Thursday, September 11, 2014

Glasses may be my downfall

Likely due to high levels of Stephen King reading when I was young, which created an appetite for the apocalyptic genres in every medium, I spend a lot of time imagining how things would go down given a massive, traumatic event on the earth.

The event I worried about for many, many years was nuclear war. I got caught reading a book during class in grade seven, holding it under my desk and pretending to listen to my teacher. He took it away, and later said, if you're going to read during my class at least make it something worthwhile. I can't remember the name of the book (and I've tried valiantly over the years to figure out what it was) but it was about the aftermath of a nuclear war when the survivors lived underground.

Now I run through the very topical zombie apocalypse, due to a gorging on Walking Dead episodes. My biggest worries haven't changed, though, even with the shift in what exactly precipitates the apocalypse. First thing that has always concerned me has been my terrible eyesight. I mean, what if this happened in the middle of the night. Would I have time to grab my glasses? Perhaps not, if I was woken by one of my children screaming or the sound of a zombie rustling in my room. Maybe I would have to hightail it out of the bed and my useless eyes would become the bane of my existence, causing me to mistake humans for zombies and vice versa.

Or maybe I have my glasses on before the atom bomb strikes. What if a falling tree hits me on the face, and even worse than the long bleeding cut that could become infected is the cracked lens on one side. Will my life of foraging for non-radiation tinted food also consist of breaking into optometrist's offices, searching for +1.25 glasses or contacts?

Now of course I can add the lame leg. Husband and I have talked about this, and while it does sadden me on a personal level I agree wholeheartedly with his assertion that not only would he leave me behind (if you haven't seen me I walk really, really slow. Like molasses), but he might actually push me toward the zombies so they are distracted while he saves the children. The fact that he is saving the children of course negates any leg I have to stand on and be mad he isn't crafting a sled or something to drag me around with.

I worry about all the usual stuff, like food and firewood and how many windows we have in this house and how they really aren't all that airtight now and what would happen if the furnace was off and this house would be really cold and would it be warmer in the basement or on the main floor? And I think about all these people who are apparently preparing by storing heirloom seeds for food and learning how to can things and preserve things and shoot their own game and I think, ahhhhh, I don't know. I might just give up pretty darn quick. I'm not handy, my eyesight is poor. I've got shitty knees and very little survivorman type knowledge. I probably should've been weeded out of the world's gene pool long ago.

No wonder I get insomnia. I need to figure out some more positive things to think about when I go to bed.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Simmer me down

When did it become so competitive? I can see it, I guess, if I think hard enough. The way we can know everything, if having access to YouTube and constant television and the Internet means we know everything. Sometimes I wonder, though. If we actually know everything, or if we have become faux experts in knowing the surface skim of everything.

My 10 year old needed to take a break from track and field this summer due to an injury. She was devastated and said, but what about the Olympics. I was like, what about them? How about we just run on a team and have some fun and try our best? When did it become the ultimate goal that you need to win? Be the Best?

I guess we've pushed in the sense that whatever you do you do your best. Somehow that got translated, likely in the telling; this is on us, not her, anyways it got translated into be THE best, not be YOUR best. Fine line. Easy to blur. From a to b becomes the world of a difference though, because be your best, do your best work at home, at school, on the playground, on the team, morphed slowly but surely into be THE best, at home, at school, on the playground, on the team.

I can see it at home. The very minor, unspoken, unacknowledged and likely even unknown competition between three girls. Who is the best at what. All of them defining themselves as themselves but also as not. As in I am -not a dancer, -not a track star, -not a pianist, -not the good girl or bad girl or shy one or intense one or funny one.

I am guilty of being their biggest assistant with the best issue. I have that fatal parental flaw, the one that says your life is going to be Perfect because mine sure as shit isn't. The flaw that thinks that if they just find their magic their life will unfold beautifully, play by play of and then this led to that and now, look how happy and successful they are. And that is all I want, really; it is for them to be happy and if happy is a rental house with one bedroom and some second hand clothes I mean sure I will be fine with that and then I know that I am not fine with that and it leads me back to the answer to the questions, and when did it all become so competitive and it leads me right back to me.

I have to figure it out. How to be the opposite of a Tiger mom. I am reading the book The Dolphin Way: A Parent's Guide to Raising Happy, Healthy, Motivated Kids Without Turning into a Tiger [aside: that title is WAY too long], and it is truly helping me to simmer down. Relax. Let me be a guide, a facilitator, not the crazy psycho parent I have to tame down every morning when I get up. Because besides having my face light up every single time I see my kids, my job is not to push with a cattle prod, which unfortunately is my natural inclination. Rather, my job is to support what gives them joy.

And sometimes that is going to be THE best, and sometimes (more often than not), that is going to be THEIR best.

Monday, September 08, 2014

(this actually happened Friday)

Today I went to my absolute favourite coffee shop for a visit with a friend. It's this perfect combination of elegant yet homey, with this gorgeous baking and delicious lunches (they call it picnic!) and really good coffee. The people who work there are all happy (that in itself makes me happy - how often does that happen? happy staff? I would keep going there just for that even if the food was crap) and the owners are, get this, identical twins with beautiful naturally curly brown hair. I mean really. The place oozes perfect.

So I'm sitting there with girlfriend, having girlfriend chat and thinking how happy I am it is Friday, and we made it through the first week of school and I didn't forget to pack anyone lunch and the whole issue of no friends in class seems to be receding and life is good.

And then there is a wasp and it's sort of hovering over my friend and the coffee cups on the table and I actually think to myself thank god it isn't attacking me and then IT IS ATTACKING ME and I do what I tell my kids, when wasps are bugging them, which is calm the fuck down, exactly, and I do my best to calm the fuck down except it starts embedding myself in my hair which causes me to stand up and start doing the exact opposite of what I tell my kids. Which is freak the fuck out.
I am yelping (there really is no other way to describe it. I was yelping). And shaking my head kind of twitchy, trying to get it off but I also didn't want to upset it and so I'd give this little shake hard enough that now, later, my neck is sore. My poor friend got up and said in her commanding voice she uses with children and perhaps the infirm, come, come outside, but I just couldn't go outside where there might be more wasps. So I yelped and jumped and she got the wasp off, somehow, and magically one of those super cute identical twins drowned it in a coffee cup.

And so we had our coffee and our visit and I forgot all about the wasp and then these two really lovely ladies who had also been having their coffee stopped by on their way out to tell us that they were glad it was a wasp. They thought I was having some weird kind of fit or seizure and were concerned I needed medical attention.

Nice.

Sigh. Happy Friday.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Free range

Seriously I can't make this shit up.

Let me set the stage. It's a gorgeous September night, right after we've eaten supper and the wee one wants to go for a bike ride. She rides one of those glide bikes and she's pretty amazing on it. Oldest, wee, and I get on our helmets and decide to go around the block. The three kids have been doing this all summer long as I sit on the porch with my mangled knee, but now I'm able to get on my bike and sort of wing my leg around in simulation of how people ride bikes. Looks cooky but I feel as though I'm doing something.

We get around 3/4 of the block (I just wrote 2/3 and realized a block obviously has 4 sides so 2/3 does NOT work. My math skills are only improving, people!) and at that point it is the tiniest downgrade so I can just coast around the corner to the driveway; knee is sore so I decide to do just that. Oldest child is directed to watch youngest as they finish the final 30 metres of our journey. Note: she has been doing this all summer long, she is the most responsible 10 year old I know, and 3.5 year old is very good listener. Other note: 30 m could be way off, I really have no ability to judge a metre or more than one metre. Maybe 30 feet? 45 seconds of bike riding?

I pull up on driveway and wait. A BMW SUV pulls up with this older lady craning her head out of the window at me. And this is so funny I wish I knew how to make a voice recording of me imitating her because it is just that good. You know when people kind of fake a British accent, the really posh one? Or you see a really old, jewelry encrusted woman on a TV show who very obviously thinks she's all that? Yah, that's the voice. Excuse me dahhhling? she says, dragging the word out with that British inflection. Are those your children?  I seriously thought she was going to tell me how cute they were, people do it all the time. Ready to accept the compliment I'm like, yes? They are so faaar away from you, daaarling. I told them I'd get their mummy.

What. The fuck.

I am the furthest thing from a fast thinker, but it pops into my head that this is a joke. I mean, it really does. So I just stare at her.

The children could get in an accident, she says, all poshy. The woman driving is craning her curly haired head to look at me, probably trying to decide how mad I am. I think it was obvious. I was beyond mad.

I'm like, thanks for the tip. [I know, brilliant. I told you, I'm terrible at thinking fast and the only thing that popped into my head was, hey, fuck off and I still wasn't sure if it was a joke and then I'd be telling so-and-so's grandma to eff off, so I played it safe. My bad.]  They drive off, and still sort of hanging her arm of the SUV she's all, byyyye daaaarling.

So what's the lesson here? What's my conclusion? Seriously, what. The fuck.

I'm a huge proponent of it takes a village to raise a child, we need to be aware of our surroundings and watch out for each other and we're all a part of this community etc. etc. But to me, that means if my kid is at the park and falls off the monkey bars I'd appreciate it if you asked if she was okay, maybe dusted off a knee, that sort of thing. If she's lost you help her find mall security. What you DON'T do is question my judgement, to me, as a parent. Do whatever you want with your judgement to your BMW driver, question the shit out of whatever you see. Did you see that lady letting her kids ride their bikes? Whatever is this world coming to? I don`t care. Think whatever you want. But the definition of it takes a village does not mean condescendingly drip your ideals of right and wrong at me.

I don`t know, it was just so weird. I mean, I read that Free Range kids book a long time ago ( and LOVED it), and that's kind of what I'm trying to do. Assure myself that danger really doesn't lurk around every corner and life isn't menacing 99 percent of the time. It's work, it really is, especially for me with my ability to take any worry and build it into a monster that rents a room upstairs. But I can see how it happens, how this insidious seed takes hold of a new parent who thinks they are a rational and capable human being and then you're offered all this Advice which really is not advice, but more Do it Like This and it can make you question your own judgement. Shit like my eldest daughter wouldn't (couldn't) nurse and it nearly killed me, I mean it really ate away at me and tormented me and I tortured myself pumping for weeks and it wasn't easy pumping it was mastitis and poor milk production and so then I gave her bottles and one time in the Bay elevator this lady told me breast is best. Honestly.

So here's a thought. We don't really get to drive around and sort of offer our unsolicited Advice to parents. Feel free to drop me a compliment, maybe, like good for you for taking your kids out for a bike ride when your knee is garbage and you're obviously tired and maybe you have a bit of a sore throat. But don't you dare tell me you know better than me about what works for my family*.

*Unless you are my own mother or one of my very best friends.


Thursday, September 04, 2014

Late blooming Real

Again with the I read somewhere (I obviously need to keep better track of what and where I read it), but I read somewhere recently that there is this whole plethora of people who are blooming late. I'm not talking about getting boobs or pubic hair, I'm talking about figuring out some passion or some talent that has perhaps lay dormant or even not been realized at all.

Of course I was all over this in my mind, it would be the answer to all my angst, the ha, the this-will-make-it-all-turn-out. The reason it will have never mattered that I got lost in the world of restaurants for so many years. The way I will say, yes, I was writing for a few years and then I had this third baby and we just love her, but of course it made it hard to have it all, nahnahnah. Because while I know that I was lost and struggling for all of my twenties and then decided to Take Charge and make all those stupid waitressing shifts Mean Something by really getting into it, really caring and really doing a good job at being a restaurant person, I know that always I was supposed to be writing and if I wasn't writing I was just sort of faking it that it didn't matter.

For sure I can do other shit. I can serve food, perhaps not anymore, but the detour in the fries with that world was not wasted, in that I now love cooking and eating. Two important things in my world. And I am pretty good at organizing things, like big things. Fundraisers and meals for a few hundred, awards shows and luncheons. Conferences. Interesting note to self: why am I good at organizing a three course sit down dinner for 200 and flying in speakers, but I can't seem to stay on top of the laundry? Ah, yes, good point. Because it's boring as HELL, that's why.

But what I'm good at is writing, and what I love, is writing, and when I'm my best version of myself, the one I only let out on Tuesdays and alternating Thursdays (kidding) is when I'm writing.

Now I don't just mean this, this blogging stuff. This is cool, this is fine, but it makes me terribly nervous and I'm not quite sure yet what the point is. I mean, just scratching the surface here, dipping a toe in, but putting stuff out there in public is a nerve wracking and scary thing for me and I'm forcing myself to do it to hold myself accountable to Become that late bloomer, that one where by the time I'm 51 I can fill in the blank somewhere under occupation, writer. I know, it's crazy, isn't it? 51.

Anyways what I meant there by the I'm my best version of myself when I'm writing is that I'm writing pretty much all day long. Thought pops into my head? I write it down. Lovely sentence? Write it down. Question for later? Need bananas? Pay bills? I write it all down, in a hodge-podge mess in a cool notebook (ahem, I wrote about the notebook, even) and once it clears the gate in my mind I can relax. I can let it go, if I need to (a worry or a round-and-round thought, I get those and they make me stew too much to keep them) or keep them, if I need to (the endless List of shit I have to get done, that if it isn't written down circles around me like vultures wanting to peck my eyes out...that may seem extreme but that's really how I feel. So even though I haven't I still feel as though I lost weight, because the thoughts and worries and words that float, untethered, are now grounded and made real (kind of Velveteen Rabbit style) and I am, if not weightless, lighter.


Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Resiliance

I mean, who isn't writing about the first day of school? There isn't anything else on my mind. Not true. I have a list a mile long of shit that I didn't get done this summer, so technically I've got a lot on my mind, but the pressing point is this.

Resilience.

So the way my brain works, (which I always assumed was how everyone's worked; I've since discovered this is not true)  is I like to apply lots of angles to whatever I'm thinking about. I should try to explain. I like to connect things. Bring ideas together. See relationships.

On the weekend I read somewhere, I'm sorry I can't point you to where I read this, only tell you I read it somewhere in the vast pile of books on the go, magazines, and newspapers I dip into constantly. I read that some universities now have resilience training for their new students. Why? Because their parents have done everything for them and when they get to university on their own they are unable to cope with life without someone running interference for them.

All summer long we've been talking about how to deal with life's hurdles. We have a workbook, ages 6 to 12, and it explains what hurdles are, talks about how they might make you feel, and gives little assignments to help kids learn to cope with what life puts in front of them.

 My oldest daughter has a couple of really good friends and she has always had at least one in her class at school. It's kind of a thing, isn't it, that they always give you one really good friend? I mean, I thought it was a thing. So I was quite surprised when she ran up to me at lunch and bravely told me nope, no friends in her class. And I mean none.

My first feelings, other than heartsickness for her, was that I was super mad at the school for doing this, and that they would have to fix it. I mean, why should she be left out? And it's pretty much a guarantee. When there is a group of three in a class and you aren't part of it, you are going to feel left out.

Thank goodness I'm mellowing in my old age, or perhaps it's the fact that I just didn't have enough time right then and there. I didn't go marching into the office. Okay I'm totally lying. I DID go marching to the principal's office, but he was busy and so I had to leave to drive another daughter to a lunchtime piano lesson (cause what's better than driving around, stuffing your sandwich in your mouth in a minivan over an abbreviated lunch hour?) and the plan was to come back and talk to (at?) principal after lunch.

The hour in the minivan gave me just enough time to cool my jets and I realized: if I go and do this, I am not helping daughter develop resilience. Funny, I had to act against every super strong instinct which made me feel like roaring like a mama bear - how could you do this, put her in a class alone while all of her friends are together - it still boils my blood to think about it. But that's what I explained last night (and at supper and again this morning). You're going to have this really good friend. In life. At work. Wherever. And then they will quit or leave or not like you anymore. And if you don't know how to cope, well, I didn't do my job very well.

Because my job as a mother, in this house anyways, it to help you learn resilience. It isn't to fight your battles for you.

Peace.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Let them be

I caved the other day and bought one of those Mom Calendars. I frigging hate them, the way it's a mom calendar and not a mom and dad or even a Family Calendar. I mean, what do gay male parents do? Cross out all the moms and write dad? I digress. I hate the calendar because it reminds me of all the mommy culture crap, with it's competitive and very marketed nature. It's cartoony, which bugs me, I don't see why I would want my calendar to be colourful and cute. It isn't how I like anything in my life but of course since I'm a mom I should have the calendar along with my wineglass that says Mommy's Juice Cup (seriously, there is such a thing).

I needed the calendar though. See one of the things I do (or don't do) is be able to see the big picture. So I continue to sign the kids up for stuff and schedule dentist appointments and book my haircut all at the same time until I realize everything is bumping up against each other and I can't physically do it all. Let alone if I've got to this point, I can't do it mentally either.

This year I am ensuring a smoother (smoothish?) ride by writing it all down, putting it on the fridge, and studying it as though I'm doing the LSAT. It's taken my family planning confidence level out of the dumps, where it was, and elevated it drastically. So it isn't the planning I hate, or the organization. No, I need that, it's what will keep it all moving. Nope. It's the shitty calendar.

The thing that bugged me the most is there is a quote, right on the September page, that my daughter read to me right after I hung it up. Something like, "Men are made by their mothers."

What the fuck? I mean, seriously. Pardon me?

I don't think so, sistah. Men are made by their mothers biologically, so if that's what they meant my apologies all around. But somehow I think the point was more pointed. More along the lines of if you just do every single thing perfectly, you will make a wonderful man. Which can, of course, be extrapolated to whatever your daughter grows up to be, it's pretty much your fault. The saying is meant to come off harmless, uplifting, even. I imagine a woman reading it, her little guy at five years old, ready to head off to kindergarten and she's feeling a little weepy of course (although she might be also relieved, deep down inside). And here she reads this on her new, shiny calendar where she's planned that on Thursdays they will have pot roast, and it makes her feel all warm and cosy because it means that all the Effort, and I do mean effort with a capital e, all that effort will mean something because he will grow up strong and manly but also gentle and kind and he will never go crazy or hurt a girl and he will be everything he ever wanted to be.

Well, if it were that simple.
We are who we grow up to be all on our own. If you grow up and treat people like shit, it's on you. You. You can of course examine your life, your background, your upbringing. Examine the shit out of it, if you will. Learn from it. Dissect it. Pull it apart and put it back together again, if you need to. But if your mom was a bitch or your mom was the saint of all mothers it really doesn't matter. All that matters is how you deal with it and what kind of man (or woman, this applies all around) you become.

The pressure on mothers right now is incredible and more than a little ridiculous. If you breastfeed or bottlefeed you are somehow screwing up you child. If you homeschool, public school, private school, let them eat carbs, don't wash the fruit, put them in advanced math, buy them too much/too little, no matter what you do, really, you are setting yourself up for some pretty heavy judgement.

And don't you think we need a little, or rather, a lot less than that?

I do.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Best blog

I just stumbled across this AWESOME blog that I found on the Huffington Post, it's called Wide Lawns, and it's super funny.[edit: the blog is not on Huff Post, she writes there and her bio led me to her blog, just to be clear]. So I leave a comment not for any other reason that it was so good and I immediately liked the whole set up and I felt like I had to say something, just to really completely be there. Like, at the blog there.

So anyways this is kind of an aside but also important, I've been blogging here and talking to my life coach and just generally getting my shit together and I'm feeling pretty impressed by my Self, if I might say so. I've been blogging, yes, but it's been closed to the public and if I'm honest, it's pretty dreary stuff. It's exactly what I needed, for sure, I had to get all the crap out in order to have room for new. That's how I roll, I've come to know, if I don't write it down it sort of festers inside. Experiences, thoughts, ideas - I MUST write it down someway, some shape, any form.

Where I'm going with this. So I read a couple posts on this blog and I love them, they make me smile, and I feel motivated and connected and realize that yes, people still do blog and yes, there are good ones out there. And then I scroll to the top of her blog and I see a blog award for being funny and the first thing that pops into my head is maybe I could win one of those.

Huh?

I mean, even I can see that there has been zero humour in my blog posts lately. I've been in-the-muck sort of stream of consciousness writing, from the gut and the heart and whatever else is the most personal, heartfelt emotional place there is. So perhaps not that award. Perhaps award for most raw? most therapy-like post? most obviously introspective leanings?

But it was so nice to be there, to stand on the edge like I am right now, ready to dive back in and be the writer I know I am. I read this on another blog today and I will have to find it so that I can give credit, but this is what I know.

My value does not diminish because of what I have been through.
And this is what I also know.

I am a writer.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Little bit

Today is a day of tired. Yesterday was too. Something as simple as a very slight cold, a few nights without enough sleep, a sore knee and wham bam I feel back at the beginning again.

Hopefully not, hopefully I've got some tools in my kit that I can use. Writing is one, most definitely. Didn't write yesterday and maybe the day before, that little bit of not doing has such a huge impact. Meditation is huge, a monumental miracle drug and for whatever reason it's been too hard to do.

Self care is the key. And knowing it's okay to slow down. And keeping the worry at bay. And doing the things that keep the worry pacified. Like making lists and checking them off, and resting, and accepting, and writing and gratitude and slow down.

Slow down.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Who am I from the inside out?

I spend a lot of time thinking about this question. Perhaps more than most. Or maybe not, how should I know. But I do know that people don't go around talking about their inner self, what makes them tick, what works/doesn't work for them, the way I do.

Maybe that isn't right. I don't feel as though I go around, constantly telling people what I'm thinking or not thinking, the exact status of my mental state, but I truly do go around thinking about my exact mental state all the time. Like, all the time.

There's that thing I tell my kids (or my friends). That thing about how when you're worried about what other people are thinking about, they are actually most likely thinking about themselves. For realsies. I mean, case in point. I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out what makes me tick. Or, not tick. The rapid hum of my life when everything is meshing can grind to a terrible halt given a slight lack of sleep or loss of control.

So. Question asked. Who am I from the inside out? I mean I don't know that I can answer that question. It seems at once both impossibly big and impossibly small. There is me, that raw and sensitive one-big-emotion, is that me? There's me that gets tired and snappy and can easily speak without thinking. Is that common? How do people control their mouths, anyhow? Whenever I think about going to a social event with certain people I spend a great deal of time on the way, reminding myself that lots of people are just fine Not Talking. And I paste that smile on my face, the one that is friendly and welcoming but not overbearing, the one that says I'm interested and I would of course be pleasant to talk to and I won't say anything rude or weird.

I mean, I'm my best critic, but I also have other critics who are quick to jump in and point out that thing I said wrong or why I shouldn't say that. I feel as though (metaphor coming) I'm a big dumb sheepdog that people generally like but who can also be seriously annoying, jumping all over you or spilling your drink or tracking in with muddy feet. That's me, with my words and opinions and just general too-muchness.

So Who am I from the Inside Out? I'm emotional, highly in touch with mine and others. I'm quick with my brain when it comes to words and ideas. I'm prickly sometimes, protecting myself from the disappointments life so often brings. I'm artistic, and I've written about that double edged sword a few times, how I feel as though I walk on the dark side of the moon as a trade for that. Aside: this whole tragedy of Robin William's suicide, and the amount of people writing about how art is so closely connected to madness makes me feel so much saner, if that makes sense. I've been talking about that for years. Now maybe everybody can see it may be true.

Who am I is not answerable in a moment, in a snapshot. In a quick blurb. Rather I will have to tease the answer out, dig deep underground. Peel it all back and see what's left. That's okay, that's what I'm here for.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Power

Today I had this underlying feeling. Like butterflies in my stomach, only bad ones. Not good. I'm lying, the feeling showed up last night and sort of percolated all night. I acknowledged the issues, that was apparent, at the very least. But still I didn't feel good. Didn't feel at ease.

Of course it is unwise to expect to always feel fine, to trip through life as though it is no challenge at all. But neither is it wise to allow the worry to permeate the day, suds-ing through and ensuring it is always there, just below the surface.

I had my trusty little notebook so I did something I used to do but hasn't been part of habit or consciousness, oh, I don't know, since I let everything go.

I wrote it out, the worry. I spelled it out in no uncertain terms, the worry and how I felt about it. And it was magic, it really was. It was like the very second I put it down on paper, on the white page with the faint blue lines, the power was gone.

I mean the issue still exists. But somehow I was able to frame it (perhaps reframe it?) and somehow that reframing took the power of the worry away. I was able to look at it, examine it, think it through. And it became ever so much more bearable. Manageable. Handle-able.

I'm glad I remembered to do this.

Monday, August 18, 2014

My husband's uncle died recently and we went to the memorial service. They had a slideshow, of his life. It nearly killed me. Selfishly, all I could think about was my own life. I mean, don't get me wrong, I am so very sad for his children, his wife, his brother. All the people he was close to and connected to. But as I watched that photo montage of his life, of him digging in the dirt as a toddler, with his mom on graduation day, getting married - as I watched his life in old photos, it struck me (of course it did) that we all have that life.

We have the baby pictures, the photos of us with our sibling playing in the backyard. The jumping off the dock at the cottage, the pushing a doll in a doll carriage. Sleeping on a parent. Everyone has that one. The posed pics, the candid. The school ones. And later, graduations and convocations, parties and birthdays and celebrations. Weddings. Dancing. We all have it.

And at some point we will all be gone. And our families will watch that slideshow and weep. And mourn. And that's what I was thinking about as we celebrated the life of this man, a father of three, grandfather, brother, son, husband, friend. We all will die, and will be no more. Life will go on around the empty space that we used to fill until even that space has slowly but surely been filled. And we are forgotten - I don't know even the names of my grandparent's parents. I know I have access, I could look it up, but I know nothing about them and that is how it will be within another three generations for me. My children's children will have children, and to them I will be a distant existence; necessary, but also uninteresting. Let me rephrase; perhaps interesting, perhaps uninteresting. But unimportant.

This is rather glum sounding but really isn't meant to be. It is what it is and of course I cling to life as hard and fast as I can because I want to, for me, and for my children. But it's good to remember it is all so very fleeting.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Slow it down

I've been slowing it down. The pace, the movement, the reaction time. Take a moment before the beat, to breathe, to think.
My meditation is on a series where we envision this warm, liquid sunshine pouring in through the top of our head, spreading through our body, melting the stress. At the end of every session Andy, he's the guide, says to "flash" the exercise several times throughout the day. I'm not sure I'm at several, but for sure I do flash it, and for sure it is an instant relax, a sense of heavy calm that floods quickly through.

If I don't get everything done I wanted to, well, who cares. That's different for me, and probably without this horrific knee injury I would still be hurrying, cleaning up and putting away and getting ready. Now, sometimes, it is easier to realize hey, it doesn't really matter if I don't do it. For real. Doesn't matter.

I'm feeling selfish in a good way. I'm taking the time to read and study. Writing and writing and writing. Thinking and learning, stepping back and getting ready and moving on. I know that this day, this moment, is what it is, and if I remember anything at all, that needs to be it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I didn't go back yet, to the birthdays thing. I'm not sure anymore where I was going and I don't know what else there is to say about it. I mean, we got a dog, yada yada, life was really hard. We fought like crazy, almost hating each other. Almost? Maybe we did. The air was certainly icy cold for a while. The dog permeated every moment of my day. Every single moment. From the second I opened my eyes in the morning, when I knew that the minute my foot hit the bottom stair, when I would have to get the dog out of her crate and take her outside, to the last thing before bed when I put her back in her crate, I was responsible (unhappily) for a being that wasn't small and fluffy or independent or crazy smart. Nope. I was up and down, in and out, cleaning up pee and vomit and often enough, dog shit. The kids couldn't grasp how to teach a dog not to jump, so two were afraid and one, the one who should have been afraid, was instead fearless and constantly being nipped and bitten.

I became the worst possible version of myself. I was trapped, trapped in a house in the worst winter in decades, dealing with an animal I felt no common ground with. No joy. No connection. My little old man dog, my pal, my guy we got before we were even married, was miserable. I felt guilt and anger for this, too.

I became that person with a bigger dog (she wasn't that big but she wasn't small, either). I hate going to someone's house and having their dog sniff my crotch, jump at me, snag my clothes, get dog hair on me, and here I was, inviting people into my home to do just that. My house smelled, of urine and dog. There was hair everywhere. We burned out a furnace fan because there was so much dog hair clogging the vent. I wore my beautiful black jacket and was horrified to realize it was covered in long blond dog hair.

This wasn't our finest moment. Even looking back I see how completely and totally unhappy I was, and how that then translated into everyone else completely unhappy. I was the captain of the ship, and in my estimation, the ship was due to sink any minute now.

As I write this I waver. On one hand I'm embarrassed. Who can be so unhappy over a dog? Who is such a bitch? Funny. More shame. Why couldn't I be better? Why couldn't I train her? What was my problem. On the other I want to share more, more of the complete heartache I felt. How I felt usurped in my own home. Actually, I felt I had no home anymore, truth be told. I had no escape. No privacy. I no longer owned my moments.

It will take a while, I think. To work through this. To deconstruct it, label it, learn. To be able to talk about it without feeling as though everything is made of delicate glass and will smash loudly and wholly if it's talked about too much.

But this is a start.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Vulnerability


Where am I vulnerable? Oh let me count the ways.

I fear I'm not that smart. This perhaps stems from exactly this. I was in grade four and I adored my teacher. I mean, I was completely besotted. It was her birthday and somehow some of us students convinced a mom to bake her a cake and bring it to school as a surprise. I went home and told my mum this, at the supper table, and said my teacher was turning 25. My mum said, she looks more like she's turning 35. So the next day I repeated that to my teacher. I told my parents I had done that at the supper table, at which point I got a sharp lesson in how things spoken at home weren't to be repeated at school. Fine, point taken.

Many years later, I think maybe I was in grade 11 or 12, we were recalling this incident. My mum was talking about her embarrassment; right after this went down she had to go to parent-teacher interviews. She was sick with nerves. The teacher was, understandably, cold. She said to my mum, Kristen is average. She won't have any trouble with school, but she will always be average.

Now, I know this was spoken in anger and revenge, and I knew it at the time. But somehow this stuck. Somehow, this found a soft spot, a tender spot, and from that moment on I knew I wouldn't be the editor of MacLeans. I knew I was destined for normal, for average, for nothing special. So on matters of intelligence, of feeling worthy and smart, I'm vulnerable.

I'm vulnerable with friends. I love wholeheartedly, unabashedly. Completely. I found my first best friend in grade 4 and she saved me. I was going through some serious shit at home, and of course that translated over the years into some serious shit at school, and she lifted me up like nobody's business. She was like a fiery little feminist, making sure that I was okay and I knew I was good enough. We grew apart, nothing dramatic. My second best friend was through high school, I loved her in that high school way best friends do. We were inseparable. Happy. That is, until she completely shunned me in the second half of grade 12, refusing to speak to me or spend time with me. I think at grad she let me take one photo with her. For memory's sake, not because she loved me anymore.

I'm vulnerable with feeling stupid (intellectually), feeling left out (like the kid not invited to the birthday). I'm vulnerable about what kind of parent I am (too involved? not involved enough? not enough patience? a yeller? occasionally sarcastic?). I'm vulnerable about my stomach, which always seems huge to me and crisscrossed with silver stretch marks. I'm vulnerable about my husband being really smart. I'm vulnerable about feeling like I'm lazy if I'm not doing something.

There is more, of course there is. But I need to start naming this shit, to get a handle on it. And then I need to go back to the birthdays, or whatever those two posts have morphed into, because that needs to be finished. But for today this will do.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Work/ing

It's working. All of it. And it's work.

I blog, I write, I scribble in my notebook. I think like a writer again. I read viciously funny books, dreamy books, books on parenting and being a better person. Newspapers. Magazines. I have ideas.

I write in a gratitude journal, I plan my days. I think about yoga, I stretch and bend. I remind myself to be positive. To let thoughts go. That thoughts are just thoughts, they are nothing.

I stumble and fall, getting angry, getting ashamed (so much shame...what is with that). I fail, miserably, every single day.

But then I get up, I dust off, I start over.

And it's working. And it's work.

Friday, August 01, 2014

The Potcakes

honest, it really is the nicest beach ever
I need to tell you what a Potcake is. I consider myself somewhat an expert, in the manner that mum's are experts in poop and vomit not because they want to be but rather because you get really good at waking immediately in the night if you have a puker anywhere in the house. Or after you wipe bums a thousand times and discuss poop qualities for hours both with said child (that was smooth poop, she says, I want to see it. Smooth poop? pardon, I say. It didn't hurt my bum), you become a poop expert. So in that vein I am a Potcake expert.

A Potcake puppy is a stray dog in the Caribbean, in Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, and Jamaica, named because they used to be fed the scraps of the bottom of the pot, where the rice had formed into a cake. The dogs had been brought to the islands by the ships and now ran wild. In T&C there had been a government run spay and neuter program but when the '08 recession hit it was dismantled. So now there is a dedicated group who run Potcake Place, a little rescue organization with excellent marketing in the touristy area of Grace Bay on Provodenciales.

Picture this. You are on holiday, weak from so much gorgeous sun you spend the first few days literally just standing there, like an idiot, staring at the ocean and feeling the sand. Everyone does it, it's just so perfect. You are sick, coughing like a madwoman, but Making the Best of it, because this is a very expensive holiday and a celebration and the entire family needs to spend this time together and needs to relax. You start noticing, or rather, you wouldn't have noticed this if the people were on fire but your husband has a radar for dogs, and HE starts noticing tourists walking puppies on the beach. And of course, these tourists are simply thrilled to death to have this adorable little dog on a leash, and they are holiday drunk with the thought of it all (on holiday and look at me, I'm doing something so GOOD and KIND and I'm enjoying myself too, this is what I imagine they are saying to themselves, and of course I'm imagining because even cold hearted me isn't immune to a small, soft, gentle puppy).

So now every time someone walks by with one of these puppies, which seems to be every day now, kids and husband run to them and discuss, reporting back to me name of dog, country of origin of walkers. 

Husband eventually says, I think I want to take the kids to Potcake Place to get a puppy to walk. And my chest is tight and I feel panicky and he says no, just to walk, but I know better, and somehow I can see it all playing out but I think of course this can't possibly be so, we can't possibly be getting a dog. We've had a thousand (maybe more) conversations about how I don't want a dog, we already had one and while I loved that little old man dog to bits once he was gone I had no interest, no inclination, no motivation, no nothing that said to me, let's get a dog.

So I think, surface breathing, all right, take the kids. And then of course I think, how can I not go? Family holiday. I need to go. So I go, to this tiny rescue place, where the kids (of course) fall in love with every single dog there and husband spends thoughtful time, down on one knee, it seems as though he is sensing or using some kind of radar or intuition, deciding which dog to walk. He chooses a little golden coloured pup, her name is Marilyn Munroe. They get outfitted with all the gear. The leash, the little plastic water dish that ends up being useless on the sand. The pamphlet. Off they go, to walk this little dog on the beach and be those people, who get stopped and questioned and I feel it all happening, rushing towards me, thinking on one hand this is going to happen, I'm helpless to stop it, to of course it won't . This is not, cannot, will not, be happening. We will not go home on an airplane, with a dog.

I read the pamphlet and I see my out. It says that every member of the family will be interviewed to ensure that the family is fully on board with getting a puppy. Aha, it's obvious to me that this will not happen then. I will answer their questions, go through their screening process and will fail. There is no way I won't. Husband and I have date night at the only shitty restaurant there, where I say how is this going to work? What do you see? Who will care for this dog? And he, too, is holiday drunk. He says things will change. I won't work so much. I will care for this dog, it will be mine, I will train it and look after it. And I think this is a good thing. This husband of mine he works too much, far too much, and he needs joy and happiness and who am I to stand in the way of that? And of course he will work less, he will have to, he will have this creature, this animal, that will need to be walked and taught and fed and loved. Anything that gets him home more, gets him relaxing, gets him a more full and joyful life, well that can't be bad. It can't be.

And a part of me still thinks, but I will fail the test. So here I have a win/win. I have not said, not definitively, no dog. I have a hard time with that, being That person, the dream crusher. So I hang on to the idea that the screening process will screen us right out. Sorry, they will say, so sorry, but everyone has to be on board and we sense strong hesitation from this woman. Sorry, we can't give you this dog, we understand how important it is for everyone in the family to be 100 percent committed to making this work. We can see even from her body manner she isn't into it. Look at how she sits in the corner, wondering at all these people clamoring over dogs. We are experts, they say. We can tell when someone is just going through the motions.

Except somehow their expert must've been off that day. Their protocols didn't get followed, their checklist was abandoned. No one asked me a thing, they all worked on assumption, that if she's here, if she's with this family, if they are saying they want a dog, she must want one too. Don't get me wrong, it's a fair assumption. They are busy, incredibly busy, with these abandoned dogs and strays and swim-suited tourists from every place on the globe, coming by, maybe taking a little mouth to feed off their hands. So they just packed up all her stuff, phoned the airlines, made it easy-breezy like nobody's business, and we had a dog dropped off at our condo the morning we were leaving for home.

I went away for my 40th birthday with my amazing family and somehow I was coming home with a live animal.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

And so on...

So I think I was somewhere around birthdays in my thirties in this convoluted way I want to tell you about my vacation.

Birthdays became a thing I did with my immediate family, husband and kids, Earls, and more often than not my parents and sometimes my brother. And this was fine, no, more than fine. That's all I need.

My close and oldest friends would celebrate each of our five birthdays throughout the year, surmising (rightfully) that we needed to mark the occasion, if not the exact day, by getting together for a meal. Always nice. And over the years the annoyance that was there because of the date, made so clear occasionally by so sorrys and too busys and we can celebrate laters became less so, people became more considerate, and it was appreciated.

But this year was different. This year, it was a milestone. The last milestone was my 30th, which I thought would be fun to have a few friends over. I planned it for December 22, thinking so often people will go to a Christmas party or what have you, so perhaps they would want to celebrate my day. I baked a ham, I bought buns. I made food upon food and made the house pretty. One friend came, along with a couple of my husband's friends and their wives. One friend.

So given that, I was a little gun shy to mark the 40th. And also my social circle has grown large and vine-like, where it becomes difficult to roll around in the middle. It's like either invite a very small few or a very large number. I wasn't cool with huge, and I wasn't sure about small, so I hemmed and hawed. Husband asked, would you like to go on a trip? He says now he was thinking something like New York and the two of us, but I jumped and said a family trip! Turks and Caicos. We spend so little time together and that place is so magical I saw it all. Two weeks, leisure, sunshine, and what better way to celebrate.

Well. Let me tell you. There were better ways it could've been celebrated.

First, he didn't stop working on the overnight in Toronto. Meaning, we checked in at around midnight and fed the kids and went to bed. Except he didn't go to bed. He kept working, with the light on, at the desk about five feet away. I have trouble sleeping with any light at all, and this was very, very bright. Also I have trouble sleeping in hotels. And then I could feel my throat getting sore. All I could do was lie there thinking shut the fucking light off shut the fucking light off I had better not be getting a cold the fucking light is too bright my throat my throat.

This was not a good start.

We arrived, went to the condo, had appys and drinks on the beach. Magic. That place is magic, I swear. And then he got out his computer and started working again. And then he said I don't feel well. This is my husband, who really doesn't do anything at less than 100 percent. Including getting sick. So in between him working and being sick, I spent the first couple of days with the kids. Now, I too was sick, but I had a super bad cold. The kind with a cough where you sound like a foghorn, and people actually step back when you start coughing, sounding like if you just tried a littttttle harder a piece of lung might surface. So I wasn't sleeping. When I get a bad cold, a really bad one, it tends to settle in my chest and if that happens I typically can't shake it for a couple of months.

Off to the doctor I went, feeling that underlying feeling of WHAT A WASTE OF TIME I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M THIS SICK ON MY HOLIDAY. And walking back and forth to the doc in the blazing sun, sun which when you are lying on the beach is so fantastic, when you're coughing your head off toughing it out and walking instead of taking a taxi because that would be lazy, well, then the sun ain't so welcome.

Doctor gave all sorts of goodies, including a couple of inhalers. But I mean really, it's a cold and it's shitty but it's really just a bad, bad cold.

I'm not sleeping, or if I am it's in fits and starts not in my hugmongous king size bed that is the comfiest bed I've ever slept in, in air conditioned bliss. No, I'm sleeping in the living room on the pull out couch that I pull out and make up in the middle of the night so I can stack up five pillows and sleep sitting up, grandma style. I think what I'm getting at here is that I perhaps wasn't at my best. Perhaps I was feeling shitty, perhaps I was worn out. Perhaps the coughing was taking a lot out of me. Perhaps me being under the weather plus trying to be solitary fun parent while daddy laid in bed all day with stomach bug was hard on me. Perhaps I always try to make the best of it, and perhaps it was too much. Perhaps.

And then the kids started getting sick too. [*This is why a two week holiday is imperative - nearly everyone can get pretty sick and recover so that everyone still has days they feel well]. So they would throw up in the middle of the night, or maybe fall asleep on a beach chair at the bonfire and beach BBQ you paid $250 for even though they didn't charge you for the kids. Yeah, that much. And then child would be carried home, sleeping, and throw up all night long. And the hotel across the way with the amazing beach patio and the gorgeous food and the just perfectly divineness of experience was so nice, making chicken noodle soup to carry back, from scratch, but maybe that took something out of me, the sourcing and carrying and caregiving of it all.

And maybe the idea of the penthouse was super fun, and the penthouse itself was super fun, and the massive double patio with the beautiful dining table
 
 was just great, and the island with seating was so nice, and the beautiful round glass table in the great room with seating for six was really nice. But maybe it was really a long ways away, and when a person is coughing and hacking and not sleeping and holding hair out of the toilet for throwing up children and doing all this looking after, maybe the penthouse isn't so great when you want to BBQ and the BBQ is downstairs by the bar and you have to carry all the stuff down and then run back up and turn the water on to boil and then run back down to flip it all over. Maybe that's too much work. And so then you start eating out all the time, even though that wasn't exactly the plan, because while it's nice to eat out, each restaurant bill was well over a couple hundred dollars, and when you're burning through your budget like that it takes a bit of the fun out of it all. But you keep going. Because what else is there to do?

[epiphany just happened here, just saying]

And then your husband says let's go look at the potcakes. And if this life were a movie, if it was being watched on a screen, either big or small, the music would change at that moment. Or maybe the camera would slow down, and put emphasis on the moment. For sure the moment would be in all the previews. Maybe that phrase, somehow, would be included in the trailer.

"Let's go look at the potcakes," he said.



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Title TBD as subject matter all over the map


Most people, when they go on vacation, do the same sorts of things. Lie on the beach, eat out, do a couple tours. Let me tell you about my last holiday.

I have to give this story some context though, so please forgive me as I back up a little. It was my 40th birthday last year, December 24, to be exact. I need to tell you a bit about that first before I tell you about the holiday.

December 24 sucks as a birthday, followed only by December 25 in terms of worst possible birthday dates. Pretty much the whole month is a write off, so it isn't as though I don't have sympathy for all the other December birthdays, and if I'm being realistic, the first few days of January are pretty shitty too.

December 24 is for family gatherings, for last minute shopping, for kids excited for Santa to come. What it isn't for is a birthday dinner, or a cake, or any sort of party. It isn't for wrapping things up in happy birthday paper, or beautiful birthday cards. It isn't for waiters singing happy birthday, handing you a piece of cake with a sparkler in it, because likely the restaurant is closed. It isn't for birthday parties at your house or someone else's house or for anything other than a tacked on, sort of "oh, it's your birthday!" from someone who is genuinely happy and thoughtful person who really is happy it's your birthday, but mostly because everybody's frigging happy on Christmas Eve.

Obviously this is nothing new. Obviously this has been my birthday my entire life, ground zero for Kristen McLeod, so I'm pretty used to it. The way I've handled it varies, however,  most of the time I feel apologetic about it. I tend to feel as though just by having my birthday on such an awkward day I've caused trouble, I've forced people to take time from what they would rather be doing, to acknowledge that this day is special for another reason. Gosh, even writing that the day is special for another reason feels like I'm asking for too much. I really need to sort this shit out.

My family was pretty good, we always had cake and I got to choose my special meal (pretty much always spaghetti, meatballs, ceasar salad, and garlic bread). My presents were wrapped in birthday wrapping. We celebrated me. My mother even gave up her family tradition of opening up Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve, since it had been coopted by what perhaps a thousand people have called her "greatest gift ever." It was back in the day before the elaborate children's birthday parties, thank god, so I do recollect having my grade 2 birthday party at a bowling alley, and I believe grade one had a piƱata. There are photos.
In my early twenties, when my life became more my own responsibility, I went out for about a thousand birthday celebrations. I think I had one, and periphery friends came, not close ones. It's hard, to vocalize this, because I feel ashamed that I care, I mean, it's just a birthday, right? And I get it. I really, honestly, do. It's Christmas Eve, for heaven's sake. And this isn't a story about how no one ever cared, or no one every got me a birthday card, or said happy birthday, or anything like that. Rather, it's more like when someone said happy birthday to me, I was always glad to deflect with merry Christmas.

When I got married things continued, meaning, I still had birthdays, they were still on an awkward semi-holiday, but somehow it felt better. My husband was really good with celebrating, and his family is massively into birthdays, so I did feel like the occasion was marked, and often, more than simply marked. We have a kind of tradition that works for me, where we go to Earls for a late lunch, and that's become the thing we do for my birthday.

I've noticed; what started as a story about a trip to celebrate that went awry in an obviously necessary discussion of some birthday shit. Which is not finished yet. Apparently this will take a few posts to work through. Hang on!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Time

Part of the realization has to be that time is not going to come in large pieces, like a pie, to be divided up easily and evenly and competently. Instead, time will come in short bursts, a minute here, a second there, and rather than waiting for those minutes and seconds to add up now I understand something I knew before, but forgot. I have to grab them, tightly, and use them, properly. This is how it has to work.

There is no magic fountain of time. There is no just getting up at 4am because that isn't how I work. There isn't a lotto win coming, obvious, given I don't play, but still a rather frequent pop up fantasy where money really does buy a lot of things, including time.

Time comes at different spots throughout the day. In the summer it tends to be 4:00pm, when the kids are snacked up and exhausted from the pool and I can plunk them down to chillax, as the 3 year old calls it. In the fall it will likely be the mornings, when they are all in school.

Remembering that in the past the time was there was helpful. It's funny how the brain works, how it became utterly impossible to write. Impossible to sneak five or fifteen, impossible to get enough done to be able to with good conscience say no, this is mine. But the memories are waking up and cautiously I am asserting, taking, gingerly stepping forward. And this is good. I am walking.

Monday, July 28, 2014

I have a book on how to be a writer. It's my favouite book on the subject and I have quite a few. The woman lives in California and she writes easily, giving practical advice that when I took it a few years ago, seemed to work. I say this in a loose sort of sense, given that it's not like I was on a book tour today, I confess, I was picking beans at Nana's house and then cooking beans and mostly refereeing and failing miserable at personal goal of Not Yelling.

The advice was interesting. Things like, decide what a writer dresses like (in your own mind), and dress like that. For instance, if you think a writer wears black turtlenecks, wear black turtlenecks. Write every day. Send little notes to people, in the mail.

I followed all this advice, lived and breathed and listened and did, and lo and behold, I became a writer. I wrote a book, and had it torn apart and criticized and mailed it off and offered it up. Didn't go far, but I went further than many and I was (and am) so proud of that. I wrote every day, all the time. And if I wasn't writing I was writing in my head. I had a glass of wine while I cooked supper every night. I wrote for a living, even though it didn't pay well (I think one job I had was about 9 cents a word...who knew they even still paid in cents?!).

So I'm doing it again. I'm going to do the things that make me a writer and then of course it will follow. Of course it will.

I bought a new Moleskine, except white this time. Very pretty. I organized some clutter, get that shit out of the way. And with only a few (very) baby steps taken I caught myself writing in my head today. (*writing in head is thinking thoughts in sentences as though they were going to be written down. very satisfying when wanted, very annoying when middle of night and happening instead of sleep).

Friday, July 25, 2014

In the weeds

And then there's the weeding out. What would allow me to feel so incredibly fulfilled that I don't allow in the excess? Do I know? I think I know part of the answer, but only part. Or, if I know the whole answer it comes in snatches, not completely.

What I'm talking about, mostly, is the social. I'm naturally pretty social, what one would call an extrovert. I crave and love people and new experiences and busy. Which isn't to say I don't crave and love quiet, and calm, and solitude. For sure I want those things, most definitely. But I for sure and most definitely also love to be with people.

However.

Do I fill my time and use my energy on people I don't need to be around or people who don't make me feel like a better person? I suppose the easy answer is if I ask that question ..........

But (and this is where I have to think), it's more complex than simple. In that, I am the caregiver for three lovely ladies, all of whom have separate social circles and friends and it is my responsibility to provide experiences for them. And quite often, that means I'm the one hosting the event or seeing the parent or whatever, in order to provide the social experience for my girls.

Maybe it doesn't need to be so difficult. Maybe I don't need to feel as though I have to give all of my energy to someone. Maybe the fact that it's usually the busiest in the summer should suffice to make it bearable. Maybe I need to be more clear about my parameters, about the things I care about and the things that offend me.

Maybe this is a good thing to mull over for a while.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

super fast

One of the things I forgot how to do was to snatch a moment if it came my way. To grab hold of time, any time, any amount, like it was a balloon floating past.

Plan was to attend the noonish yoga but brain was not thinking clearly and so was under impression that kids could be dropped off at cooperative nana's house and yoga attended, on time. However, somehow forgot that it takes more than 15 minutes to drive from south end of busy city to acreage east of Regina and back into city to park on downtown streets, where generally is no parking.

Once the inner tantrum was over and the resilience had been sourced was like, hmmm, now what to do? So many things, so little time but yet time that was not available until Just Right Now.

Perfect balance, of getting the shit done I need to do, so that I can get the shit done I want to do. And perhaps, if it all works out, yoga will still happen.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Yoga

that's me!
So since I hurt my knee, which was June 4, I have been unable to go the gym, unable to walk around the lake, unable to move much faster than a turtle. Movement is crucial to my well being, so this has sucked.

Physio wasn't going so well and now that time has passed and of course with time's passing comes clarity, if not crystal, at least some sort of understanding. I think my I can do it on my own thinking, my surgery avoidance, my historical Bad Knees, all this has really messed me up and of course on top of all that I'm just plain getting older. Things take awhile to heal now. Anyways, when my super kind, sweet and very knowledgeable physio watched me weeping on the table he promptly scheduled me with a sports med doc to see what else could or should be done.

That just happened to be the week I was able to finally isolate that muscle that has been causing him such consternation - squeeze! squeeze! - to now avail. But now, the tiniest squeeze has turned into ten seconds and on Monday I thought, hmm. Yoga.

Yoga is a natural resting place for me, obviously a moving meditation. Where muscle by muscle, layer by layer, I can dig deep. And of course, the added bonus of a pretty decent workout at the same time. I hid in the corner, beating to my own drum while the instructor led the very full class through poses I mostly did in my head. But still. It felt so amazing to a) be there and to b) move, that I went back this morning, bringing with me Stella.

Of course we were late, rushing in at 9:30 a.m. on the dot, her nervous and me a little mad, and as we went up the stairs and I was saying no more talking, AT ALL, she said are we late? Of course we are, I said, just go in and do what everyone else is doing.

Except yes, we were late, but no, there was no one else there. Not a soul. And the instructor came and she modified the class for us, the ten year old with tight hammies from running so much, and the forty year old with tight everything from moving (not much) and being ginger about it all.

I could see how far my knee could go, turn my toes a little, stretch my arms to the side and realize how compacted everything has become. What a thing, to take that time in that beautiful golden floored room, to bend and stretch and wiggle and twist and breathe. Oh, to breathe.

And when we were at the beach this afternoon, where Stella was the oldest of all the children and I saw her a couple times, once teaching a five year old to breathe and stand tall, another time I saw her sitting on the grass in lotus, facing the water. Just sitting. At peace.

Yoga does that.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Today

Today the bigs are at tennis and the little is lying on the couch, resting. She was sleeping, she fell asleep in the car on the way home and for once when I carried her in she stayed asleep, snoozing gently in front of me in the sunroom. So quiet here. When I came back from the kitchen, where I was getting a huge glass of Pellegrino, she was lying on the floor. I asked, did you fall or did you climb down? No answer.

People came over to swim today, as usual in the summer. I feel myself getting tired, the socializing is wonderful but also a little like Christmas every day. The season is so short I feel like we can't (of course we can't) not do it - not have a little party every day. But sometimes I get tired.

And maybe (not maybe, for sure, most definitely, of course) I'm more tired today than other days because last night I had to put my dog to sleep. He's (no, not present, past, I have to work at that). He was a little old man dog. Sweet like the sweetest puppy, he was thirteen and had a bad back and an intense dislike (inability?) to go to the bathroom outdoors anymore. So it had to be done. However.

And so the babysitter came, she held Sophie who cried so hard, and this surprised me. Not that Sophie cried. That Noelle held her and Sophie was okay with that, since Sophie usually only wants momma but I guess since the consensus in the room, summed up by Stella, was that momma had murdered the beloved family pet, Noelle would do.

I couldn't sleep last night then. I sound like every other person who has been through this or anything traumatic when I say I just kept seeing it over and over but damn if I didn't just keep seeing it over and over. The moment when he was suddenly not. Not Henry, not alive. Just not.

Soon we will go get the ladies, as we say. And the ladies will be hungry and tired and I can't think what to feed them. There are things that sometimes become nearly insurmountable in my life on occasion and currently it is cooking. Something I love to do, and really this is usually very true in the summer. But lately it angers me when I have to cook for them. I think I know why, and it doesn't surprise me, that it is because my audience has no interest and generally doesn't much like what I prepare, that I always eat either alone or with the ladies. Of course it becomes mundane, annoying, grudge making. But this acknowledgement doesn't change the fact that it must be done, they must be fed. I think sometimes of Jeanette Walls, and The Glass Castle, and I know that I could totally be that mother. Lying around eating hidden chocolate bars and reading books while my kids starved. Perhaps not, but I can see where she was going with that.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Coming back

 
I have to get writing again. I've hummed and hawed, decried the death of the blog, worried over the two books that sit, gathering dust and bugs in their saved files, carting around the massive box that holds physical copies of draft upon draft in case, for some reason, I suddenly need them. I resent my computer (old and buggy), my iPad (impossible to tap out a story, for me). I hate the space I have for writing. I have no idea what the famous historical novel A Room of One's Own is about, but to me the line means a room only I can go in, with twelve foot ceilings painted lavender and bookcases lining the walls, stuffed with my dearest possessions. I want a view, of green or water and of course, preferably, both. I want quiet but still to be connected. A good comfortable chair. A computer that doesn't shut down randomly and also doesn't have a track pad that constantly jumps the curser around suddenly, causing me to type over or in-between already written words. Preciously written words.

I want endless motivation, unstoppable ideas. I want the life back where I had to stop myself from thinking about writing. From the perfect sentences coming, unbidden but welcome, in the night, instead of sleep. From drifting off into excellent plot developments at the grocery store, in the car, at yoga. When I couldn't wait to go home and write it all down. I need that space again. I need the creative to come back, so that every cell of my body knows that my first and best instinct is always to write, always to return to words. To know that this is what I do, and this is also what I do well. What a lovely thing to know.

I want to be the woman who has passion for her own things instead of trying to build a passion of feeding and clothing folks well. Those things will happen, naturally. Perhaps not naturally, but definitely. Most certainly people will be fed and clothed and most certainly it will be done more than adequately. Those being cared for would also most certainly prefer the caregiver to chase their dreams, not make the best of a situation. Making the best of a situation is what happens when you have to, when something really shitty happens, and that isn't how I want to define my life.