Canadiankgb's Blog

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Another Valentine’s and a different love story…. February 16, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — canadiankgb @ 6:27 pm

Valentine’s Day. A day for lovers. Commercial and not for me. If my husband of 30 years bought me roses I would be annoyed at the waste of money. Spend time with me and I feel loved. Valentine’s Day done.

Instead I spent it with two different ends of the extreme. My morning was spent listening to and then speaking with young immigrant women with the Youth Mentorship Program at the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association or CIWA. Surrounded by bright, bubbly and engaged women, I was awed and amazed by their passion and enthusiasm. When I was done speaking, I had a number of young women and staff approach me and thank me for my passion and advocacy in the community. I left feeling gratified. With these brilliant young women carrying the future in their hands, I am hopeful.

Now switch to my evening. A friend of mine is a fundraiser for the Calgary Drop In Centre, mostly known as The DI. His daughter Grace, about 8 years old, has been making beautiful bracelets and selling them. The money she has raised went to sponsoring a dinner at the DI, which costs about $1500. (her Dad got cake donated too!) A beautiful roast beef dinner with mashed potatoes, vegetables, bread and gravy was served, with a veggie choice for those of the vegetarian persuasion.

My job was to serve guests. Not clients, not homeless people, guests. I like that language. The dining room was filled with 530 people as we began service. Families from Grace’s school were also volunteering, and her schoolmates made 1000 Valentine’s cards for the guests. I watched Grace and one of her friends hand out the cards with their respective Mum’s and I felt my eyes begin to leak. (I was not crying).

Those of us serving donned plastic gloves, and stood in line at the kitchen taking two plates at a time out to the guests. I was thanked over and over again and even received a number of big smiles and “Happy Valentine’s Day” greetings. As we finished the room, we were asked to line up by the stairs as the initial guests left.

A second sitting began to enter. I asked my friend Mark how many folks would be served, as I had thought that once the room emptied we were done. But in fact a second set of guests entered. While not quite another 530, that was the usual amount. Now we were up to 1060. Mark informed me that one of the upstairs floors had already been served (150) and another 100 would most likely be served late. I am not a mathematician, but I think we are now at 1310. A really busy night, sees 1500. That’s right, 1500.

As the volunteers were finishing up the service, an announcement came over the PA asking the guests to thank us, the volunteers. As the guests applauded and many turned and smiled and said thank you, my eyes again filled with water. (I was STILL not crying).

We finished by bussing the tables and as we did, I watched folks line up to go upstairs to their beds. Some smiled at me, some were focused on their feet, and others were reading books. But what was apparent to me was the look of tiredness on their faces. I wondered how many kilometers they had walked that day and I thought about how my friends and I wore pedometers or fitbits or used our cellphones to count our steps. I felt the weight of my privilege, heavy on my shoulders.

As I drove home to have a glass of wine in my middle class home, with my husband, I reflected on what I had seen, smelled, touched, heard and yes, even tasted. I had been close to two ends of the human spectrum today; youth who were bright eyed and waiting for life to happen and guests at the DI who appeared a little weary. Tired.

But I felt hope with both groups. I felt that the little time I had donated was appreciated, by both groups. And I felt privileged to serve, with both groups.

This was not an ordinary Valentine’s Day. But I think it has been the best I have ever had. And now I WILL cry. Happy Valentine’s Day.


Practicing Disney Princess logic: Let it Go August 25, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — canadiankgb @ 12:39 am

  I am a person with energy. I have been described as a red whirlwind, an energizer bunny and a firecracker. I am honest, open, and transparent. My heart is on my sleeve, my feelings register in my voice and my expressions hide nothing. And when confronted with something inside myself that I dislike I worry it like a dog with a bone and it shows in every action and behaviour that I have.

Recently, I was out with some friends and some “Extra” people were invited. Throughout the evening, one of the gentlemen and his partner became more and more inebriated and in turn, more belligerent and confrontational. I was not overly engaged in the conversation they were having, but at one point a statistic was brought up that I did not agree with. It was in regards to minimum wage and people in Alberta living on it. Folks in my inner circle know that I am very involved in Poverty Reduction work, working with vulnerable populations and in trying to enact change in our city. I also believe that statistics can be morphed to create different stories depending on the person presenting them. I argued, albeit gently, that I did not think his statistic was true and I also brought up that people in serving positions were paid less than minimum wage and I thought it was around $7 or $8 dollars an hour plus tips. He called me on it and fought for his statistic. I fought for the argument on living wage and facts I know about poverty in Alberta. The result was he and his partner left and he was furious with me and tweeted about my not knowing my stats with the hashtag #STFU. I was angry. I was hurt. I was wrong.

I looked up his stat and where he had got it from was valid. (Still found errors, but was accurate in how it was presented) So I tweeted to him that we were both wrong. Servers were paid less then minimum but higher then I thought. Less people made minimum wage then I expected. 

What I wanted was an honest discussion that, statistics aside, minimum wage no matter HOW many people receive it, is not enough to live a good, decent and reasonable life. And I was asking for this discussion or acknowledgment from someone who could not let go of a statistic that made him right. I thought long and hard and finally tweeted that I wanted someone in my world to behave like a Disney Princess and sing “Let it Go.” But instead I was going to sing the song and practice the words. And then I blocked him on Twitter.

Yet three hours later, here I am writing about it. I still have not “Let it go”. Why? Is it because I want to be right? No. Is it because I want everything to be okay in this very unimportant relationship? No. It’s because he represents a huge number of people in Alberta who hang on to a number, a statistic a belief that allows them to stay in their fixed box when considering the vulnerable in our province and I want them to change their minds.

My challenge is to let HIM go, but not the fact that in challenging me, he has given me an opportunity to create a stronger language, use better research and to continue to do my work knowing that I will always face that kind of “In the box” thinking. Thank you for the learning. I will let you go now.


First post….. January 3, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — canadiankgb @ 9:26 am

Welcome to my world………I am not sure what I am hoping to get out of a Blog, but I do know that I am always looking for people who are not so much LIKE me, but people who ask similar questions. Why am I here? What is it to live a responsible, connected life? What do I want my impact on the world around me to be? And then on the simplest of days, I simply wonder if other people look around and wonder if other people look around and wonder………are you thinking what I am thinking? Because on the days when I am the most sane, I can get caught in the craziest brain spins, as if my brain was on a Merry-go-round turning out of control. Do you look at others and wonder if they ever think like you? Or do others just live their lives from the wakening time to sleep simply oblivious. I wish for that disconnection at times, that ability to not care……….but I cannot reach it. I always care, usually too much…..