Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Windy City

Chicago. Oh my. You exceeded our wildest dreams.

When I started planning this weekend in August as a surprise for Jordan's upcoming 40th, I had so many hopes. Would I be able to get Blackhawks Canucks tickets? (Yes). Would I be able to get a table at Alinea? (Yes). Would I be able to keep it a secret from Jordan? (Yes). Would I find a hotel in the perfect neighborhood? (Yes). Would all else fall into place with jobs and babysitting and and and? (Yes, yes it all did). Would we perish in some Trump-related terrorist attack? (NO!) But I still didn't imagine that we would have so much fun.

The city itself - beautiful. An amazing mix of old and new architecture perched on the edge of a great lake and on either side of a river make it a sight to behold. It's clean, it's easy to get around, and despite knowing otherwise, it felt safe. Police presence was strong, but non threatening. I could have walked around exploring for days.


Alinea*. Well. I don't even know which adjectives to use. Unbelievable? Exceptional? Outstanding? Yes, yes, and yes. Basically Grant Achatz is a culinary god and deserves all the praise he has received, and then some. And on top of an outrageous meal, the service was impeccable. Light-hearted, friendly, and completely non pretentious, yet our every need was anticipated. Worth every single penny (and trust me, it was quite a few pennies). Seeking out three star dining is now at the top of my bucket list.




The Canucks Blackhawks game. So the Canucks lost, but come on, I was sort of expecting that. That said, it was probably the most fun game I have seen live. The Canucks looked good, and playing a team as good as Chicago, that was great to see. And I've gotta say those Chicago fans love their team. I mean love their team. Apparently in some cities outside of Vancouver the fans love their team all the time - who knew?! And despite having to put up with four Blackhawk goals, it was hard to not sing along to Chelsea Dagger when the crowd was just so happy! I kid you not when I say 99% of the fans in that arena were wearing player jerseys, and the other 1% were in Cubs gear. I've never seen anything like it.




So ya, to say this was the weekend of a lifetime doesn't really do it justice. When I am lying on my deathbed, Chicago will be one of the features of my mental slideshow.


*If you want to know more about Alinea - watch Netflix "Chef's Table > Season 2 - Episode 1". Prepare to be amazed!

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Real Advocacy

In case you missed it, recently I was featured on a CTV news clip talking about the teacher and support shortage in BC schools. You can see the clip here.

I received such nice feedback about the clip. "You're such a good mom. What a wonderful advocate. You're so articulate.  You looked so great, especially the white coat!". Lovely, heartfelt compliments that I truly did, and do, appreciate. But the truth is, none of that news clip illustrates Real Advocacy. 

Real Advocacy is not a news clip. Or a perfectly styled family photo shoot for a print donation campaign. Or a pre-recorded video for a telethon. Or a newspaper spread. Or any of the "public facing" advocacy we've been featured in. And not to take anything away from that - we always have been, and will continue to be, happy to share our story in order to help others relate. But it's not the true part of where my Real Advocacy is focused. 

Real Advocacy is found behind the scenes. Usually late in the evening when the kids have gone to bed, or early in the morning after tossing and turning all night. It's found in endless emails and phone calls. It's found in having to step outside yourself and be the bad guy when your natural instinct is to be the likeable one who doesn't stir things up. It's found in grant writing and applications.  It's found in going above someone's head when they haven't been professional. It's found in sometimes boring, sometimes pointless meetings. It's found in seemingly endless bureaucracy. 

But mostly, it's found in tears. Anxiety. Stress. Loneliness. Exhaustion. Defeat. And sometimes self-pity, despite your best intentions. It's also found in regret and self-doubt when you worry you may not have done enough. 

In short, nothing about Real Advocacy looks pretty. And worst of all, it definitely doesn't feel pretty. 

So next time (and I can pretty much promise you there will be a next time) you see one or more of us advocating in a way that looks shiny, confident, and articulate, enjoy it along with us. But try to remember that the Real Advocacy happens quietly, tearfully, and very unceremoniously in the background.