Just came in from breaking massive slabs of ice on my driveway. I made myself a cup of coffee and decided to write.
These days we must get creative in order keep busy and active. Luckily I have a few interests that keep me occupied, one of them is crocheting. A few weeks ago my grandchildren G and J asked me to crochet a doll each, a girl and a boy respectively; I accepted the challenge.
I worked on the boy doll first and this Sunday the girl doll was completed. For a beginner, in doll creation, they turned out relatively nice.
Back in 1967, an Aunt had come to visit from Italy and she introduced me to the art of crocheting but it wasn’t until 2009 that I began to take it up as a hobby, making scarves, shawls, hats, etc. for family and friends. Every year I make a few beanies to donate to the Cancer Society for women who are undergoing chemo and have lost their hair. It’s my way of “paying it forward”, after all the kindness and support I received during my cancer treatments.
It just started snowing again! Can’t wait for spring. It will be time to garden. Cleaning up and fertilizing the flower beds after the snow is gone is heavy work but enjoyable and grounding.
This week I began watching the Netflix series “Firefly Lane”. It’s a story of friendship between two teenage girls (growing up in the 70’s) through to their early forties.
This show has triggered memories of my teenage years and young adulthood. The main characters Kate and Tully are relatable. Kate is a bespectacled simple girl, unnoticeable to her peers. She’s not cool and not attractive to the boys. Tully on the other hand is the complete opposite. I see myself in Kate and my childhood friend G, in Tully.
When I was seven we moved on a new street closer to school. That summer I met a girl named G who lived across the lane. She was almost 2 years older than me. We became friends and later she became friends with my older sister. As the years went by the bond my sister and I had for this friend was exceptional. G became part of our family. My relatives all got to know her and invited her to many family affairs. In highschool she was popular with both the girls and boys. After highschool she went to hairdressing school. By 20 years old she was already working for a high end hair salon downtown and making good money. Her social life became exciting. My sister and I were in awe of her life, her trendy hairstyles and clothes. It was the disco era. She knew all the “in” disco clubs. We were lucky to go with her sometimes. When we would attend the traditional church dance halls she was always the one being asked to dance. Its funny, but I never felt jealous.
My years in highschool were far from exciting, I felt like a wallflower, invisible. My parents did not encourage us to participate in any sports or after school activities. They wanted us home. I didn’t have any friends my age except for the last year of school.
Back in 2018, I found the courage to prove, to myself, that I was not a wallflower amongst my peers anymore. That year I received an invitation to attend my highschool reunion. The list of people attending were unknown to me except for 20 or so but nonetheless enough for me to go. It was an outing after all. Why not?
The day of the reunion I tried every dress in my closet, none seemed to fit well. I arrived late! Everyone was already seated. As I entered the room people gazed my way. This can make anyone uncomfortable but surprisingly, I didn’t feel embarrassed. Seated at my assigned table were two familiar faces. During the course of the evening I circulated and chatted with those I knew. The reunion committee organized a silent auction to raise money for a charitable foundation. I checked out the items and placed a bid for a beautiful Georgio Armani bag. One of the attending prior students was a fashion stylist for Armani in New York and he donated the bag for the auction. Just before the closing of the auction I placed another bid. At the end of the auction, the purse was declared mine. Unknowingly, the purse was the highest priced item on the auction table and my bid generated a very nice amount for the foundation. The organizers were very grateful for my generosity. It got everyone’s attention. I no longer felt like a wallflower amongst my ex highschool peers! While I was waiting to pay for my purchase a fellow male student engaged me in a flirtatious conversation. He pointed out that I must have been one of the “Good Girls” in highschool since he had no recollection of me. Point made.
I used to be like the Kate of Firefly Lane, for many, many years that followed. That all began to change when I met Maia, my beautiful young friend. She introduced me to a new world and helped me embrace my true nature.
I just came back from an afternoon walk; we are experiencing a mild winter thus far, making the time outdoors more pleasurable. The city has also been good this year at removing the snow and applying salt.
Yesterday, I restarted my exercise routine after several weeks of having abandoned my elliptical and weights for other forms of activity, not all related to staying in shape.
As a child I don’t recall ever having built a snowman, therefore a few weeks ago I decided to make one, actually, a “snowlady”. Did I have fun doing it? Absolutely NOT! How could I? By the age of ten I wanted to be a grown up, make my own decisions.
I was having a phone conversation with my youngest daughter about how mental/spiritual and physical health are connected, how your physical health can be compromised when living a life you feel does not belong to you. It’s since age 54 that I began to actually take control of my life and make it mine. Ironic, how it took 44 years. So many opportunities were within my reach back then but I did not seize them. Why? Because of what I was conditioned to believe and my fear!
The old adage,” It’s never too late” is true. Working towards a more authentic life, one more suited to who you are and your own values, is possible. Although, the missed opportunities remain missed, new ones do come along.
The Christmas holidays have come and gone. I saw my eldest daughter and her family briefly when I dropped off their Christmas gifts. Later, through video chat they opened the gifts. I was grateful to have at least spent them with my widowed daughter and her two young children but my EX was not so lucky because of our Covid restrictions.
My youngest grandchildren were so enthralled by the magic of Christmas; it was infectious. I savored every moment with them. We did our best to make their holidays special so that one day they could look back with fond memories of “Christmas during the Time of Covid”.
2021 begins with my yearly mammogram and breast ultrasound. Frankly, as the years go by, it hurts less. My breasts must be losing all their elasticity and becoming two droopy weights hanging from my chest. But I’m not complaining. At least I have breasts, even though I have a one is reconstructed with no nipple.
With every New Year comes resolutions but this time I decided not to make any concrete tangible ones. Instead, I want to look back on the events of the past year and reflect on which experiences I wouldn’t want to repeat but acknowledge them as part of my spiritual/emotional growth. Basically, what I’m trying to say is, setting goals is important and resolutions are well intentioned goals however many times they are not met, for various reasons. Even if the reasons are justifiable we are left feeling disappointed.
On Wednesday I completed the extensive review of my storage bins’ contents. The “give away” items have been brought to the goodwill depot, the recycling bin has been filled with its acceptable discarded items, the old paint cans have been brought to my local hardware store, and two large garbage bags have been put at the curb for pick up. I shredded so much paper that my home shredder died on me! However, that did not stop me from going through the remaining documents. I immediately ordered another shredder on Amazon. In the meantime I filled up a 12 foot cubic bin, to the brim, with discarded statements, etc., waiting to be shredded.
I take some pleasure going through my items at least once a year and discarding what is no longer useful or pertinent. It feels like a beneficial workout for my mind and soul. With every item there is a memory attached and it brings forth an emotion, if not a few. It’s this/these emotion(s) that determine(s) whether the item stays or goes. When performing the triage I feel a sense of control and satisfaction, my breathing is more relaxed, as if an invisible tangled CORD around my neck was becoming undone.
Two years ago I had an urge to burn all the letters my ex husband and I exchanged when we were engaged. He lived in another country; long distance calls were very expensive and e mail technology did not exist in 1977/78. I had re read all these shortly after our separation many years ago but the time had come to physically destroy them. I felt shredding would not give me the closure needed, instead, I put logs in the hearth of the fireplace and lit a fire. Seeing each letter burn one by one, its edges curling shriveling to mere ashes was the start of my healing process.
My next task is to pour over the photos accumulated over the years. I have so many printed photos as do the many people of my generation (before the digital age). Luckily they are already in photo albums properly dated but just too many!! This clean up will be more difficult. Many feelings and memories will be evoked.
My motivation for these yearly clean ups is driven by my symbolic CORD:
Cleanse false attachments; Organize; Reduce clutter; Downsize/Death, the burden of cleaning up in a short time frame can be very overwhelming to say the least for me and/or my children.
My ultimate goal is to keep only what I need, use, and love enough to display or cherish. What is the purpose of storing objects that no longer serve or may be forgotten.
Note to readers: when I first started to blog 2 years ago it was to be about my new life as a SINGLE older woman and my adventures. In the last 9 months because of the Covid 19 pandemic, my social life and all that it encompassed has changed greatly. My writings now reflect my current daily activities which bring to light my state of mind.
This past Sunday I put out my Christmas decorations, the same ones I’ve had for at least 15 years. A few years ago I gave away my Christmas tree and replaced it with a mini pre decorated tree purchased from Costco.
As time passes, there is a need to simplify, in all aspects of my life. Therefore, this week I decided to rummage through my storage bins first going through all the Christmas stuff I no longer wish to use. That done, I went to the souvenir bins, slowly looking at the contents and remembering their significance. I found a cylinder containing a drawing. It was a caricature of myself with my then husband and teenage daughters, taken in Quebec City, Canada in 1995, the latter part of the 20th century! For a fraction of a second my initial reaction was sadness, for a family broken by divorce, but then taking a closer look at the drawing my sadness turned into laughter. Firstly, the caricatures did not resemble us. But what was humorous, was where he positioned me in the sketch. The setting is a pool. My ex husband is between our two teenage daughters. On the left, my eldest’s little body is in a dive position, the youngest, on the right, is perched on a stool and my ex is in bermudas with a drink in his hand, his posterior facing my head. I on the other hand, am lying at the BOTTOM of the pool with only the top of my head and eyes above the water.
The above scene is humorous not because of how he interpreted our faces but rather how he captured us as a family. My eldest, ready to dive, describes her nature, a go-getter. My youngest, a more layed back personality, is shown sitting. As for my ex, he’s the king, holding his cocktail with his posterior pointing towards his wife, “moi”, who is almost fully engulfed by the water. The disconnection between us is so obvious.
Perhaps my reaction to what I saw in the drawing was not only sadness and amusement but something deeper. A feeling of being in a good place and with a healthy sense of humour. But most of all, finally accepting the revised version of “My Family”.
Twenty three years ago today I moved into my dream house. It remained my home even after the divorce and continues to be my current residence. It may be too big for a single person but for me, it truly is my shelter and refuge. My grandchildren love this home too and that is important to me. It’s the only home they associate their Nana with. This house has seen my life unfold in ways I could never have imagined at the time. The move was a turning point and I didn’t know it.
One of the changes that occurred shortly after moving in was the start of a new friendship with my next door neighbors, who were in the same stages of life as my husband and I. We became close, spending many evenings together. Then 6 years ago my neighbor, the wife, passed away from an aggressive cancer. I was divorced by then. Her husband now a widower and I a divorcee continued to be friends. That all changed when he started a serious relationship with a woman. His girlfriend felt threatened by our friendship. Overnight we went from friends to cordial neighbors. Another neighbor also a divorcee who was part of my life and I of hers over the past 12 years drifted apart once she got into a relationship with a man 18 months ago. This month she sold her home and I doubt there will be much contact after she leaves.
These two neighbors both distanced themselves after entering in a relationship with new partners. But friendships dissolve for other reasons too. I let go of some friends that have been in my life for some time but not for the same reason. There are certain friends I no longer feel a connection to. The pre-Covid life distractions are not there to deter me or confuse me; I can see clearer. For now my joy comes from living in the moment, working on my crochet projects, writing, but what lights up my heart is seeing the love in my grandchildren’s eyes, their curiosity and enthusiasm.
Friends come and go. Life has a way of putting people on your path for a reason and when they’ve served their purpose they are gone.
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Where did the summer go? It was a scorcher; only pleasant if you could spend it by the pool.
The latter half of the summer was spent indoors due to extreme fatigue, loss of appetite and an occasional fever. The symptoms first appeared in early August. I was tested twice for COVID-19. Those tests came back negative. After numerous blood tests, an abdominal ultrasound and MRI, I was finally diagnosed with Cytomegalovirus. Naturally, at the time I was worried, especially after the blood work showed some alarming results.
I entered the Autumn season with a sense of peacefulness and serenity. This summer gave me alot to think about. It helped me evaluate my relationships and clear some fog. In so doing, I finally learned not to take upsetting interactions personally. Its not because I care less, rather I realized that people are deflecting or projecting their fears and insecurities unto others.
Sometimes we need an illness or a certain discomfort to bring about profound changes to our perceptions on life and the human psyche.
On Friday, July 17, my father passed away from cancer after spending one month in Palliative Care at the local hospital. The day the decision was made to send him there was an emotional one for my 2 sisters and I. My father had deteriorated rapidly in the days preceding his hospitalization. He needed professional care now. The viewing and the funeral were done all in one day. It was small and intimate. Throughout the service, I could not stop crying, not even during the reading of the Eulogy I composed the night before. You see, crying does not come easy for me.
Much of the summer has gone by and to date I have not been out on any outings except for one dinner invitation from my friend M, to view her newly purchased and renovated Condo in a scenic area of town. Despite the delays in her renovations, due to the Covid shut down, she was able to move in at the end of June. The hors d’oeuvres were served on the terrace while catching up, taking in the city view and enjoying a glass of wine. We moved indoors for the meal. She’s a fine cook.
I’ve had family and friends over on a few occasions but no other social outings, mostly due to the lack of invitations. My circle of friends were occupied with one thing or another.
For the past 10 days I’ve been fatigued and experienced a fever. Yesterday I went to get tested for Covid, now I’m in temporary quarantine until the results come in.
With the gradual de-confinement of the past few weeks, it’s finally time to start getting back to a semblance of normal activity.
Yesterday, I made the decision to go purchase some lovely flowers for my garden urns. I then called my widowed daughter to ask if she wanted some help with the kids and would she like that I bring over some sausages to grill on the BBQ. Needless to say, the answer was “yes”, to both.
After picking up the flowers, the grocery store was next. Luckily for me, there was no line outside. I put on my selfmade mask and began shopping. I actually enjoyed it!
I feel alive again! Isn’t it remarkable how something I considered mundane has now become pleasant, even with all the precautions needed during this global pandemic.
Why is it usually when something is taken away, that we can truly begin to know its worth? If we can always keep this life lesson in mind, perhaps we would complain less and practice “Gratitude”, more. Wouldn’t we, as human beings, be happier?