A New Year, A New Vision.

For the past couple of years, I have been orienting my year around a theme. A couple of years ago it was my Donkey Yote (not to be confused with Don Quixote) HeHaW (Health & Harmonic Wealth) tour with me and my ass in search of the answer to life, the universe and everything (in honour of turning 42).

And this year, my theme has been Truth or Dare: 2009 Edition - Game On! It's been a ton of fun thinking about my week ahead and choosing - Truth or Dare? More often than not this year, I have chosen Dare, if only because that is what I used to do in my tween days of playing Truth or Dare.

Admittedly, my dares have not been large. I didn't end up taking up pole dancing or the circus arts or really risking boldly. Sometimes just daring myself to stay in the game or mingle with others, or go yet one more intrepid mile each week felt audacious enough.

But I did take a couple of risks. Holy Hub and I renewed our wedding vows in Hawaii, in celebration of 25 years together. And I travelled back home to Alberta road-trip style, something I was not wont to do. While there, I went to see a renowned forensic psychic - in order to get at the hidden truth behind my niece's suicide this spring. And on the way home, I dared go zipline'ing with the kids and do a 10 am scary roller coaster after a big breakfast. Terrifying and stomach-lurching experiences, both - but fun, nonetheless. And I dared myself to step up and write a business plan for a wilderness education company - an industry sector I previously knew next to nothing about. I did this in exchange for sending my 13-year old son on their Coming of Age rite of passage expedition for boys next summer.

Choosing truth, on the other hand, has meant telling myself the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about things I'd quite frankly rather not. It's meant being honest in my beingness instead of living the myriad little lies that can tend to add up to big ones if I'm not careful.

Sometimes those truths have meant saying no, giving up on things and bringing myself back to a place of integrity. At other times, it's meant being willing to really stand alone with myself in front of a bathroom mirror behind a locked door, and allow myself to ask my silent question and nod my head in affirmation or shake my head in disagreement. I have tried, above all this year to channel to the good bard in living the mantra - This above all, to thine own self be true.

And it hasn't always been easy. I had occasion to stumble, once again, upon a poem a month or so ago. I read it with new eyes and this time, it really resonated with me. Perhaps because I am not always so especially good at living at that most authentically honest level where things are raw and real.

"We live a lie when we misrepresent the reality of our experience or the truth of our being. I am living a lie when I pretend a love I do not feel; when I pretend an indifference I do not feel; when I present myself as more than I am; when I say I am angry, and the truth is I am afraid; when I pretend to be helpless, and the truth is I am manipulative; when I deny or conceal my excitement about life; when I affect a blindness that denies my awareness; when I affect a knowledge I do not possess; when I laugh when I need to cry; when I spend unnecessary time with people I dislike; when I present myself as the embodiment of values I do not feel or hold; when I am kind to everyone except thos I profess to love; when I fake beliefs to win acceptance; when I fake modesty; when I fake arrogance; when I allow my silence to imply agreement with convinctions I do not share." Nathaniel Branden

Packed into this mumbo-jumbo of words is some powerful truth of what it means to be human and at times, arguably, inhuman. I suspect it didn't resonate with me the first two times I took those words in, perhaps because I chose NOT to take the words in and hear many of them as my truth.

So it's been an interesting year, to say the least. I approached 2009 thinking Dares would be where it was at, when in fact, Truth is what has really seemed to define it.

And I'm OK with that. On my painted and decorated garden stake, which served as my anchor and office talisman for my theme this year, I had decoupaged a number of quotes about the notions of both Truth and Dare. One, in particular, stands out to me now.

"The Truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off."

It makes me chuckle but also smile at a deep and cheerful level, because the truth of my being HAS really pissed me off. And to borrow from one of the year's most redundant quotes, it is what it is...

Which leads me to next year's theme. I have decided I need to back up and really sit with my beingness and embrace the present, all the while, planning for the future. So I've come up with Plan Be! as my 2010 theme. It is a reminder for me to stay grounded in the present whilst remaining methodical in strategic planning mode.

The Be also allows the word nerd in me to bring all those other juicy Be words into the realm. You know....like begin and become and bequeath and bestow and believe and behoove and beacon and beauty and beckon and bedazzle and befriend and behold and bejewel and belay and better and bestseller and bevvy and bewitch.

And as would befit the Plan part of the Be, I've decided to attach some further BEatitudinal theming to the months, in order to assign some kind of virtuous purpose and character building to my year.  As such, my months translate to Begin, Believe, Beyond, Belong, Befriend, Beauty, Beacon, Benevolent, Beatnik, Bestseller, Beget and Bestow.

It is, in essence, a year of being and doing bundled into one rhetorical package.  To be or not to be - that will remain the question. Perhaps at the end I will discover, as the ancient philosophers did, that "to be is to do".  I may well discover instead that, in fact, it's reversed and that "to do is to be." 

And my 2010 theme song? You guessed it: Let it Be. :) It speaks words of wisdom.

Blessed be. Shalom. Amen.


This is the Dawning of the Age of Expensius

I am now officially the mother of a teenager.  I seriously never thought parenthood out this far, which is entirely a good thing, of course, because anyone who plots the teen years prior to conception is 98% unlikely to want to have procreative sex.  That's my own random freakonomic statistic but inherent within this grossly excessive percentage is no small measure of validity, I suspect. 

It's why we don't give birth to teenagers right out of the garden gate.  They'd begin mumbling and bitching about the uncomfortable journey and the myriad other indignities.  Like how the air was cold and the light was so bright upon birth. And that they were left naked for so long.  And how the doctor pinched and spanked them.  And then how everyone wanted to touch their head and hold their pinky and count their toes and check out their private bits.  Ewwwwhhh.  And then how they got this boob shoved in their mouth.

I was the quintessential poster child for teenage attitude.  I well remember the days when I would walk on the other side of the street from my mother on the way home from a movie, lest anyone dared think we were together.  And I recall the incoherent, mumble language, which I would utter if and when I felt like it but not necessarily correlative to when I was asked a question.  And of course, I remember how out of touch and stoneage my parents were about everything.  Their sole raison d'etre on the planet was to embarrass me.

And this acute cellular memory is why I take great pains to ensure I pay the embarrassment forward.  Truth be told, I consider it to be part of the parental reward system.  Fear of embarrassment is the best behavior modification I know.  It's amazing how quickly a facial expression can turn from bland to horrified, just at the mere mention of threatening to chaperone the school dance and do disco moves on the edge of the dance floor.  That's nothing, however, compared to the humiliating scenarios I scheme in hopes of one day pulling a Hi-Jinks Nick TV parental prank.  That is my loftiest goal as mother. 

It's amazing how fast 13 years can morph by though, when you're otherwise preoccupied.  I look at baby pictures and I can't even piece together the genetic links between the little boy I used to bath in the kitchen sink and the hulking, gangly, 5 ft. 11 inch teenager, who alternates between being a sloth (sleeping in, farming on Facebook and Wii games are his sloth activities of choice); being a narcissist (he likes to admire his handsome mug in the bathroom mirror); and being a food thief (the constant raids of the fridge and pantry have begun).

I don't dare complain - he's smart, multi-talented, wise beyond his years, exceptionally good with younger kids, polite to adults other than those he lives with, an Order of the Arrow, an Eagle Scout candidate, and he earns straight As in school.  Priceless, right?

Well yeah, I suppose, as long as I don't add up the tangibles that come with his winsome personality.  Like the cello that needs to be purchased this year (minimum cost for a student-grade cello - $2000), or the braces he's getting this week ($5000), or the annual cell phone and clothing budget ($1500) or the host of other expenses (school travel, summer camps, sports registration, etc.).  Not to mention the upcoming biggies.  Like the car (which is the only image accessory I refuse to purchase, let it be noted for the record).  And university tuition.  He has his sights aimed high - as in Ivy League heights.  Don't dare ask him what he plans to study at said Ivy League schools though.  That will only elicit a glare, a mumble and a healthy dose of that teenage indignation, unless, of course, you happen to be a stranger, in which case you will be treated to a politely-audible if somewhat vague response.

I try to look at the bright side of it all.  I consider that I'm learning a new language and that it's my turn to be out of touch and stoneage. 

I guess that makes me officially grown up now, more's the pity.  But it still won't stop me from disco dancing on the fringe.  It's a tough job being a shameless mother, but someone's gotta do it.