Monday Morning Musings

Posted on July 13, 2020 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet

 

Getting ready to go back to school

 

“School days, school days,

Dear old golden rule days.”

I am shocked to be returning to school at the age of nearly 69. I am even more shocked to be teaching at this ripe old age. Actually, I am mostly shocked that I’m almost 70.

Now, normally, I would be doing a “back to school” post in mid-August when everyone’s senses are heightened with the beginning of a new school year. But this year is anything but normal. Returning to school is not even a given in many school districts around the globe because of the Coronavirus pandemic. After what seems an eternity, especially for many parents attempting to work from home while simultaneously trying to entertain young children, school boards are desperately trying to open schools safely.

Make no mistake, in normal times, we would be inundated already with flyers with “back to school” sales and promos. Several decades ago, the list of necessities might include scribblers, pencils, crayons, rulers and possibly a few new articles of clothing. In more recent times, there might be a long list of electronic devices and backpacks. These days, one would be likely to see a list that included designer face masks and hand sanitizer.

These are strange times indeed.

Many of you know that I resumed my teaching career late last fall after a mere 40 -year hiatus. A lot has changed in four decades especially my waistline and hair line. The technology in classrooms today is vastly different, but kids are still kids. That hasn’t changed. Teaching is an extremely demanding profession. I think the pandemic has revealed this in a stark way as parents try their best to home school their children.

I will be heading north in just a few weeks’ time. In many northern communities, school starts in early August and wraps up at the end of May. Exercising extreme caution, teachers in our school who hail from other parts of the country, will be brought back into the community in stages. I will be in the first wave. Of course, as one might expect, we will have to self-isolate for 14 days. Having done this once already, I know that this is not a hardship.

Class sizes in my school tend to be smaller than one might find in southern jurisdictions which will make physical distancing somewhat easier but there will be nothing easy about trying to deliver an educational program in the middle of a global health crisis.

I am trying my best not to try and anticipate how things might unfold because, let’s face it, we’re all in uncharted waters. No matter where you’re living or what your occupation, trying to plan is really a guessing game because no one knows how things will unfold until a vaccine is found.

I am actually quite excited to be heading into the unknown. Some might think that this is reckless and risky of me at this advanced age. You can die from boredom, worry and lethargy too.

I believe that having a purpose every day is one of the determinants of good health and happiness, especially in our golden years.

My latest book is being shipped from the printer this week. I am hoping to receive them at the end of the week. I will do a virtual launch the week of the July 20th. You can nab me before I leave on the 26th to get a signed copy and they will also be on sale locally at the 5 to $1.00 in Antigonish and in Pleasant Bay at the Whale Interpretive Centre. They will also be available on Amazon.

Have a great week.

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on July 6, 2020 under Monday Morning Musings with one comment

 

A stroll down The Main

 

“The only constant in life is change.” Heraclitus

The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus was born in 540 B.C. I’m not sure what was going on back then that caused him to coin this well-known phrase, but it has stood the test of time.

Is it only me or is the pace of change happening at warp speed? Maybe it was always thus if you believe the words of the Greek philosopher. Change is inevitable and normal, but it is the speed of change that has my head spinning.

Even before the pandemic hit us, the face of business had been in transition for some time. The small mom and pop stores of yesteryear had been, by and large, swept away by a current of big box stores and online shopping. It’s hard to stop a tsunami once it starts. Small business, the heart and soul of small-town Canada for centuries is now under threat of extinction.

Covid-19 has brought out the best in people. Those of us forced to self-isolate for 14 days were inundated with acts of kindness from family, friends, and in some cases, complete strangers. Many local businesses adapted their way of doing business by offering their services online, with delivery and pickup as options when entering their premises was not allowed.

While more and more people relied on the goodwill of others, many took this opportunity while hunkered down, to think about their lifestyle and the way they buy and consume goods and services. Many of us realized that we could do quite well with less. We baked like there was no tomorrow and garden centers experienced explosive sales as many people decided that it was time to start growing their own food. The notion of food security has been brought under the bright lights.

In our community, we are blessed with a farmer’s market and within days or weeks, a sparkling new Farmer’s Market building will open its doors. It is obvious that we crave locally grown vegetables and fruits. We feel secure knowing that these items were grown locally and not transported for thousands of kilometers on a truck. In some cases, we might pay a bit more to get these products, but we are smart enough to realize that there’s a difference between cost and value.

More and more people are reassessing their shopping habits. There is no way to stop the juggernauts like Amazon and Walmart to name but a few. There is a whole generation of people who have grown up with online shopping and big box stores and these entities aren’t going away any time soon.

How are small communities going to survive when old business models no longer work? Many would suggest that businesses must adapt or die, the “survival of the fittest”. I don’t claim to have the answers, but I still believe that there is a place in 2020 for shopping locally whenever possible. I’m not suggesting that we close our county borders and insulate ourselves but maybe we need to consider regional economic bubbles where people are encouraged to shop locally. It is incumbent on businesses to give people a reason to spend their hard earn dollars supporting the local economy.

What will our communities look like in 25 years if we abandon the small businesses who support local charities, sports teams and the arts community?  No one knows who will be left standing when the dust settles but make no mistake there are going to be a lot of casualties.

The winds of change are howling. We might consider embracing change as an opportunity for growth and renewal.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

I must admit that there are times when I wish we could go back to a simpler time when many activities happened organically without the need for large outlays of cash. Kids lived in the great outdoors and manufactured their own games, playing a pickup game of ball or building forts. Adults bought their groceries at their local Coop or “Hometown Proud” IGA where you knew the names of all the staff. Sadly, those days are long gone.

“Give me the simple life, I need the simple life,

Don’t want to worry ‘bout tomorrow,

Live everyday completely, love for the joy of loving,

Then I will be happy.”

Simple Life – Valdy             

Have a great week.

P.S. If you are wondering what was the point of this post, I’m not even sure myself! After all, it is a confusing time and I confuse easily!!!

 

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on June 29, 2020 under Monday Morning Musings with 3 comments

 

Tom and mom. Two people who continue to inspire me

 

“We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever. The goal is to create something that will.”

Chuck Palahniuk

I try my best not to watch too much television but during the pandemic, my guess is that most of us have watched more t.v. than we have in some time. The news is dominated with heavy doses of Covid-19 reporting, systemic racism issues (north and south of the border) and the endless circus of politics in many countries. Occasionally we catch a glimmer of hope amid the seeming endless chaos and despair with stories of hope, compassion, and love.

CBC’s The National, has a short segment at the end of many of their nightly newscasts featuring the life of someone who had died of the virus. Last week I saw the story of man whose roots are in India who taught school in Nova Scotia for many years. His son spoke lovingly and proudly of his amazing dad who threw himself into numerous charitable endeavors in retirement. When asked, in his 80s, why he kept such a frenetic pace. He responded that he had one life to live and planned to get the most out of it. The son feels inspired to carry on with this same attitude.

Last fall, I ventured up north to teach. I was dealing with some personal issues and arrived in a community that has had its share of trauma. I don’t mind admitting that I struggled mightily. Three people kept me (relatively!) grounded during the most difficult days when darkness enveloped me and bitter winter winds blew.

Very often I thought of my late mother. Quit wasn’t a word found in her vocabulary. There were many days that I thought I couldn’t go on. Mom would be sitting on my shoulder telling me to “finish what you start.” Perched on the other shoulder, was my late brother Tom. I would think to myself, “What would Tom do?” I knew damn well what he would do. He would throw himself into the situation with every fiber of his being.

The third leg of my three- legged stool was my brother in Vancouver who called me every Saturday to listen to my ranting.

Dying is mysterious business. Most of us by now have experienced death firsthand in our family or extended family. Those of us left behind are tasked with processing death in our own unique way.

I must say that I intensely dislike the way the term “closure” is bandied about by so many people. I looked up this word and found the following: Closure means being normal, getting back to your old self, no longer crying or being affected by death. It means moving on with life and leaving the past behind, even to the extent of forgetting it or ignoring it.

To all that I say a resounding BULLSHIT.

I believe that the greatest way to honor a loved one is to not only remember them but to emulate them. Take all their positives and carry their spirit forward. They have given us a parting gift, one that we eagerly unwrap each and every day… a form of re-gifting, without having to use wrapping paper! They give us courage when we are fearful. They lift us up when we fall. They give us energy when we feel that we can’t take another step. They make us laugh when we feel sad.

During my brother’s 10 -year siege with cancer he often said that he wasn’t afraid of dying. He was afraid of not living. He squeezed every ounce out the final decade of his life.

To honor those who have gone before me…

I hope to do more and give more.

I want to be a difference maker even in the smallest of ways.

I want to be positive and cheerful.

Care to join me?

“I guess it’s not what you take when you leave this world behind you,

It’s what you leave behind you when you go.”

Three Wooden Crosses – Randy Travis

Have a great week.

 

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