Wow, May 28th. Almost feels like a lifetime ago. I'm impressed at just how fast time flies past me and how thin a grasp I have on the time that does slow down. What is also impressive is my inability to commit to even the most trivial things. It's not that they are not important. I like this blog. I've had things that I've wanted to express but frankly, just not enough to commit to them. Not enough to parade them in front of my small readership. Perhaps some of those thoughts were too personal. Yes, there are some things that I keep just for me.
A few weeks ago I mentioned that I had received this great gift from a dear friend. A Starbucks mug that you write your very own statement on it with this porcelain pen then you bake it for a few minutes and voilà a custom made mug. Now if you know anything about me, you know how much I adore my coffee and the mug is just as important for the experience as the brew itself. That mug was given to me two Christmas's ago. I have yet to write anything on that mug! I drink from that mug every day. I literally use that mug for hours each and every day. It truly is my favourite. It is the perfect weight. Holds the ideal volume that I can comfortably consume before it gets cold. The handle fits my hand like a glove. Yet it's blank. Each day I ask myself what I should write on it. At this point I joke that it should say "I can't commit".
Days and months pass and I don't write the millions of things that I ruminate on, here in this blog. My Facebook statuses have largely dried up. I never really cared one wit for Twitter. My brain is busting with all that I have to say and yet...it's like I'm a font miser. I just can't make myself commit to a written word.
Doesn't bode well for the women who once had the ambition to write a novel. Likely the same reason why this trained artist can't commit to paint. Blank Page. Gaping up at me. Taunting me. Pinching me and proclaiming that no one would be interested in that thought. That thought is too provincial. That thought is too pregnant.
I've been meaning to drop a line to the cosmic void for some time now but with life dragging me off in every direction, very little energy gets spent in creative pursuits. Then today, after an entire day of having but a few moments to myself and after another squabble with my youngest boy I realized something. My life with L is like a cute movie plot.
How so you ask? Well what's the basic premise to most romantic comedies? Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl back. It turns out that this exactly what happens on a daily basis between me and L. We start the day all dreamy and cuddly. I go into his room and open the drapes and then go tickle his toes and nibble on a cheek. Then as the day wears on and we brush against each other too often, patience wears on either side and...Bam! Hot tempers. "I hate you" and a "I don't love you", stomp, stomp, stomp.
After a while of cooling off and collecting our senses he usually comes sneaking back up on me with apologies or a nice request and lots of compliments. Wooing me back into being completely smitten with him. He's lucky his 5 year-old charm works on my no-nonsense mommy heart. In a few minutes, I'm as much in love with him as I ever was and the day ends on an incandescent note. Cuddles, stories and sleepy compliments. I go to bed missing him.
It often happens that when I have a lot on my mind I don't write any of it down. That's why the blog as been so quiet. Just too much going on! Where has my head been? Well, pull up a chair and I'll tell you!
There were a bunch of changes that happened in the last few months. I've been doing a lot of house cleaning. Personal habits, unwelcome people, unwelcome thoughts. Change can be a good thing. Embracing it rather than fighting against it, is like tucking and rolling. If you're headed for a fall you might as well fall right and not get injured. That's exactly what I am doing. Pulling away from the things that have been eroding my happiness and productivity and rededicating myself to bigger, brighter things. Things that make me happy. Things that keep me busy and in service to my family, friends and community.
Today, as I was sitting at my desk waiting for inspiration. My desk really being my kitchen table with my laptop, coffee cup and planner. From my seat I can see out the big patio door into the yard. The yard looks pretty horrible. I neglected to put my garden away for the winter and I can see some patches of weeds that were dispatched last year in the frost but were never tended too. There are pool toys scattered about. I also see that I'll need to get another yard of sand to level the ground before I can put the pool up this season. Lately, whenever I look out this window all I see is the huge amount of work it's going to take to spruce up the yard. The deck that needs to be refinished. The ever so long list of regret for my procrastination. Today, I looked beyond it and saw something else.
Perched on the privacy wall, on the edge of part of my herb garden, a Robin. He was beautiful. He was grooming himself and singing. Taking a sip of water from an overflowing flower pot that wasn't put away a long with the rest of my straggly looking containers. I watched him for the better part of an hour. When I realized how much time had passed while I sat in wonder of this bird I realized that it didn't matter. I felt peaceful. As if it were no less important that I sit and watch the life that teams outside my window than the tasks I laid out in front of me. What I did in that moment was the nicest thing I did for myself all day.
For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver. - Martin Luther
I have only a few more days in my Lenten Journey for this year. What I have discovered so far is that nothing I gave up, that has been in practice for years, was easy-peasy to do so. I had found myself stymied a few times by links that I could not click. Then it was things I could not google. The pings of my Blackberry and the conversation notifications I couldn't entertain. I know that along the way I lapsed but instead of calling it a day, I started over. I considered it a process. One that taught me a few things. I might reveal those a little later but not just yet.
It's no secret that I'm pretty anti-technology. I still remember, all too well, the "2003 Blackout" Suddenly, my world, the center of the Canadian universe (Toronto) was stopped cold in its normally hectic tracks. The power went out and so did all the technology. A person couldn't even cross the street without scrambling to get out of the way of errant traffic. Wow! Talk about an eye opener. Sure it only lasted for a few days but having to reinvent an urban life without aid of any modern convenience was enough for me to vow to never get caught unprepared.
Earth Hour happened tonight. I'm still a little skeptical about its purpose but my children are at that fantastic age where they believe changes can really be made. It's infectious and couldn't resist coming up with a fun way to celebrate it. A huge bowl of popcorn and board games by candle light. Though I've been struck down with another school house cootie and couldn't sit at the table to play with the guys. I enjoyed them and an article on the Obama's Health Care reforms, the erosion of religious freedoms and the undermining of the constitution of the United States. The article had a lot of legal-ease and required me to re-read some paragraphs. Squinting in the dim light and watching the silhouettes of my boys. A pause in the play brought on a round of shadow puppets. Giggles and silly jokes. I loved it!
In the last few minutes before technically we were allowed to turn the lights and gizmos back on we snuggled on the couch and chatted. Talked about what we liked best about the last hour. What we thought it meant. What we'd like to do next time. We liked our time in the dark so much that the rest of the bedtime routine was done by candle light. A definite success.
Now the rest of my night is spent in a quiet peace. Matching the kids socks and sipping tea. Sometimes the best things in life are just right under a person's nose. Sometimes you have to give up the things that tie you down so that you can soar.
She's no longer an earthbound angel. Today she flew away. Blessed were the winds that touched her wings. Gentle were the heavenly trade winds that carried her up. Fly, fly away. I heard the birds were envious of her span. Sweet angel who touched the hearts of everyone who knew of her.
It's Sunday. I love Sundays. Nuzzling my face deep into the luscious smell of my son's still baby-scented hair during church. Sure I was supposed to be listening but sometimes God has his own way of speaking to a mother's heart. My youngest son is squirmy and silly. Keeping him reined in during mass means he sits for the most part, in my lap, wrapped tightly in my arms while I get to hug on him. I am not sure if he thinks of this as "me" time or if he thinks of it as punishment but I think of it often as a little slice of heaven.
Our traditional late day breakfast of pancakes and coffee served up to the most ferocious of appetites. Each Sunday I mutter at myself in wonder that I haven't put most of it together the day before. Why am I always starting from scratch when I know we're starving and impatient? My usual denial of the best laid plans. Artful procrastination.
Sometimes K, takes the kids off for an afternoon activity or for a visit with their Nana giving me an opportunity for some peace and quiet. I usually spend that time planning or implementing meal preparations or baking treats for the kids lunches for the week ahead. Today is no different.
I'm getting an extra special treat today. The windows are all open and I'm enjoying picking at the oatmeal cookie dough while also enjoying a nice cold beer. My birds are carrying on a cheerful dialogue. Robbins are bobbing about in the back yard. This morning I spotted some herbs poking their sleepy tendrils up through the spring-time debris. The wafts of BBQ on the breeze and dogs giving each other the what-for from behind their perspective fences. The world is waking up all around me and it's a fabulous thing to witness.
I am so grateful for my time alone to cherish it outside of my normal chaotic rush. I get the chance to take a deep breath and linger. I get to imagine the smiles on my boys faces as they race up the drive to greet me with news of their happenings. I look forward to kissing my husband a welcome back and folding my family back into their home, under my wing.
But for the next hour, I'll just enjoy watching the sunlight stream across the room and fall into a big puddle of warmth on the hallway floor with that old wiener dog sprawled top side down, in the middle. He's dreaming lazy dog dreams of greatness. On a day like today, anything is possible.
This time of year always makes me so much more aware of what is around me and coming from within me. The weight of my relationships. The weight of my service to my family and the world. There is a line from my favourite movie that says "I love you. Not like they told you love is, and I didn't know this either, but love don't make things nice- it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren't here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and 'die'. The storybooks are bullshit!"
That quote doesn't mean that I am disenchanted with my life. Just the opposite. It is because I am so grateful that I am drawn to examine that life. This time of year calls me to ask myself, how can I live this life better? What more I can contribute? How best can I serve someone other than myself? How to better understand my world and my role in it and ultimately, who I am because of it. Love is messy. How can I embrace that? What can I do with these jagged pieces of the world, to put them in order? How do I fit into that puzzle without becoming pierced by the sharp edges? How do I stay passionate and connected? How do I stay invested?
What would you do for love? How has it touched your heart?
Taking some simple time off has lead to some interesting insights. I spend a lot less time mindlessly surfing the net and being sucked into social media, than I had assumed. There's always been a degree of guilt associated with these activities for me. Perhaps I just thought I spent too much time on them. I've come to this conclusion after only a few short days into my Lenten Journey.
I had naively assumed that with the time I wasn't spending "surfing" that I'd have time to lavish on my family, get those dreaded tasks around the house started. Be on top of my work and still have time to take up a new hobby. I was so mistaken. I've only been afforded a few short minutes here and there. Sure you'd think they'd add up to some real time saved. No. Not even close.
This has been a very busy week. But aren't they all? I don't often get days when there isn't something that has to be accomplished under the gun. So where did all that surfing time come from? What had I been neglecting? Perhaps it needs more time to reveal the answer to that.
There is no background noise except the birds in the front hall having their endless conversations. The days when the kids are in school the house is very still. Only the activity at hand provides the back drop of atmosphere. I did take a short break to sit and have a cup of tea and do nothing. What an adventure that was. Clearly that requires discipline. I wasn't able to sit long at all without the impulse that I shouldn't just be sitting there. I had the need to multitask or it was wasted time.
In this quiet my thoughts explode. I can't seem to keep them in order. Wonderful ideas, the endless making of mental lists. A parade of memories stream in and out to their own beat. Then there are the unfinished arguments that get their exercise. It has only been a few short days but already I've worked through some niggling issues and feel a lot less harassed.
I'm enjoying this solitude. The first day felt awkward. Knowing there was something I wasn't "allowed" to do. Reaching for the computer or blackberry to realize that it was merely the need to break the habit. By the second day I wasn't even feeling the desire to check in. Each day gets easier. I wonder that at the end of the 46 days that I'll even think about it anymore. I wonder at why this doesn't seem to bother me.
Perhaps being so "connected" isn't a good thing after all.
It's rounding up to that time of year again. Lent. With Lent comes my usual media fast. I've been looking forward to this for a long time. I say it often but technology is no one's friend. I often think that I was much happier before Facebook. I also don't need to be inundated with awful or absurd news all the time. Violent or ridiculous TV shows leave me feeling stressed and if I watch them before going to bed then I'm pretty much guaranteed to have unpleasant dreams or even a restless night. Not my idea of entertainment. I have enough stress to keep my shoulders about my ears.
My husband teases me all the time that all I ever watch is The Walton's, Romantic Comedies or Jane Austen. He laughs but there's method to my madness. No one dies a graphic despicable death. There are no serial killers waiting to jump out and steal a baby to bring it to bad ends. No profane language or "adult" content to shield my kids from should they wander into the room. If I watch that stuff then I tend to swear less. Yes, it's true!
The great thing about the media fast is that I get to spend that unproductive time doing things that will ultimately make me more efficient. That means more time for PROJECTS!!! I'm going to teach myself to crochet. Oddly, I thought I'd learned to do this as a child but if it's like ice skating, I've proven that, in fact, a skill can be forgotten. Deeply forgotten!
For me this time-out is coming at a terrific time too. My life is about to become really fantastically busy. The time I have left I'll want to dedicate to my family. It also resets my perspective. I had a conversation the other day with a loved one who said his marriage was taken over by technology. That his wife never spends any time with him. If she's in his presence then her iPhone is always in her hands and she is always distracted by incoming texts. He said he's watched himself get shoved out of the relationship. She doesn't even realize what that gadget has done. He doubts that if she were acquainted with how the wedge has effected their relationship, she still wouldn't be able to give it up. It has wormed it's way in and it's likely staying for dinner, forever. Sadly, it is drawing their relationship to an end. How horrible! I'm learning in advance from her mistake. I wouldn't ever want anyone to feel that they were pushed aside.
This is my opportunity to reboot the way I think about technology. So by and large any blogs I write for the next 46 days will be written out by hand then quickly transcribed during the few minutes I've allotted myself each day. I'll likely spend more time actually connecting with my friends rather than dashing off short facebook blurbs. If I don't connect with them much during this time than it's more time I've got to redirect my energy into my work, my home and my family life. I'll drag out some of my forgotten cook books if I want culinary inspiration. Don't get me wrong. I am not so bombastic to think that it won't be a big adjustment. I am expecting withdrawal.
I don't know what all this talk about sacrifice is? Really at the end of the day, it's not much of a sacrifice. Now if I'd been fool enough to give up coffee or *gasp* booze..... nah, I'm not that crazy!
Sometimes I amazed at how things in my life can move so quickly. Not unlike water rushing past a broken dam. You move with the current or you can get dragged under. I love the way my swift moving life has taken me to places I couldn't have predicted. The movement of change cutting through some of the things I've assumed were strong enough to withstand change. I love the path I've been carried down even when it meanders in odd directions. I have never looked at change as if it was a bad thing because I've had it proved time and again that change brings wonderful new things.
The dam breaks and the water rushes past. No matter. No really, no matter at all. I'm surprised at how happy just a few unplanned changes to my life has suddenly made me. I was OK before but now I'm ecstatic. Odd, how that happens. I can't say what the wonderful things are but I can say that I'll be insanely busy for the next several months. I like busy. Busy is good!
I also like being reminded what is really important and what is not. It is not important to hold a place in your life for someone who is not worthy of the honour. It is not important to defend what you know is the right thing to do. The right thing is just that and nothing less. It's not important to give trivial matters more time than one would take to choose shoes to go with a purse. Which is great because I'm not all that particular about shoes (unless I run in them) or purses. What is important; my family; my friends; my word; my time and me. Yep, I said it. I'm important.
So when life starts to move swiftly without warning the first things I think about are the things that are important. After that perhaps then I'll worry about the dishes. Be sure of one thing, everything else ranks lower than the dishes on my "to be concerned with" list.
For a great while now I've been struggling with something that makes me really sad and angry. I avoid confrontations because I fear what I'll say or do. When someone truly deserves it, I hold it in because I don't like the what becomes of me. So I try to avoid drama in my life. To avoid it I try to make a concerted effort to treat people as I would want to be treated. I show loyalty and respect to those I love. Would go to the deuces to have someone's back. But yet it still finds me. More so, it may actually be that I have a way of overreacting to it. I'm sure everyone has their fair share of it in their day-to-day lives. For me however, it's fight or flight. I can go from zero to sixty, in no time flat. Likely have always done so but as an adult it's becoming more apparent and more shameful.
At least I feel shameful about it. At this late an age why is it that certain things and certain people still have the ability to run roughshod over me? The truth is that the person who likes to stir the pot ought to feel the shame but she only does it because she knows she can. She has gotten the better of me and that I'm afraid is my fault. She knows that I will not unleash on her. It makes me appear weak. She found the chink in my armour. Time to get new armour.
The things I'm learning from this:
Loyalty: A forgotten character trait.
Trust: Must be earned. It is no longer a given at the beginning of any relationship.
Actions: Speak the truth about one's character, before one can defend their actions with justification.
That standing your ground and having faith in yourself is sometimes the only thing you have.
That I'll be unleashing that ugly side of me in order to preserve the better side of me (but only to the truly deserving of it).
That in the face of adversity you can be fortified. I'm fiercer and more motivated to smash every single one of my goals now than I was yesterday.
So dear "frenemy" and "pot stirrer" thank you. Through your lack of ethics, lack of loyalty and your poor character along with your petty actions you've made me bigger, stronger and more successful than I would have been without you. I'm bringing my A game. What have you got?
Sometimes it's very easy to get so wrapped up in our own struggles that we forget that there are others in the world who have it a little worse. Sometimes a whole lot worse. When I was young I had a lot of hurts. Nothing was ever easy. I lived by the mantra that what didn't kill me made me stronger. I had always been torn between religion and spirituality and the "modern' world and what was "my" world. It was really easy to be secular because in my youth I didn't see the bigger picture. It didn't feel as if I had any community. I had no way of knowing that if I reached out anyone would care.
I've been following the lives of a family living with the truth that their daughter is battling for her life against a genetic disease. The normal lifespan for a child with this disease is 18 months. Years ago I would have viewed their plight as one of the saddest stories. I wouldn't have fully grasped what they were going through. I still don't. I'm not in their shoes, not by a long shot but I am a parent who worries endlessly about her choices for her children. I worry endlessly about how my parenting will effect them. Am I giving them all that I can? Should I have done something different? I'm not struggling with whether to hold back food to my dying child so that she can breathe better as she fades away. I can't even imagine what it would be like to gaze down into my sleeping child's face and know that one day the disease would take her away and knowing that time is coming fast.
Through reading their story I've had confirmed some things I always wanted to believe were true. That the love of a parent for a child is the strongest force on earth. Secondly, that we are not alone, not in our regular live-a-day lives or in the dire circumstances of losing a child, spouse or parent. There is a community out there. There are good people who are ready to help you stand stronger while struggle through your own personal hell. There are people who will arrange meals to be delivered so that you don't have to even think about nourishing your own body. There are people who will stand outside your home with lit candles to remind you that you matter. That they support you, that you still belong to the whole, no matter what. That there are more of these wonderful people than there are bad people.
Can it be possible to wear your heart outside your body and still survive? What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. My faith in humanity, community and love, is making me stronger though it hurts like hell.
We are all connected by a something much larger than ourselves. My faith has been fortified. My strength restored. All of my thoughts and prayers are with this family. They are far away from me but they are still out there, in the world beyond myself but my love and best wishes will reach them. I have faith in that.
It seems January has been paying off in cold weather and organization. Perhaps being kept in on these frigid days is what is prompting the new spurt of getting it "together". A few days ago I sat down and mapped out the menus for the whole month. So far we've been on track and pleased with the results. The move toward 100% homemade foods has been a happy transition. Ok so I don't make my own pasta unless its gnocchi but I do make all my own breads and will be going back to making my own kefir and yogurts again. The idea is to minimize the unnecessary add-ins. You know, that special laboratory creation that is now what stores like to call bread or cheese spread.
There was push-back from the kids but after a week of "lump it or leave it", I am no longer creating two separate meals. Except for when I make pizza where I will make them just a four cheese pie rather than a special adult creation with onions and olives. It's a nice relief for me to be able to get a meal on the table without that feeling of juggling spinning plates. It's too much like my days in a commercial kitchen during dinner rush. I gave up the paycheck some many years ago....so revisiting the stress each night seemed so ridiculous.
My husband has even joined in and has cleaned out our walk-in closet. Now we can really walk in! It's amazing how wonderful the carpet looks in there. It's pristine, what with the fact that it hasn't been walked on in 4 years! Seriously, K did a fabulous job. I've got clothes hanging up that I only vaguely remember.
It doesn't end there. I've even got my work schedule mapped out pretty well. I was feeling incredibly burned out before Christmas. It wasn't the amount of work that caused it. It wasn't the work at all. It was the fact that I was fighting to keep all these spinning plates in the air that I just didn't feel like I ever had time for myself. Then when it was time to get something done, I'd just totally dreaded it. Even things that I liked!
I like this new map-it-out plan. It's been a slice of heaven this month even in the light that I've added in so many more tasks. Baking, cooking all these meals, working on old projects to clear them out. Fitting in the occasional run with a friend just to chat. Heck, once I'm done this post I'm going off to soak in the tub with wine. WOW!
You're likely wondering why I'm using up my time here...good point. Chow!
We got winter weather shortly after Christmas but sadly it didn't last. We got that wintery blast that always reminds me of home (WPG) but it was a twelve hour affair, not that I mind that moving off to some place better suited.
Running at dawn down a country road in Durham Region I had many opportunities to take in the landscape. This time last year I was out in snowshoes embarking on a new winter sport. This year I'm wearing my fall run gear and enjoying 16K while looking at the mist hanging thickly over the stubble in the farmer's fields. I am enjoying this warm spell. I know full well it may not last. I know that spring is not around the corner thought this time of year I usually get cabin fever and start planning my gardens.
I felt so peaceful this morning that I was quiet and ran by myself for much of the run. Just taking in the moment. Wishing there were a way of capturing it without spoiling it. I was happy to be out running after taking an unexpected holiday from it. I was even happier that the weather was mild. In due time, I'll be out in my snowshoes. Today was a state of suspended animation. I was caught between two seasons. Serendipity.