Monday, 13 November 2017

My mum at seventeen which would have been in 1942.  World War II was three years old.  She had met my father two years before this photo was taken.  She looks so young.  When I was visiting my aunt in September, I spent a lot of time with my cousin.  She told me about my granny, mum's mother.  I only met my granny twice in my life, both times were in the 1970's so granny would have been in her seventies.  She seemed like a stern, scary old lady. 

I listened to my cousins tell stories about granny and mum.  What I found out is that my granny looked like a stern old lady but apparently she was a lovely old lady with a great sense of humour.  Granny had resting bitch face.  My mum had a great sense of humour as well and I think that is the greatest gift she gave me. 

My cousin grew up on a farm in southern England and granny lived in a small house down the road from them.  When mum visited she would stay with granny but they would spend a lot of time at the farm with my aunt and cousins.  In the evening, after supper, mum and granny would make their way back to granny's house, down a dark country lane.  My cousin was sent to watch them and make sure that they made it home safely.  My cousin told me that watching the two of them walk home was like watching two drunks walking home;  they were laughing so hard that they staggered.  Mum and granny loved each other very much.  My aunt told me that when mum left for Canada after the war it almost broke granny.  I can imagine.

It's wonderful to hear these stories. 

Saturday, 11 November 2017

I have a friend with breast cancer.  Actually I had a patient with breast cancer who became my friend with breast cancer.  She was first diagnosed twelve years ago.  The cancer has now spread.  It's in her bones, her brain and other places I can't remember.  Yesterday she was in for a CT scan which involves drinking two litres of water with contrast.  Just as she was about to go in for her scan she vomited everywhere.  I go back to the waiting room to find her vomiting in a garbage can, vomit all down the front of her;  she's soaked.  She said she was fine and would have the scan done soaking wet but her husband and I vetoed that.

Her husband got her a clean gown, pants and housecoat and I took her into the bathroom to get cleaned up.  I washed her and dried her and helped her put her arms in the gown.  She sat on the toilet while I took off her shoes and changed her pants.  As I was kneeling in front of her, putting her shoes back on her I asked her if she was always so easy going and she said yeah, pretty much. 

As I was laying in bed this morning I realized the difference between her and I, and probably why I love her so much, is that she is not suffering, despite all that is going on in her body.  She can't change what is happening to her but she is not a fly trapped in a spider web, struggling to escape.  She just accepts what happens.  She gets up and lives her life.  It's much slower now than even six years ago when I first met her but she sews, she visits friends, she enjoys her life.  And most importantly to me, she isn't suffering.  I am in awe and I am thankful she is my life.

And my suffering, my suffering is in my head which for me makes it harder because the part of me that I need to use to reduce my suffering is also the part of me that causes so much of my suffering.  Today is a better day.  I'm watching the sun rise as I write this.  A new day brings hope and a chance to do better.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

I'm tired.  Tired of living with depression that sucks the life out of me.  I saw a young doctor the other day for a refill of my meds.  She asked how my mood has been in the last two weeks.  I've been fighting depression for forty-seven fucking years and she wanted to know how the last two weeks have been.  Fine I told her. 

I'm practicing my meditation.  I'm taking my meds.  I walk the dog and still I cry.  I told my boss and a friend that I would see a counsellor but the thought of telling my sad tale to another stranger isn't appealing right now. 

It's the weather.  It's the dark.  It's my brain chemistry.  It's my failings.  It's my life.  And it will pass.  But right now, tonight,  I'm struggling.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Things I'm thankful for today.

I've been meditating for a month now, everyday.  I'm finding a middle path.

I'm starting to practice Tonglen, wow.  Elizabeth had mentioned it many times and I have avoided it because it sounds difficult, draining and more compassionate that I could possibly be.  Except it's not.  I deal all day long with people who are suffering and instead of running from their pain, I can take it in now and it doesn't slay me.  It's helping and I am so thankful.  I am even taking in the pain, fear and suffering of my stepdaughter and her partner.  This is harder but helps me.  We are all afraid, we all suffer at times.  So often fear comes out as anger which is bigger and scarier but deep down, it's just fear.

I'm thankful that come January 1st I will only be working four days a week.

I'm thankful for an extra day off this week.

I'm thankful for my friends.

Thankful for the big guy.

Thankful for a warm bed at night.

Thankful I am talking to my son, not avoiding difficult conversations, calling him out on his vagueness and lies.

Thankful for my inlaws who have given us such wonderful support since my stepdaughter cut us out of our granddaughters' lives.

Thankful for time to sit, reflect, think and meditate.

What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, 28 October 2017

The big guy and I went to Jasper last weekend to visit friends and for a reprieve.  There is a stand of aspen on the road up to Pyramid Lake that I always want to stop at for photos.  I still don't have the photo I want but I'm getting closer.  And then I started thinking about why I want a certain photo and what it means to me.  I often feel lost in life, without direction. 

I'm wondering if I feel lost in the woods like the old stories we used to read.  Little Red Riding Hood going through the woods to visit her grandmother or Hansel and Gretel lost in the woods.  Do I want to get lost in the woods?  Or do I feel lost in the woods?  I'm not sure but this stand of aspen calls to me every time we pass by.  I get out of the car, the big guy stands watch over me, scanning the woods for bears and cougars, because he worries, because he cares.  I wander, moving further into the woods, not sure of what I want but never quite finding it. 

I live my life in images.  I'm envious sometimes of people who love music so much.  They attend concerts, have their favorites songs and artists.  I like music.  It's ok but it doesn't call to my soul that way images do.  When I remember things, it's scenes I remember.  When I go someplace new, when I see new things, it feels like drinking a wonderful elixir.  The big guy used to wonder  why I enjoy shopping and I've come to realize it's not buying that I enjoy, in fact now I rarely buy.  It's the looking, the seeing that feels so good, like a long drink of ice cold iced tea on a hot day.  It satisfies something within me.

A few weeks ago a friend emailed me out of concern.  I had said I was fed up with all the negativity in the world.  He suggested I try meditation.  I've tried meditation many times.  Never stuck with it.  I often don't stick with things.  I try things briefly.  I like fast results.  I am impatient.  But now I have stuck with this for three weeks and I am proud of myself.  I meditate for ten minutes a day.  I often fail, my mind wanders and then I gently bring it back to my breath and to my mantra.  I am being more gentle with myself.  I look forward to this time now.  It feels good.  It slows me down, makes me sit.  I do nothing but breathe for ten minutes. 

I think part of what I love about trees is that they don't move, they don't hurry.  They just are.  They remind me to just be.  Perhaps I'm not lost, perhaps I'm exactly where I need to be.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

I miss my granddaughters.  Heart sick but it's getting better.  The scar will heal in time, just as the scar that came with Katie's diagnosis healed. 

I posted something on facebook last weekend I think.  I was feeling overwhelmed by life, by the world, by loss, by lies, by family.  A friend emailed and suggested I try to take better care of myself.  Suggested I try meditation.

I found a book in my bookshelf, a book from long ago when I was struggling with the decision to leave my husband.  It was only half read, as are most of my self help books.  The book is "When Things Fall Apart" by Pema Chodron.

“Most of us do not take these situations as teachings. We automatically hate them. We run like crazy. We use all kinds of ways to escape -- all addictions stem from this moment when we meet our edge and we just can't stand it. We feel we have to soften it, pad it with something, and we become addicted to whatever it is that seems to ease the pain.”   A quote from her book.

And when I read this I realized that I always avoid difficult conversations.  I avoided them with my stepdaughter, afraid she would do exactly what she did which is run away.  I avoided them with my son, afraid he would cut me out of his life, which is what he did.  So my avoiding difficult conversations isn't working obviously and the universe basically spent the last month throwing that in my face.  Thanks for that:)

So it's time for difficult conversations.  Time to face my fears and put myself out there in a gentle, unaggressive way.  Time to put myself in harm's way which scares the hell out of me. 

And the meditation, it helps.  I've managed five days now.  I'll probably fail at some point but that's okay too.  I'll try again.  It's time for me to stop running away as well.

Friday, 6 October 2017

I haven't been writing much for years it seems.  I miss it.  The words spilling out of my head, coming to rest, not on paper but on the screen.  The words are better out of my head.  When they stay inside of my head they spin and flutter and generally cause dis ease. 

I visited my aunt and my cousins which was lovely.  My aunt is waiting for god.  She wants to die but her body is not accommodating her just yet.  She has become dependent for almost everything physical.  She can still feed herself but is unable to even turn herself in bed.  Old age is humbling to say the least and she is fighting it with all that she has.  Mostly though she is suffering.  I pray that pneumonia takes her swiftly.

My son is now living with us again.  A year ago I would never have imagined that this would happen.  He cut me out of his life.  Told me to fuck off.  Told me that the best gift I could ever give him would be to never see him again and now he lays on the bed upstairs.  He is out of jail.  He has no money.  No job.  Nothing.  He has to start over again.  And the hardest thing to see, he has not really changed.  He has very little insight.  He doesn't like looking in the mirror at himself, none of us do.  He is selfish, self centered and vain.  I feel ill equipped to deal with him but I no longer worry about him cutting me out of his life.  I survived that once already.

My step daughter and her partner have decamped from the big guy's house nearby.  They lived in the house for two years without paying rent.  We wanted to help them out.  They had a young baby.  It would be better if she could stay home with the baby.  We said sweat equity, we said pay the taxes.  We should have had an agreement in writing although I doubt that would have changed the outcome.  My step daughter likes to live in denial.  Don't we all.  But sadly that world tends to kick us in the ass when we live there too long.  Long story short, they felt abused by us because they weren't paying rent or caring for our property and we felt resentful because her partner thought it was okay to buy guns but couldn't be bothered to cut the lawn. 

The kicker though, they left in a huff and told us we can never see our granddaughters again.  Because good parents rip people who love their children out of their children's lives.  I have no idea what my step daughter told my granddaughter about why she could no longer see her grandparents but I do know that it will come back to bite her in the ass one day because I've lived awhile now and I know that the past never stays in the past.  We carry it with us.  It intrudes on a daily basis. 

And so life goes on.  I'm sick now, coughing and hacking, sitting at my computer, watching the sunrise out the window.  Things will change, they always do.