Sometimes You Have to Unsubscribe

Wait. You know what? Hold on a minute. Just STOP. Time to unsubscribe.

Things are good for us lately and we were really enjoying this time and now, stuff that doesn’t belong to us has come into our lives and taken up too much head space and have eaten into our free time. I caught myself grinding my teeth the other day. Not forcefully but when I noticed I was doing it, I realized that not only did I have a headache that radiated upwards from my jaw, it was doing this sliding motion of my bottom row of teeth against my top in a weird pattern. I stopped myself and thought “Why l am I doing this? I’m having a great day,” and then I realized this new activity was now a part of my day, any day, whether it was good bad or otherwise. Since then, I have been consciously stopping myself from doing it. My husband and I have found ourselves in the very trying sandwich generation.So many times we begin to do very basic things that relax us, give us a laugh and give us time for ourselves and we have to stop because this stuff that is not ours, needs immediate attention. My husband and I have had very little down time lately. Launching young men into adulthood and dealing with family on his side and my side has taken a lot of time. Even carving out time to be a couple has been difficult and lately it seems that being at work is the only time we are alone together, but of course, we are working.

When it comes to Adam and Logan, we are more understanding because we are working with them to help them become the men they want to be. While we are not responsible for what they ultimately do with their lives, we are responsible for helping lay the platform from which they will be launched. From helping Logan get ready for his driving test and getting Adam ready to live independently of us, it’s a busy time but we are are up for these rites of passage and are happy and proud to do it as we watch the remarkable story of their lives unfold. What is difficult is finding ourselves being tugged at in other directions without anyone stopping to recall that even though we work for ourselves, we still have to work. The other thing that people forget is that we don’t have a typical family set up. When we have do do anything, we still have to plan our every move around how it will affect our autistic son, Adam.

I imagine that if we did not run our family like a well oiled machine, things would be different. If we seemed to have nothing under control, less would be required of us. What amazes me is that in spite of the stumbling blocks we have been dealt by Adam’s autism, we manage to require little to nothing of others who need far less oil to run their machines, just as well or better than ours. Don’t misunderstand my words. We willingly accept being available to others and we are happy to help and be there in times of need and give of ourselves but it is hard to bear when people are not mindful. It is frustrating when we offer solid, sensible advice that can solve a problem and it goes unheeded. It is tiresome when denial prolongs the implementation of effective solutions. It is simply insensitive when we re-arranged our schedule in order to help out and our assistance is met with resistance. Again, don’t misunderstand what I am saying. We have received many wonderful blessings from people along our journey and we are grateful, but when things become too intrusive, when our schedules are stretched thin incorporating the stuff that does not belong to us, we occasionally have to unsubscribe.

It may seem selfish, but unsubscribing, I have found, is a good way to keep myself and my family whole and to keep myself and my husband healthy. Unsubscribing is a good way for me to free enough energy and mental space for the things I like to do,which I have to put on hold sometimes for far too long when I have to tend to the stuff that does not belong to me. Unsubscribing also helps me keep myself functioning at a level I am comfortable with. At 52, there are just somethings in the world I do not need to know how to do.There are some things that I just don’t want to do anymore. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone and I need less possessions and obligations in my life. I am happy to learn and try new things but I am not out to ace every undertaking. I can’t support every cause, can’t attend every event and can’t and won’t do more than I can do. I don’t need recognition, glorification or adoration. I just seek occasional stillness and I enjoy peace. I believe It’s okay to be aware of things around you without trying to be an expert at everything. I am satisfied that I can only slightly better the world by bettering myself and if today was my last day, I would be sad to leave my loved ones but satisfied that I lived a good life even if I didn’t get to do and see all that I’d hoped.

Unsubscribing keeps me checked in with myself and keeps me authentic. Authenticity is important to me because social media has created specific moulds where people tend to get stuck. I like social media but it is a beautiful yet dangerous forum I can only take it in small doses on a fairly superficial level. I like that I am able to stay in touch with people who live far away from me but I don’t like that it gives too many people a distorted sense of confidence that allows them to to use words and photos to either laud their privileges over others or bring them down. I like social media when I get see the great things my friends’ kids have done, or see nice photos of people having fun. When it comes to the “hot topics” on social media, I unsubscribe. I have my political, social and religious views that I share discreetly with a chosen few because engaging in banter on line with people who speak before thinking is a waste of precious time. There are days I unsubscribe from brain aching, teenage drama and arguments, I love Adam and Logan but sometimes when hormones shoot wildly and crash down around me, I have to unsubscribe to stay sane. Puberty crashing into menopause can yield a lot of casualties and is messy to clean up …so … I unsubscribe and try negotiations another time. My husband and I have also learned to unsubscribe when people who ask for our opinion or advice are not satisfied until we tell them what they want to hear. No one really wants advice. People want the satisfaction of the support of their often bad idea. When I regurgitate what you have said to me, or when I say “I don’t know”, I’ve unsubscribed…not because I don’t care about you but because I care enough about myself to not let your stubbornness drive me crazy. If you are an adult, you can figure out what you need to do or choose what you want to do without my input. Make your choice and move on set and secure in your decision. I only ask that if it does not work, you go back to the drawing board and try to remedy it yourself before interrupting my day.

I love everyone enough to let them carve out their own path. I try hard to not judge or question people’s motives. When I feel I have to unsubscribe, I do so out of love for them and out of love for myself and to avoid tension and conflict. In life, everyone needs a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear. Tom and I don’t mind giving that support but we can’t help, or listen or decipher issues for others every time something goes pop in their lives. It is tempting to get involved and tangled up in a web of emotion when it comes to helping family and friends but it is far better to unsubscribe, step back and give a person time to think things through on their own and give them space to change and grow. So, the next time you catch yourself clenching your fists, gritting your teeth, furrowing your brow or biting your nails, be kind to yourself and unsubscribe for a while.

“Come Again?” – Trying to Live in the New World Society.

2018 drifted into 2019 and so far so good. I believe in the grand scheme of things if you find yourself in an upright and breathing state, you’ve won.  My 52 nd is just 4 days away and I’ve made plans, albeit not extravagant ones, and I am looking forward to celebrating. Two years ago, I counted down my year to 50 and documented and shared the things that left an impression on me. I wrote about the things I learned and the ways in which I found myself evolving from one phase of my life into another. I felt that I had grown in so many positive ways and was happy to work on the things I could do better. That year, I shed a lot of people and things from my life, happy to move on without them, basking in a new found freedom. I didn’t think in 2 short years I’d find myself feeling as unsettled as I do now and looking to perhaps shed even more and point myself in a new direction.

This year and the next 2, actually, I find myself in the process of launching my sons into their adult lives. Adam is 19 and yes, still autistic, still has some struggles and is still unique, quirky and wonderful. He is learning the ropes when it comes to asserting himself as an adult, learning to live his life without us in the home and learning to cope with the responsibility required by this transition. I never thought when he was 3, or 6 or 9 that he would be able to be independent, but the time is here and he is almost ready to take the giant step away from Mom and Dad. His father and I always planned 4 years ahead when it came to raising him and helping him achieve his life skills goals. We always challenged him by raising the bar every time he made progress and we are so glad he chose to join us on this journey to his maturity and independence.

Logan is almost 17 and his age is like a shackle holding him back from flinging into his adult life on the horizon. As much as he is comfortable at home, he is like me and wants so much more than what this time and space he finds himself in, has to offer. He is so comfortable in a crowded city and drinks in every experience and each moment a new place has to offer that I am comfortable saying he is ready to fly and he will fly far because he absolutely should. How I envy his youth for the energy, curiosity, enthusiasm and time it offers him. He has no limitations placed upon him. We have never told him what to do, what to like, what to try and which path he should follow when it comes to his life. We have placed no time limits or boundaries on him when it comes to discovering what he likes and what he wants. We expose him to various situations and opportunities and once he makes a choice, he works hard to achieve the goals such opportunities are able to yield. He has chosen to be a spiritual person and he wants to be the best he can in whatever he is involved in and has committed to. He ain’t perfect, but watching him grow up is like reading a very engaging book and I can’t wait to witness the chapters to come.

But while launch mode has me somewhat occupied, I am finding more than ever that I have phased out of or rejected many things the world presents to me and I am surprised that it’s happening so quickly. I find myself reading things online and seeing things on the news that make me say, “Come again?” I love technology and advancement and all good that they offer but I feel the people of the world don’t know how to cope with the simplest of things. I don’t understand this age of imbecility that has come about. I don’t understand why a spoiled rich 19-year-old would toss not one, but two patio chairs off a high rise apartment into traffic some 38 stories below. I cannot see the fun in such an act. I don’t understand why those involved have no regard for other people’s well-being, their property, their life. I don’t understand the thought process of the friend who was recording the moronic act and I absolutely am floored by the fact that she had not just the best criminal lawyer money can buy, but a smile on her face as she walked handcuffed before the news cameras while her lawyer told reporters she was embarrassed and remorseful. This is is just one example of the new world behavior I cannot comprehend or accept.

Everything in this era is a problem. Everything is an outrage and everything is offensive to the point of ridiculous. We say there is freedom of speech and freedom to choose. How is it then that many of us can’t decide to not support something or someone who offends us without picking a fight on social media? Ever notice that no one just says “fuck it” and moves on anymore? Everyone has to jump in and get in on the backlash bandwagon without becoming properly informed. Too few people dig deeper anymore. Too many are prompted by vague headlines that make them take up arms without knowing the facts. Too few think things through these days because the go-to response today is not to think but react. We broadcast everything about ourselves online. Nothing is private anymore. Not our meals, not our conversations, our personal decisions, our bodies, nor our possessions. While social media has re-connected old friends and forged new friendships and improved communication among people, it has also tainted us. So many people cannot go unnoticed because they desperately need approval. More people, more than ever need copious amounts of attention and yet the social media society has no problem cutting down someone or something else because the keyboard has made some people too bold.  That certain amount of anonymity cyberspace affords; not having to face a person as we type our comments, have given us big iron balls and when we feel that strong, it is easy to judge and we are empowered to hurt. Yet, we all condemn Jussie Smollet, right away. If indeed he orchestrated an attack on himself, he has done what almost everyone else does on social media every day. He found a way to get people to notice him. He found a way to get not just 15 minutes of fame but a way to be a victim. He wants this kind of attention for some reason – the attention that acting on Empire just isn’t giving him. I remember the Smollet kids acting on TV when they could barely walk. They were adorable and talented and had many fans. They are no strangers to the spotlight, yet, Jussie has a void to be filled. What happened to him between his role in The Mighty Ducks and now? What has happened to so many of us? Why are so many of our young people anxious and depressed? They should be embracing youth and checking out new things and pushing boundaries towards greater things and we should be supporting and guiding them not spoiling them, ignoring them or cutting them down. They should not be staging attacks or throwing chairs from high-rises. Have we forgotten how to be okay with who we are? To be satisfied with our opinion of ourselves? I think so. Sadly.  It is ironic, the term, Social Media. Being social is supposed to be a good thing. A social person is thought to be friendly, outgoing and a person who enjoys the company of others and enjoys lifting themselves and others to a higher level of happiness. Social media to me seems more like social slaughter at times and some of the things that are said require not just a thick skin but a suit of armor.

Taking in the way life is being lived around me now, makes me unsure of where I fit in. I used to care about so many things. I used to love to write. I loved speaking up and sharing my thoughts and loved when I got a chance to see an awesome movie with a great script and talented performers or be moved by the lyrics of a well written and well-sung song. Lately, I’ve not found things that spark my interest. I look and I listen and I am finding that I roll my eyes a lot and then I get to the stage where I don’t care. I just don’t care. To me, that is a frightening statement about myself. I don’t care enough to voice my opinion, to tolerate the lack of effort put into where I sought entertainment (if you can burn it, blow it up or bury it you don’t need meaningful dialogue). I don’t care enough to even attempt to comment on a post I may have read. I got to a stage where I’d start typing and then I’d delete and move on…now I just move on. The thing is, I want to care. I want to be a part of things but I can’t seem to find anything substantial to take part in.

I know the onus is on me to re-invent myself. No one can get me out of this rut but me. I won’t try to care about things I really don’t want to include in my life. I’m not a part of the instant gratification movement of the youth and I don’t want to throw my arms in the air and make everything an issue like many late 20 something to 30 something-year-olds. I don’t want everything to be a situation or a problem and I’m not floundering to stay afloat after a full day of work and family like some forty-somethings. I’m not ready to join any one group in solidarity and go against “the man” and I am not interested in topics about raising children because I raised mine very differently from the way people raise children today. My children are grown and capable and I all I have to say to the hovering parents of young kids today is “good luck”. I know I’m not ready to sit still and wait for my life to end but I am truly searching for something, somewhere and some way to become passionate again and find a new happy niche in the current world. I’m not sure where to start but I know I’ll get there. I know I will find a way to fulfill my soul again even if it means meandering about the absurd obstacles this world presents on the daily.  Maybe when I find it, I’ll tell you what it is …then again…. maybe I won’t.

WARNING! NOT REALLY FOR DUDES! The Left Side of My Body Is Angry with Me: Ergo I Am Happy to Make It Shut Up.

Friday started with me waking up suddenly at 1:48 am. Just jolted awake for no apparent reason. So, I did what you do when you wake up way too early, I went to the washroom. I returned to bed and lay there, my mind roaming to this and that (the slightly insane way mother’s, wives and workers do), organizing the day ahead of me, uttering a few prayers. I started feeling uncomfortable and I figured it was the kidney as usual.  The kidney that is back to it’s original size and is functioning better than it ever had before, but this time was having issues draining now and then because it’s ureter is being squeezed by my uterus that has about 2 buckets of golf balls embedded in it. Nothing an Advil could not keep at bay if I needed it to. But then, there was a different ache, this time on the right side of my abdomen from my belly button radiating across the right and down. A sigh and an eye roll. Really? Now? With the pain no better but no worse, I decided to head to the shower at about 6:00 a.m. as Tom and I were leaving for Ottawa to meet with a client. I was disappointed that the hot water didn’t provide the usual comfort to reduce the intensity of the pain, so I popped a Tylenol and an Advil as my urologist recommended for pain management, and we started towards Ottawa. By the time I was 10 minutes along Highway 37, I decided to turn around. Now, I bear pain really well, after all, I had two, 10 pound, bouncing baby boys vaginally and I’m an average sized woman. I did think I could muscle my way through it, get the appointment done and in a worse case scenario, I would be in the nation’s capital and the hospitals there are better than the one where I live but as my husband pointed out,  driving in a car putting up with 6 hours of discomfort with no known source was not the ideal way to spend the day.

The pain was more intense by 8:15 am and it was only on my right side. I called and cancelled with the client and started googling appendicitis. My symptoms were very close to both appendicitis and gall stones so I had my husband drop me off at the Emergency department of our local hospital. As usual, it was not busy when I got there and I was in a room, wearing the flattering blue and white gown with the God-knows-what pattern with the little flimsy white strings at the back. Nothing makes you realize how vulnerable we all are, more than that flimsy, misshapen, shitty little hospital gown. Nothing makes you feel more helpless and on display than when they make you lie on the gurney as they push you to the ultrasound department that you are most certainly able to walk to and nothing makes you think how horrid aging can be as you look at the many elderly people laying on gurneys in hallways moaning while they wait for their tests or in many cases, a room where they can rest comfortably.  Yes, with all these little ER visits I have had recently, I have had a solid look at the hospitals, the well-meaning staff who are too few in number to handle the volume of patients coming through the emergency department. Dear Ontario Government, the lack of dignity the elderly and everyone for that matter experience laying on gurneys in the hallways of the ER is unacceptable and inexcusable. Please make it right.

My blood and urine samples were sent to the lab right away and I got to see a great doctor and had my ultrasound within minutes of being placed in an examination room. The waiting happens when you find out that there is only one technician reading the ultrasound findings for all 3 hospitals in the area. Dear Ontario government, please release the funds needed for the hospitals to have more staff on hand to take care of patients. It was almost 3 pm before my doctor was able to come in and tell me that my pain was due to a rather large ovarian cyst that had ruptured. She explained everything thoroughly and I was so grateful to the time she took to make sure I understood what had happened and how it was going to be treated. The symptoms, at first made her think that I was either suffering from appendicitis or gall-stones as I had thought, but my internal ultrasound was what revealed the ruptured cyst.

                                                             

 

So, here’s what I learned. According to my cousin Susie, (who dives into the realms I never can because our lifestyles are completely different), the left side of my body, my female side, is upset with me. My Chakra is not balanced.

 

                                                              

 

Well how the hell can it be? I live with three active and fun-loving men and I hate all things about my body associated with female reproduction because it has been a pain in my … well…it’s been a right pain and obstruction and interruption since I first got my period. I have always put up with my female reproductive system because I wanted children. I have my boys now and I have no problem letting my female side know that I hate it as much as it hates me. It makes me achy and uncomfortable and in the past it has made me physically sick once a month. Without fail, it made me fearful of the 30 day anniversary of all things horribly associated with menstruation.

                                                                

Since I was 12 or 13, I have known the anxiety of those last few days before my period came. I knew I’d have cramps that would have me curled in to the fetal position, I know I’d need to always walk with a bottle of Midol or whatever I could find to keep those debilitating cramps at bay. Everyone knew when I had my period. I couldn’t keep it discreet if I tried. At least I went to an all girl high school where there were many sufferers just like me.  If I was not curled into a ball of pain, I was puking because of pain. I constantly went through 5 days of bleeding; the first three spent sick and cramping. My period was the arch enemy and saboteur of my dancing and my sports. It made swimming a real concern because no woman is 100% confident in the protection of a tampon.

                       

Fifty-one has not been kind to me so far, but I’m dealing with this menopause stuff as patiently as I can. A uterus full of fibroids can squeeze your bladder, ureters and your bowels and make life uncomfortable.

                                                               

I learned that when an ovarian cyst pops, it hurts like hell because the fluid it releases with all the     hormones and blood can be very irritating to the abdominal wall and the pain is much like the pain and symptoms associated with appendicitis and gall stones. Don’t assume the pain will go away and because you won’t know if it is a cyst, appendicitis or a gall bladder problem, DO go to your doctor or to the emergency department and find out what it is. Ibuprofen helps with the pain of inflammation and DO take it easy as the pain lasts a while until your body eliminates the junk from the cyst.  Don’t be too concerned with your belly that suddenly is pregnant like and hard and tender to the tough. It too shall pass.

                                

 

                               

 

Similar to my decision to have an ablation, I am over the moon about my hysterectomy in June. I’ll still have my ovaries so I can still get a cyst that could burst but at least I’ll go through menopause naturally and in good time. I love being a woman but I have always hated the bloody, bloaty and uncomfortable components of being a woman.

I never “girled” well when it came to my cycle or female organs that caused me so much grief and pain and lost time at work and lost hours of fun, often in my life. I hated it so much, that as soon as my gynecologist put me on the pill when I was 19, I as thrilled as it gave me a pain free and regular cycle and an uninterrupted active life.

                                                                  

When I was ready to have children, I made the decision to come off my beloved pill that made my life so much better. Oddly enough, after being on the pill  for 12 years, I got pregnant quickly. This was good because coming off the pill to get pregnant meant fighting off the fear of the pain and suffering that the return of a regular menstrual cycle would bring.

After my second son, I wanted to wean him from breast feeding before I went back on the pill. I remembered how horrid my periods were and how unnerving it was to sit anywhere when I had my period post babies. All the crap people said to me about how much lighter your flow is after kids, was just that – utter crap. My cycle was worse after I had my boys. I remember being unable to rely on a tampon and having very little faith in pads as I nervously sat at the hairdresser’s, or worse, at work where there were men everywhere.

I am not a person who just puts up with anything. I don’t believe in “this is how it is”, or suffering through anything. I have a challenging life as it is and if I can make it manageable or easier, I am willing to try whatever there is to try. I was tired of my family planning everything around “Mom’s cycle” so I had an ablation.

         

Fortunately, it worked for me and off to Disney World we went…twice… and to the Bahamas, and to New Orleans and to Punta Cana, North Bay, Corner Brook…we went everywhere and that miserable period I had? …Well, there has been no sign of it since 2008 and I don’t miss it one bit. Now that my boys are pretty much men, I don’t need a uterus or Fallopian tubes and since I have no choice but to go through menopause, I’d rather go through it without unnecessary female parts. I am looking forward to so much and I hope to see and do all or as much as I have planned, so the least I can do, is do what I can to make the so-called feminine side of my being, as cousin Susie calls it, quiet and content as it tags along.

Even If “Just Once in a Blue Moon” It’s Good and Important to Reconnect.

 

The lyrics of the theme song from the TV show “Cheers” comes to mind when I think of the night of July 20th 2013 when I stood in a room with my SJC sisters.

                                             

We were a smiling sea of blue in a room where everybody knew everyone’s name and not because of the gigantic name tags we were wearing but because we Trini gyals take really looonggg time to age. I had no problem recognizing anybody and I was so happy to see everyone so lively and well. Almost like when we were in school, we were dressed the same, we were all the same age, we looked very much the same as we did years ago and after chatting with everyone, it was clear that though we had all lived a whole lot of life and had found our niche in the world, the essence of who we are is still the same.

 

   Even if just “Once in a Blue Moon” everyone’s soul needs  to experience reconnection. This year is our 35th high school reunion.  Unfortunately, try as I might, I cannot attend this year and I am sad to miss it. My God, we are all 51/52 years old! I think back to when we were in Form1 through 5 and for some Lower and Upper 6 and I just don’t know where the time has gone. I can barely wrap my head around the things we thought were so important back then but I am glad to have reconnected with these beautiful, down to earth and amazing women and learn about what matters in their lives today. Having lived abroad, longer than I lived at home, the Trinidad in my head is the Trinidad of my childhood through age 20. Most of those memories are warm and tasty as a nice piece of sweetbread fresh out  of my mother’s oven and they put a smile on my face much like the one I would have when I slathered butter over said sweetbread in anticipation of eating it up. Other memories are a little bitter (what is life without the bitter to make the sweet, sweeter?) but not so bitter that they would ever keep me from reuniting with the now grown women I went to school with.

           

Living in another country is not easy. It was not my idea to move, but with no house to come home to after graduation, I chose to make Canada, my home. For me, it’s not the weather or the culture that makes it difficult – that stuff is easy to adapt to and enjoy. For me, it was a struggle adapting to the nature of people who grew up so differently from me. There is a distinct bubble within which people live in this country that casts a sort of shroud of hesitation and skepticism over them. People here sometimes wary of letting people get close to them. They don’t trust easily and have a hard time throwing  caution to the wind.  They have schedules they can never stray from and the walls they build around themselves for self-preservation are obvious. In a big country, people are from everywhere and it can at time be difficult to make sincere connections, friendships and relationships. Throw into the mix something that makes you different. For me it wasn’t so much race or colour, accent or culture that separated me from  other people in my adopted country, it was my child who made our family of four quite …odd.

                                              

          

 

Long story short, I wanted to come to the 25th reunion and couldn’t at the time because Daddy was ill. So, when the 30th reunion came about, I was hell bent on being there. It was called “Once in a Blue Moon” and I really felt that if I missed the 30th, I would miss out on so much more that it had to offer. I had a sense that if I did not go, it would be harder for me to get a chance to reconnect with anyone for a very long time and that scared me a little. I felt like that would snip away even more of what was left of the roots of my youth, which was a happy and carefree time of my life. I needed that reunion so I made sure I wasn’t going to miss it. After the uphill battles of my life, I needed something, somewhere and some people who were familiar….I needed home. I needed ole talk with women who shared  a similar girlhood. I needed to say “hear nuh,” “in trut” “Oh geed” and  I needed to steupes and say “ent?” and “how yuh goin chile?” without having to translate my dialect.

    Lord, it was like breathing  in a nice sea breeze just talking and having people understand everything I was saying. That year I needed to be among people who grew up the way I did. Sure, I have Trini friends and cousins in Canada and at home whom I visit, but I think the reunion in 2013 was the homecoming I was looking for to remind myself of who I was then and that that same girl with the long plait and Oscar eyebrows was still dwelling inside me.  At “Once In a Blue Moon” she surfaced because she was among childhood friends.

To be clear, it was not easy hooking up with people on Facebook. I wondered with every friend request if they would  A) remember me and  B) like me and  C) want to connect after all these years. I am happy to say, most of them did with a genuine warmth and to be honest, it is the only reason I am still on Facebook.  Since the reunion in 2013, I have met up with many girls in many different places enjoying some good laughs and walks down memory lane. At the last reunion, whether it was at a pre-lime or post-lime or just getting a drop from somebody, I heard so many stories from these women I had known since I was 11, some since 7 and some even from age 5. Stories of situations they experienced, stories of their children (a few with a child like mine) stories that made me understand that we all lived a whole lot of life and the petty shite of our teen years never surfaced.

As I listened to them speak, I realized that though I often felt alone in Canada, I was not the only one who went through the twists and turns of life. These women have the same stubborn strength I have and like me, they knew when they needed to tap into it to set everybody straight. I came to reconnect and for a week, I was plugged in again to a sweetness I’d let slip away in the blur of North American life.

I will also tell you francomen, that the actual night of the reunion, I was a little apprehensive. I had already limed with some people but there was a whole lot more to bounce up that night and I wasn’t too sure how it would go down. Would people remember me? Did I make anybody vex back in the day? Were they still vex? I know I was still a tomboy when everybody else started looking nice and checking out boys. I know I wasn’t very cool because my parents were strict and I was barely able to leave the house without grief if it wasn’t for dancing or some sport. I remember getting closer to the doors of the venue that evening hoping to God everyone would be warm and friendly and I have to say by the time 20 minutes had gone by, I was talking to people as if I never left the country. Did I get chummy with everybody? Of course not. Not everyone is going to flock to you, not everybody will have nice things to say and yeah, you get vibes flying off some people. But if there is one thing I have learned from having my wonky family is that there is no point in judging people; no point about coming to conclusions about people whom you may find judgemental.  Everybody has something they have to deal with. Everybody. It is hard to let go of pain. Hard to forget something that may have hurt or even humiliated you when you were young. But the beauty of youth, is that it is temporary. The beauty of youth is that we all do mature and become wiser with age and the beauty of youth is that it has it’s place in the past. I have to live a life where I look forward. If I glance back too long, I will stumble and find myself at a standstill or drowning in a deep dark hole. I went to a reunion fittingly called “Once in a Blue Moon” because I have no idea when I will see these women again; these women who gave me that little dose of familiarity and grounding I truly needed that year. I went, I re-connected and I came back to my home in Canada revitalized and reassured that I have 75 or so women who run their lives and their family much like I run mine and there isn’t a damn thing wrong with that. I reach out to them sometimes with questions about various things and I get a genuine answer whether it is about children, work, travel, cooking and just about anything you could think of and I hope I have been a great source of support for them as well. We celebrate each other in times of joy, and comfort each other in times of sorrow … And when one of us needs prayers we don’t have to look too far. There is nothing like the honour of receiving the support and strength of a few girls from Convent among a bunch of Canadians punctuating the pews at your father’s funeral in a country where no one thought he would rest his bones.

  I am glad Carla found me on line (as only she would with her passion and determination). As a grown ass 51 year old woman, the silly girlhood bygones are bygones. I think if we spend too much time thinking about nonsense from years gone by we are wasting precious time. I enjoyed the reunion and enjoyed my time with everyone there and I love seeing what they are up to on social media and meeting up with them when I am in their neck of the woods. I don’t care what people think about me. Honestly, I’m not any more special or interesting or important  than anyone else. I have  my crosses to bear like everyone so when I get a chance to enjoy what life has to offer, I do. In my job I help people protect and grow their earnings and I walk them through graduation, first job, marriage, first investments, first home, first car, first kid, first day of retirement and before you know it, I’m delivering the first death claim to a family.  In my job, I am reminded every day how short and precious life is and that we should spend as much time as we can enjoying the journey while we are still upright and breathing because it will change and we will be stunned by that change and then it will happen again and again. So, before we can easily count how many of us are alive and well enough to gather together, if you can make it this year, get your gold dan-dan or your gold accessories and have a drink for me.

As many of you know, if you come to Ottawa, Toronto or anywhere along the 401 corridor or anywhere in the GTA, give me a shout out on line and I will show up and lime if you could take me on. No hard feelings if you don’t want to but I have been known to show up and cheer on people’s field hockey children,      

I have bowled in winter with people’s young children     and I try to lime with the girls living near me as often as I can and there is always time for a spa day, a meal or a drink.

                     

If you are up my way, don’t be a stranger because I am not shy about bouncing you up when I am in your neighbourhood. Have a lovely time with each other at our 35th anniversary reunion. I will miss out this year but I will certainly enjoy all the photos on line and I know I will see you all again as we make our way to the 40th.

Celebrating the Return of Free

Our second family dog died the Tuesday of March Break. It was sad, it sucked and we all came to the conclusion she was the last dog we would share as a family.

                          

The “having a pet” door for Tom and Daniella is now permanently sealed shut.  We are dog people but we don’t have the lifestyle anymore that will be fair to or accommodate a dog. Life with the Lady Haley has come to an end and it seems that the chapter that was waiting to begin has indeed begun. It seems horrible to think of it, but in a way for 7 months we were caring for an ailing doggie. We saw her through vertigo which was literally the beginning of her downhill slide and everything we did needed to be planned around her care. This after living a life throughout Adam’s younger years planning around his autism. I think we all felt like we were waiting for her to leave us before moving on to the things we wanted to start doing as a family. Her passing was difficult but it was a release for her from her pain and our release to move on to the next phase of our lives.

Tom and I are 3 to 4 years away from giving or rather renting our current home to our older son, Adam. There is still a lot to be done with regards to that goal but things are in the works to give him the most independent life we can give him. It is a very big undertaking but we know this project will only be a success if we put the work in now to get the support he needs in place. We love Adam and he loves us but he has wanted his independence from us for a very long time and it is just a stone’s throw away before he has what he wants and what we get to have – time together that does not have to include or be specially planned around Adam.

Logan’s graduation and the start of him going off to be adult Logan will happen around the same time as Adam’s leap to living without us . Adam will stay in high school until he is 21 to brush up on his life-skills and we will have 2 graduates that year. Once everything is all settled and everyone knows where they are going to live, the travel chapter of our lives will begin and so will the march toward retirement. God willing, a hopefully long, healthy and very much deserved retirement before we meet our Maker.

The next thing that needed to go was my hair. I am surrendering to the grey. I’m done fighting with it. It is too strong and I am tried of highlighting and touching up roots.

I want to spend my precious time doing things that I enjoy and that matter. I have had all sorts of styles, lengths and colours of hair in my life and I have never had a problem going from very long to short and while I am not interested in it being super short. I have no problem cutting it somewhere in between.  It was sexy long for about 4 years. Now it’s time for sexy shorter. Not really interested in being the older woman with the long grey hair – nah! With shorter tresses I could have a little fun with the occasional lavender or light silvery blue highlights when the mood catches me. I’m not interested in bleaching out my greys and highlighting them light brown or blonde like the nine thousand people I see with what I like to refer to as brass heads. The hair goes in a few hours, never to be excessively long again.

Another chapter that needs to get going is the one concerned with my aching boobs.      I am perimenopausal and shit starting getting weird about 2 years ago.  It has not been horrible (maybe because I have been taking Estrosense and Menosense for about 4 years in preparation for this life stage) but it hasn’t always been comfortable. I had a weird heart beat for a period of time a couple years ago that has since settled, then I would get uncomfortably warm as I slept some nights which for anyone who knows me is strange because I tend to be colder than anyone and then for a while I had what I used to call pregnancy brain back in the day when I would lose my train of thought and forget stuff. I’ve had two hot flashes in the past year while in a freezing rink watching my son play hockey and now, my boobs ache much like they did when I was breastfeeding my babies. So, it’s time for a dietary modification and I am raring to go with all the subtle changes I researched that I could implement to help me nutritionally get through this bizarre phase of my life. Hmm…wonder if these boobs will get bigger? Hope not too much bigger because I like my small boobies –  always have…or at least I really started liking them in my twenties. I would not know what the heck to do with big boobs.I certainly don’t wear traditional bras anymore.       If I can’t wear a sports bra  or conveniently and comfortably stick on a bra    …I’m not interested. Sweet Lord I really hope I don’t get more boobs in menopause. I imagine they’d just be in my way so I think the plan will be that I’ll stay active so that nothing accumulates in my sports bra.

I also have to deal with some stuff that has popped up after 50 ( sciatica, fibroids) and while I still do pretty much everything I have always done, I don’t like being uncomfortable so whatever I need to do to get rid of these issues, I’m going to do. I love getting older. There is a really cool perspective you get that makes the issues that you fretted about in your 20’s and 30’s insignificant. Mentally and spiritually there is now a peace within me and a connection with the Divine that keeps me balanced and I approach everything I do now from a place of love…even the difficult things. Physically, aging is a joker and an occasional nuisance. Every now and again Tom and I will have an A moment (age moment) where one too many laps or too many reps cause us to ache a little more and a little longer. We don’t just get lactic acid build up, we ache and when one ache goes away another one happily takes it’s place. It’s a combination of sports wear and tear over the years and well we just ain’t 20 anymore even though oddly enough I think we are healthier than when we were younger. I dunno…it’s a hard one to explain. Still, we persist so maybe we’ll add a little glucosamine to the supplements…we ain’t stopping cause we are just getting started on a new and exciting phase. My only fear that I push as best as I can to the very back of my mind is not being healthy enough to do the things Tom and I hope to do and see together. But, God willing we will do it all before we leave the planet.

I think because it is so cold outside today, I’m going to do a little cosmetic and skin care spring cleaning. I might just throw out my nail polish and eyeliners and lip colour and eye shadow.  I’m tired of seeing them and using them so they have to go. I don’t have much but I think a new set of colours with the new hair might be nice. I think I’ll replenish my body scrubs while I’m at it as spring is around the corner or so they say. Think I’ll lay my old, tired, dirty, gray Converse’s to rest and change it up with a fresh colour…maybe a soft green low cut this time. Heck, maybe when it is warmer next week, I might even grab a couple dresses or skirts for the warmer weather.

This spring feels a little different from springs past. I feel freer, lighter and much altered for the better and I am looking forward to so much in the years ahead. Maybe it’s because we are all changing in our family and heading towards new things and I am as excited for Tom and myself as I am for the boys as a new phase of the journey of life begins. My boys are entering adulthood and they are going to become these awesome men and their father and I, God-willing, are going to see these chapters of their lives unfold and while we watch we will get to really focus on our new time together.  I feel like I am actually going to be able to spend more time in my home office writing on my computer again because I have more uninterrupted time lately and with Logan on the verge of driving, I think I will have even more time because I’ll have no car lol. I suppose I’m gonna have to share a car with Tom like we did way back in the day. I’m excited to get time back. Time to create, eliminate excess stuff (even though I’ve already tossed  many things over the years) time to read more than a couple books a year.  I can work longer if I want to, stagger my days when I need to…Oh this is going to be fantastic! I’ve already gotten rid of my iPad and the couple stupid games I used to play. I’m gonna shelve Netflix for next winter and I’ve already deleted Facebook from my phone.  I’ll keep it on my computer so I can be in touch with friends and family who are far away. I don’t need social media on my phone because for me it’s distracting and a bit of a time waster and I have much to do because this is Chapter 3  – Time to celebrate the return of free.

                                                                                           

To Today’s Youth: Stay Loud, Stay Strong!

Yesterday, I went on a 12 hour day trip with my 15 year old. Every so often I plunge myself into this world of his that is so fascinating to me and I come away with a greater sense of what it is like to be young today. I have to say, it’s a little complicated, it’s got it’s difficulties but is it also it’s pretty cool. It is quite different from my time as a teenager but some of the struggles are still the same.  The worst part of being a teenager is being misunderstood by adults who are just teenagers who finally got old enough to have their way and boy do they ever hang on to it for dear life!  My teenagers are going to be adults one day too who will have their way and my only hope is that they remember to listen and approach the younger generation with eyes and mind wide open and be okay with letting go of some of the ways they do things in order to evolve. I hope they approach the young better than we have in generations past because just maybe they would learn something from them, the way I do now.

During the drive with my son, I listened to some very poetic and emotional rap with enlightened ears and learned why my son identified with it. I was taught the difference between talking to a specific girl and dating a girl. I found out that in his high school, it is understood that different groups exist and are accepted. It doesn’t mean you have to hang out with everyone but it certainly means that if you are discovered to be a hater you are considered a loser and pretty much a cave person. I learned that he is ever so gradually making decisions about things in his life that are making little statements about who he is and who is is striving to be and I couldn’t be more proud.  One thing was clear to me in light of my conversations with my son yesterday, good kids are raised by good people but there are still too many negative people and situations that we have to get around, so much archaic nonsense we need to get rid of, that stand in the way of our youth making significant change.

Last weekend I watched American youth march for what they believed in. They marched for change. They were not asking their government for anything unreasonable. They want their government to implement stricter gun control, implement stricter laws surrounding weapons. They were asking their government to help them live. They were asking their government to help them survive at school, a place where they should be safe so that they can learn. The world watched a turn out on March 24th that was massive. The youth had a voice and stayed strong amidst many horrible comments from politicians funded by the NRA as well as the ignorant masses who were solely concerned about their right to own a gun. The positive support these young people received outweighed the crass negativity. The youth stayed loud and strong and they prevailed.

Over the course of history, it was the young who initiated significant change. The young possess and fire and a drive to live life the way they want to – the way life needs to be lived. They want safety, they want justice, they want humanity, they want peace and so did we when we were young. Young David Hogg, Parkland, Florida”s Stoneman Douglas High School  shooting survivor, said in an interview with Anderson Cooper before the event on March 24th, “It’s like when you try to tell an older person how to do something with their phone and you keep trying to explain to them what to do and eventually you just turn to them and say ‘just give it to me’ and you fix it. That’s what we are doing now. We are saying to the government just give it to us. You’re not doing anything to fix this so we are going to fix it”. For many of us, that burning flame inside us that drove us to make a difference was extinguished. Maybe we hit hard times, maybe we were tired of trying and being beaten down but when we looked behind us there was always someone young  who picked up that torch and began walking towards that goal of achieving all the things we all ever wanted as a people on earth. That is what is happening in America now. The young are tired of waiting on adults to fix the problems in their society so they are stepping up to the plate and do what needs to be done to stop 96 Americans from losing their lives to guns daily, because it is possible. Japan, Australia, Canada, Finland and many countries have proven that strict gun control law is the best way to prevent death by firearms. We have all seen the videos on social media and the stats. It is possible, yet America chooses not to amend gun laws because politicians need the funding, the funding comes from the NRA and politicians want to be in power to rule over the people who may not survive a gunshot wound on any given day in America.  Add to that, the ignorant masses who just want to have a gun for the power it gives them as they clutch it tightly in their hands.  No one looking from the outside really understands this twisted concept neither do the young people who are rallying against lax gun ownership laws. No one with half a brain understands why grown men and women are trying to character smear teenagers who just want to see their government make it harder for their peers to walk into a gun shop and buy an automatic rifle so they can return to school and slaughter students and teachers.

I love young people. Young people who possess the qualities of leadership make me proud to know them. They don’t just pop out of thin air either. They come from adults who teach and guide them as they navigate their way around right and wrong and around equality and injustice and good and evil. Good youth come from good people who raise them – parents, teachers, clergy and yes, occasionally good politicians.

I am so tired of the criticism of today’s youth because they happen to have grown up in the biggest and most impacting technological era of our time. I am tired of hearing older people criticize them for not socializing and for having their head down, eyes glued to the screens of their devices. My God, remember when youth were criticized for watching too much TV? Remember when Rock and Roll and Heavy Metal was looked upon as Devil Worship Music? To be young is to be criticized. That will never change because when people grow older and are unable to keep up with the way things evolve around them, they get jealous and grumpy and they say exactly what older people said about them when they were young. If you can’t find a place to be on the planet as it changes around you, don’t be cynical, just be quiet and kind because if you are, maybe that young person will help you turn on your phone.

 

Turn Off Your Damned Device and Get Some Sleep!

My husband and I were getting ready for work the other day and we were tuned in to a morning news/talk show. As usual there were various segments, a cooking segment, a travel segment, an interview with a Canadian author, an interview with a financial person, a political pundit was on and then there was a woman with a sleep pack who was insisting that this is a must have in today’s world because we are kept awake by the blue light from our electronic devices. We paused the TV and scooted back to the fluffier segments and we noticed a pattern. People love to be told what to do. We love to be led on by gimmicks and we have no problem literally buying into this mumbo jumbo and lining the pockets of these gurus looking to capitalize on their 15 minutes of fame.

In one morning, viewers were shown the fastest, most nutritious and most colourful and friendly March Break foods that “busy moms” can prepare for their children. We were shown various coloured mason jars (available at the dollar store or is you wanted something fancier you could look for them at Michaels’s or Bed Bath and Beyond (oh,yes) where we could put our latte money and splurge at the end of the week as a reward to ourselves for not blowing our money on frivolous things. (Yeah I know, eh?) We were shown the most mentally stimulating toys for kids (all electronic, mind you with that evil sleep stealing blue light) and my all time favourite that day, the essential sleep pack.

Before I get into my analysis of the ridiculous, let me give kudos to anyone able to rip us off by tricking us into thinking and believing their products are so vital to our well-being. If the trendy, frivolous gullible can fatten your bank account, then so be it. People, please, why do we think that we need to buy a sleep pack that has 8 parts to it? There were specially tinted shades for the blue light, a lavender oil that you can put into the mist generator so that the steam will give off a soothing scent sure to lull you to sleep.There was a mask/blindfold thing to put over your eyes and headphones that plugged into the sleep sounds audio machine along with a two tubed rubber thing to stick up your nostrils to allow easy air flow to prevent snoring, and oh yes, it came with a cooling gel pillow. So for just $380.00 plus shipping, handling and taxes, you could buy your way to sleep. How about this for free? Turn off your device 45 minutes before you are ready for bed, shut your curtains and go to sleep. Remember reading a book with paper pages and going to sleep? I know some people have real sleep issues but for those of you who really don’t (and you know who you are) just be disciplined enough to not have caffeine before bed time, shut down your device and your day and get some rest.

 

 

And Moms, how is it that every new generation of mothers is so much busier than the one before? How is it with the invention of washing machines and dryers and stoves and microwaves and air fryers, food processors, blenders, juicers, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, slow cookers and one cookers, mothers have become busier than mothers who had to make food from scratch, wash by hand, wring clothes by hand and hang them to dry on a clothes line? How is it that with the vacuums and fancy Swiffer’s and robot vacuums we are busier than mothers throughout the generations that did not have devices like these to help them about the home? For Moms who work, how is it different from when mothers from past generations worked?  What are new Moms doing that eat up so much more time than generations past? I mean, how long is play group?

 

 

 

Why is it that we need a pack, a book or a guide to figure out how to make special, fun and colourful food for our kids? And why do we have to put so much effort into the presentation of their food to make it colourful and pretty so that they will eat it? Why not teach your kids to cook and prepare their own snacks safely and cleanly over March Break? It won’t take very long to teach them and they will develop a great skill and a sense of independence.

My point is simple. With such an advanced state of existence, with so many devices that help us do so much, why do we need to be told how to do the simplest things? Why is everything an issue, a hurdle or a problem? Make a variety of food for your kids and don’t freak out if they don’t like something. We all have things we like and dislike. In my house, all I ever asked was that my family taste something before deciding they didn’t like it. My boys eat pretty much everything.They have things they don’t like and that’s fine but I cook one meal for the family to share because I am not making something different for each of us. If you take the drama and the power away from food, kids will eat and if you set the example of eating good nutritious food, that’s what they’ll choose.  By the way, you new Moms out there, we are all busy. People are busy and dare I say there are people out there in the world who don’t have young kids who are busier than you. Parenthood doesn’t make you busier than anyone else. I raised a very energy consuming, time and emotionally consuming kid with autism and there were and still are many people busier than me. Get a grip, get organized and whatever you can’t do one day, do in another. We make our lives harder than it needs to be in a time when so many devices make it so easy. And for God’s sake if you are tired, shut off your device and get some damned sleep.