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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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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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Where did all the damn traffic come from??? Seriously? And I won’t even talk about the INSANELY aggressive drivers. No wonder we were always smoking and stressed out. Woah.
We landed yesterday morning at about 6:45am Ontario time, got Shawn dropped off in Brampton and then I went to Guelph to pick up our oldest daughter Keisha from her house and we zoomed 25 minutes north to Elora, my hometown. We walked around for about an hour, saw the house where I grew up and where she spent most of her childhood weekends and almost all of her childhood major holidays and decided that it had changed too much. The town, that is. The vibe was completely different. It no longer felt like home to me. So, we headed back to Guelph. As much as to beat the massive storm clouds as to go play around the other city I grew up in and where her Dad and I first met. We had a great time. We saw the high school I went to in Grade nine, both where it used to be and where they rebuilt it, the park where Shawn and I had our first kiss, his old high school, the hospital where my beloved Nana lived out the last years of her life, and a whole bunch of “places of interest”. Read: where all my teenaged shenanigans took place. The Guelph ones, anyway.
But the city has changed SO MUCH. At one point we were headed to a Walmart, which I distinctly remembered the location of, and she kept telling me to turn too soon. I tried to argue with her but, well, she lives here now, so I turned and there it was. Guelph had picked up the whole damn building and moved it. And painted it green! I told Guelph to go home, because it was (and is) clearly drunk.

We didn’t actually wind up taking a lot of pictures, though I thought we would, but, we were so in the moment yesterday. And dudes, she looks fucking amazing. She has worked really hard for the last year and has lost almost 80lbs and she just was so, so, HAPPY. I loved it.

We went out for dinner all three of us last night and finally Shawn and I got some sleep.
Today I get the morning to do just this: writing. First this post and then I’m working on my book again. (SQUEALS OF JOY) and then….
We’re off to Paris Ontario tonight to see our beloved friends and to go to the theatre. You remember my theatre days, right? Lord I miss that. The last show we ever did and by far my favourite was I’ll Be Back Before Midnight. Damn I loved that role. I played Jan. I got to go crazy, shoot a (fake) shotgun, cry onstage, kiss onstage, freak the fuck out on stage, go catatonic onstage and finally, murder my stage husband with an axe. It was awesome.
And Paris Performers are doing the show tonight. So we’re going to see it. YAAYY!!!!

Tomorrow we are going to meet our new niece for the first time, see my brother and sister in law, see my Grandparents and get ready for the early Sunday morning flight home.

I’m already sunburned (I had forgotten about Ontario heat, it’s going to be 40 today with the humidity), I’ve already laughed until my face hurt. I’ve already gotten emotional.

It’s been the best day so far. I’m looking forward to the next two immensely.

Happy Friday, all!!

Now I’m off to exercise my fingers and work out what’s going on in Summer Poppies. I’ve been working on this book for Four Years. It’s time I get serious with it again and wrap it up.

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It was a dark and stormy night.

Actually, it was a stupid night after the first day of spring with a freak snowstorm and now it looks like full on winter again and I don’t like it.

It’s twelve thirty six am here. My husband is gently snoring in bed beside me and I cannot sleep. Could be the steroids. Could be my overactive brain. I’ve never been a great sleeper. I mean, I *was* getting good at it for a while there but then I got sick and went on steroids that can mess with your sleep patterns so there you go.

My room is too warm. Which is funny, because before his heart attack Shawn was a human furnace and liked it cool whereas I was always cold, but, we’ve done a switch because my body has already kicked itself into pre-menopause and I’m hot all the time and his new, post heart failure, on blood thinners body is now always cold.
Trade-sies!

I’m annoyed with my illness. I’m ever fearful of his. Who would have guessed that we’d each wake up one day at 40 and be sick for the rest of our lives?

That’s maudlin, I know. But it’s late and therefore the maudlin thoughts are the ones with top billing. My brain always did like to fixate on the negative. At least that’s what a therapist once told me.

I miss smoking sometimes. But I don’t miss the money it ate up, the smell of it stale or the health problems it probably was a huge contributor too.

I need some sleep. I’m going to be so tired in the morning. But, the plows are out and they’re doing the circulation of the school parking lot across the street, so all I can hear is that loud engine revving and the sound of the scoop scraping on the asphalt. Not exactly a lullaby. A very Canadian sound. Like a zamboni. Or tinny voice at the Tim Horton’s drive through.

I’m going to try to sleep soon. I’m going to lay down, tuck my body pillow neatly between my knees and pinch and release my muscles, from my toes to my nose, as a yoga teacher once taught me, until my whole body remembers how to relax at the same time.

I will not get distracted by the beckoning electric light of my cell phone’s internet. I will not.
Probably.
An hour, tops.

Goodnight, strange world. I’ll see what you look like in the morning.

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Sunday mornings are my favourite. We sleep in, the kids sleep in and the house is pretty quiet. Everyone seems to have that cat in a sunbeam contented air to them. It’s wonderful.

Shawn and I have a king sized bed. That’s not a vanity-based thing, or a “hey – look at me with my big bed” thing, it’s practicality. Shawn is six foot five. I’m five eleven. Neither of us is at our fighting weight from high school anymore. We need a big ass bed. And I love it. We also don’t share blankets. We tried once, back in the golden days of newlyweds, but we’re both simply too big of blanket hogs and it’s never really worked for us. So, he has his set, I have mine.

But, on Sunday mornings, mine or his gets tossed aside and we cuddle up and get silly. Talking, laughing, tickling (I love/hate the tickling) zerberts (or raspberries) on the bellies, teasing, more laughing, loads more talking. It’s fantastic. Whether it goes on for fifteen minutes or an hour. Sometimes the kids will come in and sit on the bed and talk with us, or, call us lame for the loud shrieks of laughter that woke them up, but I know that these are the noises they love to hear.

It wasn’t so long ago that we had forgotten how to have fun in our marriage. Back in 2012, it was a different story. Oh sure, we still talked, we “communicated”, we even had sex, but we had forgotten to have FUN together. Just us. In all the changes that have happened in our life since then, it’s one of the things I feel the most blessed about. That we remember how to play.

Think about those early days in any relationship. You’re happy all the time so everything is funny and wonderful and new and you can’t get enough of one another.
But then you develope roles. Work becomes important because it’s all one big conveyor belt taking you from each milestone to the next. The kids become the main focus. Jobs become the main focus. Sick parents become the main focus. All of a sudden you’re in a marriage where the relationship in your life, the one you chose, is so far from the main focus that it becomes blurry. Do you turn to one another? Sadly, a lot of us do not. We go to our friends, our co-workers and we talk about how bad things have gotten, or how lonely we are. But we’re forgetting the fun we had with our partners. And it’s understandable. After all, life has changed so much and in order to maintain and sustain our “lives” and lifestyle, that we’ve turned that into the main focus.

Now, for half of couples these days, that usually ends up in divorce. Or separation. Or infidelity. Even all three, though not necessarily in that order.
For us, we had to go through some huge, life changing upheavals in order to see that what we were truly missing out on, what we really were taking for granted, was our relationship with one another. So, we started dating again. But, even that can pose challenges, especially when you’ve pretty much run the gamut of what’s accessible and what’s affordable. For instance, I would love a date to Italy, or back to Ireland. Shawn would love a date weekend on a boat or a helicopter tour date. But, these are out the scope of our current reality, so, we go to dinner.

But those Sunday mornings. That’s what I live for. We spent a half an hour yesterday morning wrestling around being silly about who had to go get coffee. Eventually of course, we got up, got dressed, got ourselves coffee, but, the memories, including the touch memories, stayed with me all day.
We spent our day doing different activities in different parts of the house and with different kids, but, there was playful communication all day long. Never once did we pass one another without a kiss, or a touch or a prolonged hug. He called me beautiful, on several occasions (and y’all, it was Sunday, land of the sweatpants, so that was REALLY nice to hear). I told him how much I appreciate him. In short, it was a day full of love languages. Which concluded the way a weekend should, in a long standing marriage such as ours.
Curled up together in bed, connected, in our separate blankets of course, binge watching a Stephen King series.

And now it’s Monday morning. Shawn is at work jumping in and out of meetings, spilling coffee on his shirt and texting me to please please bring him a new one. I am on my last day off of leave after my diagnosis and treatment for my extremely swollen feet, which now look less like hobbit feet and more human again and our worlds are back into ticking along on the cogs that we have set them into.

There will always be meetings at work and kids to take to lessons and university scholarships to apply for. There will always be budgets that need to get set and groceries that must be shopped and bills to pay. And bills. And bills. We both have chronic health problems now (yay us!) and will need to take all our meds properly and keep our appointments with our respective specialists. But by god there will always be time to play and be silly.

Because if you can’t laugh with the one you love, well, you’re just missing out on the best thing in life.

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I’m about to whine.

Last night was a rough night. Like, rough. So, after my awful night at the hospital, I had a positive experience there – positive in that I have a specialist to work with, whom I got in to see quickly and he seems both very nice and very thorough. Two attributes I love in doctors. He confirmed that I do indeed have rheumatoid arthritis and started me on a course of fairly aggressive anti-inflammatories as well as a pill to protect my stomach. Fine.
Here is the problem. It’s me. I’m the problem. My brain simply did not want to compute that this is a permanent disease.
I went home and broke the news to the family, and texted my best friend Sarah and we cracked jokes about putting baseball cards in my some-day wheelchair spokes. In fact, we all kind of cracked jokes all night because that is what we do. We talked about how some-day I’ll be entitled to a handicap parking permit, and won’t it be nice to have that? Prime parking all the time? Ha ha, so funny, it will be hilarious.
We went out Saturday night to hang with some great friends and while it was kind-of-sort-of mentioned, pretty much I ignored it. Besides, it was a birthday party and I wanted to have some fun.
And then Sunday, we took the kids into the city to hit up Value Village (my kids LOVE thrift shopping, thank goodness) and to go to Costco for some groceries. While moving around was a little sore for me after the festivities of the night before, I managed and we went home.

That’s where the day went south. For me anyway.
You see, I realized that this is not like my sciatica or any sprains or breaks or illnesses I’ve had in my life where time, medications and therapy are going to make it eventually go away. This one won’t go away. Ever. There is no known cure for RA. And yes, we got it early, it looks like, but mine has been a little aggressive in how quickly it cropped up and how fast it went from mild pain to full swelling and more pain. I don’t like it. And I started to feel very sorry for myself. I said to my husband maybe it was my karma for some of my poor choices. He (very smartly, we’ve been married a long time) didn’t really answer that. Since I had been somewhat active the night before and all morning long, my afternoon and evening especially were quite painful. So, I did what any self-respecting 40 year old adult woman would do: lay in my bed feeling sorry for myself and crying.
Because I’m a damn grown up.
This morning I’ve tried to put a new spin on things for myself. I’m NOT the only one in the world with a disease. I’m NOT the only one in the world with THIS disease. Feeling sorry for myself isn’t helping anyone, especially me, so I need to stop it. I got up, got dressed and went to work. I made sure I took my pills and I walked slowly from my parking lot to my building (four blocks), trying to let myself get into a rhythm and not pushing it too hard first thing in the morning. I plan to get up a lot from my desk today, so that I’m not sitting for too long stretches at a time. I’m trying to force my thoughts to go down positive pathways instead of negative ones.
In short, I’m trying to be a damn grown up.
No one wants chronic pain. My father has it in the form of fibro myalgia and I marvel now even more that he maintains the level of activity he does and if he can do that at 70 after suffering for YEARS, I can do it at 40.
I have no idea how yet, but I’m sure as hell going to try.

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** Warning ** I intend to speak on sexuality. If you don’t wish to read this from me, I suggest you skip this one.

When my oldest daughter was about nine, she came to me and told me that she liked girls. D’uh, I told her, of course you do, all your best friends are girls. No, she said. I LIKE girls. Oh, okay. Well….
I asked her to wait for a few years before deciding whether or not she wanted to talk to people about this and for her to feel more sure of herself (which in hindsight, this kid has never been anything BUT sure of herself, but I was a young mom and didn’t want her to be feeling any societal push-back before she was mature enough to deal with it). She agreed and again at about fourteen or fifteen she told me she was gay. Cool. Keisha has always known her mind, and we raised her in a home that is accepting of people no matter how they identify. I always told my kids that I don’t care who they date as long as the person is a good person who loves them and treats them well and as long as they are happy. Because really, isn’t that all we can ask for our kids? Besides, I have adult friends who were so scared to come out that they married into hetero sexual marriages and even had children before they were able to fully be themselves. I can’t imagine the pain/courage it took for them to face their partners and speak the words “I’m gay” and then have every single thing in their lives change. But, I’m drifting.
I had a gay teenage daughter. And she dated. We met her girlfriends and some of them we liked and some of them we didn’t. We watched her fall down the rabbit hole of teen love where everything becomes about the other person and you feel like you can’t breathe without them in your life and then we watched her heart shatter after a particularly hard breakup, as a teenage heart does when love ends. There was NOTHING unusual about this with her. It’s the same for all teenagers, regardless of whether they are dating same gender or not. It was no less easy to watch her go through it. She has the same struggles now as any single person, trying to meet someone she can share her life with. Being gay has only changed the players, not the game.
What breaks my heart is that in this day and age there are STILL so many people who think she is something less than simply because she is gay. I am, in fact, incredulous about it. She didn’t ask to be gay. She didn’t decide it. She certainly isn’t trying to be “en vogue” because gay is “in” right now. She just is. And she is still just my daughter. A sister. A cousin. A niece. A grand daughter and a great-grand daughter. One day she will be an Auntie. A wife. Hopefully even a mother.

Now.

Last night. My 14 year old son came into my room. It was around ten thirty and we were all winding down for bed. He had his phone in his hand. He asked me if I remembered him mentioning his friend T. I did. He asked me if I would read something and then he handed me his phone. My 14 year old son gave my his text message to read. T is a biological girl. But, feels like a boy. T has two friends, my son, and a young woman in their class. They are the only two who don’t question T for feeling like he does. T’s parents DO NOT accept this. I get it, and I explained to my son that not every parent can deal with discussing such things, let alone accepting them. I explained that if Keisha had come to me to say she was transgendered, while I would absolutely accept her, I would definitely have to mourn the loss of my daughter before accepting my new son. It’s a complicated process, but, he wanted to know, wouldn’t I still love her? Of course I would. My love for my children is unconditional.
My son started to cry. T tried to talk to their parents about it and now they refuse to discuss it and they are forcing T to by hyper feminine. They insist T wears skirts and dresses. My son wanted to know if T could come live with us if it became necessary.
I read the texts. T is in pain. There were a lot of very sensitive and well, scary thoughts, expressed. Depression, cutting, feeling like everything about T’s body is fundamentally wrong. And the agony of not have parents to talk through this time with. My son cried.

I told him we cannot know everything that is going on in that family. Because it’s not our family, and we are only hearing one side of the story. And no, asking T to come live here would likely do more harm than good. But, that he can continue to be T’s friend and that T is welcome here anytime to visit, to hang out, whatever.

My son asked me how a parent couldn’t just….love their kid. Why the need to try to force that kid to be something they are not. Why not at the very least BE THERE to talk and most importantly, to listen.

I had no answer for him. Because I truly don’t understand that. I wish I did. I told him instead that I loved his heart. That I wasn’t worried for him for his future and his future relationships because he is such a strong, loving person. His heart is so open. It’s just what I wanted in my children. Because they are, after all, the legacy I’m leaving on this earth. What better legacy than a child with an open heart who just loves people, regardless of who they are?

I know my generation is different to previous ones when it comes to understanding that gender is a fluid thing. The age of the internet has made it so that this is an actual social conversation now, which is only to the benefit of us all. People are afraid of what they don’t understand and the more we talk about it, the more understanding can be borne.

I gave birth to five children. Two boys and three girls. One of my kids is gay. One of my kids is a science nerd. Of of them is a music junkie. One of them had a brief problem with drugs and has come full circle to sobriety. All of them are my children and I love them all.

No matter what. Or who. They become.

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