A Canadian American offers help for those dealing with Electoral Emotion Overload (it’s a real thing)

I’m a Canadian citizen but also a proud U.S citizen too. And even though I live across the border in beautiful British Columbia, I must admit that I am exhausted.

After 14,328 hours of

  • he said/she said,
  • 100 and 1 renditions of “ what is the world coming to?”
  • and a constant bombardment of “if you don’t vote for me…”

I’m feeling a little queasy.

Maybe you’ve been dancing in the streets.

After 8 years of Facebook-bashing the a leader you didn’t like you expect everyone to play nice and be happy for you.

Or maybe you’re duking out your disappointment in angry protests.  Or you woke up the day after feeling very, very afraid.

This election has been like NONE OTHER in the history of the USA.  It’s going to take a little while for things to settle down.

I personally felt like I was covered in a fine layer of everything that’s gone on for the last 597 days. You know the

  • rhetoric,
  • mudslinging
  • racial slurs
  • sexism
  • and grandiose promises

coming from either side of the political abyss.

I just wanted to shake it off (yeah, I know you’re going to hate it) Taylor Swift style.

I wasn’t just sure how to do that until this weekend. Then, I glanced up at a flyer on my fridge. It was a notice about a neighbourhood celebration. The flyer went on and on about road closures, parking bans and parade times for the Gurpurab Diwas-Nagar Kirtan celebration.

For the record, I live in a culturally diverse neighbourhood.

Walking the dog is a daily adventure. Exotic smells of foods being cooked. Elderly grandmas and grandpas in traditional dress walking pushing grandchildren in strollers.  Strains of mid-eastern music coming from white tents during wedding festivities.

But, I’ve never really walked the neighbourhood during religious celebrations.

So, I went and checked it out.

Best medicine for electoral emotion overload.

Perfect cure for campaign-rhetoric-induced distortion of what being human is all about.

As my mom, daughter and I strolled up the streets I took in the brilliant colours of traditional dress, tasted delectable dishes served from tents set up in various drive ways.

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Trust me,  we were definitely a minority. But I felt very much at home.

You see, we all share the same neighbourhood. We walk the same streets. Love our children with the same passion and all of us carry hopes and dreams close to our hearts.

People are people. God’s creations. Fellow human beings.

When the posturing of political parties is done, what matters is the kindness expressed to strangers, forgiveness extended to those who have offended, every act of selfless courage, every human bond that transcends race, colour and creed.

America will be truly great when God’s goodness is seen in the lives of ordinary citizens   every single day.

We are neighbours. All of us. From sea to shining sea.

If The Toilet Paper Roll of Your Relationship Starts to Unravel– Take a tip from the 70’s singing sensation Chicago.

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Love is like a roll of toilet paper.

Yes, you read it right.

Toilet paper. Maybe not the most celebrated item of a marriage. But, ask anyone who’s run out. It’s essential.

Back to my analogy – the stroke of literary genius that’s going to put Forest Gump’s “Life is a box of chocolates” into permanent retirement.

Love is like a roll of toilet paper. If somebody we love walks away, a part of us goes with them. Like a bit of the tissue stuck to the bottom of a shoe, the roll just keeps unraveling.

Reminds me of Chicago’s hit “If You Leave Me Now” from the album Chicago X.

“If you leave me now, you’ll take away the biggest part of me..”

Deep truth.

For all you Hill Song diehards, please look past the lack of Holy Ghost buzzwords. Truth is truth.

We got to hold onto our roll of toilet paper.

Make amends.

“A love like ours is love that’s hard to find
How could we let it slip away
We’ve come too far to leave it all behind
How could we end it all this way
When tomorrow comes and we’ll both regret
The things we said today.”

Thanks, Chicago. It’s some of the best relationship advice I’ve heard in a long time.

Hanging around with Hopelessness? – run back to the truth as fast as you can.

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“You can’t get anywhere unless you know somebody,” the scruffy man said as we surveyed the carpet he had cleaned, “If you don’t have money or a powerful family name, you are nothing.”

Sobering words.

They stayed with me the rest of the day.

Just before his hopelessness became a part of me, I ran back to the truth.

No matter what

  • compelling arguments I may hear,
  • mess I may find myself in,
  • I’m feeling right now,

God still cares.

Our future is not some game of chance.

We do not just happen to luck in or luck out.

People matter to God.

Jeremiah knew this when he sent a letter to the Israelites. They had been exiled in Babylon and needed to know that God was still in control.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper  you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Hope and a future.

Jeremiah revealed the heart of the God, the same God who who loves you and me.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

God has a purpose for each one of us.

Amid The Beauty of Mission, B.C. One Must Decide– is it more noble to catch-and-release or fish-to-survive?

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Photo : Hannah McIntyre localism.com

Tonight I ditched the suburbs and drove to Mission, British Columbia.

There the valley spreads out from the edge of town. Mountains lace the sky  from behind.

It’s picture perfect.

If only Mission’s Sun Valley Trout Park was the same.

Not that the place is ugly. On the contrary, I saw families of ducks  gliding across the ponds that surround the trailer park and camp spots. Lush foliage edged the grounds and pathways.

Most importantly, my sister and brother-in-law live on the grounds. How could any place be less than beautiful with their presence?

Frankly, it’s the catch-and-release fishing policy that I find disturbing.

Maybe you disagree with me.

“What about preserving the fish population?” you may murmur politely.

Maybe, I don’t respond.

Perhaps, your face turns red.

“What about Mrs. Fish and the junior fishes back at the duck weed patch,” you finally scream in defense of catch-and-release, “Must they wait and wait for the 8 to 10 pound daddy that will never glide his way back home?”

Take a deep breath.

Relax.

And let me take you on a little journey. Forty years back in time and miles away to the Ozark foothills.

I was a scrawny kid who

  • Rode an hour to school every day on the bus.
  • Walked almost thirty minutes to a tiny store that sold chips, pop, milk and butter.
  • Had no money.
  • Wore hand-me-down shirts, jeans and cotton dresses.
  • Depended on school vouchers for Christmas presents.

No freezer full of meat. No larder full of can goods.

All we had were the basics.

  1. Salt and Pepper.
  2. Flour and cornmeal.
  3. Milk and eggs.
  4. Carrots and Potatoes.

And fresh fish.

While Dad was down in Texas trying to find work, Mom baited a hook on a string with worms from the corner store. Tied it to a stick.  Attached a red and white bobber the size of a ping pong ball.

Dropped it in one the the streams that wound it’s way down to Lake Tenkiller.

Reward – fillet of bass dipped in egg and rolled in cornmeal. Pan fried to a crispy golden brown.

pan fried fish

This was a savory rendition of the circle of life.

It was a way to survive.

A fish- and-release policy would have left us hungry most nights.

“Renee,” I reminded myself when I pulled into the park, “The fishing ponds are for family fun, not for some scrawny kid’s survival.”

I relaxed. A little.

But, deep down I knew that nothing was more thrilling than catching a fish in order to survive. Nothing tastes as sweet.

Nothing.

Rainy days, long nights–why sometimes we have to wait so long for the sun

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Last weekend was a crazy mess of rain and wind.

Today, the sun came out. Quite an event on the northwest Coast. Every time it happens, I marvel at the brightness.

There’s something about the morning light.

Twenty-six years ago, I went into labor for the first time.

By late afternoon, the contractions all bunched into one big pain.

Don’t scream or cry out,” the day nurse told me just before she went off shift, “The night nurse served in Vietnam. If you scream she’ll slap your face.”

By midnight, the pain was so bad I could hardly breathe. But, I didn’t make a sound.

To my surprise, this combat-savvy nurse commended me on my endurance. She had no idea that I feared the back of her hand more than the agony of childbirth.

The morning light brought surgery and a baby boy.

Funny, one look at his wrinkled little face and all I felt was happiness.

“Weeping may remain for the night,” penned the author of Psalms 30,  “but rejoicing comes in the morning”.

It makes sense as long as you know how to measure night and day according to loss.

Sometimes the night is just a night. Sometimes it’s a long, long time.

When I was in my late twenties, I got a call that woke me out of a deep sleep.

“You’re dad’s having a heart attack,” mom said quickly.

My sister and I followed the ambulance to the hospital. The darkness  blotted out everything but the excruciating pain of the moment. When we got to the hospital the doctors had already pronounced Dad dead.

It was a long time before I saw the sun again.

Overwhelmed with sorrow, I felt betrayed.

I didn’t understand that

  1. sorrow is tough.
  2. sorrow is patient.

Sorrow settles in for the long haul. It stays until the job is done.

  • the cleansing of our anger
  • the acceptance of our loss.

One day, a ray of light danced across my face.

A bit of warmth touched my skin.

It felt good.