BOYS, BOARDS AND BEER

I cut off my last lift pass from last season yesterday morning, only to realize that the last time I went snowboarding was March 23, 2008. Riding again was long overdue, so I grabbed my girl of 18 years, Rebecca, and headed to Mt. Washington.

This year’s been super warm and dry, so the snowpack took its sweet little time building up, but after seeing that nearly two feet of powder was dumped on the resort this week, I could resist no longer.

The Whiskey Jack chair was reserving its energy for last night’s speed dating event.

I thought that the clear, sunny day would equate to frozen snow in the morning, but all it meant for us was amazing, unobstructed views of the Georgia Straight (including Denman and Hornby Islands). From the minute my board touched the snow, it was nothing but soft white stuff and pockets of powder.

By the time noon hits, my body’s always ready for some rest. We headed into Fat Teddy’s Bar & Grill because a girl’s gotta have beer.

I cautiously ordered the enchilada (being that I make such wicked ones), but I was pleasantly very surprised. It was tasty and definitely spicy – just the way I like it!

(Plus, the caesar salad kinda kicked ass.)

Lucky me, I ran into Amy there at lunchtime. She told me she was up snowboarding for the day with a few buddies, but I’m pretty sure she was just trying to pick up hot men.

Half-way up the Eagle Chair, we discovered that the legendary “bra tree” exists. Check out the red cups on the branch. I don’t know of a single bra I own that I could or would part with for that sake.

Days on the hill always go by way too quickly, but beautiful pain of my muscles lasts for days. I’ve missed the smells and sounds and feeling of being on the hill, so here’s hoping I’ll get in a few more days before the snow melts and it’s time to don a bikini. (That right there is a whole other reason to break out my camera.)

I HATE COVERS…

…but this song has been my only saving grace, and I can’t count how many times I’ve listened to it since yesterday. Thank you for sharing it with me, R.


Photo: chunter01 on Flickr

THE WAY WE WERE


Beach bum at Great Slave Lake, N.W.T.

Eastern Europe in the 1920s was less than glamourous, but that’s not to say it wasn’t a time of great beauty. On July 11, 1924, a sunny summer day in Poland, a baby girl was born. Her name was Hildegard “Hilda” Willemina Korber, one of nine children born to a poor farmer and his wife. As she and her brothers and sisters grew up, they all learned the value of hard work and the importance of family while relying on strength and resilience to get them all through the Second World War. Despite her humble beginnings, however, her loveliness was not lost on everyone – and certainly not on one young man from Czechoslovakia.


Fishing at Great Slave Lake, N.W.T.

When Hilda and Karl first met each other in their 20s, it was love at first sight – for Karl. Being that he was four years her junior, Hilda was largely reluctant and refused his advances and declarations of love. Karl moved to Canada and found himself working both in Ontario and the Northwest Territories, saving up every penny he earned.

Finally, after four long years, Hilda agreed to marry Karl and found herself in Canada in the late summer of 1954 at the age of 30. Three months later, they were married and embarked on a lifelong journey of love together on November 3, 1954. The newlyweds set up a home in Yellowknife where Karl worked in local mines while Hilda tended to their small but snug home. It didn’t take long to add to their duo, and almost to the date of their one-year wedding anniversary, Katrina Elizabeth Chalupa was born. Less than a year later, Anne Mary Chalupa came long.

Katrina grew up and became my mom, Anne grew up and became my aunt, so naturally Karl and Hilda were affectionately known by me as Opa and Oma.


Anne Mary Chalupa, Hilda Chalupa, Katrina Chalupa (Yellowknife, circa early-1960s)

Last night I picked up the phone to call my mom and pick at her memory. As I’ve been making my way through changes in my life, self-discovery and attempting to pinpoint the issues that impact who I am today, I’ve realized that reconnecting with my past is an important part of that process. There is perhaps nothing as unique as a daughter’s relationship to her mother, and also to that mother’s mother. I wanted to know more about my Oma, I wanted my mom to remember and I wanted her to share with me what all three of us ladies had in common.


Katrina Chalupa and Hilda Chalupa (Yellowknife, circa mid-1960s)

My Oma was a woman with a great deal of love for her daughters and much devotion and respect for her husband. She was deeply sympathetic and sensitive and had a tendency to cry easily, much like my mother and I. Another characteristic that passes through all three of us is the deep-seated desire to nurture. As I have grown into a young woman, I have become predisposed to overfunctioning.

Overfunctioning is a frequent trait of eldest children and is generally a learned behavior. It tends to be what happens when one is either consciously or subconciously expected to set positive examples, take care of everything and everyone, all the while “keeping it together” without showing any sort of vulnerability. While overfunctioning isn’t necessarily a negative characteristic, the pendulum of this behavior can easily swing too far in the wrong direction, as it has in my life.


Keira-Anne, Hilda Chalupa (Port Hardy, circa early-1980s)

After talking with my mom at great length last night, it started to become more clear how this pattern – my “normal” and natural way of dealing with anxiety – has developed through the generations. As a young girl in Poland, my Oma was expected to work hard, contribute to the household and most likely had to often look out for herself in a home of 11 people.

When my mother was a child, she often took care of many of the younger neighbourhood children, paid attention to them, played with them and even walked many to and from school. As my mom grew older and eventually became a married woman, she would often find herself in the position of being the responsible adult in the marriage – as many women frequently do. Before long, overfunctioning became her survival tactic and this behavior was inevitably passed on to her first born daughter, yours truly.

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Photo: tempest_kat on Flickr. Katrina Mellis, Keira-Anne (Vancouver, circa 2008)

While many of the deck’s cards are stacked against me as a chronic overfunctioner, restoring balance to my life is possible. I am willing to do the work. We overfunctioners have a tendency to be resistant to change and have an incredibly difficult time remaining objective and level-headed in times of high anxiety. The bottom line, however, is that if I am overfunctioning all the time for others, I am underfunctioning for myself.

Modifying my behavior – a behavior that simply isn’t working for me – will be a constant, lifelong challenge. There’ll be setbacks coupled with achievements and times when I don’t see the point in changing. The work, however, is anything but disheartening. Though facing up to who I truly am, the good and the bad, may not always be pretty, I’m unearthing a great deal of beauty and freedom in reconnecting with my past and the amazing people that helped impact the woman that I am today.

OLD MAID

I love beds. I think about being in one all the time.

Most people dread Sundays but I have grown to love them in recent weeks. While I tend not to sleep in, and instead run errands, visit with friends or hop to the gym on weekends, I find myself back in bed before not too long.

Sunday Afternoon

They say (whoever they are) that you’re only supposed to use your bed for sleep and other, ahem, noctural activities. I, on the other hand, use it for everything short of eating or painting my fingernails.

It’s a comfy place to be. This past Sunday, as the sun was setting over Vancouver Island, my entire bedroom was flooded with radiant gold light, and it was impossible to feel anything but amazing.

Sunday Afternoon

I read in bed. I write in bed. I blog in bed. I watch TV and movies on my laptop in bed. I knit in bed. I talk on the phone in bed. Last night I was so cold from the weather and tired from the workday that, not long after my muscle-relaxing warm bath, I found myself back in bed – before 8pm, I might add.

Maybe it means I’m getting old. Maybe it means I don’t know how to go out and have fun. But, at the very least, I’m warm and comfortable in my own little haven of pillows and down feathers while I do (or don’t).

(Hey, at least I didn’t write about my search for the perfect french fry.)

HE’S JUST NOT THAT SCREWED UP

I’m starting to notice a phenomenon.

On Saturday I went to the gym for my circuit training class, and because I had left my iPod at home, snatched up a tattered copy of Elle Canada to read on the stairclimber. As I flipped through the pages – some stuck together – I came across what is your typical Q&A column where women had written in with their various relationship problems, seeking words of wisdom.

As I scanned over first the questions and second the answers, I was amazed. “Do these women really believe that this is what they’re supposed to do to fix what’s wrong?” Some of the so-called advice astounded me in its absurd logic.


Photo: jamielondonboy on Flickr

Several hours later, I found myself wandering the downtown Chapters with a friend. While her and I both managed to grab a cheap beach read for ourselves, we browsed the store since we had nowhere else to be. By the time we reached the third floor – and often dreaded self-help section – I couldn’t help but notice the large volume of books dedicated solely to women and their “dysfunctional” relationships.

As I scanned over titles such as the classic Men Are From Mars… Women Are From Venus, Why Men Love Bitches and the soon-to-be movie He’s Just Not That Into You, I noticed more than their splashy, brightly coloured covers. Not only were these books aimed to sucker in hurting women everywhere, they all smelled of complete bullshit.

Heartache and heartbreak are great for the economy.


Photo: mollybob on Flickr

I turned to my friend and reiterated to her what I’d thought just hours before at the gym: “Seriously, do women read these and consider them the Holy Grail of relationship advice? I think that’s unfortunate.” Why do I think it’s unfortunate? Any back covers or inside pages I scanned for their purported insight all point to the same issues – that women screw up, pick the wrong men and just need to find “the right kind of guy” instead of the so-called toxic ones.

How about this instead? Women don’t always screw up (but neither do men), sometimes we don’t always consciously “pick” the ones we do and just because a man is broken doesn’t mean he isn’t “the right kind of guy.” Perhaps instead of trying to change how women relate to potential suitors in their lives, they need to re-think how they relate to themselves.


Less of We, More of Me

As women, we have the right to feel empowered, the right to take care of ourselves and the right to make the best choices as we see fit. Playing the blame game gets no one anywhere, so perhaps it’s time to take responsibility for our own actions and choices. Some are so quick to label men as “toxic,” but if that’s true, then we as women are equally capable of being toxic.

Focus on yourself, on your growth and your development. Instead of over-thinking and overanalyzing the differences, I think it’s time to instead appreciate the delicate distinctions between men and women and how we all function – within relationships and, more importantly, as individiuals.