Writing a Sequel

The undertaking of writing the second instalment of False Hope is beginning to make me nervous.  I remember how time consuming and all-encompassing it was writing the first book and I’m beginning to feel bogged down.   I have one chapter completed with work starting on the second.  The struggle of carving out time to write characters and scenes and implement accents and plot points is difficult when summer weather decides to make an appearance.  The sun shines and I want to be outside, not locked in a room in the basement writing the next big adventure.  The rarity of sunshine makes it all the more important for me to head outside while it lasts.  Autumn is packing its bags getting ready to move in and wave summer off into the grand abyss where the seasons-that-barely-happened go to die.   Before I know it, I’ll be welcoming students back for another year, scheduling tests and skipping lunches in favour of one more hour for testing.   I’m fearful my penchant to procrastinate will overtake me and I’ll finish Book Two around the same time any grandchildren I’ve been promised have graduated high school.  

I’m ever-aware of my tendency to simply give-up or to throw my hands up in the air and proclaim it all a bit too much before I’ve even given it my best shot. I managed to stay focused and finish the first round and I’m hoping my determination will see me through to the next.  I have big plans for Claire and Jimmy in Book Two and I’m hoping it will all come to fruition.  They may even run into some old friends from False Hope.  (That was a hint, by the way in case you missed it.)  

My notes are gathering in the purple notebook I used for the False Hope.  I’ll simply keep it moving with more notes chapter-by-chapter and flesh out some new characters I have in mind.  I always change around chapters and events according to how things logistically work out.  For example, in False Hope Julien was supposed to be accused of nefarious activities with the women he was photographing.  If you notice in the book, there are references to a rapist running around loose in town and even a dark hooded stranger bumping into Julien when he was standing outside the office building where Ashley worked.  That incident was initially a set-up to a much larger sub-plot.  I backed down at the last minute not wanting Julien to undergo any further scrutiny and bias from his colleagues.  He had enough on his plate.  

My work continues on Book Two and I hope my characters move forward with their lives, but not everything can go easily for them in their new circumstances.  I’ll try to keep the momentum going through bouts of soaking up the intermittent sunshine and my tendency to walk away.

 I’ll keep you posted on the progress and maybe drop a few more hints along the way, like Jimmy Feherty.  He’s an Irishman straight from Belfast with eyes only for Claire.  Or so he says….

 

Conquering ‘Hoods

I don’t know when it happened.  When the kids grew up and I am now faced with retirement ads that I actually watch.  When we look at the house and say ‘we need to fix this before we move’ or when we look around at the now adults who we once carted and snuggled and fed and loved; who needed bed times and naps; who needed rocking to sleep and lessons in ‘appropriate songs to sing in public’; who were once my babies but somehow morphed into adults, and I hear myself say ‘when y’all fixin’ to move out?’  like I’m suddenly southern and drink lemonade in a rocker on the front porch.  I’ve been so busy raising kids and cleaning houses and buying groceries and making dinners and trekking kids to this and that, then driving lessons and graduations and convocations and first jobs and first dates and first car accidents and first hangovers and generally, just living, that  I missed when I grew up.  I missed my journey into full-fledged adulthood, motherhood and womanhood.  Generally, all of the ‘hoods.  How did that happen?

I don’t think I’m alone in that sentiment of ‘missing’ my growth.  It happened when I wasn’t looking.  When I was distracted by a ten pound baby careening out of my vagina.  And by ‘careening’ I mean taking his sweet ass time because who doesn’t love being in labour for fifteen ungodly hours followed by hearing the words “You’ll feel a little discomfort” (HAHAHAHA)   and then seeing a wall of onlookers oohing and ahhing.  Ahh, childbirth.  And that was the last time I did THAT.

I wouldn’t change it.  The three labours.  The three births.  The three babies that are now trying to find their ways into the world and stumbling every now and then.  I’m not missing their journeys into their ‘hoods…I’m paying attention to theirs.  I’ve just been absent in consciousness for mine. 

I look at the pictures and see the outward changes.  The weight gain, then loss, then gain.  The progression of one baby, then another baby and then the last chunky kid who threw Cheerios on the floor in great bunches.  The relocations.  The new friends.  The old friends.  The new neighbourhood.  The hair gets lighter, then lighter then *gasp* grey!  The glory of discovering ‘the perfect shade of red’….

Maybe I haven’t missed my growing up, but have simply participated in less mindful way.  That’s a new term I’m learning.  Mindfulness.  Maybe I haven’t been so much AWARE of my growth, as I have actually grown.  That could be it.  I must have matured and grown emotionally after all of these twenty five years of being Mommy, Mom, Maaaaaammmmmm!!!   It isn’t possible to stay stagnant without some semblance of inward enlightenment from all of the nights of illness, worry, fights, battles and dolls thrown down the hall in outward defiance of ‘get to your room’.  (That was D1 in all of her 7 year old will) There has to be some sage, some wisdom from raising three children while working and staying married.  There has to be something other than grey hair and osteoarthritis awarded for all of this middle-agedness.  For all of this Motherdom.  Wifedom.  Womandom. 

Please tell me, there is.  

There must be some spec of intelligent advice, some all-out magical power that is awarded to us moms, dads and upbringersof the generations that carries us to that moment in our lives when we fold our hands on our laps and say ‘we did it’.  

What if I’m at that moment?  What if I’m there now and I don’t know it?  What if I’m missing it? That would be a tragedy.  

I don’t think I am.  There yet, I mean.  I’m hoping in a new mindful way, I can acknowledge when I’ve reached the point where I can say I truly feel grown up enough.  Grown up enough to say that I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do.  Grown up enough to let go of those babies and watch them move on without the dramatic doll-throwing.  Grown up enough to take ma damn lemonade and sit on the porch in my rocking chair, saying ‘have a nice day, y’all.’    

Until then, I’ll just be over here while you conquer your ‘hoods.  I’m not quite finished conquering mine.  I’m still growing up.  

 

Drunk Humans

 

Today has been a weird day.  From beginning to mid-afternoon the fleeting ramblings of the select few have left the innocuous bumbling around looking for alcohol.  Or, we have already succumbed, hence the drunk burpees at bootcamp and the falling into desks at work.  I should  just go ahead and take a nip or five before jumping into a TRX move or diving into mid-term exams to see how that all plays out for me.  I’m thinking a whole lot of bruising and maybe a broken finger or toe, at the very least.  

Nobody likes a giddy drunkard as much as me, hell I’ve BEEN that giddy drunkard, but the Universe has decided to crank it up a notch.  Oh, she has decided to put the people who are TOTALLY STONE COLD SOBER in charge of shit and just rearrange the furniture while she’s at it.  Seriously?  The drunks are falling off boxes and bumping into shit, saying ‘who the hell put that there?’ and telling others to move out of the way.  We are all now completely hammered thanks to the ire of oneMenopausal Universe who is pissed that humans are shitty at being human.  

People are reacting to the volatility of the economy, the evil of politics and the cost of humanity at the hands of invalids who refuse to consider the other side.  No wonder everyone is a little drunk and a little fed up with life.  We need a break.  The Universe has decided she’s had it with your crap and is throwing her hands up in the air in Motherly exasperation.  She’s now made a deal with the Weather Gods. In exchange for some Polar Vortex Air, or what she refers to as ‘Watch While We Freeze The Shit Out of This’, SHE gets to ram as much fool-hearted stupidity in the way of the logical few to see how we like that!    

Now the total gambit of weather-related-crap is about to descend upon us.  I’m not just talking a bit o’ snow, which for us elicits a response of  “OH YEAH, WHAT ELSE YA GOT?!”, but now it’s freezing rain for HOURS, followed by snow, then rain and eventually something calmer like 100km/h winds which should couple elegantly with a nice Merlot. 

Should one choose to remain sober and NOT drink through the next few years, I suggest perhaps assisting a friend through the difficulties of tying her shoes and brushing her hair.  Maybe offer a hand while she’s cooking dinner simultaneously wiping a snotty nose and throwing the laundry into the washer?  No?  How about some kindness for the kid who totally ignored the basic golden rule of  STOP PICKING YOUR NOSE IN PUBLIC by passing him a tissue, or for the person who just can’t deal by offering a hand.  It’s a tough gig being a human.  Let’s try to move along the slow lane and keep all of the drunk people happy and upright.  Let’s share a smile and a positive thought on the way to the job that sucks or for the guy that’s annoying as hell.  

It’s our job.  If you’re not up for that, then just pass the bottle and keep it coming.  Humanity depends on it.

And The Universe?  SHE’S JUST TOO BUSY FOR YOUR SHIT.

Dinner With February

Christmas is over and packed away.  January is winding down and the dreaded month of February is rearing its ugly head.  NO ONE likes February.  There is nothing magical or lovely about it.  Oh sure, there’s Valentine’s Day but that’s brief and fleeting and overly annoying.  February is fraught with unpredictable weather (at least here) and blue moods, and muddy porches and dirty windows and bone chilling cold.  What exactly is there to like?  Even the dog can’t stand February.  It’s too cold to go outside to pee, she is cranky that she can’t get in her walks and she gives me that sidelong look when I try to get her to play.  At all.  It’s like she’s too tired to even lift her head from a pillow and why would I even suggest she chase that stupid ball?!  

DON’T YOU KNOW IT’S ALMOST FEBRUARY?!  

It’s like I’m being ridiculous for even mentioning life goes on and it’s worth trying to make the best of it, isn’t it?  

NO. NO IT ISN’T.  IT’S FEBRUARY.

The least favourite of the more popular months, February is like the annoying relative that nobody likes and dreads him arriving to any family gathering.  It’s like the other 11 months are sitting around the dinner table all reveling in their own positive energy, and then HE walks in. 

 There’s December holidaying it up and drinking eggnog.  January is still recovering from ringing in a new year with December who steadily hands him water and Ibuprofen, not to mention January trying to keep up with all the resolutions he said he was going to make, but didn’t bother because there was just. Too. Much. Wine.  March is sitting stoicly playing with his grean beans because he is both feared and loved.  The older generation is adhering to the “Beware the Ides of March” bullshit and the younger ones are readying the beer kegs for March break.  Duuudddde.   Then April is laughing hysterically at the other end of the table about the first day for all the foolish pranks, the rain that will undoubtedly ensue and the whole Easter Bunny charade that brings CHOCOLATE.  Then he turns to May and starts talking smack about how one affects the other.  “There would be no flowers without my showers, you idiotic twat!”   May sits and laughs because there’s Queen Victoria’s birthday and the traditional May 2-4 weekend which brings yetanother camping extravaganza.  Duuuude.  June is warming up to July and August who all sit glowing in their inner warmth and bestowing happiness and rainbows to September, who has hit menopause.  Her hot flashes give way to cold snaps.  One minute she’s too hot and the next she needs a sweater.  October is chillin’ it and scaring the crap out of November with a Jack-o’-lantern he just carved and November resumes her knitting of a beautifully multi-coloured blanket of red, gold and orange.   There they are, all sitting waiting for HIM to walk in.  Finally, the door swings open and in strides February, soaked with freezing icicles dripping from his nose, his face blue with depression and a random red cinnamon heart stuck to his chest.  He takes a seat and his hands shake from the cold.  

Everyone stops what they are doing and stares.  “Oh.  You’re here” they say.  “Yeah.  What’s for dinner?” says February.  And then he starts, “Hey, January are you STILL hungover?!  HAHAHA!!   Pass the beans, March, don’t hog them.  Hey, October that’s one ugly whattya-callit?  Geezuz, JuneJulyAugust, can’t you three stop all the happiness and sunshine and rainbows bullshit?!   IT’S A BIT MUCH DON’T YOU THINK?”  

They all roll their eyes and continue with their dinner.  When it comes right down to it, as annoying as he is, he’s family.  “Gaawwwdd, did you guys SEE the amount of ICE I brought to the partay??!!  It’s EPIC!”  

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…

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.