2018 and apologies for slacking.

I was forced to admit I’ve been slacking when I looked at the date of my last Post.  August 2017?! Seriously? Who does that?!

Perhaps a person who was scattered, busy, creating, building, falling, crying, and more or less so all over the map this past year that organizing any actual thought pattern seemed like an impossibility!  Readers, I apologize.

2018 was an interesting year.  I made some pretty big leaps, in starting my own business cleaning and repairing horse blankets.  I took the plunge to quit a toxic job last April, and started predominantly working for myself.  I’m proud to say I made it through summer, getting a quick crash course from the school of learn-by-doing in sewing and sewing machines, marketing, and invoicing.  With fall came a physical move, and the changing of seasons, that landed me in a bit of a tough spot, unable to do what I was previously doing.  – But I’ll be back!|-

 

In the mix of all of that, I tried my hand at giving my old camper trailer a face lift, which turned out very well actually.  Paint and some minor fixes inside and out and she was feeling like a brand new home this year in the bush!

In July I found the perfect little addition to my little fuzzy family after taking a drive “just to look” at a litter of husky puppies.  If you haven’t already met her in person, or via facebook or instagram… This is Miska. img_1916 “Miska” is an Alaskan name that means “little bear.” She’s a Siberian Husky, born on May 16, 2018 and has captured our hearts.

I spent a lot of time trailriding and enjoying cocktails around the campfire this summer. Made some new friends, and watched some things change.  I planned a corporate Christmas party, put together a fabulous Wonder Woman costume for Halloween, and even, traveled to Norway (might have to save some details for another post!)

December felt like a hard month, and I struggled to get into the Christmas spirit, but persevered, and feel like ultimately, the year was productive, and put me in a place of knowing what doesn’t work so well for me.  I’m setting some ‘micro’ goals, and doing a little brainstorming for the coming year, not from a hokey place of  pipe-dream ‘resolutions’ but more or less, just to feel better and have more natural momentum for 2019.

How was YOUR year?  What are you proud of? What are you grateful for?  What gives you satisfaction, or inspiration for the next trip around the sun?

2018

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Technology: the Death of Human Communication

Part of me, is squirming and severely opposed to writing this. Me. Facebook enthusiast, text junkie, Whatsapp experimenter…  I’ve been a passionate “insta-” addict since the cute little “UH OH” of ICQ, and now, here I sit, committing mutiny against my longtime companion.  But, it’s time. It’s time to discuss.  Our language, social skills, emotional maturity, and privacy is disappearing:  being connected is creating massive disconnection.

At the most basic level, our short forms, slang, acronyms and “emojis” are slowly making us next to illiterate.  There was a time when it was frowned upon to use such language in writing, and now, you’re the idiot if you can’t understand it. Punctuation has become somehow extinct, or at least considered highly unnecessary in most cases, which only leads to more challenge in the next level of problem:  misunderstanding of tone, meaning and intention.  An example at most simplistic level: recently I got a reply to a text where I had told someone I was upset.  The message, simply, said “Sorry.” I stared at my phone and found myself wondering… is that sincere? is is sarcastic?  But did I call and ask?  Hell no: what is this 1990? Seeking clarification by using a device to actually talk, now somehow has become weird…or at least less convenient.

Even before someone has the chance to “misread your tone” – another challenge is we have only our willpower to rely on to keep us from communicating in the heat of the moment.  Pre instant messaging, communication methods actually forced a brief time out from conversation or interaction.  Someone said something you didn’t like at dinner? Chances are, you had AT LEAST the drive home to percolate, if not a few days to cool off, think it through and approach things rationally.

Under the same situation today, (provided you heard anything that was said at dinner by putting your phone down), you have the freedom and convenience to unload your rage full force on anyone you want, before leaving the driveway!  Your new opponent can then respond with equal rage, and so on.  Easily pulled into a war, from which it then becomes difficult to “get out of the trenches” because not replying also somehow implies disrespect. During this time when judgment is compromised, some might also seek support by venting feelings in a public forum, where at least a fraction of your thousand closest friends will validate your tantrum and in some cases; lash out at each other regarding opinions.  Alternatively, you could post a vague, passive-aggressive status update, while gaining sympathy and also  awarding you the high potential of offending someone else, accidentally, and unknowingly.

All this… with the convenient option of “screenshot capability” wherein anyone is free to snap, prologue, edit, censor and share at their leisure so that any other number of people can perceive, judge, translate, infer, personalize, over-react, be offended, and respond however appropriately or inappropriately.

I’m not suggesting a techno-ban.  I still love sharing photos and jokes with friends and family, and the convenient of texting, but we need to get a handle and put forth an effort on not letting convenience trump actual communication.

 

After-word….

My own “baby steps” as of lately:  1) If a message doesn’t feel “right” (tone, timing etc) I either seek clarification, or, I don’t reply immediately. 2) Taking more phone “time outs” to try and be more present with people, pets, experiences etc.  3) Journaling, or blogging opposed to texting and status-updating.

 

My Fave holiday!!!

WOOOO It’s halloween weekend! one of my faves.  I’m still putting last minute costume touches on, as the truth is; its been kind of a rough couple of weeks.  However, my costume will be dawned.. probably three times this year.  I’m also seeking new ideas for my pumpkins (check out my facebook album https://www.facebook.com/courtney.silverthorn.5/media_set?set=a.10150442767784970.1073741843.508369969&type=3)

I can’t wait to bust out my creative genius… and hope all of you are having a spook-tacular halloween weekend.

Cheers.

Skimming my past…

So many people commend my writing, from bosses who appreciate the detailed, objective, -court worthy- reports, to friends who’ve stopped here or giggled at my Facebook updates.  Yet I struggle at times, to write, arguing with myself about what to write about, believing;  ” I’m not a writer!”

Yet, here I sit, having organized my storage spaces… Looking at five full journals from  past years; knowing there are more secrets in more books, hidden in another box.  So… maybe, in fact, I AM a writer?? Maybe, staying present and looking back, will offer me some future topics?  Maybe, I must embrace a Tucker Max mentality instead of trying to censor it all… In truth, my friends are right: you don’t need reality TV if you let me swing by once a week… my life is entertaining.  Sometimes hilarious, sometimes depressing, but mine, and never dull.

I’m approaching a five year anniversary; of calling off my engagement and moving out of “his” house.  At a glance, I’m hard on myself and critical about what I have and haven’t “achieved”while he, has a now-one-year-old with the girl we assumed was the “rebound.”

Tonight, I read entries from a journal from the year after I left:

December 4, 2012

As I flip through this journal it occurs to me – perhaps I should burn it!  I’m writing because I feel unbalanced; lonely, yet don’t want to be around anyone, restless, yet don’t want to do anything. I feel I don’t spent much time in the “present moment.”- I’m distracted by phone, computer, and TV.  Regretting the past, worried about the future.

Why am I so consumed by peoples views and opinions? Why am I so in need of validation? Why do I hold on to people who appear to have no purpose, or worse, who hurt me? Where are my goals and ambitions?

_________________________________________________________________

Well, I didn’t burn the journal.  Maybe I should have! I feel a lot of these same feelings today about needing validation from other people and I’m working on letting it go- an experience last week drove home the point that you can’t change someone’s opinion, and it says much more about them then it does about you. In my journal, I went on to find and list the positives, which I will repeat and continue right now:

I love bubble baths, nice towels, making a good run, snowmobiles, the lake,and shooting a good game of pool.  I love my family, all my fur kids, and my horses.  In five years, I’ve rebuilt many old friendships,  and made new ones.  I upgraded my truck, got my motorcycle licence (and bought, then upgraded my bike.) I did freelance work as a cleaner, painter, karaoke DJ, and chicken and dairy farmer. I dated three – er- two and a half musicians. I hit on a pilot  (Both of these, a whole other post!) I learned to operate a backhoe, drive a tractor and “unload on the fly.”  I started a new career as a receptionist, moved to editor, and refreshed my French skills. I started a blog. I took a writing course.  I got back into fitness and lost twenty pounds.  I discovered a new rum, and new wine; and gained back ten!   I traveled to 3 different countries, and became a “familiar” at a bar in Bucerias Mexico: I wrote a story about it that I submitted for publishing. In a big rig, I visited eleven states in five days including Nashville Tennessee where I danced on the bar at Coyote Ugly. I became briefly addicted to Zelda, Twilight Princess.  I rode the horse I brought into the world, and trained: at a rodeo, in a parade, and on a girls weekend away trail-riding. I moved two horses 7 times in four years: which lead me back to some of my favourite people and a place that always felt like home.  I found relationships that renewed my hopeless romantic side, and, also had some heartbreak: I survived.   I  witnessed most of our “couple” friends endure divorce, and break-ups.  I hoped for new sparks between friends who were old flames; when it didn’t work, I watched each of them marry someone else… and considered that maybe things DO work out how they’re meant to eventually; and you learn and grow along the way.

I’ve crammed a whole other lifetime, and a whole other me into the last five years.  I’m making plans and goals for the future, but still staying present… writing… and skimming my past.

Rosebuds and kisses make for sweet adventures

Attitude is the only difference between an ordeal and an adventure. ~Unknown.  Many times on the road as a child with my mother, she would pull off to the nearest convenience store and return with scribbled directions, and a box of Rosebuds:  the difference between being lost and “on an adventure!” We have continued sharing such adventures through the years, one comedy of errors particularly memorable: Nuevo Vallarta, 2013.

In a whirlwind of dramas among friends, Mom and I found ourselves banished from our original accommodations with only days to secure a hotel, and a pesky issue of me on a return flight the day before hers, but with a $450 rescheduling fee, we would make do.

To further challenge my blissful vacation, the morning of departure I awoke to the flu gods mocking me.  Armed with Pepto, prayers, and popsicles, I crawled to the car, and barely survived the flight.  Fortunately, a day and a nap made all the difference and things started to improve.  My determination to enjoy my vacation despite dilemmas found me in the hotel lobby carefully sipping a cosmopolitan planning the week.

It was then I met Alberto; our cute, charming Mexican tour rep, with an amazing, sexy smile.  He asked to take me out on my last night, but when I went secure plans, I had missed him.  Disappointed, I made the best of it at the disco with mom, and Tequila.  When we returned late and found a note on the door, my heart sank; it was from Alberto saying he would pick me up at nine.  I felt awful.

The next morning, after solemnly packing, I tried to find my tanned skin prince, without success.  On route to the lobby, the foot broke off my suitcase turning it into an awkward, unstable mess to drag home; the perfect metaphor for my own emotions.  In the cab, I sniffled, and wiped my tears.  “Why are you crying Senorita?” The driver asked.  I sobbed: “Because I don’t want to leave yet.”  “So, stay!”

Upon arrival at the airport, I limped my wounded baggage through the glass doors, across the polished floor, and bid adios to Mexico.  Like a new kindergartner, I put on my brave face and took a breath; and then it was lost once more.  There, running down the escalator, was the amazing, sexy smile that I thought I’d never see again.  He reached the foyer and swept me in a hug, and a Hollywood worthy, kiss of a lifetime!  For that moment, all was well with the world.

Armed with the strength of a proper goodbye, I presented my documents at the check in counter.  I asked once more about changing my flight, determined to bend reality with persistence.  Agents spoke to each other in Spanish, and something seemed wrong. I was almost sure I was about to be wrongly detained in a Mexican prison -which seemed a fitting end to this flawed fiesta- When the clerk finally explained to me: bad weather in Texas; my connection was cancelled. Shock rolled through my body, and I struggled to stop the grin from erupting as the reality hit me.  “So I’m delayed and it’s your fault!”  I was quickly booked on a flight the following day, and presented with travel vouchers and cab fare for the “inconvenience.”

The sun smiled on the road back; palm trees applauded my victory, the broken suitcase carried itself! As we rolled up to the hotel lobby, I barely waited for the taxi to stop before leaping onto the curb.  There, in the archway stood Alberto – shocked and ecstatic to see me!  The whole story, finding my mom and evening plans unfolded in the next ten minutes, through euphoric smiles and happy hugs.  While dozens frowned in Texas, three beamed in Mexico for one, perfectly cancelled flight.

Any or all of these obstacles could have been a trip disaster, but thanks to attitude, they became the blunders we triumphed over for a uniquely memorable vacation; the places we paused to get our Rosebuds.

 

 

*Submitted October 2015- for possible publication to Travellers Tales.

Booooo To Man BUNS!

Man Buns. Not the kind routinely slapped for a “good game.”- I’ll spare you any further “puns about buns” and get right to the point: we need to talk about this “Man-bun” phenomenon.  It’s become a running joke with my friends and I after noticing the amount of these currently taking the world by storm recently… then of course, the included meme that found its way to my facebook shortly after.  IMG_5005

I looked further into this, trying to gain some insight and there is an entire history of man-buns at buzzfeed.com. It seems to have started with Buddha’s “topknot” and developed…George Harrison, Samarai Futeba on Saturday Night Live, Riff Raff from the Rocky Horror Picture Show where it apparently originated from the planet “transsexual” – There’s an interesting take on your “new do.”  I may take some flack for this… but I’m just going to say it:

I HATE. THE. MAN-BUN.

Frankly- just because you put the word “man” in front of it: does not make it masculine, or cool; a guy wearing a bun to the bar, is about as sexy as ME wearing one; sure, it looks like I’m not trying too hard, but there are a ton of other styles that would be so much more attractive.  Dear Hipsters… You’re not David Beckham.  You’re not trend-setting, and the accompanying shaggy beard just makes you look homeless.

I can imagine the arguments now: “But Courtney, the man-bun has taken Hollywood by storm.” Bradley Cooper, Leonardo DiCaprio, Chris Hemsworth, Jake Gellenhaal: they can do whatever they want. If you’ve made that much money, and have been voted in the top ten sexiest men alive ever – wear your hair in braided pigtails if you want to, that doesn’t make it cool and something everyone should do.  And, for the record, I still prefer all of these men sans man-bun!

In summary, unless you’re so beautiful and athletic that no one notices your hair, or, actually a samurai, just say no to the bun. Buns should be reserved for Grandma, little girls at their ballet recital and me trying not to get my hair wet in the pool.

What Makes a Good Date?

Recently, I bragged about a great date I had been on, and told him, that even if we didn’t “click” and end up “dating” he still got an “A” for the “best executed date I had been on in YEARS.”  So… What made this date so great?

He insisted on picking me up.  When he arrived, he parked, and walked up to get me.  After asking me a few preference questions, he chose the restaurant.  He held the door, told me I look nice, and asked me questions about myself.  He joked with me.  He paid for dinner.  We then went out to meet some of his friends (which I had previously agreed to.) He introduced me to them, and chatted with everyone- while still interacting with me.  He dropped me off, suggested we do it again, and, he texted the next day.

I thought I may have been so blown away because I have been relatively removed and mostly un-enthused about the dating world for a while.  But when I told my girlfriend, she responded: “I like him already. Finally, a guy who gets it! Mama taught him well.”

Neither of us are really what I would call “old fashioned girls” either. So why were we both so impressed by this? Is this “old-fashioned”? We’re in a world that thanks to social media and dating sites we assume we’ve made dating or… mating so convenient, yet ask anyone who has spent much time in that forum and they will tell you it’s anything but.  Where people tend to peruse MATCH and POF like catalogue shopping, swiping left and right based on nothing more than a photo; we’ve become arrogant, judgmental, possibly even entitled.

For me, this guy earned a great deal of respect; by demonstrating that for me and my time.  He showed up fully and made me feel like regardless of outcome; I was worth some effort.

Ladies: How does a guy impress you? What makes a good date? What do you do to be a good date?

Gentlemen: Do you put forth this kind of effort? Why or why not?

Do you treat someone differently if you have previously met them or have mutual friends than you do if you met someone on a dating site? Comment…

WOO-WOO!!!!

id

I was never a popular kid at school… Always kind of a country kid through and through. So a lot of my experiences resulted from having older friends who were nice enough to take me to horse shows and rodeos on the weekends.  I was badass.  Or, probably just a typically slightly rebellious teen girl and a bit of a tease at worst.  Hey- bad decisions lead to good stories.

It was the weekend of Kitchener rodeo- it was just brought to my attention last weekend that the only thing the guys remember is “WOO-WOO” shots.  Everyone was going to party at the stampede coral.  I was sixteen.  I was also lucky enough to have a newly nineteen friend with an extra licence.  Thanks Candace!  At that time, I was dating a bullrider (I know; shocking.) Coincidentally, he had dated Candace prior to me. (Also. Shocking… Sharing is caring.)

When the cops showed up at the bar my attempts to “act normal” apparently failed, and despite not being the youngest one there: I was the target. (a 14 year old roper had the benefit of still being six foot and solid enough to blend in…) My only real recollection of dialogue as the cops asked me to come outside was a somewhat slurred statement about not being drunk and having to barrel race in the morning; neither of which were true by the way.  The poor boyfriend at this point, is not only having his night and woo woo shots interrupted… but he’s also now being forced to call me by his ex-girlfriend’s name in keeping with the story!  They ask me for my home phone number.  Knowing my own mother would be woken up, confused, and eventually pissed (plus and more importantly: blow my cover) I rhyme off Candace’s number.  She is still inside the bar at the time.  Her mom’s boyfriend answers. They tell him they are concerned that the girl with them looks nothing like the photo, and also that though she appears to be about 165cm tall despite the 120 noted on the I.D.  He somehow guessed it was me, and said something like “Oh yeah I’ve been telling her to get that corrected for a long time, and it’s an old picture.”

WOOO!!! Thank you dude I barely know!! Thank you Thank you!

Whoever said “the truth shall set you free”- clearly never spent hours rehearsing someone else’s full name, address and birthday just for the chance to two-step and drink WOO-WOOs with the cowboys.

The Midnight Swim: “Editted” – For Tiny

I’ve often said about travelling that there is something about away from home that changes your mood or outlook and how things just flow differently.  Add a buck and doe for a life long friend, and a bunch of wobbly pops, even your mom can end up on a mechanical bull!

The party ended and we all went home.

Or… maybe we went back to the hotel, and mixed another round of drinks.  My mom headed for her room around 2:30am.  I sat there looking at my friend, feeling totally chilled out (Wisers deluxe style)- and announced:  “I’m not ready for bed yet.” And then… While glancing at the outdoor pool enclosure:   “…That’s a short fence…”

Within minutes, the plan was in place.  I maneuvered a Muskoka chair up close on the inside of the fence for an easier landing.  I announced I was going to get my suit, because getting caught and possibly tossed out of the hotel was a risk I was willing to take; doing so naked; was not.  As I “snuck” into the hotel to change, my mom stirred and opened her eyes.  I held my breath. I was going to get stopped. Or…. At least… delayed.  “What are you doing?” she asked.  I hesitated. I considered lying… then Wiser’s laughed and whispered “we’re sneaking into the pool.”  Her hand came out from the blankets and slaps me a high five.  Yep. That’s my mom.

Off we went. We then had a pre-game pep talk:

“Ok. So. Hop/climb there…”

“Yep.”

“Then We have to move the solar blanket..”

“K… No splashing. And NO giggling.”

(We’re hardened criminals not school children right?!)

“Ok BREAK!”

I ran and grabbed the top of the fence, flung my foot to the top rail, and landed easily in the chair.  We did giggle. We peeled back the solar blanket and slipped into the pool.  It was heavenly! I’ve heard that “the thrill of possibly getting caught makes it better” – I didn’t know they meant 3:00AM swimming.  We stayed in for a few minutes, swimming, in the rain, then snuck back out, replaced the cover and hopped back over the fence… And couldn’t wait to brag at breakfast.

Setting off the Ex’s House Alarm

Perhaps it’s odd that I still have a house key to my ex’s place, and even odder that when he goes on vacation I check on the house, and look after his kids’ hamsters… but he’s a friend, and it’s not really a big deal.  So this past winter when he went to Jamaica, I wished him Bonne Voyage, and didn’t ask for a lot of details – it seemed like a simple gig.

On the first night, I pulled into the driveway, hopped out of my truck and unlocked the back door.  The alarm began to beep, and it was not until I was face to face with the panel, it occurred to me that it has been about a year since I punched in that code, and my mind was completely blank.  I tried one.  The alarm kept beeping. I tried another…still the little red light glared at me threatening.  Sixty seconds of terror… I knew what was about to happen.  I was certain I had the first two digits right, but for the life of me the other two were missing somewhere in the depths of my memory. The alarm began to scream. Poor hamsters were probably wondering what the hell was with all the racket.

My mind is racing, and I am pissed at myself, for not remembering. And not asking!  DAMNIT!  How am I going to explain this?? “Good evening Officer.  It’s cool- this is my ex-boyfriend’s house.”  ??? Yeah. Cuz that sounds awesome.  I rack my brains knowing I can’t call him.  Maybe there is a chance he is on facebook!?  Feverishly I type the first words that come to my mind:  “FUCK!” “I just set off your alarm…I’m retarded. Code!?!?”  … Yeah right. Cuz in Jamaica he’s totally sitting on Facebook.  Who else can I call?? Who would know?  Julie.  Julie “the ex-wife.” Coincidentally I’ve known her longer than I have known him, but this still certainly requires the swallowing of some pride.  I dial her number.  God I’m an idiot.  No answer.  Panic is setting in. I leave a voicemail which I can only assume must have made her laugh a few days later:  “Uh Hey…It’s Courtney, uhm. So I’m at Darren’s and I just set the alarm off because I’m a moron and I forgot the code. Sorry to call – call if you get this. Sorry!! Thanks! Sorry! Bye… Sorry.”  What’s worse is three seconds after I hang up I remember being told that she was going away the same week… So no help coming from that direction.

Minutes are passing and the “what will I say to the cops dialogue” happening in my head is building and sounding worse and worse…  “I’m really sorry, honestly- this is my ex-boyfriend’s house, he’s in Jamaica with his new girlfriend. I called his ex-wife for help.”  Right…Nothing like a stalker seeking an accomplice! “But Sir…I’m here for the hamsters.”  … Right. Bet you are. You like to boil them?

I look at the alarm company sticker on the door.  Anything is worth a try.  I dial the number.  A very chipper lady answers, and knowing how stupid I sound I give it my best.  “Hi.  My name is Courtney.”  I give her the address and try to explain:  “I just set the alarm off at the side door, I know how stupid I’m about to sound, this is my friend’s place- we used to date.  I’m here because he asked me to feed his kids’ hamsters; I thought I remembered the code, but apparently not. I have left him and his ex-wife a message telling them what I have done but his family all live out of town (obviously or he wouldn’t need his ex to house-sit?) and I have no one else to call.  There is silence on the other end of the phone for a minute as she processes (and probably tries to decide how to handle) what I have just said.  She asks me a number of questions about him, his phone number, and birthday; all of which I answer.  The lady now sounds sympathetic, as clearly I am not a burglar; just some chick who is a) Pathetic enough be feeding the ex’s pets while he is in Jamaica with the new woman and b) Dumb enough to set off the alarm and be calling her with this insane story… and she knows my night is about to get worse because although she is compassionate about my situation; she has obligations, and despite my story; no code and no password means she still has to dispatch police… she tells me I can leave or stay, it’s up to me.  I tell her I may as well do what I came to do; so in the event of my arrest, at least the hamsters will have had their dinner.  We hang up.

I walk back into the house, covering my ears.  I close the door behind me, and stare at the alarm pad like the evil enemy it is with its’ little red beedy eyes.  I’m exasperated and defeated.  I raise my hand up to the pad.  I take a deep breath……..

I enter the code successfully as if not a day has passed.  Yep. Seriously.  Three little beeps, the red flashing retreats, and replaced by a solid, happy green, and silence surrounds me. Five minutes later, hamsters have food and fresh water and I have found the wine left for me with the happy little note thanking me for being so helpful.  Man… he’s going to get a laugh out of this one…  I call the alarm company back, and begin re-explaining my story assuming there must be a high number of agents working there.  The lady cuts me off enthusiastically asking:  “Is this Courtney!?!” Yes… “HI it’s Jackie from earlier!! I see that you got the code!!! Good for you!!! I have canceled police dispatch and was going to call you back but I didn’t have your number.  I am so happy you remembered.”  (At least my new ADT friend Jackie is proud of me.) “Have yourself a good night.” (Uh huh. Yeah. Thanks.)

So…What do you do when you feel like a complete ass, and have just narrowly avoided arrest? –   You change your Facebook status… and laugh harder than everyone else.