Friday, December 22, 2006

on death and dying

Why is everyone afraid to talk about this subject like I am? I have challenged myself to face things that make me uncomfortable and explore it further in an effort to make peace with my uneasiness.

I attended the funeral of my friend's mother this week. She was only 51. Too young. Too beautiful. Too needed. One can never make sense of this kind of loss but try to get beyond the initial shock and pain and somehow learn to get on with life in some way. You never get on with life, you just learn to deal with the loss the best you can.

I looked into a man's eyes today that installed a window in our house. He was the nicest man. As he was leaving, he wished me a Merry Christmas. I returned the sentiment and as he was turning away to leave, he muffled "I sure hope next year is better than this one." I don't think he expected me to inquire but I did. I always do. "Why, did you not have a good year?", I asked. He went on to tell me he had lost his wife, his son, his father, his cat and his dog all in the last two years. I gasped. This man needed to talk. I needed to listen. As we stood in the doorway, I learned this man had just recently buried his son who was only 32 years of age. The grief this man was enduring must be over the top. His doctor encouraged him to take some pills to help him cope. I was appalled. Doctors are too quick to want to prescribe a pill for everything these days- even grief. Grief needs to be felt, to be heard and to be healed. It's all a process. I participated in part of his process today. I was glad. He sighed and started to cry on my doorstep. I squeezed his hand and he thanked me for listening. I thanked him for sharing. He went on his way.

Christmas may be a happy time for kids and adults alike but it is painful for people who are missing their loved ones. Instead of thinking of ourselves all the time, be aware that we may be passing someone who is suffering in the mall or on the street. We may be passing someone who is feeling lonely or lost. Pay attention and be compassionate. Always. Not just at Christmas time.

Mr. Beasley

I lost a best friend of mine years ago when we moved to a new home.
Mrs. Beasley, or Mrs. B -
first name unknown and unimportant.
Mrs. B was my pal.
I often wonder where the dear soul ended up,
I presume somewhere between Moxley Crt.
and Burris St.
Indeed, I'd never suggest my mother somehow helped her find her way into the garbage.
I would never do that. But as my Ma will admit herself, she has a way of these type of accidents happening.
I don't blame anyone, especially now that I have kids. You tell them to pick up their toys one too may times , and all prized possessions become vulnerable. What seems like garbage to a parent, is a sacred keepsake to a child, regardless of how dirty and gooey, and so it should be.
Needless to say, Original Mrs. Beasley was lost.
I convinced myself that somehow Mrs B. found her way into a needy child's arms to live happily ever after, once she fell off the moving truck.
A few years ago, I came into possession of Mrs. Beasley again. It was delightful. The marvels of e-Bay !
Although she was exactly as I remembered her : frizzy yellow hair, blue and white polka dot outfit, fancy bib and 2 pairs of granny glasses...1 for special days, the gold ones with real glass, and black spectacles without glass for everyday... she paled in comparison to my original.
The smell of playdough, cookies and sisterly goo was gone from her. She is a more pristine version of my best friend from years gone by; but, I enjoy our reunion and let my children play with her whenever they like, in hope that the kid smells come back.
In September I became and Aunt to a most darling little boy, Fischer.
I have still not found the words to describe my love for this little person. Much like a child of my own, but without the pressure ! The best of both worlds I suppose.
And as an unexpected bonus to Aunthood, he fits into Mrs. Beasley's everyday glasses perfectly !
As a little girl, I always longed to know the Mister of Mrs. Beasley.... that was always a mystery to me. Where was Mr. Beasley ?
Well, I found him...... Fischer E. Beasley.
How do you do Sir ?
- by Carrie M.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

tree of hope

My tree of hope is located on my street. Whoever took the time to line this tree full of lights was a saint! It glistens and lights up the entire street! The picture really doesn't do it justice.
My hopes for the upcoming year...

  • to avoid gossip.
  • to give thanks at meal-times and never say "I'm starving" because I truly don't know what that feels like and I hope I never will.
  • to make time for people I look in the mirror and make funny faces at myself often and embrace my laugh lines.
  • to end my day with sigh of gratefulness.
  • to always look out for people who may feel lost and help them find their way.
  • to never turn down an opportunity to have a big belly laugh (minus the belly) which leads to my next wish... to love the skin I'm in but make more efforts to lead a healthier/active life.
  • to always remain humble and grounded with the belief that we are all equals.
  • to challenge myself to face and conquer at least one fear this upcoming year.
  • to have more patience with telemarketers and salespeople- they need to earn a living too.
  • to afford myself the luxury of chocolate only once a week.
  • to spend less but feel more enriched than money can buy.
  • to make a new tradition with my hubby that we must stop, sit and kiss on benches we may come across in our travels.
  • to adore this growing baby of ours each and every single day of our lives.
  • to continue to do things for myself that nurture my mind, body and spirit.
  • to actively engage with young people and know what's on their minds.
  • to promote myself to people who need a listening ear.
  • to give my Grandma much time to talk about herself when I am in her company.
  • to never stop believing in miracles and that the human spirit is still alive.
  • to be me. to know what's best. to contribute to the greater good.
2007 is just another year that has to be savoured and not wasted. Live your life well.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

friends are like flowers

"Friends are like flowers, beautiful flowers,
friends are like flowers in the garden of life.
Are you a daisy, are you a rose, are you a dandelion?
You can be what you'll be, I'll be what I am.
We will be friends in the garden of life."

I used to sing this song in grade 4. I would sing at the top of my lungs, together with my classmates. I thought if I sang as loud as I could, it would hold more meaning and my dear friends would know how I felt about them. I used to look around the classroom as I sang it aloud and smile at my friends while I sang my heart out. Today, I still sing the song. I believe friends are truly like flowers. They all represent something different in your life. They are all unique and colourful in their own way-adding up to one beautiful bouquet.

I consider myself to be much like a dandelion. This particular flower is a pest to some but tolerated by others! (hehe). I happen to love them because they are often overlooked! The colour yellow represents hope, cheer and sunshine. It also represents mellow yellow; someone who is laid back and relaxed. On the negative side yellow can also mean cowardly. Yes, I am fearful and cowardly at times. If I were to visit the land of OZ, I, too, would ask for courage like the cowardly lion. Dandelions are resiliant, resourceful and can adapt to most conditions. They are hardy, stubborn and steadfast. It takes a lot to get rid of them! A dandelion might not be as pretty as a rose but nevertheless, they are nice to look at.

Most of all, dandelions have strong roots that have healing properties. I hope in some way, I have a calming, healing affect on people. I think about my friends often. They are very important to me, despite what distances may be between us. Life gets busy and we don't often connect with eachother as much as we'd like. I carry each one of you with me though through this journey called life. Each of you are a precious flower to me that I won't take for granted. I will water our friendship and keep it in full bloom because you are such a part of me.

With Love & Friendship xoxoxo

This is me with one of my very best friends.... I think she is a gerbera daisy.. my favourite flower of all.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Mommys and Angels

As I stared at our Christmas tree, I thought, "What the heck is missing?" I forgot to put the angel on it. It got me thinking. Rather than putting a stranger of an angel on our tree, I should somehow be putting my mother on top of our tree. What a better representative of an angel, I thought.

Obviously, I cannot fit her on our tree nor do I think she'd want to hang out there all season long. I thought a good option might be to cut out a picture of her face and glue it over the angel's face that currently resides in a box. She is yearning to be put to work so she had better be okay with sharing her identity temporarily with my mother.

Truly, I cannot tell you how much I love this woman. She is an angel in my life who flutters around me daily when I cannot be with her. When I am with her, she lifts me off my feet with her presence.

When she first set eyes on Fischer, I could see what was happening before me. As she looked into my baby's eyes, she welled up with tears. She saw her baby girl all over again. That's me! I knew what she was thinking and she confirmed this. It must be a very unique experience to have another baby in your life that resembles your own child at birth. WoW. Powerful stuff.

Mom, I can't tell you how much I believe you are an angel on earth. God put you here to make people feel loved and to always see the good in people. You are the most sacred gift of all.

"All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother." - Lincoln

xoxoxox Your daughter xoxoxoxox

Sunday, December 17, 2006

my favourite Christmas specials...

As the season fast approaches, I got thinking....

Scrooge- how could I forget this Christmas memory! We'd spend many a Christmas Eve's with my father's uncle Johnny and his family in Grimsby. I would love to visit them. Judy, their daughter, was a little older than Carrie and I. We'd take note of her stylish clothes and hair-do's and be in awe of her. She was beautiful. We'd learn all the latest dances from her including the robot and some other fun disco moves. My Uncle Johnny and Aunt Teenie were very warm people. Their home was always so festive at Christmas time- lots of baked goods and candy/nuts in fancy dishes. I always had a hard time with the nut-cracker but Dad would help me out. I wasn't patient enough. Aunt Teenie would often sing or hum a lovely Christmas song in her glorious singing voice while Dad and Uncle Johnny would catch up on things. Scrooge would be on the television. Sometimes we'd watch all of it and other times it would be just playing in the background as we gabbed. It was nonetheless a wonderful tradition to enjoy with family. I always was a little spooked out by Scrooge and his pastey, ghostly complexion. This is one of my Dad's favourites!

Dick Clark's New Year's Celebration was the perfect end to the year! We'd stay with Grandma and Grandpa overnight while our parents usually went out to a big New Year's bash. Our wonderful routine consisted of a nice warm bubble bath, followed by getting into our cozy pj's (usually pink ones for me!) and lots of cuddle time with Grandpa on the couch while Grandma fixed us one of her home-made pizzas or sometimes we would order Chinese food from around the corner on Barton Street. The best in town, they claimed! We would get to sit with our TV trays in the living room and watch the special in the "big apple" where we'd watch the ball drop and ring in the new year with good old Dick! That wasn't the end of it though. Our grand finale after much kissing and well wishing with our Grandparents would be our annual pot banging performance on their front porch. We were encouraged to shout as loud as we could- "Happy New Year-r-r-r-r-r-r-" while Grandpa chuckled as he sipped on his first drink of the new year- usually a rye and ginger with lots of ice cubes.

Donny and Marie Osmond were our all-time favourite performers of the '70's whether it was Christmas time or not! We used to crank the music on our dad's "record player" and sing along. Or should I say, Carrie got to bellow it out while she kept me in line and made sure I didn't "out sing" her. I think Carrie truly believed she was Marie Osmond as she would close her eyes with pretend microphone in hand and give the performance of her life. Towards the end of the record, she would get generous and say- "Okay, it's your turn Laura!" I would gear up for my part and say "Good....night.... ever-y-bod-y", as I tried to stretch my part out as long as I could. I would do a little curtsey and that would be the beginning and end of my performance.

Every year on Christmas we would put on a show for our family. One year, we used a song from The Osmond's Christmas Show of '78. Our cousin Larry was a good dancer too for a boy. Carrie would stand in the middle of us, being the eldest, and we would take her cues. It was a big event! We began singing and dancing from side to side, "It never snows in L.A. so Santa don't bring me a sleigh, I'll leave a key by our door cause there's no chimney anymore...." a standing ovation soon followed!

These classic Christmas specials remain so close to my heart.

I looked forward to watching them every year with my sister.

May you always hold close your Christmas pasts- including favourite traditions and memories. They are yours to cherish for many years to come!

Blessings and love to thee.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

kindred spirits


"I've always dreamed of having a bosom friend...a true kindred spirit"

~Anne Shirley to her friend Diana Barry.

kindred spirit- a friendship that has no bounds; to be together in spirit always despite what circumstances life may bring your way.

This was our movie. We watched it probably twenty times, Siobbhan and I. It brought us closer together and we proclaimed after having watched the movie, that we too, had to be kindred spirits.
We were drawn to this movie because it emphasized how special it is to have one good friend. The challenges these young girls faced were things we could relate to. Self image concerns, insecurities, never feeling good enough, apprehensions about our life paths and not knowing where to place ourselves sometimes.

Siobbhan was older than me... by one month, one day and one year. Funny eh? When we first knew of one another, we kept our distance. Back then, she was known for her rebellious nature while I was trying to be a "teacher's pet." You had to be when you were hanging out with the librarian's daughter. When my parents divorced I was alienated by that group of friends. They no longer wanted to hang around me. It was like I was suddenly defective or something. I was now a "child of divorce" don't ya know. I think their parents thought I would suddenly be a bad influence. I then found a new group of friends. They were a far more interesting and ecclectic group of friends. They came from all walks of life- some had blended families, others had been adopted, a few had been living with their single parents (like me) and there were even some whose parents were still married (Siobbhan was one of them). She accepted me! This friendship was off to a great start.

Her family was very large. It was often busy and chaotic in her home and sometimes Siobbhan got lost in the crowd. Her dad had to work long hours and her mom was in school for nursing. It had to be a lot of pressure for her parents back then with four kids, in retrospect. Siobbhan's mom was an amazing seamstress. She sewed lots of clothes and halloween costumes for her family! From what I can recall, Adrienne was a very soft spoken, gentle hearted woman. She was always polite and smiled often. As a kid, I found her intriguingly mysterious. She striked me as the kind of mom that would not raise her voice very often but she could be firm when she had to. Siobbhan's dad Mike was very involved in his kids' lives. He coached a lot of sports at our school. He would do anything for you but he was a "no nonsense" kind of a dad. He would be the one I recall Siobbhan getting heck from! We deserved it though! His face would turn beat red as he would bite his lip and stand there with his hands on his hips scolding us from time to time.

My home life was challenging during this time. My parents were recently separated. Mom worked very long hours to try to make ends meet. She was hurting and trying to cope with her own feelings about the divorce. We remained in touch with dad but it was hard on all of us living apart now. It was my older sister Carrie who was often left to look out for me. She had a hard time because I used to give her a run for her money. I was a kid that couldn't stand still. I was a curious creature who needed to be out exploring the world at a very young age. My parents were in their early thirties during this time. Wow- now that I am an adult and around that age, it puts a completely different spin on things. I can't imagine having to part ways with your spouse when there are children involved. It was very difficult for both of them.

In our own way, Siobbhan and I were struggling with similar issues but our family circumstances were very different in many ways. We were and still are "old souls". Always compassionate for the underdogs, always intolerant of the over-achievers and there we were somewhere in the middle of it all. I felt confused and alone in this time of my life as I tried to make sense of so many things.

I had a vivid imagination as a kid. It kept me safe sometimes. It was like a shield for when things were difficult. I always felt so comforted having a friend that would take my thoughts away to a different place. A place that was free of worry or concern. I had no care in the world when I was with my kindred spirit. We would roam and explore together creating our very own childhood adventures. Often times we would hike the escarpment all day long with our packed lunch, the clothes on our back and eachother. That's all we needed. We'd sit in our favourite spot overlooking the city. We felt so big and invincible standing on top of the mountain. We'd just sit there and talk for hours on end about everything under the sun. Time stood still when we were together. Ask our parents because they would often be ready to send out a search party, as we strolled in after dusk.

A move eventually put some distance between us and Siobbhan was now entering grade 9. I felt abandoned as I apprehensively took to hanging around grade 8 students again. What a transition. I needed her. Eventually, fate would have its way and Siobbhan and I grew apart. Once I came to her high school in grade 10, she was well established with her new set of friends. It wasn't the same, although she tried to include me. I just wanted her to myself again. Life was getting far more complicated now. Boyfriends, homework, new friends, new pressures. I yearned for those days when life was simple. I missed those days but they were gone.

Life sometimes takes people in different directions, I have learned. However, some people leave footprints on our hearts and we are never, ever the same.

We finally re-connected a few years back. We embarked on a road trip to see my father in Wiarton. No kids, no hubbies. Just the two of us. It was as though no time had passed. We were still the same girls now in adult bodies. On the way home, we stopped, parked the car and with our ice cappuccinos, sat under an umbrella in our lawn chairs along the side of the country highway, smoking cigarettes like two school girls. I didn't want that moment to end.

I feel so alive in her presence. She remains good to the core. She is the most humble, kind, gentle, compassionate being I know. She oozes with comfort, wisdom and just plain old goodness. Her pleasures are focused around her family. She is a mother who will nurture her children with so much love that they will grow up to be happy, self-assured and conscientious young people. I will be indebted to her for life. She inspires me to be a good person.

We are mothers now together. How beautiful is that. Siobbhan has a beautiful daughter Sadie and just had a baby boy Jack who is three months older than Fischer. They will all be playmates, we are certain. Our husbands are so much like one another too. I believe we never lost sight of what we both wanted in our lives- to love and be loved. We both have been so blessed with our husbands.

Thank you for coming back into my life my dear Spiro. I can't wait to build many memories with you as we grow old together.

"I solemnly swear to remain faithful to my bosom friend as long as the sun and moon shall endure"

- Anne Shirley

Friday, December 08, 2006

a blended family

As I lay in the hospital bed, I am surrounded by family. My mother on one side of me and my step-mother on the other. My father is sitting in a chair beside my husband whispering as they hold this new bundle of joy that has just entered our lives. My sister stands over them with a smile.

I look around. I feel peace. I feel love. My blended family is beautiful. I would not ask for anything more. People say divorce is difficult. Sure it is. I remember. It wasn't all bad either though. I have more siblings, more parents and most of all I have lots of people to love.
Love makes the world go 'round.

Monday, December 04, 2006

our five senses

Today I thought about my five senses and how much we don't pay attention to them at times. They are so special and they are all a gift. Someone once asked me- if you had to give up one of your senses, what would it be. I carefully reviewed them in my mind....

1) sight- no couldn't give that one up because I see too much beauty in my surroundings. I see my husband's loving gaze, my baby's sweet rosy cheeks, my parents' beautiful laugh lines, the sunlight and moonlight, flowers blooming. There is just way too much around me to see and to love!

2) hearing- no definately couldn't part with this sense. I love to hear people's laughter and song, the raindrops on my window at night, the waves on the beach, the words I love you and good night from my father, the sound of children squealing with delight as they run by, the sound of music to my ears. No way. Couldn't give this up.

3) taste- oh my love for food and drink! I can't imagine not being able to taste chocolate, or a ripe watermelon or nectarine, a juicy orange, a sour lemonade that makes your cheeks pucker, or the yummy taste of cheesy PIZZA! My favourite food of all!

4) smell- to go without the ability to smell would be very difficult too. No more following your nose to the nearest bakery for a fresh loaf of bread or cinnabuns, no more picking a flower stem for the love of your life and smelling it all the way home, no more smelling of a baby's soft scented hair and skin or the aroma of candles, baked goods and evergreens on a Christmas night.

5) touch- I definately couldn't sacrifice my need for touch. I am soothed by touch. The touch on my shoulder from an old friend, the soft carress from my husband as he greets me hello, the sweet kisses from niece and nephew goodnight, the tender backrubs from mother and the hugs from grandma that always warm my heart.

Bottom line is.. all of our five senses are equally as thrilling, as beautiful and as important. Tomorrow pay attention to all of them and cherish them. They are yours to keep- your five senses that will keep you in touch with the world that surrounds you.

Good night xoxoxox

Sunday, December 03, 2006

on being good enough

As Fischer discovers his hands and feet, we discover our love growing to new heights for this little baby of ours.

He has a new look- a twinkle in his eye when he squeals with delight at the mere sight of us. It amazes me to think that no matter how good we are to this little babe, it is his understanding that we are flawless. It is all he knows and it will always be good enough - in this stage anyway! I ask him to be patient sometimes as I fumble with his clothes and don't take them off as good or as quickly as I'd like or when I can't always determine his needs when he cries. I must say it is pretty wonderful to have a little person love you unconditionally no matter how quick, on the ball or flustered I may become.

Each day that passes, we grow more familiar with one another as we become a family unit.

I pray we will take each day as it comes and embrace all the small treasures and rewards of parenting and may Fischer enjoy all of the small treasures and rewards of being a new person in this world.

It all adds up into something really wonderful..