Everyday I learn new things

I am a lifelong learner.   That I know.

I love to learn new things, new skills – carpentry, cooking, crafts, meditation (to some extent), camping, canoeing, wild edibles, medicinal herbs, anything to keep my mind active and stop it from descending into the murky depths of depression.  Now I’ve discovered that I love poetry.

It’s interesting how early experiences, the teachers I’ve had, affected how I approached my life.  In high school, my english teachers were also the gym teachers.  Actually, really it was the other way ’round – the gym teachers were stuck teaching english.  It was a smallish school so the teachers could not specialize.  I’m not sure why the powers that be decided that sports was more important than english, but it was…. nevermind, I know.  Sports always carries more weight than academics… sad.

Anyway, suffice it to say that my english teachers were terrible.  They hated Shakespeare and they hated poetry.  Consequently, I also developed a distaste for Shakespeare (until University when one history prof introduced me to The Tempest) and poetry.

Until now.

I recently discovered a poet – Candice Louisa Daquin – I absolutely love her writing.  And through a Facebook page called Wild Women Sisterhood I’ve been introduced to poetry that has stirred my soul.  I do not have the words, the writing skills, to adequately explain the effect reading these poems have had on me.  My mind, feelings inside my body, go to different places when I read poetry.  My anxiety lessens.

Like mediating among the trees – I feel myself transforming.

 

WE HAVE COME TO BE DANCED

 not the pretty dance

not the pretty pretty, pick me, pick me dance

but the claw our way back into the belly of the sacred, sensual animal dance

the unhinged, unplugged, cat is out of its box dance

the holding the precious moment in the palms of our hands and feet dance

We have come to be danced

not the jiffy booby, shake your booty for him dance

but the wring the sadness from our skin dance

the blow the chip off our shoulder dance

the slap the apology from our posture dance

We have come to be danced

not the monkey see, monkey do dance

one, two dance like you one two three, dance like me dance

but the grave robber, tomb stalker tearing scabs & scars open dance

the rub the rhythm raw against our souls dance

WE have come to be danced

not the nice invisible, self conscious shuffle

but the matted hair flying, voodoo mama shaman shakin’ ancient bones dance

the strip us from our casings, return our wings sharpen our claws & tongues dance the shed dead cells and slip into the luminous skin of love dance

We have come to be danced

not the hold our breath and wallow in the shallow end of the floor dance

but the meeting of the trinity: the body, breath & beat dance

the shout hallelujah from the top of our thighs dance the mother may I?

yes you may take 10 giant leaps dance

the Olly Olly Oxen Free Free Free dance

the everyone can come to our heaven dance

We have come to be danced

where the kingdom’s collide in the cathedral of flesh to burn back into the light to unravel, to play, to fly, to pray to root in skin sanctuary

We have come to be danced

WE HAVE COME

 

by Jewel Mathieson

 

How canoeing ended my marriage

I often wonder if I can trace the beginning of the end of my relationship with my husband to my very first canoe trip.  My first trip was way back before I had kids.  I joined an organized trip with other women who were learning how to canoe and camp in the wilderness.

I initially signed up for the trip as a way to get me out of my comfort zone.  (You know, the introvert who avoids group situations.) To meet new people.  To try something new.

It was amazing!  After an afternoon of learning to paddle, flipping canoes, and learning basic canoe skills, we headed out into the lake.  We portaged, set up camp and discovered what silence really was.  Hundreds of kilometres away from any town, the night sky was spectacular.  Then there were the smells… of the clean water, the trees, the soil and even the smokey smell of the fire.  I walked away from the other campers, into the middle of the forest.  I sat down amongst the trees.  I was hooked.

I spent the next 15 years trying to get my husband to love canoeing in the wilderness as much as I did (and still do).  We always camped and loved the outdoors, but I guess the absolute wilderness of the backcountry was too much for him.  As someone who is defined by his work, it seemed that his inability to stay connected, either through his phone or computer was too much for him.  But still, I tried.  I bought him a kayak when he complained of the tippiness of the canoe.  I became a gear junkie, buying the best sleeping bag, most comfortable insulated mat, waterproof tent, a cool reflector oven to make backcountry cakes and pizza, a portable screen tent to protect him from the bugs… nothing worked.  It really was the beginning of the end.

He continued to immerse himself in his work and I found friends to canoe with.  When the kids were old enough, they become my canoeing buddies. Soon, my husband was even avoiding the car camping trips and eventually he begged off the winter trips to the caribbean – it was just me and the kids.

I suggested other trips, other activities, things we could do together to try and save our relationship.  He was always enthusiastic, but nothing ever came of these conversations.

Then came my 50th birthday.  He invited me along on a business trip to Vegas.  Perfect, he would work for a couple of days, then we could head to Valley of Fire and do some hiking. We hadn’t been away from the kids in 10 years – I was optimistic that we would be able to rekindle our romance, at least discover why we fell in love in the first place.  It was a disaster!  I picked easy hikes, packed lunches and lots of water.  He was loathe to even do the shortest hikes.  He wanted to get back to the spectacle of Vegas, eat at buffets (I abhore buffets – cold, tasteless food), and go to the after conference parties.

I take equal responsibility for the slow collapse of our marriage.  In the most simplistic terms, we grew apart.

He wanted the fulfillment that he could only get from work and I wanted to be amongst the trees

.canoe-28

And they circled around me

I never thought people liked me.  I didn’t think I had any friends.

Did you notice that I’m writing this in the past tense?  That’s a good thing because I know these things are not true.  Not only did I lose myself in my marriage, but my depression coloured my world in a not so good way.

When I left my husband, I reached out to the people around me and they responded.  They told me how wonderful I was… I was wonderful???  How strong I was.  They talked about my other attributes – they loved my sense of humour, my organization skills, my drive for adventure and trying new things, how I encourage others…  Holy shit.  Really??  It was wonderful.

People were saying this all along, I simply couldn’t ‘hear’ it.  I truly thought that my husband was the only one who loved me and thought I was incredible.  I often confessed to him how it was a good thing he loved me as I had no friends.  He never tried to convince me otherwise.  I believe he enjoyed being the knight in shining armour, the one who could take care of me… until he didn’t.  My not having friends also meant that I focused 100% on him and his needs, and he was happy with that… until I realized I wasn’t happy with that.

I lost myself in my marriage. When I emerged, the women around me, my friends, became my incredible support system!  They listened without criticism.  They hugged hard and long.  They shared their stories and support.  They circled me with their love.

 

The women whom I love and admire for their strength and grace did not get that way because shit worked out.  They got that way because shit went wrong, and they handled it.  They handled it in a thousand different ways on a thousand different days, but they handled. it.  

Those women are my superheroes.

-Elizabeth Gilbert

Mother nature is laughing

OK mother nature enough already!

I’ve mentioned in the past how much I do love being Canadian.  I love living here and I love the change of seasons but March is just one big joke from mother nature.  12°C one day, -10°C (with a wind chill of  -18°C) the next day.  Yesterday I was hiking in a hoodie.  Today, I am clothed in down with wool hat and mitts.

Honestly mother nature enough already!

The ice needs to melt off the lakes.  I need to get back into my canoe, back in my kayak and paddle until I can’t move my arms. Then I’ll lay on the warm rocks and stare up at the leaves and the sky until the sun sets. Then stare at the stars until I can’t keep my eyes open any longer. I’ll sleep amongst the forest sounds and smells until the next day when I can do it all over again.

 

Maybe being depressed IS normal

I’ve been struggling with depression my entire life.  I just didn’t realize it.

Last week my doctor asked me if I thought I was depressed.  I answered ‘I don’t feel suicidal’ and he responded ‘that’s a pretty low measure of depression’.  In fact, that was my measure.  If I wasn’t suicidal that I thought I wasn’t depressed.

Way back in high school I confessed my thoughts of suicide to the guidance teacher.  I guess guidance teachers probably are not the best people to deal with these situations.  They have to decide whether or not you were telling the truth or just a teenager trying to get attention.  So of course the onus is on the teenager to go back and get help. And who wants to get help and get labelled as having depression when really all you want to do is seem normal.  But  you’re not normal people, don’t see you as normal. People see that something is wrong with you and they start distancing themselves from you because they know something is off and they probably just think you’re weird.  Weird or sensitive.  My parents always said I was too sensitive.

I suffer from depression I know people just think I’m weird because I cannot admit it. I become angry at myself and then angry at the world.  I laugh – a lot!  Laughing and joking are my coping mechanisms.  But that means I often laugh and joke at inappropriate times. I cannot tell people that I’m depressed I don’t want them to think that I’m ‘mental’.  I want them to think that I’m normal and that I can function in society.  When well in fact I can’t.  What the fuck is normal anyway???

Now as my doctor tries to switch up my medicines in order to try and find one that works I am yet again in a downcycle.  I am happy that I don’t seem to be suffering any side effects from the new medicine but right now it does not seem to be working.

I don’t want to lie down and curl up in a ball.  I want to scream!  I want to bounce up and down, twirl around, bang on things and yell!

But I guess I’ll go for a walk… so I can appear ‘normal’.

I will not be invisible

The other day I came across an article about a book written by a woman who was going through middle age.  She said that going through menopause and becoming a non-reproductive female was like a demotion. The no longer fertile are surplus.  What?!

The author went on to say how she welcomed the fact the she would be among the invisible and wouldn’t have to worry about being attractive and its associated upkeep. What?!!!  I refuse to be invisible!  My inability to bear children does not mean that I will stop taking care of my body style my hair or dress nicely. I do things for myself.

This kind of discussion about menopause and females going through middle age, is to me absolutely ludicrous. Why do we continue to judge females only by their reproductive value. Society certainly doesn’t judge men the same.  It is not said that a man has no value if they can’t produce semen and because they don’t have the ability to father a child

So a woman can’t have children anymore. She is still a woman. She still a person. She is still a contributing member of society. She has years of experience and knowledge.

The fact that this woman felt like this is a sad comment on our society.

Try meditation they said

In order to calm my racing mind it was suggested that I try mindful meditation.  I’ve tried meditation and Yogic breathing within my yoga classes and on my own.  I just didn’t get it.  I could not relax enough to listen to the supposedly calming voices of the instructors.  At home, I tried different voices and different apps.  I tried sitting up, lying down.  Eyes open, eyes closed and meditations of differing lengths.  And honestly I would just get frustrated at my inability to relax my mind.

I was then invited to an event called Breathing the Wisdom of the Trees.  The instructor is someone I like and respect.  She has years of experience.  In this event we would be practicing yogic breathing in the middle of the forest.

In the trees!!

Forest Breathing incorporated the medicine of trees with the ancient practice of Yogic breathing (Pranayama).   In the middle of the forest, on a very very cold day, she guided us through breathing techniques.  Sitting on my pillow, with a hot water bottle, bundled up in several layers of wool I started to breathe, following her example.  Something amazing happened.  Sitting next to the stream, surrounded by trees, I relaxed.  I got it!  My stomach muscles relaxed, my brain calmed.  I had an ah-ah moment.  I certainly can’t explain what happened but I just know that I felt completely at peace with myself and those around me.

It seems that all along, I simply needed to breathe and meditate amongst the trees.

 

Introverts can not be cured

I’m an introvert.

It took me only about 40 years to realize that.  I credit my friends on Facebook who shared their experiences.  Yet again I discovered that I was not weird.

I married a man who was an extrovert (and slightly narcissistic).  He loved being the centre of attention, loved meeting new people, loved small talk.  I was happy being his wife because I could fade into the corner of the room while everyone was focused on him.  I am the type of person who will hide in a store when someone I know walks to toward me, so that I don’t have to talk to them.  My ex is the type of person who will cross 6 lanes of traffic to say hi to someone he met in an elevator 2 years ago.

He could never understand why I acted the way I did.  And I couldn’t explain it to him because I didn’t even know why I acted that way.  Really, I thought there was something wrong with me.  When I asked him why he stayed with me for so long if he didn’t like the way I acted and he said, “I thought you would get better.”

I wasn’t sick!

I’m an introvert.  I’m normal in the way that half the population is normal.

introverts

I may be over 50 but I’m not dead

Ok I realize I may lose some of you here.

Let’s talk sex.  When I was married, in those last few years, I rarely had sex with my husband.  Sure I missed it, but to tell the truth I wasn’t really attracted to him anyway he had become a different person. But now that there is a possibility of having sex again – DAMN, things are starting to wake up.  I find myself craving cuddles, kisses, caresses (the self pleasure thing is not enough).  Where exactly does a women go to have her needs met.  For a guy it’s socially acceptable to go to a bar and pick up a woman and have a one night stand without any worries about coming to physical harm.  A woman who does the same is called derogatory names – cougar, slut, etc.

I’m finding it impossible to judge people on dating website.  And the ones I’m interested in, don’t seem to want anything to do with me.  Where do I meet someone who is sensitive and um… ready and willing?

So why not brothels.  Why not have clean, regulated, safe places for women to go and get ‘serviced’.  Other more liberal countries offer this service.  If only my financial situation allowed me to  jump on a plane, but it doesn’t.  Women are sexual beings too.  In a study of willingness to have sex with a stranger, researchers found that none of the female participants were willing to have sex with a strangers.

“Of course the sociological interpretation-that women are interested in love while men are interested in sex-is not the only possible interpretation of these data. It may be, of course that both men and women are equally interested in sex but men associated fewer risks with accepting a sexual invitation than did women. Men may be more confident of their ability to fight back a physical assault than did women. Also, the remnants of the double standard may make women afraid to accept a man’s invitation.(Clark, Russell and Elaine Hatfield (1989). “Gender Differences in Receptivity to Sexual Offers.” Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality Vol. 2(1): pp 39-48.)

Also, the study was done with college students (whose prospects at having sex, meaningful or otherwise is much higher) and not middle aged women.  Women, not considered attractive to a large portion of the population simply due to their age.   Women who are more comfortable with their sexuality. There is a great scene in the movie ‘Doris’ with Sally Field, where she is ignored in a store – it’s both funny and sad.

Maybe the canadian government could stop wasting time auditing people and set up some legislation around brothels.