Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Five Happy, One Sad

In the spirit of Wendz, a favourite blogger, I am taking her lead in summing up a day or a week in a series of five points. So succinct, tidy, doable.
Sunshine. It's different somehow lately. Brighter, higher, way more hopeful.
2. And because of that glorious sunshine, I dressed up five pre-schoolers and took a walk to my favourite place on earth- the thrift shop. The children loved it- all those "new" toys to look at, all those snow mountains to climb up and down all the way back, and we found a little pink care bear to add to our caring collection.
My find? Pink placemats and a set of crocheted pillow slips. I saw the beginnings of a romantic hand bag. Very springlike.
Brian and I have a meeting to go to tonight. It's about packing. For our kids? No, not this time.
We are going to be staying here. Just a little old ancient hotel in Quito, Ecuador. Just a few more weeks, and I can't even believe it, it's been twenty years since we've been anywhere. Can you say "happy"?!
4. With number three in mind-- finding my Birkenstock sandals and summer dresses in the garage. I remember summer days in breezy t-shirt dresses, the sun shining on my weary skin. I anticipate that feeling a short three weeks!
5. Hauling kids and kid equipment through the deep backyard snow and feeling a new strength in my legs. I've been reasonably faithful walking uphill on the treadmill for the past several months. I did not want to arrive in Ecuador with 100% of blubber folds jangling around under my skirts; puffing and gasping up and down mountains and volcanoes and thinking: "Why didn't I prep for this?!"

And one sad. My thighs still look like hell, the cellulite and fat folds steadily advancing and conquering, treadmill notwithstanding. The sad part is how I never get used to it, never really move beyond it, never fully recover from the obsessions, preoccupations, and destructive fantasy life. I cope, I don't allow it to disable me entirely, I grasp constantly towards wellness, acceptance, and a renewed mind. I wear what I want to and what I feel happy and comfortable in. And then I have nightmares, both real and figurative.

I have a feeling I should have ended on a happy note; this feels kind of anti-climatic. How about this? For my first holiday with my husband since our honeymoon, I am not going to a resort where I'll constantly feel dreadful about my physical self. I'm not going to an all inclusive where I'd eat and drink too much and then hate myself. (Although I'd love to do that sometime!). I am going to an ancient city, visiting a live volcano, visiting a super old cathedral, going to a massive indigenous outdoor market, staying in a hotel that offers massage, eating breakfast in the basement that used to be a dungeon, going on lots of hikes, eating empanadas, fresh bread and cheese, and drinking cheap beer.
And I'm completely sure no one will give a rat's ass about my lumpy bits. Maybe not even me.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Things I Am Loving This Weekend

The word "vapid". Webster's dictionary defines it as:

Definition of VAPID

: lacking liveliness, tang, briskness, or force : flat, dull <a gossipy, vapid woman, obsessed by her own elegance — R. F. Delderfield> <London was not all vapid dissipation — V. S. Pritchett>

I preferred Brian's possible explanation which was "the combination of "vacant" and "stupid'".

I'm going to add it to my vocabulary. Sometimes its going to have its intended meaning, and sometimes I'll actually be referring to Brian's definition. It's up to you to figure out when it means what. I'll know, but I won't disclose.

The days growing noticeably longer. Mornings becoming bluish violet with my second cup of coffee. A late supper that doesn't have to be pitch dark.

My "new" sewing area. Ma and Pa Hildebrand's original 1950's chrome kitchen table set before the living room window. Lovely view (note the bluish early evening light), excellent lighting, splendid blue chrome chairs (yard sale-ed last summer), and a collection of pyrex, green glass, and enamel bowls with just a few of my favourite buttons.


Inspirational thrifted fabric. Brian and I explored an MCC that we'd not previously encountered and I found this long, retro velveteen skirt boasting 1970's swirls and images of trees. It may actually inspire me to lose myself in some creativity.

This yellow crocheted throw for a whopping $2.50. Somehow I manage to throw together all manner of incongruent colours and textiles in my home and I wholeheartedly believe that it works. If you disagree, go to the home show and be all boring like that. See if I care. And after that, I'll "unfriend" you. pfffffft.


After being in a bit of a pit for about two weeks, sometimes weeping but mostly stuck silent in some dark place, he has remained patient. And today he suggested we hit up some thrift shops. I'm pretty sure he did that just for me, and if I'm wrong, I don't want to know. I prefer my romantic fantasy. He even feigned interest in the three skirts I purchased today (yes, I have a thing for skirts, and yes, they were $2.00 each...), and insisted that I buy a book at Chapters that I had my eye on.

Thrift shops, Book stores, Black coffee. True love.

Did I mention that he remains uncritical of my passion for collections, colours, textures, layers, and in-congruency? That he doesn't react upon coming home to the house being entirely rearranged for the upteen-billionth time? (I once heard a story of a friend's husband throwing a hissy fit if she so much as moved the couch an inch or three. He'd grown up with too much uncertainty and simply couldn't cope with change. I realized then that I hadn't chosen Brian simply for his studly good looks and ability to boil water).

Breakfast at Stella's. Every now and again on a Sunday morning as church sidewalks are being shovelled and dads all across the province are yelling at their kids to hurry up and get in the car, I enjoy a serene drive down St Mary's road in stillness and anticipation. My car knows its own way to Stella's, with my friend Karla in tow. Well before solidifying our breakfast selections we have become lost in the meeting of our minds, hearts, questions, hopes, and fears. Some people can ask the question "How are you?" and it can be answered within the breadth of two words. When Karla and I meet at Stella's, its bound to take several hours just asking and responding to those three words. I find myself expressing things I only say or think in whispers to my own self in the dark after midnight on a night with no hydro. I find that in these tellings, I am able to draw some lines in the dot to dot that is my life.

We sit back and look at each others' pictures. It's an amazing gift, to be found this way. To sink into the safety of being heard and understood. To feel so safe.

I chose the post "Things I am loving this weekend" because its been a hard two weeks. I've found myself again in a dark place, as is my recurring story. It's been difficult to remember peace and satisfaction and harmony. I've warred with myself, I've engaged in endless internal dialogue with any number of wolves. I've felt frightened, frustrated, weak, and inadequate. I sat down a time or two to write from the trenches, but I felt too vulnerable to hit "publish". And then, this weekend, some strong beams of light broke through. And that's what I decided to write about and publish.

I'm revisiting those dark places, and I'm challenging myself to find that publish button again. This is my life. This is my story. Whether I be met, understood, misinterpreted, misconstrued... these are risks that I will contemplate. And hopefully decide to live out loud, anyway.

In any case, I'm so grateful to be able to authentically publish all the real life gifts that always find me wherever I am, and refill me again with hope, and light, and just the tiniest little bit of clarity.

What are you loving?


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Short List of Awesome

  • Le Miserables: there are no words. Just go see it, and bring kleenex.
  • Coffee in the morning. (and usually mid-morning, afternoon, and occasionally evening).
  • My daughter Jane. She has been working and working and saving and its about to pay off! On Wednesday she flies away to Cuba with her friend's family for a glorious week of fun. Danielle was Jane's first great friend when we moved here ten years ago, and I always valued hearing their shrieks of pure KID FUN when they threw themselves into Danielle's pool just a two house stone's throw from our back door. When they get together, they know how to PLAY. And that's what I'll be imagining them doing for a glorious week.
  • And my daughter Arianna, who is away in Guatemala these days. She had her bag slashed in a crowded marketplace, and her wallet got stolen. Fortunately she was not carrying her driver licence or passport, but did "lose" her debit card. I'm always proud of my girl for not getting rattled and frightened of life. She just figures it out and marches on. She'll come home in April a changed woman, and I mean that in the proudest, most pleased sense of the word.
  • Monday off! We are right now packing overnight bags for a little trip to Brandon, where all our babies were born. A day of swimming and snack munching, and a double date for me and Brian this evening with friends who've stuck with us even when they know better. Tonight we will dress up and head out to one of Brandon's best kept secrets: the annual Chef's Dinner. Just imagine all manner of chefs getting together and trying to outdo each other in the kitchen and little people like us getting to eat it all up. We haven't been in ten years or so, since we moved away, but I've never been to a chef's dinner that I didn't like. Never.
  • My mom. I saw her last night, and she made us belly laugh with her self-effacing humour and brute honesty. I'm sure gonna miss her some day. And I often dread that time, I worry that I won't handle it very well at all. And then I'm mad at myself for not spending more time with her. But now I'm sliding away from awesome and toward something that sniffs of guilt. ewwww.
  • A warm house. Sometimes when I'm running errands in Winnipeg and hate the cold, I think about homeless people and wonder how they have the will to survive. I hate being cold, and usually get through the winter by spending as much time indoors as humanly permissible. Some people don't have that choice. I meanwhile love my cozy warm house, and I love looking out at the wind whipping about just a few meters away while I feel nothing but warm.
  • Hope. The older I get and the more that I reflect on things that have caused me difficulty through my life, the more I realize that the core is mostly anxiety. Strangely, knowing this gives me hope. Knowing this helps to release me from the chronic sense of failure and inadequacy. Well, if not release me, at least provide me some measure of comfort that its this malfunctioning section of my brain that is "to blame" for the relentlessness of some of my voices. ("It's not you- it's your brain"?!)
  • Friends. I have some of the world's finest. I line them up in my memory, and study them one by one. Each one brings something to my life that I value. They are different from one another, and the richness of those differences is one of the things I treasure about having this wide circle.
  • Ok, that's the short list. How about one of yours?

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

She Slid Off that Mountaintop

I admit its been a tough transition; this business of the weekend being over and the tiny minions reinvading my house like its their right to tromple all over it, glancing at me as their appointed eager handmaiden bearing cups of cold water and hot sandwhiches on plates.  I've been trying to comfort myself with endless miniature pots of strong coffee, pinterest indulgences, the reading and rereading of favorite e-mails, the loss of myself in another book.  (Anne Lamott;  Imperfect Birds)

The littles are adorable with their ringlets bouncing, toddling around with tall entirely breakable drinking glasses they find on the coffee table from my own darlings' late night ice tea indulgences (grrrrr).  They destroy the box that the game is supposed to hold, chatter endlessly while their banana bread falls out of the sides of their mouths in globby slobbering remnants.  They pee on the bathroom floor because it was so much fun to splash in the water that the sink holds, they quite forgot why they'd entered the room in the first place.  They poop their pants, spank one another, and endlessly lap around the carpet, onto the couch, over its side, back to the carpet... until I sigh because I quite like that couch- with its wide vintage armrests, its retro floral designs, its sturdy cushions.  It's held up perfectly for all those years, and now its dissolving before my very eyes.  It doesn't matter that I patiently remind them that I have a trampoline.  Its buried now in the backyard, in this impossible winter, and we won't see the likes of it in month upon freezing month from now.

I've been supplementing myself with almonds and raisins.  Crunchy, delicious, chewy and sweet.  I don't share.  I eat in secret- this thing I reserve for myself and will not surrender.

Sometimes I straighten out the living room to cheer myself up.  Reposition the yellow and teal table cloth, push the chairs back, vacuum under the couch.

They love that.  Its perfect for un-re-arranging, dumping the "Arthur Game" pieces behind the cushions on the couch, ripping the table cloth off and making it into a tent.

I want to feed myself Peek Freans and granola from Costco, microwave chai tea concentrate and soy milk in oversized mugs.... And nap.  I want to scream into my pillow, keep a clean house, enjoy some solitude.

Sweeping up under the table for the gazillionth time, I vaguely remember summertime, when we snack on the deck, letting our crumbs fall where they may.  I remember walks to the slide, picnics in the backyard, a hose and a sprinkler.

Worse yet, I remember Saturday- full of women who questioned but not in whiney, demanding ways.  Who never left poop fingerprints on my fabric, or said; "I don't like that" to everything I put together.  I remember my brain and body and soul being completely alive in its every part.  I remember the zero meals that I put together, the zero times I vacuumed, and I remember that when someone cried, I usually wept along with them.  It that it was the kind of crying that made your soul feel like it was getting a clean spring shower.

I'm having a bit of a hard time transitioning back to real life.  And I think I understand it, and am trying to be kind to myself about it.  I think I have a picture in my head of that perfect day juxtapositioned against the messiness of ordinary, mundande, endless living.

I'd like to wrap it all up with something really inspired about carrying that goodness into my mess, because that's what I'm hoping to do.

But its just not coming together just yet.  It's a bit of a tough transition.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Women's Retreat, the link

I wasn't sure where to record this marvelous day- over here or at the bags blog.  I decided on the bag blog, because really its the bags that brought me here.  But I'm posting a link here, because I'd love for you all to read it.  And I really wish you all could have been there.