Tuesday, December 29, 2009


"The trick is to realize that the shit that falls on you is fertilizer."
~Ron Mangravite as quoted in The Not So Big Life

Quite the quote isn't it? This is one of the books I received as a Christmas present. It has end of the chapter exercises but, true to form, I have been skipping those to simply read the book. Even if I never do the exercises it's helped me gain some perspective about my current job situation. I am filling in for a maternity leave. I signed a one year contract. I have no idea if the person I am filling in for is coming back but everyone at work knows that I hope she doesn't. I love my job. I feel like it's been tailor made for me. This morning though, as I read along in the above book, I grasped that if the contract does indeed come to an end that there is a world of possibilities waiting for me. A real good reminder that I don't know what's best for me and there is Someone who does whom I can trust. Of course, I will feel disappointed if my job ends. I will cry. I will miss those I work with, too. But for this morning at least, I know even if it feels like it, that it won't be the end of the world.

I'd lost sight of that for a good long while.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Litany of Cooks

"We're going to be 9 people and Auntie is going to have 20."

It sounds like a litany every time a holiday comes around. My mom lists the number of people she will be cooking for and how many her sisters will cook for as well. I assume this is interesting for her although sometimes I've wondered if it's a competition, too. I find it a bit irritating although I couldn't tell you why.

Yesterday we spent part of the day with dearest one's family. We are over 50 people if everyone shows up. I always think of my mom at these gatherings. How she would be cooking up twice as much food as my in laws do. I have often admired how there aren't many left overs when my husband's family gets together. Food seems to be secondary to visiting. As long as there is enough to go around then all is good.

When I talk to my mom later today she will want to know what was served and all the details. I guess the difference between us is that I am not a cook and she is. I threw out my old and forgotten spice rack a few months ago and have only replaced a few since then. My mom has a cupboard that houses only spices. All 100 of them. Darn. The more I type the clearer it's becoming that I have many unresolved issues when it comes to my mom and food. Typed myself right into a corner again.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Wonderful Counselor

"Because without you I am nothing."

I'm praying this as I made my way up to the lectern last night at Mass. I always talk to God as I do this, aware it is not about me, it is about proclaiming God's word, asking God to work through me as I speak. As I took a breath, right after proclaiming these prophetic words of Isaiah, "And he shall be called a heat caught me totally off guard. It started at the top of my head and went all the way through my body. By the time I breathed in and out the heat came and went. Then I read
"Wonderful Counselor,Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace..."
Christmas happened for me right in that moment.

I wish you all a joyous, peace filled Christmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Last Minute Surprises

"You're going to be one of those people?"

Why yes, my dear, we are.

Only daughter sounds a little shocked. She's worked in a big mall for most of the past year and shakes her head at the people who leave their shopping until the last minute. She deals with them every day. Turns out, dearest one and I have a few unexpected presents to buy, so tomorrow will be the day.

Dearest one, who told me a few days ago that everything on the sideboard was fair game, has some last minute shopping to do for me, too. I finally got around to clearing away all the paper tidbits yesterday and happened upon a receipt for something he bought me for Christmas. I thought about playing dumb but I'd never win a prize for pretending to be surprised when I'm not. Finding that receipt did explain the beautiful long stemmed roses he gave me on Saturday. Turns out he got a dozen roses for free when he bought me that gift.

So yes, tomorrow we will be one of those last minute shoppers.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Giving My Head A Shake

I have a friend who I haven't heard from since I emailed her half a dozen group updates I had sent out this past summer when unbloggable things were happening in my life. She had been there in the beginning and then we lost contact until today.

I've had an occasional poor me moment over the fact that she never responded to my baring my soul to her. I wondered if she was judging me for my brutal honesty, wondered if she was shocked by what I had written, wondered if she had stepped back from me on purpose. I didn't think these things all the time but occasionally I wondered why she wasn't getting back to me.

Because it's all about me, you know.

Lord have mercy.

I phoned her this morning and found out that since we last spoke she had emergency surgery after an accident and is still recuperating, her husband had his own emergency trip to the hospital and has since been diagnosed with heart disease, her mother died unexpectedly across the ocean and her son who was in recovery has relapsed.

It's so not about me.
What a reminder, eh?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Paper Tidbits

I love little pieces of paper. I have them all over the place. This morning dearest one had a garbage bag in hand and started cleaning off the side board. I started squawking at him to please not do that...there might be something on one of those scraps of paper that was important. He refrained from rolling his eyes but did tell me the side board was in such rough shape that everything on it was fair game. To prove his point he picked up the first piece of paper he saw. It was folded up like a note you'd pass in math class. He unfolded it, read it and as he passed it to me, said, "you might want to keep this." On it was scribbled an idea youngest son had given me for a gift for dearest one for Christmas. Luckily it was something I decided not to buy. The side board remains a disaster area as I type.

All three kadiddlehoppers and their significant others are coming home for Christmas. For the first time in three years we will wake up together on December 25th. I am looking forward to that immensely. We went grocery shopping several times this week to stock up the pantry. It's been interesting to see how oodles of food is synonymous with Christmas in my mind. That bothers me. Maybe one day I'll write about that. Or not.

A few days ago we were leaving work, too tired to feel like buy groceries, when an air ambulance helicopter flew overhead. I looked at dearest one and said, "Someone's day has just gone to shit." Instant perspective. We found the energy to go grocery shopping and saw it as a privilege.

Dearest one has been giving me a hard time because I told youngest son last night that the one thing I couldn't handle when all of them come home is to have the TV on all the time. We live in a very small place and there is no where, except the bathroom, to get away from the noise of the TV. In the next breath I told youngest son that I had a movie I was really looking forward to watching with him. Today I bought another. I may have to eat my words yet. Or hide the remote.

Due to the cold weather and furnaces being on the blink, there hasn't been a church service for most of Advent in my little neck of the woods. Tomorrow it looks like we will get to gather together for the first time in weeks. Our little church will be full of people Christmas Eve, too. Without being together for most of Advent it feels like we are jumping in near the end.

We are down to a scarce seven and a half hours of daylight here. This week the postal service should be bringing us a SAD light box. We're hoping it will make a difference in the next little while. While I am grateful for perspective, gratitude and the ability to choose my attitude, motivation has been a little tough to come by lately.

Monday, December 14, 2009

All That I Was Meant To Be

"You couldn't pay me to tell you what I think."

That's what I thought when I was in grade 12 English class and we were dissecting poetry. The teacher had a way of snorting his disgust when we gave the wrong answer and I was not about be his target for the day. Inevitably the answer he was looking for and what the poem said to me were at opposite ends of the spectrum. I was always glad I kept my mouth shut.

It's been nearly 30 years since then and I still don't like dissecting poetry.

I've never been too good at reading between lines or getting the nuances of something. I admire people to whom that comes easily. Black and white has always felt safer to me. That probably has something to do with being raised in a home with ridiculous rules that if I kept, I stayed safe. Well, except when the rules changed depending on my mom's mood. At any rate, following rules has always felt safer than using my noggin' to figure things out. Too many variables in thinking for myself.

Well, let me clarify that. When it came to having opinions of others, whether that be what they thought or what they did,hands down, I was an expert and I wasn't quiet about it. When it came to letting you into that place within me where I came to conclusions about my own thoughts, I wasn't about to let you have a chance to become an expert on my those, so I kept them to myself. Over time I've learned that I am no expert on anyone else's life. I still have my opinions but most of the time they've shrunk down to being my opinions, not God's. Big difference.

Because of my tendency to be a rule follower I have long admired dearest one's ability to see the spirit of something. He can hone in on what's really important while I am often still hung up on the technicalities. I'm learning, but it doesn't come naturally, nor is it where my head goes first. I honestly think there's still a part of me that is expecting to get in trouble for having the wrong answer.

About ten years ago this guy came to the church I was attending back then. I had never heard of the show Intervention nor him. He was just some author that friends of ours admired greatly. I remember sitting in the congregation as he taught; him asking us questions. We were a silent bunch, too scared of one another to speak our mind. At least that's the conclusion I came to. I had answers on the tip of my tongue but I was pretty sure my answers wouldn't match up to anyone else's so I kept my mouth shut. I remember Jeff chiding us a bit for our hesitancy. The answer that was on the tip of my tongue matched up to what he was going to say just about 100% of the time. In those kind of situations I still feel like I am a school kid though, and if I had opened my mouth, I would have expected some kind of gold star recognition for being so smart.

Lord have mercy.

All that to say that I know that this song is not about our relationship with God.It sounds more like a love song about a relationship that is about to end. However, every time I hear the following bit in the song, I feel more like it's the Psalmist talking to God, than a jilted lover talking to their beloved.

What about now?
What about today?
What if you're making me all that I was meant to be?

Redneck No Brainer

"The brakes are freezing up."

That's what dearest one said to me this morning as we stopped to fill up my car with gas. Then when he started up the car again the fan made a wretched whiny noise. This was quickly becoming a no brainer. We turned back towards home and are staying put for the day. It was -45C (-49F)this morning. There was a moment when it hit me how scary it would be to have car trouble in this weather and how stupid it was to think we were somehow immune. Even with all the blankets, candles etc. I had in the car, we would be cold in such a hurry. While I do live in redneck country I'd like to think I rarely act like one. This morning that was debatable. Oh, that word debatable looks weird. I'm squinting at the screen in the hopes it will somehow morph into a more acceptable looking word. No luck.

Funny how we think we MUST get to town because it's exam week and we have final exams to supervise and students to see. There are appointments to keep. With a few phone calls appointments are rescheduled, someone else is supervising exams. It doesn't have to be complicated. We both wanted to be at work today but wanting to be at work and needing to be at work are two different things.

We'll try again tomorrow.
I am so glad our furnace is working and that there is food in the cupboards.
We are blessed.

I'm grateful for perspective - even if it takes brakes freezing up to gain it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Brain Freeze

We woke up to -50C at our place this morning. That is 58 below on the Fahrenheit scale. Aren't you just plain envious? The radio man said it was -53C with windchill in the middle of the night. We are colder here than in town so who knows how cold it got.

Dearest one told Yoga Pup he was going to freeze his patooties off when he went outside until he remembered Yoga Pup doesn't have patooties anymore.

Days like today it is incredibly easy to be grateful for a warm house, food in the cupboards and no reason to get in a vehicle and go anywhere. I am also grateful we aren't getting 3 feet of snow in two days like some places in Eastern Canada. I will take the cold over the snow any day.

Our trailer has ice on all the windows from top to bottom except for the bay window in the living room. Yoga Pup has a strange love affair with water in weird places. If I leave the door open on the tub he will lick up the excess water after I've had a shower. He will try to lick the water off my feet while I dry off. This morning he stood on our bed and licked the ice off the window frame. I had visions of his tiny pink tongue getting stuck to the metal but it didn't.

It doesn't take much to amuse me. I'd like to blame that on cabin fever. Isn't that the strangest term? Too cold to go anywhere and you get a fever? Wikipedia says cabin fever is an idiomatic term for a claustrophobic reaction. At first glance I thought it said an "idiotic" term and I was getting ready to agree with them.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Breathing Healing

Three years ago I wrote this post on my blog anniversary. I missed marking my anniversary earlier this week. I'm re posting here what I wrote three years ago. Still holds true.

"Today is my blog anniversary.....two years ago today I started writing this blog.
What can I say?
I am a writer.
I have a voice.
I am truly on a journey.
I need to journey with others.
Exposing my humanity to you will not get me stoned.
It might make me wish to get stoned :)
but even if I did
I am loved even in the midst of much sin.
Confessing my sin will not diminish my worth.
Failing is not the end of the story.
Having an audience watch
Christ peel back
the layers of my woundedness
and breathe healing on them
will not kill me.
Healing is possible.
There is hope.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Kissing The Ground

Of course I'd think of something to say in the middle of the night.

Dearest one is happily sleeping with the puglies curled around him. They are warm bits of comfort on a cold night. They like to curl up behind our knees or wiggle their way right in between the two of us as we sleep.

Yesterday morning, as I was putting my backpack into the car, my ankle kissed the ground and I heard a popping sound. I'm sure the noise I made could be heard right up to the stars. Ouch. By the time we got to town part of my foot was feeling numb, but when I got out of the car I could walk without pain, so I went to work instead of going to the health clinic that is next door to my office.

Dearest one called me about lunch time and chided me somewhat about not getting my ankle checked out. I said something along the lines of "oh, all right" and walked without nary a limp, over to the clinic. My thoughts were along the lines of "what a waste of my lunch hour this was going to be". To his credit, dearest one did not gloat when the doctor told me I'd damaged one of the ligaments and should take a few days off of work.

Having this connective tissue disorder means my tissues take much longer to heal. The doctor gave me the option of visiting the cast room at the hospital for either a removeable boot for stability, or a cast. Off I went for a removeable boot. The cast room is right next to the day surgery and the outpatient department. I sat there keenly aware that my minor injury was really just a blip on the radar screen, while other people were going to get wretched, wretched news today about the state of their health.

The pain caught up to me by the time we got home so I was in bed before 8:30 tonight, totally exhausted. You know I am tired when I turn off the TV and miss the rest of this sport during the Olympic pre-trials.I apologized to the women on the screen and went to bed.

I've been awake for a few hours now. Writing here in the middle of the night is akin to deleting the cache on the computer. For me, it makes room for sleep.

Good night.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Yada, Yada, Yada

Every time I sit down to write lately,
my words sound like rubbish to my ears
so I delete them before I get too far.
I have a friend who protests loudly
whenever I use the phrase, "blah, blah, blah"
in conversation with her.
Thankfully she doesn't have my blog address.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

No Script Required

"The next time you come in you get a free card."

The store clerk hands me the purple buy-10-get-one-free card and I turn to go out of the store. That's when I remember my sponsor. It's her sobriety birthday tomorrow and getting her a card was on my list. Somewhere between reading dozens of cards saying Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays I'd completely forgot. I turn back to the cards and start looking halfheartedly for the right card. After all, thanks to all those Merry Christmas cards I just paid for, I could get her card for free. However my brain is overloaded with looking at cards so I turn and walk out of the store before I find her a card.

In between being at that store at 10:30 in the morning and buying groceries at 4 in the afternoon I packed a lot of day. A great home group AA meeting. I had the tires balanced on my car. I spent some time with youngest son. I figured out what to buy dearest one for Christmas.

The sun is starting to set as I make my way into the grocery store, one of those stores where you can buy just about everything but the kitchen sink. I make my way down the card aisle and start looking for a card for my sponsor. The next day I'm going to be presenting her with a group card and a medallion. I always buy her a separate card that expresses my feelings for her. Sometimes when I pick out cards I know I've got just the right one when tears spring up from within as I read it. That didn't happen this time but I knew the card was the right one when I read it.

This morning I drove to town to my sponsor's home group meeting. There are two birthdays and as the cards for them are going around the room, I see that one is the same as the one I bought my sponsor. I sit there and wonder if it's for her or for the other woman celebrating today. The meeting begins and soon I forget there are even cards going around. Until the card gets passed to me. I open it and find my sponsor's name in it. Identical to the one I bought for her. I lean over and whisper in her ear that I bought her the exact same card.

Often I'm distracted in meetings by the kerfuffle going on in my head as other people speak. Lately I've been asking God to help me trust that if I'm supposed to speak that He'll give me the words. After all,there is no script required. When I have not the foggiest idea what I'm going to say it helps me not take myself quite so seriously. I also get to absorb what other people have to share when I stop worrying what I'm going to say. Who'd a thunk that it's not all about me!

I get called up to present my sponsor with her card and medallion. On the spur of the moment I decide to read the card out loud to everyone present. I am pleased as punch that someone else picked the same card to describe my sponsor and I tell them that.

Tears might not have sprung up when I originally picked that card out but when I start reading it they do. I have to stop reading until I can talk without crying. Sometimes tears say more than words ever can.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Mending Time

"These clasps have come loose. They need to be fixed."

He flung the purple robe in my direction and I caught it as he turned to greet another parishioner. Once again I was stunned by his abrupt way of asking for something to be done. Perhaps one day I will not be reckoned mute by the words that sometimes come out of other people's mouths, my parish priest, included.

For months I took offense at his abrupt way. Every single Sunday he'd give me what sounded like orders and then my lips would purse tightly together as I attended to the request of the moment. "Does he have any idea he sounds like he is ordering me about? I bet he thinks he is asking." I thought about telling him just that but I knew my anger would spew out with the conversation and so I didn't. Instead I fumed. I took the cultural differences personally. His clipped ways often triggered for me feelings of being a powerless child. He had no idea how close I came one Sunday to sticking out my foot and tripping him as he went past my pew at the end of Mass.

I complained loudly and often to Father Charlie about this priest, all the while knowing and feeling irritated, that my reaction to this priest was my problem. Father Charlie had little to say, mostly he let my anger hang in the air. I talked about how my anger seemed out of proportion to the events that triggered it. Eventually I told Father Charlie that I wouldn't bitch to him one more time until I'd spoken to the priest in question. Which I did. I brought up something that really needed to be addressed and left his office still feeling like kicking him. And so it went.

It took nearly a year for me to see what a scapegoat I'd made of this priest. Misplaced all my anger right on his shoulders. It was only through the anguish of this past summer that my intense anger towards him subsided. One Sunday in particular, when I was feeling bruised and broken emotionally, this priest's simple and kind "Good afternoon" to me as we readied things for Mass brought instant tears to my eyes. My tears caught me totally off guard. I continued with my tasks and then went to the back of the church to get things ready for the processional. A few minutes later this priest came to where I was standing and asked if I was okay. Tears were still leaking out the corners of my eyes and I could only shake my head 'no' as we assembled for the procession.

Somewhere in the simple kindness of his greeting, my anger evaporated. I ceased dumping it on his shoulders. Of course years of cultural differences were not going to disappear in a day. When I stopped kicking against that reality the fight went out of me. We've had a decent relationship ever since. Father Charlie only smiled when I told him I finally owned my anger.

I thought about all this today as I emptied my change purse onto the kitchen table. Out rolled 5 pennies, 3 AA medallions and a lone clasp. I'd taken the loose clasp off the purple vestment way back in April and stuck it in my change purse for safekeeping. With Advent about to begin on Sunday, today was the day to fix it. As I sewed the clasp back in place I was grateful for the time to do some mending.


Perspective is such a gift. I can't help laughing at myself whenever I watch this video:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sleeping Dogs

"I thought you'd be mad if I let you sleep."

I look at her and think to myself, "You've got to be kidding me."

We're attending a weekend retreat. It's been one of those longer than long days. It means team meetings that seem to go late into the night. I don't know her well, and she obviously doesn't know me that well, either. Team members I've known for years would have let sleeping dogs me sleep. They know that a ten foot pole isn't long enough to wake me up with, once my head hits the pillow. Poor woman.

She looks at my face and wanders away, sitting next to someone who is cheerful and awake. I sit there in my grumpy headed state, and scowl. My scowl is as easy to read as a neon sign at night. I listen to the cacaphony of voices around me, 50 women, chipper and loud, and long for my warm bed. I tell one of the team leaders that I am going back to bed when the meeting starts and is mercifully short.

As I drift off to sleep I hear the woman without the ten foot pole, say to someone else, "That one, over there, she likes to sleep." I think something along the lines of you've got that right, except in more colourful language, and the next thing I know it's morning.

I wake up in a much more civil mood. Not rested, but better. No longer scowly. I go to the woman who woke me up and tell her I am sorry for being such a grump the night before. She looks at me and says, "You were grumpy?" Then she laughs and says, "Yes, you were."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Schmuckety Schmuck

Those Puglies are waiting for dearest one, who's been gone since yesterday morning, to come home. When it was bed time last night I went looking for the Energizer Bunny (on the left) and she was laying on the arm of the loveseat looking out the window, waiting for him. I'll be gone when dearest one comes home tonight and I can only imagine the ruckus that will ensue when they see his car come in the yard. They put their front feet on the bay window and point their noses straight up in the air and howl. Then they race up and down the hallway, trying to figure out which door he'll come in. They are pure love in action.

Dearest one is in city far away. Wish I could give the details. He has accomplished something pretty huge and I am incredibly proud of him. Wish I was there with him but we couldn't make it work to be together as he celebrates several years of hard work completed. I will be away from home from this afternoon until Sunday night.

Those Puglies did sleep in bed with me last night. They jump up on the bed - the bed that is so high off the floor that we put a chair in the right spot so they can jump in - and then they just walk all over a person until they find the spot they want for the night. My skin hurts to be touched. If you would put your finger anywhere on my limbs and push I would be in pain. I forget that until there is a Pug standing on my arms or legs as they try to settle in for the night. Ouch. I have two little Pug paw shaped bruises on my leg to show for it.

As I'm fond of saying, of most anything,
"If that's my biggest problem in life, then I have no problems."
We live such a privileged life.
I've had several things happen this week to remind me of that.
Unbloggable, but definitely perspective shifting events.
Perspective is a gift.

And then there are times when I lose persepctive and my God reminds me what a schmuck I'm being. Like yesterday. I had to drop something off at the hospital, where parking is atrocious. As I turned onto the hospital grounds I started to pray for a parking space and then gave my head a shake. I know there is nothing too small to pray about but praying for a parking space is a pretty self serving kind of prayer in my books. So I stopped that and instead gave thanks for having the ability to walk wherever I need to and so if I had to park blocks away, big friggin deal.

And then I make a right turn, to the place up top where there are 5 parking spots right outside the hospital doors. There is one spot open and instead of being grateful, I start grumbling to myself that I will have to parallel park. See? I can be such a schmuck sometimes. I hate parallel parking. Then I get the proverbial smack up the side of the head, the reminder that jeesh there are some people who would complain if their ice cream was cold, or say, if they get a parking spot right outside the hospital doors and don't have to use those two perfectly fine legs to walk very far.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Darkness Does Not Own Me

North of the 55th parallel the days are getting noticeably darker, earlier. I feel tired more than not. Or at least it seems that way. Up here we don't count days to Christmas, but rather days until the Winter Solstice, after which, hopes grows with every minute of increasing daylight. Yes, we count by minutes. Or at least I do.

Advent will soon be here. Nearly four years ago I went on an Advent Retreat and wrote the prayer below. The shame of sexual addiction was so huge for me that day. I didn't write about what was underlying that prayer until this post. The scariest, most vulnerable post I have ever written.

Recovery is about choosing, on a daily basis, to turn towards the Light. I am grateful for the grace to do that. I rarely write about my recovery from sexual addiction anymore. It no longer seems to be the ravenous wolf, trying to eat my very soul, that it once was. I know though, that it can be just as cunning, baffling and powerful, as alcoholism. I stay aware, I stay accountable. I depend on God's grace. Every day.

I thought I'd repost this prayer today.

"Oh God, you know the darkness within. As my compulsions become less and less satisfying and more and more frantic I sense you calling me to give them up to the Light. It is hard to trust that you are enough. My head knows it but my heart feels scared to receive the truth of it. My body wants to be kept in a cocoon, safe from what scares me. Yet you beckon to me with whispers of freedom, to learn what it truly means to live, yes, truly live, in my body, connected to both mind and heart.
A symphony of movement that carries no burdens, is hampered by no fears. "Be light," I hear you say.

I want to trust that this light will satisfy me on every level. But I am scared. And I am tired of being scared. Being scared feels heavy and rough and hard. And alone.

I am scared that the voice of perfection will drown out your voice of love. So I do not try. I long to but turn my body away from you, scared to expose my naked soul to the light of your love. I am turned more towards the dark than the light yet there is a glowing red ember of your love within me. You are waiting to breathe your life into it. The darkness does not own me. It is not stuck to me but I to it. It is I who must move away.

As I enter into the Advent season I choose to turn towards the light, naked of soul before you. My cupped hands offer you the darkness within. It does not want to have the breath of light upon it but I cannot carry the burden of it with me on the journey. You want me to kow what it is to fly free.

My head knows you are the great comforter but these dark places have been my comfort for so long. They have become dry in their nourishment. I must suckle at them no more.

Bread of life feed me. Be my nourishment for the journey. Be the light for my path.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Unerring Instinct

"...couples choose each other with unerring instinct for finding the very person who will exactly match their own level of unconscious anxieties and mirror their own dysfunctions, and who will trigger for them all their unresolved emotional pain."
~ Gabor Mate

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Within Me

"It sure is nice out today."

That's dearest one's code language for
let's talk about something else.
Being in a vehicle with dearest one
is one of my favourite places to be.
We have the best conversations while driving.

This particular morning we were getting honest about someone who rubbed us both the wrong way. As we talked I started to wonder why I was shoving all kinds of feelings off onto this person. One of those times when I slowly realized that it wasn't about the other person being who they are, but about how my reaction to them was about me. All me. It was while processing this out loud, and getting dangerously close to the truth, that dearest one asked me to shut up already. Well, he said it nicer than that, but that was the gist of it.

I'd read not too long ago how we circumvent breakthroughs because we try and run the other way when the feelings get too uncomfortable. I decided not to run but to stay with the dawning realization that was forming in my mind. As we navigated the exit loop off the highway, I asked myself a question out loud. Told dearest one that's the question I needed to sit with.

And then it was too late.
The truth was staring us both in the face
like a flashlight that hurts the eyes.

There is something about voicing things out loud
that can be far more startling
than just thinking them to myself.
I can dismiss something far easier if I never say it outloud.
If I only think it,
I can put it in a box
that I never plan on finding again.

I may not like the particular person we were talking about
any more than I did before dearest one and I had this conversation.
But at least I know, in that there's no going back kind of way,
that the problem lies within me.

"Every time you find yourself irritated or angry with someone, the one to look at is not that person but yourself. The question to ask is not, "What's wrong with this person?" but "What does this irritation tell me about myself?"
~ Anthony DeMello

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A Form Of Prayer

I light these candles often. I call them my prayer candles. The pretty blue one on the far left is lit for Pam and her family. As I light the candles I say out loud the name of the person I am praying for. Today is a day of praying mostly for people who have had loved ones die. Some I know personally, some are in the news. As I lit the last one I teared up and cried. Being teary is my least favourite vulnerable feeling. Even when I am all alone like I am this morning. Years ago a nun told me that tears are a form of prayer. You can't see it in this picture but the little bowl has the words "let it be" inscribed in it. I have a rock with the word Hope in it, too. I like to think of leaving my cares in that bowl.

Anyway I went looking for something on youtube to cheer myself up. I found this:

It made me tear up too.
Happy tears.
My mom played this soundtrack when I was little.
When I left home I took that piece of vinyl with me.
As part of an ongoing amend I no longer play it at 7 in the morning, full blast, just to piss someone off as part of a payback scheme for pissing me off. Not one of my more brilliant moments. It's been 30 years and I'm betting that long ago neighbour doesn't wince and think of me when he hears this song. Actually I played the Goatherd song full blast that morning. Hurts my ears just thinking about it. I'm grateful I've learned to give voice to my feelings instead of resorting to passive aggressive moves to get my point across.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Merciful God

"God, I've got a bad attitude."

I'm talking to God in my head
as I go about getting the altar ready for Mass.
I'm feeling tired and cranky.
Teary, too.
I don't want to be of service today.
I want to be on the receiving end only.

I had dragged my sorry butt to Mass at the last minute,
hoping someone else had readied the altar,
had seen to all the little details
of preparation.
No such luck.
So I grumbled to God and went about His business.

The Mass had barely begun when tears pricked my eyes.
I still wanted to curl up in a ball and cry.
With only a scant handful of people present
it would be hard to pull that off
without making a spectacle of myself.

Instead I went and was the altar server.
Keenly aware of being so close
to the consecration.
Sacred space.

Yesterday I'd shared a part of my story
that is still in the process of healing,
with a large group of women.
Normally I look forward to giving these talks.
I usually feel confident and find them life giving.
Not so yesterday.
It was one of those times when I shared what I did
out of a sense of obedience.
In a not my will, but Yours be done kind of way.
Resistant all the way.

Many of these women I have known for
10 years. They just didn't know this part of my story.
Afterwards one came to me and confided
that she is in the midst of experiencing
my not too long ago nightmare.
I can only hope that my vulnerability
was a ray of hope for her.
I came home and told dearest one I wanted to
curl up on his lap and lay with my head on his shoulder.
That would work fine if I was the size of a child
but not so well as an adult.

So instead we went and lay down together.
I curled up in his arms and laid my head
on his shoulder.
We slept the sleep of the dead.
After not too many hours awake
we went back to sleep.
I slept 10 hours straight.
The Pugs must have sensed my insecurities
because they both wanted to lay
as close to me as they could.

Today I am still feeling vulnerable and exposed.
Insecure, too.
My joints hurt and my muscles feel weary.
I went through the motions at Mass.
All the while having a running dialogue in my head with God.
Not that I actually heard anything back.
I do have faith though, that God not only understood
me but accepts me as is, in my irritability, and vulnerability.

My need for affirmation today is strong.
I hate feeling like that.
I tend to judge myself as weak
for needing it.
It is what it is.
This too shall pass.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Remembering Obsidian

This morning I opened a kitchen cupboard
and tucked the bag clips
into their holder on the inside of the door.
I paused and smiled to myself.
Open cupboard,
put things away,
close cupobard.
The motions become
like a well worn groove
a path of where we've been.
Little things like opening that cupboard
- the one we call the tall cupboard -
and putting away the oven mitts, the bag clips,
getting out the broom.
The way one has to give the door that extra shove
to make it click shut.

When my parents and sister were here the summer before last,
they stayed in our home while we were away.
Afterwards my sister told me about a family she knew
who, when visiting far off relatives,
would go into their kitchen looking for something,
asking themselves,
"Now where would (someone with our last name) put that?"
And invariably they'd be drawn to the right cupboard door.
"Because any fool (with our last name) would put it there."
My sister laughed as she told me this
because she had gone into my kitchen,
wondering where I kept the tea,
and opened the right cupboard on her first try.

Sometimes I think about the drawer
just to the right of the sink,
in my childhood home.
Cradled with bits of string and bread clips
and guarded by worn out household scissors,
lay my mom's rock collection.
Big rocks.

One day she held a heavy black rock in her hands
and told me it was called "Obsidian".
I'd never heard that word before.
Haven't heard it since.
I liked how it sounded.
Sometimes still, I roll words around in my mouth
like I'm savouring a sip of wine,
just because the way they sound pleases me.
I smile when I catch myself doing that
because words
are the only thing I've ever sipped in my life.

Reminds me of my favourite quote about words by Eudora Welty:

"There comes the moment, and I saw it then, when the moon goes from flat to round. For the first time it met my eyes as a globe. The word "moon" came into my mouth as though fed to me out of a silver spoon. Held in my mouth the moon became a word. It had the roundness of a Concord grape Grandpa took off his vine and gave to me to suck out of its skin and swallow whole, in Ohio."

I opened that drawer in my mother's house
the last time I was home.
No bits of string.
No scissors.
No Obsidian.

This past summer I visited with a woman
who lost a lifetime of
strings and bread clips and scissors,
in a house fire a few years ago.
Recently people had been coming to visit her
in her brand new house, and commenting
how much she must like it.

She mentioned several of our mutual friends,
who share her decorating style,
and how she visits them and sees something
in their house
that she used to have
and how she misses it.
Then she said that she even missed the contents
of the junk drawer in her kitchen.
Wistfully she said that everyone needed a junk drawer.
Her eyes then got a far away look,
as if she was opening that drawer again
and remembering.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sharing The Journey

My blogger bud Ellie will be on Oprah tomorrow talking about her experience as a mother who drank in secret. Brave woman.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Self Serving?

In the midst of talking in an AA meeting yesterday, the question went through my head asking if I was being self serving in my sharing. The question caught me offguard. When I reflected later I realized that yes, I had been self serving. I had to ask myself for whose benefit I share at a meeting. I am grateful that I don't recoil from those kind of questions today. Grateful that my hearing is getting better. I'm not as deaf as I once was.

Blue Night Sky

This photo is for Pam. I imagine a whole crowd of angels keeping her company last night as she stayed at her Mother's.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Say What?

"Has Mommy fed you supper?"

Dearest one has a mischevious look on his face
even though I start glaring at him.
He knows them's fighting words.
I look from dearest one to the Puglies.
Between slightly clenched teeth I say,

That was about two weeks ago.
Since then dearest one has kept talking to the dogs
as if I'm their Mommy.
Not every day, God help him,
but once in a while.
Kind of like a kid who finds
what gets under someone else's skin
and then capitalizes on it,
just for fun.
Or just to hear me hiss the word "Don't".

So last night I crawl into bed.
The Pugs do, too.
They happily sprawl out on dearest one's side of the bed.
A few minutes later dearest one comes into the bedroom.
He likes the side of the bed that's right up against the wall.
To get there he has to be kind of acrobatic.
I know I could've just got out of bed
and made it easy but I bet, after all is said and done,
he's really happy I didn't.

He looks at the situation,
trying to figure out how to get into bed,
without stepping on the dogs.
I think to myself,

"Get out of the way so that your Dad can get into bed."

I start giggling.
Dearest one, still standing on the floor,
asks me what's so funny.
I tell him what I just thought.
We both shriek with laughter 'til our bellies hurt.
The Pugs look at us
and silently hightail it
to the far end of the bed.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


When someone is sharing in an AA meeting and it gets real quiet, you know the Spirit of God is moving powerfully. That stillness that comes over everyone....what a gift to be a part of such a fellowship.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Drama and Danger

"They had spikes all along their backs, were bigger than the trees, and would squish me if I went outside to try and chase them away."

What weird dreams I have some nights.
Full of drama and danger.
Even though I was in danger of being killed in my dream last night by gigantic black dinosaurs, I became very defiant and went outside anyway. I took the risk just to show the person who had led all those spiky creatures to my neck of the woods that I didn't have to listen to him. I hid behind an old barn, making obvious tracks in deep snow to get there. I sat there in snow up to my butt and wondered about those tracks, deciding he was too stupid to find me. He was smart enough to lure many huge dinosaurs to my place, but too stupid to find a woman hiding behind a barn? I woke up before I found out if I was right or not. Oh, the suspense.

So glad my waking life is nothing like my dreams.
Once upon a time they matched.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gratefully Roosting

I am so grateful tonight for the things I have learned.
And for the opportunities to practice and keep on learning.

If you would have told me 20 years ago I could choose
my attitude, my response, my outlook on life
I wouldn't have believed you
because I would've been too busy
telling you why it was ALL THEIR FAULT,
whoever they were.

Today was one of those days of grumpy people
grumping their way through the day.
I am the first person to deal with the public and others at work.
I'm grateful I didn't feel the need
to take any of the grumpiness personally.
Nor was I grumpy in return.

I'm really grateful for a sense of humour
and to not be taking myself so seriously.
It took 4 tries of emailing a form to a coworker
before I filled it in correctly.
That I could laugh about it and know
that making a mistake is not life threatening
is huge, huge progress for me.

I'm tired.
We were out of the house before 6 o'clock this morning
and gone for over 12 hours.
I am grateful for the comfy bed that I will sleep in soon.
I might even be grateful for the Pug warmers in it, too.
They are still ruling the roost.
But somehow I bet that doesn't surprise you.

PS. The blue pugs are for Pam.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Even Up My Nose

The snow is still here.
We didn't even get the lawn chairs in yet.
The vines growing on the deck are still green.
It all seems out of whack.

I've been cleaning like a mad woman.
I can now see the floor in the office.
I was watching a show on hoarders a few days ago.
I realized my office looked
a little like some of the rooms on TV.
Not as bad, really, but still.

I had planned on cleaning it
during my summer holidays.
Never happened.
Tis done now.

I feel like I am constantly
drowning in paperwork.
I have close to 75 books to take to the thrift shop.
They are less a security blanket than they used to be.

Dearest one read me a bit yesterday in a Pug book
about how Pug hair lasts a gazillion years.
Which explains why I even found some in the fridge.
It's hard to feel like I have a clean house
with Pug hair in the fridge
let alone on every surface and up my nose, too.

We are having a relaxed and lazy Sunday.
Turned down several invitations for Thanksgiving meals
this weekend.
The snow makes me want to hunker down
and hibernate.
I'm off to do that now.
I will have two Pugs joining me.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Blue Grace

This picture is for Pam. She usually posts a picture of something blue daily but spent last night caring for her mom so wasn't going to be able to post this morning. That link in the previous sentence really is a must read.

Yesterday Pam ended her post by saying look for God's grace...IT'S EVERYWHERE!! and I took that thought and held it close all day. I prayed that God would give me the eyes to see His grace everywhere.

And God did. Especially in the noon hour AA meeting I attended. Miracles abound if we just open our eyes. Or rather, have our eyes opened.

Late in the day I was able to address a situation at work that had irritated the hell out of me, with grace and humour. Got my point across without having to be a bitch about it. Who would have thunk that was possible? Yesterday the topic at the AA meeting was change. I heard incredible stories of change that are only possible by the grace of God. So often I feel like I am standing on Holy Ground at an AA meeting.

And speaking of change, they say up here to wait five minutes and the weather will change. Ha. Yesterday's snow melted and fresh snow covers the ground this morning. I think I'll have to wait longer than 5 minutes for the weather to change, don't you?

Have a grace filled day my friends.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Frozen Schmozen

So I went outside this morning to brush the snow, yes, the SNOW, off my car. I'd started my car from the house and, because I hadn't left the heater turned up high or the fan on, I first tried to open the car door to fix that. Might as well have all the help I could get to melt the snow off the windshield. I pulled on the driver's side door handle and got no response. Nada. I went around the car, sweeping off big patches of heavy snow and tried the other door handles. They were frozen shut. Every single one of them.

I swept the snow off the door frame and looked for ice. Not that I really wanted to scrape ice off the car, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do to get to work. The snow was swept away and I thought, that's funny, there isn't any ice on the door. Oh well, I mused, the ice is inside the crack where I can't reach it. Tucked out of the way like a protest about it snowing, for gawd's sake, before the leaves have even hit the ground. I stood there and tried to remember how to thaw frozen doors, wished that dearest one hadn't left for work 90 minutes earlier, and then feebly kicked one of the doors to see if I could jar it loose. No luck. Stupid car. I brushed all the snow off anyway and by the time I was done, my hair, which I'd just blow dried, was wet from the big, fluffy snow flakes coming down. I might complain about snow in October, but the sight of snow flakes in the glow of the yard light is magical any time of the year.

I looked about me and thought about work. I thought about my warm bed and how wonderful it would be to go crawl back between the covers. The Puglies would happily be foot warmers. I'd just have to wait until the warmth of the sun thawed that invisible ice stuck in the cracks of the doors.

Just as I was about to go back into the house and call my boss, I wondered if maybe my car doors were locked instead. So I turned back to my car.

I made it to work on time just fine.

Friday, October 02, 2009


"Do you want me to cover your nose or your mouth?
We leave only one open so you can breathe.

Crap. I hadn't thought that far ahead. Momentarily, I panic. Please don't take away my voice. If she covers my mouth I will feel like I have no voice. If she covers my nose I might hyperventilate. Uncertain, I ask what other people have done. She tells me they usually choose to have their mouth covered. I breathe deep and tell her okay, cover my mouth then. God, this takes trust. I am truly at her mercy. I hadn't thought that far ahead, either.

And so my therapist begins. Gently she wipes my whole face down with Vaseline, making sure my eyebrows, eyelashes, and the hither and yon wiry hairs that grow above my upper lip, are covered. Neither of us wishes to turn this into an impromptu waxing session although I've always thought it might be nice to have my eyebrows done. Satisfied that every bit of skin is covered she then cuts strips of plaster. I watch as the powdery mesh piles up on her lap.

Next she dips a strip of mesh into water and starts placing it on my Vaseline caressed skin. First a strip across my forehead, then one along my jawline. One down the center of my nose. One by one she lifts the wet strips and places them on my face. Before too long I sense my expression becoming fixed. Just before she places a strip over my mouth she warns me. We grin at each other, for we both know how I love to talk. I feel my cheeks move up against the plaster as I smile and I tell her she will have to push the wet strips back in place. She works deftly, fingers smoothing out the roughness, as she places layer upoon layer of wet plaster on my face, working quickly before it sets.

She tells me she is going to do my eyes now. Oh, so that's why my eyelashes needed to be Vaselined. I had imagined a mask with eyes open and mouth free. How else can I see the world around me? How else can I know what's going to happen next? Down go my eyelids and as the wet mesh covers first one eye, and then the other, my world becomes dark.

I decide that the only thing to do is go inward, so I sit quietly. I feel the weight of the mask on my face. It does not escape me, the irony of how heavy a mask truly is. I notice how unmovable my face is becoming, my expression set. A swirl of thoughts runs through my mind as soothing Celtic music plays in the background. I sense my therapist's fingers smoothing and touching my mask. Some bits of the mask are thin and soft, her fingers could easily penetrate the shell. Others places are thick and hard already and it would take a lot for either of us to break the protective covering.

I think on these things.

My mind wanders back to my first session with Fr. Charlie. "Do you wear masks?" he asks me. "Oh, no, not me," I proudly tell him, "wearing masks is what other people do". He sat quietly then, leaving my words to hang in the air. Before too many sessions had passed we both knew I wore layers upon layers of masks. I told him that if I had my way, I'd wear sunglasses year round, because then I could let down my guard. Wearing masks took energy.

The Celtic music rises above my meandering thoughts and it reminds me of my favourite movie. I think about William Wallace and his fight for freedom. I love his passion. His determination. His fierceness. I love his freedom. My body relaxes as I let the music wash over me.

I think about what I might feel when my mask is removed.
My face will be smooth because of the vaseline.
Will I feel reborn?
Breaking through my thoughts comes the phrase,
"You have been set free."
Over and over, like a record stuck on a warp,
the phrase repeats itself,
drowning out everything else.

Slowly, it fades.

Next comes a phrase Fr. Charlie has told me countless times:
"You shall know the truth
and the truth shall set you free

I picture William Wallace
looking at me as he cries, "Freeeedommmmm."

Goosebumps rise on my arms.

Fr. Charlie and my therapist have never met.
It feels like a hop, skip and jump kind of journey,
one leading me to the other though.
And now, in this session,
the one where I am masked and then unmasked,
the two have merged, both so pivotal
in my quest
for inner freedom.

The mask dries.
I move my face,
first my lips
and then my cheeks
and lastly my eyes.
As I do so, the mask separates from my skin.
Gently my therapist pries the mask
off the last strongholds.

I blink in the daylight
and smile at the mask.
The mask that is
and isn't

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Numbering My Thoughts

Thump. Thud. Thud.

Those are the early morning sounds that woke us up a few days ago.
The energizer bunny had rolled off the bed.
I grinned in the dark and sang to dearest one, "They all rolled over and one fell out..." We giggled and went back to sleep, once the energizer bunny was safely on the bed again. Yeah, I know, there is a kennel in our room just for the Pugs. It's doing duty as a table for a laundry basket at the moment.

Speaking of numbers, you know the all in that little ditty up above, when you count all my posts this one is numero eleven hundred.
Which is cool, eh?
Except eleven hundred sounds weird.
One thousand and one hundred doesn't roll of the tongue well, either.
Some days most words sound weird.
Does that ever happen to you? You write a word out and think to yourself it can't possibly be spelled that way even though another part of your brain is telling you you've been spelling it that way for decades. I wonder why words look or sound so alien some days.

I had something interesting happen today.
Well, let me back up a day.
There's a person in my life who I instinctively don't trust.
Passive aggressiveness is hard to pin down sometimes.
I tried earlier this week but the person smoothly side stepped my bluntness.
Wriggled right out of my question.

I've been known, in my former life, to grab people by the shirt, just under their throat, and threaten them. There is nothing passive aggressive about that but I don't recommend trying it. That was before I knew that I have a voice for a reason and it's much better to use my voice than my might. Anyway, I just was irritated all the day long by my inability to make her own up to something she did that crossed one of my boundaries. I do get tempted to grab people by the shirt now and then but that day wasn't one of them. Mercifully. Making amends keeps me from reckless behaviour more often than not. This morning I prayed that there would be a time lapse between my impulses and actions.

Yesterday I was talking to God and saying that if only I knew a little something about this person who I don't trust, something that would put a human face to her, it would help.
Today a little tidbit of info came out of her mouth and I asked her about it.
Within 5 minutes there was enough humanity spilling out that my heart softened.
I still don't trust her, and that is just fine.
I can trust my instincts.
But it is nice to know there is a soft heart underneath the hard exterior.

Next post will be eleven hundred and one.
That sounds better.
Thankfully there are only two pugs in the bed.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Ranting Heckler

Sometimes, when I write a post, like the one I did yesterday, I get the urge to delete it after a day or two. I try not to rant on this blog. I don't rant much in real life, either. Not even in my head where there is only me, myself, and I. I used to rant all the time. I had a fix for everyone and everything if they would only let me be in charge! Friends call dearest one and I the diplomat and the heckler. Diplomat I am not. It took getting sick to lessen my desire to rant. Ranting takes precious energy and when you only have a few spoons it's a shame to use them that way.

Only daughter and lover boy are here for a visit. I am having a hard time enjoying it because I already feel sad at her leaving tomorrow morning. Just typing that makes me teary. So I'm going to sign off for now and go give her a hug and spend the day in her company. She's only heard me rant once since she got here and it was so mild compared to days of old, she might not have even noticed. That's progress.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Within Me

"I'm going to have a stupendous, wonderful, incredible day!"

We're standing in line at the checkout counter as he tells me this and I look at him while thinking a rather sarcastic, "I'm happy for you."
There have been wind warnings for days now
and windy weather makes my lungs hurt.
My shoulders haven't stopped throbbing for 48 hours and my fatigue level is off the charts. I cannot seem to muster a good attitude, or gain perspective, I simply want to sleep.

He'd asked me earlier how I was and when I replied that I was tired, it was windy out there, but otherwise okay, he had countered with, "It's a beautiful day outside."

I look outside at the 50km/hr wind gusts and think rah, rah, rah.

I paid for my purchases and we parted ways.
I sat in my car feeling irritable as hell.
I watched him walk to his vehicle and get on with his stupendous day.
In all the time I have known him
we have yet to have a conversation
where I felt like we related
as one human being to another.

I put my car in gear and get on with my day.
This time, as I'm heading into the next store,
I see someone who is dear to my heart,
who has been pivotal in my journey.
Someone I believed who was placed in my path
several years ago by God, for my good.
I haven't seen him in nearly six months.

We ducked out of the wind and chatted. I told him about my summer, the stress, the emotional pain, the incredible opportunity for growth and change. He looked at me and said warmly, "It's exciting, isn't it?" His question caught me off guard and I stopped to think about it. I told him I would never willingly sign up for that kind of pain again
and I was continually humbled by the opportunities presented to me for growth.
Tears threatened to overflow as gratitude washed over me.

As we parted ways I told him that on a day like today, when it was so windy, I was grateful for warm house to go home to. He kind of harrumphed at me and I had to chuckle at how my irritation had faded.

Next stop was my home group AA meeting.
Just before the meeting started,
another group member came in.
He took one look at me and said,
"I'm going to give you a hug."
I told him I was really tired
and he told me with a measure of compassion
that the tiredness would pass.
It was comforting to be treated
with kindness.

Three different encounters,
two felt life giving and one soul sucking.
Although it hasn't escaped my notice
that's the second time in less than 10 days
where someone's happy, happy outlook
has gotten under my skin.
Oh, don't you just love it when you realize once again,
that the problem lies within you, not within them?!

Here's hoping I wake up rested and pain free tomorrow.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Getting To

When I left big city far away on Wednesday morning I
was hoping to beat rush hour traffic.
Six lane freeways are busy at 6 AM.
I feel all panicky until I successfully merge onto the freeway
without either hitting someone or they hitting me.
Then I give a big sigh of relief and go on my merry way.
It's a stretch to go from driving in a city of 50K
to a city of over a million.
But I did it.
I only got lost twice this time around.
That's progress!

The upside of leaving so early is that
I saw a beautiful orange sunrise
with everything in the foreground still black.
I normally always marvel at sunrises and sunsets.
That one was extra beautiful.

Last night I stopped on my way into the house
and looked up at the starry night sky, soaking it in.
I don't remember a clear starry night
when I didn't stop and take a few breaths
while I marveled at the sight.
I can see the big dipper out my bedroom window
for part of the night.
It's a good night when I don't see it
because it means I'm sleeping
while it passes by.
A few nights a year the moon
shines right onto my face,
through my other bedroom window,
waking me up.
I feel kissed by God when that happens.

I feel very grateful for life this morning.
For the ability to do lots of things
that weren't possible several years ago.
Even though I am rarely rested,
I function at a much higher level
physically than I used to.
I was telling both the geneticist and the cardiologist
this week that sometimes in the midst of a cold winter day,
when I am getting ready to go for a walk in -24C weather,
dearest one looks at me and asks why in the world would
I do such a thing.
I tell him it's because I can.
I had too many years when going for a walk wasn't an option
and I never want to take it for granted that today I can.

Maybe I'm warped but you know on days
when it is windy, cold, rainy,
and I am outside
I think about how nice it will be to get inside,
have a cup of tea,
warm up, and sit on the couch wrapped in a blanket.
I feel grateful for the little things
like slippers for my feet
and it makes me all happy inside.
If I never felt cold I would never appreciate
how nice it is to get all warmed up.

One of my favourite childhood memories
is of going into my grandparents' home
on a cold winter day
and putting my hands over the woodburning
cookstove and warming up.
It was always a bonus if my grandma
let me lift the little round lid and
throw my kleenex into the fire.

It's not winter here yet
but this morning there is frost on my windshield.
In a short while I will be getting in my car
and driving to see Fr. Charlie.
It's another one of those days
when I'm not thinking along the lines
of "I have to..." but rather
"I get to...."
Just by being alive we get to do so much.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Doing A Happy Dance!

Saw both doctors today.
No heart surgery required.
They were both so supportive of all my lifestyle changes
and so happy with the results that I don't have to see them for 3 years.
Stuff they wanted to give me pills for
has resolved itself by lifestyle changes.
How cool is that?

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Guy Named Bob

I'm in a city far away this morning.
Yesterday I arrived here at only daughter's empty apartment.
A place to sleep while she is away.

The walls are paper thin.
I heard someone's alarm clock beep at 5:30 AM.
Someone else's shower go on.
Someone else coughing.
In hockey season you can tell who they are cheering for
and which game is being shown on TV.
It made me hesitant to blow my nose
for fear of wondering who I might be waking up.

I'm sure they wouldn't be impressed with my morning routine
if I lived here full time.
Yoga at 5AM. Complete with occasional swearing at
the Biggest Loser trainer Bob
as he tells me you are almost finished, don't give up now!
while my legs feel like they are on fire
and I am going to be frozen in place forever.
Some days I tell him right where to go and how to get there.
He has the most annoying voice.
All chipper and you haven't seen anything yet
while I am pouring sweat and dying over here.

I always thought I could be one of those contestants on his show
that could suck it up and rise to the challenge.
Which I could.
But not without some hissy fits.
Some whining.
Some get out of my face moments thrown in.

If I lived in this apartment
soon my neighbours would wonder
why I kept putting up with
a guy named Bob.
Or he with me.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mental Gymnastics

It's been a good weekend.
I've never been to an AA Assembly before.
I kept tearing up
when I looked around the room
at several hundred fellow alcoholics;
feeling overwhelmed with gratitude
for my sobriety and theirs.

I feel somewhat embarrassed to admit
that I also kept tearing up during elections.
I kept sensing that there was Something much bigger
at work than any of us and that was humbling.

It is a wonderful experience to hear the Serenity Prayer
said in unison in such a large group.

I also sat there and periodically thought
about whether or not I'd like these people
if we were all drunk.
Some I would probably like more
and some less, no doubt.
Some I could not picture drunk.
They did not fit my stereotype.

In treatment we were given an assignment
about what stereotype we had of an alcoholic.
The stereotype we kept alive
so that we didn't have to face
that we had a drinking problem of our own.

One of mine was that because I wasn't
in the neighbourhood bar
getting pissed with the neighbours
and going home with them
I didn't have a drinking problem.
Somehow I thought getting pissed at a bush party
and leaving a 2 year old and newborn in the car
was normal,
just don't get pissed in the bar
and sleep with the neighbours.
The mental gymnastics one does, eh?
Absolute insanity.

Thank God there is a solution.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Push Button Perfection

"There is no future."

Sigh. It's after the meeting and we are cleaning up the tables. I had shared in the meeting some feelings of fear about my health. In addition to the heart stuff some new issues have cropped up. Could be serious and could be simply a blip on the radar screen. Time will tell. Yesterday I wanted to get the swirl of worried thoughts out of my head and onto the table. When people come up to me after a meeting and say things like the above statement I know they mean well. They want me to have peace and not worry. I know that. Sometimes in reply though, I want to tell them to fuck off and mind their own business.

It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have my own decades of experience in telling people just exactly how they should think and feel so that life would be perfecto. Trying to fix their lives when they haven't even asked me to. When I do that it's really been about my uncomfortableness with being human and how that means having a multitude of feelings. I've put a lot of energy into dismissing people's very real and understandable feelings when life isn't turning out how they had hoped and the circumstances are out of their control. I didn't want their pain to touch me.

It's hard to know how to navigate it when someone tells me the answer to my problems as if there was some magic switch to turn on and all would be roses and glory. For me to be honest and say, "I'm scared" is such progress. To have someone basically tell me there is only today so don't worry, be happy feels like I'm not allowed to be human. Most of the time I can take comments like that in stride, knowing their reaction to my share is their issue. And that my reaction to their reaction is my own. Yesterday it was a little harder to do.

I suppose really it's about my ego. I sometimes get caught up into wanting to be the poster girl for AA. Look at me and my perfect program where nary a thing bothers me because I just give it all to God and presto, I'm good to go. The program isn't about perfection. But, because sometimes I still chase after imaginary perfection I don't share that I'm scared, I'm worried, I'm, I'm, well, human, just like everyone else. And so is the person who tried to make my world all better yesterday. Imagine that. Sigh.