Monday, December 31, 2012

insomnia

I crawled into bed last night thinking of this prompt and instantly wondered, did I take my pill already? Or did I wait, knowing that I wanted to watch TV in bed, that I wanted to stay awake, and the pill would make that difficult.

2012 was a year - a year in which I was haunted by hungry ghosts - left powerless and anxious for them. It was a year in which my happiness always had a shadow of things I haven’t yet figured out how to fix. And it was the first year in which I’ve experienced insomnia.

It wasn’t so much that sleep eluded me, but that I fought it off. The nightmares of my childhood returned, more vivid than ever. I would awake gasping, or whimpering, the dreams so real I could smell blood. I can still see images from the last one – the one that recurred through most of August. The one that STG bought me herbal tea and an obsidian cuff to ward off, the one he promised to help me fight. The pills help. I take them, and I sleep in a place so deep the nightmares can't find me, and I actually wake rested. They aren’t sleeping pills – they are for other things. But, they help.

I said at the end of 2011 that it had been my annus horribilus (yes, yes, a bad ass year), and I never wanted to see another like it. This year was different, so I suppose that wish came true at least in part. And yet, I could do without the sadness, the anxiety, and the insomnia. I could do without the heartbreak – my own, and the ones I feel responsible for.

It’s hard to remember the blessings this year had, when there’s so much ill sleep to cloud my memories. But, the pills help.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

moonlight

The moon hangs low over the water – lower, it seems, on the smaller islands. Closer too in the mountains. It has so much competition in the city, but still ... when it does shine in the city, what a sight.

I don’t know why I find such solace in the glow of the moon. The sun is so generous with its heat and light, but the moon. The moon is gentle. Constant in its inconstant ways. Strong, without its own source of that strength.

Oh, to hang from the moon, to dance in the moonlight, to glory in the oxymoron of its cool light.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

friend

Sometimes, once in a very long while, you meet someone with whom it is perfectly safe, and even preferable, to be fully yourself. With that rare, precious person, you learn what love and acceptance truly mean. You learn to be there for someone because of their unwavering ability to be there for you. Their friendship makes who you are perfect, and yet models for you to be someone better.

I cannot see the word ‘friend’ without thinking of Shiney. Of course, anyone who has been here before probably knows that, for me, ‘friend’ and ‘Shiney’ are synonymous. What we lack in time together, we make up for in love, acceptance, encouragement and ‘any time.’

There’s a touchstone for me and other people who battle depression – what would your best friend say about you right now? I’m grateful that the answer is always one that pulls me forward. And I’m especially grateful that we got some quality time together in 2012.

Friday, December 28, 2012

garden

The garden – that winsome spot that heals the soul while it breaks the back. One of the things that sold STG and I on our Love Nest was the terraced rock garden. It is a place to labour and to relax, a source of both food and of beauty.

If only it wasn’t laced with weeds. Insidious grasses twine under the soil, creeping, spreading, matting, and choking. Brambles stab, slicing open fingers eager to uproot them, grasping onto sleeves and pant legs and anything else that comes near fighting to continue their slow murder of the plants we tenderly nourish.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

edgar allan poe

I can't say that I've ever been a big fan of American gothic literature. Of course I’m familiar with The Raven - hear its echoes every time I declare ‘nevermore.’ I hear it even now, as I prepare to close out this year and begin a new one: A clean slate. Some definite lines in the sand. Eyes forward, onward and upward.

Ravens fascinate me with their sleek blackness, their curiosity and intelligence. If I were to be a bird, I think I’d like to be a Raven. Though perhaps not the kind that scrounge through garbage bins. I bet Ravens spend little time looking backwards.
This fine fellow is our bedroom doorstop. I call him Edgar, and trust him to keep my night's restful..

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

phoenix

I suppose as mythological birds go, a phoenix is alright. I don’t really get that inspired by them though. Maybe I’m just tired of the whole re-birth thing - tired of dusting myself off, dragging my singed tail feathers out of the ashes, and starting all over again.

It’s Boxing Day. The un-holiday-est of holidays, and just 5 days until a New Year, and all I want is a big glass of wine and a little peace and quiet. Today I identify much more with a waddling penguin – or maybe a dodo bird – than I do a phoenix.

And yet, I know that in just a few days I will rise up again. After a little break from the festivities, and maybe even, God willing, a little quiet, there I’ll be, plumage and all, ready to take on 2013.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

morning

Few morning’s dawn so full of life and promise as Christmas morning. We were a household of adults bounding eagerly from our slumbers this morning, and yet bound we did. To stockings full of sweet and handy surprises. To shared delight and curiosity ‘what did you get’ asked repeatedly, even from those who stuffed the stockings.

And then, what next. Time for breakfast, or straight on to presents? Presents it is. Slower now, paying attention to one and then the other. Flipping through the new world presented in a book. Trying on the lightly lacey scarf. Assembling a new bike repair stand ‘just to see how it works.’

We were a household of adults, transmuted to children by stacks of waffles and bacon. By hot fragrant stewed apples. By the joy of the day shared, and maybe even by silly hats.

Monday, December 24, 2012

christmas

Right now the smells in the house remind me of that line from A Christmas Carol, “He was conscious of a thousand odours floating in the air, each one connected with a thousand thoughts, and hopes, and joys, and cares.” Candles glow warm and waxy along the mantel, reflecting off our stocking hangers and photo frames. The grand fir, slowly loosing its freshness, still releases its sharp scent when we jostle it to fit another present under. BB2 and I have spent the day making ahead what we can for tomorrow’s feast - sage, rosemary, thyme and parsley from our garden layered over the scents of chocolate, mint and maple in the kitchen.

In the dark of winter, we’ve layered our house with light. Bright, coloured cheerful ones on the walk and  stoop. Twinkling fairy lights on the tree. Tonight we’ll play games and eat treats both sweet and savoury. And then, when BB1 and his sweetheart have left, we’ll stuff the stockings. Hoping they are full-enough, but not too full. Hoping we haven’t forgotten anything. Hoping, most of all, that we've focused on the love instead of on the buying. .

Christmas Eve has long been my favourite part of Christmas. The day itself is so much mayhem. I don’t enjoy cooking enough to appreciate a full day of it. But Christmas Eve, that intake of breath and excitement we all share. That's where the magic is. 

I love being someone who 'keeps Christmas well' - in keeping it meaningful and personal, which to me is so much more important than in recreating a scene from a magazine. I love having the people I love around me. I love making an effort and having it appreciated. I love having traditions – those my parents gave to me, those I created with the BBs, and those that STG and I are now creating in our new home. I love the planning, and the shopping. But more than that, I love sitting, the house quiet and rich, and listening for the angels to sing. I sit, and remember - ‘O come, O come, Emmanuel.’

Christmas has always been about anticipation. I suppose that’s the best tradition of all.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

grey

I’ve been mulling about this prompt all day - arguing with myself about what there really is to say, and what I prefer my prompts to be about. If this is to be both a 100 words prompt, and a reflection on the year, then I have to be honest – for me, the colour grey has been sullied this year by the ridiculous popularity of a very poorly written piece of smarm.

I have so much to say about it, and yet all of these strong opinions exist without my having read the book. I value my time, and my reading time in particular, too much to read crap. I don’t mean that I don’t read erotica, or even porn. I enjoy well-written erotica as much as I enjoy any other good writing. But despite, or perhaps because of, all the hub-bub, I cannot bear to waste a moment actually reading this book to do a full review. And yet, I feel like it has somehow subtle infected my life and for that I have to say something. 

What bothers me most is that this illiterate tripe is promoted to women and labelled as ‘mommy porn’[I could write a whole separate post on how obnoxious and offensive that term is, and perhaps I will later], women swoon and post not-too-subtle posts in social media about how this crap writing makes them swoon, and as a woman I despair for my kind. We deserve better. We deserve better writing than Twilight fan fiction full of clichés, strained metaphors, idiocy, and monotonous repetition, and we deserve better plots than being beaten into submission. If you really want to empower women's sexuality, as so many of the people who like this crap argue, wouldn't you write about a woman being dominant in her sexuality? Bah

I actually don’t know that I can write a coherent post about this. Everything I read just makes me cringe. My point is, I’ve always thought the colour grey was beautiful. Subtle, mysterious, comforting, deep. Previously, the phrase ‘shades of grey’ brought to my mind the subtle dance that happens where the ocean meets the sky. Or the million warming tones of a pigeon’s wing. Or the soft warmth of a wool sweater. How do you rename and reclaim a colour? 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

rain

I don’t want to write about rain. There is too much of it, by and large, where I live. I want to write about Christmas lights, and sparkling bows, and parties with people we love.

I don’t want to write about rain. About how we learn to do what we want to do whether it’s pounding down or just a drizzle. About the million times this year we’ve ‘gone anyway’ – the sopping first night camping on Hornby, the day trips up island with the wipers swishing.

I don’t want to write about rain. It’s dreary and inescapable. But “at least we don’t live in Vancouver,” and "at least it isn't snow," we regularly console one another. It's poor solace, for cold toes and seeping dampness.


Friday, December 21, 2012

abandoned

The little cabin looked as though it had grown rather than having been built by any human hands. It had grown up, provided the shelter that is its purpose, and now was returning to the earth. The logs melded naturally into the surrounding moss. Ferns softened the corners. A sapling grew in the rich humus of the rotting cedars that had once been walls.

Abandonment. It has such a final and dramatic ring. And yet, sometimes it is merely allowing things to return to their natural state. We cling to things, and to people, not knowing that sometimes, walking away is the most natural thing to do.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

treasure

I cup it gently, rolling it over, sighing and smiling and protecting it from danger. I blow gentle warmth on it, watch it fog and clear again, fading in and out of focus. It thrums, then whimpers – capricious and changeable, and mine.

The heart is a contradictory treasure, stone-weighty yet feather-fickle. It is fragile, yet infinitely self-healing - can shatter on a whim, a careless word, a thoughtless omission, and be reborn perfect moments later.

It is the only treasure worth keeping, yet it works best when given away. And therein lies the secret – to give it to someone who will cherish it, and give his in return.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

walk

I hobble and hitch. An old mare, good for nothing more than putting out to pasture. I forget, sometimes. My filly heart still wanting to frolic. And then the ping in the hip flexor. The moan of the knee.

Walking more than anything else reminds me of my age. And my weight. And my general neglect of my physical health. After two years of stuffing down my feelings with food, my body has begun to object.

I meet up with UberCoach. Smell the sunshine, or the wind off the water. Try to keep up her not-any-younger-but-much-more-willing legs. Focus on gratitude for the company. I hitch and hobble, and look forward to another Sunday wander.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

stars

...How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
Walt Whitman.
We lay back in the lawn chairs arrayed about the fire, our own constellation of laughter and love. Tall and small and saturated with sunshine, we waited. We watched. We groaned at missed comets and exclaimed over found satellites.

Our lives so long paralleled, so infrequently over-lapping. My oldest love and her family meeting and loving my newest love. We lay back in the lawn chairs arrayed about the fire, with friendship that glows steady, shared heartaches that flash like meteors, and new memories brilliant over faded clouded ones.

Stars shine brighter in the country and dance across the bowl of the sky.


Monday, December 17, 2012

expectations

Slippery, slimy, darting flashes of silver with razor teeth. The promise of joy and magic, shattered to grey disappointment. Expectations, great or otherwise, are the silent insidious thieves of vitality.

The thin line between hope and expectation is another razor – to one side lays a failure to share the magic of anticipation. On the other side lurks only the possibility is pain, blame, and hurt.

Unfortunately, you probably won’t know which side of the line you’re on until it’s too late. You’ve either missed the moment, or the moment has failed to deliver. A rose overblown, or a bud that withers on the vine.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

flowers

It's not much of a secret that I love flowers - live flowers, cut flowers, growing flowers, receiving flowers, photographing flowers. Okay, I may have a slight preference for receiving flowers, but it's hard to think of a situation in which I don't love flowers.

When STG and I moved into the Love Nest this past spring, I was over the moon about the immense beds of flower and herb garden just waiting for our tender loving care. Until we started working in them. My high ideas of pristine beds of weed-free beauties blooming in fast succession from April to November died a sudden death.

It turns out that kind of flowered loveliness is a lot of work. And, while I love flowers, it seems I’m not all that interested in working hard for them. Good thing my parents like a nice project now and then. 


Saturday, December 15, 2012

happiness

Knowing what today's blog prompt was going to be, I've paid attention throughout the day to my experience of happiness, or not. Mostly I just want to repost my post from June 14: if it makes you happy, who cares? But that would be cheating, and I'm trying to be a good sport.

If my day had a happy-o-meter, the high point would have been while I was outside in the freezing drizzle perfecting our outdoor display of lights and ornaments with BB2. The low point would be squabbling with STG in the grocery store about whether or not we need tortilla chips.

This is the minutiae that makes up life, that makes happiness in and of itself a pointless pursuit. And that makes me glad this prompt is over and done with and we can move on to more important things.


Friday, December 14, 2012

tears

Tears. What a thing to write about on a day like today. A day when I can celebrate having my sons in my life while 28 mothers mourn the loss of their babies of all ages. A day when my world was fine, until I found out what had happened in the rest of the world. I nearly lost my boys once – I hope never to get any closer to that bitter well.

My wise friend Lauren shared this quote: "Let us stay calm and openhearted while we manage our own fear and anger. And help us remember that news coverage is traumatizing for us and especially for our children." - Brené Brown

I had wished not to hear the news. Said stop when someone started to speak it. Rebuked them for not honouring my request. Have avoided what I can, short of shutting myself away from the world. I mentally hug my sons close tonight, the salty sting of tears never really far, and I selfishly thank God that I am not among the grieving mothers tonight.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

no time

I LOVE Christmas - not just the deeper meaning that means so much to me, but all of the mayhem as well. I could shop early, but I LOVE the frustration of a packed mall. I actually look forward to the busyness - the decorating, the extra baking, the events, getting together with friends and family. 

When you work for a charity, Christmas is an amazing time - you get to see the best of people, you get to give people the blessing of being a blessing, and really there is no better gift I could give. I get tired, yes, but it's mostly a happy tired and I know it's a time-limited demand on me.  

And then, sometimes something interrupts all of that. Something like a sputtering car that leaves me sitting quietly with BB1 while STG comes to rescue us. An interruption that leads to cancelling my evening plans and staying in. Making a quickie dinner while BB1 puts his 'special' ornaments on the tree. Retelling again the stories of where they came from. His current favourite is the fat terra cotta penguin his grandparents brought back from Mexico last year. It's a tree full of love. And now I'm sitting alone, watching tv, blogging, and enjoying having the house to myself. 

I like being busy. And sometimes I like a good reason to stop and smell the Christmas tree. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

cat

He is shiny, sleek and tricky as a shadow. His black on black markings showing only in the brightest light. He is almost unphotographable. He is not ours, but lets us feed and entertain him for now – he’ll leave when BB2 does, and we'll miss his flashing eyes and the fun he adds to our house. I'll even miss his laying in wait – hiding behind the door, charging down the hallway at me, leaping through the air, and swatting gently at my leg as he flies past. Sometimes he's elegant. Sometimes he trips over his own feet. 

Mostly he makes us laugh. Occasionally he makes is curse. He is 100% a man’s cat, with BB2 having prime place. He knows when BB2 is hurting and stays near. He’ll sit with me if no one else is around. He chats with us as we come and go, keeps an eye on everything, and catches moths out of mid-air. That skill alone makes him a keeper to me.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

mother nature

Nestled in the nurturing belly of the island, layer upon layer of green blankets thrown around us, even the air we breathe lends comfort. Sometimes we ride. Sometimes we walk, slowing our progress through the depths of the forest, seeing in detail, hearing the trees sigh, the mosses and grasses cushioning each step.

I do not worship nature – I worship its creator. And yet, in these rare and precious moments, I can’t deny nature’s healing powers. Spirit and body revive, and I am returned once more to myself.

There’s something people are calling nature deficiency syndrome. And after a weekend on Hornby, it’s easy to believe such a thing exists.

Monday, December 10, 2012

vacation

STG and I had an awesome extended road trip this summer doing some of our favourite things and visiting some of our favourite people. But what stands out to me when I hear ‘vacation’ are those even rarer moments, moments of peace. Moments of gratitude. Moments when my soul is at rest.

A mid-week day trip to Coombs or Port Renfrew stopping where we will without plans or agenda. Or resting in the backyard hammock with a glass of wine and a juicy novel. Watching the storm from a fire-warmed cabin on Mayne. Leaning against a log watching the water wash the beach. Pressing reset doesn’t take two weeks. It just takes grabbing the opportunity to breathe peace in as it dances past.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

rainbow

In the place of endless grey, where the sea and the sky melt eternally into each other, colour brings life. A merry Christmas red sweater. The sapphire blue of BB2’s eyes. A verdant Grand fir, decorated in sparkling gold and silver, green and red, blue and white. Fingers stained by dyed icing, joyfully and liberally applied to cookies.

Where I grew up, winter was deep and unending whiteness. Now it is grey, with rare breaks in the weather. And still, the colourful explosion of Christmas colour brightens this otherwise dismal season. As always, colour is a promise of life and it’s a promise we so need these days.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

blood

It's important to push my comfort zones, I know that. I believe that. It's important to keep on growing, try new things, not say no until you've said yes at least once. And so, with MissB in tow, I headed out for my first women's mountain biking workshop.

Day 1 was awesome and relatively simple. Okay, the wall ride did shake me a little. And I really felt like the double-berm was going to be the death of me, but by the fourth try it was fluid and smooth and I was wooting.

And then day 2. Starting right out on a trail I’ve hated so much before I walked it. Five minutes in, if that, catastrophe strikes and I go down. Hard. On my knee, and then over on my side. The rest of the group waited around a corner, looking aghast equally at my pale shaken face and oozing crimson legs.

It took all I had in me not to give up, but I didn’t. And yet, I haven’t been back on my bike since. It might be a coincidence. It might be the lingering smell of blood.


Friday, December 7, 2012

questioning

Sometimes I think that our culture makes too big a deal about questioning. “Question authority.” “Teach your children to read. And teach them to question what they read.” “Question everything.” Those blanket statements make great bumper stickers, but they make crappy philosophy.

Yes, I think we need people to be more careful about what they believe – any random perusal of a Facebook stream will reveal approximately 8 stupid causes per day that people unthinkingly get behind, exclaim about, etc. But, there’s something to be said for a little magical thinking, faith, and taking things at face value. 

What I question most of all is the rampant need we seem to have to make things either/or. One can be both a person of faith and a rational being. Both a thinker and a feeler. Both a Christian and a social liberal.What’s sad is when people are so busy questioning they don’t stop to experience the answers, and the lush reassurance of knowing.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

silence

I find more and more of late that I'm withdrawing into silence. Sometimes I can feel it happening – I open my mouth to speak, think better of it, and shrink backwards, fading against a warm dull colourless cloak of nothing. My mouth closes, and a piece of me atrophies – not total death, just a small silent shrinking.

It’s an insidious giving up. Behind every silence is a thought - ‘these words are not worth sharing; this fight is not worth fighting; I am not worth listening to.’ Giving up. Giving in.

My face shows everything though. Without making a sound I yell outrage, scream hurt, thunder frustration. Someday I will learn to make a mask of my face. And then I will be entombed in a silent shroud of my own making, of my own skin. Silence, but without any peace.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

smile

Oh irony, you are a clever clever trickster. Yesterday I was in a pretty good mood and the prompt was misfortune. Today's prompt is 'smile' and I am trying to view my laptop monitor through the flashing swirling aura of an impending migraine. It's coming on, and it's coming fast, if the dance of lights in front of me is any indication, and it usually is.

But, I said I’d blog every day for 100 days. I said, at least to myself, that I’d be unreasonable about it; as in, I would ignore any excuse or reason that might keep me from blogging. And, while I can only see clearly out of the outer edges of my sight, well, at least I can see that, right?

I am, oddly, smiling to myself as I play with editing, and trying to re-read writing I cannot see. I have to hold my head sideways and use my peripheral vision. It’s kooky. The squiggling red lines seem alive on the page. It’s like this – tape two kaleidoscopes in front of your face and then try to type.

Which makes me think. If I can blog – just because I said I would – even when I can’t really see the screen, what’s to keep me from smiling just because I said I would. Or doing anything else I say matters? Hmmm ... that’s one to ponder, right after I find my migraine medicine.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

misfortune

Misfortune had made Lily supple instead of hardening her, 
and a pliable substance is less easy to break than a stiff one. 
Edith Wharton

If fortune favours the bold, who does misfortune favour? The mousy, homebound wallflower? That seems unlikely. I mean, if you’re just sitting on your couch, how can misfortune even find you?

Well, it turns out that it can. It rides in on the coat tails of loved ones, snoops around for what matters most, and starts messing about with its sledge hammer.

Misfortune is more insidious than an uninvited guest - it’s a goblin – hiding in wait until you’ve relaxed enough to think it gone. Just when you’re breathing again, it pops out. Usually with worse behaviour than the first time.

I sometimes feel one startle from shattering, but I hope against all reason that, like Lily, I’m actually becoming more supple.

Monday, December 3, 2012

memory

Why is a memory that retains EVERYTHING considered a 'good' memory? I have one of these, and, frankly, I would give anything to forget. To forget the irretrievable mistakes. The forget enough of the past that it stops getting in the way of my future.

To be honest, the accuracy of my memory is actually up for some debate. But there’s a close circle of people who assume it to be accurate, so the things I remember the way I remember them are not often questioned. Except when they are.

I know we are supposed to learn from everything that happens. But once it’s over, couldn’t we just remember the lesson and forget the teacher?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

breathe again

Back in the studio. Back to the purple mat, the short shorts, the racer back tank, and the chance to breathe again. It has been far too long since my last yoga class, and it’s especially special to be there with STG. Yoga for 2. Separate in our practices, but together in our goals.

I miss yoga when I’m too long between visits to the studio. Yes, it’s possible to practice it at home, but in the studio, under the tender guidance of the teacher, I expand. My breath is slower and deeper, my spine straighter, my life simpler.

There’s no lulugirl inside me waiting to burst out. Just an aging mom with an aging body and an ancient practice that meets me where I am and guides me in the way I want to go ... and sharing the class with STG reminds me that wherever I'm going, we're going together. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

drive

I hold on white-knuckled. For no reason other than the excess of anxiety that needs expression somewhere through and out of my body. I brake, although the pedal is across the car from me. I try to slow my breathing. 

For some reason, closing my eyes makes it worse - I can't do my usual calming routine. I need to keep my eyes on the road so I can anticipate the next disaster. 

I used to love mountain drives. The curves. The hills. The speed. The centrifugal forces acting on my body. But not this year. This year I needed to control the things that could be controlled. And yes, I am cognizant of the quote from that Tom Cruise-Nicole Kidman travesty ‘Days of Thunder,’ “control is an illusion, you infantile egomaniac.” 

But sometimes an illusion is all that’s needed.

Friday, November 30, 2012

innocence

Innocence is fragile. Like a Victorian woman’s virtue, it’s gone in a whisper and can never be regained.

I’ve always enjoyed a modicum of innocence despite my age and experience. For some reason, until this year, I felt sheltered from the worst of life’s storms - even after a divorce, an abusive relationship, and some experiences I don’t talk about - some piece of me survived unsullied.

That changed this year. Something happened, and the last line was crossed. There’s been a lot of fall out, and there continues to be an impact. And, forever more, that last innocent, unknowing, naive piece of me is gone.

I grieve that loss as much as I do what happened.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

heaven

Heaven with a capital H is not much of my business. I figure God has that all dialed and all I have to do is get there. Heaven on earth though, that's a whole different ever-changing matter. 

Some days, heaven on earth is a 90 minute phone call to Shiney that leaves my side sore from laughing, my eyes damp with tears, and nothing unsaid. Some days heaven on earth is total silence, the house to myself, a book in my hands. Nothing in my head. 

Perhaps that’s my favourite heaven, because it feels so very rare and so very hard-won and, most days, so unattainable. Peace. Silence. A quiet mind. Heaven.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

pessimistic

It's a funny thing, but for all of my tilting against the dragon depression, I don't think of myself as a pessimistic person. Most of the time, even if things aren't currently okay, I do think they are getting better, or will get better. 

Are there some certain circumstances I feel less powerful to deal with? Absolutely! Are there times I get so beat down that I just want to curl up in a ball? Sure. Am I frustrated by the stasis in certain areas of life that matter to me? Hell yes. 

But, overall, even in those circumstances/moments/areas, I still know that life, by and large, is on an upswing. And not in that generic, social media campaigny, ‘it gets better’ kind of way, but truly really better in the tiniest of moments and in some of the biggest matters.

Pessimism? Nah. Not this girl. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

dreams & aspirations

For most of 2012, dreams and aspirations would more accurately be reflected in a post called nightmares and perspiration. Yes, I realise the prompt isn't referring to sleep dreams. No, that doesn't change how I feel.

It's hard to dream when each day is about survival - my own, or that of the people I love. Dreams get small and precious when loved ones are at threat, or a threat to themselves. Be strong. Don't give up. Little precious embers where dreams used to be broad strokes of sunset lighting across the sky.

I forgot, for a while, to have my own dreams and aspirations, focused as I was on fighting back the nightmares even during daylight. Let that be something we come back to in looking forward to the next year. Dreaming big again, splashing hope across the sky in bands of fuschia, orange and gold.


Monday, November 26, 2012

change

Ch-ch-ch-change turn and face the strange.

Well, I don't know if it's fair to call STG the strange. Though as changes go, moving into our love shack was sure one to grow on. Beyond the obvious address change, different light through the morning window, non-matching cutlery, and disordered spice cupboard there were, and still are, some huge changes that have come with sharing space.

The last time I moved in with someone, I was 20 and completely clueless about who I was, who he was and what it meant to live with someone. I’d never lived on my own, so there was nothing to give up. As it turns out, at twice or so that age, I thought I knew what I was getting into but there are still so many surprises - good and bad, and much less that I’m giving up than what I’m getting from having a warm place to fall, and warm arms to catch me.

And sometimes even marshmallows toasted in the fireplace. Change - sometimes it can be oh so comforting.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

dark

Did you know you can't see dark? I might be wrong, it just seemed like one of those things people say - there is no dark, only absence of light, or some such sloppy solipsism. It's quaint & achingly reassuring until the darkness is so palpable you choke on it while looking for the light.

If 2011 was the year of the best & worst of times, 2012 has been the year of beating back the darkness. There's plenty of light, it's just that the dark is so slippery and pervasive, the scent of it clings to everything I touch.

Sometimes I prefer the darkness. It's simpler, even if you never can see it.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

light

The light burned my retinas even with the curtains drawn and my eyes squeezed tight. Had I slept past noon? Had I slept until spring? Yes, I'd read late into the night and, when I finally closed the book, slept deeply and soundly. But, what could explain this burning light?

It is November. In fact, nearly the end of November, and today is a beautiful sunny day. I walked out the door at noon with only a fleece jacket on. After a week of dodging puddles and downpours, the sun already feels foreign.

The grey can be so all encompassing around here that a rare sunny fall day feels as fragile as a soap bubble and just as fascinating. Even as I write this the clouds are creeping across the sky. The light is burning lower now than it did when I woke up.

Perhaps I need some black out curtains. Perhaps I need to dance in the sun. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

love

You'd think that since 2012 was the first time since 1998 that I have shared my home with a significant other, that when I think love & 2012 that's what would come to mind, right? Well, yes. And no. That was the tender, exciting, adventurous side of love.

But there's another side to love. A love that exists because we choose it to, over and over and over again. Love that survives because we commit to it - because we say so, damn it, come hell or high water. This was also a year for that kind of love. For love that is silent, love that holds tight, and love the rages in the night against anything that rises to kill it.

Love that says yes, come home. And no, that’s not okay. This was a year when love had feet and arms. When it was a word that denoted action. That’s the love that 2012 knew. In and out of the love nest.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

introduction

Introduction? What the hell kind of prompt is that? Isn't that what the 'view my complete profile' link is for? Ponder ... 

ponder ... 

okay ... I can do this ... this prompt falls into the reverb12 category, so what was I introduced to in 2012? 

OH right, I rode at a mountain bike park for the first time. Silver Star Mountain Resort. And while I am very very clear that I am still just a very novice, nervous beginner, it was amazing. I wish all mountain biking was riding at bike parks. I am a fan of riding the lift up so I have all my faculties about me for the swoopy zoomy ride down. 


There you go then ... Bike Park Rides – nice to meet you!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

i would write 100 words and i would write 100 more

So, once again it's time to employ some outside mechanism to get me back in the habit of writing regularly (carrot, stick, cattle-prod - choose your weapon). My wonderful and talented BFF Shiney started her responses to the (mostly) one-word prompts below in her fabulous blog, and a life-long habit of tagging along on whatever Shiney is up to has me jumping in the fray. Of course, I also like to do things my own way so I will be using the same 100 one-word prompts, but I'll be breaking them up a little.

The first 40 prompts, beginning tomorrow, will take us through advent, Christmas, and the tail end of 2012. It's been quite a year - one might call it a roller coaster of a year - and so those 40 prompted posts will reflect back on the year that was - some highs, some lows, some 'that's life.'

The next 30 days/prompts will take us to my birthday. For the last 5 years, my birthday has been, in a word, abysmal. Some of the most significant upsets of my life have happened on my recent birthdays, or close enough for there to be shrapnel in my cake. I love the age I'm at, but have not been able to celebrate my trips around the sun with my usual gusto. I'm trepidatious - given what's gone wrong in birthdays past, I'm scared of what  might be coming. But, for the month leading up to this inauspicious day, a prompting we will go in 'all about me' land, most likely some trips down memory lane, but with an eye to creating my best year ever!

And then, the fun stuff - 30 days of free writing. It may be poetry. It may be creative non-fiction. It may be complete crap, but it will be fun. Or if not fun, at the very least free ... ya ... free ... that's the ticket. 

100 prompts for 100 days of posts with a target of 100 words. Short and sweet. Slow and steady. Starting tomorrow. You can read along on the 'Prompted to Write' label.
First 40 - Advent, etc
Introduction
Love
Light
Dark
Change
Dreams & Aspirations
Pessimistic
Heaven
Innocence
Drive
Breathe Again
Memory
Misfortune
Smile
Silence
Questioning
Blood
Rainbow
Vacation
Mother Nature
Cat
No Time
Tears
Happiness
Flowers
Expectations
Stars
Walk
Treasure
Abandoned
Rain
Grey
Phoenix
Edgar Allen Poe
Garden
Christmas
Morning
Friend
Moonlight
Insomnia

Middle 30 - Birthday Build Up
Solitude
Standing Still
What if…
Illusion
Hope
Night
Two Roads
Photo
4.29pm
Creation
Childhood
Sport
Deep in Thought
Danger
Sacrifice
Secret
Tower
Waiting
Rejection
Fairy Tale
Magic
Tropical
Do Not Disturb
To Dream
Advertisement
Snow
Playing the Melody
Envy
Puzzle
Obsession

Final 30 Free-for-all
Mischief Managed
I Can’t
Confrontation
Mirror
Movie
Insanity
Test
Drink
Starvation
Words
Can You Hear Me?
Sandwich
Pen and Paper
Heal
Space
Spiral
Seeing Red
Food
Effort
Pain
Triangle (deleted)
Drowning
Misunderstanding
All That I Have
Give Up
Horror
Storms
Safety
Annoyance
Relaxation 

Monday, November 19, 2012

a short story

A few years back, not too long after I'd settled in my chosen home town, I made contact with one of my best guy friends from 'the old days.' Snake and I had started school together in grade 1, been in accelerated elementary programs together, become fast friends by high school, and finally graduated together to escape our home town for greener, bigger pastures. From grade 10 on, I had a massive crush on 'my buddy' but always believed that he just saw me as one of the guys.

I couldn't stand the girl he dated in high school, but tried to make nice to her for the sake of our friendship. She was actually a great girl, and it was only jealousy that held me back from liking her. Jealousy of their relationship, but also of her seeming to be everything I wasn't. When Snake and I reconnected, it had been 20 years since I'd seen my friend, and nearly as long since our college letter-writing promise had died out - the last letter I'd sent him was to announce my engagement, with a hidden hope that he'd say 'don't do it.' We had a lot of catching up to do. 

We met at a local pub for dinner. I was relatively newly divorced at the time, and Snake asked how being divorced/re-single was for me. In the course of answering, I finally admitted my long-standing crush, and that there was/is some part of me that had made up from that probably-typical-highschool situation that I'm the kind of girl guys like to hang out with, but not someone they ever consider 'girlfriend material,' That decision I'd made in high school - that I'm too big. Too loud. Too much - continued to colour my relationships. Somehow, I was just not what guys want no matter how much weight I lost or how much I dumbed myself down. 

Snake looked truly sad when I said all of that, even though I tried to make clear I wasn't blaming anyone else for what I had made up. He had tears in his eyes when he said to me, "I was afraid of that. I always knew you felt something for me, and I too thought we'd be great together, but two things held me back: mostly - and this was the bigger factor - fear that if we dated, we'd both end up trapped in that little town. And, secondly, your sharp tongue." 

It was one of the best conversations I've ever had, and it seems like I'm still learning from it 6 years later. The moral of the story is that often when I think I'm being witty, it's at the cost of someone else, or at the cost of a relationship. I still do it - lash out at people to try to deflect what I'm feeling, or cutting off friends who empower me. I did it on Saturday to BB2 just because I had no real reply to one of his quips. I do it frequently to STG, and then wonder why there's a gap between us. 

All I can do is keep hoping that some day the lesson will stick. The problem with having a way with words is that it's so easy to turn them into whips. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Ever since I discovered that the sentiment expressed in this image is true for me, I've taken the time to have a day offline every now and then. Tomorrow is one of those days. I'm not sure why it is that having an overload of electronics in my life makes me really miserable sometimes, but, as my counselor says, I should probably worry less about why something is and just take action instead. Or, in this case, take inaction. 

So what am I going to do with my offline day? As close to nothing as possible! UberCoach recently lent me a stack of books in the Outlander series. I started to read the series almost 10 years ago but got tired of it at some point. I have to admit, though that I am thoroughly enjoying getting reacquainted with the characters. For the uninitiated, the Outlander stories are a little bit romance, a little bit history, and just enough smut to be really entertaining. They are definitely a guilty pleasure. 

So tomorrow is an Outlander pyjama day. Today I did enough cleaning and laundry and whatever else needed doing that I feel completely ready to lounge in my pj's all day reading Book 5: A Breath of Snow and Ashes and staying offline. No email checking. No Pinterest pinning. No using time off work to work on other things. Just relaxing peace & quiet with my favourite Scotsman and his wife. 

I get so very excited about these days. I don't know why I don't do them more often.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

depression lies

So I've been pretty writing blocked lately. Actually, that's a lie. One of several I tell myself. I have not been blocked. What I've been is flooded with words that I don't want to write, because while they 'feel' like the truth, that wee remaining rational part of me knows they are complete bs.

All the while I've been saying I'm blocked, I've also been saying "I'm not depressed, I'm just anxious." I got to say that because I believed it right up until the moment I finally went to the doctor. I suppose any number of people could and maybe did call bs on that particular lie, but I believed it, and that's what mattered.

After all, I've been fighting depression for my entire adult life, so surely I would know when I'm depressed. And, I really was anxious - I had my first panic attacks (they suck) - the first one while I was public speaking. Me - the ham. The attention whore. The woman who has never met a microphone she didn't like. Sweating and heart pounding and short of breath. Unthinkable. People even asked if I was okay. Offered me water, and a chair. I was horrified. And they happened twice more on separate commutes home - sweaty palms. Short breath. Pounding heart. That suffocating pressure on my chest.

I had muscle spasms from tension. I had a lifetime's worth of migraines in one month. I felt that my tendons could be played like a harp sonata. I couldn't sleep. And when I could sleep, it was a fitful, active, nightmarish sleep I wanted to avoid.

This was not the dragging through mud melancholia that I know depression to be. This was active and on the attack. The doctor laughed gently at me when I told him that particular lie - I'm not depressed; I'm anxious. He was quite certain that an intelligent and experienced woman like myself knew they are one and the same. And then he said 'no matter, the treatment is the same either way.' And so I agreed to medication, as long as we agreed to the lie that it was for anxiety and not depression. He assigned me some homework, handed me the prescription and sent me on my way.

A month later, the anxiety is gone - okay, it's abated. My fits when driving are now just my regular everyday road ragey reaction to the apparent stupidity of the average driver, not a signal to pull off and just breathe. I sleep. Actual restful sleep. Sometimes too much of it - like 13 hours two nights in a row. Who sleeps like that? I can turn my neck more than 3 degrees. I can breathe. 

Now that I no longer have anxiety to hide behind, lo and behold it would seem I am depressed. And so I have to keep reminding myself, in my very best Bloggess impression, "DEPRESSION LIES"* - It lies through whispers and shouts and unintelligible moans. It lies in murky purple puddles and in the shadows out of the corners of my eyes. It lies in wait.

But just because depression lies doesn't mean I have to. Just because depression tells me to just lie down and give up, that dreams are for suckers, doesn't mean I have to give up or stop dreaming. Just because depression tells me I'm way too f*cked up to be loved doesn't mean that I have to believe it over the people who tell me every day that they love me. Just because depression says I'll never be healthy again doesn't mean I have to stable my bike, invest in gallons of ice cream, and buy back my fat clothes. 

Depression lies. I don't have to. I may continue to be quieter for a little while as I sort beyond what I think and dig down to what's really so. I may take a day here and there to just cuddle up with a soft blanket and a trashy book and believe in time travel and sexy Scottish protectors. I may keep my eyes closed and my ears a little more open for a bit. That's probably not such a bad thing anyway, right? 

Oh, and for the record, here's one more lie we might as well do away with - the best writers are mentally ill. I don't need depression to be a writer. I don't need addiction or schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder any other mental health issue either. I could be perfectly well and healthy and be prolific and engaging and successful. 

By the way, in addition to exercise and self care, my doctor also prescribed happy music. No more sad songs, no matter how much they say (thanks, Elton John). So, here's my challenge to you - send me in the comments or via Facebook or Twitter your favourite Happy Songs and I'll make a YouTube playlist and post it here. Even better - why don't you make a playlist for me and add a link in the comments. :) 

*Jenny Lawson, AKA The Bloggess & Wil Wheaton AKA the cool guy who has overcome having been Wesley Crusher on Star Trek the Next Generartion - both write eloquently about how DEPRESSION LIES, which is why it is Jenny's touchstone, and that's how it became mine as well. You can read Jenny's take on it here, and Wil's take on it here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

counting the uncountable

She was 20. In my imagination she was sassy, proper, and expectant. She was a recent Bible school graduate, impish yet traditional; a small-town girl with big ideas. Feminine and strong and ready. 

He was 21. Tall, lean, and skilled. Quick-witted, and responsible. Quiet, except when he wasn't. Overcoming the high school years of shyness. He'd just finished two years of trades training, had a good job and a bright future. 

They'd known each other for half of their young lives. Been Sunday School friends and high school sweethearts. They'd separated for a while, as happens when people are finding out if they are who they think they are. Inevitably, they had come back together. 
Today is my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. And this weekend 60 or so friends and family will gather to  celebrate. With all the focus on planning the party with my sisters, I have spent less time than I would prefer reflecting on their accomplishment and all that it represents. Fifty Christmases, 100 birthdays, 3 daughters, 5 grandchildren. They've lived in 7 towns and at least 14 homes. I know there's an infographic in there somewhere.

But what about the 50 years of the immeasurable, intangible moments that comprise a marriage? How many tears, or smiles, or laughs have they shared? How many times have they bitten their tongues, or wished they did? How many mistakes between them have been forgiven? How many perfect moments lived through, and then somehow forgotten? How many dishes have been washed, bags of garbage taken out, cars bought and sold? How many gallons of paint, rolls of wallpaper, hours of sanding hardwood floors have gone into all the homes they have created? 

How many times did their shared faith outweigh their personal frustrations with each other? How many times have they celebrated getting it right the first time, and making it right because that was the only choice they would allow themselves? 

I'm deeply deeply proud of my parents. They are remarkable individuals - active, giving, committed, honest. They are people I enjoy spending time with, and people I enjoy sharing with my friends and loved ones. In many ways, this milestone anniversary is a truly remarkable accomplishment. And, when you know them, in so many ways it's the obvious and inevitable result of who they are - the embodiment of love and faith and humanity. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

nothing new in ink and words

I have 4 drafts sitting waiting to be completed, but it turns out, on closer inspection, that they're all variations on what F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote for Benjamin Button, so much better than I could ever hope to: 
For what it's worth: it's never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There's no time limit, start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you're proud of, and if you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.
So, since Mr. Fitzgerald beat me to the punch oh so long before I started, I will return to pondering my navel, leave you to live a life you're proud of, and come back when I have something new to say.  

Monday, October 8, 2012

slow down and smell the varietal

It was a picture perfect autumnal afternoon driving through the softly curving backroads of the Cowichan Valley, and at every sign lauding 'wine tasting' I wanted to slow and turn in. No, I am not a wino - at least not to that extent. And many if not most of these wineries I've not even heard of. And yet, the car pulled toward the driveway over and again. For today, I continued home, knowing they are there when I have more time. 

This has been a summer of wine tastings. Our extended summer road trip through the Kootenays and south Okanagan found me swirling and sniffing many a 1 oz. sample. There were hits and misses. Sometimes we ended up buying a wine we hadn't even tasted. Sometimes nothing struck our fancy and we just enjoyed the view. 

There's an air to a vineyard. Not quite a pretension, in most cases, but a quietude. Like an outdoor library or a secular cathedral. It's a quietude I seek and seldom find in every day life outside of a yoga class. And maybe not even there. 

Wine tasting, when done with calm intention and focus, is a sensory meditation. The smooth cool glass in hand. The swirl. The sniff. The lilt of the wine on the tongue. The concentration as I continue to try to develop a sensitive palate. I have started to differentiate under-tones and after-tastes. I've started to learn why I like what I like, and to be able to articulate it. 

I've become less willing to try just anything and more willing to speak up, to ask for a different version of this or to skip entirely over that. I'm slowly, oh so slowly, learning to overlook the marketing and to look at what's in the bottle instead of the label on it. 

I may never be a true wine aficionado - I haven't the patience or the budget. But I will continue to seek those quiet moments that wine tasting brings. And maybe someday to find ways to experience those moments in my every day life. 
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