Body Armor and Good Shoes

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Today I am dressed for work. Really dressed for work; black pencil skirt, lovely drapey blouse, suit jacket, neutral pumps (understated and professional with a good dash of sexy). My hair is short and styled, my makeup is appropriate and my accessories complement without distracting. Pearls, actually.

If you look a bit closer at the outfit, the shoes, the hair and the look you’ll see the hidden rivets. The seams where the metal  of the breastplate meets the tasset show the dents of the club hammer and the effort that went into its construction. Those good shoes… they’re really a modern sabaton; protection, baby.

Don’t think for a moment that I woke up this morning and decided to dress like this because heels feel awesome, because I love panty-hose. These earrings were chosen mindfully and the necklace too. My clothes are my armor.

There are things in my life right now that demand my full attention. My energy has to be rationed and my strength shored up. I am not up to the challenge in jeans and a t -shirt; I need something external to let me know I can handle what I must handle. I need to look in the mirror and see someone who is competent, strong, determined and certain. At the moment I’m none of those things, so for that, I need a disguise. I need a costume. I need armor.

A friend observed that often when women separate from their partners they begin to dress better than they used to. He seemed to believe it to be a peacock preening kind of thing; a desire to strut, to appear attractive. I’m offering another possible explanation; it’s fear. It’s fear, dressed up to look like courage. It’s armor.

Look at me… I look great. I look strong. I look like I know what I’m doing.

I’m a jelly fish. A jelly fish in really good shoes.

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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.

My Bliss List (first draft)

ImageI have about 27 seconds to type this before my husband takes me out for dinner; it’s Valentines Day and despite my snarking about the fraudulent nature of the festivities, a girl does like to get all shiny and prettied up and adored.

So I am drafting a list…. seriously, first draft only. I will post this and THEN think of about a million other things I wish I’d added… thus the first draft title.

My Bliss List (or things that make me stupidly happy)

-Extra hot double tall lattes, no sugar (actually sugar makes it better, so WITH sugar)

-Extra hot baths; the exact right temperature when you get in, where it burns just a bit but it’s not so hot that you pass out right away.

-Bathroom fan; it drowns out the sound of the kids yelling at each other while you soak in the blissfully perfect bath.

-Support garments. Need I say more?

-Shoes…perfect, fabulous, stunning, sexy, ohmygodwhycan’tIweartheseeveryday Fluevog shoes… (see photo, above)

-Holidays in the very near future

-Awesome plan to spend time with my lady friends, good wine, good food… bliss bliss bliss

-Going for a fantastic dinner tonight at a gorgeous restaurant where the restaurateur knows my name, hugs me upon arrival and is just so lovely it makes it all even more shimmery.

Gag. Who wrote all that smarmy crap up there? Me?! Well… who knows. Maybe Valentines Day agrees with me more than I knew.

Cheers all… hope it’s a blissful night. I’ll update the list later. What would YOU add?

Life is short, and all that.

ImageSo what’s it going to be for you? The thing you will most regret, lying on your deathbed, breathing your last? Will it be the trips you didn’t take, the book you didn’t write? Maybe the bucket list items that never got checked off?

Not me. No, I’ll have lots of trips not taken, books not written and all that, but that’s probably not what I’m going to regret. At least it’s not what I fear I’ll regret. I’m afraid I’m going to regret not living enough. Not loving enough, not laughing enough, not making the most out of the friendships and relationships that matter to me. Not having enough sex, not getting my hands and feet dirty often enough, worrying too much, staying too closed and careful.

Life is not the good china. It can’t be saved for when company comes. It’s gotta be used… used up. This is a lesson I need to teach myself every day. You’d think, by age 46 that I’d have clued in to that by now.

I’ve gotta shift the crap around, the crap that keeps me from doing the things I love, the things I want to love, the things I fear. I have to find a way to be fearless in the way I used to be, or fearless in a way I want to be. Maybe not even fearless at all, but brave enough to just take a deep breath, plug my nose and jump into the deep end of living.

So that, my friends, is my Valentines wish. I want to really live. Live big, loud, ugly, funny, beautiful and awkward. Trip, dance, fall, get dirty, embarrass myself, try again, Look foolish, say the wrong thing (at least I said something), make a new friend, mend a lost friendship, find my centre, get lost, get dizzy. Be real. And have more sex 😉

Cheers…

Valentines….Meh

ImageValentines Day. Woot. Woot. I am the Scrooge of Valentines, I swear it. If there were a workhouse to send all those damned little cupids to I’d have their diapered little baby bottoms shipped off faster than you can say pass me a Hershey’s kiss.

Blackmail. It’s blackmail. You have no escape. if you’re married, or in a relationship, or you’re a parent, you’re hooped. You’d better love up… you’d better spread that chocolate joy around… a stuffy here, a sucky card & a heart shaped box there, a flower over that-a-way, some koochee koo over this-a-way.

Christmas is a holiday I can get behind. I know it’s commercialized, I know I’m being manipulated from about September 1 onward to buy, buy, bake,  cook, make, wrap, consume and stress, but at least it makes sense on an historical level to me. Valentines? Meh. Some old guy dying in a jail sends his gal a note and the people at Hallmark lose their sh*t.

I do it… I buy the sucky card, I buy the freakin’ chocolate, the little cutie stuffies for the kids, I decorate the table before dragging my butt to bed the night before, but seriously. Who am I kidding? I love them every day… I prove it by continuing to feed them. I only do this Valentines nonsense to ensure they are sufficiently manipulated and will thus provide adequate chocolate in return.

However, if somebody wants to prove they love me, they can indeed feel free to lavish any sort of gift upon me any day – February 14th need not be the only day of the year.

Ommmmm.

Countdown to Mexico!

ImageThree weeks from this very moment I will be in Mexico. In the very place you see pictured above. The house there on the left is where my husband and I will sleep, the teenagers in the house on the right. Ahhhhhh. I need to take a moment to let that really soak into my psyche. Three short weeks and my toes will be deep in warm sand, my fingers wrapped around a cold glass, my eyes squinting into the hot sun. Amen.

Doesn’t that just sound like poetry? Sand, sun, water, relaxation, no work, no phone, no emails, no chores. Just 4 teenagers. Wait. Right… 4 teenagers. Better make that TWO hands wrapped around nice cold glasses…!

I’ve reached that point in pre-holiday delirium where every thought is framed by the holiday… need to make sure I buy cat food “for the housesitter”; better call the doctor’s office to make sure I have antibiotics “in case someone gets sick in MEXICO”, gotta get that project finished before I take my HOLIDAY etc.

I’m glassed over. I’m checking the weather in Yelapa, talking the kids through what to do if someone gets stung by a scorpion (as if I have a freakin’ CLUE!). Anyway, we are adequately supplied with Immodium, Benadryl, hand sanitizer and electrolyte replacement packets. We’ll be golden.

The one regret I have, of course, is that I’ll have to come home. When we were waiting in line in Mexico two years ago to come home, a lady in front of me stepped out of line, said “sorry, not ready to go home” to her friend and did NOT go home. How awesome is that? I have had dreams about that for the last two years. When I moved to the north (the REAL, top of the world Canadian north) 22 years ago, my actual intent was to move to Mexico for a year. Yep, I know… went the wrong way. Took a one year job, met a man, got married, had babies, etc. etc.

So each time I go to Mexico, a BIG part of me wants to just…stay. I walk around wondering what the hell happened… why is it that I don’t live there?

Yeah, yeah. I like my life, I like where I live (love it even), and can’t imagine what life I’d be living if I hadn’t taken the path I did but there’s that part of me that wants the parallel life… why can’t I have both? My real life, my Mexico life… I guess it’ll be a goal then. Sell the house here in the Yukon and find a way to live that dream of so long ago. Yes… that’s what I will dream of.

Dream of, work toward, plan for. Pronto.

Adios, amigos. Hasta Luego!

Aside

On grief, loss, friendship and hearts that can’t be unbroken.

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I spent last weekend with her in the beautiful home they built together on top of a hill overlooking a river.  A home they dreamed of, worked toward and loved. It was the realization of a lifetime of hard work and planning… truly their dream home. They shared it for three years, and it made them so happy. There is so much joy everywhere in that house.. in every tile, fixture, deck chair. I’m happy I visited a year ago, with him proudly showing off every bell and every whistle.

When people have been a part of your life for, well, your whole life, it’s hard to measure their importance. This woman is not my mother, this man was not my father. They occupy a different, separate space in my heart that’s hard to define.  I have so much love for them that I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about or been fully aware of.  His death has hit me hard;  not the same as the loss of my own Dad, but still a powerful hurt.

Sitting with her last week, holding her while she cried, listening to her try and make sense of this bleak new universe,  I realized I had nothing wise to say. I have no words to make it better. I can’t fix anything. When she turned to me with a panicked and confused look on her face and asked “when will I remember? I keep thinking I can’t wait to tell him about our visit”, I felt helpless. I want so badly to mend something for her, to answer even one of her millions of unanswerable questions.

So I will do what I can… tiny, inconsequential and impotent as I feel. I will send her random texts reminding her that I love her, I will phone her, send her beautiful pictures and powerful stories. I will send her music… all her music is so deeply entwined with his memory that it hurts her to listen right now.

I know I will do so much less  than I want to for her.  What I truly want to do just can’t be done.