That was Then, This is…


woman wearing face mask
Photo by Anna Shvets on

So, as of yesterday, I was convinced I was a recovering flu-victim in a Coronavirus time in history. When last we spoke, I was headed back to work today. So, here’s what went wrong…

Here are the questions which have spooled through my mind this week:

  1. Do I have Coronavirus or just your average everyday kind of bug?
  2. Do I return to work now that I am improving?
  3. Is it more irresponsible to go to work or to stay home?
  4. If I stay home, will I have a store to return to in two weeks?

So, I’m an old veteran of the flu. I know what to do to beat that bug down. I know what it looks like, feels like, sounds like, smells like. Okay, forget I said that last part out loud. I’m no doctor, but I’m telling ya — I’ve got the flu. Except… if you put the symptoms list side by side with the Coronavirus symptoms list, there is just no way to really know I have the flu without going in and having a stick shoved down my nose. I would do it, honestly, I would. But other people need to more. Besides, from what I’ve read, in BC they have to send the swabs to a lab in Alberta and a fast estimate for results is four days. So, if I’m going to stay home four more days, I’m going to need help on my paycheck, anyway.

I work for Starbucks. They are amazing, and are paying two weeks salary for any employee affected by this pandemic. Kudos. Proud and glad to be working for you. Still, you don’t want to abuse an employer like that. You don’t want to take that money if you don’t have to. This is what was weighing on my mind last night as I contemplated the should I stay or should I go theme of my work life. Around 7 pm I called my mother for advice, but advice was absent. As of 8:30 pm, I was wrestling with, do I call my boss at home and get her advice — but since the store opener’s day begins at 4:45 am (ugh!), I am not even sure if she is still awake at 8:45, 8:47, 8:49…. make a decision already, Leigh!

I don’t want to risk waking Vanessa. I don’t want to bother her at home at night unless I must. I am a grown up. I can make this decision. I am going to work.

Tuesday, Maybe 9:30 (?) pm. Chapters and Indigo stores from around the country post to Instagram that they are closed. THE. WORLD. IS. DOOMED. Actually, all kidding aside, this kind of shakes me up. I mean, not in a scary way, but in a this truly sucks kind of way. Good thing I have a full bookcase of unread books to get through. Still, this news suggests the world as we know it just may be over. Also, it occurs to me that I have yet to collect my books from Bookland in Vernon, which was originally closing at the end of March, and I better remember to do that asap.

Wednesday, 6:45 am. Alarm on snooze.

Wednesday 7:05 am. Must. Get. Up. (shoves dog out of the way).

Wednesday, 7:35 am.  I’m headed into work, and in my car, the news has announced that P.M. Trudeau is going to speak. I listen as I drive, and he is very serious and solemn, and once again as I sputter out a cough and feel the back of my chest burn, I think, “What you are doing is irresponsible.”

And how backwards is that? When did it become irresponsible to go to work? This is a first for me. Uncharted territory. I do not know what to do. Honestly, I just want someone else to make this decision for me. Please! Someone tell me what to do!

I think that as lovely as she always is, my boss is not 100% happy with my showing up and saying, yeah, I’m not really sure I should be here. She wants to know why I didn’t call. (See above). But she gives me a kind-hearted smile (because she is awesome) when she tells they will be okay and I should go home and call the 811 health line. If they tell me to stay home, Starbucks will pay me to do so.

I dial 811 on my phone. For 15 minutes,  I continuously hit the redial button every time I get the all-circuits are busy message or the please call again message. Finally, I am connected. I am asked to hit a number if this is Coronavirus related — so I do — then I am put on hold.

person holding black smartphone near white ceramic mug on brown wooden table
Photo by bongkarn thanyakij on

Except, hold sounds a lot like dead air. I put my phone on speaker phone. Periodically, I hit the edge of the phone to ensure I haven’t been disconnected. Even more periodically, a disembodied voice tells me they are experiencing higher than normal call volumes and if I am having chest pain or heart pain, call 9-11. I am reasonably certain I would have figured that one out for myself, but I suppose it is good to know.

Once in a while, really bad elevator music plays in-between the disembodied voice message, but not every time. That concerns me at first. I keep thinking I’ve been disconnected, and then the same four bar song comes back on line.  After over thirty minutes of waiting, I get a real live human, and she asks how she can help me. I tell her my little story (minus the self-diagnosis) and she says, I am going to send you over to a nurse to talk to.

Wait, like, directly?

Well, not exactly. Thirty-four minutes later, another real-live human speaks in my ear. At that precise moment, I am in the middle of a coughing fit, and it becomes one of the shortest conversations on record. Oh yeah, that right there, she says. With that symptom, you are home for two weeks.

Seventy-five minutes of hold music. Two minutes of dialogue. This ratio is off. Still, she is cheerful in the midst of what I am sure will be a very long day in a longer month, and she wishes me a speedy recovery to good health. I thank her, and in the meantime, my boss has texted me with instructions on her end. I am to call another number and Starbucks will instruct me on what to do next in order to guarantee my paycheck.

After one hour, twenty-four minutes, and a bunch of seconds, I am answered by one person who forwards me to a second person, who tells me my boss must fill out the paperwork and then I will be paid. They, too, wish me health, which is nice. Everyone is being very nice. Also, the Starbucks hold music is a significant improvement over the government’s.

While I’ve been on hold, I’ve been in group Facebook chats, informed the fam about what’s up with me, listened to part of the Economic Minister’s speech, and researched what to do if you need to file for Employment Insurance. Not for me. For a self-employed customer who runs Karaoke — not so much, right now — and for my daughter, who — crap — I drove home from work two days ago. Flu or no flu, she works for Indigenous Bloom, and since they will have to throw out all their product should an infected person breathe on it, she has now just been laid off for two weeks. Oops and double oops and no good deed goes unpunished and all that. Fortunately, she works for Indigenous Bloom — she has money in the bank.

And so, just like that, I am off for ten days with pay, which HAS NEVER HAPPENED IN MY LIFE EVER, or until that day passes plus I have no symptoms for 72 hours. And with this time, I shall read, cuddle the dog, sleep so as to get healthy again, refuse to stress about the future, and the obvious. Write.

God bless you all — may you stay healthy and be well in all aspects of life. To all impacted by the Coronavirus in all its potentially devastating ways, good luck. Thoughts and prayers be with you all.


Stranger than Fiction

So, here’s the T — I’ve been sick. My last shift at work was Friday, although I will be going back tomorrow (Wednesday). Because of this, I’ve got some thoughts on March of 2020 and the Coronavirus world as we know it.

On Friday morning, I woke up with a nasty headache. But, I get headaches, so for me, that was nothing new. Also, on Friday, the North American continent hadn’t fully exploded yet. I headed in to work.

By about 10:30, my throat was feeling a bit raw. But, I talk all day at work, and sometimes that happens. By about noon I knew something more than that was going on. Shortly after that, my boss asked if I would be willing to cover a shift at a different store the following day. I had to tell her, unfortunately, I’m not feeling great. She gave me lozenges and asked if I would like my next shift covered. I gratefully said yes.

By two, she had pulled me off the floor to work in the back. Again, I was grateful. My throat was sore. It was hard to talk. I could feel the energy dissipation happening. By the end of my shift at 4:30, I ordered a big honey citrus mint tea, drove home, then sat in my car and tried to find enough energy to get out of the car and walk inside my house. Once in, I snagged a blanket and pillow and collapsed on my couch while feeling grateful that the day before I’d hit the grocery store and managed to purchase everything we needed except — you guessed it — toilet paper.

I slept all night. Slept until noon on Saturday. Slept on and off throughout Saturday. Slept Saturday night and into Sunday. I also fielded contradicting opinions from loved ones. You should go to get checked for the virus. You should call first and then go get checked for the virus. You shouldn’t bother calling — you won’t get thru, anyway. You should definitely not go get checked for the virus. You shouldn’t bother going to get checked for the virus because you haven’t been out of the country, and you aren’t over sixty. They wouldn’t even check you for the virus even if you went in to get checked for the virus.

What was a girl to do? By Sunday I was pretty sure I just had a seasonal something or other. I didn’t have a fever, my cough was present but mild. I felt crappy. That was my most significant symptom. Yet, that nasty word asymptomatic was circling in my head. I must have read and reread the list of Coronavirus symptoms a dozen times. And, since I was home, awake but not feeling healthy enough for the mental acuity required of novel writing, I watched the news and social media posts of a world systematically closing down — all while my teenage daughter wondered what this all would mean to her Spring Break, her Volleyball league, her grade eleven classes, her social life.

By Sunday afternoon, I had started to feel like I was improving. Say what you will about our grandparents going to war and we’re just sitting on a couch, I might not be so great at quarantine. Both my daughter and I were hugely restless after being confined to the house for only two days. We took our “quarantine” on the road — and just took the car out for a drive in the sun. By the time we got back an hour later, I was out of energy, and realizing my health might not be as improved as I had believed. Well, crap. Back to the blankets for me.

I tried to write. I tried to read. I tried to avoid social media. And while I’m on that topic, lemme just say, when there is a global pandemic going on and you are home with the flu (90% sure), stupid-ass memes about the non-lethality of Coronavirus are offensive, not funny. So stfu people. All I’m saying is… Also, a status post from my friend, Trevor, gave me the jarring bit of info that thanks to my December birthday, I have jumped the fence into a higher-risk age category. I mean, still low, but not as low as five months ago. So, yeah, thanks for that, Trev!

My boss called to see how I was feeling. I told her the truth, mostly by now I am just exhausted, but I don’t see how, given the world’s emotional climate, I can return to work quite yet. I’m still coughing, and I sound congested, and I would freak people out. Fortunately, I wasn’t meant to return to work until Tuesday, so I had another day to make that decision. She let me know there were changes at work, there was also a pledge from the company that they would pay the salary of any staff member needing to self-isolate. I love my employers. Honestly, I came from a difficult work environment. Now, I work for a big company who treats its people like gold. So thankful. Insert heart emoji here.

That still left me with a conundrum. Do I stay or do I go? With the symptoms I have, I would never normally not go back to work. I’d just power through. I mean, that first shift, yeah sure. But four days later? Get real. But, these aren’t normal times. I haven’t been tested to rule out Coronavirus. So, I don’t know that I don’t have it. But, I’m not exactly sick, either. And apparently, I am wanted back at work at my earliest convenience. Something about being a steadying and reassuring presence yadayadayada. (JK. I was touched she said that.) So, how do you decide if you should self-quarantine or not? I have no idea.

And it starts to make you a bit paranoid. Which is why, Sunday night, with my sleep schedule by now completely shot and out the window, I lay in my bed taking deep breaths and listened to the slight rattle I perceived coming from my lungs. Was that pneumonia? What about that? How about that? What does pneumonia feel like? Oh, the curse of being a generally healthy human being!


Monday. All Alberta and Saskatchewan schools closing and students getting an immediate pass. How is that fair? Sheena informs me that should her classes go online, she is immediately dropping Chemistry and Spanish. Still not 100% healthy, I save that fight, slot it into the should-that-day-come category of parenting.

Monday. Restaurant closures. Neighbours reporting being laid off. Theatre closures. Pool closures. Library closures. Curling club closures. OK Corral closures. West Jet closures. Basically, if it’s fun, it’s closed. I inform work I need one more day off.

Monday, tragedy strikes: Volleyball is cancelled. Teenage depression off the charts. And then…

I send out a group email to my older children. Sheena’s volleyball just got cancelled and she is sad. Anyone wanting to console her should do so. All three siblings immediately send empathetic notes. Brian and his girlfriend come over with fast food. I go out to drive my eldest daughter home from work. We compare stories. She works for Indigenous Bloom. Even they are talking about potential closures. I tell her I feel people will really panic if even the legal pot dispensaries close. We laugh. It feels good.

I return home and the youngest child greets me at the car. This means she thinks if she produces a smile cute enough, I will take her out for a drive. I balk. The fourty minute visit with the eldest daughter has exhausted me. Sheena then informs me, I am not allowed into the house as Brian and his girlfriend are working on a surprise. I drive the youngest child to 7/11 where she buys Slurpees for them, coffee for me. We return home, and the youngest son and his girl have cleaned my kitchen. As John at work says, it sparkles. Apparently, it was even my son’s idea, and then Daelyn took the reins and things got done right — fridge and stove pulled out and mopped under and everything.

I crash back onto my couch and the dog jumps on top of my hip and settles in for her nap. Brian, Sheena, and Daelyn all go out to Dae’s house. Sheena is happier than I’ve seen her all weekend. My little extrovert daughter finally has someone to talk to other than her boring, flu-y mother. I zone out, post the thirteenth picture on my phone on people’s Facebook walls. Stumble across Keith Urban, live streaming on Instagram. He’d had a concert cancelled, and it bummed him out. It is St. Patrick’s Day, after all. So, he rigged up some background tracks and some lights in the warehouse where he keeps oh so many beautiful guitars. And with wifey Nicole Kidman dancing around audience of one style, he played a thirty minute live-stream set which absolutely lifted my spirits and reminded me that the world hasn’t ended yet.

This morning, I’m at 90ish percent healthy. I get up and ready for my day, and jump onto Castanet. American news isn’t fun right now since hating Donald Trump doesn’t seem the most productive use of my energy — despite the fact that he rates his response to this crisis as a ten. That’s cool. The world can use a good laugh right now.  And to be fair, I wouldn’t want to be the leader in charge of a country right now, so yeah, whatever, Castanet it is. Micro-news is likely the best way to go at present, anyway.

And Castanet, this morning, rises to the challenge of improving my mental health.

Apparently, Keith Urban isn’t the only musician doing free concerts. Chris Martin and John Legend did, too. Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively donated a million dollars to food banks — half in the States, half in Canada. Tom and Rita were released from hospital. An Okanagan College exchange student has decided to stay in Spain so she doesn’t risk travelling and making people at home sick. She talks about people in Spain sharing items with each other, talks about people cheering the health care workers at the end of their shifts.

And I think, we get to choose who we want to be, how we want to respond. I think, we get to celebrate the resiliency of the human spirit, we get to support those in our community who are suffering as a result of March 2020. We get to take a look at what is really important, what really matters, and hopefully, carry that reminder with us through April and May and into the future when we are all up off our couches and getting back to the work of being part of both local and global citizenry.


Frozen in February

It’s February 20th, my work Wednesday, and the weather is cold but clear. Gorgeous. I don’t start work until 2 pm, and I have a list of things to do first.

-Call landlord

-Pay bills

-buy Ali’s Birthday present

– write 2000 words


But, the sunshine is calling to me, and most of the list is just so I won’t forget — most won’t take a lot of time. So, I drop Sheena off at school, grab Timmies, and I commence with plan B — ditch responsibility and drive to Oyama to walk along the lake. To be fair, I did get up early and start the day with yoga, and the walk qualifies as cardio. Or, it would have if I hadn’t been so distracted once I got there, and spent all my time photographing the FROZEN lake.

That’s right, folks, February 20th, and Woods Lake is still frozen. I wasn’t expecting this. I am suddenly feeling better about my whininess over the cold winter we have had. Because, in the thirty-five years I have lived in the Okanagan, I can’t recall another year where Woods Lake was still frozen one week before March.

I walk along and take photos, shots I’ve taken many times in many seasons, but which always feel new every time I take them. First, there is the willow tree with the swing. This angle looks from Oyama to the South, where my house, my dog, and my laptop await. I’ve passed a lot of people out walking their dogs and feel mildly guilty about that. I should have thought ahead and brought Lily with me, but the truth is, she is a terrible traveler and a real pain to take in the car. Good thing she’s cute.

She changes the flavour of all my outings. There is no leisurely stop and start if Lily is along. No, she is all go, go, go. There are also no singing birds like this little guy, who clearly was not as affected by the weather as I was. I’d stopped to take a picture of this tuning fork of a dead log when my little friend flitted to a melodic rest beside me. I took a long spiel of photos of this little guy, edging craftily closer with each shot. He tolerated me right up to the moment that the big cube van lumbered down the road in sound-barrier breaking velocity, and the shock waves of his passing were too much for my buddy to out-sing.

With both the trucks and the bird gone, I continued my walk, jolting every now and then because of an odd noise. Somewhere between a rustling and a creaking, I kept spinning around to look for an animal in the bushes. Until, feeling foolish yet relieved, I realized I was hearing the Spring thaw. The sound tripping me out because I’d never heard it before was the sound of the lake ice cracking.

Continuing on, I tried somewhat unsuccessfully to catch the shimmering translucent crystals of rainbow-light sparkling where the sun cranked up the volume against the icy shore. The iridescence of the sun’s reflection reminded me of a bracelet I had as a kid which would send prismatic colours dancing across the white walls of my bedroom anytime the sun touched it. The reflections also reminded me of the sparkling colours in the scales of certain fish.

About the time I drained the last of my coffee, the cold drained the last glimmer of heat from my phone’s battery. With my camera no longer accessible, I left the fresh morning-at-the-lake air for the still-warm confines of my car. It wasn’t until I cranked the heater that I realized my fingers had turned as icy as my surroundings.

I don’t know if it was the exercise or the atmosphere, but something about the scenery inspired me, and as I drove away, I suddenly and with no warning received a download of creativity to my brain. I pulled the car over then and there and jotted the scene my brain had just spun into a notebook. A woman, about to be kissed, worrying about coffee breath, and a man who spins double entendres and turns words into seduction. A scene, complete, to be used at a future time.

I returned home, greeted the dog, knocked off the entirety of the to do list in mere moments until only one item remains.

-write 2000 words.

These are aren’t the words I thought I meant, but that’s okay. It’s not even noon. There’s still plenty of time. My morning walk in the sun was totally worth my morning’s sloven word count.

Kelowna: Accidentally the Best Day Off in a Long Time

Today, at Hambleton Art Gallery on Kelowna’s Ellis Street, the owner asked me what I was doing with my day. I told him I was Gallery Hopping, to which he asked if I was in the market, and I sighed, and told him, I wish.

Currently, I work as a barista at Starbucks while furthering my forever career as a novelist. No art purchasing for me. Still, somehow this week the scheduling diva at Starbucks saw fit to give me a three-day weekend, and since earlier this week I finished editing my third novel in a month — effectively accomplishing my January writing target several days in advance — and since this morning I ordered the hard copies of the novel I will be launching in March (The Way of Things – Book Two in the Lakeland Series), I decided to run with the weekend.

On Sunday, I may possibly head to church to hear my son’s new girlfriend sing. In the afternoon, I am heading to UBCO because my daughter is playing on the JR Heat team and they have practice. And Monday I am heading to Vernon to visit my sister and get the tour of her newly purchased home. Which left today free.

I had only one definite goal for my day — head to Kelowna Art Gallery, where I worked last year, to visit Ryan and return the Margaret Atwood book he loaned me. Other than that, my Saturday was a large maybe. Maybe I’d drive over the bridge and go for a walk along the boardwalk in Peachland. Maybe I’d call up a friend and reconnect. Maybe I’d hit up a pub or go dancing. Maybe I’d take my computer on a road trip to some small cafe somewhere with an internet connection to the world. Or maybe I’d wing it.

I picked wing it.

I’d honestly forgotten that I’d need to pay for parking downtown until I popped in at Starbucks on my way to KAG. My need for caffeine has morphed since working for Starbucks. While I waited for my order (Irish Cream Americano, which, unfortunately I did not receive as ordered but didn’t even notice until I was in my car and realized my drink was iced rather than hot but who cares ‘cuz I’m on days off and this is good, too, and caffeine is caffeine and I’m already driving, and boy, that was a good U-turn I just performed — away I go!), I chatted with Dan, store regular and karaoke facilitator, and he told me a story of parking downtown and I went, oi! I’m gonna need change.

It boded well for my gallery visit that after performing a second U-turn (this one a bit scarier by virtue of its occurring on Water Street in haste), I found a perfect parking spot directly in front of gallery doors. Then I stood in a Winnie the Pooh kind of day and waited extensively for the nice french-speaking couple to figure out how to operate the parking metre so I could pay for my spot.

Once inside the gallery, though, it was good times. I got to catch up with my colleagues, and Ryan took me on a private tour of the exhibits. Then he set me loose to explore on my own, and I discovered the new exhibit, F#Minor (or something like that, I forget). In it, the artist has created a board full of amplifier cones of various sizes, each corresponding to different musical settings, and all motion sensitive so that when you hover near (without touching – do not touch the art – even if tempted) you can create a symphony with the wave of an arm. Well! Once I discovered that, I went to town! I had the place to myself (except for the security cams, but whatever), so I went a little nuts.

First, I very politely stepped to the threshold of the art piece. In response, it started to hum. A lovely soprano hit a note and sustained it. Next, piano keys chimed.

I walked to the left, and the tones changed. By the time I made it to the far end of the piece, I had electric guitars wailing and drums and bass throbbing, and I WAS HAVING FUN! To the left, whispered voices and cackling laughter and squealing feedback turned the darkened room I was standing in into the set of a horror flick. AND IT WAS AWESOME!

I’d completed a polite, investigatory circuit, and now it was time to get my money’s worth (ha! I’m still a member. I get in for free.) I ran up the left to a storm of sound. In front of the percussion section, I whirled and twirled and danced, and quite frankly, felt the pagan side of my Celtic ancestry doing its best to surface as I danced in the dark to a throb of sound in a circle under a dark-as-night space.

Then, I let my inner conductor out, and I pointed, and I stabbed, and I stoked up that band one hand motion at a time.

In other words, go see it. You’ll love it.

Stopping in at Hambleton Galleries after visiting KAG was completely a spur of the moment impulse. The art at Hambleton is so completely different from KAG, that I always find them a good pairing. At KAG, the art tends to take cerebral twists. At Hambleton, a lot of local artists are represented, a lot of nature and landscape work is done in various styles. I get off on both, so they both make me happy. Plus, they are a block apart, and once again, I found parking directly in front. So, good times!

Inside Hambleton, I did a fairly quick circuit. I hadn’t paid for my parking this time (hahahahaha City of Kelowna!), and I didn’t want to overly tempt the metre masters with my parking roulette. Still, I took photos of my favourites along with the artists names (I will research them online later), and I fantasized about where I’d place certain pieces in my house after my clearly-needed lottery win. Then I realized, wait, after the lottery win, I will buy a new place with walls better designed to facilitate my obvious need for an art collection, so… But in all seriousness, the work at Hambleton was gorgeous, and I noticed one thing I hadn’t seen before — not only do they have prices listed, they have monthly payment amount suggestions listed. I could actually afford $57 a month for the gorgeous statue of the sun being swallowed by the silhouetted tree’s gnarled arms. And that is a fact which I can’t seem to get out of my head.

I left the art world behind and decided against driving across the bridge. That meant, no Peachland today. Instead, I drove out to the Mission and parked at the beach. Getting out of my car, I was definitely under-dressed for the wind coming in off the lake. Art Gallery clothes are not winds-of-60-km/hr clothes, and I would later read that winds were reaching that level today.

I have a thing for the wind. Always have. For most of my life, I’ve worn my hair long, and there is just something about the feeling that rises up inside my spirit when I am standing, facing into the wind, breathing it in while my hair whips around in cyclones battering my skin like Medusa and her snakes. It is something good. It makes me feel wild, and alive, and invigorated, and somehow settled, internally, all at the same time. It’s a feeling which defies the boundaries of words, which I’ve never managed to satisfactorily capture. But I know it when I feel it. Standing in the wind at the beach, I felt it today.

The surf was crazy, the noise ricocheting around me as it spent itself in temperamental tantrums against the shoreline. That, alone, would not have kept me standing out there in my too-thin shirt. The kite skiers, though, they kept me rooted to the beach long after I could no longer feel my fingers. I took video clips and photos until my phone battery was all but spent, and thrilled to the aerial acrobatics of these — possibly insane — gladiators of the wind. And decided on the spot that someday, an adrenaline junkie kite skier will be a hero in a book with my name on it.

I climbed into my car and cranked the heater while considering my options. The truth was, I wanted to get a little exercise today, and it was simply too cold at the beach to walk. I was close to the Mission Sports Fields, though, and potentially there would be shelter from the wind there, so that became the plan. When I got there, though, I found the path I intended to beat gated off, so I changed course. You can do that when you are on day one of three days off and you are winging it. I drove one driveway further, and parked at the Capital News Building — aka, the library.

I found a spot inside the library where I could charge my phone, and sat waiting for the battery to come back to life. While doing so, I purused the local book stacks (fiction). I picked up one called The Horseman, which turned out to be set in World War 1 (not my thing) so I put it back. I wandered over to Mary Higgins Clark’s selection deliberately, because she died at the age of 92 yesterday. In her obit, which I read in bed this morning while cuddling Lily, it said she wrote about women surviving difficult odds. I didn’t know that. I only remember she wrote about a woman who won the lottery and then became a crime solver. I don’t know. It’s been awhile since I’ve read one of her books. What was interesting to me, though, was learning she started her writing career by looking at her bookshelf and then giving herself permission to write what she liked to read. Kudos, Mary, I did exactly the same thing!

I’d had a low-grade headache all morning, and while in the library waiting on my phone, it finally got past the Slightly Aggravating stage and made it to the This Bites stage. I popped another pill, and when I next stood and discovered I was both mildly wobbly and also nauseous, I remembered that I had as yet forgotten to eat anything other than coffee. I figured pub fries might just do the trick to soak up some of the Advil overdose I might potentially be suffering, and since I knew there was a pub in the Capital News Building, I decided to seek it out. On my way, though, I realized there was a concession stand between the pub and myself, and that seemed a faster route to take. I purchased chicken fingers and a Gatorade, and I wandered.

And next thing you know, I was accidentally standing behind the goalie’s net at what I first thought (due to the jerseys) to be a Kelowna Rockets game (Why is it free? Is it okay for me to be standing here? Nobody’s kicked me out so far, so I guess I’m going to continue standing here and by the way, this ROCKS!). I realized, once the score made it to 13-3 halfway through the second, that this might not be THE Rockets. Do the Rockets have a Junior team? I texted the question to my sixteen year old daughter, source of all pop-culture knowledge. Her response was, look for this guy — photo included in her text — he’s so pretty. I responded, no, he’s not playing. Her response, do their jerseys say WHL? My response, I’ll check next time they slam into the glass in front of me. Answer, no, but the glass held, so all good.

I’m more a bump-set-spike/love-means-nothing kind of athlete than a slam-your-mate-into-the-boards/ punches-for-penalties kind of athlete, so this was both novel and fun for me. I mean, yeah, I’ve been to hockey games before, and I watch it on TV some, but I don’t think I’ve ever stood directly behind the goalie’s net before. It was kind of awesome, actually. The sounds of the game down at that level were unbelievable — and loud. I LIKED IT. The size of these guys was daunting. The speed they were skating at was really something impressive. And yes, they were constantly doing their best to break the glass in front of me with their opponent’s shoulder. And I am such a girl that when they rammed each other into the glass directly in front of me that one time and the sound of the thudding bodies ricocheted like blow-back from a gun and the boards thunked and the glass which was all that was keeping these two monsters from including me IN the game wobbled, I will admit that I took an involuntarily step back and I think possibly closed my eyes. Eek. So much for my career as a sports  photographer!

I stayed to the end of the second period. Then, with my daughter wanting details about who exactly I was watching, I wandered over to the booth some women were manning and asked permission to ask an uninformed question — who am I watching? What level is this? Bantam. Which, I learned roughly translates to fourteen and fifteen year olds. Very large ones. When I mentioned to the women that my daughter was asking, they said, “Just tell her, they all skate. And tell her to stay away from all of them.”

Sound advice, obviously.

I left after that and headed for home and the roast beef I planned for dinner. After eating, I picked Sheena up from the Heat Volleyball game, then Lily and I zonked out on my sofa. I woke up with the headache problem solved, but the new problem of… it’s now 2:42 am and who’s not tired? Me. I’m not tired. But that’s okay, because without planning well, any of it, really, I just had the best day off I’ve had in months. Completely by accident. Thank you, Kelowna!





Journeying – Music

I am sitting at the precipice of a new decade, and as I’m sure is the case with many of you, I am feeling contemplative. So contemplative that I just cut and pasted the previous post I had written since I had to accept that I was really writing chapter one of a book, and not a goodbye to the teens hello to the twenties of this century.

Over the past ten years, I have been fortunate to release five cd’s of original music plus a cd of Christmas music. Truth: each album has its strengths and weaknesses. Studio time is expensive, and I was always working around the budget, still, I am proud of each project for its own reasons.

identity – 2012. studio album recorded with Dan Marcelino, Chris Schriek and Joe Harrison at DMA Studios. I play keys. Occasionally guitar. All vocals are mine with the exception of the kids “choir” (Jerome Laroche, Sheena Macfarlane, Thea Ley) on “Save the Children” — about trafficking. I wrote all the songs, the guys made them sound like actual songs. Favorite part of the album? It was the first. Every second for me was charged with joy. What might have been better? I was a brand new guitar player and I sucked. lol. Also, I wish we’d gotten the kids choir a little louder in the mix.

Trusting You – 2013. Studio album recorded with Greg Wenger at The Groove Studio in Vernon. The intention with this album changed, Originally, it was only meant to be a demo I could give the band so they could learn the songs, then I decided to publish and so things changed. Best part of the album? Cover art – me riding the carousel in San Fran while on a school band trip with Alison (my daughter). Also, it represents two different bands. One I sang with plus the first I led. Band one, Me, Joe Harrison, Gordie Harrison, Dan Harrison. Band two, Me on guitar and keys and vocals. Pete Petrescu on drums, Cole Hubscher on bass, Deanna DeCosta, guitar and vocals, Lynne Ivanoff, keys and vocals. Guest spots by my niece Adrienne Alexander on bass, Chris Schriek lead guitar, Alison Macfarlane on flute, and Jon Buller on bass. The worst part of the album? Not my best work. Sorry guys. Better material to come.

Legacy – 2014 (?) Live album. SO MUCH FUN! We recorded this entire album in one five hour session — which shows in my voice by the end of some of the songs. lol. Because we were recording live, I stacked the deck with all my friends plus some super strong extras.  In no particular order – Lynne Ivanoff, Deanna DeCosta, Mary Machibroda, Dave Newland, Karen Wolfe, Chris Schriek, Dan Marcelino, Gordie Harrison, Alisha Margaret, that guy Deanna was seeing, and my daddy, Marlin Kenneth Penner. The best part of this album? I love this project. We were all breaking up. Lynne moved a week later, Karen moved that summer. Things were changing. But, for this one last moment, we were all together and it was a brilliant night — even if some people complained that I gave them too much to learn to fast. Whatever… I love this album because we all just flowed against one another, just ad-libing, vibing off each other, bringing out the best in each other. And mostly, I love that I got to record a duet “Great is Thy Faithfulness” with the most faithful man I know — my dad. All my feelings associated with this album are happy ones. Worst part of the album? Live. Perhaps some takes could have been better in studio. Like, you know, where I sang the wrong words in one song. I mean, not like I wrote it, or anything! Still, all in all, sound quality is surprisingly good.

Joy to the World – 2015 (?) Ten songs, four originals, one remix of Joy to the World. At the time, I was leading in churches and was soooooo sick of Christmas carols. I think I recorded this partly as a form of rebellion, partly as a way of putting my own stamp on some old favorites. Best part of the album? There are some songs I really love. I love my take on Joy to the World, although it’s at the top of my range and now that I am not singing all the time, the vocal cords are not impressed. I love the way the duet with Dan Marcelino — Merry Christmas — turned out. I love The Smile of a Child as a song. Could use a studio quality recording on that one to improve the sound. And I love The Coventry Carol, which I sing acapella in four part harmony — all me. Fun stuff! Worst part of the album? Definitely the sound quality. Since this was never going to be a main project of mine, we recorded in three different formats — on the church sound system, which provided a fuzzy background hum you just gotta love, on Joe’s personal recording gear, which sounded better but still not perfect, and in Dan’s studio. Which rocked. Stupid money. Why do you always have to be a factor that messes with creativity?? Oh, on this album, Joe Harrison, me, Dave Newland, Mary Machibroda, Dave Anthony on Away in a Manger, and Dan the man Marcelino.

Lion’s Roar – 2016. This was definitely my most experimental — thus creative — album. Back in studio in Vernon with Greg Wenger at the helm. Greg gave me a skookum deal on the recording of this baby. Best part of the album? First, that we messed around and tried so much stuff. Second – saxophone, yeah baby! Third, Wings, which I recorded and turned into a video which I gave to my niece when she was going through a hard time. Love that song. Love that sound. Oh, I suppose also the fact that a friend’s partner was having brain surgery, and my friend told me at that time in her life she played the song Quiet Me over and over daily and found strength from it. Yeah, that’s kind of the point, after all. And the very best? Cover art by my dad- Marlin Penner. Hands down. XO dad. Worst part? Trouble in the band. sad face. Some of the memories don’t make me so happy.  Some of the experiments worked better than others. c’est la vie. On this album, Dave Newland, Mary Machibroda, Curtis Kieres (sax, yeah baby), Randy Roberts, Dwaine Alexander (my bro-in-law) and Nolan Basset on trumpet. Special thanks to Greg for the woohoos on Lion’s Roar — he knows what I mean! lol

All In – 2016. To me, this is the best sound I produced — ever. After going to town with all the bells and whistles on Lion’s Roar, I stripped it down for All In. Recorded in the Seburn’s basement studio with Luke Seburn as engineer. The price was right, and Luke, you are and likely always will be by far the most creative musician I have ever met. Point in case — he bought a pair of sterling wine glasses at a thrift store and turned them into percussion instruments… and they are on the album somewhere! I wanted to do an acoustic, sitting on the country back porch vibe-ing album, and this comes pretty close in parts. Courtesy of Paul Seburn doing something amazing to the tuning of my guitar, this album is far and away the best my voice ever sounded. If I do say so myself. Best part of the album? It is as close to the sound inside my head as any of my albums ever got. Also, Mary is recorded singing lead on the song she always liked best of mine — pretty cool. Also, one song I wrote in one night and recorded the next day — swaggy (stealing my daughter’s vocab). Also, on Hand this guy I met plays the spoons. Yep. The spoons. There are also birds and other sampled sounds Luke put in there and Dave plays harmonica and it kind of sounds like a train coming round the bend. I got Luke playing my banjo — whoo baby — he got me playing a legit Hammond B3 organ (hehehehehehe), and, yeah, musically, this one works for me. The worst part? Band broke up a week before the album came out. SUCKED. Not only did I take a big financial hit, but I do have some sad feelings when I listen. Then I go all vain on my voice, and I get over it. As well, mastering could have been louder. To be fair, he offered to redo it. On this one — Dave Newland, Mary Machibroda, Luke Seburn and featuring Ken Riley on spoons!

I learned so many things while pursuing music. Things about myself, such as, I am more in love with creating than with performing. Things about leading, like, it requires humility, the ability to render constructive criticism appropriately, and it takes as least as much work ethic, vision and drive as it does talent. Things about people, for example, supremely talented people will follow a mediocre talent if that talent is coupled with vision and genuine appreciation. I also learned technical things, like singing too close to the studio mic will not sound great on an album, that infusing passion into a song (as a vocalist) is a matter of connecting with the lyric, that it is good to let someone tell you how to hit the high notes better but bad to let them tell you to try to sound like someone else. Plus some other stuff, which, perhaps most significantly of all for me was, it was never only about the music. In the six years I was making albums, I was able to include 49 people on my albums or on stage with me. These people ranged from professional musicians, a couple award winning ones, a couple professional music teachers, to a whole bunch of amateurs of varying skill levels, to children as young as six years old. Musical accompaniments included: Grand piano, Korg and Roland keyboards, Hammond B3 organ, bass, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo, various percussion, djembe, electric drum kit, acoustic drum kit, flute, sax, trombone, trumpet, violin, the spoons, harmonica and voices. So many beautiful voices. I loved all of it — and you. Thank you to every person who was involved in the music I made this past decade. People, I have discovered, follow a vision. And when the vision is gone, people will find another vision to follow — myself most of all.


Shortly before 2019, I started daytrippinwithleighmacfarlane thinking it was going to be a travel blog. There is some of that on here, and there will be more — please, God. The thing I’ve realized in the teens of the twenty-first century is that the journey of life really happens inside. Whether that is a geographical journey or a metaphorical, metaphysical one, the way I interact with events and with people is the real journey which counts.

This past decade has seen so many things in my life. Physical injuries which turned me from an athletic focus to a creative one. Growing pains and joys with my children, who now are well on their way to being self-supporting adults. Spiritual highs and lows. The almost marriage which wasn’t. The deaths of people I love. Jobs jobs and more jobs. I think in the last few years I hold the record for how many different industries one person can work in. Friends who have come in and out of my life and thankfully, the important ones have come back in. So much love and joy and pain and sorrow and growth and hope and dreams… 

And now, I am pursuing another dream — writing.

That is a whole other blog post. Because in 2010, I graduated with a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, and since then, I have written two memoirs, a co-authored cookbook, a children’s picture book, a book of poetry, and am now up to eight completed novel manuscripts — four of which were published in 2019.

There have been times in my life where I have jokingly said, I wish God had made me an accountant. Life would be simple and financially secure, and I’d know what each day would hold. Gah! Worst. Plan. Ever.

I am no accountant. I am a creative. And how much more fun is that?!

I am so thankful, at the end of 2019, that God didn’t make me an accountant. People ask me all the time where my story ideas come from, and I can’t answer, because they just come from bumping shoulders with life, from breathing and observing, and experiencing. They are just there. One of my greatest realities is I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO TELL ALL THE STORIES. So, maybe being an accountant looked good to me at one time. Now, though, I am embracing the journey of being a creative — this is me, at the end of 2019, excited for all 2020 will bring.

Including but not limited to:

The Way of Things – April

The Best of Things – July

The Merry Kind of Things – November

Santa’s Surf School – December

And… ???

(stay tuned for future daytripping, both geographical and existential!)


Lawrence Avenue

Awhile ago, I was thrilled when a blog post I wrote was picked up by a magazine. Wanting a copy for my ‘brag book’, I’ve been keeping my eye out for the publication to show on shelves. It is late. So, today I drove down to the street address of this magazine, but no one answered my knock. The waiting continues.

The trip was far from wasted. I’d parked down the street a bit, and on my walk noticed plaques in the yards of several of the residences located on the street. When I stepped up to the first one, I realized I was looking at a heritage house designation marker, and I snapped a photo. From that point on, I wandered the block taking other photos. The shots I captured were of the markers, not of the homes themselves, as that seemed mildly invasive. These might be older homes in one of Kelowna’s designated heritage neighbourhoods, but people do currently make their homes within their walls.

One of the first things I noticed was that these houses represented multiple styles of architecture. Some are quite modest, and later I would read that their construction reflected the financial realities of the time. I liked that these homes were considered important as a marker of the history of Kelowna, not only as a tribute to the wealth which founded Kelowna.

The homes are also all named with the names of former residents — people who had significant connections to the history of Kelowna and who either built or lived in the building named after them. One of the original residents who lived in a house on Lawrence had a street named after him. One helped establish a hardware store. One owned an orchard in Glenmore. One was one of the original administrators of the Kelowna Golf Club. As I heard about the occupations represented, it was like being taken back in time, like falling into a movie set with dirt-paved roads and horses and buggies trotting down the lane.  My imagination was engaged.

When I was younger, I worked as a maid in Vernon and cleaned the Vernon Music School — housed in a gorgeous Victorian heritage house. Last summer at Kopje park, I took copious photos of Gibson House because one day I will be writing a novel set there. Brandon, a character in one of my novels (Honey on My Lips), lives in a fictional heritage house. In university, one of my favourite essays centered on the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. I’ve been interested in and inspired by character homes for a long time. I’ve also spent years driving through these homes on my routes in and out of downtown Kelowna. Stumbling across these Lawrence Avenue addresses was a great perk to my day.

I didn’t know until today, though, that in the Bernard – Lawrence neighbourhood of Kelowna, there is a heritage walking tour of buildings who, according to the tour’s brochure, are a “Presence from the Past.” I liked the phrase. It really did capture how reading about the owners of these homes made me feel.

It’s an odd thought to know that the people who built Lawrence Avenue are now dead and gone, but they all had dreams, lives, families, a sense of purpose. Now, new families live in the buildings the settlers created. I know this because as I walk, family dogs run up to me from behind their fences with tails wagging. They bark at me from inside windows while I pass by. To me, a dog makes a house a home. Today in one yard a tree is being pruned by a landscaper, in another, leaves are being raked by a resident. The more things change, the more they stay the same for property owners.

According to the City of Kelowna website on heritage planning Lawrence avenue is part of a heritage conservation area. The website defines this as “a distinct area with special heritage value and character, designated for long-term protection and heritage conservation purposes in an Official Community Plan.” Such areas are established because “Kelowna’s older residential neighbourhoods are under redevelopment pressure, and the citizens of Kelowna expressed a desire to preserve the character and quality of these areas” ( In other words, even though these properties are now worth extreme amounts of money to developers, we don’t want our local history torn down and forgotten. In Kelowna, we want to remember who our founders were. We want to remember where we came from.

Kelowna offers both a heritage grant program and a heritage building tax incentive program for owners of these properties looking for financial assistance with maintenance or historically minded renovations. In order to qualify for such assistance, a home must be listed on the Kelowna Heritage Register, or must be located within a Heritage Conservation Area.

 “We value, respect and celebrate built, cultural and natural heritage as a major contributor to our community’s identity, character and sense of place.”



Peppermint Oil and Voxx Socks – Part One in the First Day of the Rest of My Life


Sometimes you just know what you know. I know peppermint essential oil and VOXX socks have improved my quality of life.

Ten-ish years ago, I suffered a triad of athletic injuries. First, I tore all the ligaments in my shoulder during a tennis forehand. Second, I tore all the ligaments in my ankle during a tennis dash to the deep far right of the court. And a year later, I tore my hamstring while doing the splits in yoga. No irony there.

The hamstring injury hurt the most at the time, but now, years later, that is but a distant memory, while both tennis injuries have worsened over the years. They have brought both vocational and recreational changes to my life. This year, when the repetitive motion of putting stamps on envelopes at my desk job was enough to send me home with burning shoulder nerves, I decided, okay, I can’t afford it, but I’m going to look into physio therapy. Clearly, I can’t afford not to. I’m too young to live this way.

And then, by fluke, if you like, by divine intervention, if you prefer, one week after deciding this, I ended up at an outdoor artisans fair. I thought I was going to look at local art works.  Instead, I found two booths, side by side, which have both contributed to changing my quality of life. One of the tables had a big jog of cold lemon water and a bunch of essential oils on display. The table beside them had socks.

At the first table, I stopped in my browsing to read a poster labeling the parts of the foot. The literature claimed that VOXX Life technology could help with foot pain and with balance. Their tool? Socks.

This wasn’t normally a claim I would waste any time on. It turns out, I am a bit of an alternative medicine sceptic. Then the woman manning the booth invited me to remove my shoes and step up for an experiment, and because I was getting desperate for some improvement in my health, I gave a mental shrug, and shucked my flipflops.

“Okay,” I said, “But I have a bad ankle. I already know I’m going to be bad at this.”

With bare feet, I stepped onto the board she indicated, then made fists with my wrists, and placed them on top of one another underneath my breastbone. The woman then placed her hands on top of mine, and pushed down. I immediately toppled. I inadvertently pitched forwards and stepped off the board.

“Okay,” she said, bending over to place a pair of insoles on the board, “Now stand on these, and fold your hands again.”

I let her position me correctly on the insoles, placed my hands as instructed, and let her push her weight down on my hands a second time. She added enough force that my arms dropped down several inches, but I… didn’t budge. It was a startling and dramatic demonstration.

I stepped off the board, put my flipflops back on, and followed her back to a rack of socks. Where I caught my first glimpse of the price tags. Ouch. $40 for a pair of ankle socks.

Normally, I’d never pay that kind of money for socks. I raised four kids on my own, so I can be frugal. Forty bucks can fuel my car for a week. Forty bucks can pay half of my cable bill for a month. Forty bucks will send my daughter away for a weekend with her volleyball team and put food on her plate while she’s there. On the other hand, physio is going to run me a lot more than forty bucks. Even if I am throwing my money away, giving these socks a chance might be an affordable alternative.

I deliberately didn’t bring any cash with me as I perused, but I put my name down on the woman’s pre-order list, and when she contacted me by email a few days later, I charged it. Then I jumped on the VOXX Life website to see what exactly it was that Canada Post was speeding my way.


VOXX Life is a company which spent six years developing the technology in their products. They studied “decades of research in brainstem functionality and the peripheral nervous system, and also reviewed the latest research in sensory mechano-receptor mapping,” and also a bunch of other health science stuff (

At VOXX, they wanted to know how the brain’s sensory receptors, the peripheral nervous system and the brainstem interact. Then they wanted to implement what they learned into a line of products designed to increase balance, manage pain, and generally improve energy and function.

VOXX discovered that the relationship between the brainstem, peripheral nervous system and the brain’s sensory receptors are interconnected. They work together to gather sensory input and create motor output. The brainstem connects the brain to the central nervous system, relaying signals between the brain and the spinal cord. The brainstem  also “controls several important functions of the body including pain management, alertness, arousal, breathing, blood pressure, digestion, heart rate, swallowing, walking, posture, stability and sensory and motor information integration.”

VOXX developed technology with a “very specific sequence and pattern of neuroreceptor activation on the bottom of the feet that triggers a signal that aides in the brainstem reaching homeostasis.” In other words, wearing VOXX products triggers the brainstem to signal the brain in ways that induce a relatively stable equilibrium between all three elements of the body. These trigger point patterns are woven or molded into footwear products. The results people saw were significant enough that the technology was then sold to the army and to professional athletes.

The result VOXX users observed included improved posture and balance, improved mobility and energy, and generally reduced or more easily managed pain levels. VOXX says, “The concept is simple. The science is proven. The results are extraordinary.” I just say, “It works.”

When you get your socks, you are instructed to keep them on 24/7 for a week. Apparently, they come with an antibacterial ingredient which allows this. You can wash them in the machine when necessary, but hang to dry. I followed these instructions religiously. Within three days, I no longer recognized myself. The difference was undeniable, yet I tried to deny.

“This has got to be a placebo,” I said, pretty much to anyone who would listen. So, I took a day without the socks. Not, I was forced to concede, a placebo. VOXX technology is the real deal. I was so convinced, I signed up as a rep.

My job at the time was largely sedentary, but I’d also worked at a fast-food restaurant on the side briefly. I remember sitting in my car after one eight hour shift unable to drive out of the parking lot because my ankle was spasming. That feeling when your leg has gone to sleep and the circulation is returning? That was happening all at once — and was focused in my Achilles tendon to the point that I was unsafe to drive home. I’d also, on more than one occasion, had my foot simply collapse underneath me as I walked up the four steps to my patio. It’s a terrifying thing when you are a relatively young woman and with no advance warning, your foot simply crumples underneath you. All this changed.

I started taking walks. I resumed swimming. I started jogging up my stair case. I quit my sedentary job and took jobs requiring me to be on my feet for eight hours at a time. At the end of these shifts, my feet would hurt. Because, you know, feet get tired after running around on them for eight straight hours. So, my feet got tired — normal, been-standing-on-you-all-day tired. And my life changed.

Best forty dollars ever spent.

Now, I wear them all the time. I’m someone who likes big fluffy, floppy socks in winter, and bare feet all the rest of the time, but I don’t even notice these socks. They don’t make me sweat, and they feel great. Mostly, though, they make me feel healthy in them.

I don’t know that I’ll ever hit the tennis courts again. Not sure I even still want to. But the discovery of VOXX technology has gone a long way to getting me moving again. If you suffer from balance or pain issues, give VOXX a chance. It might just be the best money you ever spend, too.

For more information on VOXX, visit their website They’ve been a game changer for me.

My shoulder would tell you, so have essential oils, but that is part two of this story. Stay tuned for that story, coming soon!

Seven Weeks


On August 22, 2019, I left my job. Have you ever been in a position where all the signs are just saying, it’s time to move on? I was in that position. Some of those signs were speaking louder than others, but really, when it comes down to it, it was just time for a change.

In 2016, I was managing a Bosley’s pet store, and I loved it. No job is perfect, but since I left that company for personal reasons, I’ve sort of cast around for work which satisfied. I found jobs which paid well that I hated, and I found jobs which paid crap but I loved. I didn’t find the perfect fit.

I’m more a joy and satisfaction kind of girl than a dollars and cents kind of girl, but this time when I quit, I wanted to be a bit more selective about my next position. Ideally, I’d like to find a blend of personal fulfillment, financial security, and flexibility. I am looking to build a writing career, after all, and I weigh that against my other employment options.

Will the job I accept offer enough time for me to continue with writing? Will it leave me too tired and eye-fatigued to write? Will it suck the soul from my being and leave me too emotionally drained to write? I’ve experienced all of these before. Or, will it fit me like Goldilocks’ bed — not too soft, not too hard, but just right?

I’m going to write more about the voyage of my job hunting experience in the coming weeks, but for now, let me just give the highlights — in seven weeks, I received nine job offers. Some of these were career type positions with high paying wages and great benefits packages, some were not. I briefly tried out two of these jobs, and although the people were nice, the jobs were not for me, so I picked up the last of those paychecks today, and tomorrow I begin life as a barista at Starbucks. lol. It might seem an anti-climactic end to such a choosy search, but it’s what I want. Baring early retirement, I am excited to begin.

And, today I received the employees benefits package manual, and let me just say, wow. This is one amazing employer. At least, on paper.

The point of this post is really not about the job hunt, it is, at the outset of Thanksgiving weekend, a tally of all I accomplished in the seven weeks (to the day) from the end of my previous full-time job and the start of my new job. Because, I am so grateful for this time I’ve had these past two months.

In these last few weeks, I have finished writing a novel – Feathers in the Snow. (Which means I am now up to seven completed novels — with publication of the third launching next month.) I have written blog posts, had an article picked up by Okanagan Life Magazine, am in the middle of an art gallery-related writing contract, have created a fiction writer’s course, have submitted several short stories to potential publishers, have formatted print and EBook editions for my soon to be published, The Heart of Things, and tonight reformatted the Ebook version of my former release, Honey on my Lips, which had some glitches the company was unable to remedy. I’ve checked the sample pages, and the book is fixed (yeah me!). I have signed up for a second year of NaNoWriMo, and tonight was contacted by a man who will soon need help writing his memoir. I feel like there is more, but I forget. In short, I have been productive, am on a role, and like I said to my son today, I feel like if I could only have six more months working at this pace, I wouldn’t need to get a second job at all.

I have visited regularly with my mom, talked politics with my dad, hung out with my sister by phone, at least, and with my brother-in-law over coffee. My eldest daughter and I went on a coffee-fueled nature photo shoot, and I’ve been to my younger daughter’s soccer and volleyball games, have tracked my nephews (by marriage) football games. I am prepping two of my children for their driving tests, and having so many great conversations with both my sons. I like these people. I love having the time to be involved in their lives.

I have regularly picked Sheen (the only one still in high school) up mid-day and taken her out for lunch before dropping her back off to sweat it out in pre-cal. Have baked and cooked and made healthy soups and meals and cleaned the house — although I never did get to the lawn and now intend to let winter just kill all the weeds for me, and I will try again next year. I love what being all domestic goddesy does to my soul. It makes me feel settled and somehow fundamentally healthier and (don’t hate me feminists) more female. I like it when it is organized in here and not falling down at the rafters. I mean, I am never going to be accused of being an obsessive housekeeper, but it’s nice to be able to see the floor again.

I’ve been to two art exhibit openings, to the Armstrong IPE, then skipped a bunch of other things I was invited to for various reasons, but mostly because, for as long as I had the opportunity, I just wanted to make the most of my time here at home. I’ve taken day trips and road trips, blogged about some of them, gotten too busy with the novel to blog about others until I didn’t care to bother anymore.  I’ve had great conversations with friends, have swum and hiked, and honestly meant to do yoga, except the dog thinks it is playtime when I sit on my mat, so yeah, that hasn’t really happened.

I have kept up with American politics — best reality TV around — been enraged at times, ridiculously saddened at times and currently am resting somewhere between hopeful and I-told-you-so. I bet you didn’t know that was an emotion, but lemme just attest, it surely is. Bigly. American politics has even led me to reading my Bible on a couple of occasions, although that might also have something to do with my new doctor pen-pal. He’s in Yemen. Doing doctor things. I’m mostly almost sure.

I feel, at the end of these two months, amazed by how refreshed I am. Body, soul, spirit. I feel in touch with the essential, peaceful, content, hopeful, sentient and self-aware parts of my personality which at times get sucked away in the challenges and demands of life.

There are also so many things I wanted to do but haven’t yet gotten to. I still have to create my self-publishing course content — but I have five more weeks to do that. I never did give up the junk food or lose all the weight — have a lifetime to do that. I haven’t always been great at getting to sleep on time (4 am. But that was only once. And the book I was reading was sooo good.). I never called the manager of Chapters, who said she would talk to me about taking on my novel once September arrived, and I haven’t even started the outline for my Nano novel. I need to get on both! I never did go see my boyfriend Gerard Butler in Angel has Fallen, and I didn’t get to the play I was supposed to go to last night or the art reading I had at one point planned to attend tonight. But I did binge watch season fifteen of Grey’s Anatomy and also the Netflix series Unbelievable. And I did cuddle my dog and pet her silky ears (she’s right here beside me right now, as a matter of fact) every day, as much as I possibly could manage. Oh, and I’ve started playing guitar daily in an effort to re-establish callouses. It’s almost like I might want to record again some day.

It turns out that going into Thanksgiving, I have an amazing amount of things to be thankful for. I’ve been feeling that way all month long, like my heart is just full, and brimming, and wanting to spill over — but in a good way. There is such a power in being selective with the choices I make. There is power in accepting the pros and cons which come with each decision. It’s a power that comes from deep down within. Choice is just that gift I get to give myself at this point in my life.

So, tomorrow I begin the journey of learning to be a barista. In the evening, I am meeting my former gallery associates for drinks — and I can’t wait. On Saturday I get to once again go watch my daughter in a volleyball tournament, and this one is just down the street at my alma mater, which is nice on multiple levels. Sunday, my sister is making Thanksgiving turkey and we are having a thanksgiving bonfire at the farm, then Monday, since my kids have to work through C’s thanksgiving, I’ll be doing dinner here. And I know, technically, those dates extend past my seven weeks off, but for some lovely reason, I have the weekend off. My second baristing day isn’t until Tuesday.

This has been a great moment in life. I feel rejuvenated, and am looking forward to what comes next.

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑