Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Earth Day!

It's Earth Day! There's a lot of other stuff going on right now, between the month-o-birthdays, school exams, and getting ready to start a new job... but I thought since Earth Day is about as close as we get to the earthly birthday party - I'd share some of the photos I love of the amazingness made by nature.

Flying over some awesome coastline - Costa Rica
I didn't know that some beetles shed their "skin" like snakes while growing... but it's neat
Spiders, to me, are much better encountered outside. Somehow outside they can be beautiful and
magic and inside they give me the heebie jeebies.
Raccoons - Costa Rica

Fungus - these are so pretty, with their rings
Costa Rica seems to bloom everywhere you look
Fertile Ferms!
Seriously - I love ferns
Nature's backpacker - everything you need, carried on your back
Hummingbirds in Costa Rica

Napping sloth - Costa Rica

Monkey's in Costa Rica

I think waterfalls are always cool - but frozen they're astounding

Geese - for some reason hanging out with snow - in Jasper

From a camping adventure with Carly in Ontario
Near Jasper
I'm often amazed at the large creatures that just ignore you,
sharing the park. Awesomeness. Near Jasper

Cherries! From the wedding-jam making extravaganza
I love this bee's pollen pantaloons!
The whales that joined us on our fishing trip...
I bet they did better than we did
The mist before the snow started to fall - Montana
Sunset - visiting the Wrathall homestead in Montana
Beautiful Sunny Day - just outside of Banff
 Happy Earth Day - maybe go out and hug a tree! It's fun - and it'll make you both feel great.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

You've heard it before - "it's in you to give"

The famous slogan from Canadian Blood Services, "It's in you to give" shows up all over the place. Have you seen it?

I've seen it on buses, at schools, driving around attached to vehicles - yet it seems that there is always a shortage of donors. I seem to have a hard time staying put long enough to be a good donor. Moving around Canada would be fine - but I keep on going places that put me on the waiting list. As of right now - the next time I can donate is the end of August 2014 thanks to my masters' program. My grandma was a super donor throughout her life - and ended up needing a lot of transfusions before she passed away. If for no one else - I keep her in mind when I waver if I 'want' to go. I'd feel like quite the smuck if someone else's grandma needed blood and didn't get it because I didn't "want" to go.

I realize that donating isn't for everyone. There are a lot of reason. Some are political - like the asinine policy that excludes gay men, some are more personal, some due to health... lots of reasons - so please don't think I am judging you, if you are not a donor. That's not my point.

While at UPeace - met some incredible people from all over the world. They keep popping up in my life still teaching me things from a distance. J'aime is one of those people. Last year - via facebook I read that J'aime was sick. She wrote about needing a bone marrow donor - and later about her sister being a match. She wrote about how so many people out there are seeking matches that are so hard to come by - and asked if people would become registered with the bone marrow banks - just in case they were a match and could save someone else's life. At the time I read her message - and though, yes - I should do that... but the link had been posted to an American site - and it slide out of my focus when I didn't have time at that moment to figure out how to do that at Canada.

J'aime and Steve leading a class on using spoken word in education, it was great!

It's a year later - and facebook again tells me that J'aime is doing well. Apparently, after a year, you get a second birth - with your body accepting the new marrow and generating new life for you again. Yesterday - I read J'aime's blog, "Will You Marrow Me?"and she has a new goal: to help 150 people become registered to be possible marrow donors. There are links for people from the States, from Canada, tips to help people from other international locations.

So yesterday, I went to the link (through Canadian Blood Services) and filled out the information. I'll get my swab kit in the mail - and maybe someday I'll be someone's match. This time, keeping someone like J'aime in mind.

So - maybe think about it. It is, after all, in you to give.

Peace to you~

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

On the shoulders of...

This past week I attended the Visiting Lectureship in Human Rights put on by the University of Alberta. If you haven't ever been out to one of their lectures, the folks coordinating do a wonderful job of getting great speakers. When I looked up the who has been a speaker list - I realized that I was present for the first one they did - and I fully intend to keep going whenever I can.

The speaker this year was Lesléa Newman, author, poet, and incredible speaker. If you get a chance to hear her speak you should. She's a prolific writer who seems to have a gift at engaging with controversy, which she does so with grace and humour.

Her book, Heather Has Two Mommies, published in 1990 was the first children's book to positively portray a family with lesbian parents. The story in the book is largely about how the important part of families - is that they're made of people who love each other. To me, not a radical idea, but apparently it inspired many to raise quite a fuss. Although this book is out of print, it is apparently going to be re-released soon, with new illustrations, which is pretty exciting.

The presentation was a blend of readings of Ms. Newman's work, and her storytelling. She began, talking about all that is built upon the shoulders of those who come before us. The activists who have lost their lives, other authors, our families... One of the excepts she shared is from her book, October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard, which I have only read excerpts of - and listened to different ones. The poems in this book are heart breaking. The poem series speaks the perspectives on different observers (animate and inanimate) of the events that lead to the death of Matthew Shepard. I spent a good portion of her talk in tears - as I think many others did. During her talk she spoke to us about being a part of a community, she spoke of her community - the Jewish, Lesbian community, and our broader community.

Thinking about our communities -the ones that overlap and the ones that don't - and she offered a challenge. But first - a journey. She ask that we close our eyes and visualize a space that safe. Completely safe, where you don't need to worry about anything (have you done it?). Then she asked us to think of something that we don't feel safe doing now - like places you might go, or things you might do, that just don't feel safe. So perhaps walking hand in hand with the person you love, or walking alone ... (again - have you done it?). Then - take that thing that doesn't feel safe, and imagine it in your initial safe place - where there isn't any reason for worry. Pretty great, huh? And then came the challenge.

She asked, that each of us think of a concrete thing that we can do, within the next week, to make the world and our community a little bit more like that safe place. To improve the world. Tikkun Olam in Hebrew, repairing the world. Then, to hold ourselves a little more accountable, turn to your neighbour and share what this promise will be. I found this hard, figuring out what my concrete, achievable goal is. I decided that the most concrete thing I could think of right now - is an ongoing continuation of a battle with a phrase that makes me crazy.

That phrase that makes me CRAZY is "That's so gay!". It's a pervasive phrase that I feel like I have been fighting about for a long time. I remember beginning my undergrad (a little ways back now...) and daily having a conversation that went something like this, (random person who lived on my floor in res or was in a class or in the cafeteria) "Oh my God, that's so gay" (me) "I'm sorry, I am confused, to you mean happy or homosexual?" (random person) "uhhhh, no..." Other times I would just get mad. Slowly they dropped the phrase, at least while I was around, I don't know if it lasted.

Yet here I am, again in school with undergrads, more than 10 years later, and the same phrase is still hatefully floating around. To be made worse, the people in my classes now, are hoping to become teachers... Blarg!

Have you seen this poster?

Or this one?

I am glad that there are more initiatives happening that are seeking to help people become aware of their words and the impacts of those words. In the meantime, my most concrete action is to give people hell in a variety of ways when they toss around words like they weigh nothing and don't cause harm. I am trying to remember that we all are learning, different things, at different times, and to also be gentle with my words...

Little by little - I hope that change is coming.

in the meantime - peace to you~