The power of a matriarch

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I was sitting on a plane bound for my new-ish home in Vancouver after a brief stint in Calgary and an even more brief, stopover in Ontario. I had intended on spending the long weekend in a large gym, crammed with volleyball players and volleyball supporters, promoting the company a few of us started up last year. Six days working a booth, talking to parents about AthleteConnect and how it can improve not-so-little (even the 15-year olds are giants compared to myself) Lexi and Tyler’s opportunities to play post-secondary sport in Canada. Not a luxurious way to spend a long weekend but an entrepreneurial necessity.

Well I put in a solid 3-days at the Olympic Oval before I had to catch the red eye to say farewell to someone very dear to me. Someone whom I will probably see for the last time. While I was home amongst this looming sadness, I really started to think about the effect that a strong matriarch can have on a family. With the early departure of the patriarch, she is the one person who is responsible for maintaining the current branches in the family’s tree. She has been around long enough to amass an extensive collection of trails, tribulations, joys and successes. She upholds the traditions of the clan and can manage the politics of a family solely by the respect her presence in the room commands. She also happens to be the person responsible for filling you with ice cream sundaes, butter tarts and the birthday cards containing a bit of spending money.

As we flooded into our hometown from all over Ontario, British Columbia, Virginia and Australia, something overwhelmingly powerful happened. For the first time in 11-years, every daughter, son, granddaughter and grandson (as well as a few additions to the family, including a great-grandson) gathered in one place, caught up and reconnected with each other. Rather than sadness filling the air, there were hugs and laughter as everyone took turns sharing their latest successes and adventures. As the photographer grouped the four extensions of the clan around the almost stoic matriarch for one final portrait of it’s kind, there was a strong sense of pride and belonging.

The Ross Clan

The Ross Clan

So what happens to the many branches of a family tree when the matriarch has to leave us? Does each limb grow in it’s own separate direction, preparing to expand it’s own reach to the next generation? Who will step up to carry on and instill the family values and traditions that we associate with being ‘home’? Perhaps, large congregations of the clan will be limited to the wedding circuit.  Or maybe it will only be in times of major sorrow that our paths cross. A passing of the guard is inevitable. With it comes a wave of wonderful memories that become etched in one’s heart forever. It’s not an answer but a consolation within a process of change.

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Certain realities of money

Money. A reality and necessity of living. Especially in the wealthy, developed land we live in. A reality that has recently given me a not-so subtle kick in the pants. The pleasure of training and pursuing one’s dream without making much money (certainly not enough money to afford solo-rent, gas, organic/ free-range / GMO-free food, evenings at the local craft-brewery and any sort of plane ticket to anywhere) can apparently only go on for so long.

The difference between needing and wanting when it comes to the above mentioned list of creature comforts can get quite blurred with me. Living on my own gives me my coveted personal sanctuary. But the price tag on that, especially in Vancouver, is steep. My grocery delivery service allows me to eat good food, save time and avoid impulse purchases at the grocery store (whose checkout lines are a constant test of will against all of the rubbish magazines, chocolate bars and candy that call to you as you wait for your kale and avocados to be scanned and bagged). The personal and social benefits of enjoying a cold summer pilsner or warm amber ale with friends at the local watering hole are self-explanatory. A 6-pack of Glacier at home just cannot properly lift one’s spirits or quench one’s thirst. And then there are my monthly training expenses. Let’s just say they border on ridiculous.

The reality is that at some point, you either need to make some decent money to live or you have to say goodbye to ALL of those creature comforts we cannot seem to live without. I recently hit such a crossroads and found myself on the side with regular massages, farmer’s market double smoked bacon and surf sessions on the Oregon coast. I can only imagine how relieved my father was when I told him that I needed to venture back to the dark side of paper pushers and weekend warriors. I signed a year’s contract to run a gymnastics centre while my boss is on maternity leave. Unlike my previous job where I had to build up the gym from scratch, my sole responsibilities are to hold down the fort for a year and not make too many changes or mistakes. Not an entirely difficult task. And this deal was sweetened with enough flex time and freedom to continue a scaled-down version of my training regime.

First day on the job, obviously had to do a handstand...

First day on the job, obviously had to do a handstand…

I certainly didn’t jump at this endeavour right away as, with all decisions, there is an opportunity cost. That cost for me was training and networking time. For each hour on the job equaled one less hour I could train or one less hour I could meet a stunt industry professional on set for possible big break. But here’s the reality of it. I love a challenge, I love a regular paycheque (as I equate it to the hours of kickboxing lessons I can take and all of the exotic places I can escape to on my ‘vacation’ time) and I have a very hard time saying no. This is a great opportunity with a fixed timeline.

The traditionalist people in my life jumped for joy and offered little sympathy as I hung up my freedom to rejoin the working classes. The free-spirited people in my life, embracing alternative lifestyles were cautiously supportive. At the end of the day, the ability so save some more money away for a future bout “professional acquirer of stunt-related skills”, mixed with working for an awesomely energetic management and admin team who have graced me with some flexibility, made it very difficult to turn down. Do I feel like I have betrayed big dreams? Temporarily, yes. But that evening glass of organic vino, trip home to hold my new nephew and the occasional visit to the acupuncturist are pretty nice too.

AthleteInspired

 

Gem Alberta and one last big move

For those of you who have read some of my previous posts about moving, you will understand how long and drawn out this process has been. Well, what’s one more moving story. This one is hopefully the last for a while as this particular adventure concludes with all of my stuff (minus a sofabed) being in one location for the first time in 9 months.

I flew to calgary and got upgraded to a sweet rental car. From there I drove out into the middle of nowhere to a town called Gem. Possibly named for it’s beauty, which it has some. More likely named for it being as small difficult to find as a precious stone. If you blink while driving, you pass right through it. What brought me out to this part of the prairies you might ask. A real gem. My good friend from university who has found bliss in the countryside with the man of her dreams and a puppy who has paw-printed every piece of clothing I brought with me.

This wonderful friend of mine brought be out to be the guest speaker at the women’s provincial A1 championships for Basketball. To be honest, before I showed up to the banquet I had no idea what the event was, how many people were going to be there or what they wanted out of my speech. Not the best planning by someone who is very nervous when speaking to large crowds. ANyways, I shared my  experiences in sport and tried to impart how beneficial staying in sport after high school is. Whether or not I made an impact, let alone made any sense, these girls were wonderful. They listened, they danced, they sang, they laughed and I felt very fortunate to share this experience with them.

I don’t get to see this friend very often, and I miss her and her baking like mad so it was so great to catch up. Seriously, this lady baked all of the cupcakes for her own wedding. She always has some sort of delicious treat at the ready. THe visit and the baked goods served as an excellent distraction from driving a uHaul filled with the remaining wordly possessions I have, all the way to Vancouver.

The journey was pretty smooth. My couch did not make it. As in, didn’t even make it out of my condo. Officiallly a house warming present to whomever purchases my place. We lost a DVD tower en route and I managed to snap a metal IKEA storage frame when I muscled the uHaul door open upon my arrival in Vancouver. I needed to downsize anyways. All in all a successful journey and now I can continue to settle into my not sonew home.

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