20 Years, a Skydiver in the Making

‎20 years ago today, October 6, 1991, I took a leap of faith that changed my life forever. I became a skyDiva ~ skydiver. The bravest step I ever took in overcoming my fear of heights was pretty huge, and to this day, at times my ‘Acrophobia‘ is still somewhat a hurdle with each and every jump, believe it or not.

My first jump course and skydive was at the Cranfield Airport, UK. You could say that this is my original homegrown dz, although 5 weeks later, they closed the Parachute School and I had to relocate to Peterborough Parachute Club (aka Sibson). My first jump was on a bright yellow 28 foot Double-L LoPo round Static Line parachute, deployed from a height of 3,000 feet AGL out of a side-door Shorts Skyvan 3A-100 Skyliner. The first jump was completely thrilling and somewhat scary. The second skydive was absolutely terrifying, as I knew what to expect. Yet I kept going back for more. The community, the challenge, the adrenaline and the fear (plus the high ratio of guys to girls in the sport was an additional perk!) kept drawing me back for more. I was hooked from ‘Exit Position: GO!’.

Let’s hear a ‘hell yeah’  for pushing the limits of one’s comfort zone. Anniversaries are awesome … great reminders of where I’ve come from, moulding me into the sKYdiVA of today!

Girl Guide Memories

To get an idea of how long I’ve kept certain items, I came across my little packet of Girl Guide memorabilia … really sweet memories actually. But apparently, I fell kind of behind in my duties as I had all these Pathfinder badges that weren’t sewn on to my Girl Guide sash. 🙂 Procrastination haunted me even when I was a Brownie (of the Pixie six — I’m thinking that was my ‘pack’)!

Amazing that I kept a record sheet of my Girl Guide Cookie Sales. Families rock in the being the best customers! My Mom was #1, my brother Kenny #2 and my Gramma #3. The icing on the cookie was the friendly reminder printed on each little cookie sales package:

Remember:

  1. Girl guides are always courteous and smiling.
  2. Guides should wear their uniforms and be neat at all times.
  3. Be sure to collect money only when you deliver cookies. Do not accept tips. Be accurate and careful with money.

Brownie Promise
I promise to do my best
To do my duty to God, the Queen and my country.
To help other people every day, especially those at home.

The Brownie Law
A Brownie is cheerful and obedient.
A Brownie thinks of other people before herself.

The Brownie Motto
Lend a Hand.

Even back then, I was part of a community that cared for my well-being, and served to engrain morals alongside lessons of friendship, faith and integrity. What a fabulous introduction to my independence and success as an adult! I wonder how much the organization has changed since my childhood? Anyone care to share their own Girl Guide or Boy Scout memories or stories?

22 years

Kenneth Ralph Weishar

With each passing day dear brother I miss you more and more.

  • June 19, 1988.

Has it really been 22 years since I lost you to the wings of the hereafter, the wings of flight?

You would have made an amazing skydiver … and each jump I make, you’re right there in spirit, freeflying circles around me, shining and smiling knowing that we have only this moment and this is what we breath for.

Freedom, flight and the joy of living.

I ♥ and miss you Kenny.

Michael Jackson, in his own words, thoughts on Immortality

On September 25, 2007, legendary artist Michael Jackson had his last major public interview with, then editor of Ebony magazine, Bryan Monroe. What made this interview fantastic for me was MJ’s pure openness about his music. To me, that was what Michael was all about. A pure genius at what he did best. In truth, a King indeed. This audio section on immortality foreshadowed the irony of Michael’s words. Forever he will truly be alive with the pop music and dance moves that MJ left behind. In essence and soul, a luminary pioneer and superstar of his times. A Musical Icon, an American Legend, a Humanitarian.

Words of healing and restoration are what his fans need right now. For the record, Michael Jackson was more, so much more, than tabloid headlines. I forever honour you Michael.

Bob Geldof epitomized it best “When Michael Jackson sings, it is with the voice of angels, and when his feet move, you can see God dancing.”

PS If the audio can’t be heard, click here for the audio or here to read the text of the whole interview.

Memories of the great King

Michael Jackson: the King himselfMichael Jackson …. a huge influence on my beloved music style, growing up. Oh how I thrilled to dance along with his awesome music videos. I had all of his early vinyl records (wonder where they are now?) and often plastered my bedroom walls with his handsome rockstar King smile (always with a twinkle in his eye, like the glimmer of Tinkerbell’s magical dreams). He was an idol of mine growing up, indeed. This utmost respect andadmiration continued on into my adult years. To a time when my innocence and naivety waned, yet belief of all that is good existed and remained. When the days of judgement bore down on Michael, accusations of child molestation, I truly was a disbeliever. Acquitted on all 10 counts filed against him, I celebrated in his purity and innocent child-like wonder. He mirrored such raw huge talent, but reflected back a boy-like wonder that never left him.

Today I watched and cried as the world mourned and memorialized MJ at the Staples Theatre in LA. A most befitting tribute to a King. THE King. It was strange to simultaneously witness the live CNN streaming of Facebook profile updates that either glorified or vilified this man so dear to my heart. I couldn’t understand why some people chose to disrespect this man, his family and friends during a time when millions paid their last respects? Can you imagine that happening, say at a funeral of your dear friend or sibling? Incredibly sad and disrespectful are words that come to mind. I say this in light of having lost my own brother, and recalling the pain of loss and finality. So easy to judge. As Michael would say, why not look at the man in the mirror.

I’m Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I’m Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change

With the title of ‘King of Pop’ comes the pitfalls and serious problems which blur reality and fiction. It’s a crazy world we live in where there are more people focussed on the likes of ‘Kate & Jon’, etc. than the ailing weaping wounds found elsewhere in our world in … Iraq / Iran / Afghanistan / Darfur / Poverty / War (the lists are unending) You name it, we look for releases / avenues of escapism from the woes which are untouchable from afar (human suffering around the world) but wreak havoc on our emotions if we let it. We look to the likes of Celebrity as a means of idolization. But, for me, in my adoration of MJ, I looked at his incredible talent which he gifted to the world, my world. I only have to listen to ‘Rock With You’ or ‘Remember the Time’ or even ‘Thriller’ to take me to a happy place and a time in my history when his music had a huge emotional impact on my being and my childhood. His craft and musicianship left me often speechless. And that had nothing to do with hearing about who and what and when he did whatever. His music was powerful. And I loved him, for all that he was, in light of his humanity and imperfections. Beyond that, I look to the contributions he made … countless charities; children’s organizations; world hunger; musical genres stretched and musical milestones achieved (beyond anyone’s imagination); and, above all, MJ inspired those around him to dream of potential in a world where minorities are often crucified for their skin colour / beliefs / actions / innocence. Michael stretched the boundaries of public opinion and personal change (to the consternation of many). He however repeatedly dusted himself off after being knocked down. He may have stepped back into hiding in his darkest hours, but rebound he did.

His latest impending comeback was especially exciting for me. I seriously contemplated buying tickets to his concerts being held in the UK at the O2. In fact, had MJ lived, today would have been his first comeback concert, July 7. Tragic and heartbreaking indeed. He was one performer I would have spent thousands to witness live in concert. Gone too soon indeed. Not just for me or for his billions of fans. But for the 3 children he left behind. I can’t imagine losing a Father, especially at such a young age.

I honour you Michael for your life here on this earth. Thank you for your music, your innocence and contributions. MJ will surely have met his maker and judge on June 25, 2009. Bless his soul. May he rest in peace.

May all those that have passed before us rest in peace, free from the suffering and burdens placed upon us as we live from breath to breath, moment to moment. Blessings to all.
Amen.

Voices from the Street 2008

Last night was an eye-opening experience. One that I will never forget (I pray that I will always remember). ‘Voices from the Street’ … the volunteer opportunity of my lifetime.

What started out as a noble gesture to reach out and provide an opportunity to serve, turned into a life-changing experience, recounted through the eyes of 7 different narrators. Homeless souls on the ’empty’ streets of Calgary.

The Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre has a blog {I highly recommend this as a notable read} which is updated by individuals who work there and this entry sums up last night very well ….

Last night I was part of Voices from the Street 2008. A group of social service agencies and volunteers conducting a homeless street count in Calgary on the night of May 14th. Over the course of two to three hours, one hundred volunteers wandered the city streets identifying how many people were without shelter, sleeping rough. Each group had a specific geographic area to walk, a clipboard with census sheet to mark off how many people were ‘visibly homeless’ and a shopping bag full of ‘goodies’ to give away to those willing to engage in conversation.

The purpose of the count is to identify trends — the count has been conducted by the City every second year since 1992. Homelessness has risen by 32% every two years since the first count. Is that continuing? Are more people sleeping out? Are more people drifting into homelessness? The count helps project forward what facilities will be needed. And, helps identify what’s working. What’s not? Where are the gaps?

One thing that this entry didn’t note was this year was the first time the City of Calgary has taken a homelessness census by talllying numbers at the shelters only. Hence, the need for volunteers to go out into the community last night and hear the voices from the street.

copyright of http://www.citynews.caFrom my volunteer experience with the homeless, there are few voices from the street that have the resources and resilience to overcome their addictions, loneliness, mental illness and turmoil that many experience on a daily basis. Thank God for the help of outside institutions who support those living on the street (such as the sponsors of last night’s event: The Salvation Army, The Seed, CDIRC, Alpha House, CUPS Housing Registry Network and the Calgary Homeless Foundation); homelessness is an incredibly dire urgent social human dilemma that goes beyond the tallying of numbers and the rallying of voices.

All of the stories from our conversations with the homeless stick out poignantly in my mind. However, what really burns a vibrant image of remembrance was the sentiment which resoundingly came through with each and every person …. fortitude, honesty, integrity and friendliness. Of course, these are all judgements based on my perspective of what I saw / heard or perhaps wanted to see or hear. But with the fading of the sun and the warm night bearing down on us like a thick fog blanket, I saw light gleam in a few people’s eyes …. pride in strength and resilience seemed to shine through.

Dennis was a perfect example of the unexpected truth to my evening … he was a surprisingly fit, smartly dressed 54 year old First Nations Aboriginal from Saskatchewan pushing a shopping cart [holding what I deemed to be his worldly belongings, carefully bound up next to a scattering of bottle depot returnables]. Dennis was freshly showered with a beautiful bright smile, clear eyes and a curiosity that left me both inquisitive and breathless. His story of being on the streets for over 12 years (his grown children also somewhere displaced in the night), working occasional to full-time as a construction worker for PCL, was typical of the homeless males we encountered in our walkabout of Fort Calgary and the riverbanks. A common thread … seems that there is plenty of work here in Calgary, with money to be made. However, the housing situation is way out of control and hopelessly beyond the means of someone with addictions and / or mental issues that fuels the inability to maintain a stable and supportive lifestyle. Addictions tend to bring out the tragedy in humankind …. instant gratification is a reality of our society, especially prevalent with those that live moment to moment for their next fix. Stability for those on the street is not a common denominator in the lifestyle which I often take for granted.

Life on the street is a tough, rough, cold environment reflected in the pavement the destitute travel and sleep on. Homelessness is often overlooked, hidden and ignored. But last night, I was proud to be a part of this census, helping to support the often unheard voice of our people, our brothers and sisters.

Earth Day

Be kind to your Mother Earth today …. show her some love!

Small baby steps, breath by breath, we can make small changes, impacting the greater good from which we are born, and which we shall all return. Think of her as your very own Mother. Treat her with respect, love and grace. Acknowledge the divinity that not only lies within yourself but within her soils. Trample not on your Mother.
Love your Mother Earth
Text from a Sanskrit prayer

O Mother Earth
ocean-girdled
and mountain-breasted
pardon me for trampling on you.

Pardon Me Mother Earth

In remembrance ….

Remembering my brother Kenny
What a beautiful engaging soul my brother was …
19 years ago today we lost Kenny in a motorcycle accident.

He is dearly missed … thought of daily and remembered with the utmost love and respect. He will forever be the incredibly talented, free and pure wild-child, my beloved older brother.

Someday I hope to post a gallery of his artwork, scanned in from the hundreds of slides that I have tucked away, in storage. I can’t imagine a better way to pay homage to his beautiful drawings and cre8tive spirit. Someday soon I hope.

An anniversary, not so welcome

felled by the newsIt’s amazing what can happen in a year … the good, the bad, the ugly. I witnessed it all. And survived, quite unharmed, gratefully. But today I had some sad news that has tied me in knots and was a huge factor in my returning from Guatemala a year ago, to the day. How strange that this news comes to me on the anniversary of hearing about my stepfather’s prostate cancer.

I spoke with my Mother this morning, after several weeks of telephone tag. My excuses for calls that should have been made (but were put off because of a busy lifestyle) were feeble and silent, upon hearing Mom’s news. Pat’s cancer had returned, renewed and invigorated, spreading to his bladder. The clock stopped, my heart beat loudly and I was taken back to a year ago, when fear struck home, oceans apart from my family. Here I am again, thousands of miles away, and a similar chord has been plucked: same ‘ole song, different tune. To top it all off, his heart’s irregularities amplify the seriousness of reality’s bite.

Radiation is the next step for my wonderful stepfather. Thank God Mom and Pat have each other. I’d be falling apart if it were me. They’ve gone through so many health issues and scares over the past few years. I’m thankful that we’ll have a little time together when we return home next month.

Time is so precious when it comes to family. When the clock ticks slowly by and you can hear the beat of its drum, everything else seems to fall away. Nothing is more important than family, especially when crises befalls those around us. The harsh reality of life: the only guarantees that one has is this very moment and breath. And that can disappear in a heartbeat.

Why is it so easy to forget and take for granted the time which sails by with each passing day and season change? So frail is the heart which grows silent and weary with the sadness of the unknown. Embracing each moment with our loved ones is a precious gift easily and often set aside, hoping for a better tomorrow, which may not even come.

Please keep my dear stepfather in your prayers for me. I thank you for this ….