Time to say goodbye

This has been a long time coming, my friends. I’ve been blogging for years now. First on Blogger and then to my little home here on WordPress. I’ve loved every piece of it. Going back through my blog is hilarious for me, and sometimes a little bit heartbreaking. I found blogging at a time when I really needed the medium to express myself and I was writing every single day. I feel like I honed my voice here and in the meantime, found many friends.

But, I’ve been thinking about this for a long while. And I think it’s time to let it go.

I told my husband last night on our drive home from our date night that I was going to do this. I knew he’d be worried, because I’m not one to let go of things I love and, if I’m being completely honest, I like the vanity of blogging. But, I told him, this isn’t a snap decision for me. It’s one that’s literally months in the making. It feels right.

My friends. For almost a decade you have come and read my stories, my poems and my anecdotes. You were with me through the move to another province, through the whole ordeal with Shawn’s heart in 2014 and through every triumph and heartbreak since then.

I’m not leaving forever. I’ll keep the blog up and who knows, maybe once in a while I might even check in, but for now, I’m going to stop being a commenter on my life and I’m going to go live it.

I love you all. Be kind to one another. And thank you for sharing my journey.


What a 2017 it’s been.

My sarcoidosis went into remission, and although it has caused permanent changes (glasses, asthma, arthritis), I am basically still the same person and not too badly worse for wear. Notwithstanding a few smaller issues with my back and knees, this year was the year my health started the slow climb back upwards, and that’s something worth celebrating. I plan on spending some time in 2018 making small changes to keep on feeling better and staying better. My 40’s have definitely been the years to put plans into action, and my health is a big one on that list.

Shawn and I celebrated another anniversary and every year that we get to do that is a blessing. If there is one thing that we’ve clung to since 2014, it’s that life is short. Super short. You should be with the people you want to be with and let go of anyone and anything that isn’t a positive force in life. We know that as the years go on and the kids keep on leaving to pursue their own lives, it will only be ourselves left at the end, and we better still like one another. We’re still planning that trip to Italy and one of these years, we’ll actually do it.

We bid a final goodbye to our beloved dog, Katie. And we miss her every day.

I took my first ever in my life solo trip this year. At the end of June, I flew to Edmonton Alberta, my first time west of Ontario, to see my baby brother get married. For one day short of a week, I stayed with my internet-now-real-life friend Allison in her beautiful home and learned to drive my way around Edmonton. I went to the big mall, had dinner with my internet family/friends, visited with my family (all six of my siblings in the same place for the first time in six years!) and watched my baby brother tie the knot. I missed my own family dearly and it was sad that my husband wasn’t able to come with me. That just made the coming home that much sweeter.

As soon as I got back from Edmonton, I jumped into a jam-packed rehearsal schedule, as, for the first time since moving East, I got involved with a theatre show. I have to admit, I was a little gun-shy to get into a theatre again, my last experience not exactly leaving on a high note, due to (pun intended) drama, but, I’m glad I did. I threw on a habit, and became a singing nun in Sister Act. The run was fantastic, playing to nearly sold out crowds nightly and it was great to be a part of a production again.

We celebrated three years this fall of Shawn’s life since the heart stopping September of 2014. As always, I had a mini-meltdown in the days leading up to the anniversary and as always, we reflected on the fragility of life.

Speaking of getting back into the habit, I put on my writer’s cap again this fall and was a featured author at the Saint John Fog Lit festival. It really felt good to talk about my writing again and to speak at the events. I am, as ever, appreciative of cities that celebrate the arts and their own local artists.

And to cap off a wonderful year, I did my exam for French with the province and received a certificate of Intermediate ability.

2018 is already shaping up to be a busy one. Shawn and I will both be students at the University, working towards continually improving and updating our skills. I will keep working on French while I move to a new department at work. Kathryn, our second youngest, is graduating from high school and Shawn Michael, the baby, will start his Grade 12 senior year in the fall.

Life is a journey. It should be savoured and enjoyed. Live well, love hard, and let the rest go.

Peace, my friends.

My friends made fun of Shawn when we had two girls, and then three. And then we rescued our dog Kira, a girl, and got our dog Katie, another girl. There was no getting around it, the women ran the household. Estrogen trumps testosterone. Girl power reigned supreme.
And we liked it that way. My girls talk about everything and anything in front of the boys. So much so that Shawn Michael, my delightful 16 year old, doesn’t even bat an eye at the mention of periods, cramps, tampons, and being endlessly dragged into bra stores at the mall. Actually, I think he likes that last part. I keep telling him what an amazing partner he will be some day, after being raised in the warm bosom of a bevy of females. It’s true too, he’s one of the most sensitive, plugged in, compassionate and caring PEOPLE I know, let alone young men.

So we moved and kids got older and grew up. Keisha moved out, Liam moved out, Ash moved out. Kira passed away and then Katie. And now we have myself, Shawn, Kathryn, Shawn Michael and Kermit. And Cole.
Who is Cole?
Oh, he’s Kat’s boyfriend. A sweet, lovely, overgrown puppydog of a boy, and he spends a lot of time at our house.
Now it’s three against two!
I wish I could say that I don’t like it and that the boys are being stinky smelly boys and exerting their power over pizza orders and choice of programming but in truth, I like it. He is one of those kids who just….effortlessly fit in to our world and we have claimed him as one of our own. So, I wish I could say I don’t like it, but, it’s nice to have back a small bit of the chaos we had when the house was fuller. Watching the two of them is like getting a glimpse into a not so distant future when the kids will come home, god willing, for holidays bringing with them their partners and one day, their own kids.
It’s going to be a weird holiday for us this year. No extended family is coming, Liam can only come home for a day, maybe two, and Keisha can’t come home at all. And while Shawn and I have time off, the younger kids will all have work schedules.
But I like it.
I don’t mind this shift in the force. After all, life is change. You can either roll with it, or fight against it, but it’s going to happen whether you like it or not. I choose to embrace it.

I never thought I would be taking tests and talking back to school in my forties, and yet, here I am. For the past year, I’ve been re-teaching myself french. It’s been an interesting project to say the least. I probably *could* have worked a little harder, but, considering I’m doing this on my own, I’m actually fairly proud of where I’ve gotten. Tomorrow morning, I am taking a french oral exam. The same one government employees of the province take to determine at what level they can communicate in our nations other official language. I’m nervous as hell, but I’m also excited that I’ve come this far on my own.

There’s more.

Back when we lived in Ontario, I was just *starting* to entertain the notion of doing some further education. But then the move and the starting over and the finding work and all those other things happened and it was put on hold. This year, I applied to a program at the local college. I was wait-listed. That was okay. I mean, at the time I was kind of upset about it but, you know, part of being an adult is accepting things you cannot change and learning how, when and where to keep pushing. So, I applied to a different program at a different college. This one wanted me, right away. The only problem? They needed my transcript.
That doesn’t sound like it should be a problem, right? Except that I didn’t graduate traditionally. Instead, like the very scared teenager I was, I dropped out of school with only months to go before my graduation (because I was pregnant and my life got complicated, fast) and continued my studies on my own. Which *would* have been straightforward, BUT, that I was a terrible student in high school. I cut class a lot. I didn’t try. I cared more about my social life then my academic one and it showed. I did not have enough credits, even if I had stayed out that last year, to graduate. A funny thing happened when I became a mom, though. I got this tremendous drive. I did courses through adult education programs. I did night school classes. I did correspondence through the school board. Want to know what happens when you do classes from three different venues, over four years, both before and after a marriage so you have two different last names?? It becomes nearly impossible to track it all down.
I’m still working on gathering all the missing cogs to my educational wheel, so the second program had to wait, because a full transcript is mandatory for that program and I don’t have one at the moment.
So. Left with some mild depression and disappointment, I did something else. I decided instead of all these college programs, I’d apply to university.

And I am in.
Starting February, for the first time in my life, at 42, I will be an official University student. It’s super daunting and exciting and, well, weird a bit, but I am very happy about it.
So there you have it. I certainly didn’t go through the milestones of life in ANY kind of conventional way, but then, I was never much of a conventional gal. I like making my own moves, in my own time, in my own way.
Feel free to start sending donations towards my education, folks.
I’m about to be a student. Again.

Happiness is

Happiness is music. Whether I’m in my car alone and rocking out at the top of my lungs to Bruno Mars, dancing in my kitchen to Sara Bareilles, painting to Rachmaninov or crying along with Domingo as he sings ‘laugh, clown’, I love music. My life plays out to a vast and varied soundtrack of my own making and it wouldn’t be the same if I wasn’t a part of the song and the song wasn’t part of me.
Happiness is art. Every so often I lose my way around, as most of us do at one point or another in life. I tend to be a wanderer. A meander-er, and I’m easily distracted so sometimes, I get mired down in the minutiae of life and I forget to keep contact with *who I am*. And then I create something. I write, or I paint, or sew or knit. I feed my inner artist. And I remember where my centre is. When I’m hurting or sad or stressed out or depressed, art is what brings me back to remembering that there is such joy to be had, sometimes in the simplest things. I am a person who needs to express themselves in order to be right. Art allows me to do just that.
Happiness is touch. Remember when that book about love languages came out? I do. And one thing resonated SO MUCH with me. Touch. I am a person who thrives on physical contact. Thankfully, I live in a family of people who touch. We’re huggers and snugglers and hand squeezers. My husband frequently puts his hand on my leg when we’re in the car or absently reaches out in bed at night to hold my hand or touch my hair. Often, he does it absentmindedly and will almost startle himself with an “oops, do you mind?”. While I love that he still checks in with me about when I want to be touched, 99 times out of 100 yes, I do want it. I love it. I am forever happy that my adult and teen children will still hug me, not perfunctorily, but actual hugs. Where they hold on and squeeze. And they’ll still sit snuggled up with me on the couch for a movie. I can’t imagine my world without touch. It’s how I say I love you without words.
Happiness is my home. It’s being able to go back every day to the people I love and the haven we created together. It’s looking around and knowing that my walls are packed with memories and that we all feel safe and loved here.

As much as I spend time complaining about things, or worried about them, stressed out or just upset or even angry, what I am more often than all of these is happy.
It’s not a bad old life after all.

Imposter Syndrome

I have had a HUGE struggle with identity for most of my adult life. But I hide it (or at least “hid” it) very well for a very long time. Because I had all these great ways to hide it. I was a big sister of a large family. So I was mom 2.0 for a lot of my formative years. I helped cook and changed diapers and hung laundry, not that these things are out of the norm, I am a firm believer that children should be a part of running the house, age appropriately of course. Likewise, my own kids grew up doing the same. God forbid they became adults who didn’t know how to wash their own clothes or sew a button. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. I relished that mini-mom role in the house. And then in my teen years, I was the trailblazer. That didn’t *always* serve me well, but hey, I went out there and dig into life, hard. I was never really a jock or a theatre kid or a music kid or an academic or member of student council, but I tried a little of everything. I had friends who were into New Kids and friends who were into Metallica. I was all over the place.

And then I became a mom and a wife and I sank my teeth into that role. Five kids in eight years and I stayed home with them for almost twelve years, being a full time parent. But that wasn’t enough either. I also wrote articles for the paper, ran a cake business, did night school, babysat and auditioned for the local radio morning show. I was all over the place, because I never quite knew what place I belonged in.

And then the kids started getting older and they didn’t need me 24-7 anymore so I started going to work. I’ve done so many different jobs. But had no real career. I started one, but a move meant starting from scratch yet again and without college or university to back me up, I found that finding my niche was extremely difficult.

All this to say that I’ve worn so many hats in my life, that I started to really question who I was. To the outsider looking in, I’m this woman with talents in a myriad of places and calm, wise and driven. Actual words people have used to describe me. Inwardly, I was a dirty imposter who had NO clue who she was, but had honed the art of playing roles to suit the occasion.

I’ve been doing a lot of inward reflecting lately (my therapist is so proud) and trying, not so much to “define” myself but more to find what makes me happy, and stop looking for a reason to justify it. To find what I enjoy, and stop needing to be “the best” at it, but just….enjoy it. So if I wanted to write, then write. And not compare my style, medium, successes or abilities to those of my siblings or mentors. And if I want to sew, then to sew. I don’t need to be Christian Siriano, even though that would be amazing. If I want to paint, I should paint. I don’t have to be as good as my sister or mother. I don’t have to be perfect I just have to enjoy it and be happy. I keep telling my husband that I need a large piece of soapstone because I feel like I want to carve it. Does it matter that I have no idea how? No. Because I’m just looking for what makes me happy.

Feeling like an imposter is actually not all that uncommon, once I started to talk to other people about it. But why, why do we all need to work so hard to be defined??

I’m a mom because I have kids. I’m a wife because I’m married. I’m a sister because I have siblings and a professional because I have a job.

And I’m an artist. Because I want to be. Am I famous or renowned or great? No. But I’m happy. And that feels authentic.

My studio. A big mess of three desks for writing, painting and sewing. plus a painting I recently did from a YouTube tutorial.

Don’t be a vacuum

I have a bad habit, that when there is negativity in my life, I become a vacuum and I let the negative swirl and swirl and suck me into the bottom of a vortex where I lie on the floor wondering where I went wrong. 

I’ve done this for years and it used to be that I couldn’t see that I was stuck.  And then I did therapy and I started to recognize it.  And then I did more therapy and I started to learn how to deal with it.  MORE therapy began teaching me how to recognize it when it was starting and work to head it off and I’m much better now but sometimes, just sometimes, I forget to pay attention to the little warnings and I get swept up.  

Lately, I’ve had a bunch of negative, hard, sad and emotional moments. All clumped together in a short span of time.  That’s the worst. It knocks me off my ass, literally.  I have had days in the last three weeks where I have come home and not been able to get out of bed.  So much suffers. My relationships, my kids, my home and my work.  I walked around in a vacuum of suckage.  

And then I started to pull out of it.  I’ve talked to friends. I’ve talked to my family and gotten the support to remember that I can’t control circumstances and other people but I can control myself. I can control what I do, say and I can allow myself to acknowledge my feelings and then move on.  

So I’ve been trying to do some things for me. Being accountable for ones own happiness is a work in progress and sometimes I forget that I am my own most important relationship and it’s oka to invest time in myself.  

So today I decided to paint.  I’m not a visual artist, by any stretch.  Anyone who knows me knows that I have a “functional” ability at a lot of things but I am clearly master of none.  Yet, something inside me needs an outlet. I keep joking with Shawn that I need him to get me a giant stone so I can sculpt it.  Today my stone was painting.  Tomorrow, it may be something else entirely.  I just know I can’t live in a vacuum.  I need to live out loud in full colour. 

Don’t be a vacuum.  

Be everything else.  

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