Monthly Archives: August 2013

CNE – Right of Passage or Just Passé?

Andrea Freedman

With the Canadian National Exhibition just having begun, this year, rather than planning when I will be attending the fair as I have done so many years before, I find myself strangely indifferent to it.

For decades I was a die-hard Exhibition goer. I would not dream of missing a chance to go to the Ex during those precious last two weeks of the summer. In fact, I had a tradition with one of my friends where we went together every year, ate everything in sight and went on all the rides. We even had our own secret – free I might add – parking spot.

It was not a matter of if but when I would be going to the Ex. I would plan when I was going even before the official opening day, eagerly anticipating how much fun I would have each time I entered the gates. I would not have skipped it for anything.

I remember how excited I was the first time I was allowed to go alone with my friends when I was a young teenager, unsupervised by parents. I took some of my spending money and bought one of their big sellers that year, a black felt cowboy hat, which at the time, in my youthful foolishness, I thought looked extremely cool.

Perhaps my lack of zeal has something to do with what a seemingly short summer we have had this year. While the Canadian National Exhibition is fun and something many people who live in our city, as well as visitors from other cities, look forward to, it is also a reminder that the end is near; the end of the summer, that is.

Besides, some things have changed since I began going to the Ex as a kid. I miss some of the rides such as my favourite rollercoaster of all time, the Flyer, and the Monster, particularly when I went on the ride with my sister, where we would laugh hysterically, I think partly out of fear.

When I went to the Ex with my husband for the first time, I was surprised to learn that he does not like going on rides. He does, however, like to play games and as a result I have several dust-collecting stuffed animals that he has won for me over the years. Granted these things have sentimental value but there is a limit to how many of them I can keep around.

The funny thing is I cannot remember any particular time when I did not enjoy myself at the Ex, aside from one rather depressing visit there. Whatever you do, take it from me and do not go to the Ex on Labour Day. If you do not already feel sad enough about the pending back to school feeling in the air, never is it more prevalent than when you see the rides and games being packed up for the season.

I have discovered that when the Ex is open other venues which are usually busy in the city are less crowded as everyone is at the CNE. While I used to always want to be where the action is, these days I am happy to relax in a nice calm atmosphere without having to squeeze my way through a crowd.

I am in no way trying to put a damper on anyone else’s fun. If other people still feel the same enthusiasm about going to the Ex every summer that’s great for them. I personally just do not feel the same sense of urgency I would have in the past had I not had an opportunity to make it to the Ex.

We are lucky to have carnivals, exhibits and the like in our city; that does not mean one is required to continue doing something just out of a sense of imagined obligation.

It is amazing how things I thought I would never change, traditions I assumed I would always want to keep, are no longer as exciting to me as they once were. Then again, I also used to think I would never tire of going to clubs and bars every weekend either.

Don’t get me wrong; I still like the good old staples such as the mini donuts and waffle ice cream and if I get a bad enough craving for either of them I just might end up attending the Ex again this year after all. One thing is for sure though. If I do, it certainly will not be on Labour Day.▼












Copyright © by Andrea Freedman 2013


Little Words, Big Impact

Andrea Freedman

We have all heard the expression ‘actions speak louder than words’. While this may often be the case, words can in fact speak just as loudly if not more so and resonate with us long after they have been said.

A little over a year or so ago while on vacation with my husband in Antigua, I met an extremely nice lady and told her of my writing aspirations. Her name was Dot and although she was a proverbial dot in the midst of the many people whom I have crossed paths with, the few conversations I had with her stuck with me and I have not forgotten her, almost a year and a half later.

She and her husband had returned to that same resort every vacation for the past several years. Although I try to travel somewhere different on each holiday, I have considered going back to that resort, at the same time of year I went before, just on the off chance that I would get to see her again.

Somehow this kind lady was convinced that I was going to make it as a writer, that my novel would be published and that she would come to see me if I were ever on a book tour. Of course I wanted to believe her. Why not make a choice to listen to words that were exactly what I wanted to hear?

I foolishly neglected to get her contact information, thinking I would have a chance to respond to her once she reached out to me and I have often wondered whether or not she has ever stumbled upon any of my published work or for that matter if she has ever checked out my website or read any of my blog posts.

While I was still on the vacation, I did say I was going to get my website up as soon as possible when I got home. As that did not end up happening until about six or seven months later, I hope she did not give up on me because I have not given up on the chance that I will hear from her again when I least expect it.

I have this dream that one day I will get a message from her perhaps commenting on something I have written. She did say she was going to look for me on the Internet. “Oh I will remember your name,” she informed me. “I’ll look you up. I’m going to keep an eye out to see if your book gets published.”

Although we went our separate ways after the week was over, her words resounded with me; I wonder if she had any idea how helpful her encouragement was, regardless of the short time we knew one another.

As much as an unkind or critical word can hurt someone and sometimes even affect the rest of his or her day, words of praise and optimism can do just the opposite. Sometimes we do not realize how powerful our words are to another person. Things we say really can make a difference and maybe that one little encouraging word is all is takes to give someone else, whether they are someone we know well or someone who briefly passes through our lives, the confidence they need to forge ahead with their dreams.

Surprisingly, sometimes the people who make brief appearances in our lives are the ones whose words impact us most. At first I was sceptical about the woman’s optimism. After all, how could someone I hardly know make such a judgement – good or bad – about me? I decided to believe her enthusiasm because it helped to provide me with the springboard I needed to get started on my new path.

A little kindness really can go a long way, even if it is only in the form of a few encouraging words. I really believe that we meet certain people for a reason and at the right time, no matter how brief that time together may be.

Perhaps one day I will receive a surprise, most welcome message from the lady I met in Antigua. If not, if she happens to read this and even if she chooses not to leave any comment whatsoever, I hope she will know how important her words were to me and how glad I was to have met her. Who knows, maybe one day I really will see her again, perhaps at my book signing, especially if things turn out the way she said they would.♥

Copyright © by Andrea Freedman 2013