This is Life, Based on a True Story  

Lessons learned on Ikea trip

Relationships are funny – in a “ha-ha” way.

I don’t think there’s anything in life that will bring us as much joy while simultaneously stressing us out. Watching others as they engage with their partners in every-day, mundane tasks, makes you realize your own couple weirdness isn’t actually weird.

I write this on the heels of a road trip my partner and I took to Ikea. I was quite entertained throughout the day – not only by my partner, but by our interactions with other couples.

Although we were both looking forward to the quick road trip, the day started out on a wobbly foot between us. Knowing we were making the four-hour drive just to go to Ikea, then coming home again, I was anxious to get on the highway.

So I was instantly irritated when I was told we’re going to make a stop at the recycling centre to drop off stuff he’s had kicking around his garage for months ...

Like now? We need to drop this off right now – there’s no other possible time in the world to do this?

As it turned out, we weren’t able to drop the stuff off anyway. So after getting road coffee, we were on our merry way.

We were both irritable that day. You could just feel it in the air. And after an hour of driving, the conversation turned to that fact. It was at that point that things turned around and for the remainder of the way, we laughed and talked in the way that couples do.

At the store, we were able to buzz through the departments quickly getting what we came for. It was while we were browsing in the bedding department that we came upon this exchange between another couple.

Her: (holding up a duvet cover) “What do you think of this one?”

Him: (not looking up from his phone) “What does it matter what I think … you’ll think it’s too masculine-looking anyway. I already told you what I liked.”

Her: “the one you picked was too masculine looking.”

Him: (grunts)

At this point, my other half told the guy that he totally gets it. Then, they high-fived or fist bumped or something – something about “bro-code.”

I, on the other hand, agreed with the other woman … I liked the duvet she chose. We didn’t have to exchange words. The looks we exchanged showed each other we knew.

We were on the road back home shortly after. We were both feeling good after our day together, and outside of him talking while I was trying to nap, the trip back was comfortable and easy.

So what’s the point of this whole column? Well nothing more than entertainment really. I’m not going for newsworthy with this one.

But on the other hand, it’s also good to air out these moments every so often. Not that comparing your relationship to another is healthy, but as stated already – it reminds you that you and yours are perfectly normal – in that weird, “coupley” way.

What I’ve realized from my own situation is how important communication is in your couple-ship. Whether your feeling irritable just because or disagreeing over bedding, what it comes down to is your still communicating these feelings to your other half.

You don’t have to like or agree with what the other is saying, but you do have an obligation to listen. You’d expect the same. It's just simple respect for one another.

I always feel like I’m nagging – and honestly, I often am. But my partner has told me time and again, he’d rather me nag him so he knows, than me be silent and he hasn’t a clue. And then out of nowhere, I’m mad at him.

This is something I’m working on. I tend to hold my thoughts in for long periods before bursting and freaking out. But all that accomplishes is literally nothing. He’s confused, I’m upset and we both pout.

Overall, our mini road trip was a success – not only for getting what we went for, but also just to catch up with each other and talk about things outside of “how was your day…”  

The best part though?  He offered to assemble the Ikea furniture I’d bought …

Thanks for reading.


Do women bully?

This week’s column is on a subject I’m almost scared to wade into, but I have to ...

Have you seen the meme on social media that says something along the lines of “Call me crazy, but I like to see other people succeed and do well.”

In theory, that’s a wonderful thought. I feel confident when I say I feel like this most of the time. 

But my rose-coloured world was tarnished the other day when I heard two other women, whom I don’t know, tearing apart their colleague. I

t was vicious and hard to listen to.

Is woman bullying a thing?

I mean, in all fairness, I don’t know the rest of the story behind what they were saying. But it didn’t make what they were saying any less mean. And I honestly don’t hear men being like this toward each other.

Face it. We’re not all going to get along, and that’s OK. Personality differences mean some of us will clash.

On one hand, I can relate to that feeling of envy. You know the scenario. There’s always one woman who on the surface, just seems to kick butt on life:  

  • Honour roll kids
  • adoring spouse
  • best job ever
  • a drool-worthy wardrobe,
  • annual tropical trips and so on.

It’s easy — even natural, to be jealous of someone like her — whether she’s your co-worker, neighbour, old friend or occasional acquaintance.

I totally get the need to vent to a friend about it – especially when we struggle. We all have those days when we just want it to be as easy for us as it seems to be for “her.” 

But the line gets crossed when we try to damage the other woman’s reputation with nasty gossip or worse. It’s like flexing our mean, bitchy muscle has become the “in” thing to do.

In an attempt to become assertive or feel better about ourselves, we’re actually being mean — to another woman.

A woman who has feelings, and bad skin/hair days. A person who will feel these words and actions deep in her gut. A person who, like you, is just trying to figure it out and make the best of it.

And here’s a thought: our kids are sponges and soak up everything they observe from us – including these attitudes.

I say we call a truce, ladies. We owe it to ourselves to live the feel-good memes we see and share.

For the record, I moved to a different table further away from the two women who were talking. I wish I had said something to them, but was too scared to.

What we put out is what we get back, maybe we should try putting out more love, acceptance, patience and grace. 

What’s the worst that could happen?

Thanks for reading.

Maui's magical moments

I’m starting my mid-life crisis. This, according to someone who is close to me. How long are these things supposed to last?

If a mid-life crisis for me is dictated by an overwhelming need for simplicity and sleeping in till 9 a.m. on weekends, then I’ll take it.

What brought all this on was a recent trip to Maui. I’d never been there before this trip and it was an eye-opener.

I was struck most vividly by how easy life on the island is. I kept telling my travelling partner that I felt like we’d stepped back in time.

In Canada, practically anywhere you go, you can access free Wi-Fi. In Maui, that’s not the case. They don’t even have free Wi-Fi at the airport (OK, that wasn’t necessarily a good thing and was the one thing I wanted to change about that place).

But outside of Wi-Fi and technology, I was amazed at how undeveloped it is there. There are hundreds of acres of old sugarcane fields that have just been left to the land. If those wide-open fields were here in the Okanagan, they would’ve been developed with high rises no one could afford and big-box commercial stores.

That’s where my mid-life crisis began apparently. Although I’m still not calling this a bad thing. It makes me feel a bit edgier, braver, even a bit careless … but I digress.

I was beyond sad to leave - not just for the obvious reasons of it being the end of a vacation, but more so because I knew the reality I was coming back to.

For the record, my reality is not horrific – just tedious and monotonous.

I work to pay homage to my mortgage. It takes me over two years to be able to save enough money to take a trip like this – and that’s not taking my kids with me. That’s just me taking me. And actually, the big costs for this trip were all covered, courtesy of my partner’s hotel and travel points … so maybe it’s more like three years between trips for me.

Something’s gotta change. I tend to live in a permanent “hurry up and get there” mode. Not by choice, but rather by design. I’m always seeking and striving and yearning for more – in every facet from my job to my clothes to my housing.

I’ve got it in my head that to show my kids what success is, they need to see me as leading a successful life. Which basically equates to they need to see me getting promotions, having tons of friends, keeping a clean house, eating healthy, having nice clothes, driving a new car, being eternally happy, and basically just living the dream.

Umm, except that all of that just listed, is not me living the dream. It’s just me stressing out trying to figure out my next move or step to stay on top of everything – from my mortgage to my friends’ lists.

And since when did we, as a society, get to a point when we need “lists” of our friends? See, not only am I starting my mid-life crisis, I’m also becoming a curmudgeon in the process. Am I too young for this? I prefer to think of it as me getting wise.

And despite what it may come across as, it’s not that I care less. It’s quite the opposite in that I care more.

I care more now about feeling spiritually healthy. That means it’s time to simplify what I’ve made complicated.

So I’m starting the purge process of my life – everything from clothing and shoes to dishes, and yes – even my house.

Sounds drastic, right? Well I guess it is to a degree. But I’m finally getting it. It’s about quality over quantity.

Part of that purging process is purging my mind as well … and maybe even how I write these columns. I want to try and bring some of my newfound edginess into my writing … oooh, this could get exciting.

Boy, that was quite the vacation! Leave here with visions of beaches and pineapples. Come back here in full mid-life crisis mode … although I’m still not convinced that’s it. I think it’s more of an awakening – and the desire to pay homage to the beach, sand and sun more often than I have been.

Thanks for reading.


A poem about rape

My daughter and three of her classmates recently decided to tackle a controversial topic among their age group.

It was their final English assignment for the semester and the teacher asked the kids to group up and write a poem about any topic they wanted.

The four girls chose to write about something that has long been an issue n the schools and a source of frustration for teachers for generations.

It has been a cause of arguments between many a teen girl and her parents … the issue?


And, as is often the case for teens, what they choose to wear is a contributing factor to pre-teen and teenage angst.

As mom to a 17-year old, I have had my share of eyebrow-raising “you’re wearing THAT” moments. On one hand, I shake my head at my daughter and think surely you can find something more, 'er, appropriate to wear.

But I too have ventured into many a store and seen what the girls — even the younger ages, have to choose from — and I understand where their questionable wardrobe choices stem from.

Clothing designers and manufacturers need to be held somewhat accountable for what our girls are wearing when the only choices they offer are the scantily clad ones.

I’ve heard people say things like we should all just stop buying the clothes, so the designers will have to change them. But the reality is, that will never happen. It would have to be a North American wide movement to just stop buying what’s in the stores.

Good idea in theory, but realistically …

My daughter and her friends feel strongly about this topic and based their poem upon this subject. They all contributed based upon their own knowledge and experience.

Yes, I realize that parts of this are hard to read. But as they say, out of the mouths of babes. This is the very age group that is affected by this more than any other.

And for the record – the teacher gave my daughter and her friends 100 per cent on this final English assignment.


Boys Will Be Boys

By: Jenna, Kate, Myah, Sanj

We don’t teach boys not to rape.
Instead we tell girls,
“Keys between your knuckles.”
“Come home before dark.”
“Never walk alone.”

But boys will be boys.
Even when names are given to the suicide driven.

“Drunken slut.”
“You were asking for it.”
Even the cops first question is a suggestion,
That you were “asking for it.”

They ask
“What were you wearing?”
You wonder,
“Was the dress too daring or baring too much skin?”
He didn’t care when he was tearing,
And playing you like a violin.

You wore red lipstick,
But you weren’t quite quick …
To outrun the lunatic you tried to kick,
While he silenced your screams,
Ripping you at the seams.
But boy will be boys.

Quit punishing the girls.
We don’t teach the boys to focus and practice respect,
Instead we shame the girls, telling them three fingers wide,
Shoulders aren’t distracting, what do young girls need to hide?

We’re sick of the body shaming,
The blame put on us.
Because of our, 
Bra straps,
Crop tops.

Our clothes are not the ones that chose
To rape a girl today,
To disobey.
But boys will be boys
And girls will be sluts.

This won’t be the last rape poem
And stories of injustice toward women will continue to be told,
Until my voice speaks louder than my clothes.

Thanks for reading.

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About the Author

Tanya Gunderson has been writing for the heck of it for many years. Her inspiration comes from her kids, their friends and the craziness of life. She takes great pleasure in exposing life for what it really is and has an open-book approach to her writing.

Her formal education and background include a blink-and-you miss-it stint in the radio and television industry, but it gave her an opportunity to write professionally on a few different occasions.

Email: [email protected]



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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