Pirate’s Booty and Medical Supplies

Sometimes the connection between two things is strange and unexplainable. Such is the case of these two things and yet somehow they go hand in hand, or at least they were connected over a muddy cocktail.

This evening we went to visit our son and his wife and deliver the gifts we brought back from Colombia. We were driving the Volvo and got through the mud at the bottom of the long driveway, arriving at the top of the driveway to first see a strange man walking around on the grass by the barn on his cell phone. We pulled up by a truck, presumably the one he was driving that was up near the house. Because I was wearing my nice new boots (or probably not about me at all) Lorne pulled up on the grass rather than behind our son’s truck that was sitting on a muddy area.

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Looking out the screened window at the truck that got stuck.

Disembarking from the vehicle we were informed of the situation with the truck. The healthcare solutions truck was indeed stuck in the driveway and although our son had offered to pull him out, he refused having called a tow truck. Sometime during the visit we heard the tow truck arrive and could see through the trees that it was at the bottom of the driveway not continuing up. As fate would have it, it was sitting there waiting for another tow truck to both pull it out and pull out the healthcare solutions struck.

Awhile later there were two tow truck drivers, and the truck driver and my son and his truck working on dislodging the healthcare solutions vehicle from the muddy ruts. Success eventually followed, not without deeper ruts and a greater mess.

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Waiting at the bottom of the driveway for the tow. Fortunately the tow truck was on dry ground.

As the truck was leaving we got word that the tow truck drivers were going to wait at the end of the driveway until we got our vehicle out (just in case), so we made our exit. We had to wait partway down the driveway as again the truck got stuck at the bottom requiring a little tow. We were able to rush through and made it okay with some mud stuck to the undercarriage.

Oh don’t worry, I won’t leave you hanging on the Pirate Booty element. The driver was having a really bad day so no one broke it to him that he didn’t deliver life saving supplies to children in the household or to an expectant mother (any day now). He does not know that he delivered an unexpected sample of Pirate’s Booty.

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One ounce of gluten free goodness

Yep, one ounce is very light and doesn’t feel like 140 calories at all. Two hours of that poor man’s time, two tow trucks, the time our son put in and wasn’t able to bath the dog or visit with us, the mess in the driveway both top and bottom and all for the pirate’s booty. Arrgggghhh…those pirates.

Somewhere In Colombia

Somewhere in Colombia, someone will buy a pretty pair of boots not knowing that one of those boots made a trip to Canada and back. This is a feel good story about boots. Boots and shoes have natural feel good properties (in my opinion). I mostly focus on sports shoes but have taken to all sorts of pretty shoes and boots over the years. New boots and shoes make me feel good. I think the next time I go to Colombia I will take a suitcase to bring back shoes ūüôā .

For those who are not in the know, one of the places I wanted to visit when in Colombia was the shoe store of my friend Martha’s cousin, who has a shoe making business with a storefront. Five years ago when Martha came back from Colombia with really nice boots it became one of those bucket list things. So, when we were in Colombia that was on our list for must go places. Once there, I was a little overwhelmed; I deliberated for a long time on what to get. Do I get a pair of shoes I will only wear once a month, or every day shoes or boots. I settled on a pair of boots for me and a pair of sandals. We were there for a very long time and I tried on the black ones first but at the last minute decided to get brown ones after realizing the black ones were not too different than some black ones I already own.

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Together again, my Colombian boots that traveled to Canada separately, one boot in front of the other so to speak.

As can happen when 6 Canadians converge on a small store trying on so many shoes and purchasing a whole bunch (I got shoes for my daughters also), there was mass confusion. There were other customers there as well, probably seeing the commotion and being drawn in to the excitement of shoe shopping. In a couple hours we had seven pairs of shoes picked out, some were getting stretched and others were packed and ready to go. Martha and family had a pile of shoes as well. The footwear went to the house and we picked them up the next evening along with the other bag of shoes from the store. We took them back late to our room, where we packed our shoes with our luggage and prepared for our flight early in the morning.

When we arrived home Sunday evening, we unpacked and gifted our daughters with their items. I showed them my pretty boots in the clear plastic bag, continuing to put items away from my suitcase. It was an hour or so later, my daughter was looking more closely at my boots when she noticed one boot was a size 38 and one was a 37 (the right foot boot). My right foot is my larger foot and it did not fit. Not that it would have mattered; it was noticeably a different size. That was kind of the beginning of my “It has been a week” from my last post. I messaged Martha right away since she was still in Colombia although she had flown out of the Medellin where the shoe store is because she could contact her cousin and communicate better in Spanish than me.

Back track an hour or so before the discovery of the shoe situation, we had learned another friend was leaving for Colombia on the following Saturday evening and I had decided to give him the Colombian pesos we had left over (about $5 worth). After messaging Martha about the boot, I messaged him to see if he would be going to Medellin where the shoe store was. He wasn’t,¬†so we still didn’t know how to manage the shoe situation.

Fast forward to Tuesday when I messaged Martha about what to do. She sent a message back and said she had my boot and to send the small one with packaging with our friend to put in the mail anywhere in Colombia.

We picked up Martha and family at the airport late Friday night and she handed me my one boot from her carry on. The next day, I wore my boots and took the small boot in it’s bubble envelop with the Colombian pesos to our friend who took it that night to Colombia.

So somewhere in Colombia, some time in the near future, someone will buy a pair of brown boots, in size 37 that look just like mine and she will wear her boots, not knowing that the right boot on her foot, set foot in Canada in a small home on the tiles you see in the photo. She will never know the travels her boot made, and even though I won’t know her, I will know there is a boot in Colombia that came to visit me for a week.

Further, I know that even though something that seems like a difficult situation to remedy can work out perfectly and like I said in a post a couple weeks ago, money isn’t the only currency we deal in and nothing is better than the help of great friends who are at the right place at exactly the right time.

 

It’s Been a Week

It’s been a week! Depending a person’s tone of voice that little statement can mean a lot of things. For me, it’s been a week since we arrived home from Colombia. It seems so much longer because…well, it’s been a week. The thing with social media and blogging is sometimes a person’s life can come across as being all rainbows and butterflies. In our mind we might know that everyone has their struggles but when we see all the good things, the tendency is to focus on those with no regard to the realities we all face and may not know about.

I definitely try to stay positive. I don’t think being negative, complaining, and whining are very effective in improving my life or that of others. Don’t get me wrong; I am not above being negative, complaining and whining, but I don’t always present that side to everyone. I do want to be real and sometimes that means being less than positive. So, it’s been a week, in this context is said with a bit of a sigh.

Returning from a great trip seems to have an element of post vacation blues. That for me was compounded by the many things that were not done in my absence. Before leaving on a trip there are all those things to do in preparation. Sleep was scarce the week before leaving. On the trip, sleep was irregular and this past week, sleep again seemed to be less than desired. Being tired is not conducive to being positive in the wake of a storm.

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There are some weeks where having a snack hangover and falling asleep seems like the best option to get through the week. 

I could go into details of all that felt wrong about the week, dealing with household management items like laundry, taking care of things that were left while I was gone and moving back into cooking and cleaning up. I could go into detail about how things at our flip house didn’t progress to the point we had hoped, things were done incorrectly and there was another problem that needed to be dealt with along with somehow, we didn’t have enough supplies we thought we had purchased enough of. I could talk about areas where I volunteer and finding that yet again when I returned from my vacation, things were left a mess/undone. I could whine about the small things, the dropping of stuff, the cat puking, the dust and mud tracked in the house, the things that can happen any time but seem so much worse when one is tired and feeling beat down by circumstances. I could be more specific on how my week was less than ideal, but again, we all have bad weeks and I know from a message from a friend that my week deserves a glowing review in comparison to what she is going through. It puts things in perspective; it doesn’t devalue what I felt about my week. I had a less than perfect week but there were good things too.

There were many blessings this week. The countertops were installed in our two kitchens. We got to attend a marriage renewal ceremony. We picked up our partners/traveling partners/friends at the airport. I accomplished a decent amount of things this week. I was able to play wallyball and basketball this week. The weather was nice (definitely nicer than before we left). I survived the week. So, I can also say “It’s been a week” with a little lilt in my voice because I am more in tune with the comforts of home and the blessings I have.

Still, being real, I hope this coming week will be better.

 

Hola

Hola, we are nearing the end of our Colombian trip. It has been awe inspiring, and surreal and amazing. We have stretched and grown and tried many things and been out of our comfort zone many times. There has been some fear and apprehension, some feeling lost and a whole lot of the unknown. When you don’t speak the language and very few speak your language, it can be unsettling especially when there is a need to communicate. Having tourist Spanish helps a little but I am certainly grateful to those who walk beside us and interpret. I also love that they are showing us the intricacies of their culture, introducing us to the fruits of the land and the foods of the people.

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Language is a bridge to know someone on a deeper level but language is spoken in many ways. This is the hanging bridge at Parque del Cafe

If you have been following my blog, you know I have embarked on a bit of a coffee social experiment. Well, it’s not as much an experiment as it is a quest. I was thinking about it last weekend when we were involved with the wedding here. The wedding was at a hacienda and much of the family stayed there for the whole weekend and broke arepas together many times. We actually spent very little time with our friends who we are traveling with which meant spending time alone or spending time with people we did not know who did not speak English or spoke little. ¬†The first day we met a fine couple and we were blessed by having the man sit with us for most of the time. His English was quite good so we were able to communicate in English with him. We learned about his family and job and we shared with him. His wife speaks English very well but was busy organizing the wedding. I am watching on FB for her to start up her business as a wedding planner.

The day of the wedding we spent time with people who knew some English and I practiced Spanish while they practiced English. We talked for hours. I told them about our kids and pets and why our pets are named as they are. We found out they have a mini pincher x chihuahua that is named Forest. Seems their cat Nina liked to run when they got Forest and Forest would run after her. Of course we showed photos also.

The day after the wedding I spent a lot of time with the ladies in the kitchen who are the bride’s family. They were cooking on an open fire pit and then preparing stuff in the kitchen. One of the young ladies knows some English so between her and I we were able to talk to each other and explain things and talk to the other ladies. We talked about all the same things, kids, pets, weather in Canada, sports (I even explained the game of wallyball), and the flavours of pop/soda/gaseoso and some other mundane things that people who share the same language say in passing but is a big deal when trying to communicate between languages.

I could have sat by the pool and had the rhythm of people speaking Spanish as white noise to my thoughts. I could have felt alone in a ‘world’ surrounded by people who didn’t understand me and talked to each other. Instead, I went up to people and said ‘Hola’. I went over to the fire to see what the ladies were doing, I went and sat down beside someone and started a conversation (such as it was). I pushed passed my fears and insecurities and I was received with open arms and hospitality.

In that setting I was with people who are friends of friends. There have been a couple situations where my lack of Spanish has not been received well, but that is part of the experience. I am not the reason for another person’s reaction.

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I often ask how something is spelled because I can’t always understand the sounds and especially the silent letters.

What I learned from the experience is I have the capacity to break out of my comfort zone and push through the questioning looks because I butcher a word with my English accent. I can say something wrong, be corrected, struggle with saying it and be uncomfortable with still not grasping the accent. I can be wrong, I can be frustrated and I can try to say it a different way. I have more understanding of those who come from somewhere else and are working on learning English. Somehow now, speaking English to a stranger doesn’t seem as difficult as it did once.

Although this isn’t the same as my coffee time quest, I have learned a lot, not only from the experience of the trip but from the desire to communicate and connect despite the language barriers. ¬†Language is spoken in many ways and we are able to connect with others despite lacking in the spoken word.

I believe it is important to continually grow. Growth happens through stretching; it doesn’t happen in our comfort zone. The challenge is to move out of that zone and make things happen. Life happens more abundantly in growth.

Dream Bigger

I woke up in Colombia this morning. It has been 6 days of waking up in another country. Many years ago, I wouldn’t have imagined coming here for a visit. It’s funny how life takes on a life of it’s own and yet, it needs some energy behind it. How often does a person get an idea, a dream in their head and they push it away as a ‘dream’, a ‘whim’ a ‘notion’ that ‘just isn’t possible’? How often are we chided by that little voice in our heads that says ‘it can’t be done”? I have learned to dream big, to dream bigger than that little voice is comfortable with. I have learned that dreaming big and dreaming bigger makes those dreams a reality.

Almost 10 years ago we met a lovely family who started coming to our church. Within a short time we were good friends and had a group of couples that got together. We met more people from our church who were from Colombia and they were quick to tell us we need to be learning Spanish. Over the years we have remained friends with this group of people and those friends ended up in our home school circle as well so we spent much time with similar interests together. Five years ago they went to Colombia. When they returned they told us that when they were here they thought of how they would like to show us places they love.

At that point it was a conversation and fleeting comments followed although they were not part of a dream at that point; but the seed was planted and watered. My husband and I did not travel much while we were raising four kids. I stayed home with them and he worked really hard to make that happen. About 5 years ago, we were gifted (by my family and our kids) with a flight that sent us on our first ‘warm during the winter months’ vacation. We went on a few more because, well, it’s cold in Canada and it’s warm other places. I also decided to learn Spanish (after a trip to Cuba) using the Duolingo App. Of course I had friends who were more than willing to have me practice. I worked on it almost daily for a couple years and then last year didn’t spend time on it because of time spent on other things.

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A view of downtown Bogot√° and beyond from Monserrate.

Then last year happened. I finished my personal trainer certification. I started my Monat business which happened to be with my dear friend. My husband’s job was iffy and we started a house flipping business with these same friends (and a brother). Then said brother became engaged and the wedding was in Colombia and now here we are, attending a Colombian wedding in a couple days, traveling around Colombia with our friends who are ¬†patiently translating for us and helping us at every turn. However, I know enough Spanish to understand some of what is being said, I can speak enough broken Spanish and sign language to get a black, no sugar coffee special made for me at a street kiosk and tell people I have one son and three daughters, their ages and that I have 2 grandchildren and one more in 3 weeks.

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We walked a lot in Bogot√° and when it was raining hard we stopped at a grocery store and learned about the fruits and vegetables here.

I have added a couple photos but this post really isn’t about our trip, it is about dreaming big. It’s interesting how there are little snippets of things that pop up when you are thinking of a post. I have been planning this one for a couple weeks but in preparation for the trip was unable to sit long enough to write it. This morning a friend posted a Facebook post about following your dreams and one of the lines was about waking up in another country. On the way from Bogot√° to Ibague, I was listening to a couple podcasts. To be fair, I listen to inspiring podcasts that talk about dreaming big in business and in life, but the person interviewed was a young lady (26) who travels the world and has amassed riches through business after living a terrible teen life at the hands of others. The thing take home message along with others was, “Money is not the only currency”. When we are serving others, and being genuine in caring and help to others, we can receive the same from others…not always the same others but still receive.

We have been so blessed in all our travels to have the gracious help of others, to have accommodation, to be given food, to have transportation, and tour guides and advice from people. We have experienced the generosity of friends, new friends and strangers. We have been overwhelmed with kindness.

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The time spent with family and friends is the greatest of riches.

The currency of relationships, of connection and goodwill go far beyond what money can buy in enriching an experience. Yes, money is needed too. That is one of the reasons we work. But money isn’t the only currency. Dreaming big isn’t about money either; it is about doing things that you didn’t think you could. It is about, instead of saying “I can’t”, saying “How can I?” It may not be about travel for you, it may be something you want to do in life, go to school, have a bigger house, live somewhere else, have your own business, have more time for family and friends, run a half marathon, or lose weight. Whatever you dream, amp it up–dream a little bigger, then dream a lot bigger. You may wake up in another country one day and it will be good.

 

 

In Sickness…

A couple days after returning from Houston, I fell ill. Often times, I don’t feel well, but continue to function and think I am being lazy until I am feeling better and then I realize I was sick. This time was different; I knew I was sick. I didn’t function well at all. The first day I did some personal development and had some quiet time on the couch drinking tea and hanging out with the cats. ¬†I felt a little better the next day for a short time so went to wallyball. ¬†It was okay but I was tired. I realized later in the day I still didn’t feel well so I skipped basketball. By Monday I was feeling very frustrated with feeling off. I struggled to wake up in the morning and started to cry; I hate that feeling of grogginess and trying to wake up. I didn’t have to help with cattle when we went out to the farm. I did continue to do things around the house and went out each day to feed the chickens. Everything just seemed so hard, everything took so much effort. I wanted (and did) cry when things seemed so heavy or overwhelming. ¬†Wednesday was the beginning of the end. ¬†Despite having a sore back which started on Tuesday, I went to bootcamp and felt more energetic after. I was able to play wallyball and basketball on Thursday and it was good. So what does it all mean besides that I am terrible sick person?

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Me sick, trying to read with Murphy (who was also sick as we found out later). I didn’t read much of the book, but spent more time reading on line.

I had a couple of coffee dates, one last Wednesday afternoon and one today. My visit last week was with someone who works in health care. The person today was someone who has had some severe health problems and still struggles with immunity and a bad back. Both told me stories of sickness but more than that, they told me stories so strength, of perseverance and hope. Both people, through their musings gave me perspective.

The person I saw today has suffered through vehicle accidents and cancer. She has had personal struggles as well. She gets up every day and makes things happen. She is unable to work but does some volunteering helping kids. She stays positive despite what she has gone through and what she is still dealing with. Listening to her, I just felt like everything seemed so hard. When she dropped something, she used one of those claws with a handle. It is normal for her; for me it seemed so difficult. One comment she made was that she she could reach everything in her home. The things some of us take for granted, others see as a blessing.

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I got the tea cup and tea from my fearless Monat leader when we were in Houston and had it in the afternoon that first and worst day.

The health care worker related her growth over the years that was amplified through her work, her ability to have empathy and to be a better person because of the people she has met. She talked of each person having a story. We all have a story but there are people who have spent their lives not having someone listen to their story. She said that much of the illness she sees is a result of heart and head pain (ache). She believes in connecting with people to bring a few moments of joy in that heart and head pain. She is passionate about people knowing they have worth. It was interesting to listen to her say many of the things that I too believe.

I am not a good patient…I am not patient at all with being sick. Yes, I push myself through it but I cry when it gets tough. Yes, I get back to working out as soon as physically possible, perhaps more quickly than other people but a hero I am not. It was so fitting to have my visits with these two people after going through my little flu bug. I am inspired by people who go through so much and remain strong, positive and full of grace, and those who care for people who suffer greatly through illness and heart and head pain, those who are strong, positive and full of grace as well as those who are miserable and nasty and want to give up. I fear I would be more like the latter if it were me. In my health though, I will practice strength, positivity and grace. And… I will practice empathy and listening to the story and hopefully helping someone to know they have worth.

Three Strangers and a Friend

It’s time to share some insights I gleaned from interrogating asking better questions and listening to the answers. My last day in Texas I had the pleasure of spending time with a friend I have not seen in 38 years (except the hour I saw her in October). ¬†I got to spend over 24 hours with her and we got to catch up on such a small portion of our lives since we spent time together so many years ago. On my way home, I had 2 flights and a bit of a layover in the airport giving me the opportunity to meet and listen to 3 lovely women. The underlying thing that makes the experiences (long lost friend vs strangers) different is history.

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Having lunch in Houston with my team members, the Houston police went by on their horses.  This one stopped for a pose. Not really related to the post but part of my Houston experience.

Meeting up with my friend FM was great. ¬†She is still that funny, sweet friend I remember. Looking at her, she looked so different (as we all do after 38 years) and yet there was a familiarity too. ¬†I got to meet her family (I had met her husband as many years ago) and visit with them. ¬†FM and I haven’t been in contact all these years but I have had occasional contact with some of her family members so I did keep up with major milestones in her life. Still, life stands still in my memories of her. We both grew and matured and became different people but at the core we are the same. ¬†I am still processing fine details but one conversation in particular, started to clarify in my mind one of the things that I am seeking information for in my quest to ask questions.

I met a quiet (my perception but perhaps she was just trying to ignore me haha) lady on the flight to Calgary.  I will call her Ann. She and her husband, who I also met, are missionaries in another province and run a camp.  She also home schools her kids as I did and their children are not much younger than ours.

When we got to the Calgary airport there was a couple hours layover. ¬†I got off at my station (gates) in that huge airport and looked for food but at 7:30 everything was closed so I went to station A and found a Chili’s. ¬†I pulled myself up to the bar near a lovely lady I will call Alex. She and I hit it off immediately. Her children are a bit older than mine. ¬†It was such a chance meeting; one where it just feels like God has lined it up for great things in knowing each other.

The flight home was short but the lady (I will call Wanda), I sat beside grew up in the community I did, went to the same high school, knew the people who owned the property my son and his wife owns and had some great information to share on common interests.

At the end of each conversation including with my friend, I told each person about my project and asked them if there was anything I could help them with. ¬†Still not sure how that will work out as that takes people by surprise and they don’t have an answer. ¬†Perhaps they will contact me and have something. ¬†Until then, I just offer.

Going into the better questions/listening project I did not have specific questions to ask, nor was there any specific information I was trying to glean. ¬†Really, to be natural and not feel like I am interrogating someone, I need to keep the conversation flowing. ¬†However over the couple days, I started to pin point something I want to know for my own growth, something that eludes me. And today, a fleeting thought popped into my head and I think it is related to that thing. And that’s all I am going to say about it, because I want to have a conversation with individuals and seek their answers in hopes to figuring out my own. ¬†When I find it, I will share.