Archive for the ‘I wish’ Category

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.


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I was crouched down on the ground
In a corner, trying to make myself small
Hiding my body, the scars, the bruises
Curled around myself as if the physical
Sensation of crumpling inwards, like a
Rose wilting, would protect my heart
Which felt like a thousand stab wounds
All fighting for which would make the
Biggest hole and let everything I am leak out

I was the colour of indigo on a blank canvas
Deep deep deep
I am the painting you want to look at, but
I make your soul ache because when you look
Past the first hues of blue, you see the black that
Lies under it all, see the absence of light

I was water. I was the enduring, pulsing rhythm
Of a force that would not be stopped. Or was
I the tears that just kept pouring out?

That’s what her body said to me, as she sat
On the other side of the room. Deflated.
Shivering with the adrenaline that ravaged
Her when words like arrows pierced
The delicate gossamer she is made of
Oh, she’d like you to think she is a warrior and,
She is, but she is also a butterfly. My butterfly
And I will not watch her be pinned to a board
And cased in glass. I will not.

But, that body shifted. It unfurled. It released.
And she?

She rose. She persisted. She soared.

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I was 14, he was 15. The very first day we met, he kissed my hand, very Cinderella style. Little did he know he was kissing the hand of a hopeless dreamer. An incurable romantic. A girl who, even at 14, had learned how to exit the world of her reality and dwell in the world of books, movies, plays and music. My fantasy world was the real one in which I dwelt and the reality of school and homework and parents and such were just the nuisance that had to be endured between escapisms.
Our first date. How ironic it was to a movie. Escapism please!
We went to see The Little Mermaid. When it was first released to theatres (am I dating myself, much?). The song “kiss the girl” was the backdrop to our first kiss. He with his towering height and me with my fantasies and already I had us married off with kids and living in a far away land.
Cut to now, and we’re married with kids and moved provinces, so in a way, my 14 year old dream came true.
My number is inverted now. I’m 41. I still use books and movies and plays and music as a way to leave the trappings of the adult world, a world VASTLY more disappointing than I was led to believe as a child. Sure, I can eat what I want and go to bed when I want, but I also pay taxes and clean and raise children and have a job. But I have my dreams. Tucked away where I can call upon them when needed. I still read books and fall in love with the mythical worlds weaved for me. I even write books where I can bend the fantasy to my own will and whimsy. Songs still transport me and movies are where I give over my heart and soul to be drawn into another place and time.
So, it’s no surprise that when the live action Beauty and the Beast was announced that I immediately professed that I would not only see this in theatre, but that we would all go, husband, wife and the three children still remaining at home. No one minded. When your mother is a dreamer, she tends to influence her children.
The day approached and the closer we got, the more excited we became. The kids would frequently play the trailers on the internet and I, the eternal crier, would more often than not, feel my eyes growing hot with anticipation.

On Sunday we crammed our five adult forms into the car and drove to the theatre where Belle awaited. As we sat in a row at the back of the theatre, I leaned over to my husband and whispered “I love that 22 years of marriage later, you’re still taking me to Disney movies. Only now we bring our children.” He tried to pretend like that didn’t make him “catch the feels” too, but I know it did. He has been much more sentimental since his heart attacks.
The show started and transported is exactly what we were. My youngest, the 15 year old, 6’2 man-child sitting beside me, spent the entire show holding my hand, or laying his head on my shoulder, or hugging me. My girls sat at the end silently letting tears fall. The movie was perfection. It should be held up as an example of how to bring a beloved animation to live action. I won`t go into the details of the myriad of ways I loved it, because this post would simply be too long.
It was beautiful visually, artistically, musically and in it`s composition. The casting was perfect and I truly wanted to step through that screen and into Belle`s world.
We left the theatre that evening to go home to the world that we built. It`s warm, inviting and loving. It`s full of laughter, and yes, sometimes tears. Usually mine. It`s teenagers and adult children who still hug their parents. It`s kids who were brought up to love and to treat people with kindness and dignity and inclusion. With all the mistakes and pitfalls I’ve taken in my life, it`s my deepest source of pride to see the family that we built and what we`ve built it into. Even with my love for escaping through books and music and movies and plays, it’s still that Prince Charming of mine that I come back to.

And he still kisses my hand.

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It’s late.

Probably some time after 1, maybe even 2. I don’t want to check. It’s better if I don’t know. I was sound asleep, or at least, I thought I was. Something, it could have been a lock of hair falling onto my neck a certain way, it could have been an itch on my ankle, woke me. I didn’t startle, I just…woke.

I cautiously open my eyes and peer around. The room is very dark. I can hear the dog breathing. I can hear my spouse breathing. I know he is in full REM sleep because his breathing changes. I turn my head slightly to look at him. First, he’s just an outline. Then, as my eyes adjust, I can make out his features. His eyelids are moving. Must be dreaming.
Must be nice, I think. I’m so tired. But I’m so awake.

I turn, try to find a new comfort zone in the bed. I’m too warm, so I slide my feet out of the blankets. I cross them, use the toes of my right foot to rub the top of my left foot. I flex them, point my toes hard, as I imagine ballerinas do, and then relax again. It’s still too hot for me. I turn onto my right side and slide my left leg out of the blankets, draping it over top of them. Better.

I realize that my house has an ever so slight hum to it at night. The cacophony of sounds that reverberate throughout it and collectively create a soft, consistent noise. The sounds of the dogs breathing, the kids, my husband, myself. The light noises everyone makes when they shift and turn in their sleep. I’ve often been told that I make all sorts of little noises in my sleep. I moan. I hum. Sometimes I sing a little. Thinking about it, I relax my throat and let out a long sigh. There’s a natural sound, a lilt, that happens when I do that.

I bring my hands together under the blanket and press the pads of my fingertips together. Then I press on the inside of my palms with my thumbs. Sometimes it relaxes me to do that. I take another look around my room now that my eyes can see more. I try to imagine new things from the shapes my discarded clothes make on my vanity bench. I try to envision nights from long ago when the children were babies and night had a different sound altogether. I’m almost wistful for those nights when I sat up in bed with a small baby tucked into my arms, nursing them, whispering to them.

But, there are no babies in this house. Only tall and beautiful teenagers, young adults. Sleeping peacefully in the knowledge that their parents are in the other room and all is safe in their worlds. I close my eyes. Run through the Rolodex in my own imagination and pick out the things I want to be thinking about when I fall back to sleep. I choose the places I’d like to visit while I dream.

I let out one more soft sigh, tuck my hand under my pillow near my face, and allow the dark to wash over me again.

Hopefully, until morning.

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Little baby
Did I tell you I love you today?
I picked you up and as if you and I were perfectly chiseled for one another, you curled warmly onto my chest and breathed your sweet, warm breath into my neck. I lay my hand upon you and knew that this is what love feels like. This is home. I whispered to you over and over I love you. Yes, I told you today.

Little toddler
Did I tell you I love you today?
I chased you and picked up after you and laughed with you and was silly with you. I read you that same story ten times and held you when you cried and held you again when you were tired. Somehow, your head found that spot on my chest and you lay down your head, damp with sweat from running, fingers idly playing with my hair as you nodded off and I whispered to you over and over I love you. Yes, I told you today.

My kindergartner
Did I tell you I love you today?
Dressed in your crisp, clean clothes, the new running shoes still stiff and making clomping sounds on the pavement. You tighten your little grip on my hand for just a moment, one moment for us before letting go and then, you’re gone. One second my baby, now my big child, moving with the others into the big bright classroom. You come home and your grin spans your whole face. Your world is now a colourful world full of new faces, new friends, new experiences. You tell me about it all in one breath. You are still talking through your supper, your bath, your bedtime routine. Sitting up in bed to hug me goodnight, after I’ve sung our song again, you rest your head on me and I whisper into your freshly washed hair over and over I love you. Yes, I told you today.

My middle school-er
Did I tell you I love you today?
Your mind buzzes constantly with the onslaught of thoughts and feelings that now fill your 12 year old head. What to wear, when to shower, do you tell her you like her? Do you smile at him? So many teachers, so many classes so many friends so many interests. Band, or book club? Sports or dance? You hit all the highs and all the lows, sometimes within the same hour. You need a ride, you need a phone, you need five dollars. You don’t want me to hug you in public anymore. You don’t want to hold my hand. But sometimes, at night, when the homework is done, you curl up next to me on the couch, let me put my arm around you and snuggle in, right into the same spot on my chest. I pull you close and whisper to you over and over I love you. Yes, I told you today.

My high school-er
Did I tell you today I love you?
Stress and pressure and pressure and stress. Worried about tests and relationships and why didn’t he call me back and why doesn’t she like me and I hate you and tears and slamming doors and drivers licenses and parties and to drink or not to drink and formals and exams and jobs and pimples and everything is intense and insane and an onslaught and you love me you hate me you wish I would die you think dad is better you hate dad and you’re going to move out but please oh please will you just tell me why they would say that I didn’t do anything it’s not my fault. But, standing in the kitchen making dinner, you come in and say I just need a hug. As we reach our arms around one another you put your head down on me and I can feel you let go of a sigh that is most likely carrying the weight of the world in it. I whisper to you I love you. Yes, I told you today.

My grown up
There you are. Tall. Beautiful. Pictures of you in your cap and gown are now on the wall. Pictures of you are everywhere around the house. You have a confidence in your walk, but I can still see those moments of doubt in your eyes. You don’t always show me, but sometimes I see. You have grand plans. You’re excited to go out and live your life. I’m excited for you to go, but I’m also sad. Because you won’t need me as much now. But I still need you. When I see you succeed you will never know the way my heart swells with pride. When I see you fail, I break down just a little and I have to fight the urge to fix everything for you. Because now it’s your path to walk, and I am just a spectator at the show, instead of the master of ceremony. We still talk. You still share parts of your world with me. And even if we can’t talk that day, in my head each night, I’m travelling back in time. I’m seeing you in high school, middle school, kindergarten, as a toddler, as a baby. And I’m telling you I love you.

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I don’t know a single woman who doesn’t know exactly what I mean by that caption. Not one. Which is a sad state of affairs but women have been doing this for hundreds of years. I’m sure my mother did it, in fact, if I think back I can probably accurately identify exact dates if I wanted to. I know my sisters have all done it, hell, even my daughters have and they are still growing.

We wear masks.

We get up in the morning and we think about our day and what will make it easier. Easier on whom? On ourselves perhaps but more on everyone else who counts on us.
We wear the happy mask, the helpful mask, the “oh sure, I can do that” when our plates are already ridiculously full mask. We do it all, and we do it with a smile on our faces.

God forbid we show weakness. Too much emotion. Not enough emotion. Too much strength. Not enough strength. We can’t be too sexy or too boring, too loud or too soft spoken. We can’t get explosively angry nor can we be doormats. We shouldn’t laugh too loud, or at the wrong time, or not laugh when a joke is told even if, especially when, it’s at our expense. We should take credit for our accomplishments but not be braggy. We should defer to our husbands, dads, big brothers, bosses but still be assertive. We can’t be bitchy. Or bitches. Or teases. Don’t be too sexual but don’t be prudes.

As was said in a conversation with a friend on this very topic today, it’s exhausting.

Do we do it to ourselves? Well maybe we do. At least a little. In that quest to be the perfect woman, wife, mother, daughter, sure, we do it to ourselves. But, the world has done a lot of it for us. Women are slayed by society for being too womanly or not womanly enough. We can’t win. So we wear masks.
We mold ourselves into the perfect person for each individual situation, each person we interact with. We slap on that mask of smiling, happy mother, relaxed and attentive wife, competent and successful business woman, doting and dutiful daughter. We put on so many masks and spend so much of our day changing and exchanging them that sometimes, just sometimes, the masks all fall to the ground. Sometimes the real us refuses to be covered up and it shines through with chutzpah and divine glory.

Not everyone can handle this. Most people in fact cannot. They want the mask and only the mask. Who can blame them, those masks are tailor made and most people would rather see what they want, rather than what is. But those who look really closely and recognize that true face for the beautiful, unique and wonderful thing it is are the people to truly cherish in life.

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“Be bold, be bold, everywhere be bold” Herbert Spencer

As you can tell, I’m having a series of ‘moments’ leading up to my birthday. I’m taking stock, re-evaluating, counting my blessings, however you want to put it. I’m taking a good, hard look at my life and I’m trying to look honestly at where I’ve been, where I am and where I want to go. It’s mutha-effin’ humbling. There’s a lot of mistakes in my rear view mirror. And a LOT of potholes and detours.

I was reading an article on my break today at work about artists, how we must learn to work the business side of ourselves just as hard as the creative side if we want to do more than just hone our craft for pure personal enjoyment. While this article talked a lot about visiting and re-visiting what is and is not working when it comes to honing your craft and building an audience it also stressed the importance of not allowing yourself to always play it safe when it comes to the expression of your art.

The idea of being fearless is subjective. What might be a huge leap of faith for me in the face of a fear might be a cake walk for you. But that is what makes is such a beautiful piece of advice. When you push your own boundaries, your audience senses you’ve done it.
I admit, I’ve gotten complacent on here from time to time. Some of my earlier posts, when I’ve gone back to read them, are WAY funnier than what I do now. I complain a lot. I have to watch that. We all have our own crap. Reading about mine *might* be a diversion for you as a reader, but it’s one that will wane quickly if I do it too much. But what IS fearless for me? As an artist? As a person?

Fearless is writing about Shawn’s heart attacks and how that affected us all. Fearless is talking about our history as a couple and all the awesome and shitty things we went through that led us up to last September.
Fearless is writing sex scenes in my fiction novels and using the F word, knowing that my parents and some other relatives read them. Fearless is being unabashed and honest when I write them.
Fearless is remembering that even though I am a wife and a mother and an auntie and a daughter that it’s okay for me to take time for me every once in a while.

Fearless is learning to dance on my patio in my bathing suit in the sunset. It’s skinny dipping in my pool and it’s singing out loud in the car with the windows open. Fearless is loving someone whole heartedly, not just in spite of their flaws but even because of them. Fearless is standing up for myself, even when it’s a really hard thing to do. And saying no.
And saying yes.

It’s embracing the unknown and not sweating the inevitable.

It’s being okay with letting go.

It’s allowing happiness to be the rule instead of the exception.

Fearless is scary, but it’s also beautiful.

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