Oy Vey

I’m not jewish – I not any religion actually – but this expression seems to perfectly describe today’s topic.

Today is my mother’s birthday.

I don’t like my mother very much.  But, as a dutiful daughter I am taking her out to lunch.

My mother was, by her own admission a difficult child.  My grandmother was the spoiled baby daughter in her family.  My grandmother was ill prepared for managing a household and raising a child.  Then there were two more daughters and things got worse for my mom.  She was sent off to boarding school.  Quite a feat since this is Canada and boarding schools were few and far between (unless you were native – but that is another topic completely).  The boarding school was 3 hours away from her home – certainly not very conducive to weekend visits.

In her teen years, my mother partied, got pregnant, had a shotgun wedding and quickly found herself with 2 children by the time she was 20.  Given her virility, my dad got a vasectomy.

My childhood was marked with lots of parties.  Waking up in the morning and finding people passed out all over the house.

Alcohol was my parents’ drug of choice.  They would start drinking as soon as they walked in the door after work.  Drinking and driving was common.  I realize now that both my parents are alcoholics.  High functioning alcoholics, but alcoholics nonetheless.  When I introduced my ex to my parents he accepted the drink my father gave him. And the next drink and the next one.  By the fourth drink (rye and ginger) he came to the realization that he could not keep pace with my dad and learned to sip or alternate between soda and a ‘drink’.

My mother is very critical.  All in the guise of being helpful.  She points out when I gain weight but never when I lose weight.  I must not have oiled the truck since it has so much rust.  G (as a baby) is crying a lot is she ok? Is this a new recipe – it tastes funny.  Boys are so much easier to raise. I often confronted her on all her negative comments and was told that I was simply being too sensitive.

I’ve tried over the years to develop and maintain a relationship with my mother.  Even after she outright told me that she didn’t like my toddler daughter very much.  My daughter was always (and still is) very attached to me.  She didn’t want to go to her grandmother – ‘she smells [of smoke]’.  I’m sure G could sense her grandmother’s disdain for her.  On one visit my mother brought a gift for my son, but not for my daughter.

Still, today I shall take her out for lunch.  I’ve taken stronger meds so that her comments can float past me and disappear in the wind.

And when I get home I will be grateful for the love of my kids and my friends.

And I will hug a tree.

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Ooooh those family dinners

I love a good holiday. The extra days off. The excuse to eat fattening food.

But

Those family dinners are downright painful.

‘Get rid of the toxic people in you life’. This is the advice I’ve read over and over again. Truly, I have enough demons in my head.  I don’t need my friends planting even more negative thoughts.

But

Then there’s my family. The chain smoking bigoted alcoholic parents.  They’ve lived a hard life.  Working long and hard for everything they had.  My younger years were great.  There is an incredible amount of freedom granted to kids of alcoholic parents.  I really should have no complaints.  I was well fed, well clothed, went to school and had friends.  My summers were spent with my grandparents at their cottage – even more freedom.  My brother and I were close.  My parents simply had a ‘hands off’ method of child rearing.  I made mistakes.  I learned from them.

But I digress.

Family dinners are now low key.  My mother often refusing to cook, orders questionable Chinese food and makes me pay.  My kids don’t want to go because they’ll smell smokey and my daughter knows that her grandmother doesn’t really like her.  (Because boys are so much easier to raise??? Thanks mom.)

It wasn’t always like this. I remember big family get together’s at my grandparents house on a lake. In the summer we would all gather together bringing food, swimming in the lake. In the winter the house was big enough to accommodate at least 30 people.  Cousins, aunts, and uncles would be dressed in their Easter or Christmas finest.  There would be sooo much food.  The volume was loud, with everyone wanting to make their opinion heard.   The extended family reconnected.  I miss those days.

This Easter I was faced with a new reality.  The divorced person reality.  My kids went off with their dad to spend time with his family.  The family I was part of for 30 years.  It was unbelievably hard.  Thankfully, a friend stepped up and took me to Ottawa for the weekend.   Even though it rained all weekend, I had a great time.  I had no time to let the demons tell me what a terrible person I am or how my in-laws no longer seem to care about me.

Again I am amazed to discover my wonderful, supportive friends.

If all else fails, plan a canoe trip

Today is a beautiful day!  The ice is slowly melting on the northern lakes.  Soon I’ll be able to drag my kayak out of the garage and get out on the water.

I needed to feel active.  So today I planned 3 backcountry canoe trips for this summer.  I love to plan.  I love to organize and I love to get people out of their climate controlled houses and into the wilderness.  Booking the trips definitely lifted my spirits, just the thought of hour after hour of paddling calms my soul.

One of my favourite trips is to Killarney Provincial Park.  The beautiful, white La Cloche mountains were the backdrop for many famous paintings.  The scenery is exquisite.  Last year, I took a group into Killarney.  We didn’t paddle much, only camping on Bell Lake for two nights.  It was a great trip even though it was only a few weeks after I confronted my husband and made the decision to leave him.  Surprisingly, I didn’t cry at all on that trip.  My camping partners were very supportive and allowed me to tell my story.  They, in turn, shared their stories.

The trees absorbed my sorrow and gave me strength.

This summer, we’ll be paddling a little deeper into the park and staying for another night.  I look forward to the long paddle and hopefully a hike up Silver Peak.

 

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My dogs are happy

Today is a blue day.  I don’t know why.  I don’t know what triggered the darkness.  I just know that I woke early and started crying.  I’ve been crying on and off today.  I’ve tried to yell at my demons and a few times it’s worked, but most times, my demons yell back.  It’s been a struggle trying to be positive and tell myself that the things my demons are saying to me is not true.

Then I went for a walk with one of my dogs.  I was a little teary on the walk (thankfully there were not too many people on the trail during the day).  Then it occurred to me that my dog was having a great time and maybe I could be more like her.

These are some of the things I’ve learned from my dogs.

A good walk will cure anything.
Well maybe not everything but it will certainly make you feel better. For my dogs, a walk also means they can meet some of their fur friends – sniff some poles, have a big poo and smell the world.

If you are tired lie down and take a nap.
My dogs are always napping. They always look so relaxed.  I haven’t been able to simply stop and take a nap when I’m tired but I’m working on it

Eat with gusto like it is your last meal.
The thing about my anti depressants is that I never feel hungry. Good for weight loss but not for my incredible love of food and cooking. I’m jealous of my dogs.  If anything will get me to stop taking these drugs it is the ability to really really enjoy food again.

Always greet someone with a big smile.
My dogs are always happy to see me. Which of course is one of the reasons I have them. They jump up and down. They wag their tails. My little dog has even learned to smile. She bares her teeth in her version of a smile whenever I get home.
When I see someone I know. I greet them with a smile. Even if I feel crappy. This makes me feel better and hopefully makes the person I’m meeting feel good too.

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Batshit Crazy

I got a tattoo.

Not a little tattoo.  It’s rather large and covers my upper right thigh.  I love it.

A friend asked why?  Why would 52 year old me want to get a tattoo?  For me.  Only for me.  It wasn’t to prove that I could go through the pain.  I’ve had two kids, I know pain.  It was to commemorate this journey I’m on.  Maybe even to assert that I do have control over my body, my life,  if not my mind.

My teenage daughter was appalled by my behaviour.  She also hates it when I swear.  The night before I got the tattoo I thought I would tell her.  All night all she could say was ‘No’.  ‘No, no, no, no’.  Every time she said it, I would collapse into hysterical laughter.  For me, at least, it was a wonderful night.

My teenage son saw the tattoo after it was complete and was impressed.  He was also relieved that I didn’t get a ‘tramp stamp’ – because while it is ok for his mom to get a tattoo, he still can’t see me as a sexual being.  He commented that I must be going through a mid life crisis.  No shit.  I quit my corporate job, left my husband, sold my house… yep, kinda sounds life some sort of crisis or at least a realignment to me!

Yes, it is a tattoo of a tree.  A tree of life goddess.

That’s me.

 

Starting a business is hard

The end of my marriage took place over the course of several years.  I the process of discovering or re-discovering myself I realized that my husband and I were no longer in love.

When I was trying to figure out what to do, the first thing I knew I needed was to leave my corporate job.  After much soul-searching searching and working with a career coach I settled on the idea of starting a new business helping seniors move.  Everybody thought this was a wonderful idea including me, even though I really kind of had no idea how to make this happen.  Initially I started work working with a partner, but in the end our ideology and ways of operating a business were too different. I decided to go ahead on my own.

So, I started my business. I came up with a name, marketing, business plan and I started networking.  I began with next to no money and simple had my husband support me.  I believe he was ok with that – he never said otherwise.  He was supportive and realized I needed to make some sort of dramatic change to my life.  Perhaps he thought that this was a way to invigorate our marriage, and the woman he fell in love with would come back.  Well, that didn’t happen.

I think networking was the hardest for me because generally as an introvert it’s hard to put myself out there.  To go out on a daily basis and meet new people.  Then trying to make conversation with these new people when the last thing I want to do is make small talk with other people. Which, just let me say is why I love this blog because I can ramble on and on and on and not have to worry about the person that I’m talking to.

I did my due diligence I went to networking group after networking group and met with hundreds of real estate agents.  Real estate agents who will say they’re interested in your business and they say that we can work together but really it’s what I could do for them.  With all the real estate agents that I connected with, not one referred a job to me, it was very frustrating.

After working with some wonderful seniors, in the end I decided to close my business.  I found working by myself very difficult.  I really needed a partner to motivate me, share ideas and help with the networking.

I certainly don’t look back on this part of my life as a failure.  I did meet some awesome people who I now count as friends and I got some new ideas.  I became interested in essential oils, learning how to work with recycled fabrics, learning about wild edibles and becoming an herbalist. I also discovered the joy of meet up, which is a whole other topic for another day.

FB isn’t all bad

I sprained my ankle on the weekend.

It’s not a bad sprain.  But for someone who walks to fend off the demons in her head this was a major blow.  I need to walk. I walk fast and long so that all I can think about is putting one foot in front of the other.

So, I did something the old married me would never do – I reached out to my friends.  The old me would have been cranky and rely only on my partner to cheer me up.  Yet another stress on a fragile relationship.

I posted on Facebook about my ankle and directly said that I was looking for sympathy.  My friends responded with concern.  Offers to shop.  Stories of their past sprained ankles.  Funny stories about relying on teenagers for help.  And today one friend and I are heading to the forest to take strength from the trees.

I will walk slowly among the trees.  I will sit in the middle of the forest, smelling the soil and listening to the water.  And I will feel better.

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Worms on the sidewalk

It’s April and I think Spring is finally here.  At least now it is raining instead of snowing.

Spring is not my favourite season.  I actually prefer Fall and Winter to the rain, mud and endless swarms of insects of Spring.  I am happy that the rain and warm weather is melting the ice and soon, very soon, I’ll be able to get out on the water in my canoe.

The other thing I dislike about Spring is all the worms on the sidewalk.  On rainy days the worms appear, making their long journey across the sidewalk.  I can’t step on them.  So my eyes are down, looking for the next worm.  Walking like a drunk person as I avoid worm after worm.

I did notice that focusing on these slimy beings took my focus away from what is going on in my head.  You can’t focus on the sadness, the blackness, the worries, when you are trying not to step on worms.

It’s a blue day today

Why is it that wonderful fun sunny days are followed by blue cloudy rainy days?

Yesterday was fun.  I cycled about 40km with a friend.  It was beautiful and sunny.  The parks were packed with people tired of being cooped up all winter.  I twisted my ankle at the beginning of the ride.  Stupidly losing my balance and hitting the edge of the curb with my foot.  Peddling didn’t seem to bother me and I certainly wasn’t going to stop.

Today I can barely put any pressure on my foot and I’m so mad at myself.  Mad because I just want to sit here and cry.  Mad because I can’t get out and hike to make myself feel better.  Mad because just when I think I’m feeling better and I can beat this damn depression, I  have days like this.  I wonder if it is even worth taking the drugs since I continue to have days like this.

Tomorrow is another day…