Basil

Forgive me readers for I have sinned. It has been nearly seven months since my last confession.

Why the absence? Well, there are surely a few reasons I could give but it mainly comes down to one thing – I have been avoiding it.

June came upon me so quickly this year and June is always my favourite month. There are three reasons for this.

  1. As a kid, June always brought the end of the school year. I didn’t even mind exams. I was always a good studier so I generally got good marks (with the exception of math of which I am still a terrible pupile.) As an adult, June is one much closer step to the beginning of my yearly holidays.
  2. Of course, the other obvious reason is that June is the lovely introduction to summer. In Nova Scotia, this usually means a lot of rain but every now and again you get that warm enough day to drive home with your windows down. And there’s nothing like the smell of rain drying in the sun. Summer means swimming outside, camping, hiking, road trips and best of all, bonfires on clear starry nights. Nobody uses their phone during a bonfire. The outdoor fire pit is one of the only remaining places in our modern world where humans actually connect. There is so much to love about summer.
  3. June also happens to be the month I was born meaning I get to selfishly enjoy a showering of affection from my friends and family. I always had the best birthday parties. Swimming in the pool or at the lake and camping outside. Or more recently, renting cabins and traveling to PEI to stay in our family cottage. But since I’ve moved to Nova Scotia, the very best part of my birthday was getting to spend some time with my Grandpa Basil.

My grandfather was born on June 24th and my date of birth happens to be June 23rd. Astrologically, that means we share the same sign – cancer – but more importantly, it meant that we got to share cake.

When I visited my grandfather for our birthdays this year, I knew something was different. He was distracted, he looked tired and his usual carefree, happy nature was lacking.

Exactly a month after his birthday, on July 24th, my grandfather passed away.

I’m writing this now because I’ve realized that when he left, he took a part of me with him. I now understand the meaning of ‘broken heart’. I know that might sound cheesy but when I think of him, my chest hurts and my stomach feels like it’s going to fall out. I feel hopeless and my world seems smaller. So I get it now – I know what it means. A part of you had broken off, that part that belonged to someone you loved and you won’t ever be the same.

I’ve tried to keep busy since it happened. I fill my weeks with activities, events and initiatives – at work and at home. I find it hard to be alone because that’s when I think of him most. I don’t want to not think about him, it’s just painful sometimes.

Basil was an amazing man. He was unique. I’ve never met (and never will meet) anyone who comes close.

In all our time together, not once was a harsh word exchanged. We loved each other without abandon. I thought the world of him and he thought the world of me. I know how lucky I am to have had such a relationship, and I wouldn’t trade our time together for anything in the world. But it’s really hard. I think about him every day.

I guess if you’re reading this, you’ll understand if sometimes when I show up to your house, I’ll have red rimmed eyes or I might not enjoy the holidays so much anymore. I am happy and thankful for everything I have, of course, but this is going to take a long time.

On a happier note, I’ll soon share some words with you that I shared following GPB’s funeral. It made some people smile and I think he would like that.

Thanks for listening

Basil

 

 

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The importance of being goal-oriented and always checking after you flush

Some unhappiness found its way into my life today. I woke up to another storm warning (not sure what the tally is since January) and I walked into a stall in the ladies lavatory this afternoon only to discover that one small nugget had been left behind by its owner. It wasn’t on the seat or anything, but there’s just something about looking at someone else’s poop that kind of puts a damper on your day.

In order to flush away the disgust I felt following these incidents, I decided to share some thoughts I had on setting personal goals.

Chris Hadfield

Chris Hadfield, Commander of the International Space Station, hero to all Canadians

A few months ago, James and I had the amazing opportunity to attend a presentation by All-Canadian superstar, Chris Hadfield. The man is not only a genius; he’s kind, approachable and fun! One of the things he talked about during his presentation really stuck with me – the importance of having a goal, doing everything you can to achieve it and to make sure you celebrate the little successes along the way.

Having a goal

Dang - we all fall prey to this a little bit, don't we?

Dang – we all fall prey to this a little bit, don’t we?

Earlier this year, I established some goals for myself and I’ve been doing fairly well at keeping up with them. I am living a healthier lifestyle and regularly seeking out other ways to be happier and to spread happiness. I’ve had a chance to share the results on the Scooter Project. So far, things have been progressing and the outcomes have been positive.

Unfortunately, my new goal-oriented outlook has not extended to the weather and as much as I’d like to, there’s nothing I can think to do about another impending snow storm!

It’s been a very good year and I know if I keep things up, I will achieve my goal.

Doing EVERYTHING you can do to achieve your goal

Mr. Hadfield talked about doing all the things you can possibly do to achieve your goal. He talked about his personal goal to become an astronaut and travel in space – this was not done overnight. In fact, his journey started when he was just a kid when he began taking school more seriously, eating better and including physical activity in his daily routine.

I think the first step is to write down your goal. Once it’s written down, you’re a little more committed to it – if you can share that with someone who can encourage you along the way, even better.2015-03-17-Goals

Some of the things I’ve done to help achieve my goals include trying a new recipe at least once a week, writing a grocery list (and staying away from those middle isles as much as possible), keeping track of healthy blogs and sticking to a regular exercise routine.

My other goal is to write more, and I’ve been working on that through this blog and by doing a bit of creative writing on the side as well. I’ve been trying to read more (a variety of authors and genres), so I can learn different styles. I entered into a writing competition earlier this year as well – something I would never have considered before.

The little successes

2015-03-17-SmallThingsHaving the Scooter Project at my disposal definitely helps to celebrate the successes. And, in general, I’ve been trying to focus my thoughts and energy into good things. It’s so easy to get lost in complaints and you don’t really realize until you’ve made the situation worse (headaches, sleeplessness, social issues).

In an effort to celebrate some of those, I wanted to share with you two recipes I tried this weekend that received RAVING reviews from James and myself. The curried cauliflower soup meets all the requirements for food: 1) It’s home-cooked, 2) Inexpensive to make, 3) It’s delicious AND 4) It’s healthy.

And, for the first time ever, I cooked up a mango chutney, which we used in the soup and on a pork loin Jimmy made Monday night. I wish I could have capture the smell in our house last night and made a candle with it – we’d make millions (or at least a few tens). The only things I changed in the recipe were: 1) to replace ½ cup of the granulated sugar with ½ cup of pineapple juice and 2) I didn’t add raisins (Jim can’t seem to digest them). DEVINE.

Mango chutney and curried cauliflower soup - YUM

Mango chutney and curried cauliflower soup – YUM

This week, we’ve decided to have two MEAT-eating nights, since we’ve been so good for the last few months. Our next carnivorous meal will be steak marinated in the homemade mango chutney. I’m thinking we might need to start looking into opening our restaurant, Chez Bear!

Before I start thinking about setting another goal, I think I’ll just stick with what I want to achieve and keep finding new ways to get there. I’ll make sure to celebrate and share successes as well as things I’ve learned, to minimize the chances of further poo-related incidents in the lives of the Scooter Project patrons.

How are you doing with your 2015 goals?

Bear says: "My goal of remaining a lap-dog albeit my 70+ lbs remains within reach. My cuteness is irresistible."

Bear says: “My goal of remaining a lap-dog albeit my 70+ lbs remains within reach. My cuteness is irresistible.”

How two weirdos met

A few months ago, I entered a contest through the newspaper. It was looking for stories about how folks met their partners. I thought to myself, you know, James and I have a pretty unique story so, why not? I wrote the following in about 30 minutes. I didn’t win the big prize, but I was a runner-up! I was pretty excited. I figured, it’s an alright story so why not share it? Hope you enjoy.

James and I have been together for five years – I know that’s not a long time, but it’s how we got together, and all the things that had to happen along the way, that’s really special.

I was born in the small community of Summerside P.E.I – perhaps you’ve heard of it. It’s the second largest city on the Island, boasting a little over 13,000 citizens (according to Wikipedia). Summerside is where our story begins. Click here to learn more about PEI.

In 1979, my father Jean, a young Quebecer who grew up as a farmer’s son, decided to fly the coop, taking the big leap to “English Canada”. Dad’s ticket out was in the form of a Canadian Air Force uniform. He trained to become a member and was eventually posted to Summerside. To this day, dad is the only member of his immediate family who has left the motherland, permanently. This is absolutely significant for James and my story, as it was consequential to my very existence!

My mum, Margaret, meanwhile, was working as a nurse and catching up with family and friends after a road trip out West. (Funny to note that both my parents had dreamed of traveling out West to see the mountains and did so around the same time – my dad with a couple of friends and my mum with nothing but a bag of clothes and her guitar.)

On the fateful night of their first meeting, my dad was heading to the bar to be introduced to one of his friend’s eligible bachelorettes. But dad only had eyes for the wild and beautiful blond who would eventually become his wife.

Margaret grew up in Ontario and she had always told said she would never marry a Frenchman or military man, but her dream hubby would surely be her best friend. Friendship trumped dad’s unchangeable attributes and they were married in 1981, soon after the arrival of my brother, Jonathan.

In 1987, I came into the world, so dark and skinny, my parents wondered if there had been a mix-up. As my personality soon evolved, with a healthy mix of my mom’s stubbornness and my father’s nerdiness, all doubts were soon abolished.

Dad and I in 1989

Dad and I in 1989

In 1989, my parents did the most amazing and beautiful thing of their lives. They adopted the youngest member of our family, Nicolas. Nicolas was given up at birth and my mum was his faithful nurse from that first day. She fell in love with him immediately and when she asked my father what he thought about having another kid, he said, “sure!” It still amazes me how easy it was for them to make such a huge decision – love really knows no bounds.

A little later that same year, across the Atlantic ocean, a wild kid came screaming into the world. In Rastatt, Deutshland, James was born to Virginia and Don. And when I say he was screaming, I mean, that’s pretty much all he did. The first video of my beloved James is about 5 minutes of him,  screaming – non-stop. His poor Nanny had flown from Nova Scotia, Canada to meet him (her only son’s first-born) and James just wailed the entire time she held him!

James’ dad, Don, was an Air Force man like my dad. He had grown up in Nova Scotia, accustomed to his father’s long trips away with the Navy. When he was old enough, he enlisted in the hopes of following in his father’s footsteps. With an electronic engineering diploma under his belt, the recruiting officer suggested he take a trade with the Air Force instead of the Navy. That’s what he did and before he knew it, he was on a plane to Germany, leaving the only life he’d known behind to live in a country/continent he’d never even visited!

James, the German boy

James, the German boy

James’ first words were German. He was blond, brown-eyed and absolutely wild. Nearly every video of him from that time shows him running away from his parents or screaming because he wasn’t getting his way (I hesitate to say that he’s changed 😉 ).

When James was two, Don was posted back to Canada – to Cold Lake, Alberta. Now it was Virginia’s turn to leave her world behind. Luckily, a few of her sisters had also married Canadian military men so she was able to brave the unknown in a lot of good company.

That was 1993. It happened to be the same year that my family, who had been living in Quebec for the previous two years, was packing up for a similar trip – you see, my dad had also been posted to Cold Lake.

Nic and I - The first snow, October 2nd, 1994 - Cold Lake, AB

Nic and I with friends – The first snow, October 2nd, 1994 – Cold Lake, AB

For ten years, our families lived, learned and loved in Alberta. We went to hockey games, visited to Rocky Mountains, dug for fossils in Drumheller and endured some of the coldest winters of our lives (-35 was not a rarity!) James and I skateboarded at the same skate park, frequented the same outdoor rinks and even lived in the same neighborhoods. At one point, I was attending Brownies directly across the street from his house. Ten years of attending family days and carnivals on base and we never crossed paths (that we know of). Our fathers however, worked for the same squadron and our moms even knew each other from social events. But Jim and I remained unknown.

In 2003, my dad broke the news that he had received a promotion and would be moving us back East to Greenwood, Nova Scotia. That same summer, Don had received a promotion and was driving across the country with James to their new home. James’ mother and baby sister, had already moved back to Germany at that point, and although it was the hardest time of his life, he looked forward to being close to his Nanny and extended family that still lived there.

I was devastated about that move. I had two years left of high school, I was dating a sweet guy and I had a great group of friends. Reflecting back, I know it was absolutely for the best, but it was definitely hard.

As I’m sure anyone can relate, being the “new kid” in high school is absolutely terrifying as teenagers are not the friendliest breed of human. On our first day of school, my brother Nicolas, who, at the time, was just a BIT shy, gravitated toward a few kids who were also new. He met three fellas who had been posted to Greenwood from military bases in Canada – and one of them was James.

For the next two years, Nic, James and their pose did everything together. They were not easy on their parents – getting in trouble often for really foolish things.

James, pre-Sacha

James, pre-Sacha

I had met James and hung around with him a few times through high school. He was my brother’s friend and was an old classmate of the dude I was dating at the time. Our interactions although infrequent were usually the same – I would say anything at all and he would find a way to contradict it or make fun of me. He was quite the charmer.

After high school, I went straight to university nearly dropping out of my program in the first year. I disliked most everything about it and really struggled to find my place. By my second year, with a huge INCOMPLETE mark on my docket for the absolute worst co-op placement in the history of the Public Relations program, I was more than prepared to walk away. If I had, I can’t be sure where I would be today…

After a few persuasive and inspirational chats with one of my favourite profs, my family and friends, I decided to give the program another go.

From that point on, things began to fall into place. I completed a very successful co-op placement with Veterans Affairs and my grades shot up. I then left for Ottawa to complete another work term with the federal government and although I didn’t gain much practical on-the-job experience, I had an amazing time. Hockey games, countless nights out and road trips galore – I came back with a lot of memories and very little funds.

It was soon after my return that Jim and I had our first real hangout. My friend that I had lived with in Ottawa had connected me with a group of guy friends she knew to be die-hard Habs fans like me. I was a bit nervous to hang out with four guys I’d never met so of course, I invited my 6’3”, 200 lb brother along. Nicolas said he would definitely come but would it be ok if he brought James as well? I rolled my eyes and sighed – fine, I guess.

James' first time at the ACC - October 2013

James’ first time at the ACC – October 2013

Somehow, James and I ended up sitting beside each other and I can tell you that I didn’t really get to know any of the guys my friend had arranged for me to meet – or catch much of the hockey game. James and I started to chat and we haven’t stopped since. We quickly learned that we loved a lot of the same things – history, books, movies – all similar! It was mind-boggling. Our only topic of contention was our beloved hockey teams. I have been a fan of the bleu, blanc, rouge for my entire hockey-watching life and James, of course, bled blue – a Toronto fan to the end.

After that night, we hung out more and more. And it wasn’t only friendship that developed between James and I; there was something really beautiful blossoming between the three of us. Our first months as a crew, we would get together nearly every weekend and take road trips around Nova Scotia. I would pack sandwiches, Nic would drive and provide the tunes and James, well he was there for comic relief! 🙂

Nic, James and I in 2010 - where it all began, Summerside, PEI.

Nic, James and I in 2010 – where it all began, Summerside, PEI.

Although Nic found it a bit hard when James and I started to date, he later told me that he was happy about the pairing since could attest that James was a really great guy and didn’t expect him to hurt me. I found this absolutely sweet and I agreed – and I still do.

James and I traveled nearly 20,000 kilometres before becoming a couple. Five years later, we’ve built a great life and do our travel side-by-side. We’ve been through parts of Canada visiting Charlottetown, Moncton and St. John’s (both our first time to Newfoundland), Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal. We’ve gone overseas visiting his family in Germany and traveling to France and Belgium. We made a mutual dream come true this past summer, visiting Scotland and Ireland for the first time.

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland - August 2014

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland – August 2014


Aside from traveling, we bought a house together last year and the crowning jewel of our relationship came in the form of Bear, our 1-year-old husky-lab mix.

The cutest dog ever

Bear – our first day as a family! I mean CAM ON!

James is a wonderful person – he’s intelligent, kind and super hilarious. We have so much fun together and there’s a healthy amount of silly in our every day. I can talk to him about most anything and he’s been supportive through my toughest and proudest moments. We’re both stubborn people so disagreements certainly happen, but we always seem to figure it out because in the end, we both want what’s best for each other.

My mum told me when I was little that if I decide to spend the rest of my life with someone, they should be my best friend. I’m happy to report that I’ve found him!

Through the many geographic displacements of our families, James and I came together and every day, I’m thankful for that.

James – my best friend to the end. Love ya, nerd. xxx

James and I, summer 2014 - we're on a BOAT

James and I, summer 2014 – we’re on a BOAT

If our parents hadn’t been so open to change, so many things would be different about our lives. In fact, James and I wouldn’t even exist!

I hope you enjoyed walking down our memory lane and that your day is filled with happiness, and maybe a bit of change too. 🙂

*******Change is good, Donkey*******

Thai-style sweetcorn fritters with sweet chilli dipping sauce

The intro to this recipe really speaks to me. Also, I would love to try these. They sound absolutely divine! Weekend project perhaps? 🙂

The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

Thai style sweetcorn fritters with sweet chili dipping sauce

Tomorrow is the first day of national “Waste Less, Live More” week here in the UK. To mark the occasion I would like to suggest the following ten point checklist to help reduce unnecessary personal food waste, which on average amounts to a quarter of all the food we buy.

Reducing our individual food waste is not only ethically right, it also helps save money and reduces the environmental impact of the food we buy but then discard.

Waste Less Live More campaign logo 1

1. Try to be more flexible with your shopping habits

One big shopping trip per week is more likely to leave you with fruit and vegetables that have gone bad before you have a chance to eat them. If you need to do a weekly shop, try using it to concentrate primarily on non-perishable items and then supplement that shop with one or two quick, smaller trips in the week to buy…

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Good things come in bunches

I’ve said it a few times already, but 2015 has been wonderful so far. In the last couple of weeks, so many amazing things have happened: two of my close friends have new beautiful babies, two of my buddies got new jobs and the daughter of my mum’s colleague found out that she beat cancer and is now in remission. A bunch of good news for a bunch of good people!

Something that’s always given me a bunch of happiness in life is a good book. I can sit and read for hours and I won’t feel a stich guilty about not doing the dishes or shaving my armpits. Ok, so I can always find time for shaving my armpits but the point is that I can ALWAYS find time for a good book.

I’ve recently finished two amazing books that I thought I would share with you, since they were both shared with me and I thoroughly enjoyed them. The point of the Scooter project is to share happiness, after all!

Harry Potter and Millennium are two of my favourite series – so I’ve definitely got a thing for the mystery genre. I think that reading a mystery novel is so much better than watching it play out on screen. An author has so much more to work with and you are immersed in something that can’t be easily given away by audience queues that Hollywood recycles in nearly every thriller movie. (They can’t help it – their building a world and a story that has to fit within a two-hour timeframe!)

Now there was no recycling in the fantastic book, The Bat by Jo Nesbo, the first iJo Nesbo - The Batn a 10 book series following the life and work of Detective Harry Hole. Yep, I wrote that correctly. Harry Hole.

 

If you can get past the character’s Saturday Night Live name, this book is really something else. It’s thrilling but can be quite dark and the characters feel real; their every reaction perfectly suited to the history they lived in Nesbo’s mind. I particularly loved how human Detective Hole (pronounced Holé) was, and by that I mean imperfect and faulted; just like you and me. This is a great read and I’m looking forward to checking out the next books in the series.

I’ve also started reading the Raven Cycle series. I have to admit that if I had only read the first chapter, I’m not sure if I would have dived in. But the books had been recommended by an excellent source so I motored on.

2015-02-12-MaggieStiefvaterI’m telling you, this author knows how to write. The world she depicts is colourful and exciting and I was never really sure where things were headed. This book is both fun and profound in that it explores the darker sides of magic in a world that we recognize, through the eyes of teenagers who’ve yet to make their mark. It’s a great adventure tale with quick chapters and constant movement. These books will most certainly make the big screen, but I think I’ll stick to the literature.

Scoot and I shared a similar passion for books. She loved Dan Brown and counted down the days to the release of the movie, the Da Vinci Code. We had great talks about what we were reading and it was a great way to find out more about her. James and I love to chat about our favourite books and how an author can translate their imagination into worlds you can start to feel a part of. Words are so powerful; it’s amazing what you can do with them when you are seeking the good in this world!

What good books are you reading now? I’ve got about 12 on my to-read list, but I can always add a few more. 🙂

*******Change is good, Donkey*******

Family, friends, food and fart jokes

Man, has it ever been cold this week! And the snow! Wow. I’ve been living in this city for ten years now (double wow) and I can’t think of too many winters when we had this much in such a short period of time. Fun fact – the first winter I spent in Nova Scotia happened to be the year we were hit with White Juan. It was a great way to kick off our first school year – we got 11 snow days! Growing up in Alberta, I had never had one. 2004 was an A OK year.

So far 2015 has been more than an A OK year. It is nothing short of amazing what healthy eating and regular exercise can do to improve your life – Every. Single. Day! For example, the dramatic increase in patience has been more than apparent these last few days as traffic and cruddy driving have been exacerbated by the bad weather. Although I’m still upset at the folks who foolishly put other’s lives at risk because they are too lazy to clean the snow and ice off the top of their vehicles, I’m not carrying that anger with me anymore. See how NOT ANGRY I am?? 🙂

Another weekend flew by due to copious amounts of fun. I spent Friday evening with a dear friend who introduced me to Pho soup and provided lots of great chats and laughter. My evenings always fly by in her company – isn’t that the best? I also spent some of my time over the break to make some more yummy food including another vegetarian baked ziti and a frittata with potato and onion (so easy to make and great for breakfast!)

Baked ziti, frittata, and Bear (just because he's so cute)

Baked ziti, frittata, and Bear (just because he’s so cute)

I’ve been working-out pretty steadily since my first couple of sessions with James and I’m already seeing results (my biceps are ALMOST as big as Schwarzenegger’s). Trust me, once you see me in my T-shirts this summer, you’ll all be like:

WHAAAAA?? WOOOWWWW!!

WHAAAAA?? IS THAT YOU SACHA?? WOOOWWWW!!

Today, my back and neck hurt but that’s likely due to the insane amount of shoveling I’ve done over the past couple of days. I have to give a shout out to my dad who was an enormous help to us during Monday/Tuesday’s storm. He was outside at the crack of dawn shoveling the two feet or so we had piled in the driveway while James and I took advantage of a sleep-in day. Parents are unbelievable people, aren’t they? In the end, I did get outside to help him and I’ve found that I can make it fun by singing this song in my head:

This is hilarious, especially if you've watched the movie. (If you haven't, you're clearly not from the planet Earth.)

This is hilarious, especially if you’ve watched the movie. (If you haven’t, you’re clearly not from the planet Earth.)

I’m thankful today for the amazing family and friends that I have – including my most beautiful and amazing niece who I get to pick up from daycare today! I’m so excited to see her little face in just 4 hours. And I’m thankful that I’ve found the will, neigh, the bravery, to make such huge changes in my life and keep up with them for more than three hours. Ok, so I just wanted to find a way to get bravery in here so I could share this joke with you that I found this morning:

What is the definition of bravery?

A person with diarrhea chancing a fart.

Family, friends, food and fart jokes. Life is just absolutely beautiful, isn’t it?

*******Change is good, Donkey*******

The day I met a girl on the 4th floor…and the day I met a true friend

In honour of “throwback Thursday”, I want to share with you the story of how I met Scooter.

In my first year of University, like most others, I had to take about eight courses that were mandatory to getting any degree. The courses were not in my wheel house so I really struggled – microeconomics, macroeconomics, psychology and sociology among others. I was having a really hard time with the material and I was also struggling to find my place in the student world of Public Relations. If you’ve taken PR or you know folks who did, you know that it’s a bit of a “dog-eat-dog” world. Needless to say, I really didn’t fit in.

The only person I knew when I started going to University was my best friend for eternity, Ashley. Ashley is the friendliest and funniest person you’ll ever meet, so she had no problem securing the love and friendship of pretty much everyone on her floor in residence. So, being the social pariah that I am, I just followed Ashley around and made friends with all her new acquaintances.

On the 4th floor where I lived in res, I participated in all the ice-breaking activities (even though I thought they were super lame, dude) but I didn’t bother to get to know anyone. A lot of that had to do with my being really shy and awkward, but a bit of it had to do with my not being interested in expanding my horizons, so to speak. What I foolishly missed at the time, was the potential to start an amazing friendship with one of the smartest ladies I would ever know.

Coming back to the mandatory courses – I had to take a bunch of them and so did students in other programs. One of those was Intro to Business Administration.

In my Intro to Business course, we were a mishmash of Arts, PR and Nutrition Majors. The one good thing about the class to start with was that Ash had to take it too, meaning that I had a buddy to roll eyes at for the next four months. We sat near the back, not all the way, to avoid being clumped in with the stoners (figuratively speaking), but far enough away so we weren’t clumped in with the “A Team” (physically speaking).

The “A Team” was a group of PR students who were true socialites – they flirted, they gossiped, they admired each other and our profs… Again, needless to say, I did not fit in with that crowd. (Note that I didn’t come up with their nickname – from what I’ve heard, they actually gave it to themselves…. Yeah LOL)

01-29_ATeam

A typical day in class with the A Team – can you spot us lurking in the background?

We were sitting in this Business class when our prof announced our first group assignment. The A Team among a few others were really excited about the prospect of having a debate in front of the rest of our class. I cringed.

As I was trying to figure out how I could explain to our Prof that we could do the four person assignment between the two of us, Ash turns to me and says, we should ask that girl to join our team – the one at the front of the class. I looked over and there was Scooter, the girl I recognized from my 4th floor residence ice-breaking activities.

She didn’t seem to have a group and the prospects at the front of the class were not good. I was absolutely paralized by my shyness and fear of rejection so I just sat there. But not Ashley. Ashley got up, marched to the front of the room and begged (according to her) for this brilliant mind to team up with us.

The rest is history, as they say. We became friends instantly; like we’d known each other much longer than just a few hours. She was kind, thoughtful, hilarious and so extremely insightful. She outperformed everyone in that Intro to Business project even though our prof gave the mark to the A Team (we actually had to debate them over a matter I can no longer recall.) She was absolutely brilliant – taking down all their arguments with well-researched facts and figures, while Ash and I stood behind her, with nothing more to contribute than the sweat on our upper lips.

I realized, maybe too late, that being kind to others opens you up to so many opportunities, joy and love. If it hadn’t been for Ashley – Ashley, who holds no silly prejudices against people she doesn’t know – I might never have had the beautiful friendship that I did with Scooter. If it hadn’t been for that lesson, I would have missed a lot of other opportunities too (including becoming close friends with someone from “the A Team”!)

I am so thankful to Ashley for showing me how to be truly open to people (and a myriad of other things), and for Scooter who is still making such a wonderful impact on my life.

So next time you see someone sitting by themselves, don’t be shy to say hello – you never know what kind of wonderful experiences are just waiting to happen (and you could make someone’s day!) Live by Scooter’s mantra and be open to change – because it really is good.

*******Change is good, Donkey*******