Every once in awhile I cry. It doesn’t happen often but last week was different; last week I found myself crying almost every night while I lay in bed. I was thinking a lot about two close family members that passed away very suddenly a couple of years ago. I am not sure exactly what made me think of them…maybe it was the cyclist whizzing by in his racing suit on the street…maybe it was one of the photos around my house that happened to capture my gaze…or maybe it was someone’s familiar smile on the streetcar. Whatever it was, both my brother-in-law, Kevin and my Uncle Ed were on my mind.
I’ve never really thought of myself as an artist. In part, this is because I was completely overshadowed by my sister Rachel who was a very gifted artist in a number of mediums (clay, drawing, painting, you name it!). I vividly remember being in art class with Mr. Levang at Maillard Junior Secondary School and looking up at one of the only pictures that he had hanging on his wall above his desk (a distinct honour)… it was one of my sister’s sketches. I must admit that was rather intimidating. Despite being in my sister’s shadow, I was pretty good at doing portraits of people. With just a pencil, a piece of paper, and some time to focus, I could draw a pretty impressive and recognizable portrait.
Last week I reconnected with one of my favourite people in the world. You know the kind of person I am talking about…the kind of person who is filled with love and positivity and lights up a room when he walks in. The kind of person who has accomplished so much in his own life and touched the lives of countless other people in positive ways. The kind of person who has every reason to have a big ego but instead is self-effacing, humble, and amazingly charming.
During the last ten years that it took me to complete my PhD (yes…that’s right, it took me ten years!), every book and article that I read related to my PhD topic. The good thing is that I am really passionate about Aboriginal law and almost everything I read on that topic fuelled my passion and sparked new ideas for me. The bad thing is that I wasn’t able to read anything else – no fiction, no self-development books, no biographies… So now I am really enjoying getting back to reading other books!
If you had told me that I should deliberately schedule time for myself a couple of years ago, I would have looked at you like you were bonkers. When my kids were young, I felt like there was no time for me at all. As a new Mom, I could hardly even find time to shower and I felt like I needed toothpicks to keep my eyes open most of the time. Now as a working parent with many things on the side, I still struggle to find time for myself.
At a conference focusing on Indigenous legal traditions at McGill Law School this past weekend, I reconnected with a lovely, accomplished law professor that I hadn’t seen for awhile and asked her how her law teaching was going. She told me that although she is now very comfortable in her job, as a full-time working mother of two young kids, she is feeling overwhelmed, isolated, and feels like she is just trying to get through each day as it comes.
For many years, I thought I could do it all. I was working full-time and trying not to sacrifice any family time while trying to finish my dissertation. On a typical day, the most time I could string together to work on my PhD was about an hour and a half at night after the kids had gone to bed. Already you can see the problem, right?
Many of us become stuck in the minutia of everyday life. We get up, stretch our sore bodies, drink coffee to get rid of the morning fog, and get out the door to go to work, to get the kids to school, to care for family members or do many of the other things that we are responsible for in our day-to-day lives. Weeks pass… then months pass… then years pass… and if you’re anything like me, all of a sudden you wake up one morning and think: “Is this it? Is this all there is to life?”
I have been drinking a homemade matcha latte using coconut milk and blue agave for several months. I follow this amazing recipe to make it but the one thing I didn’t have that the recipe called for was a bamboo whisk. So… I just made it with a metal whisk. With the wrong equipment, I wasn’t really able to get the chunks out so at the end of every cup I would end up chewing on matcha powder chunks. At first, this was a bit alarming but then I got used to it and settled for the fact that I had a hot morning drink that needed chewing.
When I was younger, I never imagined myself as someone who didn’t exercise. But after competing in the Vancouver Open Beach Volleyball tournament with my sister Rachel in July 2013, my body crashed and I was unable to recover. I had numb hands and feet, severe weakness in my arms (I could hardly wash my hair), and extreme fatigue – so extreme that all I could do was drag myself to work on the streetcar and lie on my desk for the whole day before dragging myself home.