Monday, June 30, 2008

jam weekend

I bought 45 lbs of perfect strawberries on Saturday. Fiona helped me make a lot of jam.

question: have you tasted the berries?

mompoet - full of good berries

Sunday, June 29, 2008

porch haiku

just the smell of a
tomato leaf in the sun
is enough for me

Saturday, June 28, 2008

bus trail

The quickest way to the bus stop near my house is a 60 second walk straight up the hill on a dirt path through the trees. It's close to vertical.

question: do you have a local shortcut?

mompoet - hiking to transit

Friday, June 27, 2008

everyone succeed day

When I woke up on Thursday morning I felt excited about "everyone succeed day." I had committed (on a prompt from our personal coach, Christina) to try to live a whole day actively wanting everyone I meet to be successful.

I was not sure how I would do this, but took my cue from our conversation about coaching and listening. I know that I don't know what each person sees as "success," and I know that my job is not to find out exactly what this is for every person I meet:

me: Hi, my name is Sue, before I get on this bus, will you please tell me what your vision is for your own personal success in life? I plan to ensure that it is fulfilled, before my ride is through.

driver: Sorry, this bus is full. (doors close)

I decided that I would simply try to be present for the people I spend time with. I would give them my full attention, try to listen at a higher level, and avoid imposing my own agenda while listening. Maybe this would somehow lift them, even a little, and possibly clear any obstacles to success that I might unconsciously pose in my interactions with them.

My husband left for work at 4:30am, so I didn't have a lot of interaction with him first thing. I think I told him I love him, and I hoped he would have a good day at work. There would be time later to be there. 4:30 is time for sleep for me.

My son got up in the morning to go to his very last Grade 12 Provincial Exam. It was also his very last day to be at the school, pick up his report card, and maybe say good-bye to a teacher or two. When he first got up I missed the boat on being present. I felt a bit rushed, almost ready to leave for work, and trying to fix a quick breakfast for him while I packed up. He seemed pokey and distracted and I wondered if he'd make it to school on time for the exam. While I had the dog out for a short walk, I organized my thoughts. Pokey and distracted is not unusual for my son, but he doesn't always act that way. What was going on? I wondered. As for my time constraints, it would not be the end of the world if I arrived at work a few minutes late. This was more important.

So I came back in with the dog, and found my son sprawled on the couch eating cinnamon toast. I asked "How are you doing?" He told me he felt nervous, but he didn't know why. My agenda for him was bumping around inside my head, but I told it to sit down. I was not letting it out right now. I asked a few questions, "What do you think it will be like today?" "What's happening for you right now?" He didn't talk a lot, but I watched his body language, and he seemed to relax a bit. He ended up talking about what he was going to do after the exam (go see a movie with a friend) and we joked a bit about embarassing tearful farewells with teachers. I think he felt that his feelings were acknowledged. I left for work feeling better connected with him. I was five minutes late. Nobody at work seemed concerned.

At work all day, and at home in the evening, I tried to stop, drop and listen when people were talking to me. I realised how much I usually multi-task - holding conversations while shuffling papers or loading the dishwasher or cooking, for example. I think this is okay, but it was a good experience to try just not doing it for one day. On ordinary days, I think I can exercise better judgement about what conversations need me to totally stop and listen, and which interactions can withstand a bit of shuffling. There are even times when two people doing a task together can talk more freely than two people sitting still. I decided to be more conscious about this and more intentional with my choices.

When I stopped and listened, people's faces changed. I'm not sure how much of them was really changing in response to my attention, and how much was my perception changing because I was really focussed on them. I think it must have been a mixture of both. It will be an interesting exploration to pay attention to this and experiment with it a bit. I wonder what I will notice about people, and how much I will be able to tell from my observations. This aspect of listening piques my curious interest in people's experiences and ways of thinking and understanding things.

I did receive a couple of good insights by paying attention. For example, I paid attention to a group of ladies at the recreation centre where I work. Their fitness teacher had a minor accident on her way to work, and we had to cancel the class. I relayed the information that she was okay, and another staff member was on her way to help her, and give her a ride home. The ladies stayed at the centre, had a coffee, and talked in an unusually animated fashion for about half an hour. I stuck around and listened mostly, wondering what was happening. Then my co-worker returned. I listened to her describing how she had heard about the accident and driven to the location to assist. I tried my listening skills, and watched and listened as her tension seemed to unfurl itself, then subside - in her tone of voice, body language, and pace of conversation. Near the end of our conversation she said, "Those ladies really care for their instructor, you know."

The light went on for me. The ladies were staying because they felt so worried about their instructor. They needed to be together, and possibly distracted, while they were feeling this way. I went back to the coffee room to check in with them. I found the right time to share the story my co-worker had just told, and to reassure them that we knew for sure that their teacher was okay. Now the ladies uncurled a bit. Their faces brightened and their voices grew softer. I stayed and listened while they talked about their feelings of relief, and how they hoped their teacher would be back soon. Soon they finished their conversation and headed out of the centre. I thought about the things I had noticed. Attending gave me a clue to what was going on. Instead of just managing the situation, I tried to be more curious about how people were experiencing it. I think it resulted in a better experience for the ladies, my co-worker and me.

That made me think of what is meant by "wanting people to succeed." If success is measured by how far an interaction goes to fulfilling the intentions of the people involved, then this was a success. The coach-like behaviour we discussed on Wednesday opens the door for this to happen.

At home in the evening I tried to be more attentive to my husband and children. I think I was most successful with my husband. I noticed a lot of distractions around us: the hustle to get dinner cooked and served, the noise of computer and TV, demands of evening chores. I suggested that we run an errand together. He suggested we bring the dog and take her to the park. We ended up going on an impromptu date, dropping a salad at the church and taking the dog to the off-leash park, and we talked. I tried to engage my higher-level listening skills to really hear about his day as he was telling me (not my picture in my mind of what it was like). He seemed more attentive to me, in response. This made me think about how level of attention can be a "norming" function. If one person is being attentive, the other person or people tune in and get that way too. I've noticed this before, but never thought of it in the context of wanting people to be successful. This was another insight for me.

Perhaps the most fun was my stranger-beam that I invented. I walked to the bank and the grocery on my lunch break. Everyone I saw, I beamed my good wishes for success to them. It was like a secret charm that they didn't know about but I was thinking. Maybe I looked a little goofy. Probably they didn't notice, but maybe they picked up a warm or happy vibration as we passed.

I was tired at the end of the day, and wondered if I'd paid attention to my own self too, as I had resolved to do when I took on this assignment. Then I remembered when I stopped for a snack mid-afternoon because I noticed myself feeling a bit low. I also remember doing a self-check at the end of the day, adjusting my tense shoulder posture and listeninging to my breathing (slow down!) and thinking, "what am I thinking about?" just before I left the office. At 5:15 I opted to walk home instead of taking the bus. I phoned home to say I wouldn't be home for another hour because of this. Walking relaxes me and makes a gentle transition from work-me to home-me. My family was okay waiting a while for me to arrive. When I got home, I was greeted by the lovely smell of the barbeque, with supper on the go. Work seemed like a long time ago.

I am not sure if what I did made anybody more successful. But I realised that wasn't the assignment. The assignment was to go through my day wanting everyone I met to be successful. By using a strategy of acknowledging the people around me, I know I made a difference in my interactions with the people in my day. That was a success for me.

Thank you Christina, for this interesting assignment. I felt challenged and energized by it. I will think about the things I discovered and carry some of that into the days to come. I hope your "everybody successful" day was good too.

question: if you wanted everyone you met to be successful, what would you do?

mompoet - taking things in and thinking about them

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

an assignment

I attended a group coaching session today. It's part of the leadership program I am taking at work. This time there were four of us meeting together with our coach Christina. We reflected on our experiences with our course work so far, and our fear of the unknown and tasks that make us feel unsure of our capacities. I realised how close we have become as students working together in the course. This closeness, along with Christina's coaching skills, enabled us to have a pretty intense and open 2 hour talk session.

We talked about our individual responses to feeling fear, the experience of worrying and how we handle it, how to listen at empathic and intuitive levels and how to ask powerful questions. We discovered that we share common feelings in work and social situations where we are called upon to behave in a coaching manner. We're learning coaching skills ourselves, as well as benefiting from the coaching we are receiving.

Christina asked what it would be like if everyone in the world wanted everyone else to succeed, and behaved accordingly. If everyone was open, genuine and supportive with one another - wouldn't that be something? Then she asked if anyone would like to join her in spending one whole day of wanting everyone else to succeed. So I'm going to try tomorrow. I'm not sure what it will look like or feel like, but I'm going to try.

I know that I can't make everyone succeed, or even know what success means to the people I meet. I do know that this is not something that I can decide. With the people I am close to at work and at home, I can be curious, open and genuinely supportive of what they are saying, feeling and doing. I think I'm this way a lot of the time already, but it will be interesting to be intentionally so. For the people with whom I have short encounters, I will try to do something, even if it's just a feeling of awareness and respect that I have while I am interacting for the moment. Maybe they will feel it, or maybe not. I'll know it's going on.

Mostly I will try to tune in to my intuition about what people are feeling and saying. I will also try to listen to myself, and figure out what I am feeling in awkward or intense situations. It will be a day of exploration and experimentation.

If you see me or talk to me tomorrow and I seem weird, please go along with it. I will probably be feeling weird, and I'm going to try to embrace that weirdness. And if you talk to me about something that is important to you, I will likely listen like you have never felt me listen before.

Wish me luck!

question: have you tried any assignments lately?

mompoet - wondering and wondering

my new un-favourite word

It's warm outside, finally, and the weather reporters are now obsessed with just how warm it will be each day. So it's back:


As in "Tempetures today will go as high as 22 degrees inland, then cool to about 15 overnight."

Temperature has 4 syllables. I guess they are cutting back (rrrrrrr). This annoying word trend is evident on most local TV news shows, but not currently on CBC radio. I have not listened to the other radio stations to check. This is annoying enough already.

I know that you probably don't notice it, and even if you do, it probably does not bother you, but it bothers me.

question: does it bother you?

mompoet - it's it's driving me insane

Saturday, June 21, 2008

the wart chronicles - end of week 1

My foot has hurt less this week than last, even though I have been walking everywhere. I think it's psychological. Now that I know it's just a wart, it is minimized in my mind (exept when I obsess about it on my blog and refer to it in my facebook status line). The plantar wart is still there, and just as big. I got it frozen last Saturday with liquid nitrogen at the doctor's, then wore duct tape over it all week. This morning I took the duct tape off. The only difference that I have noted is that it is smelly under the duct tape. Really smelly.

Here's wikipedia's thoughts on plantar warts.

And here's ehow's advice.

I just might write a poem for my wart this week.

On the practical side of things, I will return to the doctor for another jolt of foot-freeze, and also reapply the duct tape. By the way, don't eat that partial potato in the fridge. It's not very nice.

question: do you know a cure?

mompoet - visitor in my shoe

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Monday, June 16, 2008


I am in my car. I sit in the backseat. Two preschool-age kids sit in the front seat. I realise that the car is moving backwards very fast. The kids are calm. I am mostly calm. I say, "See that pedal down there? (brake) Can you reach it?" Kids can't. I say, "I am coming to the front seat now." Car is speeding faster and faster. Kids are calm. I am not. I get in the front seat, take the wheel, apply the brake, shift to drive. Now driving forward on the wrong side of the road. Big truck coming. Truck transforms into gathering of women from Bountiful (a polygamist community in eastern BC). They are walking around the car. Women are calm. I drive slowly, respectfully. Child in car asks, "Who are those ladies in dresses?" Alarm rings. 6am. I wake up.

question: what dreams do you dream?

mompoet - REMembering

the wart chronicles - the beginning

On Saturday the doctor told me I have a plantar wart. It is on the ball of my foot below the base of my big toe. It hurts like a something-or-other with a very bad name and evil intentions. It hurts when I walk. It hurts when I rest. It hurts when I eat ice cream. It hurts when I sneeze. It hurts when I talk about it. It hurts when I ignore it. Ibuprofen helps a bit. A lot of ibuprofen, a little bit.

Doctor zapped it with liquid nitrogen on Saturday. I will go see the doctor every few days and get more liquid nitrogen. If it's like my university experience with the same problem, it will be lot of time and a lot of liquid nitrogen before this thing goes away.

In the meantime, I will try duct tape. Here is an article explaining one foot-person's experience with plantar warts and the duct tape saviour.

I will chronicle my wart war. There may be photos. There will be vivid descriptions. If you don't like it, just avoid the posts with "wart" in the title. That's your warting, or warning, as the case may be. Warting, this post is about the wart.

The wart will become my parasitic twin until it expires, then it will be dead mutant skin cells, transformed to host a virus, then expelled, perhaps by liquid nitrogen, perhaps by duct tape. And now for some photos of people who have probably never had warts.

one and two



and some who definitely have had warts





question: do you know of the duct tape remedy? do you recommend it?

mompoet - wart warrior (just now imagining Angelina Jolie putting duct tape on Brad Pitt's wart)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

commencement ceremony

Alex's class of 360 students graduated from high school this weekend. The commencement ceremony was held at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver. It was a long evening (3 1/2 hours) but beautifully done. My Mom and Dad came with us to watch the first of their grandchildren cross the stage in cap and gown.

Alex won a bursary from the Parent Advisory Council at the school. This was a delightful surprise for him and for us. It feels great to be recognized, and the $500 will help toward first term tuition.

Here are some of the photos. I'll have a few more soon.

question: where did you have your commencement?

mompoet - proud mompoet

Saturday, June 14, 2008

limpy the wart foot

I have a 6 ibuprofen a day foot pain. It has hurt for several weeks. I have been ignoring it (except for the taking ibuprofen part). I have continued to go for one-hour walks and pedal the bike and generally hop around like a busy person. My only concession has been to wear lower, cushier shoes lately, and to keep my slipper habit going at home because barefoot hurts.

Turns out, it was a good idea to keep the slippers on. I have a plantar wart, right on the big round part of the ball of my foot, at the base of my big toe. When I step down or push off, or just sit very still, it shoots arrows of pain through my foot and makes me cringe and squeak.

I have had a plantar wart before. In university I had one. The doctor at the campus medical clinic diagnosed it, and got me to attend the "wart clinic." Every Thursday morning, the nurse would go up to the chem lab and get a big container of liquid nitrogen. All the warty people would sit in the waiting room, waiting for their turn with the wart nurse, who would apply liquid nitrogen to their warts. This is called "cryosurgery" or surgery by freezing. The cold does not kill the wart, but it irritates the surrounding tissue sufficiently that a blister forms and the wart is displaced. I remember, a big limpet-shaped chunk just fell out of my foot one day, leaving a cone-shaped dent. It felt marvellous, and made me realise that having a wart in your foot (in, not one, because it points in, not out) is like having a rock in your shoe that won't move.

So I wonder why I waited so long. I should have recognized it.

I guess I was busy imagining that I had foot cancer, or that I had permanently damaged my foot by wearing high heels once to frequently (oh vanity), or that the doctor would say, "no exercise for a month" and I wouldn't want to hear that because I love to pound my feet, move and push. Also, I have been very busy, and whenever my foot reminded me that it needed help, I was away from a phone. Then when I had a quiet moment, it would rest and feel better.

So today the doctor put liquid nitrogen on the wart. It seems that they have it at my doctor's office all the time. No need to congregate at a certain time with other warty people (although it was fun to imagine striking up a conversation with, "So, you got warts many and where are they?") I will soon be rid of the wart and the pain. And the doc has referred me to a place that makes orthotics because he says the prevalence of calluses on my feet indicates that my walking, running and pedaling are uneven, thus putting more pressure on these spots that I should.

If you see me limping, you'll know why. It's just the human papilloma virus making a limpet-shaped tumour upside down under the skin of my foot. Nice visual, huh?

question: do you have a wart?

mompoet - papilloma spell-checks to "pillow case"

the sun came out for about 5 minutes yesterday

and I'm still running, running, running. It has been a time of running, this school year-ending time. Alex finished classes yesterday, Fiona will finish next week. We have had 2 awards nights, a dance recital and general busy-ness all around. Tonight is Alex's commencement ceremony. Sunday afternoon we'll have a small lunch party for him with family and friends.

Everyone is fine and happy. I watch for the sun to come back. Mid-June and we still haven't eaten a meal on the deck.

running and running and running - will the sun make me stop?

question: when and why do you stop?

mompoet - wondering

Saturday, June 07, 2008

two good ones at the video store

If you missed them, they're at the video store. Two extraordinary movies about real love:

The Savages


Lars and the Real Girl

I hope you like them.

question: are there any good movies out there now?

mompoet - I missed Son of Rambow - drat!

If you like youtube and/or weezer, you will enjoy this video

fret and fuss

I am famous for not worrying (much). I sleep well, and instantly. I work hard to make things go well, but when they don't, I find a way to deal with it. I do not crane my neck to watch for the bus. The bus will arrive when it arrives, whether I turkey-gawk for it, or relax and just be there.

So when do I fret, I notice it. And I'm fretting now, over some small but important things:

  • when will I get over this low-grade cold? I don't like feeling 86%. I like 100% (prognosis - unknown)
  • will Alex get his high school commencement ceremony night off work? He asked for the night off a long time ago, but was told that the schedule for that date wasn't ready, then he asked again earlier this week, and too many people in his department already have asked for that night off. He's working on a solution with his manager, but still has not been promised the night off. (prognosis - it looks pretty good he thinks. we'll know for sure on Wednesday)
  • is my car okay? It's making a sound underneath like when the toaster oven vibrates and rattles. I talked to our mechanic today and he reassured me it's probably an exhaust rattle which can be fixed for $0 to $30. I'll take the car to him one day this week for an actual look and fix. (prognosis - Monday or Tuesday this will be taken care of)
  • will the kids make the school year end transition okay? It's time for final exams, awards ceremonies, dance recital, then suddenly nothing, no school for two months. Intellectually and from experience, I know they'll be fine, but I always think that the transition is a difficult one for them - work work work, study study study - STOP! (prognosis - get over it mom. They have handled it before, and they will be fine again this time)
  • why am I losing things? This week I lost (and found) my umbrella and two sets of work keys - the keys to the building and the barbeque keys. All are found, safe and sound, but I don't like it when I lose things. (prognosis - you are losing things because you are distracted. Find your focus and you will be more consistent with putting things away where they belong, and bringing them with you when you take them out of where they belong)
With so much going on in the world, you'd think I'd fret over something of consequence, but here I am fretting over things like snot and keys and exhaust rattles. I guess I don't really have anything to worry about. But still, I fret. Luckily not frequently.

The fret storm will pass.

question: do you fret?

mompoet - what a waste of energy

Monday, June 02, 2008

movie talk

I was chatting with my friend Lynn on Sunday, and I told her how Alex said that the movie theatre was much easier to clean up after Indiana Jones opening night than it was after the opening of the new movie Sex and the City.


Lynn: Oh! I saw that movie this weekend!

mompoet: I never watched the TV show, so I'll probably skip the movie. How did you like it? Is it worth seeing?

Lynn: Yes, we liked it. I don't know about that part with the aliens, though. And the fire ants were really scary. I had to close my eyes.

(mompoet is picturing one of the Sex and the City girls dating an alien, then being eaten by fire ants)

mompoet: Really!

Lynn: I can't stand parts like that. But it was exciting and full of action. I wonder if he does his own stunts.

(mompoet thinking that this is a bit easier to reconcile with her idea of the movie but still...)

mompoet: You're talking about Indiana Jones, right? I thought you meant Sex and the City.

(Lynn and mompoet laughing)

question: what do you talk about when the person you are talking to is talking about something else?

mompoet - partially disconnected, but still trying

gag 1 and gag 2

First, from the Legislature.

Then, from Prince Edward Island, to UBC Biodiversity Museum.

Here's the beginning of the whale story, to catch you up if you haven't heard.

Question: which kind of gagging is better for the Province of British Columbia?

mompoet - I'll take the stinky blubber any day