Halloween

Halloween year 'round

Halloween and I have a unique relationship. Nope! It's not what you're thinking. I don't decorate or buy heaps of candy or put up special lights. In fact, I don't even typically put the porch light on in the neighborhood where I live currently. But for ten years I celebrated a version of it daily.

Kids on the block

I'm not really sure how it all started? We'd been settled into our North East Calgary home for some time - a year, maybe - and Halloween was approaching. The neighborhood children were giddy with anticipation for the coming holiday.

My own kids couldn't be stirred to any kind of interest so far in advance, but eventually we'd be last-minute scrambling for their costumes. The haul of candy from that suburb! Pillow cases brimming for all three boys. 'Come Halloween night they'd all dump their hefty sacks of treats into a giant mound on the living room floor. There, they would sort into favorites and shares and "Daddy tax" piles.

But the kids on the block were excited days in advance. For whatever reason, as a group of them were trodging past my front porch on their way home from school, one of them playfully yelled out, "Trick or Treat!" That was the beginning of an almost-daily game that we played for the next ten years.

Halloween in June

I responded to their "Trick or Treat!" with a gesture of invitation up on to the porch. Asking the little cluster of children to wait a minute, I scrambled to the pantry and found a bin of animal crackers. To their delighted surprise, I handed each of them a tiny cookie and sent them on their way.

What started as a little joke between myself and a dozen neighborhood children soon became an after-school and weekend check-in. The kids would come, randomly -- in singles and pairs and groups of five. I wasn't brave enough to entertain a neighborhood in my living room (I already had three little boys of my own running amok at the time), so they weren't allowed beyond the front porch. They would ring the bell and holler their plea for "candy." Day after day. I would step out on to the porch, often hunkering down on the step, as they told the stories of their day.

We talked of squabbles and wishes. They talked of heartache and plans. Often they brought disagreements-in-progress (so many little girls with so many opinions on one city block!). They often reached for reassurance: Am I ok? Am I safe? Lovable? Wanted? You know - the easy questions in life. Their were story books and movie chats and big questions about life.

Costco shares

Costco must rue the day we left that neighborhood. The buckets of suckers and sour soothers and animal crackers I churned out of our house! I don't know if the kids remember me, now? We left that neighborhood almost eight years ago. My husband has pointed out since that sometimes, "giving out candy is just giving out candy." But I'd like to think that a little neighborhood full of bright hearts and minds was made safer, and more connected, by ten years of hanging out on the front porch. So many treats in so many sticky little hands. Trick or treat!

Car Maintenance

From the rubber on up

This past week I got another flat tire. I say "another," because our family's primary car maintenance expenditure is on tires. We've always lived in suburbs-under-construction. That means there's always something rolling around on the asphalt just waiting for our tires to it pick up.

So, the night before Thanksgiving Monday I realized that my rear passenger tire was woefully low. And I realized I was going to need to look for tire support on holiday Monday.

To my happy (thankful!) surprise, I got right in at the shop. 9:30 am on Thanksgiving Monday and the service guys were ready to help. Given the season, I opted to leave off repair of the flat and swap on winter tires instead. They were happy to do that, too -- and then threw in a new set of windshield wipers to boot!

How much maintenance is enough?

The amount of care and money we put into our car maintenance is part necessity, part personal preference.

In a robust article written by Consumer Affairs' senior report, Aaron Sultzman, he notes that discretion needs be applied. He asks, "Are Canadian car owners being misled about how often their cars need to be serviced?"

With a spectrum of climates and road conditions across the country, car care will vary from one province to the next. Some provinces use salt to clear ice; others rely on sand. Our coastal provinces have a running battle with moisture, whereas our Northern locales experience harsh weather. Sultzman explores the line between regular maintenance and dealerships who push for more costly attention than is required.

'Tired of maintaining?

If you're swapping out an older model for something shiny, consider having us auction your running vehicle off on behalf of charity. Or, if you have a recycle ready car just taking up space in the garage, we can help with that, too! You give us your vehicle particulars and choose your charity (there are over 800 to pick from!), we'll take care of the rest.

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Pumpkin Drop

Local Pumpkin Drop is a Smash Hit

Pumpkin Drop

The annual pumpkin drop at Blue Grass Nursery was a smashing success. For 16 years the garden shop, joined by XL 103.1, has raised funds for charity by dropping pumpkins. This year Donate a Car Canada was able to join in the festivities.

Pumpkin Drop 2

Sunny skies and warm Autumn air drew a big crowd to the nursery. Three pumpkins, weighing in between 300 - 1200 pounds, were dropped in turn.

Pumpkin Drop 6

One of Donate a Car Canada's supporting tow agents helped Blue Grass out with delivery of two crush-ready cars. Cars, cranes, fireworks, and plummeting pumpkins! It was a massive coming together of skills, physics, and splatter.

Countdown to Smashing Pumpkins

300 pounds
500 pounds
1200 Pounds!

Gifting Alberta Children's Hospital

The Alberta Children's Hospital will be the recipient of funds raised at this year's event. Last year's gift to the ACH was $30,000. We're excited to hear how our joint efforts came together in 2019.

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Factory Theatre

Factory Theatre has grit. Donate a Car Canada is proud to partner with charities big and small. FT is one of our lesser-known groups. We are excited to say a bit more about them.

Factory Theatre has vision

From its founding in 1970 FT has held a commitment to Canadian stories. Their play house is a heritage building that now houses the 50-year old company.

New work and play development are at the heart of Factory's artistic vision. Factory's role is to boldly bring new Canadian voices to the stage. They do so with courage and resolve. Some voices are bound to be unfamiliar and challenging. FT's goal is for the expression of those voices to give the audience pause for reflective questions and critical thinking.

Theatre as an authentic challenge – theatre with grit.

Celebrating 50 years on stage

Artistic director, Nina Lee Aquino, notes the Factory's 50th,

"will celebrate its illustrious and resilient history with...the return of two iconic Canadian classics that premiered at Factory." And "it will bring three thrilling and immersive stories from Newfoundland, Calgary, and British Columbia to Toronto audiences."

Each of this season's shows represents a connection to all that Factory has accomplished under past Artistic Directors. These have impacted Canadian theatre. Factory’s 19/20 Season is a celebration of where they've been, where they might be headed, and where they want to be. "All the while remaining fiercely Canadian."

Heading to the factory?

Factory Theatre has a robust offering of entertainment and ticket purchase options. Check out their 2019/2020 season for the package that best suits your and yours. A great option for Christmas gifting!

Is this a group you can get behind? Visit their site for more ways to get involved. 'Have a car you're ready to donate? Consider Factory Theatre as your chosen gift recipient!

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Funny | Some Laughs to Ward Off the Early Chill

Funny is a good go-to on chill days in our Canadian autumn. For some, the winter blahs are no laughing matter. Seeking out the silly, the light-hearted, and the goofy can be good medicine all through a long winter.

Funny Fan of the Night

Bull riding isn't a sport we'd typically fall asleep at. But one hard-working dive master couldn't keep his eyes open.

"Lookit how it goes to us!"

McIntyre on raising kids

Keeping it light

A little bit of funny can go a long way when the daily news is grinding you down. Duty and making ends meet can get wearing. So, find a laugh or two each day to indulge.

Charlie Chaplin said, "A day without laughter is wasted." Are there ways that you can add levity to your life? To the lives of others around you?

I'm not a social media gal, but I have friends who regularly send me a quick text with a meme, link, or comic that brings a laugh. They're small effort can reap big reward in my frame of mind. Are there sites and sources that you go to for a giggle? Share them and spread the smile.

'Need a little help finding something new to laugh at?

Check out The Awkward Yeti and their "Heart and Brain" comic strips.

Curious about some of the science of why we laugh at all? BBC offers a glimpse into why we giggle.

Whatever your style of humor, may you find something to tickle your funny bone today!

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Autumn Colors

Autumn colors abound. We've just celebrated the first day of our 2019 Canadian Fall. Warm air, brilliant hues, and good strong winds to lean into.

Autumn colors

TripSavvy Top 10 Fall color spots

Autumn colors, coast to coast, are highlighted in TripSavvy's article by Jane McLean, Best Places to See Fall Colors in Canada. Explore our country and what it has to offer in the prairies, by the ocean, and in the mountains. Our forests are breathtaking at this time of year!

Putting on the Autumn kilometers

I have the happy luck of living near the Rocky Mountains in Alberta. Tonight's walk took me out to tromp in the foothills.
In a short 45 minute trek along the winding, hilly paths of Glenbow Ranch, my friend and I were witness to a dozen blue birds, ambling deer, and the distant howl of coyotes. Bear tracks were everywhere, so carefully spaced by a determined lord of the foothills. Our elevation gave us a perfect line of sight on a farmer's combining precision (such straight lines!). And my friend's dog, Chippy, gleefully sniffed all the sniffs in the prairie grasses lining the paths.

The colors in the park run red, yellow, orange, and countless greens. Berries and seeds grace varied plant life -- they, too, exploding in whites, greens, reds, and oranges. The sun set as we climbed our last kilometer. The grace of hills shrouded in one another's shadows, while some of their faces basked a few extra minutes in the evening light, was palpable.

Breathe deep. Enjoy the vibrancy and artistry of Mother Nature as autumn winds us toward winter's cozy at-home-ness.

Breaking News | When it’s in MBY

The face we turn toward our own unconscious is the face we turn toward the world. ~R. Rohr~

Breaking news close to home

This has been an unusual week in our household. Typically, effects of shootings and other violent crime are far removed from us. We can offer our version of "thoughts and prayers" alongside those of other relatively unaffected citizens. This week, a shooting at a local mall felt very close to home, and it has us talking.

One of our adult sons works in media management for a North America-wide retail store. When word of an "active shooter" reached him on a Monday evening in September, he jumped to action. He and his (wholly untrained) co-workers promptly locked the store down. They escorted customers safely out through a controlled entrance, and found their own way to safety in good time.

The first I heard about it was in the laundry room. My grown-up boy quietly came up the stairs to where I was sorting and began with, "I've had quite a day. It didn't shorten my shift, or anything," (Oh, the details we offer when we're in shock.) "but there was a shooting at the mall today."

Sometimes you just need eggs

And from there the story unfolded. As shock wore off and his body started to adjust from the grip of Adrenalin, problem solving, and emergency response, he wobbled. "I was fine, Mom. Fine. I did everything right. But this was pretty close to home." We breathed a little. He took a minute for solitude and quiet and weeping, and then obeyed my command to come downstairs and "...eat some eggs!" Once at the kitchen island, head lowered in exhaustion, his first words were, "Nothing even happened to me."

But of course something happened "to him." He wasn't threatened with a gun, or grazed by a bullet. Nor did he have direct contact with the police officers securing the mall. He was not physically harmed in any way. But something most certainly happened to him. Our conversation last night brought the wobble to the surface again, and I watched him wrestle with his emotions: he has been impacted by this.

A non-anxious presence in an anxious world

The victim of Monday's attack, and the lives of every patron and mall employee in the vicinity of that shooting are forever altered. The life of the shooter is changed. One more thread of our society's fabric has been tugged on. First responders to the scene that day will never go to work the same way again. And they may not go to the mall the same way, either. My own family's experience is a gentle story of the impact of the anxiety, rage, hostility, and just-beneath-the-surface tendency to violence that some of our fellows are experiencing.

When Rohr says, The face we turn toward our own unconscious is the face we turn toward the world, we can draw both comfort and caution.

Our intentions, our habits, our way of being in the world? It matters. If we are challenging our own implicit biases, and broadening our understanding of humanity and belief, we will contribute to peace and goodness broadly. When we nurture hate and small mindedness? Well, that's what we'll put out into the world.

If we tend to our own interior life with compassion and patience and quiet, we may find that is what we have to offer others around us. A person who does violence has turned, first, on himself. Fear and anger are in the driver's seat; the narrative in that mind is one of self-preservation and survival. There is greed and anxiety coursing through the hand that clasps that firearm.

What would it be like to be persuaded of the value of all people? The right to dignity and safety. The right to life. What if that offering of dignity begins with how we view the value of our own "wild and precious life" (M. Oliver)?

It's not easy being mean

As a (proud!) mama, I note the way of being of my son; I note that of the young man that wielded a firearm in a crowded mall. My son has worked diligently, effortfully to cultivate a life of goodness, gentleness, peace, patience. He hasn't been haphazard about this. He's thought about who he wants to be as a man; he's made consistent choices to practice a way of being that is non-anxious. "But it's hard, Mom. I feel all the feelings. Like, I can handle these crisis situations really well, but the after effects? They're terrible." And yet, he holds. He remains true to his values.

The young boy (because he was just a boy) that decided that an act of violence was the solution to his own struggle has a different process. A thousand factors and choices brought him to the mall with a gun that day. Doubtless, there has been deep suffering in his life. Certainly he has not had the know-how of applying himself to serious self-assessment and character work. But maybe this will be a changing time for him? Maybe he, too, will consider who he wants to be, how he wants to be, in this one short life? Perhaps he can shift his inward gaze to a gentler, safer, more compassionate lens, and thereby alter his footprint in the world.

I lean into the end of the week taking a little stock of what my own self-care/other-care way of being really is. Is that way altered when breaking news violence vibrates the strings of my family web? Are there ways that I can extend deeper kindness and compassion more broadly? Perhaps if I look more tenderly on myself my gaze upon the world be softer, too.

Going to the Dogs

Donate a Car Canada donations going to the dogs one car at a time

Golden Rescue
Golden Rescue

The Canadian Golden Retriever Adoption Service (Golden Rescue) received their first-ever donation through our program in August.

One of Canada’s largest single-breed rescue groups, GR is a Canadian charity run entirely by volunteers. Since 1990, Golden Rescue has found homes for 3, 174 surrendered, abandoned, unwanted, or displaced Golden Retrievers.

Golden Rescue has no paid staff. They have no offices, and no high administrative expenses. They do, however, have over 500 dedicated volunteers throughout Ontario and Quebec, and beyond. One hundred percent of the money they raise goes to helping the dogs. Around 80% of those funds go to vet care and behavioral training.

Curious about adopting a Golden of your own? Visit Golden Rescue's site and see who's waiting for their forever home.

Police dogs in on the donation action

Ned's Wish

Ned's Wish is "a cause for heroes with paws."

Ned’s Wish received their first-time gift in August as well.

NW supports law enforcement by providing financial and educational support to better the quality of life for K-9 retirees in Canada. After human police officers finish serving their communities, their pension funds support them. Due to the cost of health care for retired police dogs, the potential to enjoy retirement can literally rest on a dime. A dog’s quality of life can be significantly reduced, or even cut-short if health costs are too high.

Ned's provides financial support for retired K-9 medical well-being. They preserve and enhance the quality of life for retired police dogs.

Your retired car can help

If these Golden Retrievers and retired police dogs have your attention, donate your vehicle through our program today! Or, visit the websites we've linked to learn of other ways to donate to the charities directly.

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Canadian Music Therapy Fund

Canadian Music Therapy Fund |Charity of the Month

The Canadian Music Therapy Fund (CMTF) wishes to create access to music therapy for Canadians who need it most.

They bring music therapy and therapists to rural, urban and remote communities from coast-to-coast. Their work brings music programs to people on the autism spectrum, and to those living with Alzheimer’s disease. Further, they engage those challenged by anxiety and depression. CMTF also reaches Canadians rehabilitating speech or motor skills, as well as those needing pre- and post-natal care, or living with a brain injury.

Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund
Canadian Music Therapy Fund

CMTF does this by awarding grants, scholarships and fellowships to innovative certified music therapists. As a result, these therapist are then empowered! They use their talents and expertise to make music therapy accessible within their communities.

Work that matters

The Science is in: music therapy works. However, music therapy is not a widely recognized form of therapy. It is seldom funded by private insurance or government programs. This means that, for the most part, if you can't pay for it, you cannot access it.

Music therapy helps us to move and communicate, to cope, to better understand ourselves and to reach our full potential. CMTF wants to make music therapy available to anyone who needs it.

Together, they are transforming lives. With your support, access to music therapy for all Canadians is possible!

Help the CMTF hit the high notes

Donate your car through our program today and choose our charity of the month as your donation recipient!

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Compassion

Rumi on compassion

My dear heart, never think you are better than others. Listen to their sorrows with compassion. If you want peace, don't harbor bad thoughts, do not gossip and don't teach what you do not know.

In compassion and grace, be like the sun...
In generosity and helping others, be like a river...

Listen with ears of tolerance! See through the eyes of compassion! Speak with the language of love.

Psychology Today

Beverly Engel's article, "What is compassion and how can it improve my life?" notes that, "...instead of assuming that the reason someone has done something that hurts you is because they are selfish or inconsiderate, assume instead that they had a good reason for doing it...". This extension of the definition takes us beyond a confusion between empathy and compassion, and into even broader understanding. What if my assumptions about your behavior toward me are incorrect? What if I've presumed something about your motives, your thoughts, or your feelings are way off?

My filters get a little foggy from time-to-time. It's easy for me to assume that someone I love means me no harm and had good intentions in her treatment of me. It's not much of a reach to presume that someone who's not my biggest fan might wish me ill. It's probable that neither were actually thinking about me that much at all. Sometimes people are just distracted, or caught up in their own stuff. I know when I get that way I can be insensitive or just plain checked-out. Compassion allows me to expect the best from my others.

And when in doubt? It doesn't take much to check-in with a, "Hey, I noticed you didn't say thank you for that amazing lasagna I made for dinner. 'You ok?" You might get an abashed, "Sorry! Great dinner!" Or you may learn that some things went down that need a little tending.