Mind your time

Do you ever find that you have a desire to change something in your life, but you can’t seem to find the time or energy to do so? Whether it’s looking at changing careers, trying a new sport, or going on that trip you’ve always wanted to go on, it seems to be out of reach. What is it that holds us back and has us stuck in a rut?

Life is busy. We spend time getting meals ready, folding laundry, and driving kids to activities. We commute to work, plan weekend activities and rush around to complete the tasks that we have set out. In our busyness, we lose our connection with the present moment.

A quote I love says:

Meditation

The reality is, we never have enough time for ourselves. We love saying, “I don’t have time,” or “there’s never enough time.” The reality is, there is time. Time is now. We have to choose how we’re going to use it with intention. We have to evaluate our lives and see how we can carve out some time for ourselves to make the changes we need to make and move in a direction we desire.

Mindfulness is a practice that can help sort through the clutter of our daily lives by purposely focusing attention on the present moment and accepting, without judgment, what is. It is currently gaining attention from the scientific community on its benefits and has been found to be a key element in happiness. People who are more mindful are more intentioned and able to make positive changes in their lives.

The North Vancouver District Public Library offers an ‘Insight Through Meditation Mindfulness’ workshop. The next introductory workshop begins May 5th. Meditation teacher Sayar Myat will lead you to mindfulness through a series of classes. The classes are free and just need your ability to carve the time for yourself. Call 604-987-4471 local 8175 to register. It could be the best gift you give yourself.

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Heroes among us

Do you ever wish you were a hero? What would that look like? What choices would you make that would make you heroic? I see heroes around me daily: people who take risks and create greatness in their lives as a result of those risks; people who show courage when the opposite should be true. The funny thing about heroes I see is that they don’t recognize they are, in fact, heroes.

The hero is you: you, who chanced everything to move to Canada to make a new life for your family and yourself; you, who courageously tries to learn new customs, new languages, new cultures and find employment; you, who picks yourself up after making mistakes, overcomes embarrassment, and continually keeps striving to adapt to your new world; and you, who instills an importance of education and effort in your children so they will not struggle the same struggles as you are now. You.

I went to Mexico and lived with a family for one month when I was 16 years old. I prepared by learning Spanish before I went. I didn’t feel I was very good at speaking the language, but if I had to, I would get by. When I got there, I found that everyone I met spoke English. It was easy for me to put my Spanish lessons off to the side and just speak my own language. My host mother tried in vain to get me to practice, but since I didn’t have to, I didn’t. Now, years later, I recognize that this was not the right choice to make. If I could go back to my 16-year old self, I would change the outcome of that choice. I would take the route of the hero.

There is vulnerability in making effort to fit in to a new life where everything is foreign, either subtle or drastic. I didn’t have to make a mistake by saying an inappropriate word, or joke. By not participating in the language, I got on well enough. But, I did not fit in, because in foregoing language, I missed out on more than met the eye. I did not make deep connections with those I met, I lost out on cultural subtleties, and just got a glimpse of the surface. To be a hero, we first must give effort to taking chances as they come. We must allow ourselves the knowledge that we will not be perfect and that perfection is in imperfection. Our language will never be perfect; no one’s language ever is. Our work history is never going to be ‘just right’ to apply for the job we want. Our lives are not going to be as interesting as those that surround us. But we have to try.

North Shore Writers Festival

The West Vancouver Memorial Library is hosting the North Shore Writers Festival this year. Carol Cram, experienced instructor and published author, will be hosting an interactive workshop that will teach you to use the concept of ‘The Hero’s Journey’ in your own storyline (to be held April 18th). This is your chance. Be your own hero and attend something that you know you would love to attend, even if you think you’re not ready. Maybe you’ll see the hero I see and write about it. That would be pretty amazing. Heroic even.

Let me know how it goes.

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Library Community Connections

Anyone who thinks Libraries are dying hasn’t been in one for a while. Every time I set foot in one, it is buzzing with activity no matter the day of week or time of day.

My most recent venture took my kids and I to the Fraser Valley Regional Library in Maple Ridge. It was a cool day and perfect to be indoors. The girls love wandering through the books and choosing a few to sit down and read while there. They love wandering through the play area and looking for their favourite puppet (the monkey was nowhere to be found this day). They love playing with the alphabet on the magnet wall. It gives us time to just be. A space to relax outside of the same four walls we call home.

As we read, played and learned, I noticed that the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Association was hosting their 7th Annual Spring Treasure Hunt. Participating Businesses hide little plastic eggs in their shops for kids to find. Once the kids find them, they get a passport stamp along with a little ‘prize’ to take home with them. Once they collect all 20 stamps, they can submit their passport to win a gift basket. The kids were giddy with excitement as they began to hunt for eggs in the library. Suddenly, our day changed to one of excitement by hunting treasure.

DMRBA

This is the first year that the library has participated. Interestingly, the Shop Maple Ridge Facebook Page posted “We have had an overwhelming number of participants for this year’s DOWNTOWN MAPLE RIDGE SPRING TREASURE HUNT!!!!” Now, if there’s ever an argument that libraries are slowing down, I would think that this would be the counterargument. So many more folks in the community are engaging with the small businesses BECAUSE the library is participating. While I am happy to hear that the library has bolstered this initiative (and sales?) for the downtown businesses, I do have to say I’m a little sad that our chances of winning have significantly shrunk ;).

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Libraries are the hub of our communities. This is the info-centre. This is the location people go for for information, for events, for courses, for computer help, for books and, of course, for community.

What has your library taught you about your community lately?

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TED Talks at Your Library

TED

I have to admit, TEDtalks are not something that I watch much, but when I do, I am inspired/motivated to be a better person. Something simple, like a message to use just one paper towel when drying my hands, has changed the way in which I do things. This is the thing about TED; it demonstrates that I can help any cause on a personal level.

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. You want to learn about an innovation that will transform the oceans of the world? A TED Talks can show you. Do you want to understand how introverts are really strong beings? A TED Talk will tell you. Do you want to see how entertainment can save children? A TED Talk will give you a moment to think about things in a new light, all in 18 minutes or less. TED Talks make you rethink what you’re doing and how you can improve.

Tickets to TED Talks are out of the normal person’s price reach and by a vigorous application process. As many of us are unable to afford this, nor meet the requirements, we have to wait for the videos to be uploaded to YouTube to watch them. This year’s event in Vancouver looks to be ‘the most provocative, invigorating, mind-shifting TED yet.’ The theme is Truth and Dare.

Truth. They take the following widely held beliefs and examine true or false:

— The news is bad.
— Nature is good.
— Technology is no fun any more.
— Growing inequality is inevitable.
— Privacy matters more than transparency.
— Our kids will be worse off than we are.
— We’ve lost the battle against Big Brother.
— Physics is becoming incomprehensible.
— We’ve left it too late to prevent a climate crisis.
— The political right has run out of decent ideas.
— Robots will destroy more jobs than they create.
— The genomics revolution arrived too late to help me.

And Dare. Who has the ideas that will create a future that we actually want? ‘They’re out there. And we need to hear from there like never before.’

Lucky for us, we can watch these events through live streaming at these libraries:

One TED talk can impact your life for the better. Will you be taking time out of your day to visit your local library? It may just change you.

https://conferences.ted.com/TED2015/program/

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Spring Break

Spring Break. I’m currently doing the last minute scramble to find some kind of fun activity for my children to do other than go to daycare. School is out for them, but work is still on for me. Lucky for me, the libraries have a lot to offer! I’ve compiled some (not all) of the workshops being offered. If you want to see the full offering, click on the library name and you will be directed to their online calendar.

Spring Break

Burnaby Public Library
Spring Break Puppet Palooza at Cameron Branch – March 17th
Spring Break Crafts at McGill – March 19th

Coquitlam Public Library
Origami for Kids – March 19th

Fraser Valley Regional Library
Collage-a-thon! at Maple Ridge Branch – March 18th
Magician Matthew Johnson at Langley Library – March 17th

New Westminster Public Library
Fine Art Mash-Up for Teens – March 10th
Spring Break Kids’ Craft – March 11th

North Vancouver City Library
Paper Art & Games for Tweens – March 9th
Button Making and Collage for Tweens – March 16th
Spring Break Celebration – March 20th

North Vancouver District Public Library
Puppet Show: The Story of the Pacific Herring – March 19th
Lego Madness – March 12th
Wonderland Craft & Movie – March 19th

Port Moody Public Library
Family Code Camp – March 10 & 17
Movie Madness – March 11 – 20 (Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays)

Richmond Public Library
Board Game Drop In – March 16th
Chess Club for Kids – March 11th
Coding4Fun – March 19th

Surrey Libraries
Mad Science Strawberry Hill Branch – March 12th
Kids Computer Club at Guilford Branch – March 18th

Vancouver Public Library
Button Making – March 9th at the Kitsilano Branch
Board Games – March 9th at the Mount Pleasant Branch
Kid Zone – March 10th at the Terry Salman Branch
Button Making – March 10th at the Central Branch
Lego Block Party – March 11th at the Hastings Branch
Coding for Kids – March 11th at the Firehall Branch
Thumbprint Art – March 111th at the Marpole Branch
Funny Book Bingo – March 12th at the Hastings Branch

There’s also a ton of activities that are non-Library related, but with low cost, such as:

Burnaby Village Museum presents Spring Break Scavenger Hunt: Games

VanDuesen Gardens offers free admission for kids 12 & under for the month of March

Free Family Programs at the Vancouver Art Gallery for Spring Break

Spring Break at the Cannery in Steveston

Have anything to add to the list? Leave it in the comments section below!

Have a great Spring Break everyone!

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Finding our Place

I remember, once, I walked home from a shift at the restaurant I worked in Toronto. It was around 10pm and, as I walked along, I took notice of my surroundings. I always take notice of my surroundings, but on this particular night, I really ‘felt’ my surroundings. I was keenly aware of where I was, my place in the world, in Toronto, amongst these city lights, in this moment; entirely present.

I noticed the Mount Pleasant Cemetery – it’s history. I noticed the endlessness of the city lights. I noticed the business of the traffic – the coming and goings of so many, going from here to there, all being a part of something, but also being a part of me and my life. I noticed the stationary store, closed for the night, but inviting me to visit all the same. I noticed the way the sidewalk gave way to the root of the tree that broke it in two and would break it further in years to come. This small town girl was in Toronto. Living. A small piece of something larger.

I think, sometimes, it’s hard to appreciate where we are. After moving from Toronto, back to BC, my day-to-day life became so busy and full. It only got more challenging as I gained more responsibility: having kids, moving forward in my career, taking care of our loved ones. Life carried me along, willingly or unwillingly. I had no choice but to move along.

Not too long ago, I was given an opportunity to go to a conference in Las Vegas. The moment I was offered this opportunity, I decided I would make the trek to see the Grand Canyon – in a day. Many questioned my sanity – it’s a 4.5 hour drive in one direction. By the time I would arrive, it would be time to turn around and head back. And yet, I needed to do this. Because life gets too busy. Because I needed to see something larger than myself. Because I needed to have a moment where I was present. Because I needed to feel my place and I needed to be put in my place. I needed to be reminded of my smallness in the world. And so I went.

The drive was long. I was happy. Then tired. Then excited. Then I realized I had to drive back and was exhausted at the thought of it. I kept going.

When I arrived, I saw some vehicles pulled over to my left. I could sense an empty space just waiting to be viewed. I refused to look. I pulled my car over. Keeping my eyes to the ground, I walked to the ledge. Once there, I looked. My breath caught. You can see the Grand Canyon online. You can see the Grand Canyon in a postcard. But you can’t ‘see’ the Grand Canyon until you’re standing there ‘feeling’ it at the same time. Feeling your place. Feeling your smallness. Feeling present. Feeling happy that I took the time to feel so small in this vastness.

What did I take away from this? Life is bigger than what we know it to be. We make the choices we make, but we have to remind ourselves of those choices rather than get caught up in the day to day. We have to remember that life is a gift and that we have a choice to treat it as such. We need to appreciate what we have been given. We have to step back and breath and look at the big picture to appreciate what happens in the smaller pictures within. We need to be grateful and thankful. I stood there and I felt this. I felt both vulnerable and invincible. I felt like everything was possible

I recognize life is hard. We make choices to move away from our families, from our friends, from our communities, with the promise of a new life. It’s hard. We don’t realize how hard it is until we have life thrown at us and we crave what we had – our supports, our community, our physical landscapes. We can try to go back, but it will never be the same. So, we make our new communities. We start with what we have.

GC3        GC2

As silly as it sounds, we have our libraries. These little buildings are our communities. We share some ideals with each of the folks who walk through these doors. We sit on these couches and put our feet up with our favourite read. We peruse the shelves for the literature that is home to us. We go to the storytimes, the workshops, and the information sessions and we become a part of something that we have helped create. Our place in the world; a place in the world for our children.

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Happy Lunar New Year!

Happy Lunar New Year! February 19th marks the Year of the Sheep for Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Japanese families throughout the world. It is a time for families to be together. Wherever people are in the world, they come home to celebrate this festival with their families.

You may have observed some visual references as the Lunar New Year approaches. Lucky decorations have adorned streets, buildings and houses, such as red lanterns hanging in streets and businesses and red colour paper-cuts and couplets with common themes of ‘good fortune’ or ‘happiness,’ ‘wealth’ and ‘longevity.

Vancouver’s Chinatown holds a fantastic Chinese New Year Parade. Two years ago, I took my girls for the first time. They loved it. I loved it. I loved the splendor of the costumes, the music, and I loved the dragons. I learned that businesses invite the dragons to come to their storefronts to bring their business luck for the year to come. This parade allowed my children and I to participate and learn by watching.

DSC_0417

There are other activities throughout the lower mainland to get you knowing more about this:

Tourism Surrey’s Chinese New Year Celebration.

The Vancouver Public Library Hilcrest Branch: Lunar New Year Celebration at Hillcrest

The Vancouver Public Library Central Branch: Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy Lunar New Year! Stories of Food and Family

Richmond BC’s Aberdeen Centre’s Golden Dragon and Lion Dance and Aberdeen Centre’s Chines New Year Weekend Celebrations

The West Vancouver Memorial Library is hosting a Lunar New Year Concert

North Vancouver City Library offers a Chinese New Year Celebration

Burnaby heights is hosting Lunar New Year

Burnaby Public Library is hosting Lunar New Year Storytime and Craft

Have a happy Lunar New Year. Wishing you a year of prosperity, happiness and good fortune.

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