So Long…For Now (for Ketchup With Us)

I, too, like so many in the blogosphere, am incredibly sad that this is the last blog hop for Ketchup With Us…at least for awhile.  Hosted by Michele at ODNT and Mel at According to Mags, this blog hop was the very first one I participated in, and it is one of only a few I have contributed to in the last 8 months that I have been writing.  I truly hope that the ladies will be back in their Ketchup suits in the near future.

Before I knew anything about Ketchup With Us, I would see that some of my Twitter friends were taking part in it, and that the names ODNT and According to Mags were attached to it.  I looked them up.  I found their posts interesting and entertaining to read, and I couldn’t help but be curious about them.  However, not having written anything but a work blog – that was largely short “bits” I had discussed on the radio briefly, and very little about me – I thought there was no way I could join in on the fun that was Ketchup With Us.

It was not until January, when I saw Michele’s Twitter post about the latest blog hop about goals for the new year, that I decided to jump in.  It was the best thing I could ever do for my writing.  Both Michele and Mel were encouraging and enthusiastic, and they’ve been exactly that ever since.  To have these two immensely talented writers cheer me – a blogger just starting out – on as I found my voice was a confidence-building experience.

And that first blog about goals for the new year also pushed me to do things I might not have done, including self-publishing a children’s book in February, with another almost ready to hit the Blurb website right now, and a third to be done before the end of the year.  If I hadn’t written, in that first blog, that I wanted to do things that I am passionate about, I very likely wouldn’t have written anything, especially a children’s book, or even started a blog.  I had specifically listed recording a CD as the thing I was passionate about and going to do before the end of the year, and that hasn’t happened yet, but I still have a few months left, right?!  The blog hop made me make a promise to myself that I was going to make the most of 2014 and my time off from a very demanding (time consuming) career of teaching high school English.  I have Ketchup With Us, and specifically Mel and Michele, to thank for the things I have accomplished this year.

I also have them to thank for the bloggers I have been introduced to through the blog hop, whose work I always look forward to reading, and who, too, have been encouraging and supportive.  The Ketchup With Us blog hop has been a place where I have felt comfortable and welcome.  It is an inviting community of bloggers.  That’s because of the hosts, Mel and Michele.

Mel and Michele, thank you again, and I hope you understand how AWESOME you are.

 

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A Challenge (for Ketchup With Us)

I always thought I was a feminist.  That’s what you call girls and women who believe that men and women are equal right?  I even took a Women’s Studies course in university, thinking it would be sooooooo much easier than the Politics course I had originally signed up for.  I assumed that taking the Women’s Studies course would be a brilliant idea.  It would make my average higher.  But when I got to the class I was in for a surprise.  One of the first classes was about the movie “Cliffhanger” and the symbolism within.  I’d never seen “Cliffhanger”, and so I was lost in terms of being able to discuss the symbolism.  Did YOU know that Sylvester Stallone is hanging on a wire attached to a helicopter, and at one point he cuts the wire, which symbolizes him detaching himself from female influence and giving birth to himself??????  Huh?????  The discussion about such things continued in my lab after class, where I increasingly felt as if I was NOT a feminist and had no business being in such a class.  I ended up with the worst grade I’d ever gotten before (thankfully I never got another grade like that again), and cursed myself for the dumb decision to drop what I thought would be a difficult course for what I thought would be a “bird course”.  In later years I took a Politics course and aced it by the way.  Geez.

Though that class shook my belief that I was a feminist, I realized that I was just not a radical feminist.  I was a liberal feminist by definition.  And I feel like I’m pretty strong in many ways.  I speak my mind, I stand up for what I believe is just, I make my own money and have my own bank accounts, and I feel I am very much equal to my husband.  That is, however, not completely the case.  Until last night I had not done something at our new house – which we moved into six years ago – that makes me seem like I wasn’t capable of taking on a role I would’ve assumed I’d easily adopt years ago.

Here it is.  I cut the lawn.  I know, I know, that sounds ridiculous.  As an adolescent, it was my job specifically to cut the lawn at our farm.  I spent every single Saturday doing it…all day long…and I actually enjoyed it.  But fast forward several decades, and here I am doing the inside housework and here my husband is doing the cutting of the yard.  However, it’s not what it seems.  I haven’t been avoiding it because it’s more like a guy thing to do (feminists are cringing right now).  I’ve been avoiding it because THIS is my yard:

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Okay, that’s not really my yard, but it’s close…kind of…This is my actual yard:

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The pictures don’t do it justice, and they definitely don’t adequately show you how many levels there are and how steep some parts are.  It’s not an easy task to push that lawnmower up and down those levels.  There were a few times I thought, “One of my neighbours is going to see me struggling and help out.  Or surely [my hubby] Scott will check on me and see that I can’t do it.”  Nope.  No one was helping this damsel in distress, even though I was taking a running start in several spots.  And that’s a good thing, because even though I think I pulled some muscles (!), I also HAD to follow through and finish.  You’re probably now wondering, How much of a wimp IS this woman if she was having trouble cutting the lawn?  Well, I’m ashamed to show you, but THESE are my pipes:

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Yep, big wimp!  Despite my plans years ago to get stronger, my legs and arms have always been little sticks.  But feeling as helpless as I did last night while pushing that too damn heavy lawnmower makes me want to follow through with that plan.  I really do want to know (not just think) that I can do anything I need to, mentally, emotionally, AND physically, and that I don’t have to rely on anyone else to do anything for me.  That feminist in me is screaming out!!

And I think I might take my neighbour’s advice and buy a self-propelled lawnmower…

 

 

 

 

My First Time Abroad (for Ketchup With Us)

It’s time to participate in the greatest blog hop out there, hosted by the amazing Mel – at According to Mags – and Michele – at ODNT. It’s Ketchup With Us, and the writing prompt for this one is Tell us about [a first] in your life. Because I met my friend Sarah, from Ireland, on my first trip abroad, and she is here for a visit TWENTY-ONE YEARS LATER (!) I decided that my post would be about my first trip overseas.

I was 18 years old, hopping on a plane – and I hated flying – to go someplace where I didn’t know anyone or speak the language. But I was going on a youth exchange, so I would be taken care of. After flying all night I arrived at the airport outside of Amsterdam to find my brand new suitcase slit from one end to the other. I still have no clue what the heck happened. As I made my way to the place where I was to be picked up, I saw no one resembling my host parents. I did, however, see a young woman with a sign that said something like Salmon…Was that supposed to say Shannon? There were a few of the same letters, so…maybe…? Turns out it WAS a woman there to pick me up – someone from a neighbouring town who was also hosting a Canadian exchange student – and off we went.

That first week was a great one.  My host parents were (and still are!) lovely people who showed me so much of their part of Holland. They also had a son a year older than I, and we became fast friends. There was another exchange student there as well – from Indonesia – and it was wonderful to have another female my age to share the experiences with.  That week I did a lot of sightseeing, learning about Holland, and talking about Canada, but it was nothing compared to what I was going to experience next with 39 other young folks from all over the world.

After leaving my host family, I was placed on a bus full of people around my age.  There were young adults from France, Hungary, Romania, Thailand, Sweden, England, Finland, Austria, the US, Estonia, Switzerland, Poland, Norway, Denmark, Ireland, as well as another Canadian.  These were my busmates and roommates for the next several weeks.  And what a fun and memorable several weeks it was.  Complete with birthday celebrations, discotheques, laughs, romances, and lasting friendships.

Some of us have kept in touch since the trip, way back in 1993.  My friend Sarah has come to Canada three times now to visit, and I’ve gone to Ireland three times.  We’ve also met in the UK while I was backpacking after university, in France one summer, and in the Bahamas for my wedding.  That’s what I call a lasting friendship.

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And it’s not the only one.  Thanks to social media, many of us who met that summer in Holland can keep up with each other’s lives twenty-one years later.  I actually just heard from several of my old friends on Facebook today, and we are determined to have a reunion in 2018…Twenty-five years after first meeting.  How cool would that be?!

Speaking of cool, I thought it would be fun to recreate a picture of me and my friend Sarah that was taken during one of our nights out in Holland in 1993.  On the left is the original, and on the right is the recreation, decades later.

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My first trip abroad was memorable for a number of reasons, and it became the first of quite a few in my life.  That trip to Holland – and the people I met – made me want to see and experience the world.  What a fantastic “first” it was for me.

Show Me the Ussies (for Ketchup With Us)

The lovely and talented hosts of the best blog hop out there, Ketchup With Us – Mel at According to Mags and Michele at ODNT – have asked participating bloggers to post an “ussie” – or a “selfie” with more than one person.  And because I am terrible at making up my mind, I’ve decided to post more than one.  I hope that’s allowed!! 😉  If you’d like to show the world your ussies – um, that sounded a little bit inappropriate! – all you need to do is go to Mel or Michele’s websites and link up.

The subject of my ussies, at least for this blog post, is the most important thing in my life:  my family.  They are the centre of my universe, and the centre of my ussies!  Here we go!

All of us on Christmas Eve last year – 2012 – and we were excited for Santa to come!

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And then a few weeks ago – July, 2014 – on a quick vacation to Great Wolf Lodge!

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My sweet babies taking an ussie a few weeks ago, during some cuddle time!  It’s incredible to believe that both my 7 year old and my 3 year old know how to use my phone to take selfies…and ussies.

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And me and my precious beings.

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These last ussies are of me and my husband.  We just went on a week-long vacation – just the two of us – to celebrate our 10th year anniversary and my 40th birthday.  It was a great time to relax and recharge our batteries, but we missed our kids. Still, we managed to have some fun in the sun and capture it on camera.  (The yummy drinks served in coconuts certainly helped!)

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Again, if you’d like to show off your ussies, why not do it, and then link up to Ketchup With Us?  It’s the blog hop that’s entertaining, exhilarating, and engaging!

 

Nothing Like a Spontaneous Reunion…(for Ketchup With Us)

I’m a social person. I always have been. I love my friends. I love getting together and having fun. But over the last few years I’ve been disappointed about not having close friends in the town where we’ve settled. It’s been difficult, and, if I’m being honest, pretty sad. You see, I didn’t grow up here. I grew up in a town about 45 minutes away, where I had loads of friends and lots of fun times. So to live in a place where I have only my husband and kids to talk to has been tough. I’ve actually been told that I’m “too busy”, and so people just don’t even attempt to get in touch with me because I have a husband, kids, a job, and a bunch of other things going on that take my time. People here seem to be “all or nothing” people, unfortunately. And because I can’t give all of my time to others, they want nothing. It’s made me think something’s wrong with me (and my priorities), which has done a number on my self-esteem.

Thank God for something that happened last week.

Last week, I decided, on a whim really, to go to Toronto, where I attended university. I haven’t been back for a visit for a long time, but I thought I should take advantage of the few days I had free in the week to brave the craziness of the city and see some old friends with whom I spent so much time over a decade ago. I put out a call on Facebook, and four days later 16 of us congregated at a restaurant downtown for a walk down memory lane. I would describe the experience as “amazingly wonderful”. We were all so happy to see each other, and so grateful to reconnect. Most of them still live in the city, but with busy work lives and personal lives, it had been years since some of them had seen each other. I hadn’t seen many of them since graduation (16 years ago). But that didn’t matter. True friendships aren’t based on how many times you see each other in a year. It was an experience that warmed my heart, lifted my spirits, and reconfirmed to me that I am a good person who is worthy of true friendship and happiness. I heard someone say – on a talk show! – last week that we need our friends to remind us to love ourselves. So true. My university friends reminded me to love myself last week. They also reminded me how lucky I’ve been to have such terrific people in my life.

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Yes, I took a TON of pictures that night! I love these people!!!!!

And I hope that we can reconnect again in the near future for another night of laughs and memories. They’re good for my soul.

 

 

Four Reasons I Wanted to Do the Ketchup With Us Blog Posts by Number Challenge (for Ketchup With Us)

The ladies who host the blog hop Ketchup With Us – Michele at ODNT and Mel at According to Mags – had an idea for a challenge.  They asked bloggers to write some “listy-type” posts during the month.  They went a step further and decided to write one a day, for the entire month.  I thought I’d try to keep up.  Was it exhausting?  Sure, at times.  But it was also a lot of fun.  And so this final blog post for the blog posts by number challenge, is the…

Four Reasons I Wanted to Do the Ketchup With Us Blog Posts By Number Challenge

1)  I love the Ketchup With Us ladies, Mel and Michele.  Though I don’t know these two ladies – I have never met them – I follow them on Twitter, and I follow their blogs.  They make me smile and laugh daily with their blog posts and tweets.  To be involved in something they created was an honour.

2)  I felt inspired.  I was having writer’s block and needed some inspiration.  I started my blog in January and feel like I burst out of the gate with lots of ideas, but then I slowed down.  I felt like I wasn’t writing enough, and that “You haven’t met your posting goal this week” reminder from WordPress was a little frustrating.  This challenge came at the perfect time.  Instead of wondering what to write about, as soon as I heard about the challenge I began frantically writing lists.  That was a good thing.

3)  I wanted to keep up with writing every single day.  If I didn’t keep up with writing every single day, I would be letting myself down.  After all, I took on this challenge, and I don’t like to fail.  I do love writing, and even though I’ve been working every day for over a month – an unforeseen situation – it’s been nice to do some of what I love every day…even if some of my posts were a little “rushed”.

4)  I thought it would be a good way to expose some things about myself.  How else would you know about my encounter with a knife-wielding maniac in France?  Or about my obsession with good oral hygiene?  Or about my “issues” with birds?

And so I would like to thank Michele and Mel for this challenge, and I hope there will be more in the future.  Thirty posts in a month.  Whew!  I’m tired, but it was so worth it.

Twelve of the Funniest, Oddest, and Most Embarrassing Country Song Titles I’ve Had to Say On Air (for Ketchup With Us)

I work at a country radio station – CKNX AM 920 – in Wingham, Ontario.  Some days I look at the song titles, and think, ‘Oh Lord, I have to say this?’  And so, for this post for the Ketchup With Us blog post by numbers challenge – hosted by Michele at ODNT and Mel at According to Mags – I decided to list…

Twelve of the Funniest, Oddest, and Most Embarrassing Country Song Titles I’ve Had to Say On Air

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1)  Lonely Women Make Good Lovers – awkward…

2)  Did I Shave My Legs for This? 

3)  Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy – uncomfortable…

4)  She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy

5)  She’s Actin’ Single and I’m Drinkin’ Doubles

6)  Honky Tonk Badonkadonk

7)  Friends in Low Places

8)  You’d Make An Angel Want to Cheat – oh boy…I keep hoping this one doesn’t come up during the Sunday morning “inspirational” hours, just because it has the word “angel” in it!

9)  Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under

10) Crackers – this one goes, “You can eat crackers in my bed anytime!”

11) She Just Started Likin’ Cheatin’ Songs

12) I’d Love to Lay You Down – this is perhaps the most uncomfortable one for me, and I play this song on a regular basis!

Don’t get me wrong, I love the music I play.  And I’m often in the studio singing my heart out and disturbing the other announcers in the room next to me or the newsies upstairs!  However, when I have to say something about “riding” a cowboy to the listening audience which is largely conservative and mature, I feel weird about it.  Would you?

You still have time to get in on the blog posts by number challenge for this month from the Ketchup With Us ladies – Michele and Mel – and all you have to do is write a list blog with a number in the title.  Easy peasy!  And then share it with them via their websites and/or on Twitter:  @olddognewtits and @accordingtomags.