Thursday, 7 January 2016

Became Miss Lame

Wow. Here it is. The end of Ms. Lame’s adventures in England.
From August 2011 until present, one week before my return move to Canada. How do I even begin to reflect?
Have I “become Miss Lame”
Four and a half years ago, my final days in Ontario before moving to the mysterious UK, I coined the blog title, “Becoming Miss Lame”. The basis of this title and the alias was two-fold;

1. Alliteration, “Lame” starts with “L” and has 4 letters, just like my actual last name.          “Lame L_____”.
As a youth, I claimed this title proudly, taking it before others could claim it for me. I thought I was being pretty clever. From a young age, I recognised that calling myself out for weirdnesses, farts, awkward moments, would enable me to harness power over the situation. No one could make fun of me if I was already claiming these oddities myself.  I got the knack of embracing the “piss take” of myself.
Translation: British to Canadian
Piss take; Slang for an act of mockery, an act of making someone or something look silly  

2. When I moved away, I was 25 and just readying myself to enter into the undiscovered “teaching world”. This was a world that I upheld as “truly adult”. I didn’t believe I was there and worthy yet. Time spent in the UK presented an opportunity to become that teacher, that full-blown adult. To have a positive influence on youth’s learning and intrigue them in science and health and almost more importantly, to have a positive impact on their social-emotional growth and well-being. Being a teenager is hard. I wanted to be that teacher that made a difference. I was all sparkles, lolly-pops and rainbows!

Have I “become Miss Lame”
I have stomached my way through the discouraging OFSTED-heavy, tick-box, administrative swamp that is the UK teaching system… This was an achievement.  4 years and one term of it.
What I learned: It got easier as I got more selfish.
Setting boundaries has been crucial. Much easier said than done.  These personal boundaries can only be set from within and take time to discover and embrace with a sense of entitlement. And the sense of entitlement fluctuates… A hell of a lot.
After four years and one term, I’ve not yet mastered it, but I am much better. The right balance, it is a hard place to get to in an overwhelmingly multifaceted world such as teaching which calls on and takes advantage of the altruistic.
I do believe that a part of setting boundaries is about accepting your limitations. Sure; one body, one brain, so many hours in the day. More positively and more importantly, it is about focusing on your strengths and the things that make you love your job. This re-centres you and re-builds inspiration… For Miss Lame, it was focusing on creative lesson planning, and listening to and enjoying the company of her students.  Bare minimum on admin crap… Enough to stay employed and appear good(ish) at it. To retain “team-player” status.
Without this tactic, the sparkle, lolly-pops and rainbows start to fade.  

Have I “become Miss Lame”
Do I feel “truly adult” and like “that teacher”?
My last half term of teaching, November until the 18th of December (2015) I have spent winding down, relaxing and “fully embracing the parts of teaching that I love and putting aside the administrative tasks (completing the barest minimum). Calm, happy brain = clarity.
I am going to miss my students and bonds we’ve achieved through my dedication to them and their learning and wellbeing. I know I have been “that teacher” to a number of students. I deeply value the overt and subtle ways students convey their appreciation and reciprocate care for me.
The recent shift, I do feel like “that teacher”. I know it. I don’t need to be told (however positive reinforcement is always nice). I know I am good. It took a while, but I believe it now. I can walk into a classroom and wing it with style and confidence (although I prefer to have a fun plan set).
Do I feel “truly adult”?
In addition to having just under 4.5 years of teaching under my belt, 2015 has been full of major life events and decisions, which “truly adult” people experience and make.  2015 proved to be a turning point, the shift towards my feelings of full-on “womanliness”.
On the 12th of January 2016, I will be departing from London Gatwick Airport, and flying to Canada with a ring on my finger and a bun in the oven.
My love, will be joining me in a few months’ time when his visa has been processed.

UK win.

Friday, 27 February 2015

The Miss Lame Train

I have become more and more self-aware over the years. As we all do.  And perhaps it is simply because I am moving into my late twenties and my thirties are upon me, and the raging, sporadic hormones of youth are officially quelling.

Or, perhaps it’s just time spent in this world. 

Learning to better recognise what really matters.

Something I have learned is that this “train ride” to self-awareness takes diverse routes and can involve meandering and at times, chaotic, adventures that seem to take us FAR off course, but the end result is always distance gained. Growth achieved. 

I imagine it is a life-long ride. Self-awareness, that is.  And based on my own observations of my students’ behaviours and my perceptions of my own and the people around me, I see that the gains in self-awareness can be most significant in those who sustain a reflective approach to their own behaviours and outcomes.

For example, “brilliant” Charlie, who has figured out how he learns best, that effort + time spent = quality performance, understands the significance of this discovery and applies these principles in his lessons and revision at home. He ultimately finds a way to be successful in school.  Meanwhile, crusty Abigail doesn’t complete her homework and then “sasses” Miss Lame for informing her of the repercussions. She finds herself in Science detention week after week for these recurring issues. 

August 2011 was my big move to the UK. Throwing myself into my teaching career. In BIG London.  Alone, at first. This launched me quite sharply onto a different course, sending Miss Lame’s “train” up, up, up a new, mountainous track. The scenery found on the other side, a complete mystery.  

The beginnings of “becoming Miss Lame”...

On this uphill trek, have been many jagged and unsettling turns as well as moments of pure exhilaration.

The jagged and unsettling…

Sharpe and scary, at times, are brutally honest teenagers. Miss Lame’ s achilles heel; over-empathy and over transparency. At times, a treacherous combination.

Standing before twenty-six. There is too much noise, I am distracted. I cannot communicate without disruption. "I can't control them. I can't do this" I think.  My face feels hot. My visual and auditory systems track each other, mal-aligned. My world is slow and blurred, too unclear to interpret with accuracy. A buzzing feeling begins to radiate from my centre- my brain, my chest. "I am totally lost. I can't get them back." My eyes scan the room and the haze breaks for a moment as I catch the eyes of a student who is waiting patiently for the circus to cease. One of the well behaved ones. I feel bare, "They know I am lost." Exposed. Panic. I am stuck, standing before twenty-six, much of my hour-long lesson remaining. I want to cry but this would be icing on the cake. 

As well as feeling alone and battered in the classroom,  Miss Lame also had times of feeling utterly alone in her world in general-  No family and old friends to feel deeply understood by.  

And, of course, then there are the just downright LAME moments that caused undue stress...

No matter what age and stage of life, Miss Lame still manages to have her LAME moments. 

Combine her over-active whirling, twirling mind, with her “jam-it-all-in” attitude and poof, you’ve got a petite, but densely packed, little freight train call Miss Lame  barreling along.  Loads of momentum, difficult to pause.  Something ought to go amiss.

I arrived in Amsterdam on a Sunday night.  Just three days prior, I could be found in the arrivals of Heathrow Airport, in a haze following her 7 hour international flight from Canada, back to the UK. Much of my summer holidays done.

This adventure, to Amsterdam, a Europe experience with Canadian friends- Sarah, Brian and Jon.

Gettin’ oot and aboot in Holland, “eh”.

After a decent night’s sleep in a hotel just outside of central Amsterdam, we head back towards central. The goal; baggage to be stored, and breakfast to be consumed. Museums to be paroozed.  
As we coast along the tram line, I start scanning through my overly-packed purse. I pull out a plastic bag containing a pair of flip flops, a book for reading with old receipts and my boarding pass sprouting randomly from in between pages, my laptop… and the messy, half-raveled cord, attached to a socket converter.

Miss Lame, the crazy bag lady. 

I continue examining. Hunting for the really important stuff now.
Pulled to the bottom by its own weight, I find my wallet.

Check mark. Or in British, “tick”.

And now for my passport.

My passport?

Miss Lame’s forehead furrows. Strange… “I could have sworn I had put it in my purse after getting through customs yesterday”… Thinking. Hard.  I flip hopefully through the pages of of my book- Maybe my passport joined the receipts and boarding pass in the page party?



No “tick”.

A happy-face avalanche; The “I’m-on-holiday-with-friends-and-carefree” expression quickly slips off my face.

Worry –face.

After establishing that my passport was in officially missing, not to be found amongst the mess of luggage, nor by chance buried in Jon, Brian or Sarah’s  bags, I officially launched into “big-ball-o-anxiety” mode.
What about getting home next Saturday? What about my visa? It was $500 CAN! Will I be able to re-immigrate into England? Will I be able to start my teaching job on September 1st????

This MASSIVELY LAME moment resulted in some major disruptions to the Canadia adventure in Holland. Preoccupied by needless stress. Not the most enthralling of expeditions to Den Haag, the capital, to check out the Canadian embassy. I felt like a huge inconvenience. 

(I must include here a shout out of love and appreciation to my three beautiful friends, Sarah, Brian and Jon, who were there for me during this time. In particular, Bri, for accompanying me on the detour adventures...)

These lonely, afraid and stressful moments, have been an important part of the “distance covered”, my gains in self-awareness.  They have also been beautifully balanced with magical and joyous realisations and experiences.

The magical and joyous…

Solo adventures...

Coasting along-side Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland, in an off-road jeep, I am exploding with absolute glee at the surreal landscape. Filled with pride, “I got myself here! I did this!” The jeep slows and halts before the volcano and with youthful joy and wonder, I emerge from the vehicle and scoop up the pure, volcanic ash with my bare hands. Its feel between my fingers and the thought of its origins, belched molten minerals from deep below ground, excite me beyond expression.

Shared family...

Christmas day, 2013, sharing succulent prawns and gushing, fresh oranges with beautiful Clara and her family in Canals, Spain. The moments of animated body language and exaggerated spoken words in attempts to break through the communication barrier between myself and her family members. The shared smiles and laughter that erupts at our failure to understand one another’s message. Mutual confusion. 

Student appreciation...

There have been those moments that a student reminds me, "why you do what you do"... A poem entitled “A teacher like you”, can bring me back from the most cynical of places…

These are beautiful highs that have been stamped firmly in my memory. And represent only a small fraction of the collection I've accumulated over my British years.   

I decided on a mountainous path when I chose to move to the UK.  I remember the day I arrived in London United Kingdom, two bags the size of me. Hopeful, excited and overwhelmed by the blurry, busy and unknown world that surrounded me. I had absolutely no idea what lay ahead. 

For that day. For the next four years to come. 

None-the-less, I knew that this journey would help me in becoming the Miss Lame I hoped to be.

I am currently in my 4th year of teaching in London UK, and I still struggle on and off with anxiety and times where I deeply miss my family, but over the past half year, I have noticed that the grave undulations of Miss Lame’s self-awareness train is starting to level out.
In love and with shared future plans in the works, with the "tall, handsome man I met running in the park".  A move back to my home country. To Canada.  Building a family. Forever connected with beautiful England and family and friends there. 

I am starting to catch a glimpse of the other side of the mountain. The view is absolutely gorgeous and fulfilling.  

A wonderful life I couldn’t have possibly imagined as a child.

Time spent in this world.

Learning to better recognise what really matters. Me. Family and friends.


Wednesday, 2 July 2014

The cheesy love post

The cat crept into the cradle, crapped and crept out again.”

Miss Lein bumbles and fumbles through the sentence in the darkness of the bedroom. Hyper inflection, I work hard to sound British. Moments of relative success I sound a bit like a posh, old British women, but most of the time I unknowingly Canadian-ise the words. I can feel Ali laid next to me, a broad grin, shaking his head at my poor translation of the sentence, from “Canadian” to “British”.

No, no, it’s cat, not caaat!”  Ali hangs on the “a” and breathes the words through his nose to exaggerate the nasal-ness of the North American accent.

We laugh in the dark together. I retry and this time I get a bit further along in the sentence before my Canadia language habits interject.   

Ali mocks, “Oooot”.

A long-held Canadian stereotype- our “o-u”s sounding like “oo”.

To be “oot and aboot” with friends, for example...

I have always felt this was a massively inaccurate stereotype and have vehemently highlighted its absurdity through the years.

I just don’t hear it. (Arms tightly crossed against my chest)

But apparently, we do. Evident by Ali’s jovial, unhesitant mimicry.

Tongue twister wins. Miss Lame and Ali give into the fatigue of a long work day and with grins, agree to resume the “British” practice session another time.


An aspect of Miss Lein’s health that has seen significant improvement since early December.


My world became an Ali-Beth world.  A proper sleep cycle was established upon his arrival into my life.

You are likely wondering… “Who the heck is this Ali character?

He is my love.

I know. It has been far too long since my last post. Many readers may have believed that I had totally forgotten about my own blog, or had accepted its death. But the blog and writing has perpetually sat in the back of my mind, surfacing from time to time. I think about writing, and long for the creative release. Throughout this year I have begun bits and snippets of writings when life presented new experiences, thoughts and feelings. But I’ve struggled with the fruition of these pieces, left partial, incomplete and unworthy of blog posting.

Writing constipation. This comes with a busy, teaching life and an active social, and now, love life.

Miss lame is in love in her big London world. It’s downright awesome.     

I have done all sorts of heart-on-my-sleeve posts about teaching, anxieties, courage, loss. Now it’s time for a totally cheesy, heart-on-my-sleeve love post.

How did Ali and I meet?

We have been living together since December and he only joined my London-world last December. How could this be?

Some back story may be required…

Just over two springs ago, May 2012. Clissold Park.

A regular, Miss-Lame-the-fitness-queen activity after a long teaching day was running circles around this lovely park. On this particular day, G.I. tract is angry. A sticky, humid, hot day. I will myself to go and I prioritise my comfort, putting on minimal clothing- little running shorts and a sports bra. I accept the unbecoming gas-baby distending my belly. High hopes for its birth during the bouncy run.

My love story wouldn’t be complete without something lame going on…

I shut the door to my flat behind me and off I went.

I began my jog of the perimeter of the park. Counter-clockwise, the usual. Halfway through my first round, my hamstring injury starts nagging. I pull off to the side of the wood chip path and go for a good old toe reach and some active stretching- right leg swings. In mid-stretch, I catch a glimpse of a fellow run by. Tall and handsome.

Oh, he looks cute!” I think to myself. I quickly wrap up my stretchy moment, and like the coyote chasing the road runner, legs producing circles and a cloud of dust, I accelerated after this handsome, running motivator ahead of me.

A back and forth chase begins. 

He pauses for a stretch a few hundred meters later. Miss Lame strides by. I can tell he has noticed me too.   This goes on for the first round of Clissold.  Miss Lame experiences a growing eagerness for things to move beyond the game of chase. The flip-flopping of coyote-road runner roles.  

Having spent almost a year in London, one of the things I had observed and had grown familiar with is the tendency for British men not to instigate conversations with women… Unless some form of social lubricant had been previously consumed… Not because they aren’t interested or lack confidence. They just don’t want to be presumptuous. They don’t want to be the “weird, creepy, assuming guy”.  With this preconception in my mind, coupled with my impatience and impulsive nature, I conjured a conversation starter… A “pick-up line”, so to speak.

At this stage in the game of chase, the tall, handsome man was the tracker, about 3 meters behind.

I encourage myself. Thinking… “You say something and potentially have a lovely conversation with a handsome man, or you say nothing and play a game of chase and then go home. BORINGGG!”

I call over my shoulder in his direction. The pick-up line: “Are you training for something?

No more than one heavy, running breath later, the space on the path to the left of me had been consumed by the tall, handsome man. No more chase. Mutual running. All he needed was an invitation.

So I am now told, the chase game began prior to my knowledge. I was not the coyote first. The tall, handsome man entered the park for his post-work run that sticky, humid day. He is about to start his clockwise routine when a little woman in little running shorts and a sports bra strides by.  A quick decision is made to break his routine. He runs counter-clockwise. I’m so glad he broke his routine that day.

The love of my life.

He and I ran three laps that day. And we barely noticed. I forgot about gas-baby and the humidity. It’s a wonder how we managed to keep our breath at the rate that we conversed all the while.
His name was Alistair. He loved travelling, sport and people. LIKE ME! He was open, warm and chatty. LIKE ME! And he was excited about his working visa he has recently obtained for a new adventure in… Australia.

NOT like me…

None-the-less, I understood his desire to try something new. To seek and grow. I knew the excitement and courage involved in going into the unknown.

We got each other.

The guy I had been seeing for a month at the time suddenly seemed like a complete waste of time.

At the end of our run, we agreed that running together was far better than solo.

Same day, time and same place next week.” It was settled.

I ran in Clissold park at that same time and place all week long. Hoping for an accidental run-in. Miss Lame hates waiting. No such luck.

Same day, time and same place the next week. We did not cross paths. My heart sank and my run around the park was half-hearted and more dull than usual. And this time I didn’t have a gas-baby and everything!

Same day, time and same place the next, next week… I go again.

He’s probably given up and moved on.” “He’s probably accepted it was a one-time thing and is focusing on Australia and moving into a new life.

I tell myself these pessimistic things in an effort to minimise the disappointment of not seeing him ever again. I try hard to logic, de-emotionalise the situation. But deep down, I was completely hopeful. Miss Lame cannot help but be led by her heart.

I pass through the park gate, and cut right, beginning my counter-clockwise routine. I lift my gaze to the path winding ahead.

What did I see?

A tall, handsome man bounding towards me. Ali. My heart fluttered with excitement and relief.
Our first date was set post this run. This time he instigated. ;)

We carried on seeing each other for the two and a half months leading up to his departure for Australia, knowing full-well that he was leaving.   

It was apparent. We were something special. I felt myself falling. I felt that it was mutual. In fact, he had the courage to tell me. What a new, magical feeling. 

He left that mid-August.

It hurt. But we both knew he had to go. How important it is to have these experiences.

We carried on communicating through facebook chat and the odd skype, and there were times of disconnect. Some lows. I was always hopeful and unwilling to fully let go though.
The following spring rolled around. May-ish 2013. At this time the messages were becoming long, baring and affectionate. I need to know if I am hopeful for good reason. I challenge.

We need to plan to travel together or be in the same place within the next year, or else, what is the point?

He agrees.

He decides he will come back to England to try us. Late November he will arrive.

The six month count down began. Many new and old things preoccupied me through this waiting period.

I spent two months in little London, Canada, with family. July and August 2013. During this time, in between very important old things, such as old friends and the old family cottage, I obtained a new visa.

Back to big London for full time teaching role numero dos in September at a new school.
Time passed quickly with the busy teaching life. Skype and facebook chat became less and less satisfactory as Ali's arrival date neared.  

The airport.

I wait anxiously in arrivals, set up along the rail barrier. Two peppermint teas. One for me and one for him. I recall how much he loved peppermint tea when I introduced him to it a year and a half ago.

I wonder how the hour long train ride home will feel.

I alternate between scanning the entrance way and peering at my mobile and flipping through facebook updates. I sip my tea. Finish my tea. Tear at the plastic lid of my tea cup until it’s in bits… 

Finally, he emerges through the large arrival archway.  The look of a long-term traveler. Some facial scruff, comfy, well-worn shorts and shirt, tired flip flops.

Wild, but handsome.

My heart flutters with nervousness and happiness. “I can’t believe this is my life right now!” I think excitedly. “My love story in the making!

He sees me. A grin. Sort of nervous too. He starts walking the long way around the railing barrier imposed to keep receiving people at a comfortable distance.

“Sod it!” He exclaims as he throws down his bag, pushes it under the railing and ducks under too. He extends up, in front of me. He is taller than I remembered. He is real. Not digital, skype Ali. We hug. And I offer him his tea. He beams. “That’s exactly what I need right now!

 NOTE: Any words that are boldeditalicizedunderlined and in red are suggested/preferred words by Mom. She doesn’t like me saying words like fuckshitass (etc) on the internet… I feel these words better illustrate my feelings at times, so just imagine them in there if you will.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Looking back


My last lesson finished at my sweet school in suburbia, just north of London.
Year 7 students hang off of any limb of mine they can get a grasp of. Imagine that classic cartoon of a baby sitter taking care of too many hyper children. That’s what I looked like.

“Miss Lame!”, “Miss Lame, I love you!”, “DON’T GOOOOO Miss Lame!!!” My little rays of sunshine call anxiously for my attention. Some spill with tears. Some hold gifts and homemade cards up to my face.

“The super group”, they were called around the school and especially within the Learning Support Centre. This “super group” started their first year of secondary school, year 7, with me, Miss Lame. This name was given to my class for the reason that they all required special adaptations to their learning needs. These needs ranged from motor difficulties, which impacted their writing speed and clarity, to learning disabilities affecting speed of apprehension and/or written communication, organization. The majority of my lovelies also fell under the ADHD umbrella.  Furthermore, many of these students also typically had more hectic home lives. This lack of structure at home helped to perpetuate their anxiety centres of the brain and further affect behaviour and memory function. 

(Check out "Beyond logic, consequence and control: A love-based approach to helping children with severe behaviours” to read about the effects of anxiety/trauma on youths’  behaviours)

Daily, at least one of my year 7 darlings would announce: “Misssss, I forgot to take my tabletssss!

I struggled for ages to teach this energetic, deeply loving, highly needy group of students. Getting them settled for science lesson (usually after they consumed ridiculous amounts of processed sugars over lunch) was a drawwwwwwwnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn……wwwwwnnnnnnnnnnn… out ordeal. In fact, sometimes… many times… settling down WAS the whole lesson. 

In the beginning of the school year most of my year 7 students couldn't write a full sentence on a line in their exercise books.  The tricky part… A select few could.

This was yet another challenge. Challenging all individuals.

Before I could effectively work out differentiation and challenging all students in a way that suited their unique needs, I had to first figure out how to even calm them within an hours’ lesson.
Spring came around and in the last 3 months of my teaching contract something changed. I think a few things changed, in me, in them.

Suddenly things worked. Our way.

A few things happened:

My rays of sunshine finally started to calm in their new, secondary school learning environment. Simple things such as the new building and classroom design became familiar. The routines, the style of learning, the new expectations had been absorbed and understood. For the most part… 

Secondly, I realized how to teach them. I remember the moment I made this connect. I was quite pleased, in fact, very excited, to discover that the best approach was to be FULL ON MISS LAME. I could embrace my inner child 100%.  The avenue of learning was play.  We frolicked in the field behind my classroom, counting dandilions in quadrats, playing games like “red squirrel versus grey squirrel” to learn about the impact of non-native species on competition for food and space. They loved doing the “Earth dance”, spinning in circles to demonstrate 1 day, 2 days, 18 days… Bending energetically side-to-side to represent Earth’s tilt away from and towards a lamp (the Sun) during winter and summer. On good days, or just when I could tell my students and myself needed it, we would finish up lesson with a dance party. The most hyper active of the bunch would exit my classroom soaked with sweat, red in the face.  I didn’t make them write as much. We just played with purpose.

The best part. They remembered everything.

I reflect, from Canada, over my summer holidays on my success with this beautiful group of children. They were so loving. They learned from me, and I, from them.

I, Miss Lame, can happily say I am becoming the teacher I've always dreamed of being. It is happening quickly. I am proud.

The most meaningful gift from a year 10 student:

Saturday, 3 August 2013


The dance floor.         

Perhaps not technically a dance floor. Miss Lame’s dance floor.
I.e.  The kitchen, my classroom, on the “pavement” (side-walk), in the streets, on and under tables…
Perhaps a list of places I would NOT dance would make this easier…  On a cliff edge where I might fall to my death? In a game of graveyard, when the “gravekeeper” is looking at me?  

In this particular dancy moment my dance floor was a corner in a moderately busy bar in North-East London. A space large enough to flail and dance without knocking or bothering the crowd of non-dancing, drinking and chatting young professionals and hipsters. In mid-spin, I catch myself in a state of complete and utter elation. It’s a surprise saliva isn’t seeping from the corners of my mouth with my face frozen as it was. Mouth wide open- a gigantic water melon smile.

My body moves, with the music, with its own way. Sensations of that instant are absorbed fully, yet not consciously articulated. In this pure moment, the external sound, the light and surrounding bodies meld and coexist with my internal- my heart beat, my sensory-motor impulses. Movements originate from my twisting, popping core and transfer to my windmill arms and legs zigzagging and wobbling in time.

Watermelon smile.

Ironically, as I realise this high point, this pure state of mind, I am brought back to a conscious place in which I am able to reflect on my actions, surrounds, past and present. I gleefully accept that a few seconds ago I was 100% absorbed in that particular period in time.
Coming to this conscious place, reflecting, my hippocampus starts dancing and I am suddenly launched into my past.

A cherished memory emerges.
My watermelon smile broadens into a genetically modified, super melon.

Dance. Miss Lame’s favourite form of movement. Since I can remember.

I remember:
The dress. Off-white, t-shirt length sleeves, a sort of linen type material. The skirt was crinkled and pleated long-ways past my knees and down to my mid-calf. The top part had the same off-white material with sewed on floral pattern. This dress. For a very special occasion. My first wedding. I was 7.

My hopes. I envisioned an expansive, classic dance floor. I had my ideas about what a wedding should look like and my expectations of the dance floor were high. Walt Disney is to blame. I imagined, other kids my age who would dance with me too. Even at age 7, I imagine a sweet boy asking me to dance.

My Grandpa Bob was getting married.

When grandparents get married, the dance floor is less expansive, and the crowd less mobile and youthful.

The reception was hosted at my Grandfather’s favourite watering hole in North Bay Ontario, The Legion. I remember, a larger room, dimmer lighting, in the lower level of a building. What one might imagine a Northern Ontario legion to look like… The wedding participant composition- Not children. With the exception of my siblings and I and our cousin Nick. No seven year old hotties to share in a dance with. I was NOT going to find romance at this wedding, however, there was a dance floor and I found it. Quickly. It was the space beside the tables and bar. Parquet floor. A good size- This pleased me. My 7 year old imagination built in the bits of romance that lacked about the space. I quickly got over my expectations. Dance became the sole priority.

My first memory of all-out Miss Lame dance and appreciation:

A hazy recollection my Aunt Vicci in her gold accented outfit. She loves gold. Some elderly participants cutting up the dance floor around me and my siblings, while we wriggled with all our might.

The cherished memory.

I remember my Dad jumping out of his chair that bordered the parquet dance floor. I remember facing him. I remember watching intently as his feet shift across the floor in a zig-zag pattern, as his whole body progressively drops, lower and lower with each zag.


Mini-miss Lame is blown away.  I remember absolute inspiration.

A dance with my Dad. This memory has stuck with me through life. In hibernation until this moment in the bar corner in North-East London.  

As I danced with no restraint, as an “adult”, I reflect on this memory, I recognize the underlying foundation of my dance style. THE TWIST. 
So many zig-zags- Some simple, the basic TWIST. Some with fancy lame modifications.

This shared moment with my Dad informed my future dancing style, yes, but it is more than that. This cherished memory embodies my Dad’s unconditional love and spirit. 
The form through which he displayed this. Through movement.

He was there.

I remember the booming Bruce voice that strained and hollered in shear excitement (where I suspect my volume control issues stem from) during times of intensity on the soccer field and as I dug my edges into the snow and swooshed under that gate, racing for the finish. The authentic, lame-with-no-shame leap for joy when goals were scored or I bombed through the finish line, the best time beat.

He was there.

Movement. Understanding my capacity. My power and influence. The dedication to others- the team, and most importantly, to self.
Understanding my capacity to advance and evolve- physical, intellectual, social and emotional.

On the parquet dance floor in the legion in North Bay Ontario, this moment of shared movement, I remember I can see and feel that he is my Dad and he loves me. No shame, his whole heart. We move together. Mini Miss Lame and big Bruce Lame.

This moment told me this and this is why it has stayed with me.

What cherished memories has stuck with you? Why? What moves you?

Monday, 1 July 2013

Miss Lame springtime travels

This moment in time, at this new place full of new stimulus, new perspectives, a new vibe, that is impossible to summarise to perfect clarity with words.  The same place will look differently in a different year, a different season, yesterday, through a different lens.  The bitter-sweet realisation, that you will never be able to see everything, in every form, in a life time. In a thousand life times. This is also what is so magical about travel. Your experience.
Your precious moment in time.
It has informed who you are and how you see the world. More enriched. Even when things don’t happened ideally, learning is the result. We are still… More enriched.
Your moment. Your opportunity. Your growth.
My body bumps and bobbles side to side as my volcano tour guide drives the off-roading jeep along the young, barely evident roads that carry us, adjacent to Eyjafjallajӧkull- The volcanic range that erupted 2010.  Newly laid igneous rock, newly laid tracks- It is illegal to start a new path in Iceland. Police must be the first to imprint the land.

The severely grooved tire tread picks up young ash and occasionally wields glacier water that trickles in small rivers intersecting our path, streaming from Eyjafjallajӧkull to our right. 

My charismatic guide is telling myself and the two other travellers, about Icelandic delicacies; “lamb scrotum jelly” and the fermented shark that “smells like pee”. He too, does not quite understand WHY.
It’s taken with a shot of this harsh liqueur”.
We agree it’s not about the pleasure of food, rather an opportunity to prove “toughness”, or rather a lack of tastebuds...
We park. Eyjafjallajӧkull provides me with a sample of ash for my students. I am very excited about the small container full of deep, black material, jam-packed with minerals. Just a few years ago, molten and deep in the Earth.
EEEEEEEEEieieeeeeeeeghhheeeee!!!! (Excitement)
Lava is probably one of the coolest things in the world to Miss Lame.
Standing proudly with my small container of ash, crystal blue sky day, peering up at the massive overhanging glacier at the location where the volcano spewed externally in 2010 (most of the eruption occurred under the glacier atop the range).  The Sun is sat right at the crest of this stout, but long volcanic range.  It makes the snow and ice glimmer, and the blackness of the young ash abrupt and contrasted.

I feel this extreme, elated feeling. My heart is exploding with happiness and excitement. The natural wonders that surround me. My brain, buzzing and tangential with science-dork thoughts.  I wonder, “Can one have a heart attack from extreme happiness?
On the tour, I am also introduced to Hekla. A hyperactive volcano, she erupts frequently, sort of like Miss Lame… Typically, Hekla vocalises every 10 years or so. It has been 12 years, so I crossed my fingers in hopes that Hekla would be hyper with me. My guide informs me that these moments of hyperactivity are not particularly dangerous, not like in the movies, with fireballs and unbeatable rivers of lava.  I am told that an old lady with a walker could out run the oozing lava that makes its way out of Hekla. Hekla does, however, start throwing around pummus, which if struck by, would hurt. Pummus is often used for scrubbing callouses on feet. Hekla, 100 metres in front of me, I bend down and grabbed another sample. For my students… and the callouses on my feet…
On this unique and inspiring tour, I am also shown the youngest island in the world, in the distance, barely visible in the picture below.

The island was built up from years of continuous eruptions in the ocean, which surfaced and quelled in the past 5 years or so. Under study, only scientists are allowed to place foot on this small, infantile landmass. Nothing may be left or taken there- Poop bags are a must. The birds that fly over-head, however, are not bound by these strict regulations, and so they leave their mark.  The scientists have begun to observe minute signs of first-ever life/growth on the youngest island on Earth and it is mostly owed to the birds generous gifts of poop
Poop = organic matter = life. How beautiful.
This day long adventure was my moment in Iceland.  At this time in natural history, when this small landmass is the youngest in the world, Hekla was chilled out, and only two years ago, Eyjafjallajӧkull beltched igneous rock with ample minerals and transformed the surrounding Icelandic landscape.
How fortunate I am.

  • ·       Spanish, or I should say, Catalunya life.

Merci!” I say as the server approaches me.  
He beams, “ohh, do you speak Catalan?!
Thanks to my Catalan ex-flatmate and dear friend, Clara, I arrived in Barcelona, well equipped with the “proper” greeting for the Catalonian region of Spain.
Not with the French accent”, Clara had highlighted.
Great first impressions in Barcelona for Miss Lame!
Thanks Clara!
Throughout my time in Barcelona, day after day, a picture of Catalan identity was painted with distinct lines, in colours and words.
An apparent, overriding wish, to be a place separate from Spain. I am reminded of the dynamic between Quebec and the rest of Canada.
I see evidence in the form of blue and white stripes hanging proudly from windows.
A student survey conveys the widespread feelings of Catalan people. Parc Guell. With a fellow Canadian and friend, John, who had joined me for Barcelona adventures.  Gaudi curves and colours encompass us in the form of the world’s longest bench. Resemblance of a slithering dragon’s curvaceous spine. 

We are part of a tourist mass atop this outlook spot. Two local youth, likely around eleven year old, clipboard in hands, approach us.

A class project. Survey the tourists.  
They gently request to “ask us a few questions”, pointing at their clipboard to fill in the communication gaps. John and I curiously and happily accept.
The interviewers first look for simple, one word answers. This is easiest for both parties.  

Where are you from?

What is your favourite sport?

Do you like Barcelona?


Our interviewers are quite satisfied with our responses and record them confidently.
We are then confronted with their final question “What do you think about Catalonia independence?
John and I look at each other. Puzzled. Stumped. On unsettled territory upon which we have little ground to stand on.
Could we possibly find any ONE word that may suffice?!
We err on the safe side and decide on a simple response that will appease our over-ambitious interviewers. We have learned after 4 days in Barcelona what they would like to hear.
It’s good” we say with an apprehension, a sort of question in an answer. We are aware of the over-simplicity of our response, and our under awareness of the historical, political situation. We give them a visual “thumbs up” to evade the communication barrier. John and I look at each other, both knowing that pages upon pages of words could be used to respond sufficiently to their inquiry. Research required.
  • ·       Rosemary, thyme and climb.

John and I set out to climb Montserrat, up to the famous Monastery atop the geological breadknife. Monserrat is named after the “serrated” profile it imprints against the sky.  

We begin our climb and initially our bodies oxygen demand supersedes our oxygen supply. My forward lurching posture gives me a great view of the rock upon which I am cascading.  I observe a lot of sedimentary rock and Neil Shubin’s words come to mind. Sedimentary rock equals discovering fossils (Your Inner Fish). This is because the processes in building of sedimentary rocks involve the layering and compacting of bits of sediment (eroded pieces of rock), which would preserve little dead organisms. A big earth hug!  Meanwhile, while igneous and metamorphic rock is built in extreme heat conditions. Dead organism melt down! Breathing heavily, I excitedly and actively scan the rocks, hopeful that I might spot a simple little fossil. Rosemary shrubs graze my calves and thyme seep out of rock crevasses. I touch them, I smell them. I sweat and my breathing fluctuates with the mountain grade. My glutes contract and pull me up and forward. All my senses are active and I am aware of them all. I  am officially living in that moment and time. I am overwhelmed and again, my heart explodes with sheer happiness.
Rosemary galore
Over half way up. The view.
Moments from the monastery

My moment in Spain.

 NOTE: Any words that are boldeditalicizedunderlined and in red are suggested/preferred words by Mom. She doesn’t like me saying words like fuckshitass (etc) on the internet… I feel these words better illustrate my feelings at times, so just imagine them in there if you will.