Thursday, February 15, 2018

Just Write

My thoughts are swimming all over the place this morning and I don't know if I can pin down a topic. So I will just write ...

First off, "Winter, I am so over you!" While I say that with gratitude for a year where being home bound and off the highways makes cold and snow and blowing and unpredictability simply one more cross to bear as we await the coming of Spring ... I am NOT looking forward to the hour ahead of me where I must shovel yesterday's snow in -43 (with the wind) conditions. Blech!

Secondly, "YAY!! For extra long weekends!" I saw an opportunity to create a four day weekend from both of my employers. I asked for the extra day off and it was granted. Then the day inched closer and I thought why waste a day off when I have no concrete plan on how to spend it wisely.

Thirdly, "Thank you!! To the wonderful, wonderful people I work for (and with)". I messaged them last night and told them to cancel my request and I would be there Friday. They both responded with the answer of (basically) "No, you need a 4 day weekend once in a while!" Life is good.

Fourthly, "I feel my dream function WANTING to come back to life". I have no idea how to fulfil this dream quest, but I FEEL like doing something completely spontaneous, fun and without thinking of the ramifications (I guess I'd better not get a dog then, huh?).

Fifthly, "I think I'm ready to pitch my cell phone into a snowbank while I shovel". While I thoroughly appreciate the convenience, the necessity and the fact that they are great gadgets to have in case of emergency or a need to communicate quickly ... I am quietly resenting the lack of face-to-face, voice-to-voice conversations at times. My son chided me on my overuse of emoticons and I explained I feel they are necessary because it is so easy to misinterpret a text message when it doesn't come with voice, facial and body expressions to aid communication.

Text messages should come with a limited number of characters (says the person who uses far too many words to communicate). There should be default phrases which say "Let's talk" when a person has the inclination to start a new paragraph via text (guilty as charged!).

So here I sit. There is snow to be shovelled, a work day to put in ...

I am back. Snow is shovelled; text messages have been tended to and I am off to start the short day ahead of me. I only have my "day job" to attend today, so I will probably be home before the sun sets.

Ahhh... life is good.

P.S. If it were not for the fresh arrival of newly fallen snow, I would not see the evidence of the rabbit that hops in and out and through our front yard. This rabbit eludes me, yet I know it has been here. The mere idea of knowing there is a rabbit close by makes me think of Mom and her rabbits.

As it is with Mom's "presence" ... I feel it, but I can't put my hands on it, see it or prove it. It simply leaves its mark in my heart.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Better Days

Last week was an emotional one. I broke a few times, shed a few tears and I was weary with the reality of facing the day.

One morning, I wrote a little, cried a little, wiped my tears and forged onward. I hopped in the car to go to work. As I backed out of the garage and headed towards my destination, these were the words my radio sang to me:

"I've been down, I've been down
Burning up like fever
Better days, better days
Are not so far away..."

These lyrics were followed by another song that spoke to my heart. I felt better, I looked up and ahead, then carried on.

I lived a few unremarkable days which were followed by speaking my heart out loud a few times. Speaking my thoughts unleashed another round of tears or two.

My eyes were weary, my heart was tired and I was invited out of my head (and our home) to join a friend for coffee. I wanted to wrap myself up with a warm blanket and peek my head out when spring arrived.

But I persevered. I hopped in the car to meet up with my friend. The radio sang out to me once again:

"I've been down, I've been down
Burning up like fever
Better days, better days
Are not so far away
I've been lost, I've been found
Now I believe in
Better days, better days
Are not so far away"
Hedley - Better Days

This was followed by:

"This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I'm alright song"
Rachel Platten - Fight Song

Yes! I sat up taller, felt a little stronger and my heart felt lighter.

I love when the car radio speaks to me. It doesn't always happen. Sometimes I find myself surfing the channels to find the music my heart needs to hear.

I know it is coincidence. I know it is not a mystical force of other worldly communication. But oh, how it soothes my soul to think that it could be...

I know I need to pull up my socks, stand up tall, look up and appreciate that "all is as it is meant to be".

I am impatient with this state of hovering in a state of limbo. Not knowing, not doing, simply existing but starting to feel.

Feeling is good. If I stifle the sad, the bad and the hard stuff, I may not be able to feel the good, the happy and easygoing as much as I could.

The only way through, is to keep taking one forward step at a time. Slow and steady. One step at a time. Look forward. Look up.

There always seems to be that one final blast of "winter" before spring comes to stay. I do believe I am simply feeling the seasons. Spring is coming...

Better days are not so far away.

Monday, February 12, 2018

My Life According to My Blog Archive

"How am I doing with my promise to write daily?" was (one of) my early morning thoughts:

Well? All things considered, it looks like 2018 will outrank 2017 when it comes to the frequency of posts. But I'm still off to a slow start.

I started writing out loud in January of 2008. It was the winter of "Building Courage" after my last and final break up with the man I thought I would marry. 

Thoughts of "forever" were dashed and after the initial stages of grieving that loss, I picked myself up and built a pretty incredible little life.

As my eyes scan the years, I see the highlight reel run past me:

2008
The year of Mom's family's book of memories
The year of inviting family and friends into my life and our home
The year of my hernia surgery, which led up to:

2009
The year I returned to school
The year I started to dance like people were watching because ...
I started to prepare to compete in a dance competition, which was in:

2010
The year I danced 
The year I started doing bookkeeping out of my home
The year of great flexibility
Family and leisure first 
I worked in my day job in between the cracks
All good things must come to an end, which led to:

2011
The year my job lost its flexibility
I stuck it out until I returned from my great Alaskan holiday adventure
I quit my job and...
I was hired by the school system
I thought my work challenges were over
Little did I know they had just begun.

2012
The year of working to regain my reputation within my job at the school
The year of regaining my sense of self
The year I broke
What in the world was I going to do to support myself if I couldn't hold down a job in the "real world"?
It was the year I reopened my daycare.

2013, 2014, 2015

These were years of coasting a little
They were years of "showing up" and being there for others
They were years with shadows of ill health, loss and grief.

I finally completed the book of memories for Dad's family
It was a time of family bonding, in good times and in sad
These were years of starting to become more concerned about Mom's health.

2016
The year my daycare died
The year Mom fell and I started seeing the world in a whole new light
The year I restarted my "career". Again.

2017
The year of Mom

2018
The year after Mom has brought me back to where I started 
I am back at the beginning of 2008 all over again. 
I need to find ways to (re)build my courage. 
I feel like I'm recovering after a break up.

I crave, need and live for my weekends
When the weekend arrives, I feel like a broken hearted survivor of a relationship that has ended
A weekend without purpose, is a weekend lost.

I am no longer revolving my life around my desire to head back out to Mom's
I have been sleep walking through the weekends
They serve little purpose, other than giving me the strength to endure another work week.

When I first started writing within this little space of mine, my focus was on finding a positive spin about any little thing.
Mom marvelled at the fact that I could come up with a story about nothing
I liked my writing back in those days.

I have discovered so many inspirational writers and speakers throughout these years
Glennon Doyle is the most all-encompassing truth teller and motivator I know
I love everything I have read by Glennon.

Glennon speaks of "writing from a scar and not from an open wound"...

I'm writing from an open wound right now.
I keep picking the scab and it won't heal
I may never write again if I wait to write from the scar that will eventually form.

So I'm writing from a wound which starts to heal
Then breaks open when I least expect it.

I felt so courageous as I lived "The Year of Mom"
I feel weak and vulnerable now.

I mostly speak of the lessons learned,
Memories made,
Conversations had.
I am grateful for a year with so few regrets.

I guess the year took its toll on me after all
I created a world where I focused on Mom.

Mom is gone.

I have weekends at my disposal and I have grown accustomed to being selfish with my time
I saved my energy for those trips to Mom's
I gathered up all my optimism and packed it up with me each and every time
I did not want to be a Gloomy Gus while in Mom's presence.

Mom is gone
And I am sad
I have time
But I don't have the energy to share what I have
I'm used to saving it up for a rainy day.

It's raining now
You can't save energy
You have to generate it from action
Doing
Becoming
Being courageous.

The most courageous thing I do these days, is go to work
My work days deplete me
I feel like a wet dish rag at the end of my days away from home
I long for weekends.

I need to find a renewed purpose
I need to push myself out and beyond these moments.

Building courage becomes harder with age
Becoming comfortable with the quiet feels easier
But (as Mom said at the very end of her life), "This ... is not living".

Mom is right again.
She always was.

I will persevere
I will rebuild and restart life as I know it from where I am
I've done it before
I'll do it again
I will create a year worth remembering.

And this too, shall pass...

Friday, February 9, 2018

Stages of Living

As I hover in this no-man's-land between today and tomorrow (I really wanted to type the words "Past" and "Future", but I think it is healthier to think of this in present tense), I asked myself the  question: "What IS this phase I am going through?"

Is it grief? I suppose that may have something to do with this state of inertia. My thoughts wander backwards more than they do forward. I spend an awful lot of energy remembering, reflecting and coming to terms with life as I now know it. I suppose that is most likely considered a part of the grieving process.

I didn't google "Stages of Grief". I didn't want to pigeon hole myself into someone else's thinking. I want to find my way through and beyond this.

I feel I stuck in a state of limbo. I am simply living life one day at a time without an eye on the long term.

I'm in between dreams at the moment. I live life to the fullest when I have a dream to pursue.

I think of past dreams - dancing, writing, house renos, a few vacations, education, work aspirations, evolving relationships - and none of the above move me into a dream state right now.

The need for change has always been my biggest motivating factor. Walking away from my marriage, leaving a secure job to raise my own children, abandoning a relationship I wasn't capable of fixing. Parenthood dictated many life changing choices - getting married; moving to a new province; opening my daycare ...

Closing my daycare was the last life altering choice I made. It was the right thing to do. I walked away from a job which was dictated my life, tied me to home and felt suffocating. Out of the rubble, I found myself in a place where I was afforded all the flexibility I needed.

Which, long story short, leads me to "today".

I am stuck between the need for flexibility and the desire for the very same flexibility. I am enjoying a Friday morning off work because I still have some of that flexibility. But without a tangible dream to chase, I am wasting the time I have been given. I'm drifting at sea.

I am living without a dream.

There isn't a drastic need for change. In fact, the people I work for need me more than ever. I need to stay exactly where I am. Which is safe, familiar and (unfortunately) I am starting to feel a little bit suffocated.

"Suffocation" has been a common thread among every major change within my life. When life started demanding more than I had to give, I started pushing away and eventually walked away. Relationships, parenting, work. Even dancing started taking more than it gave back to me. Vacations? Same thing.

I thrive on the independence that comes from a symbiotic relationship with the world. A mutually beneficial relationship between me and the people I surround myself with and the life I create. The yin to another's yang. The give, the take, the mutually beneficial sharing of the good, the bad and the ugly.

Perhaps that is why it was so easy for me to be there for Mom. She didn't ask for help. She was never needy. She pushed her independence to the bitter end. She never once asked for anything. The very most she said was "You could move in ...", but she would immediately counter that with, "You have to get back home. You have a life." Right to the end.

Mom knew I had people and a family depending on me at home. She was pushing me away. She was telling me I needed to go live my life.

She also knew this life would be a drain on me. "What is your ten year plan?" The conversation that haunts me to this very day. She knew I needed to look beyond the moment I am in, the life I am leading and find a new goal. A dream.

I am not a lover of this dreamless state. It is temporary. I need to look beyond where I am at. But I'm starting to feel a little suffocated and I don't have the luxury of walking away this time. I am as committed to these people, as I was to Mom. Except they aren't pushing me away.

It's hard to be needed.

My little family is growing more and more independent from me and I feel like that is "success". To parent a child who can function fully independent of their parents is my definition of a job well done. I am very much enjoying the stage of parenting independent children. It is (what I feel) a rather symbiotic, mutually beneficial relationship.

One never entirely outgrows the need for their parent. Not entirely.

This stage. The stage of "unbecoming" Mom's daughter is foreign to me. Mom didn't need me but she was part of my identity. She still is. I need to reroute my thoughts and look in a forward direction.

One forward step at a time.

The dreams will come ... 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Accidental Kick Start to the Day

My son (who is car pooling with someone who picks him up almost every day) looked up and said, "I haven't heard from my ride this morning". I replied, "Do you need a ride?" Him, "Dunno".

I shot up like a flash, had a quick bath and was getting dressed when my son told me his ride was awake and I was off the hook.

So I was dressed and ready to go an hour and a half earlier than I have managed to force myself to move this entire week.

My procrastination skills are becoming very finely honed. That is a habit I know I should kick.

I enjoy the comfort and ease of this relaxed way of living. Is it truly relaxing though? When the to-do and should-do and would-like-to-have-done lists grow and gnaw at me, am I really relaxed?

 ...

I wrote that paragraph, stopped in my tracks, cleaned the bathroom, vacuumed the upstairs, changed out all the towels, made my lunch, checked into my son's student health insurance coverage and started the car.

No, leading a procrastinated life is not comfortable. There are always a minimum of ten must-do items on my list of things-to-be-done. The only way out of that conundrum is to DO something. Anything.

I woke up a half hour earlier. I got dressed for the day an hour earlier. I have a tidy home to come home to at the end of the day and I still have time to return bottles on my way to work.

I need to get in the habit of automatically kick starting my day. It is the only way out, through and beyond this habit of procrastination.

And I'm off...

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Writing While the Car Warms Up

Quick!! Name everything you are grateful for in the time it takes to warm up the car:

  1. A car that starts!
  2. Spare socks (I am entering the holy season - the season where all of my socks become holey)
  3. Flexible work hours 
  4. Wednesday
  5. Daylight (there is a little more of it each day)
  6. Blue sky (it is bitterly cold but the sky is blue - it helps)
  7. Cats (no matter how grumpy I feel, they always bring a smile to my face)
  8. Computers/internet (all I need to know and find out is a few finger strokes away)
  9. Peace within (within our home, my heart, my life, my entire little world)
That is good enough for now. My day should have started 5 minutes ago...

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Missing ...

I set out to write "Missing Her" as the title to this post. It has been five months since Mom took her last breath here on earth. A year ago she was diagnosed with bile duct cancer. Seven months knowing what fight Mom was fighting. Five months of living without her. There is little to compare.

While she was still here, we could talk with her, hear her voice, her stories and her many, many poems, quotes, lyrics and adages which she brought out to share with us whenever life warranted it. I could have started writing down her quotes last January and had enough to compose a book by September. Yes, she had that many quotable quotes. And more.

While she was with us, we banded together as a family. We presented a united front. We each did what we did best. Everyone's "super power" was different. But we each had something. We carried each other just as much as we supported and were present for Mom.

It's been five months. Five months. Her home is gone...

This morning, I had a dream about all of us being together in her home. We pretty much knew it would be our last time. We were together, we were in that safe little bubble where it was just the four of us (Mom and Dad's four children) and no one else. We were breaking out of the bubble and going back into the real world.

We knew we would be sad when the house was gone. But it was still in "our" possession. So we tabled our sadness for another day.

Wait. It wasn't a dream.

We did all that. We said all of those things. We walked through that moment less than four months ago. But it felt fresh and new in my dream.

Even after Mom was gone, it brought comfort to me each and every time I returned to her home. Even when she wasn't there. The walls spoke to me. There has been such a camaraderie among us as we walked through life together. Mom's home holds so many of those memories.

The walls embraced me just as much as they could but I knew everything important was still with me. Within my heart, my soul and my entire being. Letting go of the house was right. The timing was as perfect as one could hope for. We had time to linger between "then" & "now" and the house didn't have to sit alone for too long. It was time to let go.

I woke up this morning with the remnants of my dream wafting through my subconsciousness.

As much as I miss finding Mom on the other end of a phone call or a five hour drive, I miss the closeness our family shared when we walked that final walk. Together. Holding each other up. One stepping in when another had to step out ...

My son spoke at the small graveside goodbye we had for Mom. He reminded me of the words he spoke not so very long ago. As soon as he repeated them, I remembered what he had said but in the interim, they had drifted from the tip of my consciousness.

He spoke of the night he sat with me and my sister at Mom's dining room table, as we retold the story of the days leading up to and including Mom's admission into the hospital. We were still in the middle of the end at that moment. We were hovering in a space where you think things could go either way. But in our hearts, we knew we were in the final count down.

What my son remembers from all the words we spoke that evening, was the way each one of us stepped in, stepped up, supported, relieved and team-tagged each other throughout the days that led up to the morning Mom died.

He was in awe of the way our family worked in a time of duress. It made us strong. United. We had each other's back. We were there for Mom but the behind the scenes image of Mom and Dad's family was the strength we received from each other.

I started this post with the title "Missing Her" in mind. Yes, I miss being able to talk with Mom. But I miss those moments of strength I found with my family in equal or greater proportion.

Life is moving on. And I can't say I'm a really big fan of that. I want to run out to Mom's and just "be there" like I was last year. 

But I can't. And I won't. 

So I just feel like a part of me is missing this morning. I'm not quite sure where to look for it but I feel it would come to me if I would sit still and quiet for long enough. 

Maybe that is why I am resenting my work weeks so much. Maybe.

Or maybe I am just feeling very weak and vulnerable out here on my own. This is not exactly where I want to be right now. 

But I must warrior on. And I will.