On The Edge of An Ocean

The black and white photo of my parents sits proudly next to my wedding picture on my mantle. They were younger, huddled together with arms secured around each other in a joyful embrace. That’s how I like to remember them. Laughing. Together.

Both have since gone. My dad succumbed to cancer that ravaged his fifty-six-year-old body until there was nothing left. Memories were taken at the end. I heard him ask my mother as we stood at his bedside about the red-headed girl who was crying.  “Who is that?” he had asked. My mother looked at me, confused. She turned to his questioning face. “That’s Karla. You know her,” she said quietly patting his hand and willing him to recognize his only daughter.

My Dad was from Nova Scotia. “I’m a Bluenoser,” he would say. We would crinkle our noses and laugh, “Your nose doesn’t look blue!” I had no perception of Nova Scotia. A scant picture of a foreign landscape and of a Nana I didn’t know were my only introductions to an East Coast so vastly different than my Southwestern Ontario upbringing.  I possessed no concept of life outside my little townhouse in Chatham. He would tell us tidbits of his life in Digby. My dad was an only child. His stories of eating seaweed and sardines made us cringe and laugh. When he was in his teens, my grandfather urged him to work on the fishing boats. Hard work to which my Dad gave an honest effort, but it wasn’t for him. He had other plans. A three-year stint in the Air Force and then off to Ontario to find work. By 1954, he and my Mother had married, and they had started a family.

I’m fifty-four and I have lived in Newfoundland and Labrador for twenty-five years. I married a Botwood boy out of college. We met in Toronto, married, and started a family. As fate would have it, we were destined to an island, again, very foreign to me. It took a few years and a few kids later, but I adjusted. I understand the Bluenose reference. My ears have become acclimated to the various dialects and nuances of Newfoundland vernacular. I have even said a few, “Go on, b’ys,” myself. I appreciate the ease of becoming part of a community that is innately communal. Generations of families living close and welcoming ‘mainlanders’ into their fold. An expedition to stomp around the homestead of my late father is never far from my mind. A bucket-list item that heads the top, it should have happened years ago, but with babies comes responsibilities. The leisure of visiting a place of my roots was put off for something more immediate like a school trip or dance lessons. Now, the notion of a no-travel ban has raised its steel toe boot to my bucket- list and I lament not having made the trip. I had the luck to visit the Maude Lewis exhibition in Halifax last year before the ugly virus drove us inside. I felt at home sitting outside her house, thinking my Dad may have driven by her little painted dwelling on his way out of town. Maybe my grandfather knew her. The mere idea of a connection makes me feel at home. I’m part Bluenoser, part Newfoundlander and part Chathamite. Fractions of places that feed my identity as a whole woman at ease living on the edge of an ocean.

Top Ten Tips for a Happy 2021

With the uptick in COVID-19 cases in our province and the heightened alert of everyone regarding isolations, I think it necessary to concentrate on what we can control. We can control our behaviours, ie, wear a mask and wash our hands. We can also control how we react to situations, ie, restraining the urge to gossip about how cases evolved or how someone was irresponsible with lax protocols. We can also choose to remain positive and upbeat, and maybe spread a smile instead of a virus.

In the spirit of maintaining sanity and spreading joy not disease, I’ve concocted a Top 10 list to lighten your spirit. Or make you drink. Either way, it is a real mood enhancer. Enjoy!

 Now go wash your hands!

Top 10 Tips for a Happy 2021

10.  Last year is so last year – Resist the urge to look into the rear-view mirror with horror-stricken eyes on a year that dragged its ass into your world and ate your last donut. Instead, look ahead to all the possibilities that are laying at your feet. “What, a new brand of wine? How nice!” See?  POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS.

9. You don’t have to visit family, unless you want to – “Uh, I can’t come over, Aunt Martha.  COVID, remember?” Sometimes, it’s better to stay away from family. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, or something like that. Maybe Aunt Martha was nasty to you one too many times, so visiting her can be off the table with no guilt. A GIFT FROM THE UNIVERSE.

8. Outside doesn’t have to be scary- Even in the grips of winter, the outdoors can trigger all kinds of good feelings. Go for a walk in the woods, (not in the creepy woods, but in the nice bright ones with sunshine) snowshoeing (Hubby bought us both a pair to try. Should be interesting) or take the doggo out for a trot. The fresh air will do wonders for your body and your mood. You won’t act like such a twatsicle when someone asks you a simple question, if you’ve just spent half an hour laughing at your neighbour for falling on her ass in the snow. See? I’m helpful.

7.  You can choose to tell, ‘Dry January and February and every other month’ to Fuck-off – It seems to be all the rage, now. People are posting about not drinking for the next few months because everyone consumed copious quantities of alcohol during the initial COVID lockdown and thereafter, BECAUSE IT WAS NECESSARY TO KEEP LIVING.  STOP THE MADNESS. We are still in a pandemic and while I applaud the do-gooders who are keeping themselves ‘dry’ for a cause or just for themselves, I am choosing to drink my face off. I’ll be posting my weekly posts about how much wine I consumed on the weekend. I’m helping to keep the liquor stores stocked and the wine prices lowered while the rest of you ‘dryers’ are abstaining now, so when you do return to drinking, there’s not a shortage. Can you imagine if everyone stopped drinking? The liquor stores would stop ordering supplies, because of lack of sales. People will be laid off. The public would resort to standing outside the liquor stores wondering where all the wine went and why the shelves remain empty. They’ll be brandishing cocktail forks and little paper umbrellas protesting the government and their lack of response to a dire situation…I JUST SAVED ALL OF THAT FROM HAPPENING BECAUSE I KEPT DRINKING. YOU. ARE. WELCOME.

6.  Try something new – It can be a new hobby, a new tv show, a new movie, a new hairstyle, a new spouse…I kid. I kid.  A little bit of change can make a big difference, so embrace the time to try something you’ve always wanted to try. Paint, draw, write, dance; something that’s different and maybe challenges you. I’m going to try drunk snowshoeing. See? Add alcohol and ANYTHING can be fun. See #5.

5. Redecorate – I’m talking rooms in a house, here. I redecorated the front room of our house and although it was a lot of work, it’s one of my favourite places to hang out, now. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, Hubby has decided to take it one step further by redoing all the floors in all 3 bedrooms on the second floor. With hardwood. Meaning he is responsible for tearing up the carpet, because he wanted to even though SOMEBODY told him not to.  Yay. So, he’ll be tearing up carpet and I’ll be drinking because nothing says, ‘support for Hubby in his new endeavour’ like a wife standing by with a full glass of wine repeatedly reminding him, “I told you not to do that by yourself.”  So much fun!

4. Rest – Sometimes, just taking a day to sit and watch the snow fall or watch a mindless tv program can ease your brain and give yourself a much-needed break. No need to work endlessly or try to keep yourself too busy. There’s such a thing as burning out and you do not need to be everything to everyone all the time. Take it easy. *sip, sip*

3.  Get some exercise – I’m not talking about a marathon or the World Body Building Championship, just move a bit. Go for a walk, take in a yoga class or something to get your heart rate up. You will be surprised how much better your feel afterwards…and, you will have burned enough energy to have that glass of wine. Or five. It’s all about balance, people.

2. Clean up – It’s a large task and one that I abhor. It’s time-consuming and tedious, however, decluttering has advantages beyond a tidy house. The process of purging gives you a sense of purpose. You have a task that keeps you focused on the activity of improving your space. AND, what you decide to toss may still be appropriate for donation. Check with your local Salvation Army or Diabetes Association for their guidelines during COVID. You could be making a big difference in someone else’s life, not just your own.

1. Choose to be happy – I read this somewhere and there’s elegance in its simplicity. You can choose to be happy instead of lamenting the situation you find yourself in. You can choose to smile instead of frowning your way through the day. You can choose to lift someone up with a positive word or a kind gesture instead of begrudging her. It’s simple. And it doesn’t cost anything. A win-win all around.

Those are the tips to keep your spirits up and your mood in-check. When in doubt, there’s wine.

Always.

Stay safe and stay healthy,

KJ xo

The Sound A Clock Makes

Like anything worth doing, it’s worth doing well.  And doing something ‘well’ is quite relative a term.  And I hate starting sentences with ‘and’.  Ugh.    

As I’m feverishly writing my next entry into the anthology of ‘Books People Will Read After I’m Dead’ I’ve been missing events and goings on to which I really should have been paying more attention.   As I was downing my glass of wine the other night, someone mentioned something about Tik Tok.  I’m thinking Nanny’s noisy clock that is currently hanging in her kitchen and dings every BLESSED HOUR ON THE HOUR, but no.  Tik Tok is an app for lip-syncing and karaoke-gone-awry.   It’s a social media app that lets a person download a video of someone singing badly to N’Sync or the Backstreet Boys or maybe amore current musician like the Biebs.  I’m thinking of doing ‘Bye-Bye’ ala JT with the curls and the baggy jeans and the fancy-dancy moves. 

 

I could join Tik Tok and connect with the peeps who are jammin’ to NKOTB and IT’S BRITTANY, BITCH.  Maybe somebody singin’ some Alanis…Yeah.  “Isn’t it Ironic?  Don’t ya think?”  I could so NOT do that.  Well.  Not well.  At all.  

 Maybe I’ll do a video of Mags when she borks at the ‘hood dogs.  She could be the next big thing!  Add some music and BAM she’s the four-legged Madonna of the doggo-world.  Maybe she could do a whole rap-thing. Instead of ‘Lose Yourself’ she could do ‘Poo Yo’self’.    EPIC.  

I’ll keep brain-storming some ideas whilst desperately trying to stay on-trend.  Do we still say ‘whilst’?   Ugh.  

 

Listening To Your Intuition

Clearly, I should have listened to my gut this morning.  I was on my way to Tim’s for tea for Hubby and coffee for myself.  A long line greeted me at the drive thru, however, it’s usually quick and I was in no hurry.  I had left early enough to adjust for the line.  I get to the drive thru window and a sign had been posted.  No debit.  Of course, there’s no debit at the drive thru this morning because I don’t have any cash!   I get to the window and ask if I can place my order, park and come in to pick it up.  Of course, I can’t do that because that would be too easy!  I drive on past the window and look at the extensive line blocking the parking.  My answer was “Fuck this,” and I drive out.  I go to the OTHER Tim Horton shop that is only a walk-in.  I refer here to, ‘listening to my gut,’ because at the sight of the line as I was initially driving up to the first coffee shop, my head was saying ‘fuck that and go to the other Tim’s.’  I didn’t listen and here I was fifteen minutes later, driving to the other Tim’s.   I get there.  Virtually no line.  They also have no tea.  Ugh.  I wait.  Half an hour later, I arrive home with tea for Hubby.  My lesson for today was listen to your gut.  (And…. I can hear the Starbucks fans yelling at me…)

We always have situations where that little voice in our head is telling us something different than the oftentimes, easiest route.  It says to go the other way, or something about this situation is wrong.  We have the free will to choose.  We can either listen to that little voice or our ‘gut’, or we can choose to go the easy way.  Maybe the easier more convenient route seems logical or more practical at the time, then it turns out costing more time or more energy in the long run.   If we stop and listen for just a second more, we could have saved ourselves pain or time or money by listening to our ‘gut’ or our intuition.  It’s rarely wrong. 

Listening to our intuition takes practice.  We have to be able to trust that little voice to lead us in the right direction.  Often times, we doubt what that voice is saying because we doubt ourselves.  We don’t trust enough in our intellect or in our logic or in our understanding of the situation to trust that inner voice.   It’s screaming to be heard and we ignore it because we fear the outcome.  We fear its wrong and we’ve made the wrong choice.   Making mistakes is an essential part of growth and if we never make a mistake, if we never take a chance on something that makes us challenge ourselves, we have allowed complacency to move in.  That would be boring.

 Today’s lesson for me was minor.  It cost me time but I had time to spare.   I try to impart the wisdom of listening to your intuition to my daughters.  Your intuition or ‘Spidey-Sense’ tells you when someone is ‘off’ or maybe the situation feels wrong to you.  Then get out.  If it feels wrong then it is wrong.  For you.  You may think because you see others seemingly enjoying themselves and they may well be, that you would be making the wrong choice by leaving or by not participating.  But maybe they feel something about it is wrong too, but are not listening to their gut.  Maybe they’re afraid they’ll miss something or that people will ostracize them because they made another choice.  You have to trust in yourself to listen to your inner voice and make the choice that’s right for you.   I’m not saying to run away from things or situations that challenge you.  I’m saying if a situation or person seems to be going in a direction that’s immoral, illegal or unethical then you have the obligation to decide what’s best for you. 

And your true self, your true inner voice already has your back and knows the answer.  

You just have to listen to it. 

Opening ourselves up to listening to our voice and to trust in ourselves takes practice, but it is well-worth the work.  Fear and self-doubt should take a backseat to listening and acting upon our instincts. 

Obviously, I have some practicing to do myself.  Or, I can send Hubby to get the coffee and tea next time.  We’ll see if he listens to his inner voice along the way….

A Dance in The Hurricane

The following is a reblog of a post I wrote two years ago. It reminds us to take a breath and appreciate our connections and relationships; to value each day and each person we encounter along the way. Stay connected, my friends.

KJ

The other day I was cleaning out our closet.  It was time to do some much needed purging.   I decided to gut out everything and go from there.  I ended up finding some old cards from a few years ago when my mother passed away.  I opened each one and read them again, this time with five years behind me.  They were sweet and sympathetic.  My Aunt had sent one reminiscing about when she and my mother were teens and very close.  Some I kept and others I didn’t.  So much for the big purge.    In amongst the cards I found a letter that was written by a childhood friend of the family.  Her kids were friends with us when we lived in the old neighbourhood.  She and her husband were friends with my parents.  We used to visit them after they moved away into a new house.  She wrote to say how dismayed she was of my mother’s passing and that she hadn’t realized my mother continued to reside in Chatham.  She assumed she had moved in either my brother or myself.  She was disappointed she had not made the effort to reconnect.  I think she was disappointed neither had my mother.  I don’t think it was anyone’s fault that they got disconnected.  It was just life.

 Kids grow up, graduate, move on to university or not, tragic events unfold, weddings and new houses, new babies, new lives.  It’s everything that happens over a lifetime. We get disconnected. We get disjointed and enmeshed in the everyday.  We forget the connections that were made years ago on a summer’s day when the children were small, who later walked to the bus stop hand-in-hand on frosty fall mornings, caught “all things squirmy and squishy” (her words) and played basketball until nightfall.   

Those days get lost in band practices, packed lunches, hockey games and baseball tryouts.  People get older, move to other streets or to other towns.  They work, they make new friends, they move on to other hobbies, other occupations and other past times without the old acquaintances that have become a part of their past.  The present is different.  Its fluid and changes with the seasons and the ever-speeding passage of time.  We don’t notice the children becoming adults until they are there.  We don’t notice our hair changing colour until our hairstylist points it out (while saying loudly WHY ARE YOU NOT COMING HERE MORE OFTEN?!  )  we don’t notice the deeper cracks in the sidewalks outside the house,  how the maple tree has grown exponentially or how few little children are out playing street hockey these days, until all of that suddenly seeps into our consciousness and we take a look around with clearer eyes.  And older eyes.  How did this happen?  When did we get HERE? 

I understand her disappointment and dismay.  It seems like a sudden about-face of one minute she’s there, the next she’s gone, but really it wasn’t like that.  It was a lifetime of being, of living and of surviving.  The disconnection of relationships is unfortunately, an everyday occurrence that can be prevented if we take the time.  Aye there’s the rub.  TIME.  We never have enough. It flies away so fleetingly.  If only we had more time to connect, to say ‘hey’, to reminisce, to support, to actually stop and watch everything grow and change without having to be awoken to its transformation.  It’s a difficult dance.  Maybe we don’t want to watch because if we do, then we’ll have to admit that we are getting older, life is flying by without us even moving or flinching in this hurricane.   Maybe we don’t really want to see the children getting older or the sidewalk cracking or the maple tree growing so big we can’t see across the street, anymore.  We’d rather hold on to today, to live in the present, just let me have one more day!

Connections are our lifelines.  We crave them, we seek them out and some we hold dear.  Our intentions are for connections to last as long as we take a breath, to be eternal and constant, but sometimes those bonds get weaker and grow more distant, then they are suddenly lost in the gale force wind.  It’s not wrong.  It’s life.  

I’m thinking after all of this time, to send her a reply.  To let her know I did receive her letter and I did read it and I still have it.  That I remember everything she said was true. 

 Maybe, that could be one little dance in the hurricane.