“I Can’t Today, I Have To Wash My Hair”

“I think the knitting part finally did it.  I was poised to Facebook message my mother ( the knitting queen) to ask her to lend me needles when I panicked and promptly booked a tour date to distract myself from the desire to make a sweater that would only ever evolve to something warm yet backless. My husband remarked that I might actually finish the one I started for him in 1989. That made me panic further as I recognized a reemergence of patterns from decades ago….” 

“It’s been 6 months since my last blog post” I almost feel like I need forgiveness.

It’s Canada Day, the sun is shining strong and I imagine the beaches are packed to capacity with families and friends sharing in the holiday.  Me, I am curled up in my  favorite chair with the AC cranked and a hot coffee beside me working on schedules. And to be truthful I am happiest right here enjoying the day in my pajamas.

I am a natural born introvert and I do it well. My husband is helping with the community BBQ at our building and I wished him well while I shooed him out the door.  Most of my nearby neighbors ( aka my hallway) are lovely souls, but I can find conversation with them by simply passing in the hallway as I exit or enter the building.  And, well, some of the others in the building just simply find my last nerve with their high heeled arrogance. I find it incredibly difficult to coexist with someone complaining that the kale salad was prepped from bagged.  Everyone is different I suppose. The beautiful thing about life is that we have the opportunity to place ourselves into the situations that feel most comfortable for ourselves. I also don’t want to be responsible for using a plastic picnic fork to  stab the person that has to pick up each sandwich triangle to determine contents and then drop it back to the platter when it doesn’t suit their tastes.  And let’s not get me started on the odd fella that wanders the building in his housecoat and comments on my ravishing beauty at each opportunity to do so.  I am still wondering where he leaves the seeing eye dog given that he generally finds me in the laundry room with raccoon eyes from sleeping in my mascara and my hair sticking up like a troll doll. Regardless, I find it less than flattering and one day might throw him my track pants from the dryer and instruct him to put on clothes like normal people do when in public.

I am just simply not the Knots Landing type of girl. For those that don’t know the reference…Google is your friend.  Watch ten minutes of one episode and you’ll understand me completely.

It’s been a long haul from the end of last year to today.  I have gone from occasional driver to nearly full time driver since my spouse seriously injured his vision in a fall last November.  We thought he might be improving until one day last week when he panicked that I was about to run over the “two little people in orange raincoats” that were standing on the roadway I was travelling along.  They were construction pylons guarding a pot hole. However, the twenty minutes of laughing til I cried certainly helped to alleviate any stress I had amassed in the weeks prior.  In his defense I did finally find my Tide Pods in the freezer nicely propped against the bag of frozen cauliflower. I blame the packaging for my faux pas in this instance. In my mind zip-lock anything must be edible right? Oh wait. Perhaps that explains the Tide Pod eating craze. Maybe I am not the only one that mistook them for carrots and the kids though they were Freezie bites.

Sitting at home trying to stop my spouse from hurting himself further as he learned to navigate with one functioning eye found my introversion blossoming like an untreated dandelion. I began to rather enjoy just taking my time in the morning and not having to get dressed to do anything social in the evenings. I mean, obviously, I had to get dressed for clients but other than that I was free to just be me.  I got into some Netflix series that found me reminiscing about easier days, I had time to actually make dinner for a change and I was finally able to make an appointment for distance glasses that would ultimately save everyone’s lives on the roads.  I rerouted my spouse from walking into walls, soothed his very frustrated pride and considered knitting to wile away my hours.

I think the knitting part finally did it.  I was poised to Facebook message my mother ( the knitting queen) to ask her to lend me needles when I panicked and promptly booked a tour date to distract myself from the desire to make a sweater that would only ever evolve to something warm yet backless. My husband remarked that I might actually finish the one I started for him in 1989. That made me panic further as I recognized a reemergence of patterns from decades ago.  So I made the decision to get up the next day and greet the world again socially.  That went well until the next day as I sat with my coffee cup at  11 am and decided that I really had to dust the apartment instead. And the next day was vacuuming. The day after was laundry.  I began to have visions of turning into my mother and setting aside Tuesdays to wash my hair. For those that don’t know my mum, her hair washing routine involves two full days and I am not kidding. One day to wash it and one day to walk around the house in her curlers.  “Mum do you want to go for lunch today?”  “Oh…I’ve just washed my hair can we do it another day?”  OK mum…see you in 72 hours.

We naturally retreat into comfortable patterns when the opportunity presents itself to do so. And comfortable for me has always been to disengage. While it serves me brilliantly in my work it doesn’t necessarily do the same in day to day life.  So I again made the decision to jump back in. I made that decision just a few weeks back. I flew my antisocial self to Prince Edward Island with the intention of spending the days on the beaches and smiling at everyone I saw.  What’s that old saying again?  I plan and God laughs?  I walked off the plane into what I am certain was -20 windchill. With no coat and sandals ( for the beaches remember).  And while I absolutely enjoyed the time spent there with my dear friend at her home, we both laughed at the lack of social interaction because the entire province had retreated into their homes to save themselves from freezing to death. So we got up each day and drank coffee and stood staring through the windows at the frost instead.  We finally braved the only day above five degrees and hit the beach which resulted in my poor friend getting a migraine for two days from the sub zero winds that almost blew our sorry asses into the Atlantic Ocean.  I did however get to practice my antisocial self further at the farm she works for.  If you are an introvert you will understand how good it feels to just talk to the animals because they literally agree with every single word you say. If you even feel like making conversation that is. The farm is the perfect place to practice your introvert communications skills. I had an absolute blast but I failed miserably at my original intention.  However I got to cuddle a baby alpaca.  Worthy trade off.  I did one event where my social self seems to suddenly reappear out of nowhere and then retreated again in the safety of alone. It’s the weirdest thing in the world. Hand me a microphone and I can talk your ear off. Send me to Wal -Mart and I’ll stare at the floor to avoid conversation. I should start wearing a wireless headset to the grocery stores right?

I suppose you all might be wondering right now where exactly is she going with this blog?  It does have a destination. Bear with me. I am chatty today.

I boarded my flight to home and made a firm decision to engage with the other passengers. I was happily chatting with two ladies in my seating row until the air attendant shooed me to another spot because ( in her words) “You look so uncomfortable stuck in the middle. There’s a full row of empty seats you can stretch out in”  I said goodbye to my travel buddies and found myself staring out of the plane window wondering why I wasn’t allowed to communicate with anyone.  You can laugh at this. I did. It was rather ironically amusing.  Mind you the leg room that a full row afforded me was divine. I arrived home full of my usual pep, anticipating perhaps a night out and friendly faces and woke up the next morning with an odd discomfort running from the top of my head into my neck. Decided it was from whacking my skull on the lavatory ceiling on the plane and proceeded to make plans for a weekend of social engagements.

And woke up two days later with shingles. Now, let me assure you of one thing. If the universe doesn’t think you’re getting the messages clearly enough it’s going to do something fairly drastic to make you finally receive them. Yes, the universe had slowed me down and forced me into some type of self seclusion, but what it had failed to do was to stop me from keeping every waking moment occupied doing anything but sit with my own self. I was planning. I was writing. I was counselling via social media. I was booking sessions. I was planning dinner at 9 am. I was planning laundry a week ahead. Despite being at home and not being social I was constantly doing something to keep busy.  I was even contemplating knitting for the love of all things holy. All this to divert myself from myself.

Well. Let me assure you of one very certain thing that I have learned. A severe case of shingles will bring you down to both knees and keep you there. There is no planning, no dusting, no meal prep. There is only you focused on you because you are unable to focus on anything else during the process. You have no option but to escape to your own mind as a way to escape from what is probably the most painful physical condition I have ever experienced.  And it was here that I found myself again.

It was here that I was able to face the fact that I disengage from focusing on myself because I don’t believe I am worth focusing on myself.  Yes I said that. I find my value in focusing on anything that lives outside of me. Because as an empath that’s just what we do. It’s easier to hone in on outside discomforts than face our own.  In the 17 days of pain that brought me to tears at every turn I had no other option but to focus on me. And it changed me exponentially.  For 17 long days I was able to retrace my steps to where I took the wrong steps, where I could have done better for myself, where I put myself into situations that made me feel worthy only to ultimately find myself feeling overwhelmed or worse than that, feeling used or disrespected for not setting firm boundaries. It was a period of deep introspection because I wanted to understand why someone as strong as myself would get knocked to the floor by something as ridiculous as a series of blisters that suddenly appeared one morning.

Sometimes comfort zones have to be uncomfortable to gain insight.

Nothing has changed in the work that I do. If anything this has heightened my sensitivity to the discomforts that others deal with every single day. It has taught me to be kinder and gentler. To take a moment and sometimes only a moment to send you a loving thought but to not get tangled up in trying to take it from you.  It has taught me that in order to be the best version of myself that I have to set boundaries to care for myself. I have learned that I am worthy of my own softness and that I should never feel guilty or selfish for reaching for it.  I have learned that I am worthy of the same from those that might wish to share it with me and not to downplay my need of it.

Most importantly I have learned that although others may need me, that sometimes I need me more and to honor that.  So you’ll forgive me if I can’t be there to fix it for you right away but promise to help you with it at another time unless you can fix it yourself first. That would be preferred because you learn so much from working on yourself.

I know I did.

But I am here if you struggle…sending love and support.

Oh…I also finished the third book kids. I couldn’t find time before now to do so because I was busy planning dinner at 9 am…

Progress rocks. 😉

Love love love….and thank you once again universe for sending me down the next path on this amazing journey.  But don’t do that shit again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Next Best Thing

Ridiculous maybe. It’s how my heart works. Maybe yours does too and that’s why you’ve stuck with me through the narrative above.

Maybe you’ve felt disposable and that’s why you’re still with me.

Maybe it would help if you knew that I’ve felt that way too. Maybe if we are honest we can truly say that we feel like this today, or we felt like this yesterday.

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Margery Williams Bianco The Velveteen Rabbit

Somewhere out there is a worn out Steiff teddy with a hole in his foot and a nose stitched from heavy black thread. He was a gift to me as a baby, some 50 years back now, my companion who sat patiently in my pram waiting for me to grow old enough to love his fur off.

If you happened to find my old friend, I lost him one day two decade or so ago, during a move. It was only in the aftermath of unpacking that I discovered him missing and I was devastated. I can only imagine in my romantic mind that he zipped across the country in a U Haul and found a new home with someone that needed him. If you happened upon him, the slice in his foot a testament to the interest of a ten year old in all things medical. Craft scissors as scalpel I had only sliced but an inch when I realized that my friend was straw filled. I never forgave myself for causing him harm, so you may have found a worn band-aid stuck to his course fur. Oh, if you tip him the right way you might still hear the growl, its hard to say because it was beginning to fade in the years that I loved him.

I never replaced him. I couldn’t replace him. Wound into every sharp piece of straw were a thousand childhood giggles, a plethora of adolescent pain, and a smattering of fear of an adulthood I wasn’t necessarily prepared for.

You might have wondered at the worn places where his fur was rubbed clear off and replaced by something that resembled a blank needlepoint canvas.  One or two sharp mohair tufts existed in the middle and I would wake with red scratches on my neck from curling him up in my arms.  He was my best friend and I hope that whomever he found took from him the comfort that he so steadfastly offered me in my early years.

I will never fully understand how or why I lost him along the way, but he will always stand out in my mind as my old friend. Broken and wobbly where his knees bent. His head lopsided where he loosened in his neck joints. Two poorly constructed eyes and a tightly sewn nose with one black thread that stood straight out like an unruly whisker.

He was…the most beautiful friend in my world. I hope you treated him kindly despite his ugliness in appearance. I hope you understand that he wasn’t disposed of but lost one day by a young mum who still looks for him on every antique store shelf and at your local yard sales. Not out of nostalgia but out of a need to reconcile my guilt at feeling that an inanimate straw filled toy might feel that I simply let him go.

Ridiculous maybe. It’s how my heart works. Maybe yours does too and that’s why you’ve stuck with me through the narrative above.

Maybe you’ve felt disposable and that’s why you’re still with me.

Maybe it would help if you knew that I’ve felt that way too. Maybe if we are honest we can truly say that we feel like this today, or we felt like this yesterday.

It’s hard in our present world to not feel like something better is right around the corner. Technology is flipping devices our way with the speed of Grandma at the church pancake breakfast.  So much so that it is getting hard to keep up.

Way back in the day there were no ” no down payment, take 24 months to pay” that allowed us to rid of the furniture that we tired of after a short 6 months. Toss to the side of the road to become someone else’s “old but new to me”. By the time we got around to replacing something it had been completely used up, bereft of any plushness in the pillows, torn at the seams and it shifted sideways when you sat as if it may fold in half at any given moment. More often than not it would make its way out to the garage or the tree house, sometimes it found its new home among the paneled basements, but unless it was in two or three pieces, it stayed. Filled with memories of TV dinners on the aluminum fold up trays, memories of first kisses or when the baby peed all over the new upholstery. If you searched in the creases you might find pennies, or if you were lucky a quarter or two. Finders Keepers.

Today we have build a bed, build a shelf, build a bear even. A much cheaper version of things once crafted with care, now easily erected ( for the most part..have you ever read IKEA instructions after the age of 50?) and just as easily discarded when the mood strikes for a new color or new shape.  When the fiber fill rolls up and creates empty pockets, we wander in search of something that is better filled out, more comfortable to rest upon. Something prettier than what we had before.

It is most uncomfortable when you notice that we have started the same practice with each other.  Just today I read about a young man that took his own life at the urging of someone that boasted to love him. As I scrolled through the texted conversation that ensued prior to his death I was overcome with the painful realization that the words that flew were no more than instructions on how he could dispose of himself. Her words screamed to me, to him; that he was replaceable. His own words in reply were of a young boy scrambling to hold on to the end of an old couch that was tipping with each syllable that she presented. “I have to go to the beach with my mom, I’ll do it later”. There he was gripping onto something familiar, something that had been with him for years and something that felt safe. But to no avail. He asked for one more moment to say “I love you” and she doused it with “They know how much you love them already”.  Carefully deconstructed I read “You’ve loved them enough, that will get them through this, and now it’s time for you to go” Something else will replace you…eventually.

The usual comments followed on the news thread. I was grateful to see so many that shared the pain of the family left behind, those that empathized and were so deeply affected by a death that was so needless. I was then truly horrified at the comments that suggested the young lady had done no more than to encourage someone who didn’t want to live in the first place. “So what” “She only helped to deplete the surface population” “Waste of space”.

Like the corner unit that no longer fit into the decor it was perfectly OK to break him down and to throw him to the roadside.

It is not OK at all.

It’s reprehensible. This is not OK. It’s inhumane.

Souls are not disposable.

Human souls are truly no more than the teddy bears that we wore the absolute hell out of because if we did it right; we loved them too hard to let them go. They stunk, they were stained. Their ears fell off, their stuffing gave way to holes that you could stick your thumb in and use as a carry handle. They were no less important just because their eyes fell out or their mouths drooped into the corners. No less important because they could no longer sit straight up at the end of the bed but sat flopped because the joints wore out. We cried on them, drooled on them, dragged them through the yard, in the wagon and stuffed them into our bike baskets.  We wrecked them with love.

We don’t love something until it falls to pieces and then replace it with the next best thing available.

I don’t comprehend the thought process of a disposable world.

I hope I never do.

I think I’ll flood the world with teddy bears.

If you find mine. Call me. He was loved into ugly. And he’s completely irreplaceable.

 

#buysomeoneabeartoday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

French Toast And Erma

The other day during a reading I was talking to a client about intimacy in the face of physical challenges….

**Permission was granted for the postscript at the end**

I’m sitting here staring at a blank page and to my right a reminder keeps blinking that I haven’t written anything yet. With a (!) to drive it home in case I didn’t understand the gravity of it all.

I guess, given that my last blog post about eggs garnered more than a dozen new followers, the “blogasphere” is impatient to see what I can do to glean interest today.  I’ll admit to some mild surprise about that surge. It was eggs for heavens sake. We like our yolk I guess. Who knew.

This morning I was sprayed in the chest by my motion sensor air freshener.  I’ve had cinnamon french toast wafting into my nostrils ever since. It’s not bad actually; providing me the relaxing sensation of my grandma’s kitchen. It’s also much cheaper than my usual fragrance, so I think I might be onto something.

Erma Bombeck is my literary idol. Have I ever mentioned that before? Some might have believed that I poured over spiritual sonnets on my journey to here, but in truth, I chose to follow the real life adventures of a middle aged woman with a snappy sense of humor and a common sense approach to living.

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say “I used everything you gave me”  Erma

My “eau du french toast” shower today reminded me that sometimes you can smell delicious for only 9.99.  A big lesson for someone like me, prone to overthinking and over trying, over compensating and over achieving.  And a damn sight less stressful than driving across a city congested with construction to purchase the aroma that I believe makes me happiest.  Oddly that fragrance is aptly called Happy Heart. But to be truthful I am happier right now sharing the morning humor that is making my chest bone glow. There must be shellac in this.

I’ve been struggling lately with what else I can share with those looking for my “wise” words. I feel like I have shared it all, tried to comfort the masses with the usual vocabulary and what I call “psychic fluffy”. I felt like I hadn’t shared all of the talents that I possess.   I reached out to the spirit side last night for some guidance. And this morning got sprayed by Grandma’s kitchen. It wasn’t profound at all but it certainly got my attention.

“Wake up and smell the cinnamon stupid”

Sometimes the simpler words smell better.

Real life will hurt. Death will hurt. Relationships will fail, good things will go, bad things will come. Balance is struck in every facet of the journey. Grieving is the most powerful reminder of all that we cannot control.

What we can control is how we choose to smell to others. Strong and musky and powerful or soft and gentle like a warm plate of french toast.

I am voting up french toast.

I’ll take that over sex any day.

Postscript:

The other day during a reading I was talking to a client about intimacy in the face of physical challenges.  She apologized for her honesty and remarked that with her severe arthritis that even self pleasure was impossible because her fingers would freeze for hours in that position. I laughed harder than I have laughed in forever. And she laughed with me.

And that my friends…

Is pure Erma power.

Let’s get back to basics. We will die to be sure. But let’s live until we have to.

 

In love and light and truth.

Tania