Readings, swearing, challenges, and forgetting to set the alarm


winter, uptown

This morning I woke at 5:54AM, realized my alarm hadn’t gone off, leapt out of bed, and somehow got into running gear with shoes on and teeth brushed before my running friend arrived at the door at 6AM. Good grief! It’s been that kind of week, with little margin for error in the schedule. But I suppose it’s also been that kind of week, with things turning out just fine even if the wheels aren’t turning completely smoothly. (And how about that–I need a mere 6 minutes to prep in the morning? I could be sleeping in!)

I’ve been working on my manners while driving. Driving = swearing, in my world. There’s something about being stuck in a vehicle, possibly but not necessarily late, behind other vehicles that are behaving in erratic nonsensical fashion that brings out a rage I rarely experience otherwise. My kids are very helpful, calling out my muttered curses. “Mom, you said the “H” word,” CJ told me yesterday as we sat at a green light behind a car whose driver did not seem to understand the meaning of green lights. Everyone was too politely Canadian to honk, of course. “I’m sorry,” I apologized to CJ. “I’m really trying to work on not saying bad words while driving.”

“I know what you should do,” he piped up, while munching a cookie. “You should meditate in the car.” This cracked everyone up when I reported it later on, no doubt everyone imagining Carrie sitting with eyes closed ignoring the traffic and breathing deeply; but actually, I did take a few deep breaths–eyes open–and it helped. It’s all about weighing what matters, and whether you really want to work yourself into a snit over [fill in the blank]. Usually, the answer is, big picture, I’d rather have a chat with my cookie-eating kid than be gripping the wheel, shoulders tensed, cursing the eccentricities of those who share the road. If only I could recognize that before I start swearing, not during. Connecting the dots between meditation and real life is the real challenge.

Speaking of challenges, yesterday definitely qualifies. Piano lessons, picking up kids from different schools at different times, writing on laptop in car between pickups. Home to eat take-out pizza fetched by Kevin, then up to the little kids’ school for their arts night, visiting with friends and neighbours, ducking out early, dropping little kids at home in care of their older sister who was distracted by her imminently due science fair project (the dining-room table covered in chopsticks, copper wire, batteries, and bouncy balls), and at last, getting changed and zipping over to Conrad Grebel College to read as the final guest in their Mennonite Writers Series. After all that running, what a surprising pleasure it was to come to a stop in the Grebel Chapel. I could not have felt more welcomed. The evening was a total pleasure, and something about the format felt as natural as if I were reading to my kids at bedtime (dressed in nicer clothes, wearing makeup, with a microphone pinned to my shirt). As I sat there at the end of the presentation looking out at this warm and generous audience, I thought, wow, this is a damn lucky life. Embrace it, receive it, savour it.

And then go home to tea and bed in such a happy state of mind that you forget to set the alarm, apparently.

Anyway … I’m reading again tonight at WLU, at Lucinda House, 6:30PM. Then I’ve got a little break in the readings, with more to come in April. I will keep you posted. And I’ll let you know how the car meditation is going …

xo, Carrie

An exercise that is not interested in right or wrong
Monday morning dentistry


  1. Hope to see you there tonight.

    • Thank you for coming tonight, Kerry!

      • P.S. I’m so sorry that my books aren’t available in audio book form. I’m very much hoping they will be someday…

  2. I read your post and am relieved about one thing: there is another mother out there who swears while driving.

    • Oh yes, it’s true, I’ve said all the words. Not just the “h” word.

  3. It was great to meet you in person, after reading your writing here for so long now.
    Again, I apologize for missing the first part of your reading. It can be difficult having to rely on others for transportation for these things.
    I wanted to thank you and let you know I really enjoyed the part of your novel I did hear because it reminded me why writing matters so much to me. It helps me feel not so alone, as what you wrote related so much to an experience I had just this week, visiting my aunt at her long-term care home.
    I am glad you had a few books left available. And don’t worry about it. I read braille, can scan print, buy ebooks and listen to books in audio format as well. I had planned on buying one from you no matter what. I love owning books and would line my house with shelves and shelves of print books if I had that luxury.

    • I’m glad you have so many resources available, Kerry, for reading books. And thanks for your kind words about the passage I read. Please don’t apologize for arriving a bit late — thank you for taking time to come to Waterloo. It was lovely to meet you in person too.


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