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A funny thing has been happening for the last couple of years.  I’ve been happy more often than angry. More often than frustrated. More often than sad. I mean, I’m just happy most of the time.  My kids have noticed.  Shawn has definitely noticed.  

I think a lot of it comes from letting go of the conflicts in my life.  I don’t harbour things, I speak on them. And I don’t keep trying to please everyone else. And I stopped obsessing about needing everyone to like me.  I let go of people who are mean, or rude, or careless with my feelings or the feelings of my loved ones.  It’s beautiful and liberating. 

I’m also living in the moment more.  I’m enjoying my home, which I worked hard for, my children, who continue to amaze me all the time and my marriage, which has never been better.   

Today was actually a perfect day.  I spent the day with my family laughing, cooking, dancing, playing, singing and walking.  I’ve been happy all day.  Shawn and I went out to meet some friends for coffee this evening and although it took us a few years, we’ve really found our community of friends here and they’re wonderful. 

As I get older, I’m getting better at recognizing the value of seizing the moments of joy and bliss in life and living as much in the moment as possible.  And the more I do that, the more I model it for the kids. 

I’m in the best place in my life that I think I’ve ever been and I can’t help but sharing. We never know what tomorrow will throw at us. 

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Burning out

I’m pretty sure every adult I know knows what is meant by the term “burn out”. Simply put,  it is running out of gas physically,  emotionally, mentally  or a combination of all three.   I know the platitudes,  I tell them to my kids often.  You can’t pour from an empty cup, you can’t effectively help others if you don’t help yourself,  etc etc.  But, also a trait of many adults,  I’m better at dispensing advice than I am at following it.  

Except for today.   Today I am burnt out.  Today, I recharge my batteries.  

Rest, read, recoup.   And take my time. Tomorrow I can fire on all cylinders again.  Today, I say no to everyone else and yes to me.  

100% best thing I’ve learned to do as a woman in my forties.  

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When I was little, grade school little, I did ballet in summer school.  That was back when there was more to do in summer school than just make up classes. You could take dance or gymnastics or second language classes.  I think I only did it one summer, because I would up eventually doing gymnastics and then soccer, then Irish dancing. But I remembered the ballet.  

My cousin Monica had a poster in her bedroom wall of a ballerina leaning down to tie her slippers and man, I wanted to be that girl.  The photo was blown out with light to make it all glowy and ethereal and it was so beautiful.   In my head, I would take it up again, put on those pointe shoes, and immediately be as good as Karen Kain.  I was sure of it.  

But life had other plans for me and I did not become a prima ballerina.  Nor a broadway star, famous singer, fashion designer or famous writer.  (Im still working on that last one). Instead I had a family.  I watched my own children find which stars they wanted to hitch their dreams to and I helped them whenever and however I could. 

A funny thing happens when you get older and the kids start being adults. You start getting nostalgiac. And I did.  All those old dreams have come slipping back into my thoughts and now, instead of oh well, I’m starting to think, why not? 

I asked my hubs about buying me a pair of ballet slippers as a gift.  He wanted to know why and I simply said, because I want them. Okay not simply, we had many discussions over a few weeks.  He thought I was kind of kidding. Or being silly.  So one day I posted on Facebook that I wanted him to buy them and my friends all chimed in that he should. I know, I could have bought them for myself.  But, something inside me wanted him to do it.  (I also bugged him for tap shoes, but, as it did when I was young, ballet won).  My friends responses were wonderful and that night we went online together and picked out a pair of soft shoes and a pair of pointe.  

Since I had posted about this on Facebook, it became the topic of discussion among some of my work friends. So naturally, the day they arrived, I sent pictures.  

What a day!  I had to put them on of course.  I immediately changed into tights (nude because I didn’t have the pale pink ones) and a pair of bike shorts, because I don’t have a leotard.  I didn’t break the box first and I laced them wrong but they were mine and they were on my feet.  And I was so happy.  I even stood up on pointe for a few seconds. 

The other day, as I was leaving work, my friend Christie asked me the question I’ve been asked a few times now.  Am I taking lessons? Nope. Then, why the shoes? 

Because they make me happy.  

If I can have a few moment of that childhood dream, why wouldn’t I? Why wouldn’t any of us?  I think as we get older we sometimes forget it’s still okay to be a dreamer. Who can blame us?  There is just so much to be serious about in today’s world. There is so much to worry about, to stress out over and to get angry, offended or cry about.  So I’m trying to make an active effort to choose happy as often as I can.  I choose dreams and silliness and laughter. 

I choose to dance. 

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When my first book came out, I had a small publisher in Ontario. I was thrilled, as any author is with their first book. The publisher helped get me events in the local Chapters and I was off to the races. But times change and my small publisher closed down and I took my work back into my own hands, so to speak.  

I have four books out now and I have been blessed to have developed relationships with the local bookstores where I live.  

Our local Coles is hosting me for the second time this saturday. As a self published author, I find myself asking and asking again for support from friends and family alike. Support means the world to authors like me.  I order my own books in, have them shipped to my house and convince stores to take them on consignment. Believe me, I don’t write for the money, I do it because I love it.  

So, I thought, what can I do back?  Today I posted on Facebook that I’ll be donating $2 from each book sold in store on Saturday to Romero House, a local organization that serves meals to those who need it locally, amid their other work.  Because I also want to support. I want my kids to see that it’s important to give as we receive. 

But I want to take it further.  Whenever I make a sale through Amazon, I make about $3.50 in royalties. 

This weekend, I will also add $1 donation to Romero House for each book sold on Amazon or Kindle.  

You can find my author page here: https://www.amazon.com/Nuala-Reilly/e/B00J1HZ67U

So, allow me to ask for support from you, dear friends, and I will in turn put some back into my city.  

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This is the world that Shawn and I built, and there is no place I’d rather live. It’s a long weekend.  For a decent portion of the world, it’s easter weekend, but, since we don’t subscribe to christian or catholic belief systems, for us, it’s just bonus family time.  And it’s been wonderful.  I’ve texted with both of my older children who no longer live at home, I’ve talked to one of my sisters and my sisters in law, but it’s what we’ve shared together that really makes me proud of the family we have built. 

I love that we still do so many things as a family.   Grocery shopping,  clean up the yard, laugh, cook, clean, watch movies in a snuggled heap in the basement.  Even shave the dogs fur, we did in a cluster in the bathroom. A hilarious chore in which Kermit the dog shed his fur and we all began to wear it.  He now, by the way,  resembles a baby goat and is pouncing around the house like a crazed maniac as if the new lightness of weight is literally lifting him off the floor with each step.  

I love that my middle daughter spent time yesterday helping me lay out fabric and cut a pattern for a dress.  She wants me to teach her how to use the sewing machine, and I love that.   

Earlier this week I teased my husband on Facebook that he should buy my ballet shoes (I’ve always wanted them) and today he ordered them.  He gets my desire for things like this and he humours me because he loves me.  

Friday we had a very serious talk with our girls about sex.  They are 17 and nearly 19 and we run a fairly open household where no subject is forbidden.  In this case, it was about how important communication is, how important it is to have a healthy relationship with your own body and not to feel shame as a first response to sexual health.  I grew up in a strict household that taught abstinence before all else, and I spent many years filled with shame about my body.   It’s not what I want for our children.  Thankfully we’ve been blessed with kids who are excellent self-advocators.  Kids who know their worth, and conversations like the one we had Friday make me prouder than ever of what we’ve taught them.  

Fridays talk during the day led to a talk Friday night.  A girl at school with my two youngest was being cyber bullied by some boys.  A couple of those boys, while not doing much of the actual bullying, we’re a part of the group chat and were contributing by way of “yeah” and “lol” comments.  My youngest stood up to them.  He called them out on their behaviour and spoke up.  It’s takes a strong person to stand up to bullies and a stronger one to stand up to his friends, but again, the kinds of people we’ve raised our kids to be, and Shawn and I watched as our boy behaved as a man.  

We’ve had such moments of pride this weekend and almost all of them revolved around our children and the people they’ve become, and are still becoming.  

Yesterday afternoon as Shawn and I sat on our front porch in the sunshine, we shared more than one look across the porch.  We are so lucky, we often tell one another.  So lucky.  It hasn’t always been easy, in fact sometimes it’s been downright painful and difficult,  but all the pain and “hard” is worth it in the long run.  Because this is the land we live in, the world we created, and I love every bit of it.  

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I’m a busy, working mom.  I have a full time job, I have several home projects on the go, I read all the time, I knit, I write and I enjoy cooking and baking from scratch.  I’m also a woman of the modern world so I usually have my phone on me and yes, I’m on it likely far more than is healthy. I get it.  But I do love my phone.

So its not unusual to find me using my phone while doing something else.  I prop it up against my lunch bag in the kitchen in the morning while eating cereal before work so I can watch videos.  I get on video chat with my daughter in Ontario while I’m cooking.  I have been known to occasionally “live tweet” an episode or two of survivor and yes, like many people, I take my phone to the bathroom.

No, I’m not worried about dropping it into the toilet.  I’m over forty and I’ve had five babies   These thighs are no joke.  Phone on the toilet is not so bad, as multitasking goes, right? But what if you add a third element? Because I do.

I brush my teeth on the toilet a lot. And I’ve been known to brush my teeth in the toilet *while also* being on my phone.

Which isn’t so bad…until you read something funny, with a mouthful of toothpaste foam, and accidentally sputter-laugh, which shoots a healthy amount of white Colgate and saliva into your exposed panties/jeans.

I mean, I don’t mind being minty fresh.  I just didn’t ever picture the minty fresh breath smell to come from my vagina.  And of course this happened to me after lunch so I still had a good portion of my day to get through.  Do you know how difficult it is to use public bathroom grade paper towel to scrub foam from your jeans?  It’s not easy, my friends.  The towel couldn’t handle the vigour I needed and started to disintegrate.  So I got more towel and tried blotting.

My panties were soaked from trying to rinse out the paste-spit. They smelled like winter fresh whitening paste, fresh, sharp and slightly chemically. My jeans had a weird wet and pasty white splotch on them with tiny pills of shitty quality paper towel clinging to them.

So I did what any normal woman over forty would do.  I zipped up. And I owned that shit.   I mean, it’s funny.  And if you can’t laugh at yourself and your goo-spotted jeans, well then my friend, you’re taking life too seriously.

I still brush my teeth and pee and stalk Facebook on my phone.  But now, I keep my head turned to the side.  And that, my friends, is a life lesson learned.



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I realized this is the second post in a row about death but, it seems to be in the forefront of recent thoughts and, it’s my blog so I’ll talk about what I want.  

Tonight my middle daughter and I finally got around to watching last weeks Greys Anatomy and *spoilers ahead* we talked about death. 

Couple of items of note if this is your first time here.  I literally watched my dog Katie pass away a little over a week ago, as I stood by her head and stroked and held her as she died.  And in 2014 I watched my husbands face turn grey and his eyes fix and dilate when his heart stopped. I saw that moment. It’s burned into my mind as almost no other memory I have is.  

So, I don’t like dead eyes in shows or movies.  I turn from the screen and don’t turn back until the scene is over.  

But, like a good little masochist, I’m a Greys fan.  And, if you are too, you know that Maggie’s mother died.  

Shonda loooovessss death. She doesn’t care. Random death, shootings, drownings, fires, plane crashes, wires cut, she swims in it.  Especially emotional death. If it will reduce her devoted swarms of gluttons of heartbreak to sobbing messes, she delights in it.  So she killed a mother. Again. Beautifully. 

Mid episode my daughter Ash and I were cracking jokes about my eventual death/funeral. She promised me pink and navy Swarovski crystals.  Ahhh I said. You know me.  And you’ll make a big dramatic show of wailing whilst covered in a black face veil? I asked her. Don’t worry mom, she came back. I got you. Imma go full on RuPaul drag show up in your funeral.  Wailing AND a death drop. I know what you need.  We laughed. She gets me.  She threatened to play bad 80’s music.  I countered with good 90’s music. Freedom by George Michael.  Of course.  And bloodletting by concrete blonde.  (Because she refused to play Adele).  

While it’s good, even healthy to laugh about death and joke about funerals, the show of course sobered up in a hurry and so did we.  Maggie’s mother died and we literally looked at each other the second we knew it was happening and didn’t laugh anymore. I had to look away from the dead eyes shot and she knew why.  She quietly said that she knew what I wanted (cremation) but not her dad.  I answered her quietly and went back to letting some large, fat tears fall from my face.  

Death is the one great equalizer. We’re literally all going to do it.  I will. She will.  My husband will.  Our other kids will.  You will.  It can’t be escaped.  Shonda sure knows it.  But if death is the ultimate cure for life, love is the symptom that makes it most acute.  It is simultaneously the balm that heals the wound and the blade that creates it.  

Maybe that’s why it’s so important that we laughed before we cried.  Because laughter is the medicine that makes death bearable. At least in some small measures.  

I’m afraid of my husbands heart giving away again.  I can’t shake that fear since September 19th 2014.  But, when one day those eyes do change again, the moments I spent laughing with him will be the ones I’ll cherish the most.  

And one day I will die.  Hopefully a very long time from now.  And while my children will, no doubt, be paralyzed by grief, Aislinn will remember a silly conversation about RuPaul on the couch.  Kathryn will remember my face lighting up at her in her prom dress in the kitchen.  Keisha will remember car trips and singing loudly on (and off) key. Shawn Michael will remember baking bread together in the kitchen. Liam will remember driving me to the theatre while I stood up out of the sunroof.  

And if I go first, I hope Shawn  remembers it all.  

Life isn’t always easy and it sure as hell isnt always fair.  But sometimes it’s unbelievable funny.  And full of crazy love.  

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