Be More Canadian.

Guys.  Are we all agreed that new year’s resolutions totally suck?

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Here is (I think) a great reason why they suck: if I hypothetically had to give myself a really solid resolution to start off 2013, one would definitely be to blog more often. I’ve had some really amazing feedback from folks who I really dig about this little old blog, and I would love (in theory) to keep that ball in motion as much as possible.

Can I be real for a second?  2012 was kind of a gnarly year in my life. There were difficulties.  There were learning experiences. I left one job; I started a different job. There were also great things. There were triumphs. I ran my first-ever (and second, and third) 5K race (32:08!). I discovered how truly amazing my support network is. I made some awesome friends. Those parts were great, but the hard parts were really, really hard.  The hardest. 

But seriously, screw resolutions, because the reason I wasn’t blogging was because a lot of the time, my blogging fodder would be been a total bummer.  And nobody likes a bummer.  Am I right??

So, here I am. 2013. Clean(ish) slate. And I am here with some words: some words to live by, some words to think about, some words that I am keeping in the back of my mind as much as possible.  I am trying to keep them in the back of my mind while stuck in traffic, but thus far have proved largely unsuccessful. That’s okay! I’m a work in progress.

Here are the words: Be More Canadian.

Over Christmas break, I took a lil’ trip up to the good old Pacific Northwest with My Man and two dear friends.  We spent some time in Vancouver, some time in Seattle, and a little bit of time in between.  But Vancouver, British Columbia is what I am here to talk about.

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Three of the four travelers hailed from the East Coast; all three had spent time on the East Coast directly leading up to our trip though we have all moved out west since college. And all three of us were struck by the same thought within about an hour of our arrival in Vancouver: Canadians are so. Nice.

Doesn’t sound too profound, does it? But it truly is amazing, the effect that it can have on your daily experience. Suddenly, we had all been granted the benefit of the doubt on a much larger scale than is easily understood for reasons that were totally unclear. Buses in Canada would display their electronic “Out of Service” messages as expected, but would alternate with a second message: “Sorry!” Folks in crosswalks would cheerfully apologize at any accidental bumps or contact. Restaurant employees would supply change for the meter with a cheery wave and well wishes for the day.

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Now, I live in Boulder.  I grew up in New Jersey. Suffice it to say that I spend my days in a town where people are generally pretty happy, and relatively friendly. So the fact that the difference was so noticeable, even to me, is really saying something. Canadians are nice, man!

Somehow, in our time in Canada, each and every one of us had an individual experience that left us stunned by the calm, generosity, friendliness and overall kindness of Canadians. We were greeted at our hotel by an enthusiastic valet who called himself Hot Sauce, and immediately welcomed us to Canada upon hearing that we had arrived.

Strangers at a tourist attraction gave us extra coupons that they weren’t using, out of nowhere.

And – perhaps most tellingly – we didn’t hear a single car horn the whole time we were in Canada. Most of which we spent in a city. With a population of roughly 600,000. Sorry to abuse the italics.  But are you picking up what I’m putting down?

I don’t know what’s in the water, but there is no crabbiness to be found in Vancouver. It also seems incredibly difficult to track down sarcasm, bitterness, hostility or apathy – traits that are quickly encountered in most cities in America with very little effort or time spent.

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I have vowed to take a little part of that back with me. Every time my negative side pops up (it’s hourly, guys), I am continuously trying to beat it back with a stick. Be more Canadian. Take it easy. Let it go.

I read a pretty awesome book towards the end of 2012 called The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin. The concept is trite but appropriate: one wife and mother of two takes on the task of being happier and more grateful in her every day life by breaking up her life into small pieces and working on each one over the course of a year. There is one quote from G.K. Chesterton that she repeats over and over again, throughout the book:

It is easy to be heavy; hard to be light.

These words have lingered in the back of my mind in almost every conversation, irritating problem, life inconvenience, car trip (seriously) and business conversation I have had since I read the book. I suppose part of the reason why it resonated so deeply with me is that I TOTALLY understand.  It IS easy to be heavy.  It’s easy to nay-say.  It’s easy to expect the worst. It is much harder – seems hopelessly naive, even – to look on the bright side, stick to a sunnier disposition, keep calm and (sorry) carry on.

So. I don’t have any new year’s resolutions. I spent 2012 getting mind-and-body healthier, and luckily, I’m not in a position to pledge to hit the gym more often because I’m already there. Sure, I’d love to journal, but I won’t. But in the absence of a formal, stupid resolution that I wouldn’t keep and would make me feel guilty, I am going to try to be more Canadian. There it is.

I would like to close with a picture that I took at the Granville Island Public Market, a charming food market under a big bridge in Vancouver on a darling little island that I can’t wait to return to. It’s the best possible souvenir I feel I could have taken home with me (other than maple syrup, of course).

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Thanks for the reminder, Canada.

4 Comments

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4 responses to “Be More Canadian.

  1. Anne Smagorinsky

    Love the entry Tess. And isn’t Granville Island (and especially the Public Market) totally cool? I once made lunch out of about a quart of perfect raspberries I bought there for about $3.00. And it doesn’t matter if that’s US or Canadian, that’s cheap!

  2. liananana

    i love you, tess!

  3. JNeu

    YOU ARE SO RIGHT. I’ve been calling Canada the better version of America for awhile now – I’m seriously gonna make BMC a mantra :)

  4. Tiffany

    Hey Tess, It’s Tiffany, Delanie’s sister. Do you remember me? i think you were a pre-teen last we saw each other and now look at you!!?! All grown up and blogging!!! DJ shared this one with me this week and I’m so glad. You are a fantastic and hilarious writer! You are also spot on about Canada! I felt (and still feel) the same way about this place where I now live (what luck!). It is a great New Years Resolution! Don’t come back up here without letting me know. We live in Victoria on Vancouver Island, a ferry ride from Vancouver and Seattle, and would love to have you visit. Until then, I’m backtracking on your blog and learning all about you!!!! Much love to you and your family.

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