Goodbye, my friend

I go about my day. Rushing from job to job.

I stop and remember that you are gone,

And at once I feel like I’m waking up from a nightmare.

Because a world without you in it is too hard to imagine.

I want it all to be some cruel and twisted joke and in all honesty it is.

The universe has taken you away too soon.

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Goodbye, my friend.

RIP Duncan Renaut

You’ve touched many people with your kindness, your humor and your positive attitude. You will never be forgotten.

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/thestarphoenix/obituary.aspx?n=duncan-renaut&pid=174289706&fhid=6664

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The town that built me

Coming into work today, someone had apple pie and coffee. The smell filled the room and I was suddenly back in a small community hall in a small town in the middle of no where.

Everything happened in that hall. From town meetings to Sunday brunches to high school graduations, everyone was raised in that hall.

As kids, we knew every good hiding space from the coat room in the entrance way to the eerie storage area behind the stairs.

Within seconds of smelling pie and coffee, I was teleported home to a dozen fall suppers where everyone from town pitched in to help and the line for food stretched around the room, up the stairs and along the side of the dance floor.

I was suddenly attending a hundred funeral luncheons for people who knew every member of my family dating back to my great grandparents. Every wedding that ever took place flashed through my mind, from cousins to friends. I can see a dozen bouquets tossed from that stage, thousands of songs danced on that floor.

I tried to explain this to a coworker and I got a blank stare and a shrug but maybe I don’t blame them. How do you explain the place that made you who you are? How do you explain talking over pancakes as you moved from table to table for a million and one conversations with neighbours? How do you explain knowing everyone within a two hundred mile radius? Learning to help your community by serving coffee or doing dishes for a couple hundred people once a month? Taking pride in a small but beautiful place by being there to help with everything from helping an older friend clear away the dishes to sweeping up the floor after everyone left.

Out of a graduating class of seven; one person still works in town, one of them moved to the next town over, another three are still living in the province, and the last two of us have moved to other provinces. Surrounding grades have similar stats of young people moving away to build lives else where.

What will become of the community that shaped who I am? Will I find a place where my kids can have the same sense of belonging?

Dancers and Journalists

From top to bottom: Georgia, Sara, Olivia, Vivika. Thanks so much for helping me out.
From top to bottom: Georgia, Sara, Olivia, Vivika. Thanks so much for helping me out. Photo by: Becky Zimmer

My latest freelance endeavour was an amazing one.

I got to talk with the amazing dancers from Mocean Dance Company’s Emerge program in Halifax. Mocean chose four Atlantic based dancers for a five week paid internship to collectively create a piece. These dancers, Olivia Aubrecht, Sara Hopkin, Georgia Skinner and Vivika Ballard, along with their mentor, Sara Coffin, graciously allowed me their time and energy so I could practice my own craft.

It was amazing seeing the similarities between what these women were going through as freshly minted dancer graduates and me as a newly graduated freelance journalist.

Everything they said resonated with me. The negative connotation with going home, like you failed somehow. The trouble with finding work in your field. Having to work a separate job to fund what you really want to do. For everything they said, I would nod away enthusiastically thinking, “wow, I’m going through that too. I know exactly what they mean.”

I quote the Ivany report in the piece because it is very relevant for young grads in Nova Scotia trying to make a life for themselves. Some professional fields just don’t have the paid capacity for the grads now trying to find jobs. Creating your own opportunities, like a lot of these dancers are doing, is becoming a better alternative.

The article can be found here: http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/story/economy-dance/33155 and I want to congratulate Mocean and the Emerge dancers on an amazing show last night. Their performance was brilliant.

Forget giving up things for Lent

I am a generally positive person and my biggest pet peeve is friends being negative towards themselves.

I am all over that shit because I have some really awesome friends.

But I don’t allow myself the same courtesy.

I started a new position at the end of December. Instead of celebrating what I was learning, I would put myself down for the little things that I would do wrong or forget. The majority of the time, I would do it in front of co-workers and my bosses.

The thing is, as soon as you do that in front of people, you give permission for them to do the same.

It’s one thing to forget to do something or get it wrong, and especially in front of my bosses, I felt that putting myself down showed that I cared so much about getting it right that I would sacrifice my own self-worth to the gods of retail. I would label them, “Becky mistakes”, small minuscule things that I thought I was so stupid for getting wrong.

Some of this came from being a beginner supervisor and thinking others were right before consulting my own knowledge on the subject. Most of it came from wanting to show that I cared enough to put myself down.

C0-workers noticed, and not in a good way.

For a week, I dreaded going to work because I knew it would just be another trip on the river guilt, population, me.

Then something wonderful happened.

My boss went on vacation and I was left to handle things on my own, no one looking over my shoulder and no one to act as my safety net.

It was the most freeing feeling in the world.

I was confident in handling problems. I’d calmly look for solutions without that feeling of panic rising in my chest.

And co-workers noticed that too.

Showing your boss that you care about your job by being hard on yourself about your mistakes isn’t as good as showing them that you are confident about picking yourself up and doing it right next time.

In honour of lent, instead of giving up things, let give up negative things we don’t like about ourselves. Let’s celebrate the things that make us awesome instead of the things that we don’t think we are good at.

My Amazing Mom

She is going to protest every word written here but I believe them with all my heart.

She is the strongest person I know. I have never seen her be anything else.

She’s had her problems and I’ve seen her down and I’ve seen her cry. None of that means that she isn’t strong and amazing.

She moved two provinces away to be with my dad who she had only known 9 months and yet followed her heart to be with him. They had the most amazing marriage I had ever seen. No one has ever had a more truly romantic story than they did.

She is strong in her opinions and beliefs. She made the decision to have all five of her kids without drugs because she believed it would be better.

When my father died, she made the decision to mourn but not give up on life. She continues to be herself and she has not let the experience negatively change her.

I remember when I was 18 and living in Newfoundland for three months. The rest of the family had also moved away from home by then and even my dad was working in Alberta during that time.

She was alone. Maybe for the first time in her life, truly alone. Yet she did not pity or feel sorry for herself, she just went on with her life and continued to be amazing. She knew we were all okay and safe and that is all she needed to know.

I sometimes feel guilty about leaving home just because I know how much she worries about me. She has never pushed this guilt on me. She has always been the one to give me a push and say see how far you can go. Katimavik, university, Halifax, there has never been a time she told me not to do it because of the pain she would go through.

Times when I was sick or lonely, I heard the pain and nervousness in her voice as I’d tell her what I was going through.

Words that will always stick with me is both mom and dad saying, “you got to know.” They have not only said those words but practiced them, leaving decisions up me.

Do I go do Katimavik? You got to know.

Do I go to university? You got to know.

Do I go to Halifax and become a journalist? You got to know.

There was only one time dad broke this rule. I laugh every time I think of me telling him that I had dropped out of university because I was on the waiting list for Katimavik. No classes had started yet and I had everything planned when I got the call that I had a mere chance to travel. Classes, an apartment, a job, all cancelled in a day because I knew no matter what happened, I wanted that opportunity. Both him and my brother were furious that I had cancelled everything on a whim. My mom and my sister stood by me and trusted me to make this decision on my own.

When I got accepted into the program two weeks later, my dad couldn’t be happier. My brothers on the other hand went into full on protectorate modes.

My brother Darren was scared because I wouldn’t know anybody.

My brother Duane was worried because I could get hurt and be so far away.

Mom silenced them all because it was my decision to go.

So Mom, on your birthday, I want to thank you for showing me what I strong, hardworking woman is. I want to thank you for always supporting me, even when that meant not seeing each other for months and years. I want you to know that these gifts you have given me will never be forgotten.

I like my men in black and white

I love black and white movies.

I fell in love with Cary Grant and Gary Cooper early in life, through films like Father Goose and the Westerner. The more I watched the more I needed more. More black and white men.

And I soon discovered them, the dazzling, suave and classy men spanning 40 years of classic movie history.

Men who make your jaw drop when they walk into the scene.

Men who make you swoon the second they start to speak and giggle uncontrollably at their wisecracks and slapsticks.

Men who drip with class from their fedora hat to the flower in their lapel to their dark suits to their shiny shoes.

Give me these men who are the true definition of gentlemen.

Give me Cary Grant, who was never afraid of strong, independent women like Sophia Loren and Katherine Hepburn.

Give me Humphrey Bogart, who saw the treasure he had on Lauren Becall and never tried to turn her into something she wasn’t.

Give me Gene Kelly, the charming and talented actor of Judy Garland dreams in The Pirate.

Give me Sidney Poitier as he builds a church in Mexico for German nun in Lilies of the Field.

Give me Gregory Peck as he cons princess Audrey Hepburn but ends up falling for her in Roman Holiday.

Give me Laurence Olivier as the untameable Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights.

Give me Paul Newman as the troubled and proud husband of Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Give me men who didn’t realize how their smile drive women wide. Who were oblivious to their own charm. Who remained themselves even when fame became an eventuality.

Give me men. Give me hardworking, charismatic, and sexy.