Hello, My Friends

It’s been a long time since I have written – since May, I believe. We have a lot to catch up on! I hope the spring and summer months brought many moments of joy and happiness to you and that those moments have turned into treasured memories now!

Hubby and I had a summer to remember as well, although ours was bittersweet. We spent our moments taking care of his Mom who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s last fall. The disease progressed quickly, and by late spring, she needed someone with her every moment. She moved in with us while hubby searched for a nice senior’s residence for her that included memory care. One was found, and she has been there for just over a week. The months spent caring for my Mother in Law were precious, though overwhelming. I would compare it to the first few months of caring for one’s first baby – exhausting, life changing, and definitely a sacrifice made only out of love. I ended up referring to her as “my little girl”, as she reminded me very much of a toddler who is very sweet but also needs constant coddling and attention. I feel for families dealing with a loved one diagnosed with this disease which alters the life of not just the patient, but the surrounding loved ones.

I learned a few things during this journey that I would like to share with you.

  1. You never know how much time you have left to do the things you are dreaming of, so do not put these things off! What comes to mind for me is my plan to take writing more seriously. When I am retired. In 10 years. But, what if I can’t? What if, within those 10 years, something unexpected happens that renders me unable to write? I’m thinking that if we have a dream, we should live it to the best of our ability. Right Now! The future is not promised.
  2. It really is true! Joy IS found in the small things that occur naturally each day. I will never ever take these little things for granted again. One example is how much the hubby and I love to share a series on Netflix together. We find one that interests us and spend evenings watching 1 or 2 episodes together. I never realized how important this little ritual was until Mother in Law moved in and (I say this with love) took over the television. Other little things include: spontaneously going for dinner and movie together, having friends over, going on motorcycle rides … There are so many little things that we missed this summer and I have realized how important they actually are. I mean, it would be great to do something really big like travel around Europe together! But, in the end, it’s the small routines that serve to bond us together and ground us.
  3. It’s not selfish to put yourself first sometimes and, in fact, self care is necessary. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty bucket! Again, I’m saying this with love, but the Mother in Law required a lot of care and attention. This summer there was a point where hubby and I ended up absolutely exhausted! I had to step back and say “no” to a few things in order to tend to my own needs. And I have emerged from this with even more respect for my own self care. I am an introvert that needs time alone. I replenish my spirit when I spend time laughing and goofing around with some close female friends. I require quiet times to read and ponder. I am out of sorts without my daily brisk walk and yoga routine. My body is nurtured through simple whole foods prepared at home. The life changing thing that I have realized is that if I don’t set time aside to put myself first and tend to my own needs, then I will get lost in all the other pressing needs of the world. I will disappear. I have a friend with a schedule so busy he has to use a daily planner. He told me years ago that he pens in the times reserved for himself each day. In his own words: If I don’t schedule time for me, then nobody will.

There is so much more I have in mind to share with you. But I will leave these for future blog entries. After all, I have made a commitment to myself to stop by here more frequently!

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Footprints in the Snow

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Just over a week ago, our little neck of the woods experienced what was probably the worst snow storm of this winter. Actually, ice storm is the best description. So many of us wondered when will this winter ever end! After all, it was late April!

Yet, here we are today, the first day of May, and that snow and ice is a distant memory. I see a robin in one of our oak trees as I write this. The sun is still shining where, a couple months ago, we would be enveloped in darkness. All the remnants of that late ice storm have melted away! We thought winter would go on forever. But it didn’t. It left as quickly as it came.

And this got me to thinking about life.

This past week-end my Wild Child, along with my darling Grandson, moved into an apartment of their own. They have been living with the hubby and I for over 3 years now. The Little Man was only 1 and 1/2 when they first arrived to stay! And now he’s almost 5. And, though I am so thrilled for them and proud of my daughter, suddenly this home is very quiet (I hear the clock ticking madly). Things are a little less tussled and becoming more and more adult as each day passes. Wow! What a change!

I have blogged about my wonderful Wild Child before. One thing this family can always count on, is that life will never be boring with her in it! Things change suddenly! Flash back three years ago, and we had little warning before she moved home again with her baby boy in tow. A couple weeks to be exact! I recall rushing around (at Christmas time, no less!) preparing the place for a little one; thinking about what is safe to leave out and what must be stored. I had an adult home and it was going to change in a hurry! In the end, adjusting to the full house and toddler-fun came easy.  We all settled in and it seemed like these circumstances would last forever (or at least for a very long time!)

That’s not how it happened though!

Suddenly, with less than a month’s notice, things have changed. But isn’t that how life goes? Circumstances change the way winter quickly gives way to spring. When the time is right, things fall into the place that is right.

This is a good thing.

I’m happy for my daughter. She’s 25 and ready to have a place on her own. And the Little Man has grown to be a strapping young lad of almost 5!

It’s just that today, I feel in a ruminating mood. I’m thinking that we should never take for granted, our circumstances, or the people, or the time of life we are in. At the end of the day, count it all joy. Because when things change, they will change quickly.

Early this morning (this very quiet morning!) I awoke and wondered about my Magical Garden that I have blogged about here. Specifically, I was wondering about that wonderful tulip that appeared suddenly, unexpectedly, and from I’m-not-sure where. I questioned: would it still be there? In that moment, it was so important to me that it would be there again this year. So, I rushed to the garden and – Yes! – it has pushed it’s way up through the soil and is starting to grow! I silently said a prayer of gratitude. That little tulip has brought me joy for many years now, right around the early spring. I’m so pleased it’s still with us!

I wish you all joy in your individual journeys

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I wish us all balance in the ever changing constancy of life! 2018-05-01 18.32.46

 

 

 

 

There is No Pity Party Here

Yesterday evening I received a message from a well-meaning friend. She went on quite a bit about the latest antics of my Wild Child (my youngest who I blogged about Here.)

How I must be “suffering”, my friend lamented, at the “odd” behaviour of my free spirited hippie baby girl. How “horrible” for her to not attend the latest family event. Then the whole diatribe was summed up with the not so subtle accusatory statement on my “silence” regarding this episode, which I suppose was odd as well. Why ever would I have not yet contacted her to discuss all the sordid details of my latest apparently very public and extremely strange family drama!

My reply to her was short. We are doing fine as a family. We are no more nor less disfunctional than any other family out there, truth be told. In fact, I believe we put the proverbial “fun” in disfunctional!

And now I am taking to blogging over this, because I know in my heart this issue is simply an advanced form of the same old “Mommy bashing “ I and others experienced with our toddler and preschooler delights tantruming in grocery stores, at schools, and appearing in line-ups everywhere, to a rapt audience of “perfect “ on-lookers who have never seen the likes of such a scene. (Ya, right! You know you are secretly thanking god it’s not you this time and, in fact, you know it probably WILL be you next time!) But I digress. My point is as follows.

First of all, no one member of this family holds the key to control the ENTIRE emotional temperature of the rest of us. Yes, we care about and love each other. But we are healthy enough to know we are each separate individuals and we don’t judge ourself on the other member’s behaviour. We accept our differences. We may not like and support the other person’s actions, so we are quite willing to hand over the consequences of unacceptable behaviour to the person at fault. Hey, maybe we even need to distance ourselves for a while. But make no mistake, when the chips are down, each member returns to their roots. My hubby and I just received a call from said wild child alerting us to the fact that her sister needed us and was trying unsuccessfully to get in touch with us. And then she gave us a curt “good bye” hanging up promptly. Perfect, we are not, but family we will always be.

Secondly, to my concerned friend (and anyone else who feels beyond reproach enough to offer an opinion), please give me the courtesy and space to figure out and experience my OWN feelings. Maybe I am reserving judgment on my Wild Child because I want to wait and see how things progress over time. As my beloved late Father in Law used to say, “You don’t know if something is a good thing, or a bad thing. In the end, only time will tell”.

And, you know what else? This instance of a family member missing an event is only ONE THING in a plethora of happenings occurring in our life. Many events are actually very wonderful. For instance, my eldest daughter is marrying this May and she just achieved her Masters in Education. Not to mention the fact she has held a full time job for the last 8 years. I would describe this as a successful launch into adulthood! Something to rejoice and be happy about! Let me also mention, that at this up-coming wedding, I have my own very special friends and former bridesmaids in attendance! How blessed am I to have kept connections throughout a lifetime with these wonderful women! Oh, and this July? My hubby and I celebrate 30 years of marriage – for better and for worse, we honoured that, all of that, and we are still together. Something to be proud of, I would say.

I could go on and on about happy blessings, but I won’t. At the end of the day, my life is as beautiful as it is difficult. And may I suggest, if we were all honest, this is true of everyone. So let us all suspend judgement on each other’s families and the situations that arise within them, and instead let’s just replace all this with grace. Let’s call each other, of course. But let us simply say hello and ask how the other is doing.

Let us give each person the grace and space to narrate their own story.

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I Have Retired!!!!

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But before anyone brings out a cake, I must clarify – I have not retired from my work. At 55 I feel I am at the top of my game and still have a lot to contribute. Plus, I love getting up each morning and heading off to work – the people, the satisfaction … the paycheque!!!  No, it`s not that type of a retirement. However, at this age, I have finally retired from some things that have been dogging me for years. They are as follows:

I have retired from Meaningless Drama and the People that Cause it

Lets face it, some people are only happy when they are centre stage. And to ensure this position, they are more than willing to create many incarnations of the same old sh*t storm and pull you right into the middle of it! (Be honest. I know you know such people!) I have put in my notice to them and all their nonsensical drama. I wish them well, and am continuing on my own journey of peace and sensibility. There is no room or time left in my life for irrelevant issues. No, I will not be laying awake tonight, crying into my very comfortable pillow over them and their self-created soul-sucking cyclones. At this age, I need all the beauty sleep I can get!

I have retired from spending time and energy in places and with people I would rather not interact with

It`s nothing personal, but you are either my people or you are not. Period. I  no longer feel the need to justify why I don`t enjoy certain company. I just don`t.  It is what it is. And I will no longer, out of politeness or a misplaced sense of duty, be accepting invitations that I really do not want to be a part of. It`s a waste of my time as well as the other person`s time. And it`s phoney. I`m well aware that I most likely have less years left than years I have lived. I want to spend this time with the people I enjoy, doing activities that bring me joy. It`s as simple as that.

I have retired from worrying about all the What If`s

It seems to me that I have wasted too much precious time worrying about the future (what if I lose my job! or my house! or my relationship! or all three!!!), worrying about how I am presenting myself (what if people don`t like me!) worrying about how well I am doing (What if I`m not the best mom, wife, employee, friend)  etc, etc, etc ad nauseam! Truth be told, I have majored in the art of worrying my whole life. Like, I have a doctorate in it! (Flexibly Worrying, PhD!) I am ready to leave this tendency in the dust. It occurs to me that throughout my life, most of what I have worried about NEVER HAPPENED! And the times that difficult things happened were situations that I NEVER ANTICIPATED! They blind-sided me! And, to be clear, I hold a 100 percent survival rate over each and every one of these disastors! Those are some amazing odds! So, to Life, I say: Bring it! I`ve got this!

And finally,

I have retired from being hurt over unfair and hurtful treatment from other people

At the end of the day, not one of us is perfect; not me, not you, not any one of us humans. So, I am quite content to boomerang any hurtful behaviour right back to the source of it. Not one ounce of my self esteem depends on anyone else`s opinion of me, or their treatment of me. I know enough now to not take personal the behaviour of other people. I am responsible for me; you be responsible for you. You do you. I`ll do me. And that`s the end of it.

Truth be told, I did not enter my 50`s on a happy note. I was so down about aging, wrinkles and grey hair. But, as I am half way through this decade (unbelievably, time goes so fast!) I am loving and embracing it. I have worked hard, built an adult life, and learned so much. I know how much I can survive and I know how strong I am. I would not trade my life now for any other decade. Freedom 55! I am loving it!

Laurie

My Quirky Fun Little Family of Bloggers

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My eldest daughter has become a blogger! I could not be more proud. And, now, her latest entry has gotten so many views (If you would like, you can view it here!)

How I love the perspective my daughter’s words bring. Her writing emphasizes our connection, yet from differing vantage points – the view of a baby boomer and that of a millennial.

Her latest blog discusses milestones so many of the 20-somethings are facing. And I have to say, I am so proud of her strong and courageous perspective! She remains true to herself as she navigates the sometimes stormy waters of age-mates getting married and settling down, when this is something she is not yet ready for.

I recall myself, at the tender age of 23, and the social group I was involved with as a result of my then-boyfriend (and now husband!) They were all getting engaged, married, buying houses and having babies. I was still so excited about my job as a legal secretary for a “Bay Street” law firm, and my lovely little apartment at Yonge and Eglinton in Toronto (coined “Young and Eligible” at the time!) Eventually, their constant domestic conversations overwhelmed me. After all, we were still so young! I asked myself, was this all there was to life now? All the anticipation of growing up culminates in this?

I recall one New Year’s Eve in particular, where we were all together. In keeping with what had become customary, the boys were in one group talking and the girls in another. The female conversation quickly turned to the usual – who is getting married next? Who is preggers now? What is the best choice – breast feeding or formula? Ugggg! I finally reached my limit! With a large dose of frustration, and a wee bit of liquid courage, I dared to say the unsayable: “Is this all we are going to talk about from now on? Is this the only thing we have in our life now? Marriage and babies? That’s it?”

Well, let me tell you, the silence dropped like a bomb. It was like a brick descending on me with such force to knock me out. Multiple saucered eyes turned my way and stared wordlessly. And finally the silence was broken with this icey-toned comment: “You have a problem with marriage and babies??? You don’t want that?????” A quick exchange of horrified looks, then more curious silence followed, eyes still fixed on me – the aberration of nature apparently. Suffice it to say, what a damper that was to the evening. I was left feeling that there was something seriously wrong with me. And I vowed to keep my mouth shut moving forward. After awhile, the ladies resumed their conversation, this time subtly excluding me.

I am so glad my daughter is in a better place than I was so many years ago!

Flash forward to 2017, and I actually did become a married lady (29 years in the next few weeks!) and I did manage to have the standard two kids, with the beautiful home – and even a lovely grandchild thrown into the mix!

But, I am thrilled to announce, that was not all there was to it!!!

Though raising my children turned out to be the most enjoyable job of my life – there were other careers!!!! And each has enriched my life so much in so many different ways! I have grown and met new people and learned new lessons and enjoyed all of my years, including those parts that had nothing at all to do with my husband and marriage and children! How very blessed I am!

So, I was so thrilled to read that my daughter is looking forward to a future that includes, yes, marriage and children, but also SO MUCH MORE! And the huge thing for me is, she feels quite free and confident to voice this! How incredible! What a leap from my night so many years ago.

I am so incredibly proud and grateful.

Please check out her blog!

Breathe Past it

Once upon a time in yoga class, we were laying in savasana and the instructor guided us to breathe into each part of our body. She advised that, should we have an injury, no matter how old, to breathe past it. Breathe past it to a time before the injury, when there was no pain.

Today I paid a visit to my home of nearly 30 years ago – the place where I came of age. I walked the surrounding familiar streets, stood outside my former apartment building, and sat in the green space behind it. And I breathed. I breathed past it all. Past 29 years.

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I breathed past disappointments in myself and others;

I breathed past “what ifs”;

I breathed past struggles, hurt, anger and all the other baggage-injuries that 29 years can hold.

I sat as I did as a 20 year old. Full of youthful confidence, strength and hope for the future.

I was just quietly myself.

How lovely. I found the essence of me.

Such peace.

Such healing.

I decided right then and there –  I am taking this me back as I leave.

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Friday Afternoon Gratitude

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It’s a rainy, dark, chilly and dismal day here in my neck of the woods. Yet, I love a rainy day! And I was able to score some time off of work leaving the hectic schedule behind to pause and simply be grateful.

Lately, it seems I have focussed too much on what has gone awry in my life. “My former church hurt me, it was so unfair, now what …” But, you know what? It’s time to leave all that behind. Life rarely goes as planned. And why waste time and energy meditating on things and people that went wrong? With a little change in perspective and a slight shift in direction, unplanned circumstances can lead to wonderful places. This, in all actuality, is what has happened. I need to remember that.

So, here I am today, making Coq au Vin in my slow cooker and anticipating a lovely night in with a dear friend who has become like a sister to me. I’ve messaged back and forth with the precious grown up daughters, and with the hubby. Life is good!

I realize how very blessed I am. It seems the small events and happenings all add up to a wonderful life. I couldn’t go another day without acknowledging this.

And now I look forward to the future.