Wednesday, June 22, 2011

a terrible thing to waste

I was just daydreaming - something we're told as children is a waste of time. Something I've probably even told my own sons now and then to snap out of. 

It was a great dream - I could almost feel the breeze that wafted through our open windows carrying freshness and the smell of ocean salt. The space was one of light and love. It was an impressionistic dream - short and soft. Full of promise, and a reminder of who I am, what matters to me, and what I'm doing here.

It left me ... happy. No, that's not accurate. It left me deeply satisfied. This moment - life as it is now - is what I have that will help me get there. And it's still there - that future life that is in process. I don't have to strive, or to fight against what is. I just have to remember that dream. And remember TO dream. 

It's a relief to know that I can still dream. I had thought that I had forgotten how to, but apparently that's not so - phew! What scared me about thinking that I'd forgotten how to dream was knowing that without a dream - without that seed of a future, I'd end up with just a default life. We are not here to survive - we're here to experience and share and grow and learn and laugh. 

I find it easy still to slip into a funk. Although life is ticking along, the reserves aren't yet quite where they need to be to fend off occasional bouts of melancholy. Today, however, I learned of one of the tools in my tool belt that I can pull out as needed. And you can bet I won't be telling anyone anytime soon that daydreaming is a waste of time. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

oh, the humanity

"When you love someone you say their name different. Like it's safe inside your mouth."
I'm reading another Jodi Picoult book right now (full review in a few days) and there's a part of me that, though I find her books utterly un-put-downable - feels somewhat manipulated when I read lines like that and they instantly evoke tears and regret and an ache in me.  

I love - fully, mostly freely, sometimes ferociously, and always imperfectly. And, because feelings do not come in just one crayon, I sometimes rage fully, freely and ferociously. Or fear in the same degrees. I'm prone to jealousy and insecurity. I have a laugh that people comment on - it's one of my best features. But still, I love. 

So when I read and - for who knows what reason - internalise a line like that. When it reads as a punch in the gut - an indictment - instead of as just a line in an overly sentimental novel, I also feel resentment. Low grade. Fleeting. But resentment none the less. 

No, I am not a character in a novel. I'm a real live person who sometimes lets my own petty concerns get in between me and the people I love. And if I've learned anything this Spring it's that my humanity - our humanity - is not just okay, it's necessary if we are going to take care of ourselves and each other. 

That Picoult evokes such a strong response with fairly simple writing impresses me, but that doesn't keep me from feeling slightly manipulated. And maybe that human response is as okay as all the rest of them. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

outraged. or annoyed. or just sad - the birth of a lie

Two days ago I saw a link on twitter about a 15 yo girl named Alice who has terminal cancer and who wanted, as a part of her bucket list, to have her name trend. Something about it tweaked with me, so I searched for 'Alice Bucket List' and found her blog.

It's poignant and sweet and heart-breaking. I cried a little - not a lot - life isn't fair. Good kids die of cancer. And families get shredded on the process. But I cried, a little. For her mom, who Alice clearly loves and looks up to. And for Alice being brave in her process of dying and sharing it. Talking about her friends, and what she will and won't be able to do with them now. Talking about her bucket list, and which items are already out of the question (visiting Kenya and to be a dolphin trainer among the 'no long possible' items). 

At first the Twitterverse was just sharing about Alice. But yesterday there was a shift. What had been just 'Alice has a bucket list' grew into a lie 'Alice wants to trend on Twitter.' It's an innocuous enough lie, as lies go. But the more I thought about it, the more angry I got. 

Alice hasn't asked anyone for anything. As a 15 year old with the ear of the world she could have been outrageous and would likely have gotten a response. But she wants simple, happy things - a photo shoot with her friends. To enter her golden lab in a dog show. To eat loads of chocolate at Cadbury World. The ONLY thing Alice asked of other people is that they register to be bone marrow donors. She clarified that she doesn't not have a paypal button because she doesn't want donations. And, her list never mentions twitter.

What outrages me is that people will mindlessly click a button to retweet 'Alice Bucket List,' Alice will trend on Twitter (it's already happened - there are even newspapers reporting 'the sensation') and then people will pat themselves on the back for 'making a difference for a dying girl.'

You've made NO difference! It's just so typical that people want the good feeling of making a difference without any effort at all. You're tweeting anyway! It has cost you no time, no effort, and certainly no thought. 

I'm not saying I'm much better. After reading Alice's blog I did some research into what it takes to be a bone marrow donor in Canada. I've thought of it before, when Shiney's mom first became ill, but backed down. But it's an onerous process. It takes effort. It requires more than sitting at my computer and clicking a button. But, fueled by my annoyance, I've started the process. 

I can't save Alice's life. I can't spare her parents, and her friends, and her lab Mabel what they will go through in the next few months ... and for the rest of their lives. But I'll be damned if retweeting a lie is going to make me feel better about myself. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

a, a+, b, needs improvement

I am always ready to learn
although I do not always like
being taught. 

Winston Churchill
In a week of epiphanies, here is the second one ... I don't have to be perfect right now. It's okay that there are things I'm continuing to learn and master. 

More than one person has told me that I am too hard on myself. Mostly my response is 'ya, and?' But on a happy ramble this morning I suddenly realised that yes, I am sometimes hard on myself. But, I'm learning. And if that's not okay with people, that's just something they are going to have to deal with on their time. I'm learning. And like all learners sometimes I need support. 

I also realised that while there might still be things I'm working on, there are also LOTS of things I'm already pretty awesome at, and they sometimes get lost in the focus on what's not quite there yet. So I thought I'd make a couple lists to remind myself to keep things in perspective: 

Seeing beauty in nature, art, design, etcSeeing beauty in myself, and sometimes other people
Loving othersLoving myself
Cooking great mealsEating healthy
Playing with wordsCommunicating what matters to me
Taking care of the people I love   Taking care of myself
Being creative (ideas)Creating (actions/outcomes)
Generating incomeManaging my cash flow
Making people laughMaintaining a sense of humour in trying times

I don't know about you, but I see a couple themes in there. And one thing I know about myself - I've always loved learning. In fact, that's one of the things that goes in the 'Things I've Mastered' list.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

me day

I had an epiphany yesterday - it isn't anyone else's job to put me first when I consistently refuse to do so myself. I don't mean 'put myself first' in a self-indulgent or narcissistic way. After this past Spring I've been feeling so depleted, yet I've thought that somehow or other I was just going to get better without my doing something about it. It's been scary for me, and frustrating and exhausting for the people who love me. 

So, I took a preventative sick day today. Now that life is returning to a somewhat reasonable level of balance I can do some recuperating ... starting with sleeping in and taking care of myself for the day. It turns out it's harder than I thought to take a day off and do nothing. I slept in somewhat, but only about half an hour, so I declared that I was just not going to get out of bed until 10 am. Awake or not, I was staying in bed! I played with games on my iPhone, chatted briefly with STG - who also happens to be home today - and eventually headed out. 

The beach was calling. All I packed was my journal, my camera, my keys and my wallet. Unfortunately, all I wore was shorts and a tank top and the day was not nearly as warm as it had looked from my bed. Quick change of plans - I walked about in my neighbourhood, somewhat protected from the wind, and did something I have meant to for a while: buying fresh cut flowers from a stand just a few blocks over. 

From May to November the garden and the stand at this house bring me so much joy when I wander past, and this was my first time having the right change in my pocket to buy ... crimson peonies, royal cornflowers, sunny yellow and white irises. I generally keep freshcut flowers on my table, so I had to laugh tonight when BB1 said "I don't make a habit of paying any attention to your flowers, but those are pretty impressive. " I think he's right.

I did other things today that I don't usually do - I made myself three good meals to share with BB1. I sat by the water and watched the seagulls cavort. I kept my acupuncture appointment instead of giving it to Josh when his got mixed up. But at the end of the day, what makes me smile is the flowers. 

It's amazing to me that something so little can make such a difference to my day. Fresh flowers. The sun on my face. The smell of the beach. Writing in a journal instead of typing on a computer. Watching a seagull survey the world. Very little things bring me joy and a sense of myself. 

I'm going to try to remember this day ... and to have a lot more of them. I don't do anybody any favours when I'm so wiped out I can't function. A part of being who I am means being able to take care of the people I love, and that's going to require a little more in terms of  taking care of me. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

those kind of people

This weekend I had the pleasure and the honour and the fun of going to my Dad's 70th birthday party. I tried to say all this to him and mom the next morning, but they sorta deflected the point and talked about how blessed they are to have such loving family and great friends. So I'll say it here, and maybe if you see them you can help it sink in.

Dad blowing out the candles, with a little help from his
youngest grandson 
Nobody kept track of the number of people at Dad's party, but the crowd included 
  • his very busy hostess with the mostest and wife of almost 50 years,   
  • 2  out of 3 daughters & 1 son in law, 
  • 4 of 5 grandchildren, 
  • 2 sisters, 1 brother, 4 brothers in law, & 2 sisters in law, 
  • 2 nieces + their sweeties, 
  • and approximately 20 friends who went back at least 40 and perhaps as many as 60 years. 
At one point in the party Mom & Dad were actually able to recreate their wedding party photo, sans only the flower girl (I'll update this post when I get a copy). I reconnected with old neighbours from my childhood, who are neighbours again in my parents' retirement, and met some of Mom and Dad's new friends. The atmosphere was festive and relaxed and very honouring of Dad, and all of the guests were free to mix and mingle and come and go (even their dear daughters, who had been assigned some sort of task, wandered off with our boys to frolf in the park for a while - and I have to admit that was a highlight for me, having my boys together and all of us having fun). 

As I drifted off to sleep that night I was struck by the fact that Mom only put the call out about this party 2 weeks ago, and people came from as far away as Calgary - because my parents are the kind of people who  other people like to celebrate. They are not super flashy [though they are both stylish], they are super reliable. They are not on the cover of newspapers, but they show up time and time again - to help, to laugh, to encourage, and to celebrate others. They are accepting, encouraging, generous, fun and utterly loving. They haven't just stuck by each other for 50 years, they have been there for their daughters, grandkids, siblings, and friends. They've never asked for recognition ...

I've always loved my parents. Like any teenager there were definitely times when I didn't honour and obey them, but I have always loved them. And now, witnessing this weekend, and being in the room with all those other friends and family, I really hope that someone can say of me someday that I'm as count-on-able, generous, and fun as they are. I really hope that I am learning to be one of those kind of people.

UPDATE: The wedding party - then and now
October 1962
June 2011

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