Do Unto Others….

Every once in a while, something special happens. You find yourself, surprised, smiling and deeply appreciative. I’m not talking about the typically polite things, such as someone holding the door open for you, or a smile from a stranger (although these are nice gestures), I mean when something happens that makes you realize that you may just be more important or more valued then you thought. Something like this happened to me this week, and the happiness that it resulted in for me will not soon be forgotten.

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On a quarantine, rainy summer afternoon, I headed down to our home gym in the basement. It took some internal convincing as I wasn’t feeling too motivated. A blah yucky day can do that to ya! Anyway, I stretched and jumped on to my elliptical and got ready for my 30-minute workout. Not five minutes into my workout, my daughter – who is currently working from home – told me that there was something outside the front door for me. She told me that I should come up and get it. Clearly she was in on this surprise! As I was trudging upstairs, I thought, is it the paper boy? I know I paid him. It’s not my birthday. Amid these covid times,  with limited visiting and social distancing…I was at a loss.

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Waiting for me was a folder and envelope with a card inside. I opened the card and read that enclosed in the folder was a painting that a friend had commissioned for ME. Me?? Me!! It was a gorgeous painting of yellow and purple flowers, a painting that we had talked about a few weeks ago and I had loved. I was speechless that she took the time to find someone to paint it specifically for me.

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My friend’s card said that I was an “amazing person.” And she wanted to do this for me. I considered that amazing, ME? I was dumbfounded. It was then that I realized that most of us are fortunate enough to receive gifts at Christmas and on our birthdays. But receiving something nice completely out of the blue (I wasn’t even sick or anything) is startling. I immediately texted my friend and asked her why she did this? She said that it was “beautiful like me and that I deserved all the beauty in the world because I sure dish it out to everyone I meet.” She said she was “proud to be my friend and I was a bundle of light energy, and that I am like everyone’s sister, and most of all that she will always have my back even though we may not always be face to face.” Not going to lie, I swallowed a big lump in my throat.

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Her gift was timely, timely as my husband and I are soon to be empty nesters – our youngest moves out in a few weeks. I am at the point where I am struggling to figure out what’s next, and at moments I’m feeling lost, and truth be told really not needed anymore. The chapter of child rearing is closing, we did a good job.
Her gift reminded me that there is more to me then I realized and that I have the means and character to do whatever I want to do. Life isn’t over, as they say this is a new chapter. I am grateful that she helped remind me of my worth.

….. as you would do unto yourself 

blessings x

Maryse

Make this your best year ever!

Ahhhh the smell of a brand-new year! Hello 2019!

new year 2019As always, the air is ripe with the scent of almost everyone discussing their resolutions. What are these resolutions? Get fit, lose weight, spend less money, be more patient, make a better effort at staying in touch with friends and family …the list goes on.
I thought about posting a blog on a few of these resolutions and my thoughts on them, especially since I have definitely had many of them as my own resolution at one time or another. But instead I decided that making one big promise is probably not always the best idea. I’m not suggesting that all resolutions are failures. Often, they serve as the one big catalyst that most people need to get important things moving! What I am saying though, is I think it’s important that during our quest to be successful at our resolutions, we remember some things that may seem small. But are actually very important.

sparklerHere are a few:

Live in the moment and be present. How often are we having a conversation with someone, but we are only half listening because we’re caught up in thinking about what we need to do next. Making that mental list of items that are running through our mind like a hamster on a wheel. Take a moment and think about quieting that part of your mind and just being present. Enjoy what you are doing, whether it’s having a cup of tea, chatting with a friend or family member, or enjoying the walk that you are on alone. Which brings me to my next point.
Be kind to yourself. If you’re anything like me, you may still be reviewing the past year and thinking about a few things you should have accomplished. Mistakes were made, projects not completed. It’s all about being human. Moving forward and allowing yourself to set new goals is the best thing you can do for yourself. Maybe at night you lie in bed and think about the day and what you could have said or done differently, consider not doing that anymore. What does it really accomplish? Feelings of anxiety? Regret? Anger or sadness? You don’t deserve that. Being kind to yourself may also mean, heading to the gym, getting that manicure or facial, curling up with a book and a cup of tea. Do it! Don’t feel guilty. Be kind to yourself. Without being kind and taking care of yourself first, how will we ever be kind to others?
Surround yourself with the people that make you feel great, suggest a workout at the gym with someone you enjoy being with or perhaps a coffee or lunch date. There are people out there that naturally exude happiness and positivity and literally feel like a sunny day. Positivity is the name of the game for these folks. Revel in their golden glow! It will rub off on days you can really use it. Heck you may even learn a few of their strategies.

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I wish you a happy healthy 2019, full of laughter, love and all that makes your heart glow.

Blessings xoxx
Maryse

At the top of the 6ix

Recently my daughter and I willingly dangled ourselves 1,186 feet over the city of Toronto.  For fun! My mini me was turning 25 and I wanted to celebrate it in an unusual and exciting way! In my true mini me spirit, she is not afraid of heights and as I booked the event I was remembering her gleeful laughter when we went parasailing together over the sparkling, turquoise waters in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

IMG_9464The CN Tower Edgewalk gives participants the experience of walking around the CN Tower, suspended by harnesses. That would be 1,186 feet in the air, and a walk around the Tower itself.

CN TowerI pulled up the web page and booked it! Right after I did it, a little voice in my head said, “are you nuts?” My friends, parents and my son repeated the same phrase. I started to get nervous “wait, what??? Hang on, was this a good idea? Could I die? Could we both die? Good Lord, I’ve lost my mind.” Later that evening I saw my Husband and I told him I was scared, he shrugged and said, “It should be safe.” Yeah that’s right he said SHOULD. “I could die” I loudly said. “Nahhhh” he replied.

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On D-Day we were in traffic and arrived just in the nick of time. Which I suppose, in retrospect was a good thing, no time to think about the madness I was going to do! Aside from rushing, my daughter was a mixture of calm and excitement. We were greeted by friendly staff who gave us waivers which I signed and never read. What was the point anyway? They directed us to a room, where we were asked to put on orange jumpsuits and remove all jewelry, empty our pockets – even receipts weren’t allowed. They insisted on giving me an extra jacket as it was 9 degrees outside the tower. So, I put the jacket on over my orange suit and admired my extra padding, maybe I would bounce if I fell? Next, they administered a breathalyzer to all of us. Darling daughter loudly asked, “Mom did you pass?” Then collapsed in laughter.

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The staff in this room was incredibly cheerful and happy. I wanted to shout at them “I’m risking my life today!!! I COULD DIE! STOP ME! But I didn’t. I let them check everything on me. I asked one of them if anyone has ever changed their mind. They said yes, usually right in that very room we were in. She took that opportunity to remind me that the ticket is non-refundable.

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Once we took our group photos, the staff lined the hallway and clapped for us as we proceeded to the elevator. What the hey gone diddly was going on? It was like a scene out of Armageddon. I sorta felt like an astronaut on my way to the space shuttle. Yeahhhhh I got this! Slowly my nervousness was giving way to excitement. Go me! Needless to say, my daughter was pretty excited.
We met our leader for our walk, and she was incredibly bubbly and friendly. I was impressed that she took the time to learn all our names. Along with my daughter celebrating her birthday were two others, so it was quite the birthday bunch.
We were hooked up to harnesses and instructed not to touch the clasps. Honestly?????? I wouldn’t dare. Just to be sure, they zip tied our clasps. A good idea, I thought, you never know if someone might have plans on ending it all in a dramatic fashion! Our leader told us that once we were outside, we would be doing some tricks. Yes you read that correctly. I didn’t recall reading about tricks in all of the promotional material. How could I miss that??? TRICKS, almost 1,200 feet in the air. Of course!

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Mini me was at the front of the line and our line leader said she would go first right behind her. Hehehe. My daughter looked momentarily nervous but sucked it up. Gosh she’s brave! Then the doors opened and BOOM! OH MY GOD. No turning back. We walked outside, and our happy leader walked us out, calmly smiling and shouting at the top of her lungs “Hello Toronto!!!!” we all hung onto the areas of our harness that she said we were allowed to hold.
It was chilly outside, but sunny and beautiful. My hands were sweating uncontrollably, I definitely did NOT need the extra jacket. Nerves kept me warm.
As promised, our leader led us through tricks, putting our toes over Toronto, leaning forward, and leaning backward, she took videos and pictures of us. Each of us felt the nerves and we all cheered each other on as we took turns completing our tricks. As time wore on, it became easier and easier to be out there. Looking out over the City I grew up in, everything seemed so peaceful. Our leader pointed out places and landmarks to our group as we had a few people from the U.S. and Ireland visiting. It was absolutely incredible to be so high up and exhilarating to be hanging over the city. I became aware of how quickly my nerves settled and gave way to excitement and elation

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As our walk on the edge was coming to an end, we waited while a new group was coming out with their leader. We encouragingly shouted to them “It’s amazing! You will love it! So exciting!” You would have thought we hung out there all day long as opposed to half an hour.
When we came in, they unhooked us, and we went downstairs to return our suits and get our coats out of the lockers that was provided to us. They told us, if we looked in our left pockets of our jumpsuits we would find our tickets that included our entry to sky pod. I took my ticket out and looked at it with my first and last name boldly printed on it. I immediately looked over to a staff member and asked if, these tickets were there to help identify our bodies??? He smiled and said, “Oh no, we would use your teeth for that.”
The Edgewalk at the CN Tower was amazing. I was astounded that one event could put us through a myriad of emotions, fear, happiness, excitement, nervousness and many more. I would highly recommend this experience to everyone. It is safe as long as you listen to all instructions from the qualified and experienced staff. The checking, double checking and triple checking by different staff members was very thorough and eased my mind.

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This was an amazing and unforgettable way to celebrate my daughter’s 25th birthday. On the way out, my birthday girl asked about skydiving…. maybe…but for THAT, I’d fail the breathalyzer.

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Ticket- $225 each
Celebrating and time spent with my daughter- Priceless

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I can roll with my new role!

In a month I’ll be 52. By the time you hit this age, you get comfortable with who you are. I’m a Mom, Wife, Sister, Daughter, Aunt, Cousin and Friend. Those are my “identities” if you will, and I wear them with pride.

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Last month, our Son asked the love of his life to be his Wife. They have dated for eight years and have a lot of experience under their belt both as individuals, and as a couple. This is the type of relationship that has a solid foundation. That makes me proud.

So, what does this have to do with my role?

Sitting on the deck one evening with my husband, we happily laughed about this new wonderful event that happened in our lives. We smiled proudly, marveling at how our little boy has become a man in front of our eyes. Suddenly, we realized that we were going to be someone’s Mother–in law and Father–in law. Whoa!!!!!

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This got me thinking. How does this all work? What does a Mother-in law do? Up until that moment, I had never given a thought to the actual role.

I mean no big deal, I was always in regular contact with my Son’s Fiancée, before she became his fiancée. I have always prided myself on our relationship and the ease with which we communicate. There doesn’t seem to be many topics that we can’t chat about. Our visits, text messages, hugs and kisses. But suddenly, I felt self-conscious.

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Is it because a “Mother-in law” has such a bad rap? Oh boy, what do I do? How do I act?

Obviously, just like some of the most important roles in our lives, this one comes with no formal job description.

No one wants to be the overbearing, obnoxious, nosey, pushy, condescending busy body the world makes Mother in laws out to be. When do I ask questions? What questions am I allowed to ask? Do I keep some of my opinions to myself? Or ALL of my opinions to myself?

EEEEEEEEK!!!! I will have a new identity in about a year!

I considered rushing to Google just to see what I would find. But, I stopped myself. Really? Come on Maryse! Get a grip! You are so not resorting to asking Google “What are the functions of a Mother-in-law”.

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And so, I have simply continued on with what I’ve been doing for the last few years. Communicating with my future daughter in law in the same way we always have over the past eight years.

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Maybe as if sensing my hesitation, she has recently asked me what I think of a few things pertaining to the wedding. Those simple things make me feel important, and I have realized that everything is going to be alright. Why? Because I am going to be just ME, this is who I am and will continue to be. Loving and supportive and kind. I embrace this new upcoming role with glee.

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Shades of our Sisters

Shades of our Sisters was an event held on Thursday June 21 at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. This event happened (intentionally or not) on National Indigenous Peoples Day. In recent years I have been learning quite a bit about the Indigenous people and culture. I am saddened that while growing up in Canada from infancy, I was never educated about Canada’s first inhabitants. Not in grade school, high school or even while earning two degrees. The only vague memory I have is of reading books in grade school about cowboys and Indians and even playing a game by the same name. Obviously, I now know that this was inappropriate.

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While I have been aware that there have been many missing Indigenous men and women in Canada over the years, I have never been intimately exposed to personal information about any of these people. That is – until I attended this particular event.
Shades of our Sisters was created by two particular families to celebrate the lives of two missing and murdered Indigenous women in particular, Sonya Cywink from Birch Island, Ontario and Patricia Carpenter from Toronto, Ontario.

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I was speechless as the event transported us back to the lives of these women. We participated in an interactive journey through their neighbourhoods, homes and interviews with their loved ones. In addition, there were exhibits that held personal artifacts that once belonged to the women.
I looked through each exhibit and I was moved by all the personal items displayed. Both women enjoyed writing poetry and some of their original work was available for viewing. There were also many photographs that spanned from their childhoods and numerous letters written on lined paper.

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Many family members belonging to some of the missing women in Canada were present. The families of Patricia and Sonya were there and interacted with the participants. Nothing makes it more real, than watching a mother silently weep as videos of her murdered daughter play on a loop.
I was very moved by this event and also extremely saddened. While we have heard about the cases of these missing women in the news, attending this event showed me who they were. They are more than just a statistic. They are our daughters, sisters, mothers, aunties and friends.
I was honored to have attended
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Life….Celebrate it!

How often have you saved  a certain outfit for a special occasion? I’ll bet more times then you can count. There have been many times over the years that I have been guilty of doing the same.

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Now I’m not sure if it is the wisdom of growing older, or just the overall appreciation of life, or a little of both. But in recent years I’ve learned that being mindful of the present and living life to the fullest is more important now than ever.

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There is never a need of a “special occasion” to go somewhere or do something. When the staff at Maison Blanc day spa asked my daughter and I what we were celebrating, I didn’t hesitate in answering: Life. I loved seeing them break out in smiles and nod in agreement.

For the afternoon my daughter and I donned our make-believe crowns and attended a catered High Tea that was a lovely addition to our afternoon of pampering treatments.

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Ordinarily, we have attended High Tea exclusively for special occasions. I decided that life itself was a special occasion and so was spending time with my daughter.

We were asked to come early so that we could relax and enjoy our High Tea. We were warmly greeted by the Spa Director and shown to a private room for our tea. The table setting was perfect and the arrangement of our sandwiches and desserts were so pleasant and classy on the tray. Tea lights added such a classy touch that made us feel that we were transported to Paris for the afternoon. The atmosphere was perfect.

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We loved having the time to chat and eat before our services. The staff at Maison Blanc went out of their way to ensure that we had everything we needed, checking in on us frequently throughout the afternoon.

It was a relaxing afternoon from beginning to end.

Don’t ever wait for a special occasion! Pop that bottle of champagne, wear that new outfit, use your special china. Because life is meant to be lived.

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Canada, I love you eh!

This month,  is the 50th anniversary that Canada opened her arms and welcomed my parents and myself. It would be amazing if I could just remember what that was like, I was a baby and the nervousness and excitement of it all was obviously lost on me.

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With changes to legislation regarding who could be admitted to Canada, the 1960’s saw a wave of immigration. Canada welcomed smiling faces from a variety of countries ranging from the lush green landscape of Ireland, to Africa, India, England, the West Indies, South America and many more places. Thankfully, my parents and myself were among these new immigrants that landed on Canadian soil. I can’t imagine how exciting yet scary it must have been for my 20 something year old Mom to have left the only home she has ever known with a baby and husband. Or for my Dad, to be bravely leading the way to a new and better life.

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Let’s be honest, most people would probably say that they live in the best Country in the world. I would of course agree with them, if that Country is Canada.

As a child I had the opportunity to embrace and experience the diversity represented among the people of this country. Growing up, my classmates were from different Countries around the world. The excitement of learning about their cultures, visiting their homes and quite simply calling them friend was wonderful. We were different, but we had one thing in common and that was the fact that we called Canada home.

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I’m incredibly grateful that my parents made the best decision to choose Canada as their home. I often tease my Dad that I wish he had chosen a warmer Country, but truth be told I love this Country! I could list at least 100 reasons why Canada is a wonderful place and why I am grateful to be living here, but I instead I will try to sum them up into three reasons that make Canada great:

  1. From coast to coast, Canada is simply beautiful. Every single province has its own beauty about it that makes travel memorable. For example: British Columbia has the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, the Calgary Stampede in Alberta, and the easy going friendly and down to earth nature of Maritimers and the amazing abundance of fresh seafood.
  2. Often envied, our healthcare system is something I am always grateful for. While it isn’t perfect, it is better then some equally developed Countries.
  3. Racism is a word that is far removed in the vocabulary of Canadians alike. Sure, it exists (hey – nobody’s perfect) but on Canadian soil it is far less threatening and aggressive than in other countries. It is not nearly as corrupt as some other neighbouring countries.

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Thank you, Canada, for all that you have brought to my life, excellent education, the start of my own family and a future that continues to shine a beacon of bright light.

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Happy 1st birthday Maryse’s Pieces!

This year I have celebrated a pretty exciting birthday. Happy Birthday Maryse’s Pieces!! You are officially ONE YEAR OLD!

Shortly after my 50th birthday I wondered where all the other 50 something year old women were in cyber world. I was interested in hearing other perspectives on what they were experiencing now that they were in the 50’s club.

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I began by looking around on Instagram. I was happy to see that there existed an abundance of other women like myself who were celebrating the 50’s, in fashion, in writing, in food, in religion, in basically any way that appealed to them! Without a moment’s hesitation I created a more social and public account while still maintaining the privacy around my other account which was strictly for family and friends. I was surprised to see the interest and “likes” my pictures generated on my public account.

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Friends and family encouraged me to start a blog. I had no idea what I was gong to write about or even what I would name it. I could talk your ear off but…write? I was unsure about it. Through research and Facebook groups, I got to know other bloggers who advised me to find a niche and go from there. I remember thinking a niche? As in, write about only one area of me?? That would be like telling me to talk just a little bit. I couldn’t quite do that, there were so many pieces of me that deserved equal time in my blog. As a Wife, Mom, Daughter, Sister, Aunt and Friend. I had more roles in my 50’s then ever before, and I wanted to share them all!

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So, my blog was named “Maryse’s Pieces” and almost immediately I had subscribers and followers! I was floored. I thought that my target audience would be women aged 50 and over, but I was pleasantly surprised that my stats consistently showed a demographic both of men and women, 30 years and older. Here I was worrying about being a boring old lady writing meaningless posts!

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The support of my blog has been enormous and has come from all sources. My family has been behind me every step of the way, my sister Holly took pics, gave advice and opinions. My daughter was forced to proof read my posts (and still does), she also receives a constant barrage of photos to review to help me decide on the perfect one. Together, they both provided important initial feedback to help me create the casual tone that I wanted in my writing. They quickly let me know if I was sounding too essay like, or too much like a novel. My husband, happily reads my blogs and I will always receive positive feedback from him.msblog-1-2

Friends have continually supported and cheered me on, not just by the customary “like” on Facebook but also by sharing my blogs. I love receiving texts and messages from so many of them who tell me they can relate to something I have posted.

In the coming year, readers will on occasion read a different side of “Maryse’s Pieces” through my posts, as I strive to cover a variety of topics that are requested by different people. I have also decided that this year, I will start publishing posts from fellow guest bloggers!

Thank you for helping my first year be as successful as it has been. Please keep reading, sharing and above all I love hearing from you – so keep your messages coming!

The best is yet to come xo

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I’m picking up good vibrations…

I noticed that I’m dragging it lately. IT being ME. Could it be the change in the weather? Hmmmm. I don’t think so, although Fall is showing more and more signs of itself. Leaves changing and cooler weather. It is my favourite season. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sad, down or depressed. I’m just plain dragging myself.

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So, I did a little research. I discovered that my vibrations are low. If you’re as muddled as I was when I first heard the term “vibrations” let me explain.

Looking into the universe you will find that everything is made of matter and beyond that there are quantum particles and light energy that we are all made up of. Light can move at low frequencies and high frequencies and it has a vibrational tendency that we can see or feel through our senses. Quite simply we feel it though our emotions, and as a result our thoughts and feelings create a vibration that dictates areas of our lives. Some of these may include our relationships, health and happiness.

Wow! That is as scientific as I can get! For those of you that know me, I’m sure you’re impressed. Anyway, if we are on a certain frequency it can affect everything. Whether it’s a positive or negative vibration depends on us! If we are happy, we see nothing but happiness and positivity all around us. If we are upset or sad, then it will be only negativity that we see or feel around us.

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We all have that friend who is so lucky. Everything seems to work out for them. Life is always good. This person has high vibrations. In the same way, what about that friend that is always unhappy and complaining that nothing ever works out for them? They are always sick or sad. Guess what vibration they are on? You got it. LOW.

I’ve been all about positivity this year and making sure that is where my thoughts are. So where did things start to change? Or have they changed?

I started thinking back and realized it was happening right after the Las Vegas shootings. An absolutely awful event in history and myself like most people…I was glued to CNN watching and learning, early in the morning and late at night.  Everything was urgent, there was always a special report as newer details emerged! Fear and sadness was all I felt. My vibrations were being affected.  Our thoughts and behaviours dictate our frequency.  Okay so now that I figured that out and perhaps you are in the same boat. How do we change it? We want and need higher vibrational thinking and feelings.

Be Grateful– Practice saying out loud what you are grateful for. I promise you no one ever feels negative when they are naming all that they are grateful for, in fact you will feel yourself smiling.

Surround yourself with positive people– Positive people will automatically make your vibrations go up. Excuse yourself from those who exude negativity all the time. They will quite simply bring you down.

Activity– If you can’t get to the gym, go for a walk or anything active that will get your blood pumping it will raise your vibrations!

Nature– Take a few moments to notice the beauty of nature, it could be the changing colour of leaves in fall, a rain storm, or just simply bird watching.

Meditation– It’s no coincidence that I noticed my meditation had dropped and my vibrations were affected. Take a few minutes to clear your mind, even just simply deep breathing will help.

Electronics- Do you really need to check face book, twitter and email as many times as you do? Consider limiting this to a few times a day. Instead of all the time. Trust me I know because I was guilty of this.  Consider removing your notifications on things such as Facebook, WhatsApp and twitter. Do you really need to immediately know when someone posts something?

Television- This obviously is an electronic and could be included in the above section on Electronics. But, I wanted to handle it separately. People don’t understand the draining power the news can have on us. The television electro magnetic frequencies are one thing and we need to minimize our exposure to them, in addition the frantic need to be in touch with the news all the time and to be updated on breaking news is not necessary and drains us.  The television can drain our positivity and instead instil fear in us. Work to appreciate your life and what is around you instead. Don’t let the television distract you from doing more positive things.

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There are so many other things I can suggest and if you need more info, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I would be happy to help.

In the mean time, pay attention to how you feel around certain people and environments. Work to keep your vibrations raised and take the steps necessary to get there. You are important.

Be Selfish.

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Brian lives under a tarp

Libraries give me the heebie jeebies. I’m not gonna lie.  While studying for both my degrees, I couldn’t handle libraries and you would often find me in places that were ‘happening’.  I needed background noise; the deafening silence of a library drove me up a wall.

Fast forward to today, and one of my fave places to blog has often raised my daughter’s eyebrows and she would warn “I don’t know how safe it is there Mom, go into the library like an ordinary person.” Much to her dismay, I would blog in the foyer or atrium of the library and entertain myself by people watching.  She’s always surprised at how friendly, her brother, dad and I are even towards people we don’t know. She is quieter and much more cautious. I will readily say hello if someone greets me, anyways…

One particular blogging day, a dishevelled young man of no more than 30 years old sat down at a table a few feet from me. He had a rather worn coffee cup with him and a dirty plastic bag of clothes.  I kept typing on my laptop but surreptitiously noted that he was dressed in a faded long sleeved grey top, beige cargo shorts, black and white running shoes, and blue baseball cap. Dangling from his neck was a plastic black cross.  He was homeless. I kept typing.

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Eventually the young man and I began talking about the weather…always the safest of topics among strangers. We talked about the Indian summer we were currently experiencing and our hopes that it would continue for a while. Periods of silence would follow our short conversations and eventually he would tell me that he was homeless, and I feigned surprise. I didn’t think it was right to tell him that I already knew that.  He had only been homeless for a few weeks, he introduced himself as Brian.  I smiled and nodded. He started to tell me his life story, I hadn’t asked:

Brian talked about his childhood, how good things were growing up with his sister and that his mom was a good person “most of the time.”  But he had lost touch with both. He didn’t even know where they lived. He said his dad was pretty much non-existent and an alcoholic. He hated him. He spoke about his years in high school and that he enjoyed it most of the time, he also at one time had an amazing girlfriend.

I kept listening as he announced that he eventually got carried away with alcohol. He told me about rehab and thinking he could conquer alcohol and every time he stayed sober, something would happen and he would be drinking again. He happily said that he was 10 days sober and I congratulated him. He stopped, smiled apologetically and said, “you know, I know you’re busy and I have no idea why I just told you all of this.” I said it was ok.  I gently asked, “how did you end up homeless?” He explained that he had been staying at his ex girlfriend’s place but found her poor parenting skills and overall laziness frustrating and he couldn’t live there anymore. I thought to myself “hmmm he has standards.” So, he went to live in a trailer park with his aunt. He helped her do everything she needed, fix things, clean up etc. Before long, he said management asked him to either pay $40 a day to stay there or leave. He didn’t have money, he didn’t have a job. He said he tried to reason with them, suggested being a handy man, but it seemed that they resented all the work he was doing and said no. So, by early August he was homeless. I asked Brian about local shelters, and he said “yep, I used to rush there and sometimes I would get a bed, other times, I wouldn’t.” Even if he did get a bed, he had to watch his back in “places like that.” “Hmmm” I thought to myself, “he’s smart” There were a few times he got there and the lineup was long and he didn’t get a bed. He told me about one time, when staff suggested he find a spot and sleep outside and gave him a blanket. It didn’t last, because in the middle of the night the cops shone a light on him and told him to move it, “go to the waterfront” they had suggested.

So, he did. He told me he set up a cute little spot with a tarp and some crates. He smiled happily and told me that it was “cozy and really it could be much worse.” His positivity impressed me and made me feel guilty as I thought about some of the first world problems I complain about.

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“So, what’s next for you?” I asked. He said he was currently waiting for someone he met at the waterfront. A guy who told him he may be able to help him get in contact with some good friends in Nova Scotia. He wanted to ask them if he could come out there. He needed a fresh start he said, even if he had to hop from train to train to do it. He laughed.

He stopped talking and gazed out a nearby window.  I quietly went back to typing. I struggled with my thoughts and my blog because I realized that Brian was the first homeless person I had ever spoken too. I mean, I have given food to homeless people that I would sometimes encounter on the street but we never spoke. I never give money because I never want to contribute to any type of addiction. But this was the first time I ever spoke to someone who was homeless and learned their name and their story.

I kept waiting for Brian to ask me if I had any spare change, I was positive he would ask. He didn’t. I kept working on my blog, but thinking of this homeless young man seated a few feet away, really bothered me. We read about the homeless, the young, the old, the squeegee kids, across our country. We see it on tv and we question why does it happen, people drop money into their metal cans. Listen for the clink and move on, on to their lives.

But I have never actually SPOKEN to someone who is homeless, and on this day, I learned a few things from Brian:

He will keep praying for a miracle

He won’t give up

He’s determined to make it

It makes me think about some of our first world problems and the general sense of entitlement many of us feel.  Myself included. “oh my God look at the price of gas!” Brian doesn’t have a car. “seriously leftovers for dinner again?” Brian doesn’t know where his next meal will come from.” The house needs cleaning!” Brian lives at the lake…under a tarp.

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That’s when the guilt kicks in and the sense of wonder, how can something like this happen to our fellow humans? And, if it can happen to them it can happen to me. I wonder how I can help this young man.

A few minutes later, Brian stood up “I don’t think he’s going to show up” referencing his friend. “I’ve also taken up a lot of your time” He smiled apologetically. “It was really nice to talk to you. “I look down at my computer and at a banana I have sticking out of my purse. As if reading my thoughts Brian held up a can of chicken. “They say this is pretty good, I even have some mustard here to go with it… I’m going to be fine. “ I felt totally helpless as he walked away, I told him to take it easy, to take care and good luck.
He smiled and said “everything will be ok, I just know it. “I sat there and thought about that for a while. A homeless young man with his world in a plastic bag, a can of chicken and a bottle of mustard just old ME that everything would be ok.

After he left, it was impossible to go back to the blog I was working on. I decided to google some recent info on homelessness in Canada. A recent CTV report said that there are approximately 235,000 homeless people in Canada! Some of the causes are addiction, mental illness, unemployment, family hardships and broken relations. I had just spoken to one homeless person, he was smart and very nice. There are 234,999  more of him out there and the thought just sickened me.

I found myself thinking back to the days that I used to assist with meal prep at a local soup kitchen. I never met any of the people that came in, because I was usually prepping stuff and setting tables. I was often gone by the time they came in to eat. A good sense of satisfaction came with this volunteer position, it may be time to go back to something similar. I realized that it’s not just about dropping off food at the food bank a couple times a year. It’s more about making a consistent difference.

I guess that’s why I met Brian.

 

TV-http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/homelessness-in-canada-key-statistics-1.2819986