Walking for a Cause





For the past couple of years both my son and daughter have participated in a run to raise money for neuroscience – mental health and brain injury research – at the University of Alberta, in honor of their dad.  I had tossed around the idea of joining the 5K walk event this year, but I wasn’t sure I could do it, with my achy feet, bunions, blisters, fallen arches … you get the picture!

I’m not a runner, nor do I ever aspire to be, but I have been walking regularly for a few months now and it has become a really good habit.  Sure, there are days I wake up and think it would be nice to skip out and just stay in my pajamas with a cup of coffee, but I am quickly reminded of the way I feel while I’m walking and once I get home, so I get up and go and I’m never sorry I did.

The only event I’ve ever done that involved a lot of physical energy was a walkathon in my youth.  I think it was about 21 miles, but I’m not positive anymore and I haven’t actually thought about it for so long, until just now!  I don’t remember which fundraiser it was but I do remember being exhausted, hot and thirsty.

I recently returned from a trip with my daughter to Disneyland, where she ran a half marathon.  She had prepared for this event for over a year, and I believe it was everything she hoped it would be.  I was part of the chEAR squad (yes, it’s really a thing!) so I got to sit in a special place near the finish line and watch all the action – and they really do provide a lot of action!  It was so entertaining, and my daughter said there were things all along the route to entertain them and make it all fun.


When we got home from Disneyland I was inspired to do something, so I decided to jump in and register for the N.E.R.D. run event with my kids and another family who has been affected by brain injury, and I will be walking on Saturday.  As long as it isn’t too hot (my daily walks are at sunrise!) I know I’ll be OK and even though it’s not that long, and even though I’m not running, it will be an accomplishment for me, and I have my kids to thank for that inspiration.

I started walking because I wanted to be mobile and hold onto my mobility as long as I can moving forward.  But now I’m experiencing the other benefits as well and I’m hoping that even once it snows I’ll be able to get out there with some cleats and hopefully I won’t fall flat on my butt.

In the meantime, it’s never too late to take a leap, so I’m walking the 5K Saturday for brain injury and mental health.  I’m going to get a bib, an actual medal, and a cool t-shirt.

I’m walking for my husband.  And I’m walking for me.

That Special Someone

Two hands creating a heart

I was thinking recently about how, when I was a teenager and growing into an adult, I would observe couples together at social events or in our house when my parents had company.  I would think how nice it was that at the end of the evening, each couple got to go home together, that they would have each other to share stories of the day with, to cuddle up close at bedtime, that they each had someone special who was their own.  And I looked forward to having that experience when it was my turn.

When I got to live life as part of a married couple, those evenings were as I imagined they would be: the comfort, the companionship, the sharing of stories of the day.

Now, I have moments when I recall certain memories that only he and I shared, certain things that only the two of us experienced together.  Those live now only in my own mind.  I can talk about them, but no one actually shares them.  He was THERE.  No one can actually remember with me now, or fill in the blanks as my own memory fades. It’s a simple thing that we don’t really appreciate fully until it’s gone … like many simple little things.

And now, like others I’ve spoken to who find themselves in similar situations, I don’t really fit into groups of couples anymore, and they’re everywhere!  Couples who were friends are still friends, of course, but socially it’s difficult for me to join in on occasions where couples are the norm.  It just hurts to be there.  A lot.

I observe the random loving glances, the shared smiles or laughs, the small physical encounters as they brush past each other.  And it’s still beautiful to see – I will always appreciate it – but I’m not a teenager anymore, imagining what it will be like to have it one day.  I know what it’s like. I know what I’m missing.

That special someone. The one who could finish my sentences, the one who knew me inside and out, better than anyone else in the world and sometimes better than I knew myself.  The one who was the other half of me.

No matter how true my brain knows it is, there are sometimes moments when I cannot grasp how he can actually be gone and how I can be here.  Alone. Still breathing.



Facebook Memories


You know that annoying new feature on Facebook that regularly shows you memories from years ago?  Yeah, that one.  The one that’s constantly showing me pictures from a sad and tragic experience, pictures I only look at in my home on occasions when I’m able to do so without bursting into tears.

I guess it isn’t enough that Facebook asks me every single time I log in “What’s on your mind?” (like they really want to know) it now feels the need to PUT things onto my mind that weren’t already there in Kodak living color in that particular moment when I might just have been having a very happy day remembering all the nice and fun things I have to remember and avoiding giving too much time to those thoughts about how sometimes parts of my life just suck because my husband is gone and I miss him terribly.  Every. Single. Day.

And then, BOOM! There’s a picture I deliberately keep tucked away.

Doesn’t Facebook know that our lives go through cycles and that when we post something in the moment for a specific reason, maybe three years later we don’t need it flashed back at us because we can look it up ourselves if we really really REALLY want to?  I mean, we’ve already shared it once, is there some need at Facebook’s end for us to share it again?  Of course, there’s always a nice little note that it won’t be seen by anyone else as a past memory unless we choose to share it.

Thanks, but I CHOSE TO SHARE IT THREE YEARS AGO WHEN IT HAPPENED, NOW PLEASE LEAVE ME ALONE!  Are they running out of data or traffic or interesting shares?  Are people just not posting enough stuff anymore that they’re turning to reruns? Geesh.  Maybe other people get a wide variety of memories brought back up in their faces, but my stream seems to follow the same path every time, right into a Kleenex commercial.

That’s what is on my mind, Facebook.

(Before anyone feels the need to tell me, yes, I do know I can turn off the memories that appear, and yes, once in a blue moon there is one I enjoy seeing but I’m not a fan of reruns unless they’re ones of my favorite old TV shows.)


Strong is over-rated


I want to talk about strength in adversity.

Some believe staying strong is a “choice”, that people can decide what to do with their difficult circumstances, and that one’s ability to face them comes from strength, while another’s inability – and possibly their choice to back away altogether – is a weakness.  I disagree.

I’d like to start out by taking this immediately to the extreme in suggesting that the choice is not about whether to endure a suffering with strength or to bemoan it and walk away in weakness.  The choice is made on a level much more basic, yet rarely discussed openly: do I want to live or do I want to die?

I’ve encountered various perspectives in my own journey, here a just a few:

“faith keeps you strong”

“all things are possible with God”

“good things come to those who wait”

“all things work together for good for those who love God”

Yet, I’ve seen people of faith crater in desperate ways, myself included; I’ve watched – and endured – situations that God could have fixed end badly; I’ve watched people wait and wait and wait – and I know what it’s like to wait – to end up with a result that is not “good” by any human perception;  I’ve watched – and endured – situations where God loving people have lost everything.  Did I – or we- do something wrong to affect whether or not the blessings came?  I doubt it.  But for a while, it certainly did cross my mind, and that in itself was damaging.

Does this mean I don’t believe the above statements? No. I just don’t believe they always apply to life on earth.  Like many religious verses and cliches, I take them with a grain of salt (partly because salt often gets rubbed into wounds while waiting on God) because while most of these things are conceivably true in the realm of heavenly life, they often don’t show themselves to be true in earthly difficulties.

One person of faith appears to be strong, another – sometimes stronger – person appears to have no faith.  The same is true of apparent weakness, regardless of faith.  I also believe that people of no faith sometimes turn to God in adversity because they are desperate and hoping that developing faith will fix their situation and again, sometimes it appears to do just that, and sometimes it doesn’t.

I don’t think God gives some people more strength than he gives to others, depending on how good they are, how much they pray, how much faith they have, or any other gauge of entitlement.  I don’t know how or why it comes or doesn’t come, but I don’t think we are necessarily in control of it.

I believe that people who appear to be strong in the face of great tragedy have chosen to live.  But they aren’t necessarily thinking of that as they go along.  They just know that there really isn’t any choice but to step up and face whatever comes along – sometimes with a good attitude, sometimes not – because they are still alive and there is no choice for them but to keep going.  Morning will come and night will come and they will still be here, so they keep going.  And whether or not they do it with optimism or negativity, as long as they keep going they have chosen to live.  They haven’t necessarily chosen to be strong, to endure their difficulties with hope and faith – some might, but not all – they might smile one day and scream the next, but they are alive.

This brings me to the other choice, which is to die.

While I’m not of that mindset, in keeping with the topic of this post I would say that I can humanly understand how some people could come to a point in their lives and their suffering when this choice is something they consider.  So it’s possible to be open to and even sympathize with the perspectives of someone with a differing view, without actually agreeing.  I don’t consider these people weak.  I just see that they are making a choice based on experiences and issues that are their own.

I don’t like the assumption that the way people handle certain things determines for others whether or not they are “strong”.  I don’t think pictures and comments reminding people that the best way to deal with life is to stay strong, think positively, stay hopeful, and keep the faith are helpful to everyone.  Inspiration can come in various ways depending on what a person needs at the time, but I often notice that quotes with less-than-optimistic themes – however real they might be – are frowned upon.  I think all this sets us up for comparisons, either those that others might make or those that we make ourselves when we feel that perhaps we aren’t as strong as we should be in similar situations, because we see others coping in ways that we don’t. What helps one person get through a hard time might for another person be a catalyst for further grief and pain.

I don’t want to see myself as strong or weak based on how I handle or react to things I face, or on how others might perceive me.  Am I “strong” when I’m having a good day and then not “strong” when I’m having trouble coping?  If my day doesn’t measure up to the words on the picture someone posted about never giving up, does that mean I’m not trying hard enough?

I’ve realized that many times when I’ve felt overwhelmed, beaten down by one thing after another and left feeling as though there is little to nothing to be hopeful about, I’ve chosen to keep going because I’m alive and as long as that is the case, I need to go on because the days will pass regardless of my ability to cope and I will wake up in the morning to do it all over again. Some days will be good and others awful.  I won’t always be able to smile and pretend, sometimes I will scream and cry and wish to throw back whatever has been dealt to me.  Some days I will feel hopeful and believe that God is helping me and other days I will see things as gloomy and sad and I will feel the loneliness that chokes me.  But that’s the way it has to be because I want to live. I’m a human being, complete with strengths and weaknesses, who has chosen to live. And in choosing to live, I have no other choice but to endure what comes my way, because it will most definitely come as long as I’m moving forward.  Sometimes being alive hurts.  So why aren’t pictures with quotes reflecting that truth welcomed and as widely spread as those that, in efforts to uplift, can become constant discouragements?

I think it’s more accurate and more real to see that this isn’t about being strong or not strong.  It’s about a choice between living or dying.  It’s better to focus on what the choice to live looks like – with both the good and the not good times – than to try to come up with some picture of what “strong” looks like.  Strong is a good adjective for cheese, for a body builder in a competition, or for a quilting thread!  But it’s not so great at describing the emotional depths of a human person.  Being strong isn’t my goal.  Living is.

So some days I leave the house smiling, energetic and ready to greet the world, and other days I have to splash cold water on my face, put on some lipstick and leave the house only because I really just want my mail, hoping no one will be able to tell I’ve been crying (I’d pour a drink too, but I have a policy never to drink alcohol when I’m mad or sad…), but either way, I’m alive 🙂

It’s not you, it’s me


Not everyone who knows you really KNOWS you, even if they’ve been in your life for many years, even if they’re related, even if they watched you grow up or grew up with you because, depending on your personality, certain things just aren’t discussed unless someone actually asks.

Surprise! I’m an introvert.  That term is often wrongly translated as shy, disliking other people, socially awkward, afraid of our own shadows… you get the picture.

So I want to talk a little about being an introvert as it relates to social situations, what it means and what it doesn’t mean.  I sometimes find that people who don’t understand us – through no fault of their own –  tend to make assumptions based on what they see and what they expect, without ever knowing or thinking of asking before drawing conclusions.

Introverts are generally not energized by social situations, crowds, group activities, teamwork, or noise.  We work best on our own because more often than not it’s in our solitude that we’re most creative, deep thinking, problem-solving, and productive. We like one-on-one conversations, we can sometimes enjoy small group visits and definitely prefer small to large, but we have limits and we’re only energized and able to regroup when we’re alone in our own quiet space, or at least in a quiet space with someone who is also being quiet.  That’s where we thrive and regain the strength to go back out into the noisy crowded world again.  The world that often overstimulates our brains.  That is the most distinct difference between us and the extroverts.

We do love to see our friends and family and to do fun things with them; we also tend to assess the group dynamics ahead of time and prepare ourselves mentally.  In groups where we feel comfortable we can be outgoing, loud and funny (often others are surprised to learn that we are actually introverts)  but the energy drains from us like water through a sieve.  Ok, maybe not as quickly as water, maybe more like gravy?  It’s just – to put it simply – exhausting.


I’m learning that people who do like the noise and the busyness don’t consider that maybe the reason people like me leave those situations much earlier than others isn’t a personal insult, it’s actually better for all of us.  Without getting into all the behind-the-scenes-details, here’s a summary of what happens to me in a group situation that’s crowded and noisy – no matter where it is, who the people are, or how much I like them:

Stage 1 – It’s going to be nice to see everyone, even though walking into this already assembled group feels uncomfortable because everyone else ahead of me has found their chair, they’re probably already in a conversation, and I’ll be walking into the middle of it all.  I don’t know how I’m going to actually be able to visit with everyone because in a big group you can’t have a deep conversation (introverts prefer dialogue about important things rather than small talk) so I have to put on my mask/public self for a while.

Stage 2 – This is fun, getting a chance to catch up with friends/family, I found a seat along an edge or in a corner and a few people to talk to. Glad I came.

Stage 3 –  Getting tired, but it’s too early to leave because I don’t want to appear rude, so I can hang on for a bit longer and see how it goes.

Stage 4 – OK, I can feel myself becoming agitated and my head will explode if I don’t say goodbye now and get into my own space for a while.  Smile politely, say goodbye/thank you, make sure you appear happy so you don’t draw unwanted attention to yourself, and get out the door.

Now depending on the day or the situation, I can go from stage 1 to stage 4 in about an hour, or I can stretch it out to three or four hours, but either way, when I get to the last stage, I need to remove myself, while I’m still able to be polite and friendly.  It’s nothing personal, nothing or no one has necessarily upset me, I’m just “peopled out”.  And this is where some would assume that I don’t care to spend time with them anymore, that I’m unsociable, that I think I have better things to do.

What they don’t know is that if I don’t pay attention to my need for quiet solitude, I will gradually become short-tempered and grouchy and it won’t be pretty because I might just blow up and say something we’ll all regret!  I know myself well enough to know when enough is enough.


Now add constant background noise like music or television to the above described social  situation where people are trying to visit with each other and I can hit stage 4 immediately after stage 1, as soon as I’m inside.

I understand that some people love/need to have background noise all the time, which is totally their prerogative in their own homes, and that when people get used to it they often no longer notice that it’s even a distraction from social interaction as people like myself prefer not to compete with the noise.  When I arrive somewhere, coming from my generally quiet space, and there is music or television while I’m expected to visit, I’m tired as soon as I get there because I know what the atmosphere will be for this social outing I’ve accepted and I begin to calculate when I can respectably leave.  Sometimes my ears actually ache from all the noise.  People who don’t experience this will never understand it, and that’s OK.  It’s OK that we’re different.  Just understand that whatever atmosphere you choose to create for yourself might not be one I or anyone else like me can endure for very long.

Do I ever have noise in my home?  Of course, I do!  But I don’t require it.  I put on happy music if I’m painting or quilting or doing some other task where it is welcome.  My TV goes on in the evening when I have specific things I want to watch.  And sometimes there are actually other people in my home too!  But then there is no music or TV because I want to be able to pay attention to whoever is there with me, and I would never want them to feel like watching the TV show is more important to me than their presence.

I have one child who is like me in this; we each know when the other needs quiet and we both love it.  And I have one who is an extrovert, loves to be on the go, having various social opportunities to choose from, and loves to talk.  About everything.  All the time.  Poor guy – he even whispers when he knows I’m fried because he still wants to chat but tries to respect my quiet zone, even though he just can’t stop!  He can only stand my quiet house for so long, but while he’s here he does his best to respect my needs and I appreciate that.

Recently he experienced what happens when I’m really done, trying to be nice about asking for a few minutes of no talking (because we had just left a social group situation with background noise) and running out of ways to express that I REALLY needed to not talk anymore.  I escalated from several polite and carefully chosen ways of asking for quiet to getting emotional and begging for silence to blasting out a scream I could no longer hold in.  He almost spit out his drink from laughing and said: “that was a bit excessive”. I replied that I actually felt better!

I’m telling you, it builds up and it’s going to come out, so don’t push me to the brink if you don’t want to see the explosion.  This explosion can, of course, be avoided altogether if I’m able to remove myself and regroup in solitude.  Which is why I leave when I do.  And it might be sooner than you want me to leave.  But unless you want me to stand up and shout for you to turn off all the damn music and shut off the TV if you want me to stay and visit with you, believe me, you are better off saying goodbye and closing the door behind me.

If you’re offended or hurt because you don’t know why I left, or you’ve seen me do this many times and you think it’s somehow connected to you, please don’t assume.  Just ask me.  Directly.  I’d be happy to explain, again, that it’s not you.  It’s me.


In My Presence

DSC_3800 (1)

In My Presence:

Please don’t complain about having to cook certain foods or make meals at a certain time for your husband.

I cook whatever I want for myself at any time I choose, and I eat alone.

Please don’t complain that laundry, dishes, and housework are not done properly by your husband.

I do everything around the house myself just the way I like it done, and I am alone.

Please don’t complain that your TV programming is taken over by your husband.

I watch whatever I want to on TV, whenever I want to watch it, and I watch alone.

Please don’t complain that even your day off is scheduled around your husband, or about not having enough time and freedom to do things for yourself because you are busy doing things for your husband.

My days are my own and I have the freedom to come and go as I choose, and I am alone.

Please don’t complain that big decisions have to include the input of, and sometimes disagreement of, your husband.

I make all my own decisions, often in uncertainty and without the guidance I depended on because I make them alone.

Please don’t complain about having to do things a certain way to please your husband.

I do things whenever and however I choose, and I am alone.

Please don’t complain about how you are tired – often too tired for intimacy – and your need for rest isn’t understood by your husband.

I can sleep whenever I choose, I have the whole bed to myself, and I am alone.

I would give anything for more time with my husband, to hear him request my apple pie, to see one more misfolded towel on the shelf, to sit beside him watching the news on TV, for one more day spent together doing anything at all, for his advice, for his affection, for his smile.

So in my presence, please be thankful that you have yours, because when I hear you complain I want to scream.  I know it’s not your fault.  You just don’t know how much harder it is to have nothing to complain about, to have everything your own way, every single day, and to know it is only because you have lost someone irreplaceable.  And you are alone.

A Different Kind of Christmas

Nothing feels “right”.  It is like a twilight zone for me as I walk around stores and public places, experiencing all the Christmas lights, decorations, festive shoppers and music, and as I try to help make our home look and feel like it normally would at this time of year.  Sometimes I feel as though I’m walking around in a cloud of sorts, seeing and hearing things, knowing that the Christmas season is here, going through the motions but not really present in any of it because it’s happening outside of me.  Other times it hits me in the most unexpected moment and I am thrown right into the reality of Christmas without my husband, life without my husband.

The feeling of Christmas spirit in our house only came about little by little as we prepared ahead of time because Pat worked in retail and it was the busiest and most stressful time of year.  He wasn’t really able to feel festive himself until his last shift was over – usually on Christmas Eve – when he would come home happy, relieved, excited and ready for the celebrations to begin.  That was a marking point for us that it was finally time to let loose because Christmas was here. That annual “event” is as distinct in my mind as the reality of it never happening again.

It isn’t that I can’t buy gifts myself – I usually did most of the time – or continue to bake or cook or plan special things as we always did.  It is the hole; it’s the fact that he’s not here to share the fun with with me when I come home with a special gift for one of the kids, to help stuff stockings, to make us laugh with his unique humour.  It’s the fact that as I’m shopping and starting to enjoy myself, feeling festive, I see things that I would have bought for him, ideas that pop out and serve as sharp reminders that I no longer have a husband to shop for, leaving sadness where the spark of joy was.  It’s the absence of the fun in conversations leading up to Christmas when he would be trying to figure out what to buy for me, wanting to make sure it was something special and that it cost enough, because I was always practical and he wanted to spend more – he never wanted me to spend on him and never asked for anything, but always wanted to spend on me.

It’s the reminder that on the day of his accident we were just finishing taking down the Christmas decorations and putting things away before he left for work. And just as all of Christmas was being packed away, so our life as we knew it was going to come to a close;  a door would be shut that we would never be able to open again.  For me, everything about Christmas in my mind relates to “before”, and as each year goes by I am further and further away from “before”, from the door that shut.  I can still pull out the Christmas boxes and hang up the usual decorations collected over many years in our family.  I can make the house look bright and cheery and make it smell like gingerbread.  But the door is still shut.  Thus, the twilight zone.

Yes, there are happy moments.  Yes, we still laugh and yes, we will still play games, watch movies and make memories – and we will share memories from “before” and there will be tears, sorrow, and pain.  It will be a different kind of Christmas, but we’ll make it through.

Here is a video performance of a song I wanted to share, for us and for all who will be missing a loved one at Christmas this year.


Click here to view video

















Other Shores

It’s been hard to know what to write about recently, after sharing a huge chapter in my life, but since returning from a holiday my daughter and I went on together, I reflected on a couple of things that were significant to me and seemed worthy of sharing.

I love the ocean, and I’ve enjoyed Vancouver for both the waterfront and the metropolitan atmosphere on several family vacations.  It had become an annual visit over the years, and our activities, along with visiting relatives, were generally the same: walking around Lonsdale Quay and Granville Island, enjoying the bustle of the seawall and the ability to spend time just being near the water. But on this trip – the first in over three years – I noticed a difference, probably because I see a lot of things through changed eyes now.  I used to find the busyness of the waterfront exciting, with the stores and restaurants just steps away in every direction, and measured other vacation spots against this one that I always enjoyed the most.  Even travelling to the east coast, which had its own appeal in different ways, didn’t have the same attraction for me. But this time, travelling to new places with a view to finding an escape of sorts from the reality we’re still not accustomed to at home, I discovered that the ocean views along deserted beaches were more comforting and breathtaking than any I had previously experienced. IMGP0442

We ventured down to the Oregon coast at the beginning of our trip, and found several spots along the way that were so beautiful we could have just stayed right there, listening to the peaceful rhythm of the waves rolling in, and taking in the view of water as far as we could see.  There was no busyness, no crowd, just serenity, and I had a new appreciation for the lack of “excitement” which, when removed from the picture, allowed us to just be, to just exist there in a place where dreams and wishes were all possible because we were making new memories, and conversation wasn’t even necessary;  we’re both so much alike in our thoughts and we know when to just be quiet because something indescribable is right there in front of us and we want to experience that in silence.  Of course, we had our minion along just for fun, but he was also very quiet 🙂 IMGP0356IMG_0718

When we reached Vancouver towards the end of our trip, it wasn’t the same as it had been before, the feeling I mean, because it wasn’t “new” and our arrival brought to mind happy memories of family trips that included Pat and his enthusiasm for the area.  It was nice to see family and to spend time visiting, but I noticed that my desire for the particular places of interest had diminished from previous years.  Perhaps it was because my heart is still mourning such a great loss and being somewhere familiar with someone missing won’t ever be the same.  Or maybe it was because I had experienced something else in other places that showed me a bigger picture than I had seen before, one that encompassed more than just a place.

I had wanted to spend a few days just relaxing and living the waterfront life, waking up and going down to the ground level where Starbucks was just round the corner and a bench on the seawall awaited me.  From there I could watch the activity of the people who lived there and regularly walked, ran or rode bicycles along the water, and imagine what it would be like to do that every day.  It was lovely on   a vacation, but as I indulged my whims for the few days we stayed there, I began to realize that for me, this was just a vacation style of living, and not something I would fit into for the long term.  It was enjoyable for sure, but it was also a learning experience, as I processed thoughts of what life would look like for me even if I could one day afford to make such a dramatic move, and I concluded that the actual cost would be much higher than what I was willing to spend in terms of things other than money.

My cousin came one day from another area of the city to meet us on the seawall for a visit, and he shared an analogy with us that stuck with me.  We were talking about how the atmosphere in the area seemed so appealing and was something that many people see and wish they could have themselves, but that it wasn’t – for everyone – necessarily what it appeared to be. He described it, very simply, like this:

A person visits the area, sees the activity, the waterfront lifestyle (walking, running, cycling, sitting in outdoor cafes drinking coffee etc.) and wants it, so they move there.  Once they have left everything else behind and are settling in there, they realize that the lifestyle doesn’t just happen, so after a few days they put on their shorts and go out for a walk or a run along the seawall, stop for coffee or lunch along the way where there are many others doing the same, and each day they begin to mesh into the picture of what life looks like there.  They aren’t necessarily happy or settled, but they look like they are part of the picture.  Meanwhile, someone else is visiting the area, watching the activity, the waterfront lifestyle – of which the first person is now a part –  and wants it, so they move there.  In the end, it is easy for this to become a trend resulting in a lot of lonely people looking for something they thought they saw and would find, but really they’re all doing the same thing, looking for the same thing, and thinking others have found it, when they probably haven’t.

Of course this doesn’t apply to everyone, and it’s certainly no judgment on anyone who does find a happy life there as some do, but it made a lot of sense to me.  He expressed that there are probably a lot of lonely people there and I think he’s right, because the view from your window is only one small part of what makes your house or your community feel like home.  I would love to look out my window every day and see the ocean instead of snow or mud or trees or even other houses.  Who wouldn’t love a spectacular view?

But I would be one of those people leaving everything else important to me behind to take lonely walks on the seawall and possibly become part of a postcard picture that makes it all look perfect to someone who doesn’t know me.  I think I would feel as if I were on a perpetual vacation, which some would certainly love!  But I’m not that person, and with my own lifestyle, philosophy and experiences, I don’t belong on that postcard.  The things that keep me grounded and make my life any kind of life at all, especially after so much pain and loss, are found in my relationships with my children, family and close friends who know my heart.  I couldn’t stand to be hundreds of miles away from any of them.  Making new friends is never a bad thing, and there are good people everywhere, but finding relationships like I have here only happens a few times in a person’s whole life and that’s a pretty big deal to me.

I’ll always enjoy visiting Vancouver, for the family visits with fun, hospitable, and kind relatives who go out of their way to make our visits special, and for the ocean view which remains beautiful to me, along with the other things the city has to offer.  But I suspect I will always be a tourist.

Stuart Is In Party Mode?

 Stuart is a minion.  A one-eyed cute as a button little minion in blue overalls.  He belongs to my cousin’s daughter, thus he is my cousin’s grand minion, and I supposed that makes him my first-cousin-minion-twice-removed.  He appears in photos on tropical vacations, and in everyday happenings around the house, restaurants, bars etc. and today he was all dressed up for Christmas sitting under the tree at my cousin’s house.  He is apparently in party mode, and I am reading the updates on Facebook about how he is behaving.  We are currently discussing what he would look like in lederhosen, singing in German…

Why on earth am I telling you this?  Because it makes me smile.  It’s a simple silly thing and it makes me smile and wish I had thought of it myself.  My cousin’s daughter has always been the life of the party.  She’s the person you just want to hug. She makes the room brighter just by being in it.  So it’s understandable that her little minion would take after her in that respect.

But more seriously, it reminded me of the little things that stand out in a day sometimes in the midst of turmoil and confusion, the unexpected things that make a difference.

I didn’t know when I left home this morning with my heavy heart, fighting off a germ of some kind, exhausted from lack of sleep in hopes of merely surviving the first of many “new normal” Christmases with my husband now in long term care, that I would encounter unexpected things that might have been little on someone’s scale of a day, but for me were big things.

I was counselled and given some thought provoking advice in a conversation which progressed beyond anything I had intended, and it made me look at some things I have been trying to block out.  This sweet lady has a way of bringing out things that have been building up in me and calling them as she sees them, with a lot of love in her heart.  She asked me straight out what it is that I’m expecting God to do that will make things OK before I stop being angry.  And I had no answer, because I’ve been asking myself the same question and I don’t know. 

Then I stopped in at my favourite store and was surprised with a special Christmas package of goodies just for me, with a beautiful note inside.  Apparently when I go in to enjoy their company and some peaceful “me time” browsing for inspiration and supplies for my next project, I make them smile.  Their kindness made me cry and I went to my van thinking about how my day started and how it was changing.

When I stopped in at my mom’s tonight, she told me to check in the garage because “Santa” had dropped off a couple of items for my workshop.  I opened the garage to find a router and a scroll saw gifted to me from a long time family friend who wanted to help me out by sharing his extra tools.

I thought about how I felt when today started, and how I felt after so much kindness had come my way from different places in a matter of a few hours, and I said a prayer of thanks.  Then I thought about what it was that I was expecting God to do that would make things OK before I stopped being angry.  And I realized that maybe it isn’t something HE needs to do. 


So if Stuart is in party mode, drinking wine and dancing around the Christmas tree, then maybe that’s where I should be too, and whatever our “new normal” Christmas is going to be this year, I want to have just as much fun as he does.