Tears

I have been free-forming emotions this week. Processing grief has been a valuble learning exercise for me. I have allowed emotions to come and go as they arise. The interesting thing about all of this is tears. They aren’t always sad. This is the most surprising thing of 2020. I thought I would be sad all the time. Tears are hovering just below the surface and sometimes they leak out because I am sad or angry, but sometimes its because I am happy.

I wouldn’t call myself a cryer. But if I look back to the times in my life where I was the happiest – I was definitely a cryer. The last five years or so I have stuffed my emotions deep down into the socks I wear. I don’t pay attention to them. I have been missing out on joy and happiness because I have been numbing myself so I don’t feel sad.

THIS IS REVOLUTIONARY.

I am slightly angry at me for wasting so much time trying to get the wrong people to love me. Okay – let’s face it, I am downright pissed I did that. I told my mom I didn’t think I was lovable for a really long time and I think that broke her heart a little bit. We determined I was loveable, I was just asking the wrong people to love me. I went for a Reiki session and have done all kinds of inner-child work (whoa…that was painful). Then, finally, I am nurturing myself with a dose of allowing. News Flash, you don’t have to ask people to love you. The right ones just do.

I allow feelings to flow. It happens at weird times and places. Like work…ug… that is the worst but the reactions at work have been surprisingly caring. I didn’t expect that. I am not sure why, I work in a culture that is very caring, perhaps the most caring place of my entire career. The place that you would think was supposed to be the most nurturing was the most harmful to me. I also find that interesting – and I resent that because I thought there was something wrong with me – nope it was them.

The other day I was scrolling through Instagram and saw this:

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I loved this post by @haleydrewthis  because LOOK AT ALL THE HAPPY MOMENTS! This inspired me to write my own list. I think it is important for me to recognize the happy and sad moments and allow those tears to flow. crying feels great when it is over. I am here for it.

  1. Standing over my baby’s crib listening to tiny baby snores.
  2. Laying down with my pal Cap on the stairs and feeling his heartbeat.
  3. Standing on the balcony in Irving and looking at the pool before I leave knowing this is it.
  4. Sitting on a rock in Big Sur and watching whales swim by.
  5. Holding my friend’s hand when her mom died.
  6. Sitting in meditation asking for help to move forward.
  7. On the floor of my classroom hearing the words “your grandpa is in the hospital and it doesn’t look good”
  8. Sitting and my desk when my mom said, Gram died through the night.
  9. The Good Place series finale when everyone walks through the door.
  10. My very first half marathon having my kids walk with me across the finish line.
  11. Standing in the ocean at Tofino with the hubs waiting for me onshore.
  12. Every time my kids sit with me and we laugh.

Good, bad and ugly – life is awesome.

Needy

Have you thought about the difference between want and need? I did, and it got me thinking… more than usual.

Wants are things that bring me joy.

Needs are things I will die without…literally and figuratively.

Devil and angel pulling 3d person for hands

I want to say I need Tiffany’s sparkly things draped over me. But that’s not true, I lived this long without – so far so good.

I want to say I need a regular Disney vacation and a trip to the beach to soak up the sun. Again, I can live without it but those do enhance the joy factor.

I want to say I need a library like Belle in Beauty and the Beast (Disney version) but again, that is a joy enhancement.

Wants are awesome but not life fulfilling.

Needs are. I had a couple of lengthy chats with two different, yet very great friends. Both are male and both feed a different part of my soul. One friend I can talk about fitness, family, writing and life’s ups and downs. His friendship has become a need. I feel energized after talking and I have plenty of brain food to think about.

I need Brain Food.

The other friend I talk to semi-regularly and we talk about business, ethics, values and strategy. More brain food.

I need these types of friends in my life. This is why I enjoy book club. It requires the intellect in me to discuss the books we read with insight and awakening. I enjoy the social content of the evening but the book discussion is the pinnacle for me.

I had told my friend my wish for him. I wish that he would get the things he needs to enhance his life life because we all deserve that. Needs are important. Then he said to me, so what do you need. Wow, I hesitated.

For a very long time I didn’t put my needs anywhere near where I could benefit from them. I know this is a problem for lots of women, moms in particular. Although I have learned that I am not alone, there are men who do the same thing. We are nurturers. We give because we love it, it fills us to a certain extent but then we forget to put in the plug and all kinds of goodness leaks out and the well becomes dry.

So what do I need? It is simple. Without these things I shrivel up and die. Not physically but mentally and that is worse.

1.  I need to mom. I am the mom to 2 amazing kids. I need a life that lets me put their needs ahead of mine while they are still minors. I need them to know how important they are to me and that I would move mountains for them. I need to be the dependable one, the one they know will always be there for them without judgement. The no judgement part is hard. My wish is for them to be high end achievers  but nagging them to death to study is not going to get there. I give them space to fall. I am there with a hand up or a band-aid if they require it. They rarely need a hand anymore, this fills me with pride. I see failure in their future. I want to stop it but this is how we grow, change and mature. We need failure to learn. You rarely learn from doing everything right. It will be more painful for me then it will be for them, but I will do it. I need this. I need them to know I am always in their corner.

I wanted 4 but needed only one. Two was a bonus.

2. I need to run. This means I need the time, the support (don’t nag me that I am gone again – luckily I have support!), the space and the freedom to set goals. I need the challenge of races to shoot for both in short term and long term. I need quiet when I run. Don’t talk to me. This is my meditation. If I invite you to run it is because I want your presence. If I don’t and you ask if you can come with me, the answer is yes. But don’t talk to me. Running is my communion with nature, my release, my thoughts acknowledgement and peace.

-I want to be a gazelle, but only need to move. Gazelle status will be a bonus.

3. I need intellectual stimulus. Mindless, numbing activity is deadly. It makes me create scenarios in my brain. I’d rather live outside of my brain that live in it, but I will do both if I have too. I need to be challenged. I need intellectual conversation. I need the freedom to seek this. I like being smart because the more you learn, the more you realize you know nothing. Therefore learning is a lifelong challenge.

I want to be a professional student and have long lengthy chats with other academics but having friends who challenge me is a bonus.

4. I need chocolate. Not everyday but when I need it, look out – it isn’t pretty.

-I want only great chocolate but any chocolate when I need it is a bonus.

I am lucky, I have my needs met. Now – on to the wants…lets start with that vacation to NYC…

Unconditional

The moment you figure it out is life changing.

Seeing yourself in your friends is normal, safe, comforting.

The moment you recognize your old pain in your friend, is heartbreaking.

Seeing yourself helpless as they struggle is torture.

The moment you realize they are about to figure it out is illuminating.

Seeing yourself cheering from the sidelines is restraining.

The moment you realize they need to struggle alone brings sorrow.

Seeing them reach out to you for help is healing.

 

I will wait for you to reach out. I will help pick up the pieces. I love you without conditions. Love yourself the same.

I am Looking for a New Friend…with a Side of Caution and a Bowl of Respect

A doormat no more. That is my motto, at least I am attempting to live by those rules. I have had a very difficult year. I had a decision to make and I put it off because quite frankly it is was easier and somewhat more comforting not to have to make the decision that I KNOW is good for me, than to have to make a choice that could potentially change everything.

I was at my Dietician’s office today, and visiting her and my life coach always brings about further thought and exploration. I ran into my life coach at the same office, it feels like running into an old and dear friend. I love her! She is kind, smart and respectful. This is something I need more of in my life. RESPECT. My Dietician and I spoke to the emotional eating issues I am facing. I am still chugging along but lately things have come to a head. I did some things about it this week.

I said good by to people who suck energy from me. I told one person at point blank range, that I could no longer be the person they needed me to be. It was hard. The truth of the matter was, they could not be the person I needed them to be. I needed to face facts. I love this person to the core of my soul, but I have to walk away. You can only give so much. Then you need stuff in return to replenish the well. I can’t wait for promises to be kept only to know it will never happen. Track records speak for themself. The reality is people don’t typically change their core. You can improve and develop what you have if you really want to. Respect people’s time. Respect their level of commitment to you. Respect their feelings. Respect their children. Respect their time…did I say that already? If you SAY you are doing something DO IT. Don’t promise the moon and then not produce…not cool. Pie crust promises are just soul sucking. Easily made, easily broken. I guess the bottom line is I wasn’t as important to them as they were to me. That hurts.

Now that I have washed my hands of that situation, I cannot tell you how light and lovely I feel. Knowing is freeing. I am not as sad as I thought I would be. I was far more emotional while i was trying to decide what to do. Once the decision was made, it was very business like and comfortable. I like that. Do I wish things were different? Absolutely, but wishing is not the same as achieving. I cannot control someone elses behavior. You BET I want that skill, but alas…I am not magic.

With all the drama that has been circulating around both on WordPress and in my personal and work life, I am thankful for the peaceful moment I currently have.

Breathe with me <inhale through the nose> <exhale though the mouth> Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh better? I think so.

My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. I realize I wasn’t ready to let go. I have made major changes to my core and need to respect myself too. Now it’s all good and time to make new friends with a side of caution and a bowl of respect.

Occupy Cottage 2011

This past weekend I attended Occupy Cottage 2011. This is NOT to be confused with the Occupy Edmonton, Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Vancouver, and the various other Occupy frolics that have been happening all over North America. I did not protest anything, I didn’t send Premier Redford a letter listing inane demands, nor did I spend the weekend in a tent with other anarchist. I feel no need to be an anarchist. Occupy Cottage 2011 is about filling the need for girlfriend support.

Occupy Cottage 2011 was two nights away from reality with a large dose of girl-talk. I belong to a group of scrapbookers who use to meet monthly, but life got in the way, one of us moved to Kelowna, and one of us went back to University, while the other 3 of us increased our already full life to abundantly extra full. Now we meet one weekend a year – typically in November. Our out-of-towner flew in for this event (thank goodness because we stay at her mom’s house cottage!) and we all met at the cottage Friday night. Notably absent was the Curler, who had a mani/pedi party previously booked. We understood. Good grooming is a must! Ironically, good grooming does not happen during the Occupy Weekend. Pit-stick and toothpaste is the extreme lengths we take to not odor-offend each other.

This mansion cottage use to be on the edge of the city. It felt like a country stay – hence the term cottage. The city has grown by leaps and bounds since we began, but we don’t care. We are not there to enjoy the great outdoors, or the weather. We are there to scrap, laugh, cry, rant and drink coffee – lots of it.

It began Friday night, I arrived late and was the last to arrive – as per usual. My motto of late had been, but at least I am coming!!!! We sat around the kitchen catching up on the nuts and bolts of our lives in the past year. I missed last years Occupy Cottage because I had pneumonia AND a giant paper to write and I wanted to live in a box under the stairs. I had been suffering from crappy life syndrome. Some people call it depression. Its hard to give of yourself when all you want to do is hide under the stairs in the dark. Somehow  – with the help of my health team and family and wonderbar friends, I climbed out of that dark place and became healthy and eager to give of myself once again. Occupy Cottage is about giving of yourself and you get abundance in return.

We discussed the wonders of our friendship. We can go literally EONS without talking to each other, just “facebooking” to keep up with little details. Yet we regroup one weekend a year and suddenly it is like no time has passed. The only way it is marked is from the pictures of our children. When I started with these ladies, my children were 5 and 7. BeachFrontGirl had no children. NO CHILDREN! Her babies are beautiful and great spellers now…time does seem to pass without us noticing.

We stay up late and get up early. We drink so much caffeine that even I, The Edmonton Tourist who is impervious to the wonders of caffeine, becomes affected. I vibrate, become dehydrated, survive on 8 hours sleep for an entire weekend. We eat chocolate, chips and cheese cake just like slumber parties of our youth, but our aging bodies demand fruit and vegetables too. We fight over music to listen to, share every bit of scrap supplies we own. Tease each other endlessly about our predictable natures and throw sarcasm around as if it is our first language.

We sit around the dinning room table and create. Creating is what we tell our families our purpose of the weekend, but we are liars. Our true purpose is to support each other. We listen without judgement. We cry without shame. We laugh with hysteria. I cried more this year than years past, so it must have been my turn. They know if I am hiding something or ask too many questions about them, that means I am in avoidance mode. By Saturday night, The Rock made me spill my guts. It was spread all over the table for all to see. Then she did the same. Our stories are all so vastly different, yet shows me everyone has a life that is less than perfect. You would think as an adult I would realize this or know it instinctually, but it takes reminders like this that underneath it all we are all the same.

Occupy Cottage 2011 was a smashing success. I missed them as soon as I drove away. I am already looking forward to next year, Occupy Cottage 2012. I Heart my girls more then they even realize.

Here is proof it is all about the creativity and not the friendship:

 

I Recieved a Love Note Today

At lunch today a note was slipped under the Staff Room Door for me. It nearly brought me to tears – in a good way. I received a lovely hand drawn piece of art by a former student of mine. This girl is in grade 3 and has a reputation for being a handful. 5 years ago she was my handful.

The drawing was of me. I am smiling with a flower in my hand. She wrote out my name on artful, fancy ways all over the paper and she signed it with a heart.

I teach in a neighborhood that is refered to as “The Hood”. Our school is surrounded by social housing projects and poverty rears its ugly head in the families that attend our school. This girl is from such a family. They live across the street in a tiny townhouse meant for a family 4. They are a family of 8. Mom stays home and does a fine job of raising nice kind kids. Dad is on his second tour of Afghanistan. I think it’s a crime that our military families live in poverty.

This young girl is the middle child. She is not as bright as her older siblings and not as cute as the younger siblings. Therefor she was my favorite. Her cries for attention manifest in typical ways like temper tantrums and not so typical like wetting her pants long after the age where it is deemed acceptable. School learning is harder for her than her extremely bright brother. She is often alone on the playground, or waits for the bell to ring before she will cross the street and get to class. Peer social interactions never came easy for her. She always needed adult support to start a conversation. As she has progressed in school, less adults in the classroom mean less support in forging new relationships. This girl would benefit from having a Big Sister through Big Brothers and Sisters.

Everyday I make the effort to find her and say hi. I tell her I miss her and wish her a great day. Every now and then I see her hanging around my classroom door. I introduce her to my students as a girl who used to be little and was in my class. I always make an effort to tell my students what a nice girl she is, and if they ever need help on the playground, find her. This girl never says a word to me. She will smile, but her words are silent. I am not even sure if she really remembers being in my class. But she does know I love her and I care about her. That makes a difference in her life. I am that someone who notices her and tells her I miss her when I don’t see her.

Every year I get a child like her in my class, from a large family who gets lost in the shuffle. Combine that with all the issues of poverty, and my job can get emotionally overwhelming. Today I read this blog a contribution to the Edmonton Journal’s Opinion page. The blog is from ABC Head Start, a program that works with preschool children and their families in poverty. It was a note about judging.

Now imagine being a family living on limited income. You have this preschool child (and maybe a few other children too) who is growing like a little weed! You want to wait until the last second to buy winter items for your child so that (fingers crossed) these expensive winter items last ALL winter. And lets face it, in Alberta that could be 13 out of 12 months. So you wait, one more pay check, two more pay checks, until the snow starts to fall to run out and purchase these items. For far too many parents this is the reality.

So next time you are at the grocery store on a particularly chilly fall day and see that family who’s children are not quite dressed for the cooler weather, let’s smile instead of judge because perhaps your patio furniture is still sitting on your deck.

Because I work with children who do not have much, I keep that in mind when I provide for my own. My children understand the balance between indulged and impoverished. They are lucky and know it, but they also have to do without. They know the value of social justice and earn volunteer hours for school. They have helped me collect things for the children at my school and will ask their friends for warm coats and mitts.

The next time you are out shopping and see the bin for Toys for Tots or Santa’s Anonymous, consider dropping a toy or more into the box if you are a family of HAVE. If you are lucky enough to be on the receiving end, remember to say THANK YOU. Showing gratitude causes things to multiply.

If you are fortunate enough to have a little extra money this year and not sure what you would like to do with it, please think about helping children who are hungry, cold and who go without. I’m sure you have a few ideas where your money would do great work, but if you need some ideas, I have included some of my favorite places to give:

Team For Kids, ABC Head Start  Big Brothers and Sisters , Santa’s Anonymous

I might have the Plague.

I think I am dying. By the time you read this I may have actually sneezed my head off. I will either be dead by morning OR still be suffering from this “cold” I have. I am pretty sure it is the plague, but I am not a doctor so I can’t be sure. So If I am dead by morning here are somethings I want my kids to know, you should know this stuff too. There might be a test in Heaven and I want you prepared.

  1. Every chance you get – Pay it Forward. Nice things happen to people all the time. When you are a recipient, don’t take it for granted. Be grateful and then do something nice for someone else. It works like the Rubber/glue effect. You know the one “I am rubber you are glue, what bounces off me  – sticks to you!” Unless you use Rubber Cement as glue, then the bouncing is endless.
  2. Always look your best. When you look confident, you feel confident and people treat you automatically with respect. This will open doors for you.
  3. Eat your fruit and vegetables. It makes you feel strong and healthy. It makes your hair shiny and keeps you regular. All good things.
  4. If you don’t know the answer to something, don’t ask for the answer right away. Ponder it. Mull it over. Sometimes you need a new perspective, then when you figure out the answer, the feeling is better! It makes you smarter. However, there is no shame in asking for the answer  when you just don’t know.
  5. Keep in touch with your family. Family doesn’t always mean blood relative. It can mean close dear friends who would do anything for you. I am lucky I have both. Call them and tell them you miss them or appreciate them or just want to spend time with them. It makes them happy to know you need them.
  6. Take risks. Sometimes it is easier to stay safe and go with what you know. Sometimes it is a wonderful feeling to try and succeed at something new. I recommend it.
  7. When you need o find a job, it is important to do what you are passionate about and what is ethical. But sometimes you need to feed your children and then it is important to do the best you can WITHOUT guilt.
  8. Tell your kids you love them every day. EVERYDAY. It seems like a lot, but it’s not. More is better.
  9. Read to your kids EVERYDAY until they become avid readers. It makes them smart, articulate, critical thinkers, and interesting. Being interesting is important. That is how you become a vibrant social contributor to society. It also helps you make friends that turn into family.
  10. Expect life to be disappointing when it isn’t fabulous. Life is a balance of both. Disappointment is important because that is the time when you learn things.
  11. Volunteer your time to a charity. Giving money to a charity is awesome. Sometimes you need to know what its like to give time. All charities need people to make things work. Find something you  believe in and give up your time.
  12. Be nice to each other. In the end, you are all you have. The world needs more kindness.

Even if I am not dead in the morning, these are good things to know. I learned these lessons from my parents, grandparents, family, friends coworkers and strangers. Add to the list as you learn things too. Most importantly, always bring me an Extra Hot Skinny Vanilla Latte when I feel like I am dying. It always works miracles.

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day! Or as my Grandpa would say Happy Dominion Day! He was never big on the new Canadian Maple Leaf flag NOR was he all that thrilled with other eastern Canadian influences which I will not go into here. But let’s just say, he was a proud Canadian and he was a tremendous role model for us whippersnappers when it came to patriotic pride!

For as long as I can remember, our family has had a Canada Day BBQ. It isn’t just for family, often friends of various family members are invited to join in the festivites as well. My Grandparents were often the annual hosts for the events and then we would walk down to watch the fireworks extravaganza down at  the park.

I remember lemonade, ice cream, burgers and hot dogs, potato salad and homemade beans. Often there was a birthday cake and the yard was decorated with Red, White and Blue balloons and streamers. The Blue had nothing to do with our American Neighbors but everything to do with our ties to the UK. The Red Ensign ( Canada’s original flag) held the Union Jack proudly in the upper corner. This is why the blue was present.

Most of us wear Red and White, play baseball or bacci ball. Sit around and tell crazy stories that are too bizarre to be true – yet are. Mostly we laugh. If you know me, you know laughing is my favorite pastime. I learned it from some of the funniest people on the planet, my family. I love my family and Canada Day. It is one of my most favorite holidays.

Today the plan is to laugh, share, play and then walk to the park to hear the musical stylings of Honeymoon Suite then watch the Fireworks. I look forward to this day every year. I invited several friends, but all were skeptical as to how much fun it really is. Trust ME! If I invited you, A> I must really like you and consider you family and B> I hope that you like me enough to be accepted into my family.

I will be tweeting the events today and adding pictures via Plixi. Please share in the fun and join me @EdmontonTourist by following the hash tag #bbqeh! I can’t wait to share the best day of the year with my new friends and family.

Happy Canada Day eh!