their voices.

Besides the hundreds upon thousands of life lessons my parents have taught me, one that sticks out as I sit here today is the lesson of generosity. This, they have shown me time and time again. Generosity doesn’t have to come from a bank statement or a wallet. The kind of generosity my mom and dad have so aptly doled out to my brother and me over all of these years comes from a kind and steadfast spirit. That extra push saying that you can and in fact will do what you’ve set out to do. Their generosity has been as simple yet profound as building our confidence up (sometimes to, perhaps, obscene levels) when everyone else is rooting for us to flop.

Generosity is an art. If you give and then immediately feel you need something in return I’m sorry to break it to you but you’re doing it wrong. Generosity is about giving what you can without expectation. It is about being rewarded by the knowledge that you’ve done something good. And true generosity is a beautiful thing. It proves that there is still so much good in this world, in the human race.

Now, as I sit here and read over these words my heart is eager to see the two people who have selflessly had a hand in giving us the strength and confidence to make it to where we are today.

Only a few more hours!!!  421008_561102740585388_1187082580_n

Dream It

It was less than a year ago when The Hot Wire was just a silly idea drifting in and out of two dreamer’s brains. But when dreams become reality; this is the stuff of magic. My husband and I are dreamers you see, we always have been. We sit up late, sometimes drinking beer and eating popcorn, and always talking about the things that may be one day. It is some of my favourite moments with him.

Do you know that feeling that comes over you when you just know that you are on your (and I really mean your) right path? I don’t know about you but it will start out as the faintest tingling in the very deep of my gut. A flood of positivity becomes my brain—waylaying the creatures who say I cannot achieve what I am setting out to do. They are left where they stand, ignored and forgotten–just as they should be. It is a strength that resides firmly in my chest. Said strength moves me to reach further, do better and try harder in achieving my goals. It is a resolve that is impossible to ignore.

And it is one of the very greatest feelings a human being can have.

Some people will live their life telling you to, “get your head out of the clouds” or to, “stop dreaming your life away.” I say NO! Absolutely do not remove your head from that mass of condensed water vapour floating in the atmosphere! Dream and imagine, write it all down and back it up! BACK IT UP FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! Then, once you’ve got your game plan, once there is nothing left to imagine, go out and do. Be the dream because as impossible as it may seem sometimes, “there is always a way out” (that was a Doctor Who reference for all the laypeople out there).

Anyways, what I’m really trying to say is please, I beg of you, follow those beautiful, impractical, adventurous, tentative dreams.

There will be shitty, I mean REAL shitty days along the way. There are points in which I worry that we might fail. Maybe we will fail. Maybe we will fail at achieving this dream in this particular way. Perhaps we will have to pack up and begin again. We will have to look for the alternatives and brainstorm and inspire to be better. But that is just part of the game. That is the process. 

Whether you attain what you are looking for the very first shot or you must try over and over again until you get it right—I promise you, it will be worth it. To know that you had only a glimmering of an idea in your mind and to bring that minuscule thing to fruition is a true marvel. It is a striking thing to know you’ve achieved.  

The other day Jamie and I got this little note in our comment jar.

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I can’t really explain to you how much significance this piece of orange paper with words on it holds for me. It WAS me only a few months ago. It was us. Unsure of how to move forward but hopeful that there was something to move forward to.

Now there are so many moments where I find myself silently thanking the forces that be in assisting Jamie, Lars, Sophie and I in what has been our most crazy, uplifting, insane adventure yet. And we will keep on doing what we do. Despite the pit stops and the delays. We will find a way to keep moving on.

And my hope is, that the writer of this note along with anyone else who has ever had a dream can find the grit and guts to do the same.

Wednesday Rambles

 

The house has a muggy calm about it this morning. Today is supposed to be devastatingly hot and I’m not entirely sure I am ready for it. I’m not entirely sure I am ready for anything anymore. For someone who used to be chronically prepared for just about everything, I’ve sort of dropped the ball lately.

Maybe it’s the heat. Or maybe it’s my brain being overloaded with menial tasks. Perhaps it’s my brain being overloaded with all of the non-menial tasks that’s getting me down. The worries and what-ifs about the future. I find myself daydreaming all of the time about what’s to come.

Like, I wonder when that multi-billionaire is going to stroll through the doors of The Hot Wire and give us an offer right then and there that we can’t refuse. He will say something along the lines of, “Boy Howdy I do declare this is the best éclair I’ve ever eaten!” or “Well, I tell you what, I’ve never seen a more original and downright delightful sandwich shop in my whole dang life.” I am imagining this person to be from the Deep South with an accent reminiscent to Foghorn J. Leghorn.

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However right here and now I am reminded that none of this has actually happened yet. A wall of heat is currently pressing up against my back and I feel as though I may be slowly melting away into oblivion. I do hope it’s not so hot there.

Usually I don’t mind the heat. I like to bask or whatever. But working in a kitchen when it is 30 above, I’ve come to discover, is most likely the closest impression of Hell that any human being will ever know.

I literally just turned around to see if I could physically see what the “heat” looks like. I am assuming that because it is so god-damn hot in here (at 6 am) that surely I would be able to spot its wrath. I’m really considering stripping down to the buff and going to sit in the cool garage for a few before I head off to work.

Okay by now I’m sure you guys are asking yourselves where in the good and glorious name of Jeebus am I going with this blog post?

Well, to put it right out there; I’ve been a bit of an asshole lately. I’ve pretty much been the assholiest asshole in the history of assholes (but not the literal kind…because that would be shitty. Ha!)

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In these last few weeks I’ve pulled away. I’ve withdrawn because let’s face it, things got scary and things got hard. We were struggling to get the business where we needed it and doubt plus many misgivings were running rampant. I stopped calling my friends and family because I just didn’t have anything positive to say. I didn’t text, and when they texted me I shot back with insincere one word answers.

Assholery I tell you, pure assholery.

Now, it is time for an apology! I’m sorry dear loved ones…I love you all. Love, love, love, love and some more love. Yes, this is in fact my idea of an apology. They’ll get it.

The smouldering and fiery facts—that accompany my current state of sweltering alive—are that I was a little depressed for a brief moment there, and it scared the holy molies out of me.

But then one day not too long ago something happened and although it doesn’t solve all of our “starting a business stresses” it gave me that little bit of oomph I was in need of to get up and get on.

A dude sitting in the shop so very nonchalantly muttered to his Panini one random day, “I love you. I never want you to end.” And in that moment our suspicions about failure vanquished. We realized that we have something here, something good. It was about at that time when grandiose delusions of talking roosters paying us millions to franchise our panini palace came into play.

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Maybe that’s a little much, I don’t know.

What I do know is that I cannot allow the down days to affect the relationships in my life. Our humans, the ones who get us through the everyday, are our everything. There are going to be bad days. Days when the bread doesn’t rise and the cakes all fall. There will be days when the equipment brakes. When the kids act up and lash out. There will be days when we want to tell the whole entire world to just fuck right off.

And then, there will be days when we find a grown ass man telling his panini that he loves it. There will be days when we feel invincible. Some days we will find that we have the ability to do just about anything.

These are the days we must hold tightly to. The days that remind us that we are doing something wonderful and fulfilling.

Some may even go as far to say; these, are the days of our lives.

*mic drop.*

Lindsay Out.

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Life: Open For Business

So going back to work has been a bit of a learning curve.

You know, I really didn’t think it was going to be that difficult to get back into the swing of things. I imagined I would breeze in there all like, oh yeah I’m Queen Bee of working and moming and I am the master of both my domains!

**followed by exaggerated maniacal laugh. **

Except this is not at all how it has been going.

Every day I drag my tired screaming body out of bed and wonder what the fuck I’ve gotten myself into. I think about how easy my previous life was in comparison. I fondly reminisce about all of my worry-free days of stay-at-home mom-ery and I fawn over those memories with longing.

However after a cup of coffee, I punt myself back into reality while I slather on some mascara and get on with life-as does every other person on the planet.

I do the mornings at the shop while Jamie does the long afternoons. I can’t complain. Jamie typically bests my nine hour shifts by two or three hours more each day. He almost lives there. But I do complain, a lot. Not about the fact that I’m tired and I am having a difficult time getting into a routine—these things will come. I complain about the tiny, minuscule things I miss about the ‘before times’.

I miss Sophie’s haphazard and dazed look when she awakens and trudges her way upstairs in search of cereal. I miss the way Lars would hide around the corner of the kitchen only to yell, “GOOD MORNING MOM!” as loud as he possibly can in those wee hours as I myself would be trudging into the kitchen. I miss Jamie rolling over still half asleep, putting his arm around me and whispering that the kids can wait just five more minutes as he nuzzles his cold nose into my neck.

These are the little things that I complain about not getting enough of anymore. And although they are small, the price seems like a big one to pay.

Aside from the mom-things that have been effected, there are a few other aspects of this new life that are quite daunting.

Let’s begin with the fact that Jamie and I are business owners! Do you know how different that is than being an employee?! When I worked outside of the home I always considered myself a pretty star wage earner. I’d show up early and stay late if needed. I went the extra mile. I was always friendly and courteous. I was one hell of a trainer when necessary. And I felt like I treated my position with as much respect as I would if I owned the place.

Except I didn’t. Not. Even. Fucking. Close.

The truth of the matter is, one doesn’t know what it’s like to be a business owner until you are, in fact, a business owner. Before, I never understood exactly how much was on the line if something (anything) happened to screw up. You don’t realize what one bad review of your company could mean. You have no clue how completely and utterly accountable you are until it is only you, you have to answer to.

We’ve done well thus far but the sneaking knowledge that our entire future is riding on this venture is always weighing in the back of our busy minds. It’s a large burden to bear to say the least.

So there’s that.

And about a hundred other things that continue to make me look back on the days before The Hot Wire, before moving, before everything changed, with fond recollections.

How easily it would be to slip back into those days of carefree living.

That is, until I dredge up how ‘carefree’ it wasn’t. Perhaps before the Panini shop (which now feels somewhat like a lifetime ago) we may not have had such *pressing* (see what I did there) issues but we did have issues none the less. We felt like we were standing still and not progressing in the life we were living. We felt like we were teaching our kids to sit and complain about all of the woes in life rather than going out and doing something about it. We felt lost because we simply weren’t doing what we were meant to be doing. We didn’t feel in control of our own lives and there is actually nothing worse than that kind of a thing weighing you down.

Now, those feelings are but a mere story of how we started on this current journey.

I think anywhere we go in life there will always be the learning curve. There will forever be challenges and worries that we aren’t doing right for ourselves and our family. There will be doubt.

It doesn’t matter how far you move, what new challenges you face, there will sometimes be moments of suffocation. There will always be moments of victory. I don’t think any successful human being can have one without the other.

So whatever it is you are doing, keep doing it. Keep trying the new. Keep yourself on your toes. Be scared and excited and thrilled by anything. And do it every single day.

Life is weird and uncertain and totally terrifying at times. But at any given moment it can also be very very magnificent.

 

 

2 Cent Saturday

 

Some days I can do three loads of laundry, make a pancake breakfast, and get a week’s worth of writing done all before nine a.m.

Some days I find myself huddled in the corner of the bathroom with a bucket of Nutella attempting to scarf it down as fast as I possibly can without the offspring locating my whereabouts.

It’s all about balance you see. It’s about having the ability to discover what kind of day you’re going to have before it has even started. Will it be an “I am Wonder-Mom” kind of day? Or, more likely, will it be a pajama pants because you can’t even bring yourself to squeeze into the yoga pants kind of day? It’s about accepting the plight that is parenthood and giving into it gracefully.

Because when it comes down to the nitty gritty we can’t do the Wonder-Mom thing every God-damn day. Well not without a vessel of Valium and about thirty-five martinis that is. And you know how the Granola Moms frown upon that these days. So we are left with having to accept that some days we just can’t do it all.

It is either one or the other—slobby do-nothing Mom or Wondrous Wonder-Mom. Black. White.

Or at least that’s what everyone’s been telling me.

There is this strange mentality that I’ve noticed popping up lately and that is that everything seems to have to be all or nothing. Perhaps it has always been like this and I’ve just been too wrapped up in myself or apathetic to notice. But I’m noticing now, and it’s weird and makes me feel uncomfortable.

As parents we seem to categorise ourselves into these sections. Like “hover moms” “free range parenting” “no preservatives” “McDonalds parents” and we hang on to these stereotypes like they were our first born child.

Let’s get real here people. I try my damnedest to feed the Lars and Soph clean healthy food, however when I’m pressed for time or simply having a PJ pants kind of day they are getting a big ole box of KD with extra ketchup. I let my kids play in the backyard unsupervised because I’ve smashed “stranger danger” into the farthest depths of their brains. However I still go and check up on them every single night before I turn in to assure they are breathing. I’ve been doing this for eight consecutive years now and in all honesty I can’t see myself stopping any time soon.

Picture this if you will: me, sneaking into Lars’ apartment when he is 25 years old and stealthily popping my head over his bedside to investigate whether or not he has breath sounds. It will be when I ever so gently place the small mirror I’ve brought (because I like to think ahead) over his mouth to see the breath in question that his girlfriend at the time awakens. Resulting in extreme awkwardness. For them.

Motherhood is weird and poor Lars will never be able to keep a steady relationship with my crazy shenanigans.

I think as a society we need to expel this notion that when it comes to parenting there is only wrong or right. In most cases at least. Obviously some things are just downright wrong and some things are gloriously right. Like Tacos.

Ain’t nobody gone tell me tacos on their wrong list.

Ahem, Oh look once again I’ve been sidetracked by the fabulous thought of tacos.

Anyway, it’s the ego’s downfall that we are constantly at war with each other over issues like which parenting methods are best and what colour a dress on the internet is-I don’t know why I’m still on that, it was like a million years ago.

If we could for one moment set aside those big pulsating ego’s we could see that in most cases there is a middle grounds that we can all come to reside in and be overall contented with. And if there isn’t? Then allow your self-image a few moments of humility and try to see something from another’s point of view. The stubbornness we exhibit does not progress us as a society. We stay stagnant at an impasse because none of us can agree on what’s best.

If we open ourselves up we may learn a thing or two, moving forward into new potentials.

Or, you know, just go sit in the bathroom and consume copious amounts chocolatey Nutella, whateves.

Taking a Breather

Quickly I run the mouse over the red X in the right hand corner of the screen. If I am going to get anything done I have to pull myself away from the tantalizing grips of my Facebook world. As I watch the screen disappear I feel a momentary melancholy because all I really want to do right now is mindlessly scroll through a sea of Selfies and dumb political opinions. I don’t want to think, or read or have to conjure up anything from the foggy depths of my brain because I am just too damn tired for that.

It’s been about two weeks now since I’ve sat down at this computer and wrote anything at all. I force myself to put my fingers to the keyboard because whenever I happen to go this long without writing a sneaking fear begins to burrow its way into the better judgement section of my brain. What if I forget? What if I lose the ability to sling sentences? What if I lose interest in the art of wordsmithing altogether? What the hell then?!

As much as I don’t actually believe this will happen, there is a small part of me that will probably never let go of this completely irrational worry.

So here I am, writing. I don’t really know what to write about at this very moment but my hands seem to be clicking away at a good pace so I will just let them do the work I suppose.

Everything has been going pretty swell at the Panini factory. Our doors are open and every day we seem to be gaining more happy customers which is truly a beautiful thing. I think one of my favourite parts of this new adventure is meeting all of the people who walk through The Hot Wire’s doors.

A few have been back several times and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to know that our little shop is a place that people just like hanging out. This is what Jamie and I always envisioned when we talked about opening The Hot Wire. Now, it is coming to fruition and we couldn’t be happier.

Of course it hasn’t all been a pleasure cruise. For the first few days we were pretty dead. Like I mean NOBODY new about us at all. Here I was thinking I was such a marketing wizard with my awesome Facebooking skills. What I’ve learnt about Facebook advertising is that a whole lot of people can “like” your page and that does not mean jack when it comes to them coming into your shop.

On grand opening day we were packed to the roof with prep and bread from the hordes of people we imagined would be fighting each other (literally just destroying each other) to get a mere taste of our sandwiches. In reality we had about ten costumers. It was not very glorious at all. So in the days to follow Jamie and I would be mentally willing the people who walked past the front of our shop to pop their head in and take a whiff of the delicious treats we had on display.

Now, by “mentally willing” I actually mean awkwardly staring down anyone who came near our doors as we wore ridiculously large smiles and expectant expressions on our faces. We were probably scaring more people away than anything. I would have been scared.

However a few humans did brave the weird vibe we were giving off and ended up loving the food. This is exactly why you shouldn’t judge an oddball book by its cover people!!

And there it began, the infamous word-of-mouth advertising. Seriously it works like a charm!

Each day our numbers are growing. We are becoming more confident in this huge endeavour we’ve taken on. And damn does that ever feel good!

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Yet Another Post About the Infamous Sleepy Bear

 

As mothers we stress. I think it must be something in our chemical make-up. If I told you how many times a day I find myself getting all worked up in the feels about some random thought…Well, I just wouldn’t tell you because it’s embarrassing.

Jamie is a stress-case too, which you would think would make things super awful pretty much all of the time with us both riddled with anxiety. However that’s not the case. My husband is an entirely logical man. He looks at the world through rational and balanced eyes, which is one of the hundreds of reasons why he is so good for me.  So when Jamie stresses he stresses about issues that are right there in front of him and how to fix those things that need fixing.

I stress about different stuff. The stuff that has no real value in this day to day life because if it were to happen it may probably change the course of history as we know it. I stress endlessly about zombie apocalypses and how I would save my brood from an undead army. I stress about that time I said a snappy comment to that cashier and she looked like she was about to cry. I stress about make-believe conversations I might one day have with my arch-enemy. Then I stress about the fact that I actually have an arch-enemy.

I stress about what the hell would happen if we ever lost Sleepy Bear.

This last thought hits a nerve. That bear is Sophie’s world. Literally, her entire existence revolves around one grimy disgusting bear that wears a pink and white polka doted hat.

I’ve tried to teach her that we shouldn’t rely so much on physical things to make us feel happy and content. It is our loved ones and our inner happiness that truly keeps us satisfied. Whenever I say this she just looks at me with a blank look and squeezes the bear tighter as if I am about to yank him out of her little grasp right then and there.

Last night as I was tucking her in I asked her if she was enjoying her new after school program. She said she loved it but she wanted to bring Sleepy in her backpack tomorrow.

“I don’t know if they let you play with toys from home there sweetie.” I said to her thinking that a little time away from the bear may be good for the kid.

“That’s okay I will just have him in my backpack.” She paused but then realizing that I needed further explanation continued, “Mom, I just feel better when Sleepy is with me. Even if I can’t play with her I just like knowing that she is near me. She’s like my kid.” The frankness in her voice was beautiful for a child of five years old and in that moment I had two emotions punch me in the gut.

First, pride. Pride that my little girl could so eloquently explain her love for the small stuffed bear that she holds so dearly. How amazing it is that she can open up to me and effortlessly describe her feelings when it comes to her plaything.

Secondly anxiety. Which brings me back to the stress of losing the damn thing. She referred to it as her kid for the love of God!

And so there it is, just one more random thing to get pushed into my already crammed brain when it comes to things that keep me up at night.

I think life would be a lot easier if I was a normal stress-case and worried about typical things like money and the economy and whether or not Trump is going to one day take over the world.

Whatever type of stress you have it can be a really scary thing. But I think the answer to all of it remains the same. Confront it head on, let it know you won’t be scathed and move forward with confidence.

 

Helping Our Small Humans

Change is great. Change is healthy. Change is good. These are the things I keep telling myself because if I don’t I will spiral into a pool of self-pity and sorrow. Okay perhaps I’m being a bit dramatic, although, our writer-reader relationship has probably evolved to a point where that doesn’t surprise you.

The Brown household has been feeling the pressure of change in these last few weeks and despite my valiant attempts at embracing it all, I find myself withering fast.

Jamie and I are having to work double time at the shop hoping to have it ready for production by early May. However, even that seems to be a long shot now as there continues to be issues popping up left right and center. This in turn leaves the poor children dangling helplessly over the precipice of neglect and abandonment. Again, with the dramatics.

We’ve enrolled them in an afterschool program which I am positive they will love, however it hasn’t started yet. So we’ve been doing what so many Ma and Pop shops have done since the dawn of Ma and Pop shops. We haul our small humans to the Panini factory and they hang out there until we are done our work. Lars definitely has it better as he is in full days of class so it is rare that we need to bring him, but Soph is still in kindergarten which means only half days. Every morning Jamie and I load her and approximately 700 teddy bears into the car to make the journey across town to work.

We then toil away with whatever is on the chopping block that day while Sophie interrupts us every five minutes. She is very good about keeping us in the know when it comes to her hunger or her boredom or when something smells slightly strange in her general vicinity. Occasionally her left toe is bugging her and when it’s not any of that you can be sure that some other peculiar five year old woe has hammered down upon her.
It pains me to say it but we can see the agitation in her everyday life. She is ornery and short tempered. She continues to try haggling with me for mere sport.

“Mom, I will clean my room if you give Sleepy Bear a birthday party tonight. With cake. And presents.”

“Umm first of all that bear has had like ten birthdays already this year and secondly you will clean your room so it doesn’t develop an army of bug creatures from all of the filthy clothes that are peppered around the place.” This is just one example of our bartering conversations.

Oh and the tantrums. How could I forget the tantrums?

There we were in the parking lot of the school while she was screaming louder than I’ve ever heard any human being scream. Her little face was nearing purple while tears streamed down her cheeks.

She was perturbed that her brother had gotten into the car before her.

As the child stomped her feet on the pavement I reimagined the song Hello, by Adele.

 

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As the lyrics swept through my skull I started to think. I knew that these temper tantrums were stemming from somewhere. Sophie wasn’t inherently angry like this—no kid is.

Other Moms were walking past the spectacle side-eyeing my dilemma. In that moment I felt like the worst parent to have ever walked those school grounds. Although I’m sure that most of them just looked at me with a sad pitying kind of stare. Let`s face it, we’ve all been there.

It didn’t take much to realise what the problem was. My daughter was simply missing me. She has never had to share me with a full-time job and that is a big challenge for our little family. So instead of threatening her with no ice cream after dinner. Or pulling out that notorious whisper-demon voice and telling her to get into the car. I wrapped my arms around my little girl and I hugged her hard.

I did say something into her ear as I embraced her, and that was that I loved her. It took a few seconds but she relaxed, melted into my hug and eventually told me she loved me back.

Change is great and change is healthy and it is good too but we must remember that change can only be all of these things if we take the time to help escort the people we love most through the difficult times.

 

Embrace It

I’ve always believed that happiness equated to success. If you are happy, you are successful. No if’s, no and’s, no but’s. Joyfulness, without a shadow of a doubt, means that you are rocking this thing called life. The theory fits pretty snugly into everyday life. When we are feeling cheerful, we sit on top of the world. Nothing shakes us. We are firm in our resolve that if we can keep up this feeling of euphoria then all will remain right on this big ole sphere.

However therein lies the problem—we cannot be happy all of the time. Well at least I for one can’t. It’s exhausting. I have hundreds of moments throughout the day where stress showers down on me. Periods of heartache and disappointment from the many unforeseen experiences of everyday life. There are times when a myriad of emotions will whitewash me and I will be left with this astounding feeling of nothingness.

It drives me to believe that any emotion other than happiness means we are not doing “it” right. Right? Where did that idea come from? Why do I feel like I am somehow failing when I am anxious? Why do I expect some foreboding disaster to appear when I’m sad? Why do I liken any emotion other than joy with negativity?

When did it stop being acceptable behaviour to feel?

Lately I’ve been “feeling” a lot. Let’s start with my inability to decipher a scam phone call when it is right in front of me (humiliation/anger). Or perhaps we should talk about the fact that I’ve been procrastinating getting the kids into another after-school activity (guilt). What about how I’ve somehow managed to gain five pounds despite my new workout routine (failure). We are very behind schedule at The Hot Wire and most definitely will not be opening on our sought out date of May 1st (angst).

All of these emotions resulting in a gaping feeling of despondency. If only I could remedy these woes or simply push them away, all would be right in the world once more.

However I don’t think life works that way. There will always be sadness and anger and guilt and humiliation. There will always be those uncomfortable moments. If there wasn’t, I don’t think happiness would feel so good.

It doesn’t matter how many scam artists I dodge, or after school programs I cram down my children’s throat or even if I lose 30 pounds—there will always be something else.

Now I can see that this post is taking a turn for the melodramatic so I will shift.

We’ve established that there is and always will be a reservoir of emotions at the stem of our life, but the question now is what to do with that. Clearly allowing it to steer us into even greater emotional disparity is unwise, so what’s left?

Dare I suggest that we allow oneself to validate those feelings.

When we feel the crippling anger of being misled for example, instead of trying to push that emotion away what if we honour it? What if we were to spread that feeling out thin enough to wrap ourselves up in it? Allowing every inch of our person to understand what it was feeling. To give ourselves time to grasp why the anger was there in the first place. What if we embraced the “bad” feelings as closely as we do the good ones? What if we granted ourselves the time to work through our emotions rather than condemning them?

Let’s look at how we teach our children for example. When our kids get good marks in school or draw a fine picture we celebrate them accordingly. There is no time limit on this celebration, only an unbridled happiness shared by all. However when they are angry or saddened by something, sure we may allow them an allotted period of time to “get over it” but subconsciously we are willing them to move on and just be done with that emotion. It is unpleasant therefore it is unwanted.

This afternoon Sophie was upset. She was crying and feeling sad and there seemed to be nothing I could do to “fix it”. So I gave her the only thing I could, time. Later, I asked her if there was something she wanted to talk about and she replied, “Mom, sometimes we all just need a big cry.”

And you know what, I think my five year old is onto something. This life can be so chaotic and complicated and scary and mystifying that there is no possible way we could move through it with only a handful of emotions to rely on. We are a complex species thus our emotions will be vast—infinite. We should celebrate these sentiments rather than feel indignity over them.

It means we are living and that is as prosperous as it gets.

 

 

 

Fan Mail

I’ve been writing my blog, The Blogging Mama, for close to four years. I’ve been writing my column, Me Plus Three, for two. In my history of publicly writing I’ve heard things like, “you are so funny, and descriptive!” and “I love that you are so in touch with your emotions.” This last one is a little questionable, they may just be getting my irrationally unhinged personality mixed up with being “in touch”.

I’ve also had complete strangers message me saying that writing such intimate stories about my children for anyone to read is immoral and just plain bad parenting.

It startled me I’m not going to lie. The day I opened that message on my Blogging Mama Facebook page my heart stopped for a moment and my breath was taken away. Did someone actually think that my writings were hurting my kids? Like, screw you lady…is what I wanted to write back.

For about a millisecond I thought about quitting. But then an uplifting Taylor Swift song came on and my confidence came dashing back upon the crown of my stalwart imaginary pony. I told my friend Scott about this message I had received. Scott’s in the movie biz and has had his fair share of awful to unusual fan mail so I figured he’d understand my dilemma.

He told me to ignore it, that’s always the best way to deal with these types of people. So I did, I ignored it. Not only because it was obviously the right thing to do but also because I keep hoping that sooner or later Scott will introduce me to some famous people and when he does I can talk about how I too have to disregard “all” of the wearisome mail that comes piling in sometimes. I envision the famed folk talking a lot about their fan mail, it seems like that would be a regular topic of convo in that circle of peeps.

**I am imagining my friend Scott reading this and shaking his head right now.

The thought of celebrities has gotten me so off track I can’t remember what the hell I was talking about.

Ah yes that’s right, me, being the worst mother alive because I have gained fame (well that’s stretching it) and fortune (now that’s just going way too far) off the innocent stories of my small humans.

I guess it comes down to a waiting game of sorts. Right now Lars and Sophie think my job is cool. Lars is always asking what my blog is about and Sophie is closely following her Mama’s footsteps as a descriptive storyteller. She is amazing!

Perhaps in years to come the novelty of my writings will wear thin for them. Maybe they won’t enjoy me spinning these tales about their life and times. Of course if and when that day comes I will revolutionize my subject matter to some further newfangled theme.

The greatest writers all say the same thing and that is to write what you know. Well I know my children. I know them better than I know anything else and I love etching down their everyday lives into permanence.

It’s been over a year since I received that message in my inbox. Maybe the woman was just having a bad day and needed to take it out on a perfect stranger. Maybe she actually read some of my stuff and realized how incredibly hilarious I am and immediately felt terrible for writing such things to me. Or maybe she went on with her day never thinking twice about her words and how they could affect their recipient.

I wish I was the kind of person who could easily breeze over these types of situations, but sadly I’m not and probably never will be. They sting. They eat away at the depths of the soul (too much?) and sometimes in the still of the night I wonder why people needlessly aim to hurt others. It is a sad state of affairs but one that we have little control over. So I think the best I can do is stand up, be kind to others and keep doing what I’m doing with glitzy jazz hands.

Faultfinders will follow you to the ends of the earth. I’ve decided that I am going to take it as a compliment. It means I’m doing something with my life worth talking about. If these people want to chat about my comings and goings like I’m some sort of…CELEBRITY! Then I thank them kindly.

That means I’m just one step closer to that exclusive circle of legendary humans whom tête-à-tête all day about fan-mail.

WINNING!

 

Being Kind & Kicking Ass

It was painting day at the Panini shop. As of right now I seem to be bathing in a slew of Panini’s so you will have to deal with yet another sandwich-store related rambling. We had decided to scrimp a bit in the paint department since our bay has outlandishly high ceilings. We didn’t want to be spending a small fortune on paint, so we chose the cheapest orange (The Hot Wire’s logo colour) paint we could find.

I was pumped and I just knew it was going to be spectacular!

However after the fourth application of paint I began to get a little perturbed. By perturbed I mean sobbing hopelessly on the ground asking the thin air in front of me why I could still see every damn brush stroke and flaw that this stupid bastard of a wall had to offer.

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I kindly asked impatiently pressed Jamie to go down to the paint store to ask them what we could possibly be doing wrong. I would have gone myself but lately I’ve been trying this “kindness” thing on for size and let’s just say I wasn’t in a particularly kind mood at that moment.

It turns out orange is one of the most difficult paints to apply. Right from the beginning this detail in combination with our super insanely cheap paint was a cocktail for the perfect disaster. These were the “expert’s” exact words to Jamie when he explained our painting plight.

Would have been nice to know when we were in there yesterday buying all of this contemptible orange paint—but yeah, okay, thanks for the tip Tips.

Things started looking up however after applying the fifth and final coat to the walls.

I was feeling good until I looked at the time to find that I had about seven minutes to get to the kids’ school to pick them up. Now if you know me, you know that this would have sent my emotions reeling. I had to get across the city in seven minutes or else I was going to be late. Me? Late? NEVER!

As I spotted my car I contemplated doing the whole jump and slide over the hood spectacle but envisioned myself simply body slamming into the side of it as a feeble alternative. I’d probably dent it up pretty bad and end up smearing the still wet paint from my clothes all over its white exterior too. It would be a mess. So I just walked around to the driver’s side instead.

I was making good time until that sweet little elderly woman cut me off.

“Be calm Lindsay, it’s just a little further. Stay calm.” I was on one of the busier city streets and the ninety year old was topping her motor vehicle out at a whopping 30 kilometers an hour. I had what was adding up to be a damned convoy behind me of angry motorists some of who were even flipping me the bird.

I was about to throw down some pretty creative language myself when I remembered my “Quest for Kindness”. Earlier that day my friend Janelle and I were talking about how we wanted to actively bring more kindness into our lives and the lives of others. I’ve said that before, but I actually meant it this time—I swear. So I curled down my middle finger and gently put my hand back on the wheel.

Eventually I got to school. I wasn’t even late…by that much. It actually killed me a little inside.

On our way home the kids asked to stop at the park. As much as I just wanted to get home and wash the remnants of that dastardly orange paint off of my skin I agreed because I’d rather them blow off steam in the open fields of the park than in the small confines of our car.

Moments after I sat down I noticed a few of the surrounding parents staring at me. Some of them were having full out conversations and I seemed to be their subject matter. The anger was rising and if I were in a bad 90’s movie I would have said something catty like, “take a picture it lasts longer.”

I was worn down from a wretched day. Sodden in sweat stained clothes and shitty orange paint. My hair was whipping about wildly as I had lost my tie somewhere in the midst of it all. I probably looked homeless. No wonder these assholes wanted to style a few verbal jabs in my direction.

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I gave them a friendly/awkward smile and a wave. They looked shocked that I had acknowledged them and that made me feel a little warm and fuzzy inside.

Perhaps that’s why I then yelled in the grimiest of voices, “Come’n kids! Uncle Toenail gets out on parole today and it’s our turn to pick him up!”

And it occurred to me then that sometimes kindness can be as simple as giving the judgemental strangers on the next bench over something interesting to talk about.

Sophie’s Bus Ride

There is a bus stop that sits directly outside our home. Ever since we moved into this house Sophie has been pretty much obsessed with it. She plops herself down in our front room window and simply stares out at all of the people waiting for their transport.

I have a sneaking suspicion my daughter may follow in my footsteps when it comes to spinning a story. She loves to create tales about the humans who pause in front of our home. However it gets a little awkward when said humans happen to turn around to see a big eyed, wild-haired five year old gazing intently into their soul. Some have even went as far to move on to the next stop. This infuriates the child because it has ruined her ability to finish her deeply thought out yarn.

Once she told me that the person left because he was about to “diarrhea in his pants” it was then I realized she has indeed taken after ALL of my literary skills.

So imagine Sophie’s surprise when I told her that we would be riding on that very same bus.  She was elated! I may have even seen a single tear of joy roll down her cheek.

Lars on the other hand shrugged his shoulders and said, “oh yeah, that will be cool” in the most unconvincing voice I’ve ever heard. Soph didn’t take any notice however, she just skipped away with Sleepy Bear propped under her arm while speaking to no one in particular about how splendid the bus ride was going to be.

My family had come for a visit and it was with them that we ventured downtown on the bus. As we waited at the same stop in which Sophie had been staring at for the last month I could see the anticipation growing on her face. Of course, as with most public transit the bus was a little late.

“Is it not coming!?” She cried to her Uncle Dustin after we had been waiting for a considerable amount of time. Just as he was about to answer the sound of the buses massive air brakes came whistling down the street.

 

“IT’S HERE!” She screamed as the doors opened. It was from that point until we reached the downtown terminal that Sophie was the star of this specific bus route.

The population inside including the driver could immediately tell that we were newbies at this public transit thing. If it wasn’t me asking how much we owed him for boarding, Sophie definitely gave us away when she organized a joyful twirl while walking down the aisle and saying, “it’s so awesome Mom!”

I like to believe the seven of us were more of a humorous attraction to our fellow passengers rather than a disturbance. We were quite vocal in our queries of which terminals or stops to get on and off of but everyone seemed to be very forthcoming with information and assistance.

Meanwhile the only one of us who seemed completely at home on the large means of transportation was Lars. As my mom said it seemed like “old hat” for the seven year old. He had plopped himself down on the seat propped an arm up on the armrest and sat idly by waiting for his stop.

“Lars are you enjoying the ride?” His Auntie Ashley asked him about half way to our destination.

“Yeah it’s alright.” He replied.

“What do you mean it’s alright?!” Sophie screamed, “It’s amazing!” Her gusto made everyone smile and I had a feeling that taking the bus downtown would end up being a regular occurrence. This was fine by me since I had been swept away with nostalgia from the time I stepped onto the vehicle. Before having the kids and moving back to our small hometown of Sylvan Lake I was a bus riding professional in the cities I wandered. It was surreal to be brought back to those times but now hand in hand with the children I never knew I’d have back then.

We had a great time exploring City Center and some of its eclectic shops and cafes but once again Sophie’s real point of delight was sparked by getting back on the bus to ride home.

There are days in this new city when I miss Sylvan Lake. I miss our friends and the easiness of hometown living. But experiencing simple yet extraordinary moments like we did on this day allow me to realize how much this new home of ours has to offer.

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Happy Valentines Day To You Too

As the kids made their way home from school, bellies filled with candy hearts and suckers made from red dye No. 5, I began to wonder about the inevitable. This being when they would finally realize that their father and I abstain from the remarkably popular holiday which falls on February the fourteenth.

I know what you are thinking; we’ve been getting the same accusatory statements for as long as our relationship has existed.

“Well he is just too cheap to do anything for you obviously.” Or “That’s just an excuse to be lazy.” Because apparently, the only people who are allowed to veto this day of cherub arrows and paper hearts are the singles that are loud and proud or the hipsters who tend to go against anything that falls into the realm of standard.

But the couples, oh the couples must celebrate—it is THE “Day of Love” after all.

Are you aware who Saint Valentine was? Because I wasn’t until this evening when I decided to write an article on Valentines Day and actually look into the man himself. It turns out he was not some horrific beast of a man that ripped out the hearts of the innocent to later feast on, like I had hoped—that would have obviously made for a much more attractive anecdote.

The year was somewhere around 270 AD, the place- Rome, and under the rule of Claudius the Cruel. During this time the emperor believed that there was a lack of soldiers because men were hesitant to go to battle while having wives and children at home. Which doesn’t make much sense to me…But who am I to argue with ol’ Clauds? To rectify this problem he placed a ban on all marriages and engagements in Rome.

A holy priest named (you guessed it) Valentine, thought this was downright despicable and secretly continued to perform matrimonies for the people. However it didn’t end happily my friends, spoiler alert—dude got caught. On February 14th 278 AD Valentine, later named a saint, was executed by order of Claudius the Cruel. It is said that while awaiting his execution he wrote one last note to the jailer’s daughter, as they had become fast friends in the slammer, and signed it, “From Your Valentine.”

 

…just like the ones that we hand out in elementary school! It’s all coming together now.

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Now please, if you still can’t get enough of this national card giving and chocolate binging day, please don’t let my catty and sarcastic remarks stop you.

I’m sure that at one point in history Valentine’s Day was a commendable idea. But now, here, I feel that the presentation of love should be more than that. What is so commendable about showering your spouse in red roses and special words because a date on the calendar told you to?

Love is about the deep sanctity of togetherness. It is finding yourself once again standing in a pit of obstacles and knowing you will make it through as long as it brings you closer to your person.  Love is not thinking twice about taking a chance on all of the things you hate about someone. Love is mundane and terrifying and exciting and usually pretty damn random too.

I simply cannot believe in allocating one single day to celebrating all of that. Shouldn’t that celebration exist each time you open your eyes to see that person you love sleeping next to you? (Drool and morning breath included!)

This feeling or celebration or whatever you want to call it should be present in each waking moment you know that there is another person out there who feels the exact same adoration for you as you do for them. Devotion is not made in a one-day-a-year offer so why should it be celebrated as such? It is the everyday splendours that reaffirm our love and keep a relationship strong and healthy.

If you celebrate Valentine’s Day for its true meaning and pay homage to the man that once sacrificed his life for young men and women to marry then I commend you! If you are using this day as a reminder to stop by the closest gas bar off your evening commute to purchase some cheap tulips and a card engraved with an even cheaper poem then please re-evaluate yourself before you devaluate yourself. Yep- that just happened.

For me, no amount of fancy dinners or cheese-filled cards can trump the spark that Jamie and I share each and every day. And if that is an odd way to celebrate our lives together…Well then, I guess we are just a couple of weirdo’s.

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The Crazy/Fun Ones Are Always The Best

So there I was, week two of being moved into our new home and feeling so lonely I could puke. A month before I told everyone and their dog that, “I’d be fine” and, “Don’t worry about me, I’ve got the kids and we will make friends lickity split once we get there.”  Turns out kids are crappy conversationalists and leave little time for socializing.

As the days pressed on, these two small factors began to drive me over the proverbial edge.

One evening Jamie was half an hour late making his usual bedtime phone call to the kids. I freaked. I actually may have momentarily lost my mind. I imagined him dead in a ditch somewhere because there was surely no other reasonable explanation as to why my husband had not answered any one of my twelve text messages. Not to mention why he was thirty minutes late in calling us—his loving family who missed him dearly—just no logical reason at all.

After calling his brother and texting about fifty other people to assure my text messages were getting through, I saw his picture pop up on my cell. He was calling. I answered in a fit. “I thought you were dead Jamie!”

He laughed. He laughed at my misery/psychosis and told me the restaurant had got slammed during the dinner rush and he couldn’t get off the line. However by this point it was too late for excuses.  Between snivels I heatedly explained that he shouldn’t laugh in this situation. I told him he wasn’t the one here in this strange place all alone with two children and knowing hardly anyone, so he just wasn’t allowed to laugh.

He apologized and I got over the initial hysteria that was building up in me. However when I hung up the phone I realized that if this was going to work I had to buck up and find some way to be okay with my husband’s temporary absence.

It’s funny how sometimes the most chance people decide to show up in our lives, exactly when we need them most.

The next day my Auntie Deb called me out of the blue to ask how the move went. Auntie Deb and I used to be very close when I was a kid but over the years and as life tends to do we had grown apart. However she is and always will be one of those fellow humans that once you reconnect it feels as though no time has passed at all.

After crying my woes to her and revealing my loneness resulting in temporary psychotic breaks my aunt told me she was planning to come down for a visit. She said that she too had once been a mother alone in a city where she knew no one- she felt my pain.

Auntie Deb has always been, well, Auntie Deb. Growing up she was the person my brother and I would be thrilled to go stay with because she is so carefree and fun-loving. She is outspoken and spontaneous. She is a little crazy (but in the most excellent way possible). Life was always chalk full of surprises when she was around. I couldn’t wait for Lars and Sophie to get to experience the jubilation this woman brings to those around her.

We all slipped easily into a routine while Deb and her funny pup Maggie were staying with us. The kids fell in love with the energetic Shih Tzu while Auntie and I stayed awake late talking about the old days and catching up on all of the moments we had missed in each other’s lives.

We went walking and I fell about a hundred times on the slick ice-covered sidewalks. Have I failed to mention to you how “graceful” I am in this slippery winter weather? And Oh how Auntie laughed at me. You know it’s a special kind of camaraderie when you are flat on your derrière from a fall and all you can hear are snorts of hilarity coming from your walking companion.

After that we decided to explore the city via car as to save me from another catastrophic nose-dive. We got lost and found our way again—and might I add, if you are going to get lead astray by anybody in this life you’d be lucky to by such a blithe human such as my Aunt. So despite having no clue where we were we simply laughed and ventured forward.

Sometimes, life will cut us a break and send a special soul our way to help us find our bearings and let us know that everything is going to be alright. It is for that reason I will forever have faith that there is something out there leading us in the right direction.

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