January 6, 2017

Oh Friday how I love you.

Even though it was a short week I am still so happy to see you.

It is no longer the promise of two days of relaxation as it used to be as anybody with young children knows. Weekends can often mean even more activity and work than week days. Early hockey or soccer practice, dance lessons, ski trips, birthday parties and more.

So why is Friday such an oasis at the end of the week?

Could it solely be the fact that nobody is going to judge me if I don’t make dinner but instead order sushi and grab a bottle of white from the cold beer and wine store? Is it really that simple?

Yes. I think that’s it.

The Best Thing in Life is a Friday evening with my family eating sushi, drinking wine and watching HGTV.

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Found It

looking around cornere

I have spent the past two years searching for My Thing through this blog.  I think I may have found it.

In hindsight, it was pretty much staring me in the face the whole time.  Yup, I know.  I can be a bit thick sometimes.  So while I may never write the great Canadian novel, I think it’s safe to say that my creative outlet is putting pen to paper.  Or perhaps fingertips to iPad would be more appropriate.

There I said it.  I love to write.

Some of the most satisfying moments in the past months have been the ones just after hitting the publish button.  It’s an odd rush of “Yes, I’m done” and “Wow, I finished another one”.  It’s interesting to see how my writing style changed over the months.  My first couple of posts were pretty wordy and involved long descriptive paragraphs.  The later ones are a bit more choppy.  I’m not sure if it’s just how my thought process changed or if realized that it was just easier for people to read it that way.  Whatever the reason, I have enjoyed every minute.

But I’m not going to lie.  I have wished, more than a few times, that more people read my posts.  That’s when my most trusted adviser gently reminded me, that wasn’t why I was writing.  I was writing to explore my life and express myself.  (Ya, I know, sometimes I expressed myself a little too much)  But it felt good.  It felt right.  So I kept doing it.

Oddly enough, since having this epiphany about writing being my thing, I’ve been stuck with no ideas and nothing flowing in my head.  I started numerous post but never got past the first sentence.  Panic started to set in.  What was happening?

Some would call it writers block.  I call it damned annoying.

And worst of all, I just couldn’t figure out why.  It was infuriating and caused hours, perhaps days, of gut wrenching soul searching.  (Okay, a bit of an exaggeration). I tried to work through it by spending some time drinking wine in Whistler and heading out for numerous runs. Trying to nudge the process along.  I was willing to do whatever it took.  I’m dedicated that way.

But then I remembered that this was something else that I’ve learnt these past two years.

Everything comes when it’s supposed to.  And it did.

I realized that the time I have spent with friends and acquaintances in the past two years learning about them, and in turn me, has been enlightening and rewarding.  Not to mention a lot of fun.  I’ve seen what it means to be passionate about something.  Truly passionate. I’ve been given advice and I’ve give some out myself.  I’ve rekindled friendships that had faded and realized that people I hardly knew were wicked interesting.  Despite already being middle aged I’ve grown up.

But here’s the kicker.  Now that I’ve come to this momentous conclusion, I’m  feeling like I need a change. Don’t worry, I’m still interested in exploring the Best Things in Life.  I just think that it may look a little different.

I’m not exactly sure how…..but that’s the Best Thing in Life.  You don’t always know what’s around the corner.

 

A Shoebox Full of Memories

Venice 2

I have a shoebox of pictures that has been sitting in a corner of my bedroom for many months. Today I picked it up and looked through it. Pictures from when I was a baby, a toddler and a school kid. Pictures of me and my friends from high school, college and my early twenties. Pictures of my wedding and my kids. What will I do with this shoebox of memories? I will use it as the inspiration for Throw Back Thursdays. Each week (hopefully) I will pick a picture and try to recreate the story behind that picture or pictures. Wish me luck.

The picture I chose today is of me at age twenty in St. Mark’s Square in Venice. This was about two and a half months into a four-month adventure in Europe with my friend Kathryn. We had taken the overnight train the night before from Florence and were spending the day wandering around the city. The pigeons in St Mark’s were ridiculous. They were, at times, a little frightening. If you stopped feeding them they would follow you around pecking at your feet and reminding you that they were there. Just in case you hadn’t noticed the few thousand of them lurking around. Every once in a while something would startle them and they would all rise and fly around for a few seconds. The noise from their wings was deafening.

At lunch time we found a little cafe with tables and chairs outside on one of the canals. We thought we had ordered sandwiches and two glasses of wine that we could afford but the waiter brought out a bottle and plopped it on the table. Even though we protested in our best Italian we ended up blowing the whole day’s budget on a bottle of red wine that was so delicious that in the end we didn’t care how much it cost. Guess we would be eating crackers for dinner. The sun was shining and we had no cares, other than the fact we would be eating crackers for dinner. The waiters were no doubt having a good laugh at our expense. They probably hadn’t thought about the fact that they wouldn’t be getting a good tip. If they got one at all.

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the tiny streets and looking into the stores. The carnival masks, that were everywhere, were beautiful but kind of creepy at the same time. Brilliant colours and dramatic shapes covered in bright ribbons and jewels. Crimson lips and smoky eyes seemed to be watching you from the stores walls. I could picture some of them on a tall man with a long black cape and hood skulking around corners and sweeping unsuspecting young girls into dark corners. Venice, for me, was one of those cities that I found exciting and scary. It felt mysterious and just a little dark. Not a place I would want to be late at night yet I imagined they have some great parties.

At the end of a long day we took the ferry back to our hostel. Kate fished the bottle of Amaretto we had bought in Florence the day before out of her backpack and we sat on her bunk, toasted Venice and ate crackers. The next day we would take the train to Vienna and our adventure would continue.  The Best Thing in Life is remembering days like this and smiling a little.

No More Pity Parties For Me

No_Pity_Party

It was Sunday night and my husband was packing his bags for yet another week away. I felt a small pity party coming on. He has a job that requires him to travel a lot. Typically he is away for at least three weeks a month and often that involves being away for the weekends too. It’s hard on all of us. He practically lives in a hotel and misses out on so many little things that happen at home. Our seven-year old misses him like crazy and knows exactly how many minutes it takes for him to get home once his plane has landed. But, as he packed and I felt the typical Sunday evening disappointment of being alone again creeping in, I stopped for a moment. The night before we had enjoyed dinner with our friend Nicole and her son Jacob. Jacob is three weeks younger than my daughter. The love of Nicole’s life and Jacob’s father died four years ago. They are alone all the time.

Lucas was only 29 in late 2005 when he was first diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. It wasn’t found in his lungs though. The first tumor was found in his nasal passages. After a horrific surgery Lucas and Nicole thought they were in the clear. Wrong. During the appointment to have his surgical staples removed they were given some literature and an appointment date with the BC Cancer Agency. They asked why and were told “Oh, it’s cancer. You didn’t know that?”  They were shocked but still weren’t particularly worried though as the doctor didn’t seem to be. But after meeting with an oncologist and doing what every sick person does, googling his condition, Lucas and Nicole realized just how bad things were. The doctors were now saying “we will do all we can” but the odds were not in their favor. Somehow in that horrific, stress filled time of radiation and chemo and sickness there was a bright spot. Early in 2007 Nicole discovered that she was pregnant.

Jacob was born on September 26, 2007. Fortunately, the next eighteen months were free of treatment for Lucas. It was a welcome change from all they had been through so far. I remember those times well. My daughter and Jacob as babies. Lucas playing Lego with the two of them at one of Jacob’s birthday parties. Comparing milestones, as all new parents do. The joy that Lucas had for being a dad. It wouldn’t last though. Over the course of six years the cancer came back 7 times and Lucas had 5 rounds of radiation, 3 rounds of intense chemo, 2 brain surgeries, a hip replacement, and countless other appointments and tests. Sadly on January 30, 2011 Lucas passed away. Aside from losing her husband, Nicole was now the sole provider for her family and at the young age of 38, a widow. Your not supposed to be a widow at that age. But she was and despite the fact that she has an amazing family and support group, she and Jacob were now on their own.

Feb 25 Jacob and Olivia...aren't we cute!

It’s not a particularly fun thing to do, but try to imagine your life right now if your husband was gone. Not just for a week-long business trip, but forever. Think of all the things that you rely on when your spouse walks through the door at the end of the day. I know that I struggle with things when my husband is away. Typically it revolves around discipline. Was I too hard on her? Should I have let that one go? Maybe I should have been stricter? Not having your spouse there to bounce things off of can make you question yourself. It breaks my heart to hear Nicole say. “I would give anything to have him by my side to tell me I’m doing alright. Even if just for one minute”. She often finds herself wondering in those times “What would Lucas do? To Nicole’s credit, Jacob is the sweetest little boy. He does well in school, loves to swim, loves Lego and can keep up with my crazy daughter on the dance floor. No small feat.

Liv and Jacob

Jacob is seven now and a great kid. He is a mini Lucas. Kind, funny, smart and energetic. But he is having a bit of a hard time right now understanding why all the other kids in school have dads and he doesn’t? He’s even gone so far as to ask Nicole “will I ever have a new daddy”. If that doesn’t break your heart then I don’t know what will. Can’t even imagine how you would answer that question. Nicole keeps Lucas’ memory alive as best she can for Jacob. They look at pictures and she shares stories of Lucas. His love of sports and the Miami Dolphins. Most stories, she says, include the word “fart.” Its a boy thing. Lucas liked a good “fart” story too. He was a big kid with a huge smile and a positive attitude about everything. Mostly she tells Jacob how proud Lucas would be of him.

I’m pretty sure that if all of this happened to me that I would find a dark closet corner somewhere and curl up into a ball. I can’t even imagine how hard it would be to not only lose the love of your life but to then be a single mom and entrusted with raising a little boy without his father. Nicole doesn’t understand how people see her as an inspiration but if you met her and saw the love in her eyes for that little boy and the smile that is on her face every day, you would understand. When I asked her if she had any advice for somebody else going through this she said. “Be easy on yourself. It’s a tough journey”.  What keeps her going?

Jacob-the reason she gets up each day
Family-her mom and brothers
Friends
Lucas’ strength of never giving up
Wine-it’s not an answer but some days it sure helps!

So going forward I will not hold pity parties. Whenever I am feeling like the world has dealt me a poor hand or if I feel like I just can’t quite make it through a difficult time, I will think of Lucas, Nicole and Jacob. They were all short-changed in the game of life but somehow have managed to move on and are seeing all that is good in what they do have. Beautiful memories, love and family. The Best Things in Life.