My Book Club Adventures

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I’m a WFHM (work from home mom) so I don’t get out much these days. I take my grandmother grocery shopping once a week. I go to church on Sunday (and Sunday school for the kids, which is awesome because the other mom is also a knitter and we sit and knit and visit and it’s awesome). But mostly I stay home and talk to my husband or my kids. I don’t even have a cat.

I was starting to feel starved for human interaction that wasn’t my husband or my kids but I’m also a writer and an introvert so it’s hard for me to connect with new people. I decided it would be easier to connect with people over something I loved so I started a book club.

First, I went to a local business, in this case Driven 2 Sew quilt shop. I chose them because they have a book shelf in the shop for local authors to sell their books. The owner was super excited to host a book club. My husband works evenings so there was only 1 night of the week that worked for me. Fortunately it worked for her as well and we were off and running. We decided to make our book club unique and feature only books by local authors. We set up a Facebook group to post the reading schedule and cancellation notices and started recruiting.

We have 26 members on our Facebook group. Some are local authors who are there for updates on when we read their book and some will only be casual drop in members, but I figured if 5-10 of those 26 showed up each week we’d be in business.

The first week we had no prereadings, instead we looked at picture books. It was an awesome icebreaker. We had 6 people including me.

The second week we did the first 100 or so pages of Charlotte’s Rescue by Violet Moore. We talked for about an hour and a half about characters and setting and pacing. We asked questions. We laughed. We talked about our own lives sometimes instead of the book. It was good.

Next week we’ll be doing the next hundred or so pages of the book and the week after we’ll discuss the ending and have a visit from the author. I’ll have my question prompts ready but we’re a chatty group and we need very little prompting. I’m just there to give the group direction, and to bask in the discussion that arises.

I think that we will end up with a core group of 5 or 6 with another 5 or 6 coming and going as books appeal to them or they have time. And this is good. We all get the chance to talk. We all get the chance to ask questions. And most importantly we all appear to be having fun.

Sometimes it’s not about finding your group or finding your village, it’s about going out and building one.

Starting the Year with Hope

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I have a big problem. It’s a problem with me, with my behaviour, with my reactions. I don’t like the way I act, or react, a lot of the time. New year, fresh start, right?

It started when I went on birth control a few years ago. Like clockwork, the third Wednesday of my cycle I would go apeshit on everyone. I screamed and cried and got really emotional. I took things way too personally. Everyone was out to get me. There was no point in trying anymore. I was a bad mother, a horrible wife, and a complete failure as a person.

Four days later I switched to the little white pill instead of the little pink pill. Another day and boom, completely rational me returned.

Okay, it didn’t start out that way. But by the time I stopped taking the pill it was clockwork. Predictable. I’d throw a fit and then come out of my bedroom all sheepish “It’s that Wednesday. I’m sorry.”

Finally my husband said, “Stop taking the pill. I want my wife back.”

So I stopped taking the pill. Problem solved, right?

Apparently not. Because what we failed to take into account was that negative thought patterns are habit forming and addicting. It’s just so damn easy to give up. It’s easy to believe that people are out to get you, that everyone is judging you. I’d get these anxiety flare-ups reading my Facebook feed. I dread getting “so-and-so replied to your comment” notifications. I was still reacting poorly to my husband and children. Too often I was thinking “What’s the point? I’m going to fail/lose/screw-up anyways.” Too often I was thinking “I can’t even get this right. Why am I such a failure?”

I was forgetting to let go. I was forgetting that making a mistake, or a bad call, didn’t make me a bad person. Making a mistake doesn’t equal failing. And these little things were snow balling – I’d burn supper, and then the kids would almost miss the bus, and then I’d forget to do the dishes, and then, and then, and then, and then. And then I was a complete failure. I couldn’t get anything right. See? Here’s the list. Here’s proof.

I needed validation for damn near everything I did and one misstep would shatter it all and I’d be back to square one.

I got in an argument with my husband the other night. Apparently I had taken a joke too far and it was no longer funny, it had hurt him. Oh how badly I wanted to rage and defend myself. It was a joke, I hadn’t meant to hurt him, here’s all the ways it was a joke but also true. I didn’t want to be wrong. I didn’t want to be at fault.

But I stopped. I thought about it. Had I meant to hurt him? Did I want to hurt him? NO. Had I hurt him? YES. Simple then. I apologized for hurting him. I apologized for taking the joke too far, for not being more aware of his discomfort. And that felt good.

But I still had all those other feelings bottled up inside of me. So I got out of bed and sat on the couch for a while. I separated myself from the situation and gave myself time and space so I could process.

This one mistake didn’t define me. It didn’t make me a bad wife or a bad person. He hadn’t forced me to apologize, he wasn’t controlling me. He hadn’t won and I hadn’t lost because this wasn’t a competition. It was done. I was going to let it go. And when I went back to bed I felt much better about everything.

It’s still too easy to slip into a defeatist attitude. But I am determined to change. I am determined to get back to the person I was 5 years ago. I am determined to undo all these bad habits and make myself happier and more at peace. It’s going to take A LOT of time. I’m going to make mistakes. And that’s okay. A mistake does not equal failure.

Free Product vs Fair Wages

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I saw this on the internet today:

cards

I thought “hey, neat, a company I like is actually doing something cool”. One of the comments though caught my eye.

“I’d rather see American workers get that paid vacation than Chinese ones.”

Why? Are American workers somehow more worthy than Chinese ones? No, I get it. You’re American and you’re tired of jobs going over seas. But here’s the kicker. How much are you willing to pay for that game?

We live in a world of free. We don’t want to pay for anything. Not sure if you’ll like a video game? Download a cracked version instead of shelling out anywhere from $30-$75 for the title. I mean, they’re all overpriced anyway, right? Download the movie from the web, I mean they already grossed how many million in the theatre, right? Music. Books. Art. We don’t want to pay a single penny for it.

And when we look at things that are tangible, like clothes, like food, things where we KNOW we can’t have them for free, we want them as cheap as possible.

Oh, but make it in America and pay the workers $15 an hour.

Right. And how much were you willing to pay for that shirt again?

We’re all sitting in our designer coffee shops sipping $8 coffees wearing our $5 shirts and complaining that more and more companies are manufacturing overseas.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for homegrown product. I firmly believe that a Canadian owned, Canadian based, company should provide service based out of Canada and should manufacture their product in Canada (though I understand they may be using a mixture of domestic and foreign parts/supplies to do this). I believe that American companies should work from and hire from America. Etc. But hey, we all want to export our country’s goods to the world, don’t we? Seems a bit hypocritical doesn’t it? Don’t buy the TV from Japan if you live in the US. But the Japanese definitely need American cars.

So what’s the answer? Does every country diversify to the point that we don’t need to trade with each other for anything beyond out of season fruit? Does every country specialize, dividing the world’s products between them? All cars are built in the USA. All clothes are made in India. All toys are made in China. All books etc are printed in Canada.

What would that mean for the people living there? What happens if your father works in a car factory and your mother at a printing press? What happens if there is no trade and you like Belgian chocolate more than America chocolate?

What does this mean for the future of corporations? For the future of the workers? For the future of the consumers?

I don’t have any answers. I just know that we’re too willing to spend too much on a cup of coffee and not enough on the things that actually matter. We’re too willing to demand change so long as it doesn’t affect our pocket books.

And I know I’d be very interested in what you have to say about this.

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