Every year we tell the kids we’re toning it down.  And most years, we’ve wound up not toning it down at all. However, since we moved out east, Christmas has gotten quieter and quieter for us each year and I’m loving it. 

Back when the kids were little and my siblings and Shawn’s mother and sister all lived within an hours drive of one another, we did the crazy, busy holidays. Too much food, too many gifts, all the noise and the driving and the craziness.  Don’t get me wrong, when you have small children there are few things greater than watching them, giddy with excitement and high on sugar, whipping their way through wrapping and bouncing literally, off their relatives.  But our kids are much older now. And we have finally reached that great plateau in our lives where is little we lack.  We have food, a really nice home, and the kids don’t really lack for anything.  My appreciation of the season has taken a razor sharp focus in the last few years to being pretty much only about my family, and relaxation.  

Our oldest daughter couldn’t be home with us this year. It sucks, but, we were able to face time on and off all day. She even went to visit my grandparents and facetimed us all from their place, much to my delight.  

We let go of the family drama yesterday and just enjoyed being together.  I had a nap mid afternoon, and we capped off the day with a late night trip to the movies.  

We did not have piles under our tree. We did not take pictures of each thing. We did not get cranky and worn out from travelling.  We just hugged a lot and laughed a lot and let go.  I’m looking forward to this whole week of decompression.  

Some day, my kids will have kids of their own and Christmas will once again be full of hustle and bustle and craziness, I have no doubt. And I will love it, I also have no doubt.  But until then, I’m going to enjoy just being home, being quiet and taking the time to make sure that my children know how much they are loved.  

Peace, joy and love to you all.  

Room 15 revisited

I need to preface this by saying to my parents and daughter who are hearing this here and not from me personally to chill out. I wasn’t about to call any of you in the middle of the night. 

We all know now that I have sarcoidosis back again and it’s bad in my lungs. There are also a bunch of as-yet unidentified tumor like growths in my lower lungs.  Tests are already underway and I hope to have some answers in the early new year.  But on Saturday I started coughing.  By Saturday night I was coughing hard enough that I couldn’t sleep very well, almost at all.  Yesterday Shawn asked me a few times if I wanted to go to the hospital.  I kept saying no, even though  knew it was not good.  I was struggling to catch my breath, to breathe. I just didn’t want to admit defeat. Plus, it is our secret Santa day at work and I badly wanted to be there for the reveal and I knew time at the hospital would most likely necessitate at least one day at home.  

However, when crying in the bathroom at one in the morning holding the wall because the coughs are literally bending me in half, and begging Shawn to come in and help me, it was time to admit that I needed medical help. We arrived at the ER just around two am.

It was not a long wait before they brought us back.  They called me and another woman and put her in a room first and kept walking me down the hall. I knew it, before they even said it.  Room 15.  The very room where, on September 19,2014 at just after 4pm, Shawn’s heart stopped and our lives as we knew them, changed.  Shawn tightened his grip on my hand and asked me if I was going to be okay.   What could either of us say or do, though?  It’s not the kind of situation where you can request a room change.  In the ER you take what you are given and you’re thankful for it. And I was.  But man was it weird.  The room looked both bigger and smaller at the same time. Every single space held a memory.  When the nurse left me to change, I pointed to the back left corner of the room and told him “that’s where I stood”. 

Several people came in and out, listening to my lungs. I was given steroids and told my oxygen sat was low, but not dangerous.  Then I was given an inhaler.  The respiratory doctor felt that it’s pretty clearly bronchitis,  however, with the sarcoidosis  (most likely flared up) my lungs are extra sensitive and vulnerable to infection. 

They sent me home shortly after seven with prescriptions and instructions to come back if it stays or gets that bad again.  

Shawn drove me to my office to drop off the secret Santa gift along with the two gifts I had bought for kids for the children’s party happening later today.   I refused to be the reason that two boys would be the only two to miss out on their gift from Santa. 

So now I’m at home taking my meds and resting so that my lungs can settle so that I can hopefully be at work tomorrow.   And while I hate the way steroids make me feel, I’ll take that over fighting to breathe any day. 

I’m so looking forward to the holidays and some very quiet downtime.    Be well, friends.  And Keisha, we can FaceTime tonight.  

On pondering life

When faced with disruptions in health, it’s not uncommon for life priorities to also come under the microscope. This has happened in my life a few times.  When my youngest was born and we both nearly died.  A year later when I was diagnosed with cervical cancer and underwent a hysterectomy and, most acutely in 2014 when I watched Shawn die and then come back from double cardiac arrests and a subsequent heart attack and medical coma.  

I have watched this shift as it happened with my former workaholic husband. He doesn’t live for his job anymore. He lives to LIVE.  Facing his death shook our world and has brought us closer than we have ever been in our almost 22 years of marriage.  

Last year I was dealing with sarcoidosis and thought by now it would be gone. Of course, as you now know and I now know, it’s not only not gone, it’s camping out in my lungs and it brought some as yet unknown buddies to the party. 

After meeting with my new specialist, the first of several new tests is coming on Wednesday.  One of my friends at work asked me why I wasn’t just staying home, taking time to deal with this. But. With all the current unknowns, I want to live my life as normally as possible. I actually really love my job.  There is a joy in knowing you’re doing something of worth and doing it well.  

I no longer have time for negativity in my life. I care less each day about the opinions of others. My family is the most important thing in my life.  I surround myself with friends who understand me and love me for exactly who I am and I find strength in that. 

There is not such thing as a perfect life, outside of a sitcom, unless you are willing to let go of what you think it should look like, let go of living to please someone else’s ideals and live your happiness, outwardly and inwardly, every day.  And that is why I know that no matter what hand is dealt to me, or to anyone in my family, as 2016 comes to a close and 2017 begins, I will go forward as I am right now in this very minute: surrounded by people I love and making time to do things I love to do. 

Who would want to live any other way? 

I am scared.  

I’m forty one years old now and yes, I still get scared.  Last winter I was diagnosed with sarcoidosis.  At the time, it was mostly in my feet and ankles although we later discovered through testing that it was also inflaming my lymph nodes and presenting in my lungs, brain and had affected my eyes to necessitate glasses for the first time in my life.  

I saw a doctor who steam rolled me through the hospital getting tests and results for me at top speed.  I went on medication to stop the swelling.  It seemed that all was well. So well, in fact, that he declared that my diagnosis was most likely acute, and not likely to ever come back.  

But he was wrong.  I still have it. It’s in my lungs.  Enough that I need to see another specialist. A respirologist.  And I’m not going to lie, I’m kind of scared.  I let it really get into my head today.  Something I try to avoid like the plague, getting stuck into negative thoughts, but it happened anyway and turned my day into a bit of a mental black hole.  

So I texted my husband the evil words that were swirling in my mind and playing mean tricks of worst case scenarios.  I texted him “I’m scared”.  And he didn’t tell me not to be.  He didn’t come at me with “logic and solutions” or distractions or jokes.  He said “I know you are, love. I’m here”.  And then he just let me be scared.  Albeit, wrapped in a bear hug once we were home, but he just let it be.  

I realized that it’s okay for me to be forty one and scared.  To go ahead and feel the hard feeling and not try to stuff it down or hide it.  To embrace my fear.  To own it. And in doing so, a little bit, to conquer it.  

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ll be feeling nauseous tomorrow sitting in that waiting room, listening for my name. But it’s okay.  Because no matter what the outcome, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health I have the best people and the best person in my corner. Standing there, loving me, supporting me and letting me be scared when I need to and cheering me on like mad when I’ brave.  

The Season

Today was the day. 

We had a few errands to run, as we do most weekends, and while we were out we asked our youngest, Shawn Michael, to “bring up Christmas” from the basement. 

Six bins. Four trees. Several small boxes. It filled more than half our living room.  Then we put on a Christmas music playlist and started working. 

I don’t know whether it was the fluffing of the trees, or the placement of the ornaments that got me first.  Maybe it was Shawn Michael asking me what my favourite Christmas song is (Have yourself a Merry little Christmas, the Judy Garland version) but I was not surprisingly hit with emotion and nostalgia.  

The kids tree, as we’ve affectionally called it for years, is the one that has all the ornaments the kids have ever made from pre-k on.  And I realized that one day not too far away, it would also be the grand kids tree.  That it would be Shawn and I decorating alone as we waited for our kids to come home with their families.  Suddenly I was missing my daughter Keisha so keenly that my breath caught.  And then I thought, what if Shawn hadn’t survived those heart attacks? Would we still be here, in this house? Would I even want to celebrate this holiday which to me,  is all about my family, every year?  

I was fully crying. Standing in my living room, Judy’s rich voice filling the air and grateful for those I have in my life.  

My husband came in and hugged me without another word. He knows me well enough to know that some days I will just be filled with emotions that I can’t contain and I just have to feel them. Christmas being high season for this for me.  

I have no regrets now about my life.  The good and the bad. It’s all brought me here.  Regrets were all well and good in my earlier years but I’ve finally learned at 41 to live in the present.  To live my truth every day and to truly appreciate the ones I love. If that love leaks out my eyes more than usual, so be it. 

I wish you all the same love which today fills my heart. This season, and all the year through.  

In Japan, objects that become cracked (plates,bowls, frames,etc) are often filled with gold because the crack adds to the objects history and thus makes it more precious.  As humans, we are not nearly so mindful of imperfections. I find it a sad representation of the modern world that we will often take better care of our things than ourselves.  

We see set backs and failures as flaws. We see extreme emotions as weakness. We see mental illness as something to be buried and hidden and filled with shame.  We treat people, especially women, as objects and then further shun them when they act in the manner society pushes them to act. 

How sad. How heart breaking. 

The Japanese have it right.  Fill those gaps with the shining precious metal that showcases the struggles they have been through. Celebrate the things that have broken us, for in coming back from those breaks we find true strength and resilience.  Celebrate the tribulations so that we can better appreciate the triumphs.  In healing the tears of the past, find the preciousness of the possibilities that lie in their wake. 

Fill the cracks with gold, my friends. Don’t hide them or push them away. 



It’s here! Coles at the McAllister Place mall is carrying my books. They’ve taken 6 of each title and I’ll be doing a book signing event in store in Oct 22nd.  

Spread the word, tell your friends. Help support local artists.  

I’m so thrilled to be actively promoting the books again. And I’m so blessed to have had the support I’ve had. 

Thank you all! 

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