Dear Hockey Family…

 

Dear Hockey family,

Tomorrow is our last day together.

When the final buzzer sounds, the hands are shook, and our sons take their final salute off the ice, our six-months journey together comes to a close.

hockey-clip-art-hockey-player-clipart-2 Those first practices were wrought with uncertainty as we waded through tides of a seven- year-old’s self doubt, the murky waters of complete commitment, and the arduous prospect of fundraising. Those September days were spent  with children stumbling on the ice and parents hesitantly hovering awkwardly at arms length of each other.

As the season progressed so too did the team, and the seeds of family were sown.

Our sons embodied the numbers on their backs, the wings on their helmets, and the colours of their jerseys. We watched, as one by one, their names changed and their identity strengthened. Loyalty transitioned from a vague concept to a way of life.

Slowly they grew from boys who would lean on the shoulders of their parents, relying on them to tie skates, fasten knee pads, and clasp helmets, to young men, self sufficient and basking in the profound pleasure of a parent-free dressing room.

As they matured together, the parents bonded. Each taking the other’s child under their wing; an unlimited supply of high-fives and roaring cheers of encouragement. I have never known a community of parents, who otherwise would never have met, to extend so much love, so much interest in the lives of a stranger’s child.

Coaches who gave each young player the courage to see the world from the eyes of a team; the courage to hustle through assuredness and self-doubt; awakening the responsibility and reward of promise and sportsmanship, and teaching that teamwork, passing, and being dependable are worth more than all the goals in the world. Coaches who brought kids out of their shells; who played and joked and held them upside down in garbage cans ; who brought them on road trips; and who took the lonely kids under their wings when strong male bonds were needed or briefly absent.

Our manager, our matriarch, held us together,ensured our bond, and breathed life and cultivated a family out of a motley of newcomers. How do you repay someone who believes unconditionally in the potential of hockey in the lives of children?

Our player’s siblings. The younger ones, at the rink every early morning and late night. Sometimes cheerful, sometimes engaged, sometimes cantankerous and finished altogether with hockey, but always in awe of their brothers. The older one’s, sacrificing free Saturday mornings to teach our children how to shoot pucks and circle pylons. Demonstrating the stride and dexterity of a (slightly) more seasoned hockey player. Inspiring, confidence bearing, exceptional young men. Role models we, as parents, are proud to see our younger sons aspire to.

We have shared in so much life in six short months. Winning streaks; hard losses; a new man; one man less; a knee injury that was felt compassionately by each player; a hotel stay that will be etched in our collective memories always; an uncontrollable fever that took one man away from the weekend of his year; first goals; hard hats; bottle drives; theatre productions; play dates; road hockey until dark; university idols; Fans of the Game; fierce friendships; brotherhood.skates

Tomorrow our family says goodbye. Hockey sticks will be traded in for ball gloves and shin pads. We will move independently to the summer family awaiting us on baseball diamonds and soccer fields.

When September returns some of us will mix in with new players, some of us will move up, some of us will move away. But I think, no matter where we tread, this first season, this first family, will be a beacon. One lighting our way, always in our hearts, and set as a precedent for what awaits us in the rinks to come. We will always be able to aspire greatness for our sons’ hockey experience on and off the ice, not only in terms of skill, but in terms of maturity and growth as individuals; as young men.

In our little group, while not every boy dreams of greatness, each is a Great One in his own right, and this is a direct result of the family he has been raised in this last half a year.

Thank you, dear Hockey family.

I am honoured that my son skated alongside your sons. I am proud to have cheered with you and stood along the boards with you.

Good luck, always.

 

 

Written by Leigha Chiasson-Locke

 

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Beginning Blogging: Uncovering the needs of a newbie blogger

I like to write and I have been struggling to write a novel for sometime.

Years, actually.

Every time I sit down to write my mind goes blank and then, inevitably, I let my negativity get the better of me and I just give up all together.

I found encouragement one night while googling my favorite author, Neil Gaiman, who said,

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Gaiman’s quote confirmed what I had always known; I just had to write. Practice makes perfect, after all. But what would I write?

My best friend has a blog. She blogs about life and parenting. It is inspiring to read her personal journey. It is important. I wished I had something worthwhile, and maybe life affirming to write about. Being unfamiliar with the blogosphere, that is what I thought bloggers did. Write about really important stuff. I didn’t think I had anything important to say.

Then one day I decided I did.

It all started when I realized that I followed more comic news sites on my Facebook than I followed actual people. It occurred to me that most of those sites were blogs. I was following blogs! I was reading blogs! And I realized that blogging could be about things I love. But I also realized none of these blogs were exploring and sharing what I wanted to read about- not comics, movie tie-ins and new releases- but how comic culture intrinsically affects a reader. As I searched for similar sites there was very little to satiate my curiosity, so I decided I would write the kind of articles I wanted to read.

I became a blogger.

how-often-blog-why-blogging-writing-ideasBlogs belong to the online world. To understand them, how they work,
and how to attract a readership I had to learn to navigate this world. “Tags”, “Buzzwords”, “Followers” were foreign concepts. For me, computers are largely for word documents, email and academic research. I don’t surf the web, so I had no idea where to begin.

My best friend suggested I check out WordPress.com. When I searched the site I was overwhelmed by the plethora of options available to me: backdrops, packages, free vs. fee service, hosting, and themes. I didn’t understand half of the jargon. So I took a step back and googled, “How to start a blog”.

There are an infinite number of articles out there explaining how to run a blog. I was looking for information that would help me as a newcomer, someone who wanted to blog for enjoyment, not to make a business of it. I wanted to know how to choose themes, how to use tags, the importance of catchy titles, and why people love blogging. I was disappointed and overwhelmed by the sheer number resources devoted to making a profit from blogging. I found the pressure heavy and it took enjoyment out of the process. I had to learn to distinguish between honest resources to help newcomers find their footing as writers from the bottom line sites that were leading me back to negative writing experiences.

Some of the most informative resources I stumbled upon were comic sites, Ted Talks (there are great talks about why people blog and the catharsis that comes from sharing personal stories), local newspapers (which link to blogger sites and are distinctive in their voices), and other blogs (The Minimalists, in particular, offer a comprehensive checklist for starting a blog). Because blogging is such a personal endeavour, the information I found most helpful was the information that made me feel good, informed and curious.

I also I reached out and asked people I knew for advice. Common among their encouragements were to “write as often as you can! But it is hard to keep up with blogging with the busyness of life, so if you don’t get popular fast, no worries!”; and “make your site interesting to look at; use lots of images; write about what you want to write, and not what you think other people want to read”. All of my research encouraged my desire to blog; however, it was the constant brainstorming with my best friend that propelled me into it.

So we decided to launch a blog together.

We spent weeks sending each other links to blogs that we liked and admired as examples for what we might want to include in our own. We searched the Internet for blogs, Facebook for links, and local community newspapers for “life” writers. We wanted to learn about voice and style, what readers engage with and what doesn’t work; the more colloquial a blog, the better! We learned about linking to Twitter and Facebook. And along the way I observed that I learn best when guided by a mentor.

We bought a domain name through WordPress and settled on a theme. Then we decided to dedicate our website to life, art, culture, and parenting, each its own tab for its own collection of posts. We named it The Feminine Pulse. We also invited other women to contribute to our blog, intent on building a community. Blogging quickly became more than a place to contemplate geekery.

I realized that I could navigate the Internet and use the people around me as resources and experts. I learned to differentiate between good blogs and bad ones, what strengthens them and how powerful they can be. I am also not as scared as I used to be about utilizing the Web and contributing to it. I am excited by gaining followers and equally by following others.

My first blog post is titled, “How Comics Saved My Life”. Comics may have saved me, but blogging has given me a writer’s purpose.

By Leigha Chiasson-Locke

A Rig Worker’s Wife: The first days here and there

oil

 

You left again today.

You snuck out of bed before the sun broke through the morning sky. You crept into the bedrooms and kissed our kids goodbye. You held me tight one last time before your long journey began.

While you check your luggage, we are waking up. I am given kisses and morning snuggles. I know you are trying not to be annoyed by the lineup at security.

By the time we eat breakfast, read and reread Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb, and build a farm on Minecraft, you are closing your eyes thirty thousand feet above us, never drifting off to sleep because you are thinking too much again. You should stop twirling your hair. Rest while you can.

Your first connection is at lunch time. You eat hurriedly at a bustling restaurant where too many voices in too many languages make it hard to concentrate. You want to call to say “Hi,” but the noise is overwhelming, so you text me instead.

We are blowing bubbles in the backyard. The serenity is overwhelming.

The next thirteen hours are the longest. You are flying away from us, further apart than we have ever been, and though I know you are watching movies, reading, and sleeping in spurts it is hard for me not to project some of my own fear of flying onto your voyage.  I keep myself occupied cleaning and organizing; chasing our daughter around the rink as our son finally learns to shave the ice in an abrupt stop; I cook supper; read again; bathe the kids and sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” for the tenth time today.  I can forget about how long you will sit on the aisle seat of the emergency exit long enough to get the kids to bed, but when I am alone, as alone as you
have been all day, the worry returns and I pretend you are reassuring me from above the Pacific.

It is already tomorrow where you are. We are no longer in sync, and I know that when I do hear from you it will be a brief phone call in the seconds before you catch some rest, readying yourself for the last leg of your travels. Another lonely midnight flight as the sun breaks through my morning window and I am showered with a toddler’s snuggles once again.

I am ashamed that I am lonely, even though I have these little arms to wrap around my neck; that I fleetingly begrudge your descent into Europe; that I envy the way your career is taking off.

But then I shrug.

I breathe like you always tell me to.

And I realize none of that is true.

I am not lonely, I am lonely for you. Your Europe of metal and oil is a harsh antithesis to my Europe of art and culture. Your career is what allows me be the best mommy I can be. The best daddy I can be, too. My turn will come, whenever I am ready, you will see to that when I start to worry and waiver.

I have no cause to be lonesome. I am not cramped in a small seat for hours at a time surrounded by a culture to which I do not belong. I am not on the other side of the world away from the people I love (the food I love, too!). I am not bounced from shop to rig, sleeping in hard bunks to the hum of twelve men’s snores. I am not alone on a massive tin can straddling the currents in the middle of a sea.

But I am lonely for you, and no matter how many miles are mapped out between us we are still in sync; even if you are in the future of the meridian and I am still in the past. In a month you will travel back in time to be with me again.

Eventually will you fly once more. Thirteen new hours (and then some) in the sky while we go to school, the rink and the pool, clutch snowmen stuffies, celebrate milestones, blog, and cuddle.

In 38 days you will creep through the darkness of our sleeping home, you will brush their cheeks with a kiss, then crawl into bed, wrap your arms around me and say, “Hey, Baby”.

You will be home again.

 

By Leigha Chiasson-Locke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, coffee.

Dearest Coffee,

I’m not giving up on you, I just feel like it may be a good idea to see other hot beverages as well.

Maybe this running into each other numerous times a day could be pared back to once?

You have done so much for me in this sleepy phase of my life, where I continually run on steam and lack of sleep. You have brought me comfort in the chaos of children, stress relief at work, quiet moments to myself… but I have met exercise, who has promised me much more energy and feeling more alert in general. While also bringing me some piece of mind and time alone.

I promise I will still see you once a day, and I will look forward to that moment all day. I just have to stop relying on you to wake me up in the morning and keep me going all day. Or even evening sometimes.

I still adore you, I swear it’s not you, it’s me.

 

Sincerely,
Candace.

What I mean by simplifying.

So last summer I read this book. The title looked as if it were written to me ( I mean who doesn’t want less clutter, kids or no kids!), and I am not usually a self help book type gal, but I really couldn’t pass it up. I had recently started following some slow living and minimalist writers, and was fascinated by there ideas and lives.

I have always been a super picky person, trying to minimize what comes into my home, especially since having children. There really is no better place to notice how much stuff you have then children. It accumulates very quickly. (because holy shit, the amount of toys and clothes, and bouncy balls!) But in all seriousness, it was a major stress in my life. The endless piles of papers and books and toys. It was really overwhelming. So I started living more ecologically and environmentally friendly. Started preaching quality over quantity, and experiences over things.  Life started to get a little easier, but I was still feeling overwhelmed. I had a particularly hard year after that,  giving birth to a child with a congenital heart defect and the aftermath of that on my mental health made the need for control and order in my house hold much more important. Not to mention that it made my priorities seem skewed, material things were not something I was particularly attached to regardless, but they seemed of even less importance. I wanted to spend less time organizing crap we didn’t need or use, and spend more time with my kids.

Then I found this book. Clutter free with Kids- By Joshua Becker, and I found a name for the lifestyle I was attracted to, and what my aim had been. To own less stuff, schedule less, minimize the things that were not priority in my life. It was the first time I had read a book like this and just nodded the whole way through.

If this is a lifestyle you like the sounds of, I highly recommend this book, kids or not! It really helped me shape my goals, and deal with parts of my over cluttered mind and home.

I started a purging process that continues to this day, moving on from items that I knew someone else could use, getting rid of trash and broken things that I really had no intention of ever repairing, minimizing our possessions. It was honestly a very eye opening experience for me,  and amazingly, the farther I got into it, the more I wanted to simplify. This effect bled into every aspect of my life, realizing I could simplify my schedule,  my routines, my foods! This all being said, I would say I am maybe half way to where I would like to be, but I like to keep the process slow and simple, so the new habits emerge and stick.

Learning to slow down, prioritize, and minimize my life has been a curve for me. The farther away I get from consumer driven culture, the happier I am. The happier my children are. I really hold out hope that they will live by my example, buy what we need, what brings us joy, and spend the rest of our time and resources inward. Work on our important relationships, spend time on becoming people who we want to be. Invest in ourselves instead of trying to find that temporary high in something we bought, just to wake up the next morning and do it all over. Same highs, same lows.

I’m most definitely not here to sell anyone on any sort of lifestyle, if what you are doing is working for you, and it doesn’t hurt anyone, I say keep on keeping on!  The important part of this for me has been recognizing that what I was doing wasn’t working for us and who we want to be. Changing our perspective and living more practically has been such a good experience so far. I just had to share it.

Written by Candace Hoskin

 

Time is a jerk.

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As of late I am struggling with what is defined as the quarter life crisis.

I am turning 32 in a few short weeks, and have felt like my brain is in overdrive for months. Wondering which direction is next for my family and I; and whether or not I am making the right choices. Living in a small house with my family of five, wanting to live small and happy with what we have; and also overwhelmed with the want for change, living in new places, and having my children experience things bigger than the place in which we live. Wanting to pack up and travel across our country, while learning more about it. To travel to countries across the world, move somewhere else and learn new ways of life.

I feel a need to act now; knowing we are not getting any younger. More than anything I feel this insatiable desire to try new things and learn more about the world we live in through experiences. I have done a small amount of travel in the past and it sparked major changes in my outlook on life and what my priorities are. I cannot help but wonder if more travel and new experiences would not only benefit me, but also my children and partner.

Our current place in mainstream society is one that is deemed quite acceptable, we are both working, both rising in our positions, and are slowly moving towards more financial stability. We have a beautiful home and a vehicle that can take us places, we have money being saved for our retirement and a nice little RESP account for our boys, but there continues to be this little voice that says to me that this isn’t really what life is about for my family.

Do we continue to be grateful for what we have and live graciously for our routines or do we follow our dreams and make them reality while yelling ‘carpe diem’ into the mountains?

I hold out hope that there is a way to do both.

To experience the many different flavors that this life has to offer is something I will strive for; and hopefully rid myself of the sinking feeling I have about getting older by living a full life and making long term goals happen. I just have yet to figure out the logistics, which always seems to be the hardest part for me.

Maybe I should just start a commune…

Is anyone else feeling the weight of the quarter life crisis?

By Candace Hoskin

A Thought on Four Generations

After analyzing the whole blogging business, and it’s purpose (which I may be completely off base about), I thought I would try to write about something I feel I have a bit of experience in and something that I know I will continue to ultimately fail and succeed at doing: Mothering.

I am sure (at least I hope) that there are some mothers who understand the above. From my perspective as daughter, my mother failed and succeeded and at a number of different mother-daughter-raising-children-every-child-is-different-there-is-no-manual-breastfeeding-is-hard-bottlefeeding-is-wrong-bottle-feeding-is-great-stay-at-home-parents-are-perfect-working-parents-are-better-stay-at-home-parents-are-wrong-working-parents-are-wrong-homeschooling-is-better-public-schooling-is-better-you-can’t-spoil-your-kid-with-love-rule-with-an-iron-fist-children-should-be-seen-and-not-heard-give-your-child-a-voice-all-teenagers-are-bad-all-teenagers-are-people-too…yadda, yadda, yadda. …rites of passage(s). As a mother myself, I realize that, regardless of the “mistakes” she made, my mother did the best with exactly what she had, which, by-the-way did not include parenting blogs or how-to-anything at your fingertips 24/7, or even a mother herself. She did pretty darn good job considering she lost her mother at the age of 18. Truth-be-told, I don’t know what I would do without her. That being said, we are different parents (as all are).

There are a lot of things I didn’t do when our children were babies that she did, and a lot of things that I know I will do differently as my children enter the age of adolescence. She and I butted heads, of course, (see above), over a great many things. She did this, and it worked, so why couldn’t I? She thought (and still believes) that Zincofax is terrible. She said it stung my children’s bums. I kid you not…my mother was COMPLETELY against ZINCOFAX. It was a serious point of contention. I really wish I was joking. However, there was light at the end of the tunnel. By the time our 3rd child was born, she became ok with me in the mothe role, She began to realize that what my husband and I decide goes, regardless of our rationale behind it. These are our children, and our choices, and they need to be respected.

unnamedAll of the head-butting aside, I realize now that perhaps our children are a way for my mother to be the parent she wishes she had been during those times of trial and error with me. I believe she recognizes what she would have done differently, if do-overs were an option. Unfortunately in the world of parent-hood, we don’t get to re-evaluate, edit, and re-submit our final results. We get one shot. She knows this now, and so do I, and will try, as a mother myself to always keep it in mind.

I hope I get be in her shoes someday…to someday hold my grandchild and remember my mistakes, and want to help my children not make the same mistakes I made with them, (and I have oh-so-many more to make, yay!…where would psychologists be without mothers?). I want to be able to tell my grandchild when they are fighting with their parents, how much their parents love them, even if they truly believe they are acting unfairly to them. I know my mother will do this for me.

My mother’s perspective and vantage point is completely different from mine. I have no idea from where she is coming when she tries to advise or criticize or counsel or coach. All I can do is try to understand it and respect it. Because, at the end of the day, I admire my mother. Craziness (current…my fault..) and “mistakes” (past, present and future) aside, I am proud of my mother. And I am grateful for her. I am still angered by her, and sometimes hurt by her, (I am sure this is not one-sided, and so I’m sorry mum), which simply means that she, like me, is merely human. And,  I love her, unconditionally.

By Danerra Speares

How Comics Saved My Life

Ok, so comics didn’t actually save my life.Keep-Calm-and-Read-Comics-565x800

There were no major catastrophes, no near death experiences, no apocalyptic-this-is-the-end moment of truth. Quite simply, I just felt lonely, and I desperately needed an outlet. Then one day, out of the blue, I serendipitously stumbled upon a call for participants in a new book club- Graphic Novel Book Club.

I thought to myself that it had been years since I really immersed myself in any comics. A year prior I had given a lecture to a Children’s Lit class about the profound story telling, stunning visuals, and intricacies of reading the comic genre. A year before that I revisited Riverdale because my childhood friend, Archie, found himself simultaneously engaged (albeit in different dimensions of reality) to both Betty and Veronica- obviously I needed to see how that one played out. But being immersed in comics was not part of my ordinary, everyday experience.

The first book we read was Maus, by Art Spiegleman. *Disclaimer* If you have never read Maus, and you are one of those critics who see little value in the genre of graphic novels and comics, put your prejudices aside and read it. It is a pulitzer prize winning work of art. READ IT*. As I was saying, Maus not only rekindle a love of reading the comic genre, the book club itself breathed new life into me.

Most people, if not all of us, struggle to accept who we are. No, let me rephrase that, we struggle to understand who we are. I have spent my whole life choosing paths and feigning interests because I am predisposed to be concerned with what others think of me. When I joined this book club, I was surrounded by a (small) group of people who loved what they loved and knew a hell of a lot about what they loved. And what was so amazing was that they aired their love and knowledge openly without concern for what others thought- and I was so envious. After the first meeting I realized I had more in common with these five strangers than most of the friends I had had my whole life, but I was too shy or too scared to embrace who I was.

As the months went by I read more than our reading list; I read books that looked good on the shelves, books that had stellar reviews, titles that were popular, titles that were less so, and with each one, I was enraptured-even with the ones I didn’t like- Ahem, Black Hole. Sorry again, Alex.

But the best part, aside from the hours and hours suspended in disbelief between the pages of a good book, was that I started to love something- passionately. As I got to know my new friends better I realized that I have been geeky all along. For the first time, here were a group of people willing to openly discuss the awesome cultural impact of Buffy the Vampire Slayer,the consequences of (possibly) inventing a flux capacitor, and superheroes- from their internal struggles to their morals and ethics- all things I had loved or dabbled in my whole life, but without much company. All at once I was openly geeky and above all I was completely comfortable and at ease with myself.

It has taken me a long time to realize that it is ok to love what I love. That I can be the academic person I have always been- the avid reader of Shakespeare, Conan Doyle, Tolkien, Austen and Whitman- to the eight year old, whose first crush was on Marty McFly. My youth came flooding back to me in a torrent of comic related memories, an abundance of Science Fiction and Fantasy, and it was here that I found myself. Here I am at home.

So no, comics didn’t technically save my life. Their presence brought me back to myself, pulling me out of a swelling sea of self doubt. But hey, that sounds like being saved to me.

By Leigha Chiasson-Locke @ldchiasson17

 

Whino the Homework Slayer

Sometimes I think I would rather face a horde of Skrulls in a battle for world domination than face off against my seven year old when he determinedly does not want to do his homework.

superskrullMy weeknight rules are pretty simple: play, read your book, practice your spellings, eat, play some more, go to bed.

Clear, concise, simple, routine. But every once in a while, BAM! WHACK! POW! he transforms from a loveable mild-mannered child into Whino, the Homework Slayer.

OK, that’s a bit exaggerated. In retrospect, it’s not so bad. True, he does whine. True, he argues with me until he is blue in the face, but he is still amazing, beneath the tears.

Here is the thing: when my kid loses his mind, I lose mine. It’s a reflex reaction I can’t control. When he whines about homework, I feel like Wolverine whenever he is faced with Daken, SNIKT! out pop my defensive claws. Unlike Wolverine, I at least resort to clam and collected discussion, but what good does that do against the perils of a seven year old who just wants more time to play with his toys?!

There is no right approach to parenting. Most days I feel I do a pretty good job, but when your child fights you tooth and nail on an issue you feel strongly about (and a beneficial one to them, at that!) it is hard to hold your own. My instincts are at odds. All at once I want to hug him and kiss him and tell him I love him, but I also want to stand my ground- homework must be done, go expand your mind!

In these moments I waiver. I don’t know if I am doing it right, this whole parenting thing. If I am too calm, it doesn’t work; if I get agitated, it doesn’t work; If I get angry, well, that never works out for anybody. Tonight, after a lot of calm reminders and encouragement, I was agitated. So I left him alone with his toys while he pondered his choices and mine.

After some reflection he came to me and apologized, on his own, for his behaviour. After all, my son is really more of a superhero than a villain, whiney or not.

Then he explained something to me:

A friend at school has been bullying him- stealing his toys, yelling at him, calling him names. He had been mentioning bits and pieces of this lately, but it seems tonight it started to wear on him and affect him at home, not just at school. We talked about what he thinks a bully is, and how he hopes to never be one. In that moment I felt all I could offer was to remind him that he is abundantly considerate of others, compassionate, and generous (don’t let my little homework rant fool you!). He said to me last week, “Mommy, I want to be like Captain America.KTjg58bTq He believes in his friends, and I want to be the same way”. And despite the fact he gets angry with me, he never lashes out at his buddies, instead he calms them when they lash out around him. He calms his mommy, too, when he recognizes that he has overreacted and has apologized, or when he feels confident enough to tell me I need to relax and be a better listener.

He didn’t read his book tonight. He already knows his spelling words. But we had a little lesson all the same. In the end, I am pretty sure I was the student.

I don’t always know if I am doing this whole parenting thing right. I have no superpowers. Finding the right balance to parenting is the greatest mystery I have faced yet. It is the longest road I walk. I am so lucky to walk it with my son.

By Leigha Chiasson-Locke    @ldchiasson17