January 16, 2017

Did you ever look through a kaleidoscope when you were a kid? The colors and shapes moving and changing as you turned the blue plastic tube? Pretty right?

Yes, when you are a kid it can be very entertaining.

But what about when you close your eyes as an adult and that’s what you see.

Without a blue plastic tube.

Lately I have felt like that when I’ve closed my eyes? Like pieces of my life are moving and changing but somebody else is turning the tube. It out of my control. It’s not pretty and it’s not fun. It’s scary.

I’m a list person. A schedule person. A calendar person. Plans are what I live for and thrive on. Uncertainty and change are…….unknowns.

But that is what my life is right now and I am going to have to find a way to stop the colors and shapes from distracting me. I need to find a way to make them work for me. A way to make best of them.

Oh to be a kid again.

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The Bubble

January 11, 2017 – a post from the past that seems appropriate today.

the best things in life

bubble

I live in a bubble.  It’s a lovely little bubble.  Bordered by mountains, the ocean and the city.

I live in a bubble that is a twenty-minute drive from the downtown core of an international port city.  A thriving metropolitan city that has hosted world events.  A city where we can experience diversity in food, art, and social events on a daily basis.  We could experience them if we chose to venture out of the bubble and go *gasp* downtown.  But it’s really just easier to take our kids to the local pub for a burger and a pint then walk home.

I live in a bubble where there is only sunshine and puffy white clouds. Okay, maybe a little rain, but it only serves to water the towering trees and feed the babbling brooks.  And the sunshine and rain grow berries and fish that feed the large black bears…

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January 5, 2017

As I was having tea with my dad this morning he casually mentioned that he was going out to lunch today with a friend. My mom died a little over two months ago so I was glad that he was staying busy and being social. What I didn’t realize (at first) was that his lunch date was with a woman.

“What? With who? Where? Today? What?”

Okay, so I may have over reacted just a tad.

Turns out his “lunch date” was with a dear friend who lost her husband a few years ago. She’s a very sweet lady whom I chatted with at my parents summer party this past June. She has a grand daughter the same age as my daughter and we hoped maybe they could meet up one day.

Still, it felt a bit odd.

Would I want my spouse to be going out for lunch with another woman that soon after I died? I don’t know. I like to think that I would be. Really, it’s just a casual lunch right? Why shouldn’t he enjoy the rest of his life?

As I drive home I thought….”I bet they spend the whole time talking about how much they miss their spouses.”

January 3, 2017

This is my second favorite day of the year. The first is the Tuesday after Labor Day when the kids go back to school. Two weeks is a looooooong time to spend with a nine year old when it’s cold and snowy out. I mean really, how many games on Uno can one play?

When I dropped her off at the curb I gave her a quick air kiss and with great glee realized that I had the next six hours to do whatever I wanted. You know, fun stuff like groceries, laundry and cleaning the bathrooms.

Back at home I got into a tense conversation with my twenty year old son over the fact that he had not paid us for his portion of the cell phone bill for six months. The resulting accumulated payment was not well received.

“I didn’t expect to have to pay out that much money today.”
“Well I didn’t expect to find a two inch layer of scum in your bathroom so I guess we’re both disappointed with today.”

Life is hard people and that is just a cold hard, slightly scummy fact.

We haven’t spoken since that conversation. According to the “books” it is actually a good thing if your kid is mad at you occasionally. Apparently it means that you are doing your job.

All of a sudden I am counting down the minutes until I can pick up my daughter from school. On days like this the Best Thing in Life is having two kids.

The Missing Piece

the missing piece

Have you read Shel Silverstein’s The Missing Piece?  No?  Why not?  Go read it right now.  It’s okay……I’ll wait.

If you’re too busy I can read it for you.  No really, I don’t mind.  You see, it’s all I’ve been thinking about for the past few weeks.  A book that I read when I was young.  A book that I have read to my son and my daughter.  A classic.

It’s the story of a little ball who is missing a piece.

“It was missing a piece.

And it was not happy.”

It rolls along through life looking for it a missing piece.  Sometimes it sings a little song.

“Oh I’m lookin’ for my missin’ piece

Over land and over seas

So grease my knees and fleece my bees

I’m lookin’ for my missin’ piece”

It endures the elements.

“Sometimes it baked in the sun

but then the cool rain would come down.”

And other times it just observed the things it passed.

“and sometime it would pass a beetle

and sometimes the beetle would pass it”

That’s just like life isn’t it?  Sometimes you are in the fast lane driving a Maserati and sometimes you’re on the bus and it’s taking the milk run.  But always you are moving forward.  Even when you don’t think you are.

Once the ball thought it had found its piece.  But alas, the piece it found didn’t want to be taken.

“I am not your missing piece.

I am nobody’s piece.

I am my own piece.”

You can’t force things.  You can work hard and try.  But if it isn’t meant to be it won’t be.  All you die hard control freaks, take note.  Me included.

It found some other pieces but none of them were quite right.  One was too small.  One too big.  One too sharp.  One too square.

Is anything in life a perfect fit?  Rarely.  You adapt.  You make do.  You make the best of what you are dealt.

One time the ball seemed to have found the perfect piece…but it didn’t hold it tightly enough…and it lost it.  And then it found another piece and it held on too tight…..and it broke it.

If you find “it” what do you do with it?  Hold on……but leave some wiggle room.

And so it rolled along having adventures, falling into holes and running into brick walls.  Sound familiar?

Until one day it found its missing piece.  It fit perfectly.  And it was so happy.

Except now it couldn’t sing.  And it rolled so quickly that it couldn’t stop to smell the flowers or talk to the bugs.  And adventures passed it by.

“too fast for a butterfly to land”

“Aha, it thought, So that’s how it is!”

So it gave up it’s piece….and slowly rolled away.  And as it rolled it sang.

“Oh I’m lookin’ for my missin’ piece

Over land and over seas

So grease my knees and fleece my bees

I’m lookin’ for my missin’ piece”

The Best Thing in Life is the quest.  That is what brings fulfillment and not the attainment of the object itself.

 

Silver Linings

silver linings

Do you ever have a thought, feeling or emotion that rattles around in your head for, oh, let’s say, weeks?  Maybe months?  The problem is your not sure how to express it.  Or even if you should?  Here’s mine.

This year my son will turn twenty and I’ve missed half of his life.

Let me explain.  If I can.

I left my first husband when our son was three months old.  Within the first year I agreed (begrudgingly) to a custody arrangement that was a 50/50 split of time.  Over the years that has meant alternating house every three days, four days or seven days.  At times it was confusing (mostly for other people) but it seemed to work.  Bottom line, my son has spent half of his twenty years living away from me.

There’s no blame here.  No looking back in anger.  It was what it was and its history.

But here’s the thing.  It’s a weird feeling knowing that so many things that your child has experienced were not with you.  That during those days away you had idea where he was, who he was with or what he was thinking.  There are so many experiences, emotions and moments that I have no history of.  No pictures, no memories, no knowledge what so ever.

I’m not wallowing in pity either.  I know that he grew up loved by so many people and so far has had an amazing life.  It’s just an observation I’ve made in the past while.  I was struck one day by the fact that for days at a time I had no contact of any kind with him.

The hardest thing to do every week was not to pepper him with questions the minute he walked through the door.  Sometimes I was successful and sometimes not so much.  I just wanted to know what he had done.  What had he eaten.  How had he felt.  Had he been happy?  Had he had a hard week?

at school

Boys, as some of you may know, can be….um….lacking in details when it comes to what they’ve been doing.

“How was school?”

“Good”

“What did you do?”

“Stuff”

“Who were you with”

“Dunno”

Sound familiar?

I’m not sure if it is despite of or because of our arrangements that he has grown up to be a smart, caring, happy young man.  There have been trying times for him but I believe the same could be said for other boys his age who have grown up in a more conventional setting.

He’s not home much anymore.  Between work, school, friends and having his own car we are lucky to get a dinner once a week.  Oh and the odd “what can I eat?” at 1:00 pm after rolling out of bed.  Again, not judging, just observing.

I also know that going forward there won’t be as many family vacations, day trips or ski days and that’s okay.  I’m happy that he is happy and moving on into his adult years.  A parents job is to ready their children to make it on their own in the world and I am confident that he will do just that.  I’m hoping that when that happens there will be the odd phone call home to say, ask how long to roast a chicken?

walking away

It’s so hard to put these feelings into words.  The feeling that I’ve missed a lot but have still been given so much.

I suppose in some ways it has prepared me for the next stage of our lives.  I’m not that worried about him not being around all the time.

The Best Thing in Life is silver linings.

 

The Wallet

wallet

I bought this wallet over twenty years ago.  I had just started my first real job and on my way home from my first day I stopped at a mall downtown.  There was a little stationery/gift store there called Perks.  I can’t remember why I bought a wallet.  I think, maybe, I just felt really good about what was happening in my life and wanted to get myself a little present.

This wallet has been with me ever since.  We have been through a lot together.

It was with me on the day that I was eight months pregnant and my car was totaled on the Second Narrows Bridge.  It got left in the console when the ambulance came to take me to the hospital.  It was still there five days later when I went to look at what was left of my car at the wreckers.  A month later I had it with me when I checked into the hospital and gave birth to my son.

It was with me on the bus trip to Seattle when I met my current husband.  I used it at Nordstrom that day to buy a great pair of shoes and later at FX McCrorys for drinks.  I remember pulling it out to buy a beer at the basketball game that night and being told to put it away.  Was he trying to get me drunk?

It hasn’t always been with me.  I’ve lost it more times than I can count.  The most common culprit is leaving it in the shopping cart at the grocery store.  In earlier years it was usually a bar or restaurant.  I seem to remember leaving it sitting in a park bench once while in a post natal haze.  Or was it post divorce haze?

What’s in my wallet?  Surprisingly, thirty dollars.  I rarely cash cash anymore but today I do.  The requisite credit cards, debit cards,  health care cards and drivers license.  A Starbucks card that I don’t use anymore.  My library card number written on a slip of paper sinD&E in Whistlerce I lost my card and can’t be bothered to get a new one.

Stamps.  A picture I took of my husband and son in Whistler years ago.  A drawing my son did when he was seven.  Oh and a Pinkberry frequent buyer card. Everett Face 2

 

 

Lastly, a small piece of paper with this quote written on it.

“There are three Cs in life.  Choice, Chance and Change.  You must make a Choice to take a Chance or your life will never Change.”

The stitching on the ends of the wallet is a bit frayed but the leather is strangely unmarked and the insides are still in great shape.

I guess in a way I am a bit like this wallet.  Pretty well made.  Seen some good times and some bad.  Sometimes full and sometimes empty.  Perhaps a little dated.  Or should I say classic?  Yet still holding it all together.

Over the years I have thought about making a change.  But I always ended up staying with my tried and true friend.  I’m loyal that way.

The Best Thing in Life is a really good wallet.

That’s Not Me

scary little monster

Do you ever see friends (or strangers) doing stuff and think.  “Why don’t I do that?”

I do.

It’s a bad habit but one that seems to just creep into my mind every so often.  It’s really part of the whole “grass is always greener” syndrome.  No matter what you do there is always going to be something that someone else is doing that you aren’t.

Don’t get me wrong, my life is good, it’s just that a small ugly part of my brain occasionally gets out of its cage and starts telling me I could do better.  Do more.

Who could bring that ugly part out you ask?  There are a few I can think of.

The Adventurer – this is the friend that is always just back from some incredible adventure.  Backpacking through the Costa Rican jungle.  Spending nights in grass huts and eating bugs.  Back county snowshoeing in Alberta…..with her three kids (one in a baby backpack) and husband.  It seems that they are capable of carrying on a regular life punctuated by these incredible, life altering adventures in exotic lands without batting an eye.

     That’s just not me.

The Business Maven – savvy and well connected, this friend has a constant stream of lucrative opportunities rolling around in her head.  None seems to require a full time commitment but always create an income.  I know that it takes some money to create these opportunities but somehow that isn’t an issue.  Admirable in that it takes guts to jump off the cliff into a business and actually make it work or accept its failure and move on.

     That’s just not me.

The Crafty Baker – with an account at Michaels this friend actually uses the coupons they hand out at the cashier.  Pinterest Fail is not in her vocabulary.  Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter are all just waiting for her to create some delicious and awe inspiring cookie that my daughter will talk about for days on end.  Able to create a full dolls wardrobe out of raffia and felt, they enjoy a quiet afternoon at home to create and sew.

     That’s just not me.

The Fashionista – impeccably and always appropriately dressed.  Wether it’s for a morning on the soccer field or a night out at a fundraiser, this friend has her finger in the pulse of what’s fashionable.  But, and here’s the kicker, it always looks effortless. Like she just threw something on at the last minute to run out the grocery store.  No mommy jeans on this one.  And it’s been my experience that these outfits are accompanied by perfectly coiffed hair despite the regular North Vancouver downpours.

     That’s just not me.

The PAC President – committed to our kid’s school and its programs with a never ending supply of energy and ideas for fundraising and improving classrooms.  Willing to give her time to any cause that helps the school.  Willing to sit through PAC meetings.  Every month.  Ugh.  This mom knows what is going on in every classroom and is always politically correct when discussing school business and other people’s kids.

     That’s just not me.

There are more but these ones seem to stick out in my mind.

So what is me? 

Me is a fear of flying, cookie burning, fashion challenged, business commitment scaredy cat, classroom averse blog writer.

The Best Thing in Life is being able to tell that ugly part of my brain to go suck it because I’m just fine the way I am.

 

I Need Help.

I have been thinking for a while that I need to find some new blogs to follow.  The problem is that I have limited time right now to search and read and decide.

I’m more than happy to read but I would like to skip the searching step.

Since you follow me, then you know what my tastes are and could, perhaps, help me out?  I mean what are friends for?

So if you have a blog that you think I would like and I am not already following you, leave me a comment and a link to your blog.  If you know of a blog that you think I might like leave me the link.

As my daughter would say….easy peasy lemon squeezy.

I promise to read at least one of your posts (maybe more) and leave a comment.

Really, how hard can this be?  Yes, I am pathetic but I’m all about simplifying my life and if this is what it takes…..so be it.

Let the games begin.

Barbed Wire and Untied Shoe Laces

barbed wire

Over a year ago I left my job for a number of great reasons.  You can read about them here.  It’s been an amazing fourteen months but every once in a while I find myself re-reading that original blog post.  What is my thing?  And why is it so damn hard for me to find it?  I feel as if I’ve come to a point where I am no longer making progress on my own.  If I want to move forward I need a new approach.

So I went to see a friend yesterday.  Okay that’s not entirely true.  I went to see my therapist.  Yes, you heard me right.  I went to see my therapist.  Who, over the past ten years, has become a “friend”.  So, partly true.  She has helped me through way worse stuff than this over the years and always seems to zero in on exactly what is tripping me up.

I did, for a moment, think twice about writing this post. That perhaps it was too personal.  That it would leave me a bit too open and exposed.  But then I thought, “Hell, there must be other women in my position?”  I can’t be the only fifty something mom trying to figure out where she fits into this world.  (Or maybe I am)  Also, I’m not one to hide under a rock.  So here I am, baring my sole to you as I did to her.

A few weeks ago I went on a girls weekend.

A weekend away with four friends that I have known for well over ten years.  All with kids and all successful in interesting careers.  An accountant, an engineer, a speech pathologist and a marketing consultant.  Over the course of the weekend I began to feel……directionless.  Don’t get me wrong, I can hold my own with this crowd but I just felt like I could be doing more with my life.  As they were.  That I had more to offer than yoga and renovating the bathroom.

The week after that trip I had a very vivid dream.

I was in an art class at a university and the professor had asked us to start work on a project. The project was to represent our life.  He wanted us to make some notes in point form (sometimes my dreams are very precise).  As I worked away on my notes the teacher walked around the class and made comments on what we had done so far.  As he leaned over my shoulder he grunted and said “No, you can’t do that. It’s too boring.”  But it represents my life, I said.  “I know.  It’s boring.  Make it better”.  He said.  What the hell?

So I took these events and laid them out to my “friend” and asked her to help me.  She walked me though some exercises and made some observations and suggestions.  Within minutes she had figured out what she thought was holding me back.  I told you she was good.

And here is what I walked away with……..

We go through life thinking we have handled things from our past. Things that we think are behind us and dealt with.  Sometime they are.  Sometime they aren’t.  Sometime they are lurking in the shadows with a roll of barbed wire, hell-bent on keeping us from being free.  Sometime we think things are unimportant and dismiss them as irrelevant.  Like an untied shoe lace that will eventually trip you up.

I have some work to do in the next few weeks but I am confident that I can, with my “friends” help, figure out what my thing is.  This week the Best Thing in Life is knowing when to ask for help and having a resource to go to for that help.

untied shoe laces