Cross your heart and hope you’ll remember?

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If you want my respect, say you’ll do something then do it. Don’t tell me what you’re going to do.  Don’t say you’ll do something then forget, or blow it off. All we have to go on in this life are our instincts and our faith in good people.  We have to trust that people will do what they say they will; what else do we really have?

I think we have to remember that we are what we say, we are what we do. When we follow through on what we promise, we are saying that we’re worth trusting, worth believing in. When we think we can decide what is and isn’t important to others and fail to do what we’ve said, we let ourselves and those counting on us down. Saying you will do something you have no intention of doing is a lie. Saying you’ll do something you make no effort to do is disingenuous. The good feeling you get from pleasing the person you’ve promised evaporates pretty quickly once you know you’ve disappointed them.

You don’t have to pinky swear, cross your heart and hope to die  for your word to be considered a promise. The simple act of saying you WILL is a promise. When you say you will, and you can or could and don’t, you’ve broken your promise.   Not fulfilling is a choice… conscious or otherwise. Sometimes there is a really good reason, sometimes not. Circumstances may prevent you from accomplishing what you intended, but if the effort is genuine, honour is maintained.

Men used to be judged on their word; in my world, they still are. What’s your handshake worth?

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Bitchy Tuesdays and the 68 minute 20 minute drive.

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I swear I didn’t wake up this morning thinking this was going to be a bitchy day. I didn’t roll out of bed, snarl and crack my knuckles, ready to rumble. Hell – who takes on a Tuesday unprovoked?  I woke up and it was 26 below zero, crisp and clear and cold and beautiful and I was happy about that. I woke up happy, started my day calmly with coffee, a fuzzy bathrobe and a shower. I did the normal morning things that get me from horizontal (dreaming of hosting a huge dinner party in a Mexican farmhouse with no running water or electricity – no idea where that dream came from or why I remember it) to upright and mobile.

Leaving the house was where things started to go sideways a bit.  Sixteen year old girls and their mothers do not always move in blissful synchronicity. Sometimes, without warning, harmony and smiles turn to discord and gnashing of teeth, while the benign turns radioactive and toxic in a matter of seconds. Ommmmm.

So we left, we drove and we got to where the bus ought to have been but wasn’t. It wasn’t there, of course, because we were several pleasantry filled minutes behind the bus… (that was irony). From my home to her bus stop should be, with no traffic or red lights, a straight forward 18-20 minute drive. Of course that almost never happens. If she misses the bus, which has happened a time or two, we have a problem. The journey from the downtown bus stop to her school is an easy 7 minutes’ drive. The journey from her school back across the bridge to my office is, inexplicably, an agonizing 20 minutes on a good day. We’re talking bottleneck traffic jam backup swearing going nowhere late for work I guarantee it chaos like you just don’t see in a small city. There is a new roundabout, there is a new traffic light, there are 3 school zones and a two lane bridge to contend with, all leading out of a crowded suburb that everyone leaves in the morning to go… you guessed it, the same place as me.

This morning, there was also a car accident – a fire truck and a  flat bed and a couple of cars where they don’t belong…right in the intersection next to the two lane bridge just ahead of the roundabout. You’ve really not seen anything like it unless you’ve been on the Interstate 5 outside of LA at 5:15 on a weekday.  Every side road was bumper to bumper, and there was no getting out of there, period.

So the commute to work, usually a seamless 20 minute jaunt took me 68 minutes. Without coffee. But even that didn’t push me over the edge to bitchy… nah. Once the initial WTF are you KIDDING me happened, I kind of took it in stride. I got to work, told my tale and carried on.

The bitchy has come on by way of a few other things; small things, pissy little things and frightening large things that come with a separation and having teenagers and a new job and all of that real life. Many days I can surf on through it and emerge un-bitchy at the end of the day, but for some reason today those little things have sharp little barbs – they’ve been clinging to me. By the time I walked back into my place tonight I was about done with this day. It wasn’t done with me, of course – that’s how these bitchy days seem to roll.

But I have to thank you, big wide world of people I don’t know. This blogging (also known as utter self indulgence and naval gazing) has given me a new perspective. If I look at it differently, I’ve actually had a great day. I’ve been working on cultivating gratitude, and I’m learning it helps in situations like this. I have healthy kids, a great job, a car that can withstand -26 (it got to -27 as a matter of fact) and a pretty reasonable relationship with the husband from whom I am separated. I have a warm house with a fridge full of goodness and plenty of tea to calm my cranky old soul. My daughter had her moment of angst and anger where it was safe and appropriate…with me, her mom. I had my moment of cranky here, with people who can choose to listen or not (what a great freedom that is!). If I smeared anyone with my cranky today I can try to make it up to them tomorrow. If I sound Pollyanna now, that might just be what I need to fend off the bitchy Tuesday vibe.

Tomorrow is a Wednesday and we all know Wednesday is nothing at ALL like Tuesday. For one thing, it’s payday and that’s guaranteed to make me smile.  My car is plugged in and ready to take on the morning and there’s even a chance we’ll make that 20 minute drive in under an hour.

Here’s to Wednesday…

Same me. New calendar.

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And so the inward looking begins…or continues… in search of meaningful & achievable resolutions. Pointless to say I will exercise more and eat less, folly to suggest I can change much about how I process my external world. I’d be lying to myself if I vowed to drink less red wine and avoid chocolate and cussing.

I need smaller resolutions, tiny resolutions that will be little stones in a giant pond. I need to find tiny ways to alter how I give myself to the world, to my family, to those I love. I need little itty bitty meditative alterations that will smooth the painful bristles of my coat, that will make me more huggable and less of a systemic shock to those whose well being matters most.

I want to be gentle. I want to be kinder. I want to be more loving, more giving, more forgiving, more forgivable. I want to be soft. I want to be feather soft. I wish to be a balm, a soothing salve rather than a burn, a wound, an abrasion.

I don’t know where these new ways of being live. I don’t know where to find them. I want to.

I want to.

It’s a new year. This year there is no hollering, no kicking of cans. This year there is only quiet retreat, a catch in the throat, a throb behind my left eye. I wish things I can’t give, I’ve given things I can’t reclaim.

It’s almost a new year. It’s almost a new…

No, it’s the same me on a new calendar page unless I can find a new path.

And the stone is about to fall, and the pond is about to ripple.

So happy new year.

 

Dear Young Woman:

oh dear

You are so beautiful. You are young, shiny – filled with collagen and elastin and other things that make me envious. You have a future, a spark, and more opportunity than any generation of women in the history of everything. You’re really the first girls ever for whom just about anything is truly possible. You can go to the moon, you can stay home and raise a house full of kids,  you can do both.. it’s up to you.

So while I am sure you are going after those things, planning them and making goals and figuring out your path, I have a couple of questions for you. Don’t take these the wrong way (as if I know what the right way is)… I don’t want to offend you or sound as old as I’m sure I do, but I don’t get it.

Why do you dance like that? Like a stripper… you know what I mean. Dancing, all by itself, is just so naturally sexy and free and open, who told you you had to do a lap dance on the floor? When you go up on the dance floor with your friends, why do you all look like you’re auditioning for a porn flick or a strip club? Seriously, I’m not trying to be an old bitch but the front row is usually expected to come armed with small bills for that kind of performance, and there’s generally a cover charge.

Those pictures of you on Facebook and Instagram … the sexy booty pics in the bathroom, you know the ones – you in your bikini or little tank top sulking and making duck lips with the toilet in the background. What’s that about? Or the drunk ones..the ones with your hands on your best friend’s boobs and your tongues touching. Why? Are you gay? Are you experimenting with your sexuality and want to showcase it to the world? Or are you really just trying to look hot, ’cause guys think girls making out is really hot? If you’re coming out via Facebook pics, power to you. If you’re trying to look hot… seriously, why?

I think sex is great. I think being sexy and celebrating your sexuality is great. I don’t want to shame you or blame you or tell you you can’t go out of the house dressed like THAT, young lady!  I just don’t understand who it’s for, all those moves and those pictures, and all that.  Does that stuff make you feel empowered? Maybe owning your sexuality in that way makes you feel strong, in charge. If that’s why, that makes sense to me somehow. But is it really that, or is it just because that’s the crap that’s been poured into your brain by Much Music, by all the ho’s and biotches in the games, videos and movies you’ve seen.  I worry “that’s what sexy looks like” to you and presumably, the guys.   I’m more afraid you’ve been convinced it’s how you’ve got to look rather than out of a sense of freedom and control.

When I was a little girl, my influences were pretty tame; Barbie, Carol Burnett, Lucille Ball, Cher.  You girls catapulted straight from Barbies to Britney, Bitch. The world changed shape around the time you were all what…. 13, 14?  Suddenly everybody was texting, Facebook was a thing,  and before the world knew what had happened, we were underwater.  Everything shifted shape.

I guess I’d like to know why… honestly. I guess I’d like to believe that, if any part of my concern or questions ring true to you, you might think about that. I would love it if, the next time you run out onto the dance floor with a bunch of friends you dance for the joy of moving your body to music you love… to HELL with whoever might be hooting from the cheap seats.

I think you’re beautiful when you dance like a regular person. I think your photos are gorgeous when you laugh and look like a dork in them. I celebrate your normal, beautiful, sexy self.

So soon?

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A few weeks ago I gave birth to a magical little redheaded baby girl. She’s 20 now, but that is the way the heart massages time…the real passage is hard to measure in ordinary terms. To my arms, the weight of her baby self is still a recent memory, there is still an ache in my shoulders from pacing with her while she cried of colic. I still hum the only song that calmed her, and when I am stressed I remember how the sound of the vacuum was the only thing that soothed her mysterious fretting.

I left her in another city the other day, this baby child of mine. I left her in her own apartment surrounded with the trappings of a new life. No diaper pail, no stuffed rabbits or pastel blankies; instead pots & pans, thrift store dishes and school supplies clutter the space.

She is ready. She is ready to take on the world and be a shining beacon of newness, of hope and promise. She has the confidence, the kindness, the grit and the guts to tackle this new chapter. She is, after a few years of holding my breath, everything I knew she would be. I am the kind of proud there are no words for.

But I am now 5,385 kilometers from her forehead… the forehead I like to kiss goodnight. And it turns out I am less ready than she.

Just sit DOWN, woman!

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One recent morning I sat down at my kitchen table to savour my first cup of coffee of the day.

Yes, that is news. I sat down at my table. With coffee. To drink it. In one place. While doing nothing else but drinking my coffee.

As I sat there, uncharacteristically still, I realized I don’t remember ever doing that before. In the ten years I’ve lived in that house I don’t remember ever just sitting still to enjoy my coffee. As a rule, I grab my mug, race to shower, sip it while drying my hair, lose the mug when I go to the laundry room, find it again when I retrace my steps and finally throw it in the microwave to warm it, losing it again.

I’ll find the mug that night when I’m thawing something, or steaming some veggies. I discard the contents… two thirds of a mug full of a nasty, cold, bitter creamy brew.

I think this is something I need to work on. I have no excuse to be as busy as I am. I am sure there are many many working moms who find time to sit in calm reflection before they hit the ground running each day. No, that was NOT a joke… I’m sure there must be some out there somewhere….

Taking those few minutes each day to calmly begin, to contemplatively warm up my mind before I kick start my schedule has to be good, no? I am sure if I found time for that, I would be more creative & focused, kinder, with more patience and resilience.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaaaa!!!!!

Yeah RIGHT!

But at least my coffee would be hot ’til the last drop…

Sigh.

Impossible Loss

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The community I live in and love has been struck hard by tragedy in the last month. Two young families have lost their Dads…quickly, shockingly, unfairly. The two families have 5 children between them, all 11 and younger.

The two men, both dedicated outdoors men were friends. They worked together, shared similar passions and lived their lives with enormous intensity and capacity for joy. They died 3 weeks apart, separately, in two completely unrelated tragedies.

Last night on my flight home from a visit to the big city I brushed up close to that pain. I sat with the sister in law of the most recently lost husband, father, friend, Daddy. Her heart was in pieces, visibly. She was lovely. She was so sad, so worried for her sister, her little niece and the shell shocked boys. Their father died trying to save them from a river; them and the son of the woman sitting next to me for 3 hours. I felt…still feel, gutted. I am grateful that I was there, able to help her with her own young daughter, be a new face, a new ear, a new mirror to look in to see who she is now.  As she told me the story, my heart broke again and again.  At one point, she said, there were six people in the river, all drowning. Half were there to save, half were being saved. All were at risk of being lost. Too few safety measures afforded by the resort they were visiting, so many people, so much crying and fear and screaming, so little anyone could do. And so, one Daddy died. One husband is gone. So many lives are forever changed.

I wasn’t there. I don’t know the family personally, though I feel so connected to them. I felt that connection even before meeting this woman who has so much to try and block from her memory, so much to move forward from. I felt that connection because I am a wife, I am a mother.   I feel that connection so much more now, having had the little girl with the saddest face I’ve ever seen sit on me, play with my phone and take sad photos of herself. This little girl has just lost her Daddy; she is 3.

The two families, linked by friendship and interest and passion and love of the outdoors are now linked by sorrow, loss and tragedy.  I am now, forever, linked to their story. I will never erase from my  heart the sight of this woman, this heartbroken sister, the aunt of these children in shock. She almost lost her own son and father to the river, lost instead her brother in law, her sister’s joy and her own sense of security in the world.

She said it was so awful. So horrible. So unbelievable. She has touched my life forever.

Yukon, we have two families who need us terribly right now. 5 children who will need all the support we can provide. Two mothers whose worlds have just been turned upside down, and who haven’t even begun to measure what lies ahead. I want to do something. I wish I could do something.