Arnada Community Meal: Video Blog

This is a quick snapshot of our weekly Arnada Community Meal that we host here at the Arnada House. It’s something that we’ve done here at the house nearly every week for about a year and a half. Pardon my shaky hands in this video…it can’t really be helped. And pardon my high pitched voice…turns out this is what I always sound like and nobody’s every really told me. And finally, pardon my apologies…people who apologize too much can be tedious to be around. Sorry.


Take ’em a Meal

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, one of the most difficult things in this whole cancer journey has been learning to be a recipient of people’s generosity. It’s just hard to feel like a sucker–like someone who is just sucking the life of those around you. It’s hard to be humble enough to willingly receive a gift with a simple “thank you”. Very very difficult.

And yet it’s a beautiful journey to be invited into. It’s a journey that I think all of us need to be invited into from different avenues. What I mean is that some of us do not find the challenge in being a grateful recipient because we’ve been in that role for most of our lives and therefore play it well. Some of us need to learn a posture of thankfulness ’cause we’ve gotten used to the receiving. Others need to learn the posture of thankfully receiving because we’ve taken a posture of authority our whole lives. We’ve often even mistakenly placed ourselves as the rider on the white horse who comes to rescue those three feet below us. Some of us are just prideful. Some of us are just lazy. Some of us are both. And I’m sure there’s one or two of you who are neither.

This week, as we’ve been movin’ rooms around, we had many people offer to help. It was wonderfully overwhelming. In the end it was easier to have just one or two people come to do the work, but it was yet another example of our greater community stepping up in a time of need. Thank you.

The tension that it creates, however, is that there is a line. There is a very blurry and often wandering line that Jess and I are always trying to be aware of. The line has very little to do with you and very much to do with our own emotional and mental health. Because there are times that we might need help but we just don’t want it. We don’t want to always feel like we MUST have helped to survive. We don’t always want to feel like our home is overrun with people (a stark change from how we felt before I was sick to be perfectly honest). We don’t always want help…even when we may need it. Sometimes we just want to be a family. Sometimes we want to pretend like we’re normal, like our life isn’t overrun by the cancer narrative. Sometimes we just don’t want to receive.

And the reality, I think, is that those impulses are not bad. They’re not off. They’re not ‘wrong’ (though I hesitate to use that sticky word). It’s a valuable tension to hold, one that, again, is blurry in its definition but important in its usage. It’s very very important that we, at times, create those boundaries and allow both openness to receiving and protection from it to be a part of our story.

So to Blur the Lines a Bit…

I’m asking for a bit of help here. One of the things that has been hugely helpful has been the occasional meals that people have dropped by for our family. They’ve been a non-intrusive way for people to care for us, it provides a huge relief for us amidst the stress of life, and amidst the time crunch of doctors visits that run up until 5pm often days. Here’s what our friend Sherilee, who is graciously managing all of this, briefly said:

For those of you that know and love Ryan and Jessica Woods…here is a organized way to sign up to bring food. To give them time together and not worry about what to make for supper – a small gift that means so much.

She says “supper” because she’s Canadian–and we forgive her for that–but it is a small way that you can bless our family from near or far away (they’ve suggested that you can order food to have it delivered or creative things of that nature). It’s all online so it’s amazingly easier than ever before! Thank you so much for your participation in caring for our family during this really strange and surprising time of sickness. I hope and pray that one day we look back on this time and see how it was shaping us for a future life together. But if the story is different–if the story continues on the same path that it’s gone thus far then we are especially grateful for every moment that you help to create for us to be together as a family and for me to pursue a path of health as much as is humanly possible in this life.


Here’s the link to take a meal.

It Takes a Village: Video Blog 7-20-12

A new video blog where I’m chillin’ on my back porch musing about doing life with an amongst all you people.


You can also view it by going here: 

They Need Your Money and/or Your Time!

Folks these people/organizations need your time and money! Don’t miss out on the opportunity to be a part of these great things. You’ve probably seen me post about this stuff on Facebook. But just in case you haven’t let me make a quick run down on some of the great stuff going on downtown that you should be a part of this Summer.

Compassion Vancouver

Compassion Vancouver is a one day health care event that happens here in downtown Vancouver at Washington Elementary. They focus on providing free medical, dental, vision, and chiropractic medical services as well as offering a great lunch, a social service fair that will connect you up with all sorts of opportunities all across the ‘Couve, a free childcare program so that while you’re getting your teeth worked on you’ll know your kids are safe, and all sorts of other nuts and bolts they toss in as well (dog/cat care, bike repair, etc.) If you want to support CV financially I suggest you do it here: and if you want to volunteer you can do it here: and they need help with both!

Coop Du Jour Tour

The Coop Du Jour Tour is an awesome neighborhood event that you shouldn’t miss. It’s a time where any person in the downtown neighborhoods that has chickens can choose to open up their backyard to show off their coops and chicks. It’s more than about chickens though. It’s one of those incredibly rare moments these days where you get to meet and converse with neighbors and new friends in your backyard. These moments just don’t happen any more! So if you live downtown and have a chicken coop you should (quickly) think about putting yourself on the chicken map by contacting them via their facebook account. If you simply want to walk/bike/drive the tour on July 14th then you can pick up a map for $15 a family or $5 a person at Mint Tea, Neighbors Market, or the Vancouver Food Co-op. Oh, and all the proceeds go toward the Hough Foundation and to support our family.

Kiggins Fundraiser for Ryan Woods (foundation)

On July 17th at Vancouver’s historic Kiggins Theater there will be the second annual Ryan Woods (inspired) fundraiser. I say “annual” because it’s going to now happen every year regardless of my health, regardless of whether I beat cancer or die from it this fundraiser will continue under its own 501c3 to continue to bless the downtown community. It will happen every year and will continue our dream of a transformed downtown life that is from the ground up (people-centric). You should come not only because it’s going to be amazingly fun (they’ve got some amazing music lined up and Kiggins is an awesome venue these days) but also because there will be a killer silent auction, and it’s the beginning of something special I think that is much much bigger than me…and I really like that. Oh, they’ve also created a great raffle that has prizes such as two first class round trip tickets with Delta among other great things. You can check out the prizes here: and you can purchase tickets at Mon Ami Cafe, Yogurt Time, and Vancouver Pizza Co..

The Mighty Bowl

Finally I’ve got some good friends that have opened up the first new modern foodcart in Vancouver.* Not only is their food incredible–rice and bean bowls/wraps and fresh fruit smoothies, but they’ve done things right: they have recycling available at the cart, they use as much local food as possible (and most of it is), and they’re local to the Nth degree from the names of their drinks (named after neighborhoods) to the uniforms (local t-shirts). You can read about them from The Columbian here: The Mighty Bowl needs your support, you’ve got to go eat their food, and tell your friends about ’em. To cooperate with Vancouver’s strange rules they’ve got to be mobile and in a different spot on regular occasions–so follow them on Twitter, or keep track on Facebook, or keep up via their website. Oh, and did I mention that it’s incredibly cheap? Yeah, nothing costs more than just a few bucks–I think nothings more than $7. Incredible.


* I say “modern” and “new” because there are some foodcarts that have been around for years and years that were grandfathered into the state/city/counties new rules and regulations for foodcarts. Since those new rules and regulations have been in place absolutely no foodcarts have been able to do things correctly in order to not be shut down by the city. The MB has worked hard to do things right and to (hopefully) pave a path for a continued movement.

Ignorance is Bliss

I’ve thought about posting more on Facebook. I’ve toyed with the idea of sending more status updates into the cyberworld that attempt to capture how I’m feeling, how my body is doing, or what my current health status is. But in the end it always feels a bit contrived; it feels like I’m trying to evoke emotion from my virtual friends, and I just can’t bring myself to do it…and I honestly think we’re all the better for it. Adding to it, I also don’t want my identity to be utterly and completely wrapped up in my health status–though at times this feels like an impossible task–I am not my disease.

Even further, if I were to post constantly about my health the reality is that in some ways we’d all be better off. Because ignorance is bliss. Seriously. It is. Right? You’d treat me differently if you knew that I hadn’t been out of bed until ten minutes before I was supposed to meet you for dinner and that twenty minutes after we parted ways I was throwing up in my bathroom toilet. Things would feel different if while sipping coffee together you were aware that my no-no private areas were covered in a burning and infected rash that makes it difficult to walk or move. You’d see me a bit differently if I let you know the depth of my constipation, the severity of my headaches, or the discomfort that my skins heightened sensation brings. I could go on but I won’t…because that would defeat the whole point (and it would probably get even more awkward than it already has!).

The point is that it’d get really old. You might disagree with me because you’re a nice person, but the reality is that for ninety-five percent of you out there it would get really old if every time we sat down together or on every other Facebook posting you were hearing about my ailments. But it would be practically useful wouldn’t it? Isn’t there a level of honesty that’s lost when we’re together and you don’t know what I’m carrying?

Ignorance is bliss.


Ignorance might not only be bliss but it might also be necessary…and I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. Isn’t this how things generally exist? Isn’t it the reality that I don’t usually know the stuff that you’re carrying when we get together? At times you’ll share about your mental, spiritual, or emotional baggage that you’re carrying, but in general this stuff doesn’t come up and I’m also functioning in ignorance. Is it necessary? Must we live in ignorance in order to function effectively or are we settling for a lesser form of relationship when we do this?

Honestly I’m not writing this blog as an expert or as someone with answers to the questions that I’m raising. Rather I’m writing this as someone who is living in this mess along with you and is genuinely wondering if this measure of ignorance is avoidable, if it’s healthy, if it’s a necessary evil, if…I don’t know. What I do know is that I’m not going to post my constant ailments, I’m not going to lay out for you over coffee how many hours I did or didn’t sleep last night…well…not unless you ask…because unless you want to step out of the peaceful word of ignorance I’m not going to force it on you. But if you ask, if you want to step into that world I am glad to open myself up to you and I am more than willing to step into your world as well.*

So ignorance is bliss for certain–but knowledge just might be even better…right? Maybe?


*  The irony, I guess, is that this requires me to ask you now doesn’t it! So…how are you? Hmm, I’m going to have to develop a better question than that. I guess next time we overlap at coffee or somewhere else I’ll try to practice…unless I happen to want to dwell in ignorance that day…or did we decide that ignorance is evil?