Monday, July 31, 2006

My Week End

The background: Bozenka, my very good friend, is married to Brian. Brian has 3 children from a previous relationship. This last week end, his youngest daughter was married in Carstairs. Where is Carstairs, you ask? It is 30 minutes out of Airdrie. Where is Airdrie you ask? It is 30 minutes out of Calgary on the way towards Red Deer. Bozenka, who owned several restaurants once upon a time a looong time ago, contributed to the wedding by doing the catering. And Bozenka doesn't do anything in a small way. Everything she does, she does with everything she has. So I went a long to help. Here are the highlights of my trip.

- Brian rented a vehicle for us all to travel in. (I brought Rhiannon and Drew with me to visit my friend Ronni in Calgary while I worked.) We were supposed to have a mini van like a Ford Freestar or some such thing. But there was no mini van when I went to pick it up on Thursday morning. So I got my choice between 2 huge SUV's - a Ford Expedition or a Lincoln Navigator. The Lincoln was fancier but I took the Expedition because it had a built in DVD player. Now those may be huge, gas guzzling, resource hogging, polluting machines. But I tell you, it was really fun to drive. I did all the driving - there and back and many, many errands (like I know the road between Carstairs and Calgary really, really well, now. I can tell the difference between one Canola field and another...). I kept on discovering new features. It was so comfortable and the seats were so adjustable. Everyone had their own individual air conditioning controls. The kids watched movies (on head phones). It was a very comfortable trip. I wouldn't want to own one and I can't understand how people can justify driving one with only one person inside... and I can't imagine driving something so huge around the city. But it was fun - I have to admit...

- There is only 1 motel in Carstairs - the Golden West Motor Inn. I discovered this. That when a place ADVERTISES that it received the housekeeping award in .... 1994, you might be in trouble... Maybe they figured they were doing so well then, they would keep everything exactly the same. The phone was one of the original push button phones - where the buttons just replaced the dial on the face of the phone. The towels were chocolate brown and they warned us that if you leave the air conditioning on too long, it would seize.... But it was a bed to sleep in and a shower to use. And it has been fun to make fun of...

- I spent more than $1,200 on groceries alone in my many trips to many stores. (not my money, of course...) Unfortunately I came home to an almost empty fridge...

- This is why people in BC make fun of Albertans. Is this a red-necked moment or what? On Friday night, while we all worked in preparation for the wedding the next day, us in the kitchen and the decorating crew (friends of the bride and groom) worked in the hall, the 'groomsmen' made dinner. Do you know what they did? They set up a propane burner in the alley behind the hall, sat on the back of a pick-up truck while music played in the truck stereo, beers in hand, and deep fried 3 turkeys. Yup, that's right. They deep fried them...

- The wedding was beautiful. Brian was dashing, his daughter was gorgeous. Her dress was perfect. The food was wonderful and exactly on time. I had a great time visiting with Bozenka and her sister, Goranka and Jackie and the other 'kitchen staff'. And I came home with a huge hunk of prime rib...

Ultimately it was an honour and priviledge to be included in this family event. I was glad to be of service to my friend, Bozenka who does so much for me. I'd do it again in a second.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Loosing teeth

Guess what is hiding behind that black kitten (Coppellia)

TA DA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And here are Kaetlyn and Erin with their first lost tooth as well...

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Some of the Best Years of My Life

Some of the best years of my adult life were in my 20's when Erin and I lived alone together. Norm (her dad) left for good when she was 18 months old. We lived in Richmond in the same housing co-op for another year. (I was president of the board... seems like another lifetime ago when I was an egomaniac...) Then we moved to Sidney and I went to UVic to finish my degree.

Our life together flowed so well. She went to an amazing daycare - Discovery House when it very first opened. (Now it is still a daycare but it is also a private primary school - all built in two heritage homes near the ocean.) I went to university. I studied while she played in the park. We went for walks down to the ocean which was 5 minutes from our duplex. We had a big yard and great neighbours. It was just easy being together. She was such a great kid. We lived in such a beautiful spot and we were happy. Life was pretty simple then and I have always looked back on those times as some of the best in my life.

And she is a big part of it. I was contented and settled being her mom. And she was happy, too. Of course we still had our challenges and our unhappy times but mostly I remember this time as being easy, as flowing naturally.

Here we are in Victoria. This is one of those silly pictures that Laura liked to take at the time. I think she insisted that I stick my finger like that so it looked like I was picking my nose. Those are the parliament buildings in the back ground. What I love most about this picture is Erin cuddled up to the back of my head...

And here she is dressed up for Halloween. She made that hat herself.... Doesn't she look fun to live with?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Process

Well, this last few days have really confirmed to me again how important it is just to acknowledge our feelings without judgement and sometimes without even understanding. I believe it was Scott M. Peck in his book "The Road Less Travelled" who said that neurosis is the avoidance of legitimate suffering" - basically denial.

Before I realized and acknowledged what I was feeling, I was heavy with feeling 'blah'; unable to get excited about anything; procrastinating important things; restless, bored and tired. Once I finally faced my grief and fear, it felt like a backpack full of rocks had been lifted off my back. Once I allowed myself to be sad, I could once again be joyful and happy and passionate about my life again. When we repress uncomfortable feelings, we also repress all the 'good' ones, too. Once I allowed myself to be sad about Erin going, I learned a lot about myself. Most of my emotion was really about myself - about my own feelings about my relationship (or lack of relationship) with my own mother in my 20's. Once I allowed myself to really feel my feelings, sit with them, acknowledge them, talk about them, I could aslo genuinely feel happy for her and so very proud of her and more at ease about her going.

And I am amazed again at this experience of being human that drives us towards integrity. I am in awe again that it is really true, "feelings aren't good or bad, they just are".

Friday, July 21, 2006

My Constant Companion

I must be feeling better. I was awakened at 3:30am by fighting cats. (Damn! Why didn't I remember to put Tigger in the basement last night...) There is this male black cat who likes to fight with Tigger. I think he is ferral as no one seems to own him. He apparantly likes our yard and Tigger has to constantly establish his territory. And Tigger as never been a pushover... Anyways, after awaking so early, I tried to go back to sleep for about 2 hours and I might have dozed off for a bit. Finally I gave up and got up. I am full of energy. And as I sat here at the computer, I noticed how dirty the window was so I got out the equipment and washed it inside and out. Now it is beautiful. That is something that I haven't found the energy for lately - living in the moment because I have been too strangled by the depth of feeling in my moments. Lately I have been stymied. Something has shifted. I am still sad but at least I don't want to sleep all the time. So thank you all to listening. It helps! And thank you Katie and Mary Sue for your kind words.

Here is one of my favourite pictures of Erin and I. (see, I really did once have brown hair. I was never blonde...) I have realized that behind my pain, is fear. It is expressed beautifully here in Maristar's blog -

How well do you really know your mother... or your daughter for that matter. I know that Erin is growing and individuating just as she needs to do. I know she needs privacy and a space of her own to be herself beyond my influence. Here she is on October 18, 1987, her first birthday taking her first steps. Walking away from me. Finding her own strength.

I know that all of this is good. But my fear is that I will not know her and that she will not know me. I don't think I know my own mother very well. Maybe I am getting some insight into her as I grow and mature and learn about myself. And I certainly feel that she does not know me. I know she loves me, that is not it. I just think that she doesn't know me, doesn't understand me. And we have never been close. Not since I left home. It terrifies me to think that all the closeness I am going to have with Erin is over. She is my daughter, heart of my heart. I want to know her and be known by her.

There was a time when she wanted this, too! (and I know she still wants it - just in a different way...) She is reaching for me in this picture as I capture her look with the camera. Once she was my constant companion. I was only 21 when I had her and about as mature as any 21 year old ever is. I think I was a bit of a selfish mother. I wasn't as baby-centred as I was with later children. I took her with me everywhere. We were seldom parted. I wish I had heard of a 'sling' back then. She practically grew out of my hip. I loved having her with me. I do wish that I could have thought more about her needs than my own...

More about Erin tomorrow or the day after that...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

More about my Breaking Heart

Here is a pastel drawing of my heart yesterday. I feel so much better after writing about how I was feeling - after realizing how I was feeling about her leaving. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. Wandering around my house, not feeling like doing anything at all, restless and tired. Tired even when I got 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. There is some deep, primitive part of myself who really would just like to go to sleep and completely ignore that my daughter is moving 1000's of miles away. The pain of her leaving is just too great.

I have these weird thoughts. Like when I held my daughters in my arms at their birth, I was always overwhelmed at the thought that all the little ovum that would become their children were already inside them. It is like standing in the river of life - generations gone before and generations yet to come - like looking in two mirrors when you can see forever. In this way, I have thought of my children as always being with me. If one of them asks, was I there, then - asking about some memory I am sharing. If they weren't born yet, I will say, "yes, but you were just a little egg in my ovary". And Erin was in my heart for a long time before she was even growing within me. I dreamed of being a mother. I planned. I looked forward. I took parenting classes at University while I was still single. I dreamed of her. It has been far more than only 20 years that she has lived in my heart.

Here she is in the hospital in the arms of her older sister (I hate the term 1/2 sister - how can one be 1/2 a sister? They love each other. They are sisters. But Sarah has a different mother...) Sarah was so excited to have a little sister and she loved her instantly. This is one of my favourite pictures.

Once she was so small she could fit on a little cushion for the arm rest of the couch. This was her Dad's couch and he took it with him when he moved out. But a friend who was moving a couple of years ago, offered me an old couch - almost exactly the same as this one (it has yellow and gold stripes). I took it and gave it to Erin because of this picture.

Here she is at 3 months old, hanging in the jolly jumper. She never did jump in that thing but she learned to swing herself... She liked to hang there and watch me in the kitchen. She was my constant companion and needed to be with me all the time.

I have always said that Erin has a very brave soul. By entering my life, she saved me and then I, in turn, saved her. At that time, I did not care enough about myself to get out of the abusive situation I was in. But I cared enough for her to leave. I could not bear for her to grow up to feel about me the way I felt about my mother. And I could not bear for her to have the idea she would have had if I had stayed, of what being a wife and mother is. I wanted better than that for her. And so I got out. She was a huge catalyst on my healing path. Our life together has not been easy. We have been through some pretty tough times together and I will always wish that I could have given her an easier childhood. She gave me a great gift by being born at that difficult and unhappy time. I will always be grateful.

Get set to hear lots about Erin. Its what I need to do!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hurting Heart

I have been in a funk. It has been mystifying to me. And it has been a big funk - akin to the funk when I first left Erin's dad and I only wanted to sleep all the time. There is this big, unavoidable thing happening in my life and I can't stop it - shouldn't stop it, anyways. Erin is moving to Montreal to attend LaSalle's Fashion Design program. It is only weeks away now. That's so far away it is doubtful she will be home for Christmas or even next summer. My baby. My piece of my heart. I hate to think of life going on - my life and her life - going on so far apart. Some part of me cries, "what if I never see her again? What if something happens to her? How would I find out?"

She's excited and scared as she should be. And she has it all worked out. A month from now she will be living in Montreal. They are leaving August 9th. Everything piled into her car. I can scarcely bare it. Of course it is inevitable as soon as they start to grow within us - one day they will leave. It was hard enough when she moved to her own apartment but to think of her across the country, weighs on me like a lead heart. Of course I am happy for her, excited for her and so proud of her for making her dreams come true. But for me.... to think of her not being embedded in the context of my life....

Dean would say that I am being dramatic. I will be able to phone her whenever I want, right? We'll e-mail.... But still she will be on the other side of the continent. She won't be dropping by to bug me by doing her laundry after 10pm at night. She won't be here for supper every now and then. She won't be critisizing my clothing. She'll be gone.

And it all swims before me. Her birth, her babyhood. Her at 2, riding a tricycle, getting on the bus to go to kindergarten (while I drove to meet her at the other end), homeschooling hours spent together. Her amazing mind. Her incredible voice. She always sang - she used to sing herself to sleep in her crib. Then I remember when she found her power in her voice. Her talented, creative ways. My wonderful, beautiful daughter. All those moments I swore to myself to never forget - I see them. The way she used to say 'conchterble' for comfortable and the way I would get her to cheer for me when I got good grades at UVic. The way she wouldn't let me put her down when she was a baby and I learned how to vacuum with the snugli or the back pack on. Back and forth my memory goes through our life together. It is every mother's pain, this pain. Of course I brought her into this world to grow to be her own person. This is a tearing of my soul as surely as her birth was a trauma to my body. And not a trauma I would stop but I grieve. Beyond words. How do you say that? I want her to grow up and be her own person but I am so sad that she is? Of course I would be more worried if she wasn't.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

30 Day Challenge Update 2

Well, it has been 2 weeks of my 30 day challenge. Let's see. I bought some shoe goo and glued my sandal back together. Thanks to the advice in my tagboard, I am going to let them sit before using them for the maximum suggested 72 hours. 2 more days without my sandals... Today I wore Laura's clogs and got blisters on the top of my foot from walking down the railroad tracks (after taking the bus home). I guess they are not a good long distance walking shoe... Other than that, I have been enjoying it. I've spent more money at the Farmer's Market than I would usually and it makes me wonder why I don't do that more often.

I have one day left of my dance workshop. I have 5 girls attending and we are having a lot of fun. At least I am really enjoying it. We are studying dance. On Monday I brought in my video of Baryshnikov dancing the nutcracker. I thought we would just watch a little of it but they loved it and we ended up watching he whole thing. Then they were trying to jump like Baryshnikov for the rest of our dancing time. Today we studied jazz and I had a guest instructor come in. She was a beautiful, tall young woman with a graceful, dancer's way. But she just led them through a series of exercises and didn't really give them a taste of jazz. I wish Kyle was closer so he could have come and helped me out. We did use jazz type music for the rest of our dancing activities and I tried to be jazzy myself... I couldn't get a guest instructor for tomorrow so I have several different videos of different kinds of dance. We'll have to make do with those. Hopefully that will be better, anyways.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

30 Day Challenge Update 1

So, how are you doing on the 30 Day Callenge? So far I have managed. I almost forgot and went to Subway on my birthday for beach food but luckily didn't feel like eating so much bread. (whew! I remembered later that Subway is a CHAIN!). We went to Kal Lake Store instead and got wraps. They were pretty darn good, too. I got the Thai chicken salad one.

I had a close call on Sunday night, too. Kaetlyn needed new batteries for her insulin pump and more insulin. The little pharmacy we usually go to (Hogarth's Pharmacy) which has superior service and the best prices, anyways, is not opened on the week end. In fact the only place that is open that sells insulin and batteries at the late hour she told me she needed them was Superstore. So I bought them at Superstore. I figured for diabetes I could make an exception. Although, this Friday I will make sure that I get some before Hogarth's closes in case she runs out on the week end again. What did diabetics do in the old days when everything was closed on the week end? Did you get to keep your pharmacists home number? Go to the hospital? Or did people live more organized lives and just never did something as stupid as running out of insulin on the week end...

I have yet to replace my broken favourite sandals. I am wondering about trying to fix them instead. Buy some of that shoe goop and glue the soul back together. I do love those sandals... I've just never heard of shoe goop really working on sandals... I did check out a small shop on main street (Vernon Shoes) but the only sandals they had in my size cost more than $100...

I have made some pleasant discoveries. Like Super A Foods in Polson Mall has delicious freshly grated Parmesan (and it really is freshly grated) and they sell it for only $2 a container. It was really, really good on top of my zucchini. I'm really enjoying my 30 day challenge... maybe I'll extend it. How about you?

Monday, July 10, 2006


Well, my zucchini plant has recovered and I picked a nice, big zucchini the other day. And last night we ate it for supper. I have this most delicious zucchini recipe.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Then cut the Zucchini in half length-wise. Slit down the middle. Spread butter thickly over the cut side of the zucchini and sprinkle liberally with oregano (fresh or dried) and bake on a cookie sheet. When the zucchini starts to be tender (length of time depends on the size of the zucchini) remove from oven and sprinkle liberally with parmesan cheese. (if using fresh oregano, add some more of that at this time as well.) Return to oven and bake until cheese is melted and starting to get toasty. Slice across the zucchini and serve.

Everyone, including my kids, loves zucchini cooked in this way. We even like it cold. With spaghetti, it replaces garlic bread in the meal. Last night we had it with cold chicken roasted in lemon. Mmmmmm, yummy! I'm going to go eat the last piece....

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Interior Pics

So here are some pictures from the inside of my house. Of course, you would get a much better view if you actually came to visit me....

Here is my bedroom. Notice the hammer on the bed? (really, its not for Dean, its because I just finished hanging some more pictures on the wall...honest) And this is another view of my room - I have windows on two walls - great breeze on hot summer nights... (probably a draft on cold winter nights...)

Here is Rhiannon's room - still decorated for the 9 year old boy who lived here before in spider man style.... We'll paint eventually... She loves her skylight.

Here's Kaetlyn's room which is really the masterbedroom - there's just as much room behind me as there is in front.

And here is the view from the bathroom window. If you lay in the huge claw foot tub and look outside, this is what you see. It's particularly gorgeous just as the sun is setting with no lights on in the bathroom. You'll have to try it when you come to visit.

And this is the beginning of what is going to be a really great room - there are windows on three sides of the room. It is a kind of library/homeschooling room - there is a table where we can leave our crafts out or my sewing projects. Right now it is mostly stuffed with junk and boxes that have not yet been unpacked... But you can get an idea from this corner, of what it will be like in the end, right?

Friday, July 07, 2006

There is Only One Person To Forgive

So last year when I was preparing for my 40th birthday and a new decade, my wise friend, Bozenka suggested that I make a list of all the offenses that I hold and forgive them and let them go. She made sure I included myself. I made lists and burned candles and meditated and prayed and forgave. But the lesson was germinating yet in me. The ones I had the hardest forgiving were those people who had hurt my children. Like the couple who wouldn't let their daughter who was Erin's best friend, play with her after Phil and I separated because they didn't approve. Erin was devastated and as they were apart of our homeschooling group and in the same dance classes and choir, etc., Erin became very isolated and sad. I had the hardest time forgiving them. My wise friend pointed out to me that it was because I couldn't forgive myself... Although intellectually I could accept this (kind of) I didn't really understand it or feel it all the way through.

This year, just before my birthday, I had a jarring experience with my dad and one of my sisters who is going through a difficult time. She had arranged to come and visit it me on her trip. But her trip has been pretty....eventful, shall we say. She was calling me often and asking for my support as she was going through all these things. Despite changes she was still planning on coming to see me and I was really looking forward to it - to seeing her, to hugging her and pampering her and letting her have a little, loving break from all the chaos and judgement in her world. But my dad didn't want her to visit me and so pressured her and pressured her until he had her convinced that visiting me was a mistake because I am no longer a mormon and that I would pressure her to also leave the church (or stay away would be more accurate). And so cancelled her visit with me. Along with feeling sad/disappointed/hurt/misunderstood about that, it also affected Kaetlyn who was visiting and who had cancelled her flight home so she could drive home with my sister. And no one even told Kaetlyn about the change of plans but she overheard others talking about it and called me, whispering into the phone at 11:30pm. Luckily her dad was able to re-book her flight and she will be home tomorrow evening as planned (Yay!)

I was very upset. Upset that my 15 year old daughter was there and I was not even trusted to have my 27 year old sister for a visit. Upset that she let others convince her of what I am like when she knows differently (because I don't care whether she is a mormon or not, married to a controlling jerk or not, I just care that she is my sister and I love her and she knows that). Upset to be so judged. Upset to see such a negative view of myself reflected from my own father. And hurt. So, on the eve of my birthday, I was again making a list of forgiveness. This time I started with myself. And the list was long. And then I started on my dad but the list petered out. And I never got to anyone else. This morning when I woke up and resumed my journal working, I finally realized the lesson of this year. There is only one person to forgive. Me. When I forgive myself, everything else just slips away. Now irrelevant. Just like with the parents of Erin's former best friend. I was able to forgive them when I was finally able to forgive myself for the breakdown of my marriage and how that affected my children. When I forgive myself and love myself, my father's opinion of me doesn't matter. It is about him, not me. Just as my judgements of others are really about myself.

So my year of being '40' is over and the lesson has really sunk in. I get it - all the way through. There is only one person to forgive. Ever. Just myself. And I do. Today, I fogive myself. One day, maybe I won't even judge myself and then there won't even be anything left to forgive...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

30 Day Challenge

Inspired by my socially and environmentally conscious friends, I am challenging myself for 30 days to not purchase anything from a chain store. So, no Save On, no Safeway, no Wendys, no Wholesale Club, no Coopers, no Boston Pizza (can you tell I'm thinking about food?) no Zellers, no Bay, no Wal-Mart. I will allow 2 exceptions. One is that I am going to continue to buy my gas from Husky/Mohawk. And the other is that I will allow chains that are only valley wide - like Quality Greens and Nature's Fare. Could you do it?

So, why would I challenge myself in this way? Well, because ethically, I don't agree with the large chain stores. Generally they don't pay their employees a living wage, have all part time employees, sell goods that are made unethically in third world countries, sell american produce during our growing season here, sell cheap american apples all year round instead of supporting local orchards even when that would actually be cheaper for them (and I think they should do it anyways - even when it costs more). And even all those issues aside, when I spend my dollars at these large chain stores, I am helping to make a few people who do not even live in this community and often not even in this country, very rich. Another issue is the fossil fuels that are used to ship all that stuff so far away and the pollution that causes as well. I think that for the most part, we live in ignorance of the true cost of our lifestyle on the environment and consequently on our health. The longer we blunder along in this unsupportable manner, the worse it gets. Something has got to give.

In contrast, when I spend my dollars on local stores, I am supporting local people. I am helping local people to make a living. When I shop at local farm markets, I am helping local farmers directly and I am getting produce that is fresher and better for us that didn't have to travel very far. So, for the next 30 days, I will not set foot in a chain store... I am very interested in how this is going to go. What about you?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Happy Anniversary

(And happy anniversary to you, too, Sarah and Kyle!). So there we are 7 years ago. July 3, 1999. Getting married. I love the picture - the large granite boulders up on the hill on Coldstream Ranch - so symbolic to me.

So I don't know what to say about that that isn't corny or cliche or sentimental. I think relationships are the hardest work there is (for me, anyways). Finding a way to live authentically AND respect what is authentic in the other. To be understanding, kind and gentle with yourself AND be understanding, kind and gentle with the other. I am grateful to Dean, to my husband, for entering in to this contract with me. For the good times and for the tenacity to keep working through the times that aren't so good. I admire his willingness to look at himself in ways that he never thought he would have to and for supporting me and continuing to love me as I face things in myself.. The dependability of his love, his loyalty, the tenderness of his heart and his kindness to me - these are the gifts he offers me - for these I am the most grateful.