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I remember the fall of two years ago, standing in our kitchen the day Aislinn found out she was accepted early admission to Dalhousie. What a heady moment. What a proud moment. Now, it didn’t turn out that that was where she went for her first year of University, BUT, since our older two kids both delayed post secondary education, it was the first time we really had that “you’re accepted” thing and it really brought home for us the shift in the family. For years, it was the “older two”, then Ash (poor middle child syndrome, she was lumped in with either the “older two” or the “younger two”) and then the “younger two” or, the “little ones”.
Kathryn and Shawn Michael are close in age. They would have been 20 months apart, which is close by any standards, but, because he was a preemie, they are only 18 months apart. They were often mistaken for twins from about the ages of four/five, on. And they have always been the little ones of the family.
So, my older three kids have moved onward. They have all moved out, are working and living their lives. Which is still such a weird thing for me to say. But, they are all doing well, in the way young people do when they first live on their own, which is to say, they’re still all figuring it out and financially scraping by. That’s fine, they have loads of time.
Both Kathryn and Shawn M have jobs this year, which means they are both gone a lot. The house went from a smaller version of our regularly scheduled chaos to a very quiet one in one short month.

Yesterday, Kathryn texted me. She got early acceptance to Acadia. It may not be where she winds up going, but, that feeling in my stomach started all over again. Those little ones aren’t so little anymore. My baby girl is graduating high school this year and our baby boy, the little preemie who just turned 16 and is now 6’3″ tall, graduates next year.

I honestly don’t know where the time went! It seems like yesterday we were piling all the kids in the living room with their blankets and pizza from Lola’s and putting on a Disney movie for them before tucking them all into bed at 8:30 and now, my little adults are all either already flown the nest or making their plans for when they do.

Life moves quickly, my loves. And the older you get, the faster it goes.

Kathryn, I am so proud of you!! No matter which school you wind up going to, they will be richer for having you.

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I had a nest with five little birds
Singing a chorus, night and day
Filling the air with their beautiful song
and never was chirping so gay

My five little birds lived in harmony
From fledgling to full soaring flight
Dipping and diving through air all the day
and snuggled in dark peaceful night

The first bird was quiet and pensive
The second was bold and so bright
The third had a strength behind grace
The fourth was a beautiful sight

The fifth bird was tiny, and broken at first
Fighting for each gasp of air
He grew to be bigger than all of them
he grew to be handsome and fair

My five little birds fluttered round me
All with such mischievous eyes
Then one by one, as they grew bigger
disappeared in beckoning skies

Five, four, three, onward into the world
Until only two remained home
For birds cannot nest for forever
and mothers must let their birds roam

I had a nest with five little birds
Please come back and visit some day
fill up our home with your beautiful songs
for never was chirping so gay

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I am in so many relationships, you guys. Like, a plethora. An abundance. A glut of relationships. I got relationships coming out the wazoo, which is a great thing, because at 42, I can happily say that the majority of those relationships are positive ones. And do you know why that is? Because I cracked the code. I figured out the hierarchy of relationship:happiness.
Me, Him, Them, You
Looks simple, doesn’t it? Almost too simple. And yet, so many people struggle with this. I’m not throwing shade, I myself completely struggled with this for YEARS. I finally got it right though and now I’m going to share it with you.
Me. I have to come first in the relationship list. It took me a really long time to accept this as not only true, but, as the HEALTHIEST choice for me to make. I always thought that putting myself first meant that I was being a total narcissist, but, I had it wrong. It makes me the sanest, most giving and loving me I can possibly be.
You see, I let my “me” relationship sit on the sidelines for a long time. I told her it was more important to focus on the children (which, is highly important, and they are a BIG factor of my life), my husband, my friends and making sure that everybody liked me at the EXPENSE of my own happiness, self worth and health. Tell me, how are you going to make all those other relationships wonderful fulfilling ones when it’s evident you don’t care enough about yourself to be happy? You can’t. Because if those people in your other relationships notice you are constantly unhappy, sacrificing yourself or just being a doormat for their happiness, they will stop trusting you. They will no longer engage in a mutually beneficial way, they will either pity you, or take advantage of you or just plain give up. For years I let my need to be ‘for everyone else’ overshadow my need to be for me.
And then. Major life changes, re-evaluation of life and a lot of really good therapy and I learned that when I look to myself first, I’m a happier person. I am able to give more, do more and be more because I have the reserves to do so. I can say no and not feel immediately worried that I’m letting someone else down because I’M ALLOWED TO SAY NO. My life is no longer lived for everyone else, which has in turn allowed me to be freer with the part of me that I *do* give. Being happy every day, for the most part, is the best way to live my life and believe me when I say, that has a ripple effect on ALL of my other relationships.
Him. So I’m married. I’ve been married forever, plus 22 years. I’m one of those few people in our current society who married her high school sweetheart at 19 years old and we’re still going strong. But we weren’t always. In fact, for a good stretch of years there, we were a mess. A big ol, covered in sticky kid fingers mess. Why? Because I was in the depths of living for my ‘other’ relationships. It was all going to the kids and then to the friends and the community we lived in, for the sake of appearances. And while we “appeared” to be “perfect” on the outside, a farce we were super proficient at performing, we were an unholy mess on the inside. He lived for his job and I lived for the kids. Neither of us lived for each other or more importantly for ourselves.
And then. Those major life changes and all that great therapy. Much like the discovery of self, we learned that we ‘chose’ our relationship with one another and we needed to bring it back to priority. We started to date again. We talked and really listened. We became one another’s best friends again and when there was a problem, instead of going to the friends to bitch, we went to one another and worked on it. The newly found importance of taking care of ourselves trickled into care of one another and our relationship. We found so many new levels of connection and we’re still discovering them. And it’s OKAY for us to put ourselves before our kids. Because when they see us working together every day on making our marriage and ourselves the best they can be, we model for them the kind of love and happiness they in turn will seek out. What a gift to give them!
Them. Those kids. Well, we had a bunch, so what did we expect other than having them take over the world. Five kids in eight years. Like lunatics. Or people who had birth control fail them once or twice. Either way, I love each and every child of mine even when I am super mad at them and they know it.
When they were little, I had the luxury of staying home with them for almost 12 years. I loved being a stay at home mom outwardly, but inwardly I struggled. Children are HARD. And to make matters harder, I also babysat in our home to bring in extra income, so between that and the friends in our neighborhood who came over, it wasn’t unusual for our house to have 7-10 kids in it at a given time. I was all about the kids. I did everything for them. Maybe sometimes too much. It’s hard to know. But, as they got older and I went back to work, in my fear of losing my connection with them from the single digit years, I started blurring the lines between parent, and friend. This did not actually serve either of us well. As the older kids got older, they sometimes became my confidants, and that REALLY didn’t serve us well. So, as I’ve said, excellent therapy and a reclaiming of our roles and their place in the hierarchy and I have excellent, parental parts in my children’s lives. I’m loving watching them all take their turns at moving on and becoming the adults they are becoming and I’m proud to say that they have (or seemed to have) learned that they need to take care of themselves in order to be able to give of themselves to others. I never hear anything but praise of how mature and delightful they are.
You. You get to come last. That doesn’t mean I neglect my friends, it just means, and you all know this, myself, my husband and my kids supersede you. I’m not going to go to you over my husband or hide things for you from him. I don’t do secrets and lies anymore. I don’t do drama. God, I hate the drama. And the best thing is? Since adopting this, the people in my/our life who thrived on the drama and the chaos have simply drifted out. Either than or I’ve let them go. And the people left? They are the ones who understand where I/we are and they get it. They love and respect us for it. Mostly, they are the same way.
It’s a happier life, friends, knowing this. Living this.
Me. Him. Them. You. It made it all so much simpler. And so much better.

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Saint John has a literary festival!! That’s right, our own lovely city has a literary festival every fall and last night was the launch!
This past early spring, I was contacted by a friend, whose sister is on the board of the festival, to see if I would be okay with being put in contact. Of course, I said! So about two weeks later, Andrea and I sat down at the starbucks in Indigo (how appropriate) and discussed the festival, the events and whether or not I would be interested in participating. It had been a long time since I had been a part of an event that wasn’t a book signing, and of course I agreed.
Last night the launch was held in the restaurant at the Delta hotel in uptown Saint John and it was wonderful! What local talent, what support for the arts. I was the last of the night to get up and read and I have to say, I had forgotten how much I enjoy doing that. After the main event we all stayed and mingled and talked and bought each other’s work. I spoke at length with the other artist of the night and had a lovely conversation with another Irish transplant from Co.Meath.
In gearing up for the event, I reached out to a certain well-known Canadian author with whom I’ve had the good fortune to be somewhat friendly with over twitter and I asked him if he would be willing to come out and be a part of the festival, give a reading? He was touched that I asked, and happy to do so, unfortunately the timing did not work out with his already booked events. So, I’ve asked his agent to please put a pin in it for next year. If/when he does come out, the festival has graciously allowed me to be the one to introduce him, which, to be honest, would be an enormous highlight of my writing life.

Earlier that day, I had thrown my back out helping some strangers put a mattress in their car, I had gone with my daughter to look at apartments as she is gearing up to move out, and I had enjoyed a glass of wine with my husband as we talked about life and next steps. It just goes to show that I really need to remind myself on darker days that my life it pretty damn fantastic. And that I’m one of the luckiest people I know.

If you aren’t a native Saint John-er, and haven’t done so, I urge you to head on over to Fog Lit’s webpage and check it out. And, if you’re in another city, find out how YOUR town is supporting its local artist and go out to some events. You never know how it will impact your life.

Happy reading, everyone!

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While I was away, this funny thing happened which, admittedly, used to happen with greater frequency but has kind of stopped over the last years. I paid attention to myself.
Yes, yes, I pay attention to myself, but, like, in that I have health issues that demand attention. When on holiday, particularly when travelling without one’s family, who else do you have to focus on…but you?
Flash back about five years. I was in peak health. I had joined a gym, befriended the owner and had a personal trainer. I looked great. I felt great….physically. The problem was that I was all about how great I looked. I let a lot of relationships slide, including the one I had with myself. Because outwardly I was looking amazing and yes, I was very much enjoying grabbing something off the rack from the “regular” section of the store and knowing it would fit before I even tried it on, but, I was also in denial about a lot of internal struggle. And I needed to turn my spotlight back on my family.
So I did.
And then we moved east, and I spent a year looking for work and cooking and baking. And eating. And then of course Shawn’s health took a sharp nosedive and then so did mine.
A year of steroids and treatments and mandatory feet/ankle rest and, well, if you read the blog you know the rest. I gained a lot of weight. Yet the irony was, in ALL other aspects of my life, I was the happiest I have been in years. I found a job I love, made friends, became a proactive part of a new community, and basically started enjoying life again. I was heavier, sure, but that wasn’t the main focus of my being anymore. I lived in yoga pants, jeans and hoodies anyway. And all that mattered was that my husband and kids loved me.
Packing for my trip out west, I took along a bunch of clothes I hadn’t worn in a while. Because I knew that I had nights out, and a lunch with coworkers and plans that required me to dress up a bit. And I packed my makeup because, well, I *was* going to a wedding after all. But without kids to organise and a husband to keep me busy I only had me. So I spent time. And, I gotta say, I was really happy with how I looked. I felt like a more polished version of me. It was great. I texted my friend Dana that I looked good out West and sent her outfit pictures.
On my last day of holidays, Allison and I went out to run a couple of errands and, being early for one of them, we stopped at a store for plus sizes. I had never gone into my branch of it at home. I was still clinging to that memory of being an off the rack size. (Here’s the thing, when I put something on, in my head, I see myself wearing it in my old body so sometimes I get upset when I see how it looks on my current body)
Something dawned on me that day though, trying on clothes with Allison. If I let go of the number on the label and just put on something that fit, and fit me well, I looked great. I felt great!
So, I bought a pair of jeans. Then I came home, went to my branch of the same store, and bought another pair of jeans. And a top. And a vest.
Then I went home and looked at my closet. Big, heavy sigh.
I am a clothes hoarder. No, maybe it’s not that bad, but, I hang on to stuff with the idea that ONE DAY, I’ll get back into it again. It’s been five years. And even with the great new clothes that fit me well and with taking that bit of extra time again to ensure that I was putting a little effort in like I did out West, when I saw the things I had once loved that no longer fit me, the sadness crept back in.
Well, I don’t want to feel that anymore. It was time to get rid of the “I have a dream” section of my closet.

Saturday we took the kids into the city for the Buskers on the Bay festival. We spent morning to mid-afternoon watching the acts and then scooted home so our middle daughter could get to work on time. Kids scattered, hubs went to play his new video game and I went upstairs armed with an empty garbage back and a determination, albeit a slightly nervous one.
It was like ripping off a band aid. I started in the closet. There were skirt suits and dresses. A lot of them like new, and beautifully made. I posted those online in a “buy nothing” group so that some other local woman could get the benefit of my previously expensive taste. As I suspected, everything I posted was gone by mid day Sunday. But the closet wasn’t enough. I started in on my dresser. And my shoes. If it didn’t fit, it went. At first I was sentimental and sad, but as the chore went on, it got easier and easier. And then I started to feel really good. Everything left fit, fit well, I liked it and it looked good on me. Why hadn’t I done this YEARS ago? No more would I open my closet and immediately feel fat and regretful. Now I felt empowered and awesome.
My husband thought this was a good idea so we spent a few hours on Sunday doing his closet as well. And cleaning the room. Amazing how much clutter can build up without really being noticed.
I feel lighter today. I woke up and every option I saw was an actual option.
The only downside? Now I am noticing that the linen closet needs a purge. And the living room. And the kitchen. The joys of homeownership.

I took a vacation. I went to an amazing wedding and met with wonderful people and stayed with an absolutely beautiful friend. And I kind of found myself a bit. And I remembered that I like who I am.

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Ahhh the wedding day!!

Sunday dawned beautifully and with one teensy, tiny problem: my jet lag had finally kicked in. Since Wednesday, Allison had told me she was wondering when that would happen. I mean, I was now operating three hours behind my normal internal clock, and to boot, staying in a part of the country where daylight hung around and lingered long after 10:30pm. I had been waking up super early, by Edmonton time, and staying awake super late. And on Sunday it all crashed down on me. I was exhausted. Super exhausted. We had breakfast together and then I went out briefly for a timmies (and a little present for Allison for hosting me) and came back and crashed out on the couch for about two hours, give or take.
Allison was my date for the day and at about 1:30, we started to get ready. By three we were ready to leave. The wedding was only a forty minute drive from us but, knowing that I can’t navigate Edmonton, that there was a music festival closing down part of the street and construction limiting where we could go, not to mention that Allison had work in the morning and would likely leave before me, we took separate cars. That way I could follow her and not get lost. Again. And thank goodness: we had to weave our way around the closed streets, one way streets, under construction streets and finally found the church.
It immediately dawned on me, for real, that my baby brother was getting married. He and I had an unusual relationship as siblings go. Turlough is 15 years younger than I am. By the time he was born, I was already half way through high school. I helped change his diapers, I babysat him all the time and, when he was only three years old and I eighteen, I gave birth to my oldest, Liam. Liam and Turlough were buddies from the start. And being that I was home all the time with my new baby, I often just took care of them both. He wasn’t so much like a sibling to me, than a sort of extension of my own little family in those early years and then, of course, I got married at 19 and moved out and away. Sure, we came back to the homestead a lot over the years for holidays and special occasions, but, I never got to really bond with him in that sibling way. Large age gaps make it difficult to do that, even in a big family such as ours, so, arriving at the church for his wedding was a beautiful moment for me as a big sister, but also as someone who kind of felt like I had a secondary mothering role in his early years. I also realized immediately, that I had forgotten to bring tissues. And you all know I’m a crier. I borrowed one from my sister and sat down to await the ceremony.
Can I just pause here for a sec to say, my family does weddings super cool. One sister had a full-on Scottish contingent, one had a Metallica song as her first dance, there have been swing dances and Irish hard-shoe in a wedding gown, rapping, dry ice topping a wedding cake…I mean, amazing. At Turlough’s wedding my oldest brother played them down the aisle, both in and out, to Beatles music. Super smooth.
It was the first time I had seen my new sister, walking down that aisle. Oh sure, I had seen pictures and had talked to her on the phone once or twice, but this was my first time *seeing* her. And she is beautiful. I know, all brides are beautiful and maybe I am biased (don’t care) since she is now related to me, but truly, truly she was beautiful. I definitely teared up during their vows and as they walked up the aisle at the end, now married.

Since both Turlough and Krystal are swing dancers/instructors, the reception took place at Sugar Swing, their dance hall. A mere few blocks away, it only took twenty minutes of more navigating construction and closed roads, but well worth it, the venue was really lovely. Upper floor was for dining, ground floor for dancing.
Our parents spoke, her parents spoke, and then…my brothers spoke. My older brother, kind of known for his somewhat dry sense of humour and very intellectual outlook on things surprised us all by bringing tears to our eyes with his thoughtfulness and eloquence. Even Turlough’s. My younger brother Ciaran had us laughing, no howling, at stories of their escapades as the two youngest in a house full of kids, and with four older sisters to boot. This story:

is one that will, I have no doubt, have wedding guests talking about for a long time.

Dinner ended and we all went downstairs for the main event. There was a live swing band and the music was beyond describing amazing and the dancing was even better. This was a room of people who knew how to party. Everyone got in on the action, everyone was sweating and laughing and having an amazing time. The band played for over two hours and then a DJ took over, as most of the band members were also dancers and wanted in on the fun. I stayed until just after midnight. I cried as I hugged every sibling, the original, the in laws and my new sister Krystal goodbye, as it was likely the last time I would see most of them for quite a while. It was six years since we were all together at the same time. Who knows how long it will be until that happens again. But that’s the reality of us all growing up, getting married and finding our own lives. The Myers family is no longer the one we all belong to before all others. Now it’s the Reilly’s and the Webster’s and the Derbis’s and the Gole’s and of course, the new Myers’s. And all those new families have to come first now, in the same way Mom and Dad’s did when they created it. Sad? Yes, a bit. But also wonderful as we are all creating our own stories. I arrived back just after 1 in the morning and fell into a happy sleep.
Monday being my last day out west, Allison and I spent the day just chilling. We ran a few errands and we talked and talked and watched trash TV together (a mutual guilty pleasure) and talked some more. One of the best parts of having known someone online for six years, we never ran out of things to talk about. We stayed up until 11 when she drove me to the airport. A final hug goodbye, and I was ready to go home.

Part three to come.

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A while back I bugged, cajoled, whined, and sucked up my way into ballet shoes. Which, let’s face it, I was perfectly capable of ordering for myself, but, it’s more fun when I can act like a cat and talk the hubs into ordering for me. Which he did. He also ordered me some soft shoes, in black and in red, which came in this week. I am so happy!
Last year, when I was first diagnosed with Sarcoidosis, a lot of things happened and not really any of them good things. My feet and ankles swelled, a lot. Walking was painful for a long time. I had to go on a course of steroids, causing weight gain (ugh, yes again) and then I had a second, and third bout with Sarcoidosis causing more medications, more weight gain, more places in my body it decided to rear its ugly head. At the end of the calendar year, I had permanent scarring in my lungs, asthma, and feet that never really did go back to their normal width. Which meant, that when these beautiful shoes arrived, they are all, every pair, a bit too narrow for my feet. I mean, I can wear them, but they’re tight. The old me would likely have crumpled into a diva-like state of woe. Not me. Not me today. I’m in such a good place in my life right now.
I made a joke to a friend of mine the other day about wrapping my feet in plastic everyday until they become narrower (don’t worry, it was a joke) but, the truth is, I’m just moving more. I’m dancing in my living room and my kitchen and all over my house. I’m singing out loud, sometimes beautifully, sometimes badly. I’m laughing. I’m having fun! I find that the more I move and the more I dance and the more I let go of negatives in my life, including negative people, the better I feel. The more I want to dance!!!
I will get into those shoes properly eventually. I will keep wearing them and stretching them out in the meantime.
And I will keep on dancing.

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