Last night, an old friend from high school passed away. I found out about it this morning, predictably, through Facebook. Although she and I hadn’t had a face-to-face conversation in nearly two decades, I knew from keeping in touch via social media that she had married her high school sweetheart (a man she fell head over heels for the moment she met him) and together, they raised two wonderful boys.

My friend was my age. Yes, she had been sick for quite some time, but she was my age. I’m sure both of our 16-year-old young and foolish selves would have looked at our current selves and thought we were old as dirt. Only my friend won’t get the chance to be old as dirt. She won’t get the chance to dance at her children’s weddings. Or bounce a cherished grandchild on her knee. Or live her every dream. And that’s not fair.

My family has survived a lot in the past few months, but we’re all still here, and still together. Today, I made it a point to live in the moment to honour my friend.

I went on a field trip with my son’s class, not caring that the wee hands gathered around the table at the art studio were covered in white glue were leaving messy prints on my t-shirt. I picked up my kids and headed for the park after school for nearly two hours, letting them run around in the dirt, all loud voices and running feet. I bought them each an ice cream cone, and enjoyed one myself (a scarcely affordable luxury right now in our home). For once, I didn’t nag them about the melting ice cream dripping onto their hands and down their shirt fronts. I just watched their faces as they enjoyed their cones, revelling in their joy. My children don’t know I lost a friend today. They’re barely old enough to register the finality of death. All they know is that mommy hugged them extra tight this morning. And bought them ice cream this afternoon.

Life’s too short is a cliche, but in my friend’s case, that cliche couldn’t be truer. Rest in peace, my friend. You will be missed and always loved.


On Creating A Ruckus

First, an apology. I haven’t written a new post in a very long time. It was not my intent, and any content manager worth their pay (me included) would typically lose their mind over an untended blog – think of the valuable online cred you’re losing! But, as the Beatles song Beautiful Boy says, life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans (for a deeper explanation, see my last post, I Am Grateful). Since that post, my loved one was happily released from hospital, but then my daughter and I got sick. I lost a couple of great opportunities, but then uncovered more. Now I’m back with a clearer focus and a huge appreciation for life. Apparently, being faced with mortality does that to a person.

Back to the post at hand though…

On Wednesday June 5, me, and 1899 others, were privileged to attend The Art of Marketing Conference here in Toronto. The speakers were a veritable who’s who of the marketing/creative world – David Usher, Seth Godin, Jonah Berger, Charles Duhigg and Biz Stone. I found out Tuesday afternoon that I was the lucky winner of a ticket (otherwise, I would have never been able to attend) from Renbor Sales Solutions Inc. (Special thank you shout-out to Tibor Shanto).

While all the speakers were amazing and so, so inspiring, one comment stood out to me. Just as Seth Godin was leaving the stage, he said, “create a ruckus.”

Such a simple phrase – and one that would take many of us back to Max’s words from Maurice Sendak’s Where The Wild Things AreĀ (Although the correct phrase is, “Let the wild rumpus start!”). But for grown-up me, I thought about it. How long has it been since I created a ruckus about something I was passionate about? How long has it been since I questioned the status quo? The answer struck me almost as quickly – it’s been too long.

We all get caught up in the day-to-day. The hustle and bustle. The crazy thing we called life. But I’m thinking lately that all of the events that have happened to me and my family over the past six months have led to this moment. This challenge to create a ruckus. I am so, so ready.

My ruckus will be simple and quiet. But it will be all mine. And, Seth, if you’re reading, consider this your challenge accepted.

I Am Grateful

I haven’t posted recently because I’m tired. I’ve been coping with being the caregiver to a very sick loved one so writing has been the last thing on my mind after I get home from spending the day at the hospital, getting dinner together for the family in the evening and settling the children into bed.

But today, I went for a run through a beautiful local park because between dropping the children off at school and visiting hours in the ICU beginning, I have about two hours. Two hours during which I can choose to stew and be alone with my own morbid imagination and the Internet (trust me when I tell you not to Google symptoms of even the most minor illness. Seriously. Don’t do it).

I put on my runners, slipped my earbuds into my ears and ran. I ran from my thoughts, I ran from my obligations, I ran from the fear and uncertainty of the last week. And I discovered something as I ran. That despite everything we have faced in the last few months (job losses, family illnesses, hospital stays, etc.), I am still grateful for so many things.

I am grateful for family. Both the family I was born into and the family into which I married. They have supported me, my loved one and our children throughout this week. They have arrived with offers of help, a willingness to distract the children, an ear to just let me vent and an amazing capability help me navigate and cope with all of the unknowns.

I am grateful for friends – the family I chose for myself. The fact that these individuals have been willing to suspend their own lives and cook a dinner, watch the children, help me be a patient advocate or just give a big bear hug when I need one has touched me deeply. I knew I chose this family right.

I am grateful to my children for providing a welcome sense of calm, humour and energy in my life. They are the reason I have continued putting one foot in front of the other instead of curling into a ball on my couch. They are the reason I have kept laughing despite my worry.

I am grateful to the amazing medical team in the ICU, the emergency room and to those that help others. Those that are willing, even when they have no idea what the root cause may be, to don a gown, gloves, masks and put their own safety aside to try to heal someone. Their support has been tremendously appreciated. Their daily job has allowed my loved one to continue living.

I am grateful to the artists in my running playlist for spurring me to lace up my runners and hit the trail. Music is healing and has made me move even when I haven’t wanted to keep going.

I am grateful to the peacock in the park this morning who opened his tail feathers just as I rounded the corner. You reminded me that even in the midst of drab hospital rooms, harsh florescent lights and the smell of antiseptics, there is beauty.

Finally, I am grateful for life and the ability to keep breathing day after day. Yes, this is a rough patch and yes, there are days I don’t want to keep going. But I do. And I will. And, after the reminder this week of how tenuous life can be, I will live it to the fullest.