Erin's Journals

Monday, April 19, 2021

Just a thought… People who wonder if the glass is half full or half empty miss the point. It is refillable. [Author Unknown]

You can watch a video version of this journal on my Facebook page, or here on YouTube.

I’m sharing your feelings of frustration and sadness if you’re reading this in Ontario, where all it takes is a lot of anger to get playgrounds reopened, and yet Queen’s Park won’t reconsider on paid sick leave or reinstating the hero pay from early in the pandemic )(when essential workers are no less heroic now than they were then). None of it makes sense, except that it points out that loud enough voices from the right people seem to be heard. Something to think about.

And here’s something else. I want to thank Kathy Burns for always sending uplifting, inspiring and funny messages to me. This one came from her and I’m going to share it with you today because I think we all need this, okay? Here we go.

A young lady confidently walked around the room with a raised glass of water while leading a seminar and explaining stress management to her audience.

Everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, ‘Half empty or half full?’ She fooled them all.

“How heavy is this glass of water?” she inquired with a smile.

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” 

She continued, “And that’s the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on.”

“As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden – holding stress longer and better each time practiced. So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night. Pick them up again tomorrow if you must.”

Now some tips for you on this day and heading into this week. Here we go:

1 * Accept the fact that some days you’re the pigeon, and some days you’re the statue!

2 * Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

3 * Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

4 * Drive carefully. It’s not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker.

5 * If you can’t be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

6 * If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

7 * It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

8 * Never buy a car you can’t push.

9 * Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won’t have a leg to stand on.

10 * Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.

11 * Since it’s the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.

12 * The second mouse gets the cheese.

13 * When everything’s coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.

14 * Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

15 * Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once.

16 * We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names and all are different colours, but they all have to live in the same box.

17 * A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

18 * Have an awesome day and know that someone has thought about you today.

AND MOST IMPORTANTLY

19 *Save the earth. It’s the only planet with chocolate!*

You know, 19 is a strange place to end a list, so feel free to add to it at my Facebook page and thank you. Again, I’ll add with a sigh: room in the glass doesn’t mean it’s okay to fill it with vodka (my own take) and finally, we can do this. Stay safe and stay sane. And remember, your voice can be heard. If you can move playgrounds (to reopen) you can move mountains.

Rob WhiteheadMonday, April 19, 2021
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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Just a thought… A heart without dreams is like a bird without feathers. [Suzy Kassem]

You can watch a video version of this journal on my Facebook page, or here on YouTube.

If you follow me on my public Facebook page – and thank you for that – you know that yesterday I was saying…”Um, what do you think I should journal about tomorrow?” and there were a few suggestions ranging from complaints about curbside food pick-up to gardening to a few others, like how I put a video journal together.

Nothing hit home, so let me tell you what’s going on in my life.

And I think I may have a confession today, paired with a question: just what is a workaholic?

I know I’m prone to addictions; it came to light when I bit my nails as a child and into my teens, which I have read is a sign of an addictive personality. When I start something, I really get into it – and I have hundreds of dollars’ worth of beads in cases in the basement from a jewelry-making venture 20 years ago to prove it – and, of course, from drinking to smoking to loving my video poker, that trait comes through in my personality loud and clear.

But long ago when I was working or thinking about the radio show every single waking hour, Rob told me I was a workaholic. He wasn’t being accusatory, it was just a fact of life and who I was. The show had to be the best it could be every single day; the saying was “you’re only as good as your last show” and I lived that. Fortunately, it didn’t mess with our family or our marriage, and because of that drive, we have a comfortable retirement.

Wait – retirement? Not quite. I am very pleased to bring you up to speed, as much as I’m allowed to mention right now, about the next big project in my life. I’m not talking about the Facebook Live on April 27th with Yvonne from Home Equity Bank; that’s some work/pleasure I do on the side for a company that I trust and believe in.

It’s not the volunteering, we continue to do that. And it’s not the grandparenting, the role that Rob and I have taken on, along with watching over Colin’s little family, as we have been doing since July of last year. Those are all important elements.

But here’s the news. Thanks to a lot of hard work that is keeping me up until 2 am while I record and edit, sweat over a getting just the right microphone and try to get the read and sound just “so” – something that is literally giving me headaches with the stress – I have a dream coming true. And it has to do with dreams. And sleep. And rest and stories.

It’s a culmination of my one of the lines that has driven me in my life: “Tell me a story.” I would say it to Rob at night, but he’d be asleep before he could get halfway through one of his tales of the day’s adventures, while I was still wide awake.

It was a mantra when we’d be relating on the air something that had happened that we thought listeners might relate to – because the stories could never be just about me, it had to have a “has this ever happened to YOU?” element to it.

“Tell me a story” is what drives me here, too. I mean, how do you keep people coming back here for 18 years or watching a video journal past the 30-second mark? It has to be something that interests you. Not just me, ’cause who the hell wants that?

Coming, before this summer, is a brand new podcast that you’ll be able to get on your favourite major podcast platform and it’s going to be – wait for it – sleep stories. Fairy tales. Original takes on old stories or even stories that have been newly written just for you.

They’ll be told with a little bit of hand-picked music, in a soft and relaxing way – stories you can fall asleep to and a few interviews for the daylight hours that have to do with sleep: how to get a child to bed, how to interpret your dreams, which essential oils can help you drift off.

I’ll soon be able to tell you the name of it and show you the artwork and all of that exciting stuff, but I swear it’s filling every waking hour of my life these days – and nights – ironically keeping me from the bed that I hope you’ll be in when you listen.

So that’s my news. Again, I’ll tell you more when I can, but for those who’ve commented that they find my voice relaxing, well, this is for you. It’s also for me. It’s my dream job, this podcast, and I can’t wait to bring you along. And if one more podcast (this is my third going right now, but the first that’s all from me, with a big hand from Rob) makes me a workaholic, then I always was anyway.

I am looking just to get all of this creativity and passion out of me and into people who want it. To help make lives a little better, while also enriching mine (and I don’t mean financially, ’cause that’s a long way off). It’s living life fully, with joy, and remembering that while I want to help you sleep, I can catch up on mine when this is up and running. I’m so glad to be able to share this with you. And I’ll be back with you here on Monday!

Rob WhiteheadThursday, April 15, 2021
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Monday, April 12, 2021

Just a thought… I don’t know if God is a sports fan or not but I know one thing: he loves a good comeback. [Lane Kiffin]

You can watch a video version of this journal on my Facebook page, or here on YouTube.

There’s a story line in the NBC series This is Us in which the family is tied together by memories of dad Jack’s love for the NFL Steelers. That didn’t resonate with me: my dad would watch the occasional CFL game and a hockey matchup on Saturday night (’cause it was on) but I don’t think I ever knew what team he cheered for.

A lot changed when I grew up and was on the radio on CKLW in Windsor/Detroit when the Tigers went on their tear to win the World Series in 1984. The next year, I was in Toronto and, of course, the late 80s and early 90s were THE time to be a Jays fan, and oh, I had a front seat on that bandwagon. I even got to sing anthems at the games and so did Lauren.

Of course, Rob was a huge Jays fan, too, but he had another, more harmful addiction. He could remember when the Maple Leafs last won a Stanley Cup; I couldn’t and didn’t care.

When Rob and I became became parents, Lauren was raised on the Jays and the Leafs. And as grandparents, well, we’ve really ramped up fandom. Colin has his own little Jays jersey (although it’s Donaldson, darn it) and a safer no-name Leafs jersey. He and Grandude watch the games on those lucky days when our schedule with him coincides with the Leafs’. They even have a little dance when the “Torontos” (as Colin calls them) score: they run around the family room and kitchen, shout “change direction!” and run some more. Quiet as the boys try to be, our tenants downstairs undoubtedly know the score without checking their devices. 

But here’s where the worry comes in: Colin hasn’t yet watched a game with Grandude in which the Leafs have lost. And yes, we know that’s coming, but we’ve had to tell him that the act of putting on his jersey, and Grandude his Leafs PJ bottoms and Jersey, doesn’t guarantee a win. We only wish it did.

Any fan indulges in magical thinking; it’s what keeps us coming back year after year, or staying to watch that third period or last three innings when your team is trailing terribly. But this whole wonderful experience of immersing (indoctrinating?) Colin into the world of being a sports fan reminded me that some of my favourite family memories – whether it was Mom moving Thanksgiving dinners to accommodate Jays’ playoff games, my grandmother having a crush on Cito Gaston (I put a poster of him up in her room), or now Grandude calling Colin after a 4pm Pacific Leafs’ win – sports can be just another couple of patches on our family quilt. Sure, it’s frivolous, but it’s fun. It’s connecting. It makes memories. 

Now, what KIND of memories? That’s the question. Goodness knows, as Toronto fans, we know from heartbreak, but that’s part of the whole ride, isn’t it? The jersey label says tear absorbent. But for now? When everything else is upside-down, having teams to cheer just feels…normal. And what more can we really hope for these days, right?

Rob WhiteheadMonday, April 12, 2021
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Thursday, April 8, 2021

Just a thought… There are two responsibilities in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them. [Denis Waitley]

As always, you can watch a video version of this journal on my Facebook page, or here on YouTube.

Okay – let’s talk stress.

Because I know that many people who visit here are based in my old home province of Ontario, I am watching the news and following what’s happening with the latest lockdown. People are angry. Some are angry that they can’t go to the mall; others are angry because people want to go to the mall and shouldn’t. Okay, as of today, that changes. They just can’t.

I was preparing for a speech I’m giving later this month – virtually, of course – and re-reading the writings of Dr. Viktor Frankl last night. He was a psychiatrist and neurologist who was brilliant from the get-go. At the age of three he decided he wanted to be a doctor, and this Viennese child, before he was even out of his teens, sent one of his papers on finding meaning in life to Dr. Sigmund Freud. Imagine his awe when Freud himself asked permission to publish the paper.

Dr. Frankl was taken to the Nazi concentration camps and lost his entire family – including his wife – to the horrors of the Holocaust. (Only a sister who had fled to Australia survived; Viktor himself had been offered an immigration Visa to the US in 1940, but seeing what the future held in his home country of Austria, couldn’t leave his parents.)

Why am I bringing up Dr. Frankl? Besides the fact that he wrote one of the best books I’ve ever read, Man’s Search for Meaning, about his observations and work in the camps to help those who had just arrived to adjust and hopefully to survive if they could, he had some wisdom that applies to us all, even today. Especially today.

One of his lessons is that the people who did manage to make it out of those hell holes alive were the ones who had found reasons to live. I know that sounds simplistic – believe me, he puts it better than I do – but in his pre-war work with troubled teens, work that actually eradicated suicides in students who had gotten bad grades and proved his efforts effective, he asked “Why do you not commit suicide?” And when the students or whomever he was treating (later suicidal women) answered, then he grabbed on to those things that his patients or the students said, and helped them focus on what gave their life meaning.

We’re all going through a great deal right now – our dreams are filled with fears and anxiety, according to a recent U of T study – but I’m going to ask you to consider the things that make your life worth living.

We have to. We’re going to get through this, once the shots get into arms and hopefully people recognize that with freedom comes responsibility – another of Dr. Frankl’s tenets. We had the freedom to go to malls, and many people went. So, no responsibility. Confession: we did it too (although the malls here are a whole different scene than, say, Yorkdale). But maybe the people who insisted on lining up outside IKEA last weekend should take a moment to see inside an ICU instead. No cute Swedish names, just a lot of suffering among patients and staff alike.

We have to do better. Keep looking for your meaning. And if your reason to live is a new phone (why we went out – duh) or a big family gathering, try to picture when you won’t be able to connect with the people you love on that phone or at that table. Because if we don’t focus on our responsibilities instead of our freedoms, we’re not going to see the other side of this.

And now I’ll go back to chewing through my night guard. Yeah, I’m anxious too; you are not alone. Please take care and I’ll be back with you on Monday.

 

Rob WhiteheadThursday, April 8, 2021
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Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Just a thought… There are so few surprises left in life. We’ve gotten so addicted to knowing. It’s the Google generation. We want the answer to everything right now! [Ryan Reynolds]

You can watch a video version of this journal on my Facebook page, or here on YouTube.

Well, here we are on a Tuesday that feels like a Monday that feels like 2020, that feels like…well, I’m glad you’re here.

We had a great weekend as Rob’s birthday coincided with Easter Sunday for the first time since 1999 and maybe the last in his lifetime, who knows? There were cards and presents, dinner and cake and more cake – a blueberry upside-down one from our dear friends and a cherry loaf from my lovely aunt and uncle, both safely dropped at the front door. (Not thrown, but dropped; that’s not why the first cake was upside-down.)

All of these celebrations had Rob reminiscing: in years past we’ve taken off to Vegas for his birthdays but, of course, that’s not a thing. But I wanted to share with you today a story of surprises, of secrets and just enough fun to take your mind off lockdowns and full shopping malls, empty schools and everything that’s enough to make you just lose it. So here goes.

The year was 2004 – Rob’s 50th birthday – and we wanted to do something special. So we booked a night in Niagara-on-the-Lake for a sleepover. Now, I had this whole thing planned above and beyond a hotel stay, and helping me to pull it off was my big sister Heather, who lived with us at the time while taking one of her many gemmology courses.

As planned, Lauren called Rob on the morning of April 4th to wish him a happy birthday and to lament that she wasn’t celebrating with him. So I suggested maybe we meet at Thorncliffe Bowlerama and play a few games.

When we got there, Rob was floored to find that the place was decked out for a party: food, lots of friends from many facets of our lives: radio and our bandmates, some of the best pals you could ever have, from the decades we made music with Generations, including the three Blue Jays songs you can still find in remainder bins on CD or even cassette.

I announced there would be prizes for first, second and third place. I was confident that Rob, being a pretty good bowler, was assured to win, because the first place prize was the biggest surprise of the day.

But it almost went sideways when our friend Peter proved to be a good bowler too. As it came down to the final frame, it wasn’t clear whether he would win, or Rob would.

Then, when the scores lit up on the fuzzy TV screens, I was relieved – and you’ll know why in a moment – to find out that the birthday boy had indeed come out victorious.

As we opened the prizes, we got to First, and Rob opened a leather wallet. (Okay, it was a fanny pack – a nice one, okay, not puffy, but dark brown, flat and pretty cool for the time, I thought) and he reacted with enthusiasm as he unwrapped it.

Then he saw what was inside. An airline ticket. My sister Heather cheered, “Look at the date! Look at the date!” and it was right there: April 4th. That day.

I had surprised him with a trip to Las Vegas, just the two of us, and we were leaving that evening! Thanks to time zones, I even managed to add a few hours to his birthday that year. We had a terrific time and it’s the year he always looks back on as the best surprise ever. We didn’t win big (we don’t bet big, so it’s not a possibility) but we had a blast, paper-thin walls at the Monte Carlo and drunk barfy guy in next room notwithstanding.

Rob spent the whole trip shaking his head in disbelief, while also expressing some worry about how sneaky his wife was – something neither of us had ever considered before. But he also wondered how I managed to pull it off. Frankly, so do I. Now our banking is so intertwined, so electronic, so in his hands, that there is absolutely NO WAY I could pull it off. How I did it then is a mystery, but Heather must have helped.

Oh, and I also kept reminding him that he was lucky he beat Peter on the lanes, ’cause Pete and I would have had a good time, too!

Have a good day and here’s to surprises of the best sort. They’ll come again. We’ll travel again. We’ll indulge in carefree fun again with friends and, even in the case of Vegas, strangers, or the lovely ladies of the morning who, at 4 am, came up to Rob at a machine and said, “Hey sweetie…looking for company?”

Aw, bless them, he was only playing nickels. ‘Cause that’s how we roll: five nickels and ten pins at a time. Thanks for coming by and I’ll be back with you here on Thursday.

Rob WhiteheadTuesday, April 6, 2021
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