Category Archives: Blog Post

Don’t Blink!

On average, human beings blink approximately 15,000 times per day. Each blink lasts between 300 and 400 milliseconds (1000 milliseconds equals 1 second). Which means that we spend approximately 5,250 seconds or over 1 HOUR each and every day blinking. Do you ever wonder what you miss?

As writers, we love to spend our days wide-eyed……constantly watching for those ‘missed’ moments – the moments that last a mere blink of the eye.

What does this mean? Well….other than an incessant need for eye-drops, it means that we are inspired by those ‘moments’.

An intake of breathe by a bride, seconds before she walks down the aisle.

The partially hidden eye-roll from a pre-teen during an argument with their sibling.

The flicker of embarrassment you notice on the face of your teenage daughter after she stumbles wearing her first pair of heels

While others have moved past the moment, writer’s remain, watching……observing.

We wonder if the bride to be is nervous, afraid, or suffering from indecision. We wonder if she suddenly realized that she really needed to pee (or worse) and isn’t certain if she can make it through the ceremony. Thoughts of, “Why did we choose to eat spicy Indian food at our rehearsal dinner” run through her head as she makes her way down the aisle. Damn! That storyline writes itself!

A writer will endeavor to create a story around the eye-roll, conjuring up a scenario where the pre-teen grows up to be a serial killer aka Dexter.

The flicker of embarrassment following the stumble in the high heels? That becomes a part of a bigger story, perhaps leading to a screenplay for a coming of age movie like Ladybird. Our character ‘Joanne’ refuses to wear shoes for the rest of her life because of that one instance and eventually she runs for the Presidency and wins and now there is a President called Shoeless Joanne.

We notice things. We stash them away in our subconsciousness to be retrieved at a later date or we drop everything and rush to a computer and begin writing.

I am so excited to become an Erma Bombeck Workshop Freshman. I have loved Erma since I was a child and to be surrounded by so many other individuals who share the passion for laughter is…well….it’s mind blowing!

The fact that in one week’s time I will be sitting alongside so many like-minded individuals is truly a dream come true. Knowing that you all are so observant will be unnerving – which reminds me to pack extra floss because y’all will definitely notice the errant piece of spinach in my teeth.

Writers…..well, we try to make the ordinary EXTRAORDINARY. Humour writers make the ordinary extraordinary and FUNNY.

See you soon! If you see me staring, unblinking, don’t worry…..I am not a creeper (at least I have never been charged). It is only because I don’t want to miss a thing!

Judy

PS: Can I bring my cape? I hear some people are bringing tiara’s…..

Yes…..I own a cape

A Room with a View

Here it is
And here it goes
What it means
No One knows
I wish I did
I wish I could
I wish I had
I think I should
Life is fleeting
Love is blind
You is special
You is kind
Dark to light
And light to dark
The sun comes up
A new day starts
I wish I may
I wish I might
Live each day
From morn to night
With passion and purpose
And wonder and joy
Not overthinking
Our brain redeploy
To a place of peace & quiet
A room with a view
A space without stress
A place we once knew
A mind of a child
Simple, honest and clear
No worries no hang-ups
A smile so sincere
A heart that is full
Of laughter and life
Hugged by a world
That does not struggle with strife
This is my wish
This is my dream
This is my purpose
This is my scheme
Let’s do it together
Let’s go all in!
We have only one life
It’s time to begin

Copyright 2018 by Judy Kucharuk

Sometimes I feel like the ‘Girl on the Train’

Sometime when I am out on my deck, I feel like the ‘Girl on the Train’ with my neighbours Dawn and Ralph. Of course I have never been married to Ralph and they don’t live in my old house or anything like the book/movie and….so far I haven’t witnessed a murder (watch yourself Ralph). But everything else is the same….well except I am not on a train, I am on the deck…but the point is I can see them through their dining room window and I make up stories about their day.

Today for example, Ralph is wearing both his hat and his jacket in the house, so I called Dawn and said, “Is Ralph cold? He is wearing his jacket in the house.”

I am a bit of a creeper I guess, but I have been watching the Dawn and Ralph show for so many years, I feel like I know them really well (I actually do know them really well even without the creepy watching them through their window).

We are really fortunate having such wonderful neighbours. Dawn Johnston and Ralph on one side and Kim and Julian and kidlets on the other.

The Skin family got a dog recently….”Pickle” is his name and now I get to watch the kids play with their new dog and live vicariously through them (RIP Ozzie and Riley) as they love their new puppy.

Their children are ahhhhhmazing kids and we love seeing them play in the park across from our house. I even had a wee tear when their oldest moved out, I was gonna miss him!

I also can determine how many kids are getting into their vehicle by the sounds of the SUV door’s slamming. One time, we heard so many doors shutting, Bob and I turned to one another and said, “Exactly how many kids is Kim driving to school today?” Yes…..Bob and I are creepy people like that – with nothing better to do than make assumptions based on sound.

We have become THOSE neighbours.

I wonder what they think about us? They probably don’t have the time to creep on us like we creep on them. Is it creeping if they know we are doing it though? I guess we will see after this post and Julian goes out and builds a higher fence and Dawn and Ralph close their blinds (please don’t….this is the best part of my day!)

Neighbours are more than people who live next door – neighbours become like family. We watch out for one another, we care about one another and we watch each other’s families grow. We consider both neighbours dear friends and would be there for them in an instant as they would be for us.

Note: Kim, Julian and Family have a fairly large tree that blocks most of my view, so no ‘Girl on the Train’ looky-loo happening there – no worries about that Kim.

Ambulance, Paramedics, Fire Department…oh my!

(Originally posted in the Alaska Highway News and the Dawson Creek Mirror in my column ‘From the Desk of the Green-eyed girl’

What happens when you lose trust in something you believed to be rock solid? Something that you never questioned, that you never stopped for one minute to wonder about.

How do you go on? How do you move forward? How do you continue with your life now that you have a seed of doubt permanently planted into your psyche?

Our family recently were saturated in a downpour of seeds of doubt and left us questioning. Let me explain.

On Nov. 19, I received a call from one of my sisters that my mother had fallen down the stairs and she was hurt. Dad had called the ambulance and they were on their way. I said, “Holy crap (or something not as pretty),” and that I would meet them at the hospital. That call came to me at around 12:30 p.m.

I arrived at the hospital and began waiting for the ambulance. It shouldn’t take long: they live in Dawson Creek proper and nothing is more than 10 minutes away, even with rush hour. I’m thinking a half hour or so to get mom stabilized and transported to the hospital.

A half hour passed, so I anxiously called my sister and asked, “What is going on?”

Because mom was lying at the bottom of the stairs, the two Paramedics apparently needed  the assistance of a second ambulance to help extricate and load her for transport. They had contacted Kamloops dispatch and one should be arriving shortly.

More than an hour had now passed and still no second ambulance. My 75-year-old mother had now been lying with a suspected femoral fracture at the bottom of the basement steps for an hour and 15 minutes. Thankfully, the Paramedics had been able to stabilize her and get pain meds into her—but still no sign of the additional ambulance.

I texted my sister: “Why not call the fire department to assist? What’s going on?”

At this point, someone must have made the call to find out where the missing ambulance was, and were advised that the call for the second ambulance had been inadvertently dropped—meaning that the request didn’t make it from the phone to the computer. No second ambulance was coming.

Thank goodness for the Dawson Creek Fire Department, because now they were dispatched and were on the scene in minutes. They helped lift and load mom into the ambulance and she was on her way to the hospital, 90 minutes after the incident occurred. It was 2 p.m.

But 90 minutes—90 minutes for my mom to lay on the bottom of the basement steps, 90 minutes for my father to wring his hands with anxiety about his wife of 50-plus years in pain and unable to do anything.

I heard the ambulance arrive at the hospital and my mother being brought inside. My sisters had driven my father down in their car and were coming into the hospital at the same time. He immediately went to check on mom and to be there by her side.

The next moment we heard screaming and I realized it was my mother and sister. I ran to the back to see my father had collapsed, my mother watching on from the gurney. Medical professionals are swarming the area, rapidly responding to the now changing emergent medical situation. In between the “stay with us, dad,” and the “Mom, its going to be okay,” we realized dad might have had a stroke or a heart episode. I truly believed it was brought on by the stress of the situation.

At this point, I need to say our medical team at the Dawson Creek hospital were amazing and our entire family is very grateful to have such a committed group of professionals at our local hospital. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.

Meanwhile, they were stabilizing Dad, trying to determine what happened, and he and mom were lying side by side in the emergency ward. All my sisters and I are there by their bedside and the scene resembled one of those Kardashian Family Christmas card photoshoots.

As the hours wore on, my dad regained his speech and strength, and after having a CT it was determined he had probably suffered something called a TIA. Mom, on the other hand had suffered a femoral fracture/hip fracture, and was scheduled for surgery the following day. She was moved upstairs onto the ward to await surgery and dad was kept for observation in emergency.

Quite a day, right? Our lives were changing in a blink of the eye and we were powerless to do anything to stop the train wreck.

BC Ambulance, we have lost trust in a system that we felt was working. We were under the impression it was working because we had not tested it before. I’m certain hundreds of calls happen where the dispatch is seamless but, in our case, it wasn’t and that terrified us.

I spoke with Kamloops dispatch and they did admit a ball was dropped and a mistake occurred. They were very empathetic and took responsibility, and gave us the contact information to follow up with an independent investigation.

We all realize a system reliant on human beings will, at some point, have a human error. We just never consider we will bear witness to the error.

Where do we go from here? How do we go about our lives with that reoccurring thought, “what happens next time?”

 

 

Thigh High!

 

I noticed a coworkers boots yesterday. They were a lovely pair that fit her perfectly. The boots were a beautiful shade of brown and had a lovely little detail on the ankle. I said to her enviously, “I love your boots!” to which she responded with the name of her favourite go-to store for boots.

I looked down at my suede boots that are two years old. They have been repaired a couple of times because I hated to part with them, but they have definitely seen better days. I had ordered them online because…..well…….wide calf boots are not always available in store. Yes….I have the dreaded wide calves. All my life I have had ‘athletic’ calves which has made boot shopping difficult. Now they can be called ‘fat’ calves as no athletics have been attempted in the making of these calves. Heaven forbid if I ever tried to purchase thigh high boots! The radius of the boot would need to be ginormous! The conversation with the clerk would go something like, “Do you have these in a 36″?” as I held up a pair of boots for her to see.

Actually, because I am vertically challenged and horizontally robust, thigh high boots are on my never, ever, ever, ever, EVER list of things to try to purchase or wear. In fact, even normal height boots (wide calf of course) can look strange on me. If I am lucky enough to find a pair that fit over my generous calves, then I need to consider how tall they are and if they hit me in that strange spot that makes me appear like the cat from the movie Shrek. Way too much math required to find a pair of nice boots!

That is what happens when I go into a store like Penningtons or Addition Elle and look at their boots. Guaranteed they will have wide calf sizes, but the height of the boots is totally out of proportion for me. It is as if they are saying, “Okey dokey….if you have this big of calves you must be 7 feet tall!”.

Are there not wide calf boots for fat…err…voluptuous but petite (short legged) women?

Sincerely, Judy

Ruuuuuuuuuuun!

“Ruuuuuuuuuun!!!” my father would scream from the chalked sidelines of the 100 yard dash (pre metric system days), the guttural, almost animalistic quality of his voice spurred my short little legs to turn over faster and faster until my chest hit the ribbon at the end. “Run THROUGH the ribbon he would say – never slow down until you have gone through that ribbon!”. He had already explained previously that races are lost in the final few feet of a race and you can never hold back….even for a second.

I was probably in grade 2 at the time, but already my type A over achieving personality was developing. I was also a people pleaser and the most important ‘people’ was my father so I was going to win each race or competition if it killed me!

Sports Day in a small town was a BIG deal back in the day. In our tiny community, parents took a break from farming so that they could attend Sports Day at The School. I say ‘The School’ because there was only one school and it housed every grade 1 through 12. I am not going to say that the torch of past rivalries were handed down to the children to carry like a anxiety ridden, emotional burden……but….let’s just say there might have been some sideline betting and perhaps some quiet parental pre-race whispers of “Did I tell you that I won this race when I went to school?”, followed with, “Just do your best”. Basically, my father was the 1972 version of a hype guy.

Sports Day was always an extremely hot, sunny day: Pre-global warming so no sunscreen tucked into a backpack (BACKPACK? What the heck was a backpack?). There were no cooling shelters, no hovering parents or teachers ensuring we were hydrated. There were hot dogs and full sugar pop and candy and SILKY, SOFT, BEAUTIFUL RIBBONS that were pinned to your chest that blew in the wind like little flags.

Dogs these days are more cared for than we were as children circa 1970’s.

Running long jump, standing long jump, 100-yard dash, ball throw and high jump were set up in the large field behind the school.

Field competition was big, but the track competition was the biggest. I had already won 1st place in every field competition and the ribbons were pinned to the front of my white t-shirt. There was no way that a blue ribbon would sully the beautiful sightline of the silky red ribbons – no second place ribbon for me and if I was somehow relegated to receiving a [gasp] white third place ribbon…well…..I cross that bridge when I came to it.

The racing happened at the end of the day – about an hour before the buses began lining up to take us all home. The uneven grassy surface had been measured and marked with lanes and as each heat was run, my chances for that coveted 1st place ribbon grew within reach.

I Usain Bolted the heats….barely breaking a sweat as I dispatched my fellow grade 2 students one by one. Until……it was the final race and I was standing shoulder to shoulder with Patty….my nemesis. Patty was tall and thin with long hair that hung straight down her back in its shiny glory. Patty was pretty like Susan Dey from the Patridge Family and we competed in everything. We both vied for the top spot at our small school. Need I remind you: we were both 7 years old.

Mr. Rampuri held the starter pistol high above his head and said the magic words, “Get Ready, Get Set……GO!!!” and go we went….running as fast as we could over the uneven, grassy field, never stopping….not for a moment until the familiar pressure of the tape against my chest indicated that I was the victor. Patty was only one step behind and took her loss in stride, seemingly bored with the entire proceedings, a demeanor that only popular, pretty girls can carry off.

This day I was the winner. This day I went home with 6 red ribbons, a sunburn and heat stroke. This day I ran to the bus and laid my hot face against the cool red vinyl of the bus seats and prayed that I didn’t throw up.

The importance of knowing how to win and lose graciously is not lost on me. Patty and I exchanged the winning laurels back and forth through elementary school until I moved away. As I grew older I realized that I didn’t have to win at something to enjoy it, but that I needed to always do my best and having competition inspired me to always do better.

Don’t let this new world we live in take away the gentle, but firm pressure of trying your hardest, doing your best and making improvements. We may only give out purple participant ribbons these days, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot still celebrate excellence and hard work.

(originally posted in the Alaska Highway News June 2017)

Judy

Eyebrows, Va-jay-jays and Instagram – Oh My!

I could have titled this, “Amber Rose and her Mighty Bush”, but that seemed like a tag line from a new superhero series aaaaaaand I already am feeling uncomfortable and conflicted with my commentary about said Bush. I assuage my uncomfortable feelings by telling myself that courageous women like Amber are using their public platform to demystify the conversation on and about pubic hair and by their refusal to beat around the bush about pubic hair – they are taking one for the team. Let’s be real though….Amber Rose is no Malala

Here goes……

Yesterday as I refreshed my Facebook feed I was greeted with a story about Amber Rose and her Instagram post where she shared a photo of her laying naked featuring her generous swath of pubic hair, aka the mighty bush. I am surmising that her pubic hair was what was being featured in the photo, but she could have been simply asking for her followers to help her with her annual check for suspicious moles. Whatever the reason for the picture it didn’t matter, the photo had already been removed by the Instagram Police (but of course it had been saved elsewhere and was included in the story I was reading). The conclusion: Apparently it was important that we all realize that 2017 was the year that we #bringbackthebush

Who knew that The Bush needed a campaign to help it to return? Was The Bush in peril like the White Rhino? Where do I donate money? Can I use Apple Pay?

FYI, The Bush has never left. Millions…..nay billions of women world-wide still sport full pubic hair growth, they just don’t talk about it. A large percentage of them don’t care, don’t have time to worry about it and have more pressing matters that occupy their minds #longhairdon’tcare. Plus…. women living north of the 49th parallel need to consider the winter months…brrrrrr.

Why is a ‘Mighty Bush’ newsworthy or instagram-photo-worthy? Please tell me that people are not going to start posting pictures of their generous or otherwise pubic hair growth on Instagram. This is not the same as Instagram eyebrows people…..please remember that. And no…..your pubic hair is NOT the ‘Eyebrow of your Vagina”. We (most women) honestly don’t care if you let ‘it’ grow until it blends into your thigh hair; don’t care if you wax it so you look like a plucked chicken or if you Edward Scissorhands it into a work of art. It is like fingernails — let them grow, trim them short, paint them, embellish them….whatever. We don’t care…..or do we?

Judy

Why Doesn’t Anyone ‘Like’ me?

A friend menfacebook-liketioned to me recently, “I can’t believe people haven’t liked your recent Facebook post about XYZ?”. I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Meh….sometimes people just don’t feel like pressing the button. I don’t take it personally”.

We continued our conversation about how some social media posts get very little traction whereas others are liked and shared hundreds, if not thousands, of times.

What keeps someone from ‘liking’ your post? Why is a post of someone holding a sign that says, “I told Robbie that he could go to Disneyland if this post received 1000 likes” so popular? I mean….they are literally asking for you to like them.

Reminds me of the movie Notting Hill where Anna Scott (played by Julia Roberts) stands in front of William (played by Hugh Grant) and says, “I’m also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her”.

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It begs the question. If you constantly post updates and no one either comments, likes or shares it – did anyone actually read it…..or does anyone really care? And……if they don’t….should we quit posting updates? Also who is ‘they’?

The psychological mind warping that has happened since the introduction of social media is….well….significant. We Instagram a picture of our dog looking adorable and then we get a little jolt of (Simon Sinek says it’s Dopamine) chemical in our brain when someone ‘hearts’ it or comments with an emoji.

If I created a graphic that said, “I get a rush of a neuro-chemical akin to a mini-orgasm to my brain every time you ‘like’ this post”, would that make a difference? If Robbie asks to go to magical Disneyland, why can’t I request a rush of magical dopamine?

If Simon Sinek is correct and our brains are becoming re-wired due to our use of technology, does that mean that at some point we will no longer get the same rush of dopamine when we exercise or laugh out loud?

If I knew that I could get a “runner’s high” and not have to run…..wellllllll I might just quit running. (hahaha – I would have to start first).

But….as usual I digress. We were discussing why some posts receive many ‘likes’ and others receive none.

I have no clue. Well…I do have a clue, but it is the obvious:

  • No one saw it
  • No one understood it
  • You were vague posting and few people like a vague post
  • You were sharing some bullshit yellow rose of happiness crap
  • It was the 10th inspirational quote you posted that day
  • You were being insincere
  • You are an antagonistic, narcissistic jerk or jerkette
  • You say mean things
  • ………who knows why

If there was an eye-roll detector that allowed us to see how many folks rolled their eyes at our most recent social media update that would probably give us some insight on why it wasn’t liked or shared. Pfft! I am certain that my posts receive plenty of eye rolls!

Do I care? (I would be lying if I said that sometimes it didn’t bother me a weeeeee bit)

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Anime GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

At the end of the day, the ‘likes’ you receive on Facebook does not determine your value nor should you allow it to control how you gauge your worth as a person.

Your ‘followers’ or ‘friends’ do not define you.

Now….let’s all log off and go for a brisk walk – a jolt of dopamine awaits!

Judy

Cara Speaks….

I met Cara at our first TEDx Grande Prairie practice session. She sat in the first table directly in front of our makeshift practice stage and I could not help but notice how invested she was in each of our presentations. During my practice, she assumed the role of silent cheerleader, her smile encouraging, her nodding of understanding……I locked my eyes on her and clung as if it were a life preserver and she was keeping me safe.

We, the TEDx Grande Prairie 2016 speaking team, had just met for the first time and we were hearing our presentations for the first time. It was “solidarity in terror”, all of us feeling the pressure of our looming TEDx talks.

I knew that Cara was special. I felt her empathy for others – she wore it like an invisible cloak of feathers that fell softly as she moved. I felt safe around Cara.

You know when you meet someone and you feel like you have been wrapped in a hug of happiness? That is how I felt after spending time with Cara – especially after the evening where we all stood on that stage and shared our personal stories to the TEDx audience.

Here is Cara’s TEDx Talk – Familiar Strangers. It will fill you with hope.

 

Are you interested in hearing more from Cara? Well…..you can! She has a podcast where you can further experience the light that is Cara…..

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/cara-jones-speaks/id1131004280

Follow Cara on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carajonesspeakstv/?pnref=lhc

TEDx Talk – The Broken Window

Recently I was fortunate enough to cross an item off my bucket list. I was invited to do a TEDx Talk!

It was terrifying…..I am not gonna lie, but so empowering at the same time!

I would love it if you would watch it and share it – the message is so very important.

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TEDx Grande Prairie – 2016