23 04 2011

I don’t live in the “boondocks”. Nor do I live in the “city”. I live in a sort of in-between unincorporated village, a half-hour drive from a vivacious community that adopts the term City to its name, although falls in the “town” definition through population alone. The City of Nelson is vibrant; chock-full of hippies and artists, rednecks and loggers, off-the-grid militaristic pre-cyclers and die-hard fashionistas.

I freakin’ love it.

I actually live in a village some 35 kilometres north of Nelson. We hug the arm and mouth of Kootenay Lake. We are sleepy and quaint and quiet. Not much goes on, and when something happens, like the fence that borders the local catch-all corner store gets smashed in by a drunk driver, well…. it’s big news. Big time news.

Oh, how I love where I live. I get to run along the shores of the most stunning lake in the world. I see ospreys circling and diving for kokanee and rainbow. I watch Golden eagles soar. I see the stinky left-behind remnants of bears on my road, after a night of feasting on berries and apples. I hear coyotes partying at 2 am. I watch deer, see the patches of elk that rest in the snow, marvel at a Great-Horned owl flying over head. Hearing that Swoosh-Swoosh of its wings beating was one of those indefinable defining moments. I met a moose once, while running along the highway one hot July morning. She was just as surprised as me as she came out from the lake from her morning swim…. both of us stopping in our tracks and staring at each other, as if to say W. T. F.???

Today, as I walked along the shores of Kootenay Lake with my daughter, we watched an osprey and a Golden Eagle fight in mid-air. They tousled with one another, falling and flaying, talons raised, screeches echoing against the far shore. We watched, my daughter and I, simply stunned with this unexpected beauty and wildness. And then.. and then… we were blessed with seeing a Blue Heron. Magnificent and long-legged, stork-like and king-like; this bird stood, so still one might think he was a statue. I tried to snap “that picture”, but honestly, my eyes were so hungry to just watch him, I could barely raise my camera to my eyes.

It made me realize that no matter what I hear from my glamourous, world-travelling facebook friends, or my city-dwelling, money-making pals, I am so thankful that I get to live in a place that contains the best of both worlds. I can watch wild life from my home, and then drive to town to shop for some fabulous clothes, art and eat a fantastic dinner and dance all night long to world-class tunes.

By no means would I ever “knock” where anyone lives. That is never my intention. This is only me, in my humble opion, gladly accepting my own blessings in where and how I get to live. I would never ever change it for the world.

Who we were and who we are.

18 04 2011

I was never popular. In either elementary or high school. I never mastered the art of whatever it was that the girls who were popular had going for them. I tried, make no doubt about it. My efforts at fitting in only ended up with me feeling like an ass and the coveted popular girl giving me a side-eye rife with pity and disdain. I begged my mother for whatever fashion was hip at the moment, I wore my hair just like all the others. But somehow I always fell short. I failed miserably, ending up spending quite a bit on my own while others I knew had oodles of friends and attended parties, hung out together at the arcade, went to weekend hockey games; laughing with bright eyes and confidence. And yet I struggled, stumbled, tried so hard.

I was called names like Mutt-face, Bitch and Slut. I was ridiculed, not invited to parties, mocked and deserted. I was picked on something fierce sometimes.

Was I too loud? Was I too desperate? Was I too tall? Was I just not funny enough/cool enough/smart enough/dumb enough…. enough enough enough???? I’ll never know. Those years between 13 and 18 have molded a part of me into something I can’t quite put my finger on but in that I sometimes still look at myself as a clumsy, oafish, galooty loser with big glasses and zits and a tendency to never ever fit in, no matter how hard I tried.

I spent much of my youth writing out my angst in journals and living in an I-wish sort of world. I had some friends, who managed to mingle with the side of popularity that I never got to dabble in. I did have some fun, I enjoyed most of my teen years. I came into my own around the time I turned 16. I found strength in me to choose to not give a fuck what others thought of me, and that still resonates within me. I chose my own path, wore what I wanted to wear (skin-tight jeans and a black leather tassled jacket. HEY! It was the 80s people….), refused to adhere to what others thought as important.

It gave me power in my own soul, but it also back-fired on me. Rumours swirled about me and my tendency to sleep with any guy (the truth much different, naturally, I blame the pants, big hair and leather jacket), the popular girls still didn’t give me the time of day; I was in a fist-fight with one of those girls, who hated me so much she chose to try to punch my lights out, in grade 11. I wonder now, does she know what she did? Is she raising her children to be better than that? Why did she hate me so much? What on earth did I do to her to warrant a physical attack?

One of those popular girls that I admired and wanted so desperately to be friends with way back then has, sweetly and ironically turned out to be one person that gives me strength today. She knows who she is!

When I think back to those days, it truly has no real resonance in my life anymore. But that doesn’t mean that it didn’t back then. Sneers and whispers were rents torn in the fabric of my spirit. I was a sweet girl with lots to offer, yet those whom I wanted to please wanted nothing to do with me. My 14 year-old self was tattered and morose, labeled a geek, loser, nobody. For some reason, I was chosen to be not chosen.

I am no different than that girl. I am a universe away from that girl. Her and I share everything and have nothing in common. She is defined by the same as I am, yet I refuse to be relegated into what she was defined to be. I weep for her, she was so sweet and kind and only wanted to belong. I belong. Therefore, I have brought her to me, snugged her in to my heart, and comforted her as she still, to this day, desperately tries to fit in.

Beauty in little ways.

15 04 2011

Downstairs in my grandparents’ house, my paternal grandmother has a portrait of her teenage self. I think she is around 18; the photo itself slightly tinged with colour. I guess it would be the late 40s that it was taken. I’ve always loved that picture (I know I am not the only one in our family who does), the bright eyed young woman with auburn hair and a smile that evokes carefree youth. Her entire life was stretched before her when that photo was taken, her skin smooth and unlined. Love and babies and life still a mystery to be unwrapped at her leisure.

We were all that at one point. Some of us are closer and some of us farther away from that moment. But there is just something so indefinably surreal and breathtaking about a woman’s beauty in its most freshest form.

Three of us grown cousins and some of the kids went to our grandparents home for lunch. We were talking babies, mostly, since my one cousin is due in two weeks with her second child. But marriage talk was the other hot topic, as the one who sat beside me is getting married this summer. She emitted beauty and youth in an subtle and vibrant undercurrent I picked up on, perhaps since I’m officially getting used to being in my 40s now. It wasn’t jealousy so much as just wistfulness on my part, admiring her smooth skin and bright eyes, decorated with gold eyeshadow; a feat I wouldn’t dare to try to pull off now. Unlined and ebullient, she laughed among us, chatting away, unaware of her effect on me. How simply and utterly beautiful she is.

Did we all take our endless youth for granted, never once thinking of the future of aging and age? I know I did. Firm high breasts and smooth thighs, plump cheeks and clear eyes, no veins showing on the backs of my hands. It was never going to end, I wasn’t going to get older, that wouldn’t happen to me. My 20s lasted forever.

I know what you might be thinking. Beauty is never defined only through youth and unlined skin. Beauty can dazzle us in so many ways; the curve of the waist, the crinkles around the eyes caused by a lifetime of laughter, a smile that emanates true joy, the soft skin of middle age, grooves and lines echoing a life full of joy, love and angst, the uninhibited confidence of a woman who loves and accepts her true self.

I love to catch these glittering jewels in all of us. It’s almost like seeking hidden treasures; being blessed with beauty in unconventional ways. We all have unique beauty, whether it is expressed in fresh youthful abandon or wise and well-ripened poise, or somewhere in between. Take some time and see the loveliness in the faces of the women in your life.