One Of Those Days

October 19, 2011

Poppies

Today is one of those days when I can close my eyes and remember so clearly. I remember each bleep in the quiet corridor of the hospital and the soft padding of the nurses shoes when they walked by your door. I remember holding your hand, absolutely certain you would unconsciously notice me opening your fingers to nestle my cheek in, planting butterfly kisses on your warm palm while softly inhaling you in. I remember how beautiful you looked even moments before dying, telling you my every move even though I made so few of them and how you must have taken my leaving your side (for that brief moment) as your cue to leave me. The  knots in my stomach were tighter than usual as I thought how incredibly ridiculous the joke was that the Universe  playing as I sat by the phone wondering what I would say, how I’d screw it up like so much else, dreading being the one to break the news. I recall how clear the sky was in the early morning hours and how crisp the air felt on my skin. I remember seeing Mom not long after the calls were made and how her warm embrace had never felt so comforting. I still miss you Dad although over the years the feelings have been tinged with sadness and anger at you for not trusting enough to be yourself. Eight years later there are questions where pure remembrance should be. Despite it all, I love you deeply (depth can be complicated) and I know I always will.

Point of View

March 12, 2011

Gracefully labouring under the weight of it all.

There’s something about a challenge the has me quaking in my boots. I’m not one of those people who, as much as I long for it at times, does change very well. Lately, I’ve been wondering what this particular characteristic of mine is all about. Challenges are a basic part of life so, why aren’t the positive ones met with more of the butterflies of excitement instead of those fluttering bat wings of dread.

It’s a matter of perspective.

Now, although I think all challenges could lead to changing a situation for the better I’m not going to pretend I welcome all of them. I’m talking about the type of stumbling block that stops me in my tracks on the way to a desired goal. Whether it be learning a new language (yes, I am still taking French classes and it is not always easy) or finding a better way to make a living (I’ve been at the same job for over twenty years), when the going gets rough, I either want to give up or completely ignore (or try to ignore) that I wanted to improve my situation to begin with.  Most of the challenges I come up against are filled with positive change: a move forward, a step ahead, a possible way to sliding me closer to a goal I’ve been pining to attain.

I think what it all boils down to is a general lack of confidence. Fear of failure is an enormous weight to bare, especially when you have (or had) no idea you’ve been hoisting it around since you were old enough to strive for anything. I believe making a conscious effort is the key to change but as obvious as that sounds it is not always simple to see. We can fool ourselves into believing that it is better to stay in a discontented situation then changing our position in life because it can be scary not knowing what the view will be like from that new location. But I’m beginning to understand it’s better to tighten those boot laces around my quaking legs and start climbing.

A sign of what's to come.

Reflection

March 5, 2011

When I woke up last Sunday I peered out the window and saw piles of that fluffy stuff clinging to the branches. You would think I’d be over seeing all that snow by now but instead my heart, as opposed to skipping, jogged a few feet ahead, inspiring me to toss back a coffee, grab my cam and pull on my Sorrells as quickly as possible before the snow started melting.

I was trying to capture the trees reflecting in the creek which looked stunning, especially when the sun was out. I am not doing the scene justice.

It was a stunning day on the trail and had been way to long since I last ventured down there. It always (always! ALWAYS!!) lifts my spirits which have been hovering in low terrain these days. Even though my swoop in mood hasn’t felt so great (don’t worry I swing up ever once in a while) I have a pretty good (ugh) feeling I know what’s responsible for it. The trick will be to grab that overbearing catalyst by its root and keep pulling up (up! UP!!!) with as much strength as I can muster. This has got to happen. I hope to write about it sometime soon once I can form a few coherent thoughts about this place I’m in and have a clearer vision of where I’m going.


Revolution

February 18, 2011

I wanted to post something today but I have one eye on the clock. I don’t even have a photo to share since it’s been a while since I went on a date with the Rebel (Canon T1i). Soon though… Soon.

Actually, I’ve been feeling a bit rebellious myself, lately, hoping to start a revolution against the those places inside of me that think it’s okay to avoid seizing the day. I think I’ll play this song by Tracy Chapman (don’t you just get the best vibes off this woman?) as my daily anthem and stir things up around here.

What’s In Store?

January 2, 2011

Somewhat brittle and a touch prickly but still oh, so beautiful. Spotted on a path at the Evergreen Brickworks.

 

There is a great James Baldwin quote, from his novel, Go Tell It On The Mountain (which I read years ago. Loved it.) that says,

People pay for what they do and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simple, by the lives they lead.

How true. I really do believe we are solely responsible (once we are of age) for how our lives unfold and that it is up to us alone to make it happen. That’s not to say we can’t ask for help when you need it or that it is easier for some and more difficult for others. True, circumstance plays an enormous role in how it all plays out, and some us us, due to those very circumstances may have an easier go than the other guy. But when trying to cultivate our own lives, is the other guy really our concern? I’m not suggesting we turn our back on others but when we’re attempting to “get our shit together” I find making comparisons can really get in the way. I say keep your eyes on your own garden and let your neighbor worry about theirs. The seeds of life you sow are your sole responsibabilty. How you chose to weed, water or landscape will depend on your style, your knowledge of gardening and how deep you willing to dig in order to get the job done. It will be up to you to find the right teachers to help you if your thumb is not green enough. And up to you again to select the perfect plants to bloom in the various conditions you’ve been supplied with. But remember, if you don’t have enough sunshine for your needs, or if the soil is to dry where you’re standing, you can always cut down a tree or move to a climate more suitable. It’s up to you to decide.

Of course, you could always look up to the stars to see what’s twinkling on the horizon. Here are a few astrological aids to help you determine what’s in store for 2011. If you’re a Cancerian like myself all you need to do it read on. If not, just click on one of the links to see what 2011 has on your agenda.

Now Magazine says

Cancer Jun 21 | Jul 22 Decades ago, the U.S. built a network of sleek expressways to make it fast and easy for cars to travel between cities. But like many of America’s impressive engineering feats, this one took little account of what the human soul might enjoy. Ugly buildings or empty spaces surround many of those roads. Visually, the difference between I-95 in Georgia and I-74 in Illinois is negligible. “The Interstate highway system has made it possible,” said Charles Kuralt, “to go from sea to shining sea without seeing anything.” You cannot afford to let this be your operative metaphor in 2011, Cancerian. Your potential for rapid, extensive progress is sizable, but it would be a mistake to barrel along with your eyes fixed on the prize in the distance as you neglect what’s happening along the way. Be both global and local; romance the details as you revel in the big picture.

The Globe and Mail says:

CANCER: JUNE 21 – JULY 22

You must start as you intend to continue this year – and that means being proactive rather than reactive, as appears to have been the case recently. With the first eclipse of 2011 falling in your opposite sign, you will achieve more by working with other people than going it alone. The solar eclipse in your birth sign on July 1 will mark a turning point, reminding you that success and commitment go hand-in-hand. Even so, if you focus too hard on the glittering prizes, you will simply end up dazzled. As someone once said, “the important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.”

Eye Weekly says:

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
You’ve been hurtling along at a breakneck pace this year, Cancer, and you’ve actually done a pretty good job of keeping up. An inventory of your accomplishments makes you sound like a bit of a big shot. Why, then, do you feel so hollow? Resolve to take more time to feed your soul this year.

More Illusions

October 30, 2010

And speaking of illusions…

I over heard a conversation , on the streetcar, the other day involving two early twenty-something year old dudes, that went something like this:

Dude A: You know the real way to keep a girl interested in you is to be mean to her.

Dude B: Huh?

Dude A: I’m serious. All the girls I know seem to be only interested in the guys that are treating them really badly.

Dude B: Hm, now that you say it…

Dude A: Yeah. I’m always nice to the girls I’m interested in and sure enough, the next thing I know, they’re either avoiding my phone calls or they’re going out with someone else who’s treating them like dirt. The nicer I treat them, the farther they run. And, as soon as I do something that’s not so cool they can’t return my calls fast enough.

Dude B: Really?

Dude A: Yeah. So if your interested in somebody it’s better to be mean to her – but it’s definitely not an easy thing to do.

Dude A doled out that last sentence with such a heavy heart it pretty much broke mine. Me, the one who actually fell for the load of crap that young fellow was spewing until I was a bit older than old enough to know better. Sitting here, knowing what I know now, which is – run like bloody hell away from anyone, man or woman, boy or girl, who is not treating you the way you deserve – with love and kindness, might seem incredibly obvious to someone who does indeed knows better. But this way of being will fall on deaf ears to someone caught under the zero-or-less self-esteem spell. A spell I was most certainly pinned under in my younger days. It is not so much difficult but embarrassing to admit to some of the less than worthy ways I allowed myself to be treated. I do not have an extensive history of love affairs but can say my heart was crushed on more than a few occasions by guys just like those mashers Dude A described while he was flipping out relationship advice to his buddy like a bad hand of poker. I could not help but feel bad for everyone involved. It was clear that these to young men felt sick about the prospect of having to be assholes in order to win a girl’s heart and doubly vomitous to think that they were probably right to a certain degree. I know I wasn’t the only gal pining for the bad boy while steering clear of those thoughtful and kindhearted blokes who showed an interest in me (a miracle in itself in those days). Why on earth I chose to wait by the phone for some guy to call me, my heart racing whenever it rang, then feeling it sink when it wasn’t the person I hoped it would be, even though he said he would call, I will never know.

The good news is I did eventually figure it out and have found myself a kind heart to share mine with. Sure, relationships are supposed to be about compromise but when you discover you’re having to negotiate who you truly are, or what you sincerely want, in order to accommodate that special someone’s existence in your life, my advice to you is run away. Run hard and keep running until you find the closest mirror to gaze into and then repeat these words over and over again until the grimy sludge of self-loathing slides of your glowing skin: I love you. I love you. I love you. Yes, keep staring into your own eyes and chant those words until it is impossible for you to be drawn towards bad behaviour. This might require a bit of effort but it works. Other ways to achieve this goal include doing nice things for yourself, avoiding so-called friends that make you feel bad, treating others the way you deserve to be treated (see above), treating yourself the way you think your friends should be treated (we would never allow our friends to put up with or do some of the shit we allow ourselves to go through, so take your own advice) and so on.

I hope those guys on the streetcar stay true to themselves by continuing to treat the girls they’re interested in a way they feel comfortable because in doing so they will not only be honouring their potentially future girlfriends, they will be honouring themselves which is the most important part of the game.

Grace

October 19, 2010

Today is one of those days where I find it difficult to avoid reflecting on my life. In the same way that, say, the new year, the beginning of September or even a birthday can have me scanning my internal inventory, in order to assess where things are at. Today is like one of those days – but more profound. Seven years ago (seven? really?!) at this moment I was gathering up the remnants in a room on a palliative ward: a bath robe, slippers, newspapers and toiletries, the personal effects my father had just left behind after sailing away, although I felt as if he was still with me. And, I guess he was. He always will be.

If I were to thrust a fist into my brain and pull out a few random memories from that morning, my unfurled palm would reveal: Butterfly kisses my eye lashes planted on my father’s hand while he was sleeping. Me watching him inhale then exhale then inhale – for hours. Then afterward, making dreaded phone calls to siblings and relatives. Sitting with my father’s partner (who had spent almost every night with him while he was in palliative care) and feeling so close to her. I remember meeting my mother (they had divorced close to thirty years earlier) in the parking lot of the facility. I can still almost feel that cold, crisp, October morning, Winnipeg air on my skin. I can still almost see, when I close my eyes, how incredibly clear and blue and, yes, even breathtaking the sky appeared through my blurry eyes and foggy, sleep-deprived and heavy head. I remember how good it felt to see my mother walking towards me and then putting my arms around her and pulling her warmth in. And, I recall, so vividly, saying good-bye to my dad while mom waited outside his room. It felt as if he was still there with me except for the absence of movement, save for that tsunami sized tear stain spreading on his gown.

Anyway.

Days like today make me think about the past and how you can never change it. How pointless it is in trying. Have you ever done something you regret?  When after the deed is done, or, isn’t done, you wish you had – or hadn’t? If only you could hit rewind, then record again, and see what outcome might unfold. I have. Who me? But regrets are so pointless. Our lives are not pieces of film we can wind back and do over. We can’t hit select all, or some, and then delete and retype. We are human and a part of life is about fucking up and then, hopefully, learning from our miss-takes. I can not say I am proud of all of the choices I’ve made in my life or that at times I’ve not strayed from the path of who I want to be. I continue to grow daily and I continue to fumble along and then brush my bruised knees off and try again, gracefully at times, and not so gracefully at others. I can beat myself up and pat myself on the back, as well as saying and doing the wrong things and then feeling as useless as a piece of old driftwood. But even a piece of driftwood can be used as a buoy at times. If need be.

Sometimes my gut churns over past events I could have handled differently. Why did I say that? Do that? React that way? Allow that to happen?And I can find if hard to recognize the person responsible for those things even though it is into my own eyes I am glaring. But these things do happen. I am certain the amount of energy I expend (is the word waste too harsh here) in making those churning motions could serve be better elsewhere. I cannot erase the past nor should I bother trying. But I can recognize when I have behaved a way contrary to my true character and I must adjust myself accordingly time and time again. All I can do now is learn, grow, move on, move forward.

By the way, this morning I read via my friends blog, here, a coincidentally related piece which can speak to all of us about “perfection”.

My father was not a perfect man (neither and I nor I have ever claimed to be – although I still get the point of that shared link above) but I loved him deeply. I wish he had said more and/or that I had asked more but none of that can be changed now. I suppose we all need to decide what we want to hang on to and what are the things that we need to let go.

What’s My Motivation?

February 7, 2010

I haven’t felt very motivated to post lately. No, not that I haven’t wanted to but the words are all jammed up – again. What can I say when the words escape me? There are days, such as these, when I stare at the blank screen for a while, fingertips poised over the keyboard, in their way (I never did take typing in school and have developed my own… ahem… system), until I have to walk away. Ironically, when I’m in this kind of situation, this what-to-write-about-head-space, one of the best things I can do is to sit quietly for a while. To calm my mind down enough to smooth over the edginess to create the surface required, I guess, for an idea to take root. That’s the problem with over thinking, or at least, my problem with it. It’s not necessarily a lack of something to write about, it’s more, which one to I grab on to? And, once I have hooked on to it, how do I express myself? There are only so many hours in a day. How many can I afford to… expend (I hate the word waste in this context) this way.

(By the way, I had a bit of a revelation yesterday but I’m not ready to write about it yet. I think I’ll mull it over for a little while. Just thought I’d put that out there.)

It’s interesting… Deciding to do this. To write this blog. To sit here, putting myself in this position. What for? I know I’ve asked this question before, but really… It’s not like I have anyone to answer to, so why do it? Why be faced with these/those moments when I feel a bit let down with myself (not that often) when I have nothing to say, or the lack of words to express myself when I do? It’s difficult to explain but it’s a gut feeling that draws me here. Not everyday is a masterpiece but there is pleasure in attempting form something... To snap a shot, or to pull a thought out and say what I mean. Yeah, it’s satisfying to work through the mishmash. As much as the spinning wheels inside my head can throw me off course at times, it’s part of my process. I find it fulfilling, as difficult as it can be at times, to wade though the knots and blocks and tangles. To walk away when I have to, scratching my head, wondering what’s wrong. It feels necessary to grab on to it (whatever it is) and twist, bend, shape, reshape, crumple up and smooth over… to strive to make it work. Because sometimes it does and that’s what keeps me trying.

There… I feel better.

I’ll Show You…

November 10, 2009

Now, why the effe didn’t my alarm clock go off this morning? I suppose if I can’t figure that one out why would I except anyone else to? It doesn’t hurt to ask though, right?

So…

My class was absolutely fine last night. When I arrived, before le professeur entered the room (meaning I could secretly speak in English) I was telling my classmates how I felt about the test we had the week before. I didn’t bring up all of the past emotional trigger stuff that I wrote about a few days ago. But, I did tell them there are certain parts of the class I find baffling, especially where oral comprehension is concerned. I was happy to hear we all find it somewhat baffling (yes, misery does love company). I’m thinking this is all a part of the learning process (bafflement and all). If we just stick to it, one day we’ll  get it. Et, voila. I think I was mainly concerned because I’d never taken a course before and felt I was out of my league. But, it seems as if we’re all on the right (or at least same) track.

This all reminds me of my first (and only) year of  university when I took an English Literature course. After the first test, given during the first week of school, the prof came up to me a day or two later and basically told me she didn’t think I’d cut it in her class. (I’m mellllllllltiiiiiiiiiiiiing… ) Oh, the humiliated feeling I can conjure to this day. What I wish I had done was thank her for the opinion (as in, “yeah… whatever, like, thanks”) then worked my ass off to prove her wrong. Instead, I plastered a fake, half mortified expression on my face, swallowed and ocean’s worth of tears then spent a very long time pretending it didn’t matter.

This time around is different but I’m sure the beating of my heart after class last week had a rhythmic connection to my English Lit class some 20 years ago. It helps that Monseuir Professeur in my French class is very supportive (or at last I think he is. If only I could understand him.) And now, I seem to be my harshest judge.

I’ll show me.

Exposed

November 9, 2009

Is it Monday already? I’m not in the mood. It’s still early, not even 8am, so it’s possible this feeling of ugh-ish blech-ness will lift. By 1pm the temperature is supposed to soar to 18 degrees celsius. If that doesn’t lift my mood, what will? Yesterday’s temp was the same. It was an absolutely glorious day here in Toronto (even though I wasn’t feeling that hot, either). It must be a combination of things. My head is twirling from all of the things I want to take care of (but isn’t it always?). Plus, I have a French class tonight (my first one since The Test) and have to admit it’s worrying me a bit. I want to feel excited by it, not anxious, but I have one of those internal programs running from my past that makes me feel clenched inside. It’s all about perspective and I need to change mine. I have to try lifting my head above that chin up bar of life. Trouble is my arms are kinda shaky. That’s what happens when I’m outta shape. (Note to self: try wedging a long overdue yoga workout into today’s schedule. Yoga has that ability to help me both physically and mentally and I could use a lift in both of those areas right about now.)

Yesterday, I pried myself away from what seems like a pile of  never ending chores (that’s me whining) and took a walk along Taylor Creek. As I’ve written before, that place has a way of pulling me up. I hadn’t been there for a couple of weeks and what a difference a fortnight makes. So many of the leaves have fallen, making what once appeared as a secluded trail seem more like a path along the main stream. And I have to say, I liked that secluded trail, hidden and protected by a lush canopy of leaves. But, it is that time of year and it does still look breathtaking – just different. This makes me think about my yearning to speak a new language. I suppose I’ve run away from the effort all of these years because I didn’t want to place myself outside of my comfort zone. Away from that feeling of safety I get hiding from appearing like a fool. For the record, I don’t really think I look like a fool I just feel like one. I can feel so exposed like those trees along the trail. I always marvel at how vulnerable they look in autumn but come May they seem so  sturdy and strong. It’s all a part of the process.

I have every intention of getting back on the trail this afternoon so I better clear this mess of my desk (and out of my head) so I can make that happen.