Tag Archives: learning

Out of Adversity Comes Awesome

Life moves quickly. I whiled my weekend sourcing luggage and committing to one. I’ve had travel inoculations. I’ve made a financial strategy re banks and credit.

I know the average blogger pulls the “Gosh, I’m so sorry I’m not writing, I’m so busy!” shit a lot, but in this instance, it’s true. In 5 months my whole life needs to have been imploded, stored, sold, paid for, or packed into a suitcase. I’ve written indepth about this over at The FullNomad.com today. Read that here.

I’d love nothing more than hours to pound on my keyboard, pontificating on Steffness and Infinity World, but things gotta get done, man.

I’m charged. Chuffed. Stoked. Whatever you wanna call it. 58 days ago I blew out my knee. This weekend is the first I’ve done stuff without having to baby my knee much. I rode my bike! I’ve photographed! I’ve felt freedom after nearly two months of feeling trapped.

CharcoalMore importantly, I feel like a victor. I coulda panicked when I blew my knee. I could’ve pushed too hard out of fear. There’s a million ways that all could’ve gone so awry.

Instead, I trusted my instinct, hoped for the best. I trusted my caregivers too, but ultimately realized I was the person in control of everything. That’s a hard place to tap into when injured because injury itself feels like loss of control.

Not so, however. I could’ve sat there and done nothing but wait for the knee to heal, but I found a happy medium. If not for the knee injury, I would not have finally realized I need shoes in the home to minimize my long-time calf problem that causes pain while walking. I wouldn’t have learned a passive approach to stretching my hip flexors, which is a huge problem-solver with low-back pain. I also wouldn’t have discovered the abductor stretch as the single-most important stretch I can do for hip stability, ending a major issue for the last year.

Without the knee injury, I’d be going to Europe with a lot less confidence in how to deal with my tricky back after travel days. I can’t tell you how much cash I’ve spent over five years to fix my body, but this knee injury gave me the most important keys I’ve learnt in all that time. Invaluable. What a gift. Hey, thanks, torn meniscus. You rocked my world in a good way.

How bizarre.

Perspective, Grasshopper

0d67403c40e1fc86b2e6156a37f5b0cbIf I had to guess my single best quality for living abroad, it’s what I’ve just described — my choice to make adversity into an advantage by learning something new about myself along the way. Adversity happens, people. Deal.

Was I born with that? I don’t think so. Maybe a bit. But I think it’s mostly a developed skill. You have to want to get something out of bad situations. It’s an attitude and a choice. Develop that skill, and hard times are never as hard again.

It’s about learning to learn. Learn everything possible, every day, every way. Question everything. Believe in yourself but also know that you don’t know shit when it comes to cosmic proportions. I leave room to doubt myself, if only because it forces me to become sure of myself. Zen, that.

The Gift of 40

These days, I feel blessed I didn’t get to see the world in my 20s. Granted, I know some freakin’ awesome 20-somethings out there travelling, but I also know how much has happened in my years since when I would’ve been travelling, had life not derailed on me, and all that perspective will temper my world-view in wonderful ways.

10950585_752150741570470_1275021983_nI’m so much more empathetic. I’m accomplished. I’ve almost managed to claw out of my debt through hard work. I’ve had a lot taken from me but a lot taught to me too.

There’s a sense of peace and invincibility that comes from all those things. They’re similar to what you learn on the road, too, but I learned them in two regional postal codes.

I love being a woman in my 40s. 42 looms. Shame in aging? Screw that. The 40s are when you understand who the hell you are, what you’re made of, and just how much you can face down. It’s the decade when you finally get past all the posturing, you grasp just what’s not worth wasting time on, and you recalibrate. Or if you’re lucky, that’s how your 40s will go down.

Is my 5-year-plan for world travel just a midlife crisis? Then I say I love midlife crises! Imma gonna have the best midlife crises EVER. Why the hell not? What’s wrong with saying I WANT WHAT I WANT AND I WANT IT NOW?

Absolutely nothing.

It’s Either This, or That

Should I be settling down, buying a home, and being conservative for my retirement? What, here, in one of the most out-of-control real estate markets on the planet? Give your head a shake, bro. I’ll have less financial burden on the road than here.

Kick-ass1-500x472Should I be married and having kids? With the planet on target for 9 billion people in 2050, I think you’re cool without my participation in the breeding program, all right?

And frankly, while I absolutely know I will always regret not having kids, I promise you, I would’ve really regretted HAVING kids. And having kids knowing full well you would resent their impact on your goals, time, and freedom pretty much makes you cruel or foolish to bring a life in the world and saddle them with your bullshit.

That “regret” of not having the family and the home and the fence comes from understanding the full potential of the human condition. I get it, man. I know family is wonderful. But I can’t have that and be the person I’ve always dreamt of becoming. That’s not selfish, that’s self-preservation.

And funny thing is, when I’ve dreamed of my future, it’s never included a spouse, a marriage, or a kid. I’m not adverse to the spouse or marriage, but I’ve never viewed it as something I require for the life of my dreams. I’ve never imagined myself as a mother. Not even once.

I chose not to have any of those things as a trade for freedom to follow my whimsy. Until now, my whimsy has been unspectacular. I’ve always been a late-bloomer. So at 42, just watch me go.

In the end, I get to travel, become the writer I know I can be, and leave a legacy of words and trips and photographs and creation. That is the choice I make. That is the trade, and it’s a fine one at that.

A Last Good Look, Then No Looking Back

These days, I enjoy reflecting a little on calendars and time, and how much falls between it all on the life/adversity spectrum. It’s fun, remembering where I’ve come from, because I’m about to leap into the great unknown and not look back anymore.

Soon, the past is prologue and the story begins anew.

That too is a choice.

I can’t help it. I’m elated to batter my keyboard, lost in thought about all the lessons I’ve learned and just how useful everything I’ve ever been through will be, once I’m ambling up old town cobblestone streets, lost in places I’ve dreamed of being since I was 15 and reading Paul Theroux on my front lawn. This writer, man, the worlds he brought me seemed like an untenable dream.

Now I’m the woman I need to be to have what I dreamt of all that time ago.

Life’s about to become one hell of a trip.

Inconvenient Lessons Are the Best Lessons

Dreaming is a luxury of the able, I sometimes find. Those able to afford it, those able to do it.

Injury and adversity flips my switch from thriving to surviving, and I find all dreams and desires vanish as a matter of necessity. All that matters is this day, this challenge, and overcoming it. After that, maybe then dreams.

This leg injury of the past week has been an interesting life-lesson for me. A Steff-lesson too, in that I’ve learned a bit about myself.

learn-64058_1280

I don’t think I’ve ever realized before now just how drastic that flip of my switch is. I go from imagining my future to having this rather dogged what-needs-to-happen one-foot-in-front-of-the-other modus operandi on basic survival. I’ve barely even thought about “Life Abroad” this week.

(Psst, you know I started a new blog, “Full Nomad,” for my travels, right? Start here.)

And it has only been nine days for me with the knee/meniscus issue, but it’s like a spotlight on why I had no “dreams” for so long when I was living in Vancouver.

I was just trying to survive, man.

I got out at the right time. Any longer and I think I might’ve crippled myself emotionally. It just wasn’t the right place for me anymore. That may sound dramatic to some, but I really don’t care. I don’t like to think of who I might’ve become had I kept ignoring the signs of what was wrong in my life.

No one should ignore what’s going wrong in their lives, though. That’s the trick of existence. There’s a certain amount we have to abide, because life isn’t a happy-happy sunshine club every day, but there’s a point where ignoring lack of contentment starts to eat at who we are. I was long past that.

Once I got to Victoria, I realized that this wasn’t my “place” either. I do love it here. I love Vancouver too. It’s just that there’s something missing for me. That “something” is likely not anything specific, but instead the excitement of travel and the drinking-in of every culture on the planet, an alternate existence I thought I’d live in my 20s and it never happened.

But this week, I stopped thinking about all that. I just wanted to be here, to enjoy this place. Victoria is gobsmackingly gorgeous as spring blooms, and I want to be a part of it.

Funnily, it’s because I was injured three times in a row last summer and worked so much during it all that I made the decision to stay until my 42nd birthday this September. One final summer in the Queen’s beloved Victoria.

Ironic then that on what we in Vancouver & Victoria have always jokingly considered the start of spring, February 21st, that I should suffer this knee injury.

Oddly, though, it’s healing faster and better than any knee injury I’ve ever had. It’s just inconvenient long enough to teach me — or remind me — about perseverance, restraint, gratitude, and dreaming.

I feel a lot of gratitude today. I’ve been pretty much walking without any support for a couple days. I last really used my crutch on Friday night. If I go for a walk tomorrow, it’ll be with a cane. I’ll be in a knee brace for a few weeks until I’m confident my knee is fully healed, but I’m so optimistic that I can get fully past this before April, leaving me nearly 6 months to get in better condition for Life Abroad.

Today’s dream involves thinking about the travel bike I’ll buy for my trip and where it might just take me once I’m in Europe. I like the idea of spending part of Spring in France, living in the countryside where I have to cycle 3 to 5km into town for a morning croissant and to buy baguette for my dinner with cheese and charcuterie and wine. Nice slow ambling over rolling hills, lavender wafting in an early morning breeze.

Nothing in this world feels as free as cycling down a new road in a new place in the sunshine with a breeze and not a care in the world. Nothing. To do that abroad, in places I’ve always dreamed of seeing, that will be a huge ingredient in the success of my travels.

To make that happen, now another gear must shift — writing for dollahs. To work, Cinderelly. To work.

Trusting in the School of Life

Something flipped my switch, making me think about trust this morning. Trust and asking for help. I don’t really do these things well.

In my full-nomad life of globetrotting to come, I suspect the lessons I’ll learn fastest, hardest, most often will do with trusting others and asking for help from folks who’ve got nothing to gain from helping me.

I could tell you I’m travelling the world alone, and sort of I am, but really, I’m not. Every trip will mean me relying on the kindness of others, and trusting that everything will work out so I get where I need to be when I need to be there.

People after people after people. Flashes of life before my eyes, and then they’ll be gone again, all playing a small, fleeting moment of importance in my journey.

It’s All in the Fix

There are no rules, really, to travelling the world. Most people I know who have travelled long-term did it on savings and didn’t have to work, so hostels were a great way to keep costs down.

Not an option for me. I’ll have to work 30 hours a week, perhaps more if I’m writing well and often. At the very minimum, I’ll need a private room. I also want to do a lot of cooking when I live in towns with famous markets.

For the cooking and the penchant for panstlessness, it’s in my nature to want to have apartments entirely to myself when I travel. Still, I’ve recently made a choice that at least ⅓ to ½ the time, I will stay with hosted AirBNB places.

Bonus points if it’s run by:

  • A Granny
  • A savvy middle-aged artsy woman who makes bold life decisions
  • Foodies who offer opt-in meals that are traditional and regional

Options include lovely families on farms, an avant garde female journalist in Morocco, a Frenchman who enjoys cooking at a professional level, and so many other stories and biographies of people I can stay with.

Megolithic stones of Camaret, France, in Brittany, where I hope to spend 4-6 weeks. By y.caradec.

Megaliths in Camaret-sur-Mer, France, in Finistere, Brittany, where I hope to spend 4-6 weeks. By y.caradec.

The Gift of Limitations

It’s easy to think that having to travel on a budget is a “downside,” but I think it’s a gift.

One of my “limitations” in my travel plan is the goal of spending under $750/month in lodging fees. That excludes a lot of cities unless I want to splurge for a week and follow it up with a budget stay. It also dictates when I can visit popular places (since winter months are cheaper), and it will make me have to make difficult or creative travel choices for a while.

It’d be easier to achieve that budget in South America, but I just want to see Europe in-depth so badly. There are a lot of travel-free years I have to atone for. Plus, I want to eat all the foods and drink all the wines. They encourage drinking at lunch, people. AT LUNCH. And naps!

Why wouldn’t I want to start travelling there?

Lost in Translation

As time passes, I start realizing what it’ll be like with people who often don’t speak English or who do it badly. This will further hone my ability to trust because I won’t understand them very well either and we’re apt to have mixed messages.

Then there’s travel’s unpredictability. One of my neuroses is how it sends me for a tizzy when things don’t work out PRECISELY as I plan. This is exactly what’s going to test me the most. At least I can take solace in that I usually roll really well with adversity and changes in the plan — after an initial freak-out phase, before I take a few breaths and sort that shit out. I suspect travelling will streamline how quickly I transition from freak-out to sort-out in the future, though, and for the better.

Waiting On My Soul to Change

It will all be worth it, though. The biggest classroom, the best lessons, the longest learning experience of my life. They will all be worth it.

I’m excited to see how living-on-the-road travel changes me, how being immersed in other cultures and values reminds me of what’s important in life.

I’m even excited to have WiFi and data plans become problematic, because I’m looking forward to life where I’m engaged and observant all the time, not distracted and staring into my phone.

I’ll also appreciate food a lot more when I seldom have a kitchen I can just walk into and cook in, or when I’m constantly ordering meals in different languages only to find out after the fact that it’s something I abhor. “Oh, look. It’s tripe stew.”

Daydreaming Through Dreariness

My adversities of my 30s really taught me a lot about what the “big things” in life are, and how stupid so much of what we worry about is. I expect for these lessons to be amplified when I’m on the road. All the things I can’t change. All the things out of my power. All the things that can be improvised.

All the things.

It’s increasingly hard for me to live in the present, but I think that’s less about my wanting to get out on the road and more about the fact that January just kind of sucks. Got the no-good winter blues, baby.

When spring comes here in Victoria, it’s a magical time, and it’ll be easier being in the moment and remembering that all I need is a good coffee, a seaside seat, and the time to enjoy it. While I can, here.

A friend just asked me this morning if I would move back to Victoria when these travels are all said and done.

Gotta tell ya, the more I look at the rest of the world, the more that answer’s likely to be no. It takes so much to have the money to live the “good” life here. The swish-swish-zoom-zoom of traffic isn’t really my idea of bliss anyhow. I think a more remote life awaits me in the next chapter after travelling. It’s just a matter of where in the world it’ll be.

The funny thing is, I trust that I’ll find a place that completes me and makes me feel like I have everything I want. I know it’s out there. I know it. People will tell you they travel because they’re looking to find something, learn something. I’m sort of travelling to find my tribe, my place in the world, my passion for people. If there’s anything I trust already, it’s my ability to find that.

That’s a good start.

Our Lives After Their Death

There’s a full moon tomorrow. I’m in a weird headspace.

In social media, I’m seeing snippets here and there from those I’m connected with, remembering the passing of our good friend Derek Miller last year. My thoughts on Derek, as his death took the world by storm by way of an incredible blog post, were posted here.

Someone once graffiti'd a lot of sites in my new neighbourhood, and this one made me think of Derek last week -- a lighthouse, a beacon, at the end of a long path, and at the foot of it, "The things you really want, you can't buy."

Derek’s death became a lot of things for a lot of people, and I’m having trouble even now identifying what it meant to me, but I know his blog post, and his passing, were part of why I spent the next few months realizing how unhappy I was with my life. The thing was, I knew someone like Derek would simply comment, “Well, then change it.” So, I tried to figure out what I needed to change, why I was so deeply unsatisfied with everything.

He may have “just” been a husband, father, and all-around geek, but I got the sense that there was really nothing else Derek wanted from life. He had everything he wanted. He was where he wanted to be. All he wanted was more life, more of the same with the people he had around him.

All The Things I Wasn’t

I found myself thinking a lot about, well, I’m not where I want to be. I don’t have what I want. I don’t have the people in my life I want (ie: love). Let’s not even talk about the bigger picture.

I’d been kind of skating through life and sort of ignoring anything below the surface. I’d stopped being a good writer (in my view) and stopped living the deeper, observant, involved life I’d once had. I’d been depressed before, but this wasn’t depression — this was plain old unhappiness.

Derek’s death somehow was a slap in my face, like a loud shout of Wake up! Get it right! Time’s ticking!

And, it took a while, but I think I’m where I am now because I’d realized through him of just how far afield I was from the things I considered basic requirements in life — time to write, close to the ocean, quiet, and so many other little things that speak to who I grew up being, who I was in my 20s, when I was most “myself.”

I’m new here, in Victoria, so I’m ironically even more “alone” than I had been in Vancouver. I’ve not been looking for a new tribe yet, but I will begin later this month. Because that’s another lesson I’ve learned through him. Some people just make our souls feel better, and we need them in our lives. We are better people when we have better people around us, and there are few we can’t learn something of life from, but others offer a master class in it.

Two Lost Souls Swimming in a Fishbowl

When I sat in that theatre for his remembrance, listening to all those amazing people paying homage to Derek, hearing their stories, I couldn’t stop thinking about the degrees of life. This couple, Derek and Air, they were in the same crowd I’d run with nearly 20 years before. But by inches and degrees, we must have missed each other here, there, and at different times. Somehow, some way, we never connected until the end of Derek’s life.

What if I’d paid more attention? What if I’d slowed down? What if?

I’m not done learning lessons from Derek’s life. Or anyone’s life. I’m just not done learning.

Next week, Mother’s day rolls up again, and the Hallmark Machine is playing that message loud and clear. So, these days, I’m thinking a lot about the people I’ve lost in life, the legacies they’ve left me, and whether I’d feel I’d done enough if I were to leave this realm tomorrow.

Coming Back to Life

Getting here, moving, that was a start toward the life I’d like, and the legacy I seek to leave. But I’ve barely even begun on my way. I was off-track so many years that just getting back on-track is a hell of a journey in itself.

I’d like to think there’s plenty of time for me to get it right, but that’s foolishness. Sooner is better than later.

So, as the full moon messes with my frequencies, and the hazy oppressive clouds dampen the world beyond windows, I’m lost in thought about who I am today versus who I’d like to be, when I really should be writing a project quote and starting my day job’s work.

Sigh. I don’t know how to finish this post. I’ve tried six different endings and I keep deleting them. Maybe there is no ending. Not for me, not for this, not yet. Maybe there is just a beginning.

Well, then. That’s how it is.

Shamelessly borrowed from Ebaumsworld.com.

What I’ve Learned Slowly in Life & Writing

They don’t tell you that knowing who you are isn’t enough.

They don’t teach you that having a sense of identity doesn’t equal understanding how that identity fits into society.

They don’t say that loving what you’re gifted in doesn’t mean you’ll ever be able to make a living at it, or even that you’ll ever be guaranteed access to doing it.

No. They don’t.

That’s the way the reality dice roll.

Shamelessly borrowed from Ebaumsworld.com.


I remember a day in early May, 1994, sitting on a rocky shore in Oregon, as waves crested and broke below me, a notepad wobbling on my knees, wanting more than anything for the ability to break through the writing-blahs I’d been wallowing in, and wishing I knew how to do what I wanted for a living. I remember staring into the waves and thinking the only thing I ever really cared about was being able to just explore writing in my own way, and to do it for myself first, always.

I had no idea then, but that was the start of a very long,  strange ride for me — within 4 months I’d be living in the Yukon, within 5 years my mother would die, within 10 years I almost died, and then came the struggle through the Weird after, much of which I’ve written about at length.

I had no idea what would loom, where I’d go, and just how goddamned far from my dreams my road would lead.

Ironically, the further from my dreams I’ve been led, the better my writing has become… and somehow, I’ve come full circle, closer to the ‘writing life’ I’ve always wanted to live. It’s like an existential whirligig, one that takes some 20 years to come ’round to its start again.

Experience is the best teacher, and this is true also of writing.

You’ll always be a shit writer until life dunks you in the tank a few times. All the Sufi mystics would tell ya we’re only as broad as what we’ve lived through, right?

I guess the gift of Aging is that we start to realize we’re shaped by our pains as well as our joys, loves as well as hates, and we’ve learned through repeated exposure that we are built for survival, not perishing.

Look at what we can endure. Look at the Chilean miners rescued this week, and those who overcame the most ridiculous of engineering feats to manage that rescue.

And, yet… Life isn’t an engineering challenge.

It isn’t something one can solve with a drafting program, some applied physics, and a ruler.

Life’s a cosmic dodgeball game — played in a big-but-small room, where more balls than you can imagine are bouncing and ricocheting wildly, with no discernible pattern, and no reason for who or what they take out in their bouncy-travels.

Knowing who you are and what you can do doesn’t ever guarantee your efforts will be made of win, it doesn’t mean life won’t hit you in that game of dodgeball, sidelining you instead of sending you sailing successfully into the next game series.

I don’t think it’s a “Work hard enough and you can get it” scenario for everything in life. Methink that’s idealistic and what Random House et al want you to believe so you keep buying self-help-guru books when The World somehow shuts the big door on you.

In life, I think luck is as much a factor as work. Some folks are the pigeon, some folks are the statue — shit or be shat upon.

For what it’s worth, I don’t feel life’s posed enough of an obstacle to keep me out of the game. Some of us don’t come into who we’re supposed to be until later in life, and I’ve always suspected my 40s would be when I mastered the whole “world domination” thing.

The mentality of “you gotta be someone by 30” is the biggest piece-of-shit fallacy in the world.

It doesn’t happen that way. The school of life doesn’t run in semesters and grades, not everyone gets a pass at 18. Life lessons come and they go, but never fear — they’ll be back. The lessons will always be back.

The great dame of acting, the fabulous Ellen Burstyn, wrote an autobiography called Lessons in Becoming Myself, published in 2006, when she was 74. She was asked if she had “become” herself, and she answered no, that even as 80 loomed, she was still constantly learning about herself, forever becoming someone new, better, and more evolved than the woman she was, even a year, month, or week ago.

I remember watching her delivering this slow, well-thought answer, and smiling. I smiled too. I could do with getting old if it meant I’d always keep improving, and wasn’t relegated to becoming a lesser version of that which I once was.

And that’s another thing they don’t tell you.

They don’t let you know that you may think you know yourself, but ya don’t know jack, Jack.

You don’t know yourself until you’ve faced demons and betrayal, loss and hopelessness. You don’t know yourself until you’ve hit bottom and gotten back up.

The trouble is: “Bottom” is relative. Every time you hit what you think is bottom, don’t worry — you’re not bottomed-out. You can always go lower.

Believe that. Know it. Respect it.

Just don’t fear it. It’s a teacher, and you’re built for survival, remember?

When you’re young, they also fail to share that life ain’t about perceived successes — it’s not about who you become at the office, or the cachet you carry with you at meet-n-greet events, or the hot babe on your arm. They don’t teach you that life ain’t about money, glam, swag, beauty, or praise.

Life’s really about being able to like what’s in your head when the lights go out at night. Like Grandma Death in Donnie Darko says, “Every living creature dies alone.”

I think, ultimately, just getting to that side of life (death) and being able to die alone, but die truly knowing who you are, what you’ve had in life, must be the greatest departing gift one can have.

They don’t talk about that.  Or just how hard it is to get that place of knowing.

You can’t teach people in advance about the pain that comes from a life lived, or how much any one person can endure. No one can know endurance till they’ve had it, any of it. And some just can’t go there, be that; they’re not built Ford-tough.

But I am.

Somehow, I wish I knew that 20 years ago. I wish I knew long ago that protecting myself was just foolishness, and I’d get hurt often and deeply regardless of safety measures. I wish I was taught to just go, do it, fail, and do it again.

But I wasn’t.

Yet I’ve begun to learn it.

Like I say: Some of us don’t come into who we’re supposed to be until much later. Perhaps it means we’ll be better at who we’re supposed to be because we’ve had more practice with the bump-in-the-night of it all.

I have a feeling I’ll be finding out myself, soon.

Older, wiser… this shit ain’t so bad.

Getting Schooled by Miles Davis

Music is powerfully emotive.

The right piece at the right time can be a spiritual moment like no other, for some of us.

There are specific times I can remember some songs that blew my mind — songs I’d heard in the background time and time again, but a moment presents itself and the head explodes in all the aural rightness.

Like when it’d been a 14-hour day of stupidity in Whitehorse, Yukon, and The Tragically Hip’s “Cordelia” began playing as I pulled my car into my driveway, me ready to snap or sigh, whatever came first. Suddenly slow rising guitars just matched the coursing muted anger and frustration I felt after such a futile day. I sat there and listened to it twice.

Then I turned the car over, and drove the fuck out of town for an hour, listening to that song over and over.

I’d probably heard it 20 times before that night, but just never when it mattered.

Same deal with The Doors’s “The End.” Until I heard it play in Apocalypse Now, it never really registered on my radar. But a midnight viewing of the Vietnam classic in a dusty old theatre with that track bleeding out of crackling speakers, it just blew my fucking mind.

The creative process, for me, is all about timing, so it’s not really a surprise, then, that ingesting creativity should also require good timing.

Miles Davis is giving me an old-school edumacation today about how foolishly exclusive our tastes can be sometimes, and how much our narrow-mindedness can deny us when we wrongfully judge a genre via a single example of it.

For years and years and years, I was decidedly Not A Jazz Fan. And I ain’t talkin’ Utah, okay? Although…

But I mean jazz-jazz. Crazy trombones, pounding pianos, all that jazz-jazz, man.

It’s really the Story of Two Matriarchs. My aunt tried to get me into jazz when I was 8 and spending the summer with her in Toronto. I sort of got it, but let’s face it — I was eight. I wrote stories about pretend animals on “Garfield” note paper and slept with a teddy bear. What’s there to get? Are The Muppet Babies on TV yet? Miles who?

My mother, though, laughed at this fledgling interest in jazz when I returned to Vancouver. It was just noise, she opined. Aunt Pat was pretty nutty and sure liked to get silly with alcohol, what with that wobbly-walk of hers’n’all, so maybe Mom was right.

I slowly got the whole “it’s just noise” opinion myself from hearing the really experimental stuff, and just wrote the rest off.

Over the years, as I got older, I tried Miles Davis in a not-really-trying-because-I-secretly-know-it’s-just-crap kind of way, and stuck to my taste guns: Jazz was crap.

So, a few weeks ago, I finally got around to playing Miles’s A Kind of Blue, which had been in my iPhone for a while, under the thinking that one day the mood might strike. Well, nothing else was making my musical heart respond as I toggled through artist after artist on my phone, and then I saw Miles.

Hmm. Hey, you know, I’m kind of blue. Maybe I should listen to A Kind of Blue.

So, I did. And I liked it, and this feeling niggled its way into me while I scrubbed my dirty dishes at the kitchen sink. A jazzy kind of blue, kind of niggling thing.

Today I’m diving into The Cellar Door Sessions. And it’s working all too well. A half-hour ago or so, my feet were cold and socks loomed. I’ve been toe-tapping since and flip-flops remain in place with warm-blooded happy feets.

I’m glad I’ve tried again and again to get that appreciation of jazz working for me. I know better than most people, I guess, how quickly we can grow and change. I’m all about change.

It all comes back to the adage, “there’s a time and a place.”

It’s true of tastes, too.

From food to sex to music, it’s too easy to sample something once and think it’s representative of the whole. Maybe it’s THAT salmon you don’t like, not all salmon. Maybe they were a lousy lover and you should rethink your thoughts on sex in X-position with X-prop. And, hey, maybe you were listening to the wrong jazz.

Know who I learned that from?

A two-year-old boy named Jack.

He’d try every food a minimum — seriously, EVERY food — of three times. Three times! It could be rancid but he’d take three bites before he decided his opinion. THEN, he knew passionately which side of the opinion he sat on.

Here I was, 35, and always lived on old opinions, and opinions taken in a single sampling. A bite, a listen, a trial of some sort.

“No, I didn’t like that kind of seafood when I tried it 18 years ago, therefore…”

Now I accept that I’m narrow-minded and given to stupidity with a tendency to default my most obsolete opinions.

Everything’s worth trying again. I now make sure it’s a good example of that thing before I judge it. I’ll talk to others, rethink things. It’s a big world of experiences.

Methinks it’d be terrible to miss out on any because of foolishness and poor decisions.

So, here I am. Tapping my toes as the first disc fades out in applause and disc two of Miles Davis’s Cellar Door Sessions swings into a new groove.

Liking what I thought for 25-plus years I could never like.

This growing-up thing’s all right, man.

How about you? What’s something you did a total 180 on, and why? How’d opening your mind to trying it again change you?