Strength Through Adversity

Our knee jerk reaction as parents is to rescue our struggling children.  It’s hard to take a breath and a step back and lay witness to the battles, all the while feeling helpless and useless.  That’s not what we are conditioned to do.  We are the parents and as such, are responsible for the well-being and care of those innocent little beings that we brought here. The urge to protect, shield them from harm and difficulty is innate in all mothers and fathers.   We’re not supposed to throw them to the wolves knowing full well they’ll be hounded and forced to fight back; made to stand up and withstand the baring teeth and the all out assaults of those that wish them harm.   It’s hard to listen to them cry and shout in frustration, fear and anguish.  Fear of failure, fear of hurt, fear of losing.  All valid and all the more reason for us to retreat into the shadows and wave our flag of support.  

The adults in this world are nodding their heads, knowing the struggles are real and totally worth it in the end.  It’s enduring the struggles and watching them unfold that’s hard.  It’s the knowledge that ‘this too shall pass’ and fighting one’s way to theend is the only way to finish, that holds us back from donning our Superman capes and flying to their aid.  “Sorry, kid it’s in the wash” I said in an email to D2.  The email to inspire her to move onwards and upwards despite the late night crying and homesickness and the “I hate I can’t…”   Me too.  But, it’s your attitude through this difficult patch that will make or break you.  It’s your positive keep-that-chin-up and soldiering-ondespitewearingthatbootonyourleg-that-youhate; despite not being able to do what you innately feel you must do.  Be the bad-ass I know you can.  Lead the damn parade anyways.  March in drill class like you own it.  Remember, hard work and dedication gets you winning regattas and your name in a history book.  That same hard work will get you through this, too.  

I can do nothing but sit here, several provinces away, and hope you hear us cheering you on.  I hope you know you have the guts to do it.  You are strong enough, brave enough and smart enough.  Feeling sorry for your current predicament does nothing but waste precious time.  

Parents are put in the unique position of witnessing progression, triumphs and failures simultaneously.  Struggle is a part of being alive.  It’s through adversity that we truly learn how strong we are.  Taking away that struggle, or trying to diminish it in any way from our children, leaves them with nothing to gain; upon which nothing to build character.  I hate being a spectator to battles and I hate being here, not taking on my Sheldon-like traitof patting her back with a sympathetic ‘there, there’ and offering her a hot beverage.  Of course, I want to hold her hand and tell her it’ll be fine and to just come home.  But what purpose would that serve, if only to make myself feel better?  None.  She learns nothing.  

Struggle on, little bird and kick some ass.  Show your character by fighting through this with your wit, sarcasm and smarts.  If that doesn’t work, march, yell and lift the heavy weights.  Do all the push-ups, do all the chin-ups and do all the rowing.  This whole battle can be won or lost depending solely on how you respond.  This has nothing to do with me or your father; this is your war.  Your struggle.  Your life.  So win it.  

I’ll be over here in the shadows intently watching, laying out my Superman cape to dry knowing we’ve done everything we can, waving my flag of support and cheering you on.  Now, it’s your turn to fight for what you want.   Struggle on, my darling.  

Good luck parents.  Staying in the shadows is the hardest part, but will make the successes that much sweeter.  Let me know if you need a fellow spectator, I have LOTS of coffee….

Easy to watch when they are winning…

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Turn On The Light

It seems as though the world is turning on its head.  It’s imploding with people condemning each other to friendship hell if they vote the wrong way, and other people tormented by inner demons to the point of taking their own lives; a ‘c’ word broke up a country and caused a wide divide, and the rest of us are left clinging for dear life hoping the assholes of the universe will suddenly realize by some divine intervention that the real logical courses of action exist and will redeem themselves with unbelievable compassion.  And humanity.  We hope.

We are missing something.  We are missing the spark of human conscience that guides every person on the planet to do and be in the light.  The positive voices that were once abound with energy and forethought are being

drowned out by deaths and guns and hate.

We are missing thoughtfulness and

mindfulness.

The once thoughtful intelligent discourse that filled the air is being pushed aside by social media insta-posts denigrating anyone who disagrees, anyone who takes a side and anyone who says the sun will come out tomorrow.   Guess what?  The sun will come out, people will disagree, there will be sides and the positive voices will sing.

Humanity has taken a big punch in the gut.  Compassion has taken a backseat to shaming.  Truth is a lost art.  The gun debate rears up and then fades away as fast as it arose.  People’s attention spans are at the ultimate minimum since we repeatedly seem to forget our own history. Allies are not allies anymore.  We would rather be at each other’s throats than by each other’s sides.

It’s painful and exhausting trying to wade through the muck of negativity and shameless heartlessness that seems to be waiting around every corner.  My generation, those of us in the throes of our fifties, are looking around baffled and bewildered by utter lack of empathetic voices.  What happened?

We forgot.  With all of the technological advances at our fingertips, with self-driving cars and instant cooking pots and ultimate quick efficient non-thinking gadgets, life got easier.  We got lazier.  We forgot to take care of the little things that we once thought were insignificant, but really are the most important.  We forgot people’s feelings; we forgot that people wage war with themselves that we know nothing about; we forgot to take care of our relationships, our friends, our family; we forgot what if feels like to struggle, to extend a hand to someone, to be neighbourly; we forgot what it’s like to be scared, lost, and alone; we forgot that someone else’s thoughts and life are as just as important as our own.  We forgot that whatever personal battles we are enduring, there is always someone else battling their own shit just as hard.  We became a self-involved, altruistic society with a big ego and multiple platforms on which to perform and display that ego.

We’ve forgotten how to think.  We’ve forgotten how to care.

The screeching tires that you hear in the background is the future of humanity revving up and getting ready to careen carelessly onwards.  It will run over anyone who stands warily in the road, waving her arms pleading for a hand with a flat.   If everyone stands in the road together, maybe we can get it to slow down a bit.  And help out.  And care about the girl with the flat tire on the side of the road.  Maybe.

If you are battling something that’s too big

for you to handle, there is always a choice.

The suicide hotlines are listed here.  http://www.suicide.org/hotlines/international/canada-suicide-hotlines.html

Take care of each other.

Just Breathe

I was in my bootcamp class today, mid-mountain climbers, and realized I was holding my breath.  “Oh, Gawd BREATHE”.

It’s not the first time during exercising I’ve had to remind myself to breathe.  I often find myself holding my breath doing whatever it is, then realize that turning blue in class is probably not a good idea.  Also, being passed out on the floor would likely be frowned upon…not to mention a tad embarrassing.  “HEY COACH, WHY IS SHE LYING DOWN?!  IS THIS A NEW BURPEE MOVE WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT?!”  Then, everyone would be pissed and trying to do the new move that’s really not new, I’m just PASSED OUT THANKS, BUT DON’T WORRY ABOUT ME.  Now, I’ve taken to telling myself to breathe before class starts and whenever I find myself getting too caught up in an exercise.  It’s also a good idea to remind oneself to BREATHE during the day, even when not doing Burpees x 100, or face down doing plank jacks.

It’s not something that one should forget easily, I mean, breathing is as natural as, well, breathing but today I did catch myself NOT breathing.  It got me wondering how many other times I neglect to breathe during simple things and should be more self-aware.  Like, do I forget to breathe when I’m driving?  When I’m sleeping?  When I’m working?  HOW DOES SOMEBODY FORGET TO BREATHE?!  It’s ridiculous, really.  It’s like saying “Oh, I forgot to eat today.”  THAT NEVER HAPPENS TO ME.  Or, I FORGOT TO BUY WINE.  If that happens, I’m sure to be headed for the home.  So how does something so basic, so part of BEING HUMAN, be forgotten?

I guess it’s in line with so many other basic nuances of being a person that gets shoved aside during a busy day or week or life.  We forget to appreciate a warm day, a smile from someone we haven’t seen in a while, or a hot cup of coffee.  We forget what being little is like or that being a teen is dramatic and exhausting, and being a young adult can be scary.  We forget that not so long ago, the internet was new and exciting technology and playing hide and seek outside was the ONLY thing we did that was fun.  We forget that the simple act of walking is a gift many of us cannot enjoy and that living and breathing every day, is our greatest joy. We forget the basic simplicity of being human; the basic everyday pleasure of being alive and breathing.

Trying to be mindful and self-aware takes practice; one that I am in need of, obviously.  I read that a simple deep breath can calm your system down and give you the much needed oxygen to your brain to enhance those thinking cells and good vibrations.  It releases bad toxins and gets some much needed space to feel rejuvenated and refreshed.  A simple deep breath can do all of that.  Huh.

So can a bottle of wine, but usually drinking at one’s place of employment is not looked upon favourably.  AND, side plank with a sip-dip, anyone?  Yeah.  New exercise.  BYOB…

I have to try to remember to just breathe through all of that negativity people throw around like, “You’re doing that wrong” or “You should really rethink that shirt” or “Giving people the finger through their office door is not the professional behaviour we expect of you.”

IT WAS ONLY ONE TIME AND I FORGOT I HADN’T HAD A BREATH IN A WHILE.

GAAAWWWWDDDDD.

I’m going to go take a few deep breaths, now and appreciate that I CAN.

And open that wine…

Sip and breathe, and sip and breathe….

Me. After wine.

Is Drinking Considered a Complex Movement?

As I get older, I realize I’m not as adept as I once was.  Not that I was ever a ballerina with grace and balance, but at least I could coordinate walking and talking simultaneously.  Now, I can’t even lift my leg and opposite arm at the same time without falling, or worse, trying not to fall and instead, revert into a spastic-quazi-save-myself-from-further-humiliation-by-propelling-myself-forward kind of move.  Which, by the way, never works and looks a million times more awkward than it sounds.

Bootcamp has always been a challenging experience for me from my first day almost three years ago, right up to today.  Coach has decided the internet is fraught with ‘great interesting complex moves that we all should embrace into our repertoire!’  We think she should be banned from the internet.

‘Complex movements’ is just another phrase for lift-leg-while-standing-backwards-and-pushing-something-really-heavy.  I clearly have issues with ‘complex movements’.  If I could lift my leg whilst lifting a sandbag over my head and twirl around on my tippy toe, do you think I would be nervous about wearing heels and walking on a tile floor?  I CAN’T DO THAT SHIT.   I try.  I fall.  I try again.

Then we all laugh…well, I laugh.  I’m thinking people don’t notice because they’re trying just as hard as I am to stay balanced and semi-dignified looking.  Or maybe they’re actually well-balanced yoga-mamas who CAN stand on one foot and hold a 20pound weight over their heads while closing their eyes.  WE CAN’T BE FRIENDS.  Just so you know.

Until the next class when there’s yet another new move involving weights, the TRX and the Bielman spin thrown in for good measure.  

It’s this while spinning around at 100km an hour.  On skates.  It should come as no surprise, that I can’t stand upright on skates, either. Just sayin’.

I’m practicing the new scissor- kick-from-side-plank-position-then-plank-push-up move.  I’M NOT MAKING THIS SHIT UP.  That was merely ONE of today’s new complex movements.

In my case, it totally didn’t happen.  I couldn’t lift my leg, hence the whole need to practice thing.  I did lift the sandbag over my head!  But there was no spinning nor lifting my leg over my head which was probably a good thing, or else I would have looked like Mr. Bean trying to Waltz.  I was just trying to make myself feel better by patting myself on the back for completing an exercise without smashing my face into the ground.

I’m holding my breath for Friday’s class.  If there is any utterance of ‘a new exciting complex movement’ I’m silently protesting by disconnecting her internet.  And hoping sitting against a wall while reciting the Ode to Newfoundland counts as a Complex Movement.

Maybe there’s a new and exciting exercise involving a wine glass balancing on a tray whilst you simultaneously pour the wine from the bottle with the other hand without spilling!

THAT’S A COMPLEX MOVEMENT I CAN GET BEHIND.

And one I’d probably have to practice because of the whole glass-balancing-on-a-tray thing….

It’s a struggle.

* Author’s note: Coach has corrected me in saying these movements are in fact termed Compound not Complex as I have repeatedly stated. Ma bad. THEY ARE COMPOUND COMPLEX MOVEMENTS now. We changed it. You. Are. Welcome.

The Fall of Summer

The_Shining_Sun_by_edsousa

Summer is coming to a close and I can’t help but feel a little sad.  It seemed so fleeting, so brief a season.  I can’t seem to remember long days or hot evenings. (Probably because they were few and far between)  I hate the thoughts of putting away the outdoor furniture and my pretty colourful cushions that adorn my porch chairs.  My flowers are dying at the front garden and the strawberries have all been picked and eaten.  I’m starting to eye my sweaters and long pants and the search for matching socks has taken on a desperate tone.  The kids in the ‘hood are getting ready for the whole back to school thing and that means at work I’m going to be flat out running around busy with exams and shattered nerves right up until Christmas break.

There are also changes around the house.  The kid will be starting Uni, the two girls are working full-time jobs and Hubby is going back to work.  Will there be any reprieve from the busy-ness of the fall?

I am looking forward to warm fires and homemade bread.  Spice candles and trick-or-treaters.  Colourful leaves and bright frosty mornings.

I’ll miss the easy-ness of summer.  The slow moving work schedule, the comfort of getting home a little earlier and walks around the lake in the warmth.  The barbeques and days we could sit out with a few drinks with friends.  The days I could run in the sun or rain and not worry about catching a death of a cold or slipping on icy asphalt.

I lamented a few days ago about the beach and how I thought becoming an alcoholic beach bum seemed a perfect fit and to some degree, heading to the warmth and sunshine still greatly appeals to me.  But there is something to be said for the change of seasons.  A new beginning, a new endeavor, a shift of consciousness from easy to busy, from warm to cool, from ending a project to looking forward to the start of a new one.  To keep motivated and always looking ahead to the next big adventure or the next little task is what keeps life from getting too mundane.  The change of seasons brings with it another chance at regaining some perspective, or beginning something new or moving around something that just wasn’t working.  Taking stock and reviewing the ending season allows for ample room to implement some new plan or goal for the future.

Take the opportunity to look forward to the changes that lie ahead with another season and set a challenge.

A little step outside the box can make a big difference in one’s perspective.

Parenting Tips For Surviving The Teen Years With Grace, Dignity and A Little Less Drunkenness

Adolescence, otherwise known as the slow descent into madness, or those lost years mommy raided the liquor store in search for more wine, or when the little darlings morph into bigger versions of Teletubbies gone awry, is a trying time for everyone; parents, teens, grandparents, teachers, babies, the dog, the mail-delivery person, the librarian with the big ass mole, the nice policeman who escorted you home after being caught outside the liquor store after hours banging on the doors pleading for them to “PLEASE OPEN I NEED WINE! I HAVE TEENAGERS!!!”….

The brains of average teenagers are still developing and pushing the limits. It’s one of the many fun and interesting ways they determine their place in the family; their role in the world and their intimate social circle. It’s also annoying as hell.

Limit setting and parents sticking to them is the key element to any good survival during this emotional roller coaster. They will yell, scream, slam doors and then use the ever favourite “Jan’s mom let her do it”. “AGAIN WITH THE JAN’S MOM?! I’m not Jan’s mom! I don’t care what Jan’s mom let her do! WHO THE HELL IS JAN?! Jan’s mom can stick it!! “ Natural and understandable responses to an illogical and peer-pressure kind of tactic that only ensues argumentative combative behaviour. BAD FORM, TEEN. But that’s what they know. Knee jerk emotional responses to having their asses slammed into a room with nowhere to go but to a ‘Jan’s mom’ kind of response. Stick to your guns! Not literal guns, but your limits. Stick to your decisions. You get it. DON’T CAVE!  

I could say here that communication is the key to any good relationship and speaking in quiet tones and providing a caring and open environment for them to participate in mature dialogue will assist in curbing the emotional upheaval….but that would be utter bullshit. Seriously. Teens are a ball of emotional crap wrapped up in a brain-fugue ire that speaking at all will only escalate the already shitty attitude they possess. I tend to throw my hands in the air and say “Jesus, help me with this child! Give him the necessary good sense that he needs to see the light!” and then proceed to speak in tongues. This generally confuses the shit out of the teen and he is so freaked out he turns around and goes to his room to try to call his father saying “Mom has lost it! Come home now!” And will never ask to go to another party/borrow the car/jump off a bridge, again.  

As a mother of three teens who are now adults, I can say you will survive. Motherhood be damned, the adolescent years are the most trying times; following of course after toddlerdom when the word ‘no’ was the prompt to put more toys in the toilet; the righteous pre-teen years where buying the right shirt was a major meltdown affair and of course the roaring twenties where there’s university exams, classes and staying out all night. Actually, now that I read that statement, being a parent kind of sucks. There is no decade safe where you can really sit back with your feet up and relax and say, ‘yep. We did it. We raised our kids.’ A parent’s work is never done and even now that my kids are no longer ‘kids’, I can say I still worry. We still argue (yes, Miss H even with Son), we still have to set the limit and toe the line and all that parenting lingo you read in all of the Parenting 101 books that kinda only work when the kid is already well-adjusted, graduated with a PhD and on his way to his own wedding. All those nice parenting books you bought will surely serve better as a nightstand where you can lay your bottle of wine after an afternoon of endless pleading and begging with the mail-delivery-person to please rescue you from your torment only for him/her/neutral to pry your death grip from his/her/neutral arm and run madly up the street….damned mail-delivery persons! (being politically correct is wordy, but not expensive)

Suck it up, Mommy/Daddy you’re a lifer now!

Ahhh, think back to the day when that adorable little pink baby was first placed in your arms and you promised him the world! And now, well now, he’s still kinda adorable and you would still give him the world if he wasn’t so damned stubborn like his father and have the intelligence of a snail. Then he comes home with decent grades and you think “Yesss. Finally, he has turned a corner. He is growing up” then he dents the car, or floods the basement with the garden hose or goes bowling with a frozen turkey and throws it through the front door.  

Yup.  

A teenager. The universe’s way of reminding you that young people can be stupid. We are the force that guides these young impressionable teens into adulthood with common sense, values and a wealth of information to make solid decisions; like bowling with a frozen turkey is way better suited in the basement using the hockey net. Duh…ANYONE KNOWS THAT.  

That’s why we also have wine. For when those guidelines are a little skewed, those decisions are a little off the mark and we struggle with guilt, ire and Jesus.

Good luck, fellow parents. You are not alone during this traumatic and challenging time. Remember, they will be around FOREVER. Also, the liquor store is open daily until 11pm. Make sure to get there early.

You. Are. Welcome.

 

    

 

Top Ten List of: Shit I Did When You Weren’t Looking

I haven’t done a Top Ten list in quite some time. I thought today would be a great day for one.
10. Ran a 10mile race. Maybe you were looking since I told everyone about it, but some people were still surprised I actually ran a race and still lived to tell about it, so not everyone is as in the loop as you.   

Me running, and not dying. Yet. 
9. Snuck a garden gnome in my garden and he is still there! Now that you know, DON’T TOUCH HIM. HE STAYS.

8. Texted my friend and gave her shit for missing my birthday but discovered she did leave a message that FB deleted so really, I looked like an asshole for being an asshole.

Actual conversation.  She still likes me…I think. 
7. Watched the beginning of a movie and the end without watching the middle which is usually a vital part of the whole thing. In this case, it really wasn’t. Now, I think if I watch the first forty five minutes and the last half hour of any movie, I should be good. No need for all the junk that happens mid-way. It’s just the whole plot, I mean really, who needs that?

Part of the movie I missed, but I don’t think it’s that important, right?


6. Told a first-time runner and neighbour there was going to be band playing during the race, which two years ago there was I swear, but this time there wasn’t and now he’s all “THERE WAS NO BAND! WHERE WAS THE BAND?! I WAS LOOKING FOR THE BAND!” for the entire duration of the race. In my defence, YOU WERE LISTENING TO SOME ON YOUR IPOD SO THERE WAS YOUR BAND. MOVE ON. Gawd, I can’t be right about everything….kinda. By the way, if my garden gnome goes missing in the next 48 hours I’M LOOKING AT YOU!!

5. Since Hubby has returned to work, I actually did two loads of laundry. Dried. Folded. Put away. I don’t want to brag, but I think I did a better job at it. *Hubby, if you are reading this, feel free to try to best me on this one. Seriously. I know you THINK you’re good at laundry, but uh, my folding technique rocks! Okay, if you really want to try to beat me at this one task, I’ll let you try….I’M A GIVER.

4. I submitted two job applications for freelance work that were epic examples of my wit and humour and pithy prose to which the reply was *crickets* Nothing. OKAY, IF YOU REALLY THINK MY PITCH FOR A HANGOVER SUPPLEMENT WASN’T AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE OF INTELLIGENT STORY-TELLING, ESPECIALLY THE PART ABOUT GRANDPA’S DART TOURNAMENT FIASCO, THEN GO AHEAD AND HIRE SOMEBODY ELSE. Gawd.  

3. I’ve decided that being a responsible adult is overrated and better suited for everyone else, but me. In future refer all important tasks to an adult who will take requests, demands and questions seriously instead of answering with “I know you are, but what am I?”  

2. According to viable sources, licking the top of a beer bottle will not dissuade other people from drinking from it. It just induces future licking of bottles and glasses until everyone is drinking from everyone else’s drinks, which really is kinda gross when you think about it. Next time, I’m switching the beer for…EWWW, NO I WASN’T GOING TO SAY PEE. UGH. THAT’S DISGUSTING. WHAT KIND OF PERSON DO YOU THINK I AM? BESIDES, DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO PEE IN A BEER BOTTLE?! You need a good *urinary device if you’re a woman, to pull that shit off…don’t ask me how I know that. (*medical terminology for a funnel or aid to guide the stream in the right direction. WHAT?! DO YOU KNOW HOW NARROW THE NECK OF A BEER BOTTLE IS??!! It takes precision and timing and…never mind. )

1. People in the ‘hood with pools: If you see a random rubber ducky in there, his name is Sid. No, I don’t know how he could have gotten in there, but don’t scare him. He likes to float around. Just sayin’…..

Looks just like Sid!!