Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Where...Not How

"How you get there is not as important as where you want to go." - courtesy of my horoscope today. Inspiration can come from the oddest of places.

So true though. I have been working myself up this past week with "what if" after "what if" questions. All of which (in this particular case) are designed to run interference with my plans and sabotage my goals. How easy it would be to say I can't move ahead on any of my ideas because I need to be here for my family. It's a good reason to be around, don't get me wrong, but it comes down to why I'm choosing to do so; to the intention behind my choices.

If I am sticking around out of guilt, fear or obligation (all are really about the same thing, by the way: fear), then I am staying put for the wrong reasons. My parents, my dad in particular, would never want me to do something out of a sense of obligation. Not ever.

If I am sticking around because I want to be here, making the most of my time with my family and I'm able to maintain my sense of self at the same time, then that's a choice I can live with...and so can my family.

But I don't think that's the case. I think I am hiding behind the situation, putting off planning, putting off doing, putting off me because I have no idea how it will all happen. And it's easier to park the plans vs enter into uncharted territory. Sad but true. Yes, sad.

It has been true in my life - and perhaps a few others out there - that each and every time I set a goal for myself, I am tested to see just how much I really want to achieve it. I think these "tests", as it were, are there for good reason: to challenge our resolve. How much do we want what say we want? And how much more satisfying is it all when we do overcome those hurdles?

If I've ever wanted something badly enough, I've always made it happen. Plain and simple. But somewhere along the line I lost my resolve. I got burnt out (let's be honest, I allowed myself to be burned down) so I dug my heels in and stopped growing. I wanted a rest. I didn't want to be the one always responsible for keeping everything going. I didn't want to be the one saying, yet again, "I'm sorry, I can't make it...again" to my friends and family. I didn't want to be the one who had the fancy title, no life and who ended up in hospital for not taking care of herself any longer.

I will say that the shift in gears has served me well. I was surprised to find myself growing in ways I never anticipated and it did allow me to catch my breath. I have a true understanding now of what balance looks and feels like to me and I can quite safely say that I never have before.

But this phase has now come to an end. As it currently stands, this safety zone I've created for myself is no longer serving me. I'm making excuses not to get on with my life and excuses, as a mentor of mine shared with me, are not reasons. At their root, excuses are all about fear.

I read somewhere that every action we take is based on one of two things: love or fear. It seems so elemental. I can't tell you how much time I've spent reflecting on this particular idea but it's something that has stuck with me because I believe it to be true. If I peel enough layers of the onion away, I always get to one of these two driving forces at the core of every decision I make, every action I take. Every time.

I also know myself well enough to recognize that when I start to feel restless like I am, it is usually because I am acting out of fear and ignoring a part of myself that is trying to make itself known. I can't speak for anyone else but this is a clear warning sign for me to pay attention to what's going on below the surface. That, and the binging on book purchases (7 in the past week and a half alone...8 actually - one was free when you buy 3). Both clear signs that I am trying to distract myself from something that makes me uncomfortable. Good grief, for all the books I've bought I could be halfway around the world by now!

There's a whole lot more on this particular train of thought but that's all I can handle today. Off to hike Grouse Mountain (another thing I've been putting off for myself for far too long). Talk about needing to keep focused on where I'm going and not on how I'm getting up there!

Ciao for now,


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Glorious Distractions

I look forward to my Sunday mornings all week. I relish the time I have upon waking...before I have to do anything of consequence...to sit in bed, enjoy my beautiful ocean view, my morning coffee and a good book for 2 or 3 hours...all before many are even awake on a Sunday morning. It's one my guiltiest pleasure these days (the other being enjoying french fries as a main course - any course).

This morning, however, I'm having trouble focusing on the one book I'm trying to finish by Tuesday night's book club. It's an excellent book but heavy and I'm needing something light and funny and...distracting. So of course I pick up Marian Keyes. Perfect.

As I'm laughing along with her witty dialogue, I can't help but laugh at myself and my foolish behaviour last night. Since yesterday was a tough day, I decided to stay in last night, grab a bottle of wine, order a pizza and watch the double flix presentation on W tv of John Cusack movies. Love it. I don't care how many times I've seen Serendipity, I still get goosebumps every single time I watch it. And Must Love Dogs is charming. You can't go wrong with either flick when you need a cozy night in (and it was raining to boot, even better). Clearly, I live alone.

On one of the hundred commercial breaks, I start reading through my Twitter feed from the day. Twitter - what a wonderfully perfect distraction tool. It was, of course, until this past week where there seemed to be one death announcement after another. Every second comment seemed to be about death. Death this and rest in peace that. I don't mean to be insensitive but the whole allure of Twitter for me has been as a distraction from thinking about my dad's health crisis and death in particular. So this week, with all these terrible announcements, I should have known something was coming to take me away from my happy place of self imposed, opposite of serious, distractions.

Anyway, there amongst all the sad news, was a posting from John Cusack himself. At least I hope it's John Cusack. I only think it's him because Perez Hilton said it was (oh brother...I can barely stand how pathetic I sound). Whatever...the point here is that he said he was in Vancouver looking for the perfect location.

Well, here I am, watching the man on tv, living in Vancouver, and he (possibly) is right here in town. Could the signs be any clearer? I just finished watching Serendipity for crying out loud! I have to write back something...anything. Not to would be like defying the universe - or so my red wine induced state had me thinking. So I did.

In the light of day, it does seem pretty silly, but isn't that what life should be? Kind of silly, a lot less serious and a little more spontaneous? I'd like to think so. I need to think so...especially after yesterday.

Call it a distraction from reality but today, with the sun shining again, I am glad I believe in the possibility of a little magic and of better times. And I am glad there are plenty of movies and bottles of red wine to support my belief.

Ciao for now,


Saturday, June 27, 2009


I had a great week last week. Excellent week. I had a weekend! Doesn't sound like something worth noting but after spending so much time in the hospital with my dad and then visiting he and mom at home, checking in, ensuring - with my own eyes - that all was well...I had a weekend all to myself (except for that Father's Day visit I snuck in, of course).

My weekend back among the rest of the world consisted of a wonderfully long leisurely brunch with a friend, a movie out with another friend, a great Father's Day and a fantastic Coldplay concert. My definition of a perfect weekend...and I was finally relaxing. I had been on high alert for more than 4 weeks...my body giving way the week before when my back finally gave out to the build up of all that pressure. But that passed too.

I had a really good week at work. We closed another deal. We were busy and the days were flying by. And in this economy, that's saying something. I made plans. I made plans, people! After refusing so many invitations the past few months so I could be with the family, I was genuinely enjoying the company of friends again. I was relaxing even more. Still, all the while, checking in on dad and having lengthy chats and silly giggles with mom. Ahhhh...yes, this is what life was like before his diagnosis...before his complicated surgery...before everything changed.

Thursday night. Great talk with dad over the phone. He sounds so good. He's even peppy today. I can't help but smile through the entire conversation. It's like it was before. We're laughing about something. I get off the phone, feeling full and satisfied and...dare I say...happy.

Friday. It's a wonderfully productive day at the office. Satisfying. And after a week in a fog, this is what I've been longing for. I meet some great friends for lunch...which lingers quite a lovely long while. I finish up everything I planned to before leaving the office and am out by 5pm. The sun is shining as I walk home. I'm smiling...exhausted...and so ready for a quiet night in; a long sleep tonight.

I make my daily call to the folks. It's a little later than I usually do. Not sure why...probably because I've been slow getting dinner on...definitely tired from this week. They're not picking up so I leave a message. They must be having dinner or be sitting out on the deck.

A few hours later the call comes. Mom starts out strong...asks how my day was. Gotta love her. And then it comes...silence..."Dear...it's not been a good 24 hours...."...more silence...and then I hear her crying. F*ck.

I do my best not to inundate her with questions but I'm confused. I need to know. I want to know everything at once. Dad was his best in weeks just 24 hours ago. What could have happened? I didn't let it occur to me that anything could change overnight. I let my guard down and now I was having the wind knocked out of me.

The story unfolds and now I'm doing my best to just breathe and hold back tears. She went out to grab a new prescription for him (literally across the street), came back and found him on the floor, grey and clammy. He was conscious but in an excruciating amount of pain. She called 911 and he was rushed to Emergency.

It's Saturday. He's now home and resting. They don't know what happened. Change in medication? Complications of his surgery? Infection? Don't know. Troubling.

As mom said, there are no normal days anymore. There are no normal days anymore.

I've already made mention in my blog that my dad is on a long road back to health. This blog is not about one particular part of that road but rather a reminder (to me) that these calls - these experiences - are part of my new reality. These experiences, which I don't even bear the brunt of - my dad and my mom do - are our family's new reality. Everything has changed.

I gave myself such a hard time today for being out enjoying myself when (I didn't know) my dad was struggling in the Emergency ward. Logically, I know that's not fair. I know I'm being hard on myself. I know I couldn't have known and I know why he and mom made the decision not to call my brother or I until they knew what was going on. But this is a tough one to swallow.

How do I go out and enjoy myself, dream about my future travels and all the living I want to do (dad's present situation being the catalyst for such thinking) when this is what could be happening? I know guilt is pointless - it's of absolutely no good to either party - but I can't bear the thought of mom walking in on what she did and having to deal with what she did all on her own. I can't bear the thought of how scared my dad must have been lying there on the floor with no one there to help him, not knowing what was going on or how to stop the pain. I can't bear it.

There has been much more good than bad that has surfaced through my family's health struggles. We have so much to be thankful for and I am grateful - consciously so - every single day for all the positives that have come out of this. But I gotta tell you, sometimes it is awfully difficult to be positive and this just happens to be one of those occasions. And I write when I need to vent; when I need to understand what is going on in my head; when I need to try and make sense of things; when I should probably be reaching out to one of my many friends to talk about all of this and yet struggle to do so. And so I write.

Tomorrow is another day and it's one day at a time...


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Books + Authors...Oh My!

There are few things better than a great book in my mind. One of them would be meeting the author of a book you just couldn't put down.

I have had the good fortune and pleasure of meeting a couple of my favorite authors. I network for a living...what can I say?

So it came as a very big thrill to be invited to support the upcoming Writer's Festival being held in Vancouver this coming October. And when I say thrill, I mean grin from ear-to-ear (teeth showing), where do I sign up???, awkward happy dance in front of people I don't know (at least I waited until I was out of the building to do that), write about it in my blog - thrill. And when I say "support", of course I mean volunteer and, quite likely, working my ass off for very long hours with no pay. Will I do it? Of course I will! Have you learned nothing about me yet?!

It's an incredible opportunity to meet and schmooze with some outstanding writers from around the world. I wouldn't miss it!

At last year's event, my favorite question of the authors I met was how they found the courage to put their body of work out to the public to be judged and hacked and pulled apart. Too bad I was busy behaving like a star struck, old school, rock band groupie to remember their answers. Not some of my better moments. Very sad really. But excited, nonetheless, to have another shot at hearing their responses this year!

Good times.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

To My Dad on Father's Day

I've been reflecting a lot these days on all I've learned (and continue to be learning) from my dad. This brief entry does not come close to encapsulating it all, but it is a start.

Dad, you have taught me to ask questions and to be curious. You've shown me how enjoyable it is to learn; how satisfying it is to work hard. You've taught me how important it is to find enjoyment in my work, how not to quit and to know the difference when it is time to move on. You've shown me the "value of a dollar" - painful as it was - and you've taught me to be a kinder, gentler person, less judging of others. You've shown me patience, honesty and how to be impeccable to my word...and most dear to me, dad, you've taught me the meaning of family.

I love you, dad, more than I can adequately describe. Here's to many more Father's Days and many, many more lessons to come.

Happy Father's Day,


Friday, June 19, 2009

My Answer

It would be ridiculous of me to be curious about your answer to my earlier question if I wasn't forthcoming with an answer of my own. But by putting my answer down I am acutely aware that it will then be "out there" and that I may actually need to act on it. Quite a concept, I realize. Sort of the point of my entire blog and still I resist. It's in my bio for God's sake. Not likely to be a surprise to anyone and yet...resistance.

It all comes down to that pesky brat 'fear.' It can tag along with you everywhere like an unrelenting younger sibling who fights for your attention while you're trying to watch Bo & Hopes' 9th 'Wedding of the Year' on Days of Our Lives back in the elementary school days. Yet now you can't just call your mom to get rid of him...I mean it - the fear, of course.

Fear of change, fear of disappointing others and fear of making waves in this particular case.

I'm an intelligent individual. I know the fear is lurking there. I know it's irrational and, quite frankly, ridiculous that I'm hesitant to write down what I would like to be doing with my life. How, in my ever lovin' world, am I going to make 'it' happen if I don't write it down, talk about it and start looking into how it can become my reality? Well, that's simple. I won't. I know this to be true because I've tested the theory out sufficiently already. Perhaps you have as well?

I am very clear that nothing comes from nothing.

So to cease and desist with my procrastinating, the answer to my very own question about what one thing I want to have done before I move on from this lovely life o' mine is, in a word: explore.

To explore:

1. to traverse or range over (a region, area, etc.) for the purpose of discovery.
2. to look into closely; scrutinize; examine.
3. to investigate into.
4. to search for; search out.

I want to be traveling the world, writing about my adventures, the people I meet and the new experiences I am enjoying. I want to find a way to transfer what I'm learning into something I can share with others. I want to be involved, present and fully engaged in the experience. I want to be smiling - a lot. I want to be sharing my story, of who I am - maybe more specifically, why I am who I am - and mostly, I want to be learning the evolving stories of others.

I want to be confirming my belief that while we may live far apart and have very different experiences, there is still more about us that is similar than that which separates us (now how's that for objective research?). And I want to try to share/tell that larger story.

To who? Good question. Who knows? Maybe just to myself...my own little science project. Maybe to my non-existent (pardon me, two strong) blog audience. Maybe to youth, perhaps to politicians (likely not), or maybe to a blank sheet of paper. But I will be sharing the stories and the lessons I am lucky enough to learn along the way (Wow, did that sound like a commitment? Sure sounded like one to me).

I am a huge fan of self-reflection and enjoy the process of exploring the depths of who and what I am; how I have become, well, me. I'm always seeking to understand. And now I want to turn my attention outward and learn more about the world and the people around me...beyond my home in Vancouver and North America, the only continent I have explored to date (and to say I've "explored' North America may be a wee bit generous).

I want to search for the common ground that, I believe, exists everywhere around and between us.

I have been very fortunate having had the opportunity to do and experience such amazing things in my life already, and I am both excited and nervous about embarking on this new adventure.

Now that it's "out there" that's it for me. I'm spent.


Question of the Day (make that everyday)

If you could do one thing before you leave this life, what would it be? More importantly, why aren't you (meaning me) doing it?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Say What?

Yes, well...tonight has been an interesting evening. I found myself doing something I truly NEVER...EVER do: my nails. Perhaps that's not exactly the truth. I think when I was 4 or 5 I might have asked my parents for nail polish on my birthday but since then, I can pretty safely say no, haven't done them.

I've just never been a girl into make-up and nails...forget polish and emery boards. The most attention my nails get is a rough cut with clippers when I start to see white emerge at my fingertips. For me, less has always been best. Couldn't tell you why, that's just me.

So tonight, when I find myself spending not an inconsequential amount of time doting on my nails, you can begin to appreciate the strangeness of the situation. And the only reason I even have the accoutrements for such a job is because at some point in time my mom gave them to me as a gift, perhaps hoping that would excite me into doing them on a more regular basis.

So back to why I am doing my nails in the first place (...oh yes, it gets worse). I'm sitting there, looking at my newly done nails (which, I might add, are done in a simple coat of clear polish...no shocking shade of fuchsia or bubblegum pink. I can hear mom now...something about "a little colour") and I'm thinking they're not bad. I like them. And then I think about how lovely my hand would look with a very special ring of mine.

It's an heirloom ring I came across, fell in love with and bought about 13 years ago. My ex-husband hid the ring away until he proposed and so it became my engagement ring. When we got married, we decided to buy a matching wedding ring and band, setting aside the heirloom. When we divorced four years ago, all three rings were put away and have been left to collect dust in one of those 'special' tucked away spots that eventually you know you'll forget about altogether, it being such a 'special' hiding place and all.

I don't know why I pulled it out tonight (or how I even remembered where I had put it), but here it is, on my manicured right hand, sparkling back at me (well not exactly 'sparkling'...could use a polish...you get the picture).

It kind of ties into the whole 'live life now...go after what I want...get out of my comfort zone'...place I'm in. In the spirit of "build it and they will come" I realized (with a bit of a shock) I was subconsciously preparing my nails for another ring (one day - not today, not even tomorrow - so no need to get all silly on me now). Sometimes I wonder about myself. And that's all I'll say about my crazy behaviour.

Except for...

Silly? No question...absurd really.

Hurting anyone? Absolutely not.

Anything to it? Well how fun would that be if there was? And if not, I have a beautiful ring on my finger that I will enjoy every day.

Life is short. Wear your party dress!

What have you tucked away that you could be enjoying today?

Ciao for now,


Sunday, June 14, 2009


You will come to learn about me that I read...a lot. To say I am an avid reader is, according to my friends, a bit of an understatement. I can have two or three books going at any given time. Perhaps one gripping work of fiction, one relating to my profession and one on a social/political issue I find myself engrossed in. I participate in not one, but two, book clubs and have fully embraced my book-nerd status these days.

Today one book has my full attention: "Six Months in Sudan: A Young Doctor in a War-torn Village" by James Maskalyk. This book is his account of one of his missions with Doctors Without Borders that takes him far from his home in Toronto to a remote place in Sudan called Abyei.

I was captured by his very first words and have had a difficult time putting it down. James writes, "People are hungry to be brought closer to the world, even its hard parts. I went to Sudan, and am writing about it again, because I believe that which separates action from inaction is the same thing that separates my friends from Sudan. It is not indifference. It is distance. May it fall away."

I don't know how to communicate how powerful these sentiments are to me. As I reflect back on my life and my career, I am struck with the realization that there has been a powerful thread connecting it all. The power of story. The power it has to teach; to genuinely connect people; to bring them closer together; to break down barriers and silos that exist between them; to create empathy and understanding; to create common ground, even in the most improbable of situations. Story creates possibilities for change. It's the stuff of goosebumps!

Coincidentally (or not...as I'm no longer a believer in coincidence), I was having a conversation with a long-time friend over dinner the other night about this very subject: the power of story. She has some exciting ideas of how it can help non-profit organizations to make their cause more compelling to potential donors and inspire action, how corporations can use their story to market themselves more effectively and differentiate themselves from their competitors, and how individuals can use their own story as a personal branding tool. It got my heart and mind racing about the impact story has had in my life and back to thinking about James' words.

Today I also wanted to share a piece that he quotes in the opening of his book. A piece that clearly resonated for him and literally jumped off the page at me. It seems to articulate what I have been feeling lately - my sense of urgency...why I am drawn to the stories so far away from my home in Vancouver...why I read about them so excitedly and why I write to understand and change my own behaviour...and why, I am Primed and Ready to accept some major changes in my own life.

It is part of a 1975 commencement address at the University of California given by another compelling author, Joan Didion.

"I'm not telling you to make the world better, because I don't think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I'm just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. Try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment. And if you ask me why you should bother to do that, I could tell you that the grave's a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace. Nor do they sing there, or write, or argue, or see the tidal bore on the Amazon, or touch their children. And that's what there is to do and get it while you can and good luck at it."

That's my daily dose of inspiration!

For more information on Maskalyk's book and his work, please visit: http://www.sixmonthsinsudan.com/.

Ciao for now,


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Primed & Ready For What???

I'm feeling a sense of urgency every day now it seems...like somehow time is running out to get on with things. Specifically, to get on with the business of living my life.

My dad has just come home from weeks in the hospital with a very long road ahead of him. My sister-in-(common)law is awaiting a call that will send her back to the hospital for her second brain surgery. A very close friend of mine is grieving the untimely death of a friend.

We all know that life is short and so incredibly uncertain and yet so many of us (speaking of myself primarily) continue to play it safe and put off plans to enjoy life. There are a number of reasons why I have been playing it safe over the last two years. I know them all intimately. I understand each of them. And while they served me in the short term, life is giving me the kick I need to wake up and recognize that they are no longer doing so. The fact is, I am (we all are) running out of time.

I am starting a book by Stephen Levine called "A Year To Live: How To Live This Year as If It Were Your Last" (http://www.amazon.com/Year-Live-This-Were-Your/dp/0609801945). If ever there was a year to read it, it would be this one.

I'll be writing about my thoughts related to this book and about the changes I decide to make moving forward. Let the adventure begin! Care to join me?

More to come...

Sonja (a.k.a. your clogger)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Yes, I am a "clogger"

I was having lunch with a friend today...who just happens to be my ex-husband's common law girlfriend...and told her I had started this blog. I was sharing this with her to (hopefully) give her the little push I think she needs to start writing publicly as well. "As well" being somewhat relative as I have only shared with a few friends that I've started a blog, not the actual address of said blog just yet.

Anyway, back to my friend. She's smart, witty and has a great sense of humour. She's let me read a couple of very funny pieces she's written in the past (namely about my psychotic cat, Luca, who funny enough - depending on who you ask, that is - stayed with my ex and is now essentially her bundle of joy to deal with). I digress.

Due to my closet blogging status, she aptly called me a "clogger"...a term which must exist out there somewhere. If by some strange reason it does not, well then she and I will happily claim it as our very own invention.

Signing off as your clogger (...for the moment, anyway).

Thursday, June 4, 2009


I feel I should somehow introduce myself, seeing as this is my first post and all. I'm new to the blogging world and am still not sure how I feel about it to be quite honest. I have been an avid writer for many years (does not mean a very good one, just to be clear) but always in the closet, if you will. So why now? And why did I choose this particular title for my blog? Well, that would be due to some recent life events that have challenged me to step away from my comfort zone...the universe's not so subtle way of saying "it's time, Sonja." Judging by the severity of these life events, it's likely been "time" for a long while but somewhere along the line my stubborn self missed the subtle road signs and had to be hit over the head with some fairly life altering, denial shattering, perspective giving life events to get the message.

Message received, thank you very much.

And so here we are, Primed & Ready to accept the message and start living the life I really want for myself. It's time to do the things I've been saying I want to do for far too long. It's time to wake up and realize...really realize...how short and fragile life is. It's time to get back in the game and stop playing it so safe. It's time to embark on a new adventure...or half a dozen or so.

With nothing to lose and no time to waste, here I go...Primed & Ready to begin blogging about my life, my experiences, my adventures...which will be an adventure in itself...and, I hope, will help me to remain accountable to what I put down in this public forum.

For those who trip across my blog, welcome. I hope to keep things entertaining and real. I feel the need to forewarn you, however, that I write primarily to gain a better understanding of myself, not necessarily with an audience in mind...although if I ever want to actually be a writer of some substance I suppose I will have to do something about that. Anyhow, writing has always been my vehicle for self-awareness so I have no idea how it will translate into this forum but I do have a sense it will lead me in a new direction or two.

Taking it one day at a time...