I was caught completely off guard by a recent trip to a sandbar in the Caribbean Sea. As part of a port excursion that included swimming with dolphins, we were treated to a rickety boat ride for almost an hour. I was tired and hungry, and mentally berating myself for not having read the fine print about what this excursion involved.
All I saw was Ride the Dolphins and visit Stingray City and I clicked “Buy”.
I mean, really, who doesn’t want to swim with dolphins? Stingray City conjured up images of a badly maintained facility where little stingrays raised in captivity were subjected to the endless pawing of tourists, but it was part of the deal. How bad could it be?
Little did I know that this was the gateway to an emotional experience I will never forget.
When the boat finally started to slow, our captain, in very complicated English, tried to explain we could jump off the boat and swim out to the sandbar. Awkward pause.
Or, he continued, we could use the ladder in front and step right onto the sandbar. His next sentences were crystal clear – be very careful where you step. You don’t want to startle the stingrays.
I glanced over at my husband. This is what his eyes were saying: What. The. Hell. Did. You. Get. Us. Into.
I stood up, looked over the side of the boat and I am sure my eyes bulged out of their sockets. My brain was trying to process exactly what I was seeing, fighting to over-rule the images conjured by my imagination.
My only exposure to stingrays was in a holding tank at a zoo. These were not the same thing.
If you spread your arms out wide, that will give you an idea of the size of these wild stingrays. Majestic.
If you think of the softest leather you’ve ever caressed, that will tell you how soft the underbelly of a stingray is. Surprising.
If you think of the intelligence you can sometimes see in your pet dog or cat, that will tell you how amazing these creatures are. Moving.
I had no idea about any of these things. I also had no clue that stingrays like to be touched. More than that, stingrays like to be the ones doing the touching, and as I was fiddling with my camera, I was suddenly surrounded by 8 stingrays, 3 of which decided it was completely appropriate to climb onto me. One on my back, two on either side of me.
It was freaky and exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time.
And now I can cross that surprise item off my bucket list.
What about the dolphins? Just as amazing, but without the fear.
I get it.
We, as Candians, are pissed off about another icon being sold off to America.
We, as consumers, fear the “wrecking ball” of American companies.
But if we get past the ridiculous photos of timbit burgers, if we dig deep into our emotions, it’s easy to see why we are so upset about the Tim Hortons/Burger King merger.
It’s not business, it’s personal.
Tim Horton’s isn’t just a Canadian company, it’s the ultimate Canadian brand. Across this nation – and yes, the international markets too – Tim Horton’s is the most recognizable, welcoming, one-size-fits-all business. The stores are the same everywhere, no matter what province, city, or rural town you visit. Your experience will be the same at the Timmies in North Battleford or Charlottetown or Victoria. Same food, same coffee, same waits in the drive-thru
We’ve found warmth in wrapping our hands around a fresh cup
That last one is close to my heart. My husband and I prolonged our first date into the wee hours at a Tim Hortons. We signed the papers for our first house while sitting in a Tim Hortons and celebrated with Timbits. As we moved across this country, we bought three more houses while sitting in Tim Hortons.
Tim Hortons is so ingrained into our lives, that we are upset when we feel the brand is threatened.
For every single one of us, there is a Tim Hortons story, a memory that pops into our heads when we least expect it.
And that’s really why we take this business so personally.
I normally just shrug my shoulders and carry on when I read about a celebrity death.
But when I heard about the death of Robin Williams, my heart started to hurt just a little bit. I never met the man, but I feel a connection none the less.
I grew up with Mork.
Mork and Mindy is the first sitcom I can remember. I was 8 years old when the show started – the age when pop culture really started to become a part of my life.
I completely understood Mork – the alien, sometimes isolated and grossly misunderstood visitor. The awkward conversations, the innocent naive questions, the wholehearted friendship with Mindy.
Robin Williams taught me that humour is a great coping mechanism.
Mork and Mindy was the first couple I watched evolve from awkward roommates to platonic friends to comfortable marriage. Their relationship was a much better example for me than the one my own parents were providing.
When Mork and Mindy finally got married, I was a pre-pubescent 11 year old whose own parents were close to finally closing the books on a bitter 8-year separation.
I was naturally drawn to a family whose dysfunction was funny, whose child was an adult with wonder-filled eyes, whose absurd domestic situation was so far removed from my own and yet, people thought it normal.
At the time, I had no idea the show was spiraling into the bottom third of the ratings. I simply looked forward to my weekly dose of laughter and camaraderie in what was mostly a lonely life.
Robin, thank you for providing light to so many, even when you were surrounded by your own darkness.
Guest post from Andrea, owner of SchoolWorx
Yikes…the last week of school, I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little bit anxious…but mostly because each day this week my kids are bringing home piles of papers, notebooks, writing samples, artwork…well basically everything and anything they created these past 10 months and piling it on my kitchen counter. Times 2 kids in full time school…that makes for one huge pile!
THIS IS WHY I STARTED SCHOOLWORX…
I get it! It’s not just another scribble, it’s part of our kids childhood memories. I always found it incredibly difficult to throw away my kids’ precious one-of-a-kind creations, from their first drawings of people to the hand made cards with their little hand prints painted and stamped as a flower.
The concept for SchoolWorx really began after my oldest child brought home a painting from preschool of a tree…but it was no ordinary tree, it had Rice Krispies glued one by one as the leaves. I thought to myself “How in the world could I save this one?” and so it started. I began photographing those pieces of art that would not stand the test of time in a box and made my children their own hard covered art books.
Once I began sharing these with friends and family it was not hard to see that I had clearly solved a problem for many of them – the desire to get rid of the bins taking up space and the relief they felt when they were finally going to preserve their children’s art that they so longed to do! Because believe me when I say…we ALL have bought scrapbooks from our favourite craft supply store…in the hopes that one day we will get the chance to fill them up! I have two that are still covered in plastic lying in my desk drawer:)
SchoolWorx uses professional series art scanners and photography to capture the perfect image, even those macaroni and feather projects look like they can be picked off the page. Chances are some of your little artists masterpieces are scratched or torn, we do our best to bring them back to their original beauty. We create high quality books and back our service with a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.
~Andrea, mother of 3
If you are looking for something fun to challenge your kids this upcoming week, send them outside with a camera. The Kids Photography Academy is holding another contest this month to encourage kids to take photos of what matters to them, from their unique perspective. “Our June Photo Contest is here! You voted in the perfect theme for this month’s contest. “Bikes and Skateboards” are out everywhere at this time of year. And we want you to go and capture your unique perspective, somehow incorporating a bike or skateboard. Crop in tight, get a silhouette, capture the action, let us feel the environment. We are looking forward to seeing what your creativity come to life in your images. Just make sure you get your entries in by June 30th and of course share the fun with your friends.” If your child is already showing an interest in photography, you’ll want to check out KPA’s lessons. They are well-presented, easy to follow and your kids will learn core photography techniques while having fun at the same time.