When I was younger I thought success was an onward and upward journey mapped out by culturally embedded markers: high-school, post secondary education, a career, love and marriage followed by children. If I followed this map, I would know that I had arrived. Reality hit hard when I missed some of these predetermined markers by my late twenties. I felt unaccomplished because of the value I had placed on this familiar timeline. It was during this time in my life I began to question the notion of success and reexamined the many constructs I had built around it.Continue reading
It was Saturday night a few days before Christmas and with nowhere to go and no friends to meet, we decided to live like the not so distant past (the time before lockdowns). “Let’s pretend we’re going out to a restaurant!” I exclaimed. “Sure, why not!” my husband replied. Gourmet nachos for dinner with craft beers and bar tunes transformed our dining room into a make shift restaurant for the evening. We dressed lime flavoured nachos with peppers, onion, tomatoes, ground beef, refried beans and topped them off with an excessive amount of cheddar cheese. We made fresh guacamole, spooned full fat sour cream and our favourite salsa into festive bowls. We poured local brews into our favourite beer glasses. We drummed up dinner conversation and laughed as we imagined asking our waiter for another round. It wasn’t the same as getting dressed up and meeting friends at a restaurant but, it sure felt nice (a friendly reminder of a luxury we once took for granted).Continue reading
I was aimlessly scrolling when my finger stopped at a post that read, “What makes you feel free?” I thought to myself, “I’m going to answer this.” Without over-thinking or complicating the question I allowed the first thing to pop into my mind: swimming. I feel most free when I’m submerged in water. Swimming ignites an instant child-like pleasure where your adult concerns are tossed aside like a beach towel draped over a lawn chair.Continue reading
Earlier this year I shared my story of loss with Grief Stories Podcast. I am thankful for this opportunity. Every loss matters. 🌼🧡Continue reading
Tragedy swarms humanity.
Collectively, we fight back.
We stay home, share wealth, goods and cheer.
We celebrate sacrifice and unify our will to survive.
We cry. We question.
We stay in bed longer than usual.
We dance. We panic. We run. We grieve.
I’ve longed for sunshine like the arrival of vacation after months of drudgery.
My unrelenting desire is consuming.
I beg for her return, that she would pierce the grey gloomy skies with the sharpest of knives.
Piercing and peeling back the heavy winter sky.
Like an avalanche delivering streams of liquid gold, she wakes up the hibernating Earth.
My friend laid under her blankets for the rest of the day, not wanting to engage in any sort of conversation. She was completely exhausted from an incident that had occurred earlier that morning. I was compassionately curious to know what happened to have caused her such distress and exhaustion.
I sat outside that afternoon on a blanket laid across the grass in my backyard – the sunshine providing the perfect temperature to enjoy the pleasures of summer. I was surrounded by my garden, over grown in places, but green with life.
The type of life that activated fond memories of Grandma and her gardens. My lemon balm reminds me of the time Grandma walked me through Gretel’s garden at the cottage. Grandma bent over and plucked a leaf from the plant, rubbed it between her fingers and placed it under my nose. A fragrance entered my nostrils followed by a deep breath of contentment. “Another name for lemon balm is Melissa” she smiled. “Melissa” has taken over my garden and is a stop that every visitor has to make at my home during the summer months. Just a few weeks ago I walked my sister over to the garden, bent down and plucked a leaf from the plant and handed it to her. “Smell it!” I exclaimed with pride.
A house is not a home – Grandma taught me how to make a home. My house will never be as tidy as hers, but what she taught me as a child became my pride and comfort as an adult.
Jolted awake, I grasped my husband’s chest with a hug that cried, “I’m scared!” Frozen in fear I had difficulty interpreting the sudden alarm. My body was reacting to past trauma, but this time stress wasn’t the trigger (my life is much better now compared to a year ago). It had to be something else: it was memory.
A year ago my body had reached its boiling point and collapsed. Relentless to release culminated stress, I found myself in a panic. Uncontrollable tears, depraved appetite, and what food I could swallow was quickly rejected. Sleep was only a dream. My body renounced life’s essentials. Of course, I hid this torment as best as I could behind the perfect disguise, a smile. But behind closed doors my body revolted & shook like an overworked machine – sparks, smoke and rattling parts grinding against each other. “Listen! Enough is enough!” I lost all control to ‘hold it together.’ For someone with a strong sense of pride, feeling completely out of control was frightening. I was going down and crashing was the only option.
An anniversary is an occasion for celebration. This anniversary is a different one. It marks my surrender. Although today looks very different than a year ago, my mind and body occasionally respond to the past. But I am more frequently met with support and health, and within time I’m replacing fear with trust. I’ll toast this anniversary knowing that like everything of value in this life, it’s a journey branded with both struggle and joy.
I woke up sleepy but rested. It’s a fresh start. Although my day-to-day has seen only minor changes, I have a new perspective on life. The classic, perfectly-painted life now looks more like multidimensional abstract art.
Today, I’ve embraced my life as a perfectly messy art-form. It’s beautiful because it’s my journey. I’ve re-discovered the simple treasures I lost while trying to paint the perfect life. What a lie that is! And what an ongoing battle to fight! These treasures, hidden by my own blind eyes were always there. They beckoned me, but I ignored their voice. My body was too weathered with stress and those treasures were luxuries – not necessities. One more thing my burdened soul couldn’t balance.
Today, I’ve humbly traded my classic art piece for time. It came at the cost of my pride and position, but essential for survival. Frantic mornings have turned into a soothing routine of gratitude. Tiny kisses on my nose coupled with a rapidly wagging tail, “Good morning! I must charge the morning by announcing this yard is mine and I’m awake!” A pressed and poured Americano in a hand-picked mug, each sip a memory from where the mug was purchased. A rooster mug from Portugal. A turtle mug from Aruba. A turquoise and white-striped mug – a gift from a special family. Time has allowed for reflection, and with it, knowledge. When life speeds up, my route must be reset. I pull off the speedway and make my way down a scenic road. The natural life – the green, gold and blues – seep into me, revitalizing my soul.
Time is a choice of focus. Shifting focus, shifts time.
Today, I woke up sleepy but rested. I gaze beyond the picture perfect life to fully appreciate the perfectly messy art-form – the place where time is stilled and treasures dwell.