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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Feeling Salubrious and Seriously Sharing Struggles


I’m feeling very salubrious today. That’s right. I’m feeling healthful. I’m promoting health. That is my GRE word for the day. Now YOU know too. You’re welcome. 

I woke up this morning and mediated for 30 seconds before Benji grabbed his dad’s electric razor and ran giggling into the bedroom. 

I had blueberries and cheerios for breakfast. I drank all my water and had tea instead of my favorite super-grande soy latte.

I did my math homework AND started on new short story. Well, I wrote down the word count and the deadline. Hey, that’s starting!

I did not actually work out but I re-arranged furniture and mopped up an apple juice spill. That counts, right?

I think the trick to being happy is low expectations coupled with a rich fantasy life.

So far this month I have read 4, FOUR self-help books, all of whom disagree with that. The latest is Women, Food, and God. An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything, by Geneen Roth. Every woman I know should read this book. Seriously. So. Good.

Self-help books are my secret obsession. Don’t tell anyone ok? It’s kind of embarrassing. 

Speaking of self-help, I have a friend/neighbor mom who just posted some heart-felt encouragement on her facebook about struggling with hard times. 

Thank you Jessica! 

If more people shared their struggles we’d all be healthier. We’d finally realize there is no ‘there’ to get to. No perfect utopia of a future we think someone else has now. I’m thinking of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade.

And there is resiliency in community. In sharing openly and honestly how we’re getting through our own struggles. In my friend Jessica’s case the untimely death of her father, from cancer, which is the hardest way to go. On everyone.

There are often traumatic memories stored in these cases, and I’m thinking of my own parents as I write this. I survived, sure, but I don’t have to remember my daughter at death’s door. I can think of a few traumatic memories but that’s not suffering. Not really. 

True suffering is watching someone you love hurting and you can’t do anything to stop it. I breezed through chemo as a 16 year old. 

Now, when Ellie or Benji has a fever I completely fall apart. I’m a wreak until they're better. I can’t sleep, I don’t eat, and the flurry of prayers going around is enough to snow in God AND all the Angels.

Anyway. Between her and a high school friend (also named Jessica, weirdly) who has been sharing her struggles with divorce, and being a single mom, has inspired me to be more open and honest too.

Wait, Angela, isn’t your life PERFECT!? 

No. No it is not.

And that’s ok because life will never be perfect. As long as I can take a few moments every day, or at least every week to look over my life and improve where I can, tweak what I can, and be grateful for what I DO have, well, that’s a life worth living. And sharing, of course. 

“You can’t tell just by looking at someone what they are dealing with inside.” Danielle Rupp.

After all, we’ve got enough Judgey-Mcjudgersons and Envious Eve's around, what we need are a few more Huggy-Mchuggisons. Eh? So, hugs my friends, hugs.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Causing a Minor Domestic Ruckus and Connecting to Strangers.


 There is a cozy sort of feeling when you find literature or art that you connect to.  

A movie that moves you in surprising ways.  Right now for me, the movies ‘The Hours’ and  ‘A Wrinkle in Time!’

A book written by a stranger and yet they’ve described your own inner emotional landscape as if they were you. (‘A Tale for the Time-Being’ - Ruth Ozeki. ‘The Little Paris Bookshop’-Nina George. ‘The Alchemist!’-Paulo Coelho ‘Self-Reliance’-Ralph Waldo Emerson’)

A painting, a picture, something beautiful that makes you feel…human.  Or holy.  Or humble. (A watercolor painting of the words ‘Be Still’ by my artist friend Laura).

If we’re tuned into those feelings we can surround ourselves by beauty, by love and memories or inspirations and we feel good when we come home.

But what if you share that space with a messy roommate?  Or an uncompromising spouse or partner?  What then?  

You do what I do.  

(I’m not saying Bill is messy - no, no I’M the messy one.  I am saying he’s uncompromising.)  It’s ok to admit he isn’t perfect right?  I make no claim to be. 

But I do love that feeling you get when you come home and as soon as you walk in the door your shoulders fall from your ears.  You breathe a sigh of relief and you can’t wait to get your comfy clothes on and get settled into your space because you’ve got it just the way you want it. It just makes you feel BLISSFUL to come home.

Maybe I’m the uncompromising one.  I have a vision for what I want my living space to look like.  It’s cozy, simple, fun. Sacred and special. Zen and Maritime. Canadian and American and Indian and Irish.  

Bill and I will never agree on what that ‘ahhh’ feeling feels like.  Mostly because Bill likes it how it is. He picked the furniture (or it was given to him) and it’s old but it works.  Why change that up?  Why spend money when you have perfectly good furniture already?

Yep. I get the logic. I do. Really. I just happen to disagree. Mostly because…I wasn’t the one who picked it? I didn’t have any input. It isn’t what I would have chosen. There is no compromise because it was all him, before I bounced on the scene with my Yoga this and my Zen that and my maritime-charm this.

Anyway. That’s what’s on my mind today. (How mad would be be, really, if I arranged a curb-side pick-up of all the crappy furniture I hate and just TOTALLY REPLACED it one day?)

It’s the rebel in me, it’s the fun in me but imagining the look on his face makes me want to giggle like an eight year old girl.

I just bought the new ‘A Wrinkle In Time’ movie because it was one of my all-time favorite books as a kid and I have to admit I cried when I watched it and I watched it three times the first day. Ellie’s like…"Moooom, PLEASE can we turn it off?"

No. Eat your mushy banana and be happy.

Anyway. I love that movie. It reminds me of a time when my potential was limitless. When my life hadn’t been laid down yet. And reminds me that it’s foolish to think it’s not still that way now. Life is a lot of things but predictable? Unchanging? Boring? That it is not.

So what if I'm not a super-star best selling author? So what if I'm not flying around outer space counseling aliens and tesseracting to new worlds?

I’m in Texas. That’s like a new planet to me. And I have two beautiful, amazing babies. And two kids in Moncton that aren’t mine but who I love as if they were. (Hi Kait! Hi Dylan!) 

My old babysitter just had twins and I get to buy cute preemie outfits and visit TEENY babies and then leave and go have a latte by myself...

I’m so blessed!

I’m not counseling aliens yet but maybe they can be ‘aliens’ to the US like me until I meet some real, non-earth ‘aliens’. And, probably I should get my own emotional house in order before I can try to help others clean out theirs.

After all,  I’m on the edge of flirting with divorce by totally making the house MINE. (AKA beautiful, simple, playful and COZY).  AKA emptying the house as it is and completely redoing it. At his expense.  

What FUN!

Ok you guys go have fun today too, eh?  I mean, what’s the point of life if you’re not causing a ruckus?

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month.”

-Theodore Roosevelt 

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though.” 

- J.D Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Binging Ice Cream and other Solitary Activities


The morning was bright and hot, already 84F when I pulled open the door of my hotbox/car and slid into the seat.  I smoothed out my black dress and glanced behind me.  Two empty car seats.  Trepidation.  Elation.  Guilt.

Where are my children you might ask?

They’re being cared for by the lovely people at the mommy’s day out program I signed them up for.  BOTH.  OF.  THEM.   For two days a week.

Except for one night while Bill’s sister was here, I haven’t had more than 3 hours to myself since before Ellie was born.  

Ok before you start playing the violin for me let me correct that - I did start my Karma ‘shift’ at the yoga studio on Mothers Day so since middle of May I have had 3-4 hours to myself on a Sunday morning.  Does it count when I’m ‘working’?  Bill doesn’t think it counts as ‘alone time’ when he’s working but it is precious to me.  Even more the better I’m busy-alone so I don’t miss them too much and I can truly enjoy feeling like ‘myself’ again after so many years.

Not to say I didn’t worry all morning, and call/text about 7 times that first day I left them in the care of really, strangers.

Not to say as I settled into the couch for a Netflix binge after a long hot (solitary!) shower I didn’t feel kind of adrift and purposeless.  

And then I made another bowl of ice cream (because you can eat three bowls of ice cream in a row AND NOT SHARE IT when you’re alone!!)  And I got over it.  And I watched Django.  With the volume on high.  Because I can watch a movie like that when I’m alone.  It was a nice change from “Olaf’s Frozen Adventures and My Little Pony.’

Some women have four or five children and stay home for decades and love it and will NOT feel like they’re going stark raving mad at the thought of just ONE more My Little Pony song.  

Some women are like that.  Yes.  Yes they are.  And I admire them.  Much as I admire the nurses on the Oncology floor.  Amazing, beautiful people whose inner fortitude leave me as deeply in awe as their motivations mystify me.

In any case, my children do not need me to be there every second of every day to know they are the most beloved beings in my Universe.  This is an immutable fact of life.  They know my heart is theirs, and everything I am is geared toward making their lives better.

Except for those few hours I’m home, eating ice cream by the carton and binging Netflix - filling the need in myself for raunchy humor, an epic battle scene, or a really bad B rated horror flick.  And.  Doing.  Nothing.  (But eating).  Ahhhhh to put my feet up and LEAVE THEM THERE!

WOW guys!  Just, WOW.

Ok but I do need a plan.  I’m all for being lazy temporarily but it isn’t an ingredient for long-term happiness.

I’ve got lots I SHOULD do.  Finally clean the house when there aren’t little adorable minions prancing behind me pulling everything onto the floor again.

Study for the GRE that I had to reschedule once already.

Finally follow up on the dentist/doctor appointments I’ve been putting off.

Work on fixing my book.  Go to the gym.  Volunteer somewhere.  Clean up my neglected garden.  Write a short story and submit it BEFORE the contest deadline runs out.

What would YOU do with a solid block of time two days a week all to yourself!?

“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” Bertrand Russell

Saturday, June 02, 2018

A Melange of Timbits, Snakes, and a Possible Racist Road


Thank you Canada for Timbits!  I stand on guard for theeeee..seee Timbits.

CITIZENSHIP STATUS:

Does anyone want to know the status of my Citizenship application?  Me too.  They keep sending me auto-generated emails saying someone has looked at it but there’s no new developments.  When I used to work for Big Oil we had a system we used for customer complaints and although I would often work them after hours to get my bin clear there were some people who would go in and just change the status to buy themselves more time. I’m suspecting that is what is happening in my case. 

I’m assuming the delay is not that they’re using FBI resources to make sure I am who I say I am.  You can check facebook for a clear picture all the way back to 2003 or so.  Or read my blog.  “Oh, she’s a PLUCKY Canadian, oh ok then, we need more of those kind of Americans.  Texas is just the place for her.” 

Right!?

I am getting the groove of Texas I think, or Houston anyway and its a good thing because one of my last remaining Canadian friends is flying this beautiful, sweltering coop and is headed back to cooler heads.  I mean, climes. Colder climates. Back to Canada, eh?

TIMBIT STATUS:

She brought me back some Timbits and just hearing her talk about stopping at Shoppers, and eating at Swiss Chalet makes my red and white heart beat a little faster. I miss home. Timbits help.

Also I just found out the main road I drive almost every day, 1488, could be a Ku Klux Klan reference.  Why is clan spelled with a K or a C?  Did they take a vote on that? 

“Jimmie it’s ALLITERATION if we spell it with a K.” Or maybe it was unanimous.

WIERD NEWS or RACIST ROAD STATUS:

Where was I?  FM1488. Apparently 14 and 88 have special significance to the white supremest movement.  Fourteen being the number of words in their, what, mission statement? Motto? Created by David Lane. Eight is the number H in the alphabet, 88 standing for HH, or, you guessed it, Hail Hitler.

I know. I’m hoping it’s just a coincidence. How did I find out about this? 

NPR people. It isn’t just for news. Then I googled it, of course.

Creepy. And I hope just coincidence. Something I'll be looking into.

OTHER CREEPY NEWS:

Apparently snake sightings are on the rise around the neighborhood.  I can confirm this because I saw TWO snakes crossing the road at night in the last week.  One I had to veer around the tail on my side of the road and her head was already off the road at the other end. So. So big. So, so glad I was in a large, totally closed in vehicle going 40 miles an hour.

The other snake raised its head and hissed at my headlights but it was only the length of my arm so, just a baby maybe. A mad baby. 

Then while I was playing with the kids outside I saw a green snout and two black eyes staring at me from under a rock by the back door. I rushed the kids inside. Once safe inside Ellie helpfully pointed out in my rush to get them in Benji had dropped his Teddy on the ground. 

It lay there, close to the rock, forlorn. Abandoned. Benji began to whimper. They seemed to sense the danger because neither one fought to go back outside. I had to get Teddy though.

I steeled myself, pulled on my big girl pants, then ran like a maniac out the door, grabbed the teddy, and LEAPT back to the door, slamming it behind me.

Once everyone (and every Teddy) was safe and the adrenaline lowered and my heart moved back into my chest from my toes I realized I had to find out if it was really a snake, or a harmless toad. If I waited for Bill to deal with it, he’d probably just kill whatever was in there and call it fair. So I grabbed a big bucket of water and dumped it (carefully) from the door, then slammed it shut and waited.

About 30 seconds after the deluge a very irritated looking toad hopped out of the hole. He glanced my way, shook his tiny wet fist at me and sauntered back into the high grass, head held high. 

Phew. Then I had to change my big girl pants.

Oh, and Hurricane season started yesterday. As long as it doesn’t rain snakes, I’m alright. That’s not a thing right? Texans? Anybody? 

It may be time for a trip back home until the snakes go away and the weather isn’t trying to kill me. At least, someone send help!

Or at least more Timbits, eh?