Lessons learned.

15 05 2018

My sister asked me the other day if I had written about my son’s ATV accident yet. I said that I had thought about it, but hadn’t really and truly sat down to hash out my thoughts and emotions after that crazy experience. It takes time to process, anytime there’s a trauma involved with someone you love.

All in all, his injuries weren’t THAT serious…. I work with docs who work in the ER and so upon getting the call (while coming home from an amazing weekend in Spokane) learning that Nick had a pneumothorax after the quad rolled on him, my brain automatically heard one of my docs say “OK, that’s really no big deal” in my brain. A punctured or torn lung…. I mean yeah, that’s scary shit, but in some weird way, my autopilot kicked in and I just focused on driving home, knowing it’d be ok. I’m not generally a crier either so no tears were shed. I just drove, intent on getting home to see my boy.

I arrived at the hospital to see my son in the trauma bay, a bit doped up still from the ketamine and morphine he was given during the chest tube insertion. He informed me that he had been “trippin’ balls in another dimension” and we took silly selfies while he laid there in a collar, hooked up to all sorts of machines.

The days that followed were a roller coaster. We had hoped he’d be discharged within two to three days, but unfortunately, after the first chest tube (which I swear to god was the size of a garden hose) was removed, his lung collapsed again, leading to another chest tube being inserted. Nick’s usual upbeat and sarcastic demeanor was crushed as we learned it may be days before he would get home, with a small possibility of a thoracic surgery if it didn’t heal… that meant a trip to Kelowna. So fingers and toes crossed, we waited.

Oh right. We waited. We waited for the nurse to come in to talk to us. We waited for x ray to call so Nick could get yet one more to see how his lung was doing. We waited for the doctor to come and see us. We waited for x ray results. We waited. And waited. And waited. Day in. Day out. We waited.

We filled the time by chatting, by being silent, by stealing tidbits of sleep here and there (Nick in a bed that was a foot too short for his 6’3″ frame and me crooked up against the wall, curled up in a horribly uncomfortable chair). We waited and listened to Nick’s neighbour cough and hack and snort and fart all hours of the day, we heard him having loud conversations in Italian with his wife, that sounded suspiciously like balls-to-the-wall full-on arguments, but as they were interspersed with bouts of laughter, we all figured it was just a typical Italian conversation. (We christened him Luigi and spent a lot of time giggling at the cacophony of sounds emanating from various orifices of the old feller in the next not-very-soundproof-room). We waited with Nick’s lovely, wonderful girlfriend, who filled up the room with her sweet love and tender devotion for him. There were nights where she and I didn’t get home until 10 or 11. Indeed, we put in a few long 8-10 hour days, making sure that he had some semblance of company to keep him from being bored to tears.

In doing all this, this bedside waiting, I learned something. I learned that no matter who tells you in their heartfelt and earnest loving way to “Please let me know if you need anything”, when you are in the thick of dealing with any sort of crisis, you don’t really have the ability to reach out, you don’t have the foresight, and you don’t really think of it.

I had a lovely friend show up one day with chips and treats and hugs galore, and while Nick was sleeping, we sat and chatted. And this very thing came up…. How lonely we were…. how alone we felt. You see, she lost her mom a couple years ago and so she really and truly knows what it’s like and right then and there I realized that I too was (not so much guilty as it is no crime, but more of an honest human reaction) not present for her during her time of deep and soulful need. I should have just shown up while she was at her mother’s bedside. Shown up with tea or soup, or silly magazines, or even just a hug. I remember feeling nervous that I would be intruding on them during that terrible time, I worried that I didn’t have the right to be there. I didn’t want to bother them. I didn’t want to step on toes.

But what we went through opened my eyes. Even though it was a small blip in the grand scheme of things, my heart opened up in a new and delicious way. My lesson gleaned from this was to learn how to be a bit more present for those I love in this world.

So. Don’t wait for the call if you know someone is sick or hurt or grieving. Show up. Show up with a juicy new book. Bring a laptop with a movie downloaded on it. Show up for five minutes with your smile and if you don’t bring anything, just bring at least seven or eight hugs. Because hugs are the best.  Bring a sandwich. The patient and loved ones might be hungry and not willing to leave in case they miss the doctor. And besides, hospital food really, really sucks. Send a text or call if you can’t be there. It matters so much. So so much. Your smile, your presence can will be the difference of making a crappy day a little brighter. You might be the silver lining to an otherwise really bad day.

Because you are. You are a bright silver lining.

We all are.

xoxo

 

 

 

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Onward and upwards

31 12 2017

Well, here we are. The end of 2017.  I thought I’d blow the dust off this laptop of mine and see if I could crank out a blog post before the New Year. So forgive my indulgent nattering.

Here we go!

This past year has been intense, interesting and deeply soul-changing. I watched my first-born graduate high school, I witnessed the heart-soaring level of love a circle of friends can achieve while helping a dear friend through a deeply challenging time, I learned that love can come back even if you thought it might be gone forever, I experienced my first (WTF – OMG – FML)  hot flash.

I tried to live up to my word that I had chosen as my intention at the beginning of last year: embrace. I embraced what came along. Well, I tried to. As far as intentions go, they do become mired down with gooey messy human emotions. But every once in a while a soft whisper would nudge me along. It isn’t easy to embrace the bad as well as the good. But I attempted to embrace my negativity, hoping that at some point it would provide a launch for me to achieve a level of self-forgiveness that I believe every human being needs. I embraced my mistakes and took a long hard look within myself. I listened to criticism and even though I wanted to lash out and scream at the messenger, I swallowed what little pride I had and embraced the truth that I wasn’t at all connected with so many of my loved ones. I embraced my lack of authentic living. And every tiny step I made, I embraced that as well. I embraced my fragility and humanity.

I tend to turn inwards, and too much self-reflection has a contrary effect within me. I start to doubt my worth. I hate that about me. I dance with that darkness too much and this… THIS is what I want to work on. I need to learn how to stop beating myself up and thinking that I am not as important to others as they are to me. I need to remember to reach out instead of burying myself. I need to learn how to hush up this internal dialogue. There is a savagery in our psyches that tend to urge destruction and far too many of us fall prey to its insidious chatter.

So yes… while resolutions are silly and never really work and I am STILL having a love/hate relationship with Patty, my little tummy that is now my new BFF because she won’t leave me the fuck alone, and I am totally going to achieve a 6 pack this year (LOL, yeah, no… who am I kidding), I do think that choosing a word as an intention can offer a sweet sentiment.

So this year, my word is RELEASE. It crashed its way into my mind during one of my 2 AM hot-flash infused self-hate episodes. I had thrown the covers off and sat up, sweaty and sad and filled with a melancholic wave of self-contempt. And I was so sick of it. So tired, exhausted by this inner voice telling me I am not worthy, I am stupid and foolish and unloved. So, there, muddled and hot and frustrated, “release” clanged like a bell in my brain. Right then and there, I decided to give it a try. To release myself from this angry mantra of alienation and self-inflicted misery. Enough already.

As we hesitantly step into 2018, measuring out our growth in the past year, as we enter into the light and the dawn of a fresh start, as we draw from the sweet clarity of an unmarked expanse of the New Year, may we all go with our own sweet intentions.

 

Happy New Year!





The little things.

9 10 2017

I’ve been immersed in gratitude this weekend. Like most people I know, we have more than enough to be thankful for. And this weekend is ripe for expressing it, showing our deep thanks and recognizing the blessed lives we lead. For many, we were surrounded by family and friends and copious amounts of food. As the autumn sunlight streamed through windows, lighting up the tables set to celebrate our abundance, it made me think about the little things, the not-so-easy things to be thankful for.

I am thankful for this gentle appreciation I have for my aging. While I joke about the crinkles and eyebags and my deep fear of a neck wattle with my dearest of friends, fantasizing about Botox and mini-lifts, I truly wouldn’t have it any other way. While my skin folds in on itself, and the age that I am  is reflected in the face I present to the world, I find myself discovering a beauty I wouldn’t have dreamed of admiring a mere ten years ago. I breathe my age in and exhale my thanks out. For this only means that I am still fortunate enough to be here, to live and find joy and have arguments and walk my dog along a forest path.

I give thanks for my restless mind, who prowls about at 2 am. Who fosters self-doubt and worry and strife, but who also reigns in senseless fretting and whispers gentle realities to myself. Don’t worry so much I tell myself and I agree. I listen and it says: You are loved. You are loved.

I am deeply grateful for my decades of dealing with depression and chronic pain and the dark dance I shared with thoughts of suicide so many times. It was indeed as scary as it sounds but in a lovely way, it afforded me more self-knowledge that I could have ever imagined. My cognizance of my frailty has made me stronger. And letting go of my fear of talking about it has gifted me the strength of being there for others. Raw honesty is as healing as honey drizzled in a cup of tea. One sip and you feel it cascading into your body, spreading it’s warmth and love to every cell.

I am indebted to experiencing hate and jealousy. In allowing myself to mirror the beauty of love and kindness through contempt and resentment, I think that I’ve only become more appreciative of my own bounty. And learning how these two distasteful emotions can be used to guide me towards a better understanding and a deeper compassion is seeing that light turned onto me. How bitter I was and relieved my soul was when I found I could let it go. My life certainly isn’t perfect. And by no means will I be able to stop coveting entirely. But learning to step back and trying to see the foolishness of my insecurities is akin to peeling off layers of wet and uncomfortable clothing. Discarded on the floor, I stand bare and tender, more willing to let the negative dissipate.

I am thankful for so much. Today, though, my gratitude is for the little life lessons we are gifted every day, these hidden jewels around us, offering us ways to better our own true selves and walk a sweeter path.

Many blessings to you all, this Thanksgiving weekend.





A little ebb and a little flow

26 08 2017

It’s looking pretty fatigued out there these days. Limp and exhausted, branches support the faded echoes of spring bravado. Brilliant greens are no more than a memory of the beginning of summertime; every leaf drained of its glory, a muted effort to stay for just a bit longer. Sunlight casts a different angle through my windows, lighting up the dust motes dancing and much to my chagrin, lighting up every single dog hair on my wood floors.

There is just under a month of summer left, but it’s the somewhat melancholic summer days that eke out a sadness in my heart. A panicky flutter of my soul, eager to wring out every last delicious drop of it. Did I swim enough? Did I sit on my deck and watch the stars come out enough? Will I have feasted on summertime enough to tide me through the dark days, the cold nights that are on their way?

The answer of course is yes. I have closed my eyes while floating in the Bay, breathing in that intoxicating summer smell. I have savoured bites of huckleberry crisp, berries that we picked early in the morning, my eyes almost tearing up at the tart and sweet of it all. I’ve marveled at the gift of walking my dog at dusk in nothing but shorts and a tank top, that warm air kissing our skin. Sundays over at Sunshine Bay with friends, that hot sun searing on our shoulders, and the only way to cool down is a plunge in the lake.

I’d gladly have more summertime. I love that heat, the early sunny mornings. Those late nights, hearing music echo from a beach party across the lake. Bike rides and peonies, lawn mowers and hummingbirds. I feel more me in the summer, I can’t explain it better than that.

But our seasons, they are part of us. We morph into each one, some reluctantly, others with excitement. There is magic in every seasonal change. There is joy found with crisp fall days and leaves crunching under our feet. Hot tea instead of iced coffee in the afternoons, sweaters and boots find their way from the darkness of our closets. Soups and bread nourish us. That brilliant blue of a fall sky demands our admiration and yes, we admit its beauty. Boisterous oranges and reds and yellows are painted on our landscapes, and yes, it is no more than simply breathtaking.

We ebb and flow, like tides. It’s not without a measure of dispirited energy for some. For others though, Autumn is their favourite season and they’ve trudged through the summer heat with the sweet knowledge that it is on its way.

These last few weeks of summer that are laid out before us demand us to enjoy. Have one more BBQ, a couple more days on the boat. Swim a few more times. Marvel at your tan lines. As we meander through these last of the summer days, we give in to it, we acquiesce to Nature.

And we find joy and beauty in it all.

 





Choice

15 08 2017

I had a really good weekend. I was able to immerse myself in an sparkly, altered reality where dancing all night long and wearing tutus and nipple pasties are the norm. Where random people hug one another with a hearty “Happy Shams” said to each other with the biggest smiles on their faces.

Where lasers and lights and bass and beats marry in bliss, where walking by a little geo-dome offers rides to outer space. Where wishes are hung from trees, coffee is drank at 3 AM and walking isn’t walking. No, no. You become the beat, you dance to each place you want to go to. Where that drop of the music gets EVERYONE hyped.

Where the “wave” goes around via everyone yelling WOOOOOOO at the top of their lungs. You can hear it coming, swirling through the masses and finally it’s your turn to lend your voice to the joy and celebration that is Shambhala.

I unplugged. I turned off notifications and didn’t enter the Social Media world for days.

That was all sorts of refreshing.

When I resurfaced on Sunday, my lovey Shamb vibe deflated a little, learning of what happened in Virginia. My heart sunk when I heard and read comments of people DEFENDING the supremacists. You-Know-Who made a complete ass of himself, which is not surprising, but still so goddamn depressing. I cannot even imagine what my friends and family feel who actually live there.

I just can’t, you guys. I can’t engage with the emotions that this creates.

There’s just so much hate reinventing itself. And not just down in the States. It’s here, in Europe, all over the world.

If I really start to think about it, it becomes so overwhelming that I want to crawl into bed and bury myself in the covers and never ever leave.

But this world is ours. And all I can think of is how to go about my day without becoming too disheartened that it eats away at our very hearts and souls.

It becomes a choice.

And I choose kindness. (That is not without saying I won’t speak my mind if I am faced with hateful rhetoric. Oh, anyone who knows me knows my mouth and my No-Filter setting.)

But I choose kindness. To go through my day, as much as I possibly can, to lend a smile to someone, to offer supportive words, to bring love and sweetness in any little way possible. If we all do this, planting tiny seeds of love, a few of them are bound to take root and grow and blossom.

And the more love that is planted and grows, the more likely the noxious weeds will get choked out. They will wither and die, trying to eek out strength. Their mindless nattering will fade into silence. They will become nothing, because they are nothing.

And the love will grow, nurtured with kindness.

Blessings and love to you, to our world. Let’s fill it with love, let’s pile on the kindness.

Namaste.





Take your time

5 05 2017

I awoke this morning to that soft sound of distant rolling thunder. That first spring storm. The rains that followed danced on the newly unfurled leaves and every bird seemed to take it as an invite to be especially raucous.

I took the opportunity to run after the rain stopped. Jed, excited as usual to be beside me, and I ran along the upper road. Breathing with exertion, taking in breath, not like sips but huge deep soul-quenching swigs of it. There’s something almost… nutritious about the freshness of spring air.

There’s a thicket of cottonwoods along that stretch. And the rains had enhanced that sticky sweet scent so that it enveloped me. And there I stopped. I came to a halt, under the cottonwoods, the damp leaves exuding that heady fragrance. Petrichor. It was like I couldn’t breathe deep enough. I can only hope to saturate my very skin with that smell. It’s the marker of spring for me. That perfume that cloaks our neck of the woods for a few weeks in May. I dream of it sometimes, in the dead of winter.

My heart rate slowed, I closed my eyes and took it in. I’m sure folks might wonder what I was doing, but I couldn’t help myself.

It’s like that old saying… “Take time to stop and smell the roses”…. For me, it’s cottonwoods. But it doesn’t matter, really.

Just take time to stop to smell/touch/see/love/dance/sing/laugh.

Just stop. And take your time.





You go girl.

24 02 2017

We lapped the Summit side today, my friend and I. The snow was softened up by the sun enough so that it carved nicely on the groomers, and still we found mini patches of coveted powder here and there on Sleeper and Paydirt, amongst the trees.

Anyways, I digress. There was a cutie-patootie liftie working the Summit chair for our few runs. She was Aussie, young and super beautiful. There was a bit of a delay, the lift had stopped for a few moments. We overheard her conversation with another young Aussie gal, and it briefly afforded me a teasing glimpse into the lives of the “younguns”.

“How’s your season going?” one beauty asked the other.

“Sooooooeeeeewwwww good. I’m definitely coming back next wintah.”

“Oh, soooooeeeewwwww awesome.”

“Yeeeeaaaaahhhh, and I’m heading to the Eeeyyy-land this summah. I might get a job theyah.”

“Ohhhhh, that’s sooooooeeeeeewww amazing!! Enjoy! Hey, I’ll see you this weekend?”

“Yeeeahhhhh, should be soooooeeewwww fun!”

 

My friend and I got on the chair, bathed in the sunshine pouring down over Ymir peak. I giggled to my friend, mimicking that sweet young girl a bit.

“Ooooohhhhh, yyyeeeaaaahhhh, lookit at ma life, sooooeeeeww gooood. I don’t have any babies or even a husband! Not a mortgage or worry in sight! Lookit at me, with my high firm titties, lovin’ life, working heeeeaaahhh, working theeeeaaarrrr, with me smooth skin and no wrinkles.”

We laughed. And then we sighed. And remembered our own wild feet and youth. We recalled our own smooth skin and lives untethered. When we were wild women.

Listen, I only said what I said, I only mimicked her with the utmost of respect. The utmost of not so much jealousy, but rather with an older woman’s indulgent nostalgia. Those long ago days, when it was our turn to be wild and free.

What I thought was this:

Fuck girl: GO. Get that job on the Island. Party, make money, surf, make love, have fun, laugh and LIVE. Come back to Whitewater another season. Ski or board your ass off on your days off. Celebrate your youth. Get tattooed. Take those trips. Kiss that person you find attractive. Grab life and do what you want to do. All of those experiences you are about to dredge out for your life, they will be a guiding force in many of your decisions that you will eventually make. Let these days be the solid foundation of a life well-lived.

Take them. Run with them. That whim that whispers in your ear? Go with it. Don’t hesitate. You with the long brown braids and bright eyes. You have an epic future ahead.

Every time we lapped that side, we’d come back to the chair, and she’d ask us how our day was going. She’d ask with a bright smile and an authentic sweetness of someone who was loving life. It filled my heart with a subtle joy. That this young soul, this lovely human was living her life to her own accord, hopefully not succumbing to the dictates of others. Her life, her rules.

It settled in me, this thought and wonder of why this brief interaction touched me so deeply. And I realized it is only because it is what we should ALL do as humans. We should all live our own lives, dictated by no other person’s demands of what we should or shouldn’t do, guided only by our own happiness and joy.

It gave me hope.

It set a little tiny piece of my heart free.