A Graduation Gift

Someone asked me the other day, what graduation gifts I would be giving my two daughters who are graduating university in a couple of weeks. I answered, “a life”. The person giggled and said, “Yeah, you gave them life and gave birth to them, but specifically what gift are you giving them?”   I answered, “I already told you. I gave them the gift of having a life.” We gave them a safe place to grow up. Unconditional love upon which to thrive. A secure upbringing in an environment free of pain and torment. Food to eat. A warm place to sleep. Clothes to wear and the freedom to choose the education they wanted. Limits to understand there are rules in the world one must abide by. Guidance to be healthy and strong and remain that way. The freedom to work and become intelligent independent strong young women in a world that remains unpredictable and flawed. What else could I possibly give them that would compare?

Parents lament over the right path for their children. Did we do the right things along the way? Are we being too strict or too permissive? What is the right balance?

Parenting, for the most part, is the toughest gig there is. Balance between being a disciplinarian and loving mom is a guilt trip worth my weight in wine. It’s a torrential down pour of constant self-doubt and questioning whether the decisions we make when the 3yr old won’t speak, will hamper him when he is graduating high school 15 years later. The answer here: no. No it won’t…and it didn’t. He’s fine. There will always be big decisions to make and questioning whether those decisions will be the right ones. As parents, we trusted our guts. If it didn’t feel right, then it wasn’t right. If it felt like an opportunity for the person to grow, then we jumped and allowed it to happen. We were there when it fell apart, or when it culminated in a win. Either way, we were there.

We were always told by our kids that we are, and were, too strict. We had the attitude that it’s a tough world out there kiddos, better get used to it. The tougher we were the happier we were. To us, it meant they were learning something, maybe a tough life lesson or just to clean their rooms, but learning was always the ultimate goal. They didn’t have to like it and sometimes they were downright miserable about it, but they did it. Not because we were tyrants, but because it was good for them in the end. It may have been painful for us to watch, or to endure, but we stuck it out. We are their parents. Not their friends. We made that clear from the start.

Even now, the kids are adults, we still have high expectations and those same expectations carried them through. Through high school math, through tough regattas, through awful hockey coaches, and through university.

Learning ain’t easy, kids.

Neither is life.

To answer the question specifically, being a parent was the biggest gift I gave my young graduates.

And I can’t wait to see what they do!

I Don’t Know What I’m Doing and Other Stuff I Admit to The Dog

The poor dog. She hears stuff that normally, no one would ever say. Like bad jokes. Or random rants. Or cooking tips, because my children who are no longer children refuse to participate in anything that takes place in the kitchen besides eating or drinking so the dog hears all the valuable potentially life-saving tips the wise woman wielding the spatula has learned over the past 50+ years. Sigh. And that. She hears stuff like that. Those random mini-rants that makes one look visibly shaken or in need of heavy doses of medication. Anyone who needs a sounding board should seriously consider getting a dog. Or a cat…no really, a dog.  

Cats are temperamental and have superiority complexes that make them leave the room when they sense things are getting a little boring or heavy hearted. They can’t stand needy people, so they turn and walk away. Unless you are holding a can of tuna, then they MAY stick around long enough for you to say a couple of words. Then they will interrupt with one of their self-involved mews or leg scratching and demand you lay that can down so they can eat while you drone on endlessly about your human needs and emotionally challenged offspring. Ugh.  

Dogs will at least stand there and look at you. Stare at you until you cave and give them a treat for being so kind-hearted and loyal. They’ll sit for an hour and listen endlessly hoping you will at least drop a piece of chicken their way or a bread crumb. And then wag their tails in endless joy that you even had the time to say ‘hey’ at them. Dogs. So sweet. So loyal. So not cats.

Not that I hate cats. I do like them. I had one of my own. They just are a lot of emotional work. They like you only when it suits them and even then, it’s tenuous at best. Fickle animals. They’ll lay on your head and wait for you to pet them one minute and the next, if they sense you need a cuddle, they suddenly have a million things to do like wash their paws, or watch the birds outside or chase that string on the pillow. They are busy!  

Dogs are listeners. Perfect for crazy evening drunken tirades or silly arguments about politics. They don’t talk back or disagree. They don’t even have an opinion, unless you ask them to lay down or roll over. Apparently, tricks are tricky and can only be completed followed by a treat. No treat and no trick. Hmmm….I know people like that, too.

Mags has heard it all. Parenting woes, swear-filled outbursts, overjoyed proclamations and teary worries. She still just stares up at you and lets you get it all out…then fetches a toy so you can play, because everybody likes a good toy to throw.   


Admitting to the dog that life is a roller coaster and sucks sometimes, is different than having to admit that to a real living person. People seriously have the gall to disagree or say you’re being dramatic or have an actual opinion and then give advice and expect you to follow through! What the hell?!  

I don’t want that! Just sit there like the dog and listen to what I have to yell at you. WHY CAN’T PEOPLE DO THAT?!  

Because people are not dogs.

Too bad. There would have been a treat in there somewhere…AND I WILL ALWAYS THROW A TOY TO CHASE.  
 

 

 

The Long Road

I already had the title to this post in my head before I even sat down to write it. I already had a few sentences rolling around in my brain before I took up my pen to my journal. I had words like ‘shock’ and ‘dismay’ and ‘the universe sucks, sometimes’. All the while, the world continued to spin and mine had hit a mountainous rock and bumped into a ditch with water seeping into my socks.

Hubby had a heart attack.

It was a shock. That’s what everyone who has experienced this says, isn’t it? What a shock! Not ever something you can predict or say is going to happen, like a car hitting a tree for no reason or a person falling over her own feet or your face suddenly slamming into a brick wall you didn’t see in front of you (I know from experience) …it just happens.

And then, in that moment you have to deal. Deal with doctors and emergency rooms and blood tests and medications you have never heard of before, all in hours of hearing the words “my chest hurts”. It’s overwhelming and terrifying and, pardon the pun, heart wrenching. Your guts hurt, your mind reels and you don’t know what to do first. Should I call someone? Did I turn the lights off in the truck when we parked? Are the kids at work or school? What the hell is my husband doing connected to all these wires? When did we suddenly become a statistic? Today. Today we did.

A heart attack?! Him?!  

They sprayed nitro glycerin under his tongue. They took his blood pressure that many times he looked like they were blowing up a tire around his arm. They took his blood. They gave him pills. Baby aspirins. Then needles in the guts. Then more pills. They spoke reassuringly but always with the caveat, ‘you were lucky’. LUCKY?!  

Not feeling the luck right now, thanks.

The hardest part was returning home without him. Telling the kids that their father had a heart attack but he was ‘okay’. There were fearful tears, some questions and then son with the biology text book assertions of how he knew exactly what happened and rattled off the technical medical terms that remain in my mind as ‘blah blah cardiac blah blah’. It somehow comforted him to know exactly how it happened and the physiology behind it, because that’s how his brain works. I let him go on.  

Days in the Cardiac Care Unit with amazing nurses whose knowledge about the heart and what happens next and which tests will be done, were invaluable and alarmingly accurate. The Cardiologists were professional and kind and repeated the ‘lucky man’ phrase. After the dye test and they put in the stainless steel stent that ‘fixed him’ and he was proclaimed good as new, we found out why he was ‘lucky’. A 95% blockage in one of the main arteries; had he wasted any time getting to the hospital, he would not have been here. At all.  

Huh. Lucky man.

Lucky I was home, lucky he hadn’t taken a nap, lucky he had taken that year before to lose the weight and eat healthy, lucky he had gone to the hospital when he did….it goes on.

Luck. Not chalking it up to luck, sorry. Some missteps led to some common sense that led us to the hospital. Nothing to do with luck.  

The universe still sucks, but at least it left the door open a tad for us to jump on through if we so chose.

Genetics. That’s the term that was flying around his room. What your father went through, you will inherit. You did everything right, but you can’t change where you come from.  

But, it was a blow. It was a blow to our ego. It was a blow to everything we had been believing in. We are still young. We are doing things right. Eating well, exercising all the damn time. What the actual fuck, life?! You tricked us. Not fair.    

Then the denial. That was evident from the second we walked into the hospital. This is silly. The pain is gone. Let’s not waste their time. All words he had said. Then when the words had been spoken and they laid it out to him, it still took four days for it to resonate as reality.

A heart attack.  

He returned home with questions and trepidation and a mountain of meds that we had never had to deal with before. Every time I handed him a pill it was ‘what’s this one for?’ and ‘what’s this one called, again?’ It was confusing and scary. I called my ‘hood nurse for insight and reminders and medication guidance and I felt ashamed I had not remembered everything I thought I should have in the hospital, but then again how could I? I’m a mere mortal.  

Now we question every little ache and every little move as a possible follow up attack. Is this another one? Is it happening again? Are we doing something wrong? Are the medications not working? WHAT IS GOING ON?!  

We don’t know.

How are we supposed to?

Moving forward, we resolve to be positive and I’m sure he doesn’t tell me everything because he doesn’t want me to worry, and of course, vice versa. Stress causes damage to the heart. No stress=no damage. At least, in my mind. But is there such a thing as no stress?

I don’t think that’s possible when one is in the midst of raising three child-adults, and there’s uni and work and groceries and running a household and dealing in real life.  

Maybe it should be about how to handle stress. We exercise and go for our walks and try to live a healthy balanced life. We take things hour by hour and what happened, happened. We can’t change that. Move on and move up.

This heart attack didn’t just happen to him. It happened to US.

We are dealing together. It’s a long road and we are embarking on this journey as a team. There may be t-shirts in the making. And team logos. And banners.

Because nothing says team like a good logo!
            

        TEAM


                     HUBBY

 

 And taking a punch for your teammate.    

That’s all we know, now.  

Take care of each other…

https://www.heartandstroke.ca/heart/emergency-signs

 

 

 

 

The Universe Is Being Trumpy


 

Whenever an issue arises that seems too all-encompassing or beyond any conscious reckoning, I throw it on out to the Universe to take care of. That way, if it all goes to shit, I can throw my fist into the air and curse the Universe for being obstinate or even a little too self-important and not blame myself for being lazy or forgetful. I mean really, you couldn’t spare five minutes to take care of that little thing I asked for? YOU HAD ONE JOB, UNIVERSE.  

Meanwhile, I’m stuck reveling in the mundane and eking out a bit of fun where I can muster the energy. This life thing is tedious sometimes and I must admit to being just a bit tired. I get tired thinking of getting up in the morning, I get tired of going to work, I get tired of doing household crap and I get tired of getting tired. I sound old. And like I’ve just given up on life all together, but really I haven’t. Honest.  

I still get to sit by the fireplace on my quiet nights when I’m alone and write in my journal. I still get to get out with friends and be obnoxious. I still get to bother my kids and ask annoying questions like ‘what are you doing?’ and say the ever popular ‘CRACK IS WHACK’ That pretty much sums up my discussion on drugs. That and ‘JUST SAY NO’. Lame slogans I can get behind. My point in there somewhere is that even when life seems very dull or overly annoying to the point of downright ridiculous, I can still find things to make me feel a little myself again. Like spew annoying clichés at the kids about drugs. Write about my dullness in my journal that is non-judgy and even kinda enjoys my boring run-on sentences. At least, that’s how I like to think of it. I get to exercise. SOME people may roll their eyes or say ‘oh, yeah. What a privilege’ but when I look forward to getting to the studio and a having someone yell at me that ‘YOU CAN DO ANYTHING FOR TEN SECONDS’ and ‘YAY BURPEES!’ then maybe, it’s become a part of me. Maybe I can’t have a good day without moving and feeling stronger. Or maybe, deep down I’m a masochist and I like all the yelling and sweating and swearing…like a Trump rally, only without all the hate.

Either way, there are other things to do and feel good about when life gets dull or ridiculous or too Trumpy. (Trumpy – Adj. word that describes life when it gets judgy, hateful, sweaty and utterly ridiculous to the point of giving the world the middle finger. Eg. He was to the point of swinging from the balcony after his girlfriend dumped him. He wanted to give up. He felt his life had become too Trumpy without her presence. ) Feel free to use this new word. I expect Webster’s will indoctrinate it soon enough.

Get outside, find a hobby, write in a journal, or do some burpees…whatever makes it better.  

Leaving shit up to the Universe to take care of may work some of the time, but it seems to me if I can tackle it myself, it will work out better. This way, I might get all of the blame but I just may get all of the credit, too! And of course, the cake in the end.  

THERE IS ALWAYS CAKE IN THE END…

 

Right! Best. Quote. Ever.

 

 

Perfection Is A Myth and Words I Don’t Like


It is a myth. Seriously. Perfection is impossible to attain. It’s an illusion. A mirage. A trap designed to suck you in and laugh while you fail miserably at all attempts to own it. Don’t fall for it. Just be you. Imperfect. Flawed. Making mistakes and owning up to them. It’s better for all of us if you just calm down and be you. You will be better for it. So will your mother. And your father. Siblings. Friends. Colleagues. The kid that mows your lawn. The guy that leaves you creepy notes on your desk….Everybody. Essentially, the human race will be better for it. Stop trying to perfect perfection. It can’t be done. Instead, concentrate on being. Being in the moment, being present, being you. Still trying to stand up straight, still working, still breathing, still paying your bills and raising your kids; still walking your dog and helping your neighbour; still falling down and getting back up only to fall down again. Maybe that last part is just me. Anyway, we like you. Honestly, we do! Stop trying to be better than someone else or better than anyone or anything. It’s not a competition. Just be you.  

That was my anti-perfection rant. I felt it needed to be said.

Also, I need milk.

Words I Don’t Like

I felt like I needed to sub-title the second half just to make it easier for you to follow along. I didn’t want someone to get lost inside this post and wonder what the hell all the fuss was about. I care.  

I hate the word ‘deserve’. I don’t understand its usage. How does one person ‘deserve’ something more than another person? How does that work, exactly? I deserve to have a day off and the other person doesn’t? Or do we both deserve it? Who decides? “Go have a good time. You deserve it!” I’ve heard that on many occasions. How do I deserve that? I worked hard? So did many others. Do they deserve it to? “Oh he got what he deserves.” Implies that he was on the other end of some bad shit. What did he do to ‘deserve’ that? Broke the law? Broke someone’s heart? Broke Mrs. Brady’s lamp? What?  

It bothers me.

I never use this word.

It’s in line with other words I don’t like.  

I have a list:

Bitch ( Although, I did force myself to use that in a post)

Moist (I’m not the only one who HATES this word)

Dumb

Stupid

Retard(ed) (SHOULD BE OBLITERATED FROM THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE)

Various terms used to describe women genitalia (All of them are AWFUL)

Craptastic (WHO THOUGHT OF THIS WORD?! Ugh)

Newfie ( Newfoundlander is much better, thank you. AND, just so you know, I’m not a REAL Newfoundlander, I’m still a Mainlander with an honorary title of Newfoundlander. Somebody important told me that. I can’t tell you who, it’s all very hush-hush. Stop asking. A secret ceremony was held. There may or may not have been alcohol involved…)

 

I can’t think of any more right now, but I’m sure there are a few that bug me. Add to the list if you like…It’s an add-on-to-the-awful-word-list blog post. I like to get people involved.

I’m a giver like that.  

 

 

 

Namaste, Bitches

Daughter and I have decided to give Yoga a try.  She signed us up last week and tonight is our second class.  It was a little disconcerting to be walking into someone’s private home as a Yoga studio, but we decided to keep an open mind and give it a go.

Our Yogi is a slightly-more-than-middle-aged woman who has cleared away the front room of her house to use as a space for practicing.  It was spacious and warm, a perfect spot, really.   There are only 8 people to a class, and to say Daughter is the youngest is akin to stating that an elephant is big.  EVERYONE is my age or older.  She seemed undaunted by this, but I was a bit concerned.  I mean, hey it’s all good for me sista, but she’s just a youngin’…not the class I think she had in mind when she went on Google to find a studio.  Yep.  Googled ‘Yoga Studios’ in our area and this is the one she chose…huh.

yoga

Yeah, we don’t look quite like this

I was unfazed by the older man with the ZZ Top beard and the ragged faded jeans, but the dude who placed his mat beside me (I think his name was Brian) was a heavy breather.  Yep.  Like a bad Seinfeld episode, this guy sounded like he had just run a marathon in under four minutes.  Good thing he wasn’t a close-talker or I really would have had an issue…

seinfeld-close-talker

Close Talkers and Heavy Breathers back up and turn over, please

There were more men than I expected, but I think they were part of couples since the ladies they joined seemed to be very supportive and insightful in the ways of Yoga.   “Bob, YOU WON’T NEED THAT BIG CABLE KNIT SWEATER DURING CLASS.  UGH”.     “Jim YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG”    “Frank, for GOD’S SAKE JUST BREATHE!”

I did not hear any of that, but it would have been AWESOME if I had.

Couples Yoga should provide counselling services after class.

Hello, business idea for the psychiatrically inclined…

By the way, ‘psychiatrically’ is probably not a word and I’m not about to look it up.  I just spent waaaay too much time re-watching Seinfeld episodes looking for a Heavy Breather gag…

The class was a wee bit longer than I thought and when she pulled out the bolsters and dimmed the lights, I thought ‘couples yoga’ is about to get weeeirrrrrd, but it was more like nap time in Kindergarten.  Sorry, ‘relaxing time’…

Her voice suddenly dropped a few octaves as she went around the room to make sure we were ‘relaxed’…mkay.   I suppressed my urge to laugh and made it through relaxation time unscathed…. except for Heavy Breather Dude who I think almost went into cardiac arrest when it was time to come back to reality and this plane of existence…and stand up.

Poor Bob had to put on his sweater lest he got a chill….tonight is about to get awesome with Geriatric Couples Yoga….

yoga-posing

Lose the sweater, Bob.  It’s about to get real up in here…

I CAN’T WAIT!!

Namaste, Bitches.

 

 

12 Days With No Added Sugar and Still Alive To Tell About It

I’m finished my 12 days in the 14 Day Challenge the Land of No Added Sugar, and I have to say it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.  I figured by now, I’d be hoarding little sugar packets and chugging back their sweet goodness in a bathroom stall. (I didn’t do this)  Or licking the remnants of a latent brownie or cookie crumb off of the kitchen counter, ( I SO WANTED TO DO THIS) or sucking back the remains of wine from the recycled wine bottles still downstairs. (NO, I DIDN’T DO THIS EITHER, EVEN THOUGH I SEE YOU EYEING ME AND THINKING THAT I REALLY DID…OKAY, I THOUGHT ABOUT IT… GAWD)   Or even sneaking mouthfuls of chocolate chips straight from the bag. (Somebody beat me to it)   I haven’t done any of that.  No, really.  I haven’t.

Oh, sure the first few days were like The Hunger Games around here.  I could have easily made one of my kids a human sacrifice for a piece of chocolate cake…or cookie…or crumb of a cookie.  Seriously.   Hubby wouldn’t even drink a glass of wine in my presence lest he endure a death stare of epic proportions.  He still hasn’t had any wine…maybe he’s been visiting the recycling bottles downstairs…

I’m better now.  I don’t feel the need to stab a baby for its juice nor take down some random person in the street for drinking a can of Diet Coke.

Most days.

All that being said, I feel well.  My cravings have diminished.  I have found a coffee that isn’t like drinking the bottom of a sink hole filled with sludge and I’ve lost a few pounds along the way.  All good.

I have noticed a few other things since embarking on this journey of sugarless magnificence:

I’m not craving sweets as much as I used to. Not even chocolate, which is surprising since it’s as close to my heart as cute puppies and Christmas

My eyesight has NOT improved.   WTF sugar?!  Not that I thought it would, but I thought if I was clouded with sugar-induced haziness, it may improve to the point of me not having to squint.    Still read today’s bootcamp exercise as ‘Stripping’ instead of ‘skipping’….and just so you know, the Canadian government weather website tab says ‘Taxes’ not ‘Texas’…I remember thinking “WTF has Texas got to do with Canadian weather?”   Or Taxes for that matter…MAGOO TOAST

I still want a glass of wine. That hasn’t gone away and next Tuesday, I will possibly indulge in a glass…TUESDAY IS NOW MY FAVOURITE DAY.

Sorry to the fellow bootcamp ladies. I must apologize for my epic under-my-breath swearing ( I only said ‘Fuck off’ a few times…yeah.  A mere few times…)  at your effortless perfection in the kitchen in posting all those wonderful looking recipes whilst I slob over on the couch watching Leah Remini take down Scientology and then  cry over the next FUCKING AWESOME EPISODE OF SHERLOCK EVER.  (I think that’s the new title, by the way.  Look it up.  It’s on PBS.  Even THEY can be a wee bit sweary when they want to.)     Anyways,   I would post an epic pic of my unflavoured oatmeal drowned in Cinnamon, but I feel it would cower in comparison to all of your blah blah wonderful soup-stuffed-something-or-other with kale and fucking AVOCADO dishes.    Not a wee bit edgy….

I eat more often. I eat better food every couple of hours so I’m not ravenous when I get home.  Seems to do the trick

I drink more water…probably because there’s nothing else to drink, but it has helped.

It doesn’t bother me too much when my co-workers plop down in front of me with their tea and Oreo cookies and eat them in front of me without offering one or putting them away out of sensitivity for my plight with sugar and all it’s evilness. Oh, you’d think they’d care, but apparently they are as empathetic as an abandoned indifferent stagnant rock with no care or compassion for others who are working their asses off at improving their health and fitness and becoming an overall well-rounded individual, so piss off!  Nope, doesn’t bother me ONE BIT.

So, there you have it.  I’m rocking the sugarless thing with all the raw emotion of a person on a runaway roller coaster with a death wish.

ONLY TWO MORE DAYS TO GO AND EVERYONE MAY SURVIVE THIS SHIT.

Maybe….

karen

Me on Tuesday