Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Not Written In Stone

When I wrote this post I copied the pages of word lists the author had supplied, cut out each word, and put all 208 of them in a jar. Today I reached in an pulled one out. I've said for nearly 30 years that give me a topic and I can write on it. That might be the only remnant of my journalism training.

Our professor would give us something to write about and it didn't matter if we knew anything about it or not, the assignment still had to be handed in. He was not above giving it back either, and telling us to do the whole thing over again, if it didn't come up to snuff. One time I did an interview which involved taking a bus to the outer skirts of the city only to find the man who I needed to interview very uncooperative. That assignment was handed back to me to redo. The man refused when I showed up the second time.

At any rate my word phrase today is locked doors. When I unfolded the piece of paper and saw those words an image flashed through my mind. I was six years old and had broken my arm. I was wearing a short sleeved knit red shirt. Funny what we remember. I was sent to my room to change shirts before I went to the hospital. No one helped me. My arm was broken up near my shoulder and I felt a little sick to my stomach as I tried to figure out how to get my arm out of one shirt and into another. I felt so alone and confused to be alone. I didn't know I could ask for help and no one offered. It took me 40 more years to learn it's okay to ask for help. Childhood messages are not written in stone. They can be rewritten.

At the hospital a nurse with a kind face gave me a gown and put me in a change room. She had blonde hair and a beautiful smile. She was the first one who I felt some sympathy from. Somehow I got locked in that little cubicle. Somehow she got me out. She put me in a wheel chair and took me to the x ray room. If I shut my eyes I can see myself laying on that cold steel table with just a gown on. The room seemed so big and I felt so small.

They were unable to cast my arm because of where the break was so I came home with my arm in a sling. The next day one of my classmates couldn't stop laughing when I told him I'd fallen off a three foot fence and broken my arm. I was sure my grade one teacher would excuse me from penmanship that day. No such luck.

For the last 40+ years whenever I find myself in a little cubicle I momentarily panic that I'm going to get locked in with no way out. Then I remember that I have a voice and can ask for help if I need it.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Walking Miracles

At an AA birthday celebration this morning we got to listen to a man play Amazing Grace on the bagpipes. Right there in the meeting room. Cool, eh?
We are all such walking miracles.
Every last one of us.
Amazing Grace, indeed.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More Will Be Revealed

My previous post was number 1300.
I'm thinking of making a commitment to daily posting in 2011.
It was much easier to write posts when my life was full of issues.
Don't get me wrong.
I am grateful for a settled life.
And it's not as if I've arrived.
Lord knows I haven't and never will.

It just leaves me scratching my head about what to write about.

I've been reading this greatest book about being creative and writing called What It Is. AuthorLynda Barry has lots of thought provoking ideas in it.

I found it in the young adult graphic novel section of my public library after hearing the author interviewed on the radio. It looks like an innocent book. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a graphic novel. Weird term.

One little bit in it has haunted me from the first reading:
"An iceberg is a big chunk of ice that floats in the sea. Sea water is not clear. It hides most of the iceberg. In order to be safe from underwater danger, ship captains steer away from icebergs."

And then below that is the question "How is a thought like an iceberg?" She goes on to ask what thoughts are made of. Can one have thoughts without language? Is thinking voluntary or involuntary.

That kind of stuff sucks me right in. She has a new book about drawing, too.

Today I told a friend that I like reading books about writing nearly as much as I like to write. I've been frozen with fear quite a bit lately when it comes to writing. Facing how much anxiety I live with in most of my life, really. I would never have believed it had someone observed it about me out loud.

Actually someone did a few years ago and wrote it on my medical record and I was about as pissed as one can get when I read it. A few months ago I had a moment where I was facing a possible wretched outcome at work and the anxiety in my body wouldn't leave even after I had mentally worked through it. I asked myself when had I felt like that before and I knew I had lived in that state of anxiety my whole childhood. The awareness in that moment brought tears instantly to the surface. I thought I had worked through my childhood shit.

That episode prompted me to ask myself what would happen if I entertained the possibility that I live with anxiety on a regular basis. Kind of in the vein of "me thinks you do protest too much". I don't know if it's a relief to acknowledge it but at least I'm not spending energy fighting reality. At least that bit.

P.S. It was -42C with wind chill at one point today. That's -43.6F. Thankfully a chinook is on its way.


It's been bitterly cold. Weather we don't normally see until January. I am grateful to be inside today. The windows are frosted from top to bottom. I have a very vivd memory of sticking my tongue on the screen door frame whenI was about 6 years old. I had to wait for someone else to get to the house to rescue me.

I can't say I want to repeat that experience but sometimes I get tempted to see if it would still happen.

The Elk pictured above are no where to be seen this morning but they're warm somewhere.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Art Form of Sticking One's Foot In One's Mouth

"Tidiness is the art form of the non-creative." ~ wildlife artist Greg Beecham

If there is truth to that quote then judging by my desk pictured above I'm quite creative!

It's bitterly cold here today. So cold the Puglies won't go outside. Last night I took them for one last constitutional before bed and they both sat on their butts trying to get all four feet up in the air at once to keep from freezing. Needless to say I carried them both back to the house, each snuggled under an arm like a football. This morning the windows are frosted up to the tops and the sun is shining through making it seem like I have stained glass windows.

At least the weather gives me something to write about. I've had a full week with little down time. Gone for 12+ hours at a stretch. Three luxurious days lay before me with no plans to venture farther than the yard. Winter makes me feel like hibernating and my cave is rather full of stuff.

Once winter is here to stay, and judging by the snow and cold, it is, I feel closed in on, like my clothes are too tight except it's the house that feels too tight. Invariably this lead to me wanting to open the door and chuck most of my belongings out in a snow drift so I feel like I have more room to stretch. Contrast that with a sunny summer day when I feel like opening doors and windows to let the outside in! Same amount of stuff, same house, way different perspective.

I had a few places to stop yesterday to buy yet more stuff. Winter boots. Greeting cards. I am so grateful for warm boots in this weather. It was a spur of the moment buy as I have boots on order from the catalogue. But I couldn't face taking one more dainty step on snow and ice in my dress shoes. I'd already just about ended going ass over tea kettle coming out of a store the day before and this lead me to walking tentatively ever since. I'm the kind of person who would lay in the snow after a fall, declaring "You don't understand! I had to wait to buy them until they were on sale!" as they loaded me onto a stretcher. And I'd expect applause, too, for that ridiculous behaviour. Oh, come on, you frugal shoppers know exactly what I mean.

So there I was standing in line at the checkout counter, in my new furry lined knee high brown boots, buying a bunch of greeting cards when I put them on the conveyer belt at the exact moment that the clerk started that belt going into overdrive. It was like she was driving a car and her foot was stuck on the gas. I take a lot of time looking for just the right card and one of those cards had been the only one of its kind in the rack and I'd be darned if it was going to get wrecked by jamming up the conveyer belt.

I reached to save it and she just kept her foot on the gas. I grabbed that card and watched as the belt threatened to suck another card into that little space between belt and counter. I felt like I was playing Jacks and was scrambling to pick up the last Jack before the red ball stopped bouncing. At the last minute I grabbed up every last card, narrowly avoiding getting my fingers jammed in there when I said, "You're going to drive me crazy." You ever have that happen? Realize you've said out loud what should have stayed in your head and there is no going back? Not even on a conveyor belt.

The sound of my voice must have startled her because she suddenly let go of the belt drive button. She looked embarrassed to have been caught not paying attention. I was embarrassed to have spoken out loud what I thought I was only thinking. I kept my mouth shut after that for fear of sticking the other of my newly purchased furry boots in my mouth although I do think there's room for me to rest one of them up on my desk. Right beside the catalogue I ordered my boots from to be precise.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Entering The Cave

Second night this week that I am having insomnia.
It's been a good day.
Full of people.
Which has been strangely uplifting for this avowed introvert.

Winter is coming this week with cold temperatures and snow.

I do not feel brave about driving winter highways.
Not that I ever have but every year I feel less so.
But when you live in the middle of nowhere one has to drive to get anywhere.

So facing my fear of winter driving
is going to happen
whether I like it or not.
In the past few weeks I've come to see just how much
fear I have about most everything
and how it affects me on a daily basis.
Near 50 year habits are hard to break.

I'm not trying to fix that, just being aware of it.
Much better than repressing it.

Last night I woke from a nightmare with a start.
Waking past the point where one normally wakes up.
It was only when Something shouted at me in the dream
that I woke. I tried to stay awake then for a bit
because I was scared of going back into the dream if I didn't.

Tomorrow is another full day.
I hope sleep comes soon.
Sans the nightmares.

Photo Credit

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Meant To Be

Today was a one foot in front of the other kind of day although I took a sick day because whatever is kicking my butt is still kicking. Didn't think my coworkers needed to be exposed to my germs.

Today another little piece of the puzzle, as my Spiritual Director calls them, was revealed to me. Snuck up on me only to smack me right in the face. An opportunity for growth. Lovely.

Ever since saying yes to God in the midst of early sobriety, I have been determined to embrace growth opportunities. Sometimes the hug is tentative and sometimes it's a bear hug. Either way it doesn't mean they don't scare the beejezus out of me sometimes. This is one of them. I'm trusting that stuff being revealed is stuff being revealed in its proper time, that it's not some random act but meant to be.

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Monday, November 08, 2010


Today contained one of those serendipitous moments that I credit to my HP. I had to look up the definition of serendipity before I could publish this post though. Does that ever happen to you? You hear a word used for years and understand it from the context in which it's said but if asked to define it you come up blank? That happens to me a lot.

Anyway, I've been sick since last week. I've been trying to shake it off, waiting for my immune system to do its work. Today I finally cried 'uncle' and went to the walk in clinic to get a throat swab. Let's hope this doesn't need antibiotics as I'm allergic to just about every single one of them. The person attending to me said she'd have to really think hard to come up with something I could take if the swab came back positive.

She was a medical personnel I'd known of who could be a great resource for one of my health issues. Today I asked her if she'd be interested and she said yes. She doesn't take new patients but was willing to help with this particular issue. I'm grateful for that. She is a wonderful advocate and having her in my court is a gift.

I am slowly learning how to be a self advocate, too. I've often either been worried I was inconveniencing people or I was on the defensive and came across as aggressive and demanding. There is something empowering about stating needs without apology or entitlement that I am grateful to be learning.

It's something I've learned was possible through the example of people in AA quite frankly. At first when people would simply say what they thought or set boundaries without apology and without throwing a hissy fit I wanted to duck before the war errupted. When there wasn't one (and I'm not saying this is normal or 100% happenstance in AA, cause I don't speak for AA, this is just my experience)it became a possibility for me, too.

So today I did a bit of a happy dance, sore throat and all.

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Saturday, November 06, 2010

Good Friends

There are three funerals I could go to this week. This morning there were two. Then I opened the paper over lunch and there were three. Remember this post? The man in that post died a few days ago. The poor people left in that family have lost a sister and both parents now. I cannot imagine.

Tonight I reconnected with a friend I rarely phone but we both knew two of the three people who died. She is one of those lifelong friends one has where you pick up where you left off and it's like it was yesterday that you last spoke. There aren't many of those kinds of friends in this life and I am grateful for her.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Me Nan

I am a bit of an X Factor addict. Every season I wait for the show highlights to be posted on youtube. Then every week after that I am waiting for my fix. The young girl below really captivated my attention even though her kind of music is not my own. I especially like the bit with her "Nan" towards the end of this clip. Just this morning I watched her vlog for this week and when asked what three things she'd want on a island with her one of them was "me Nan" because she said, "I can't live without me Nan." And I love that.

Everyone needs someone to love them so well especially while they are growing up. Some have parents who do that, or a friend, and many have grandparents. One set of my grandparents were that for me as a child. If you have time if you look on youtube for this young girl's live shows 1 through 4 you will see she really has talent. Her live show 4 mesmerized me.

Cher Lloyd - Live Show 1
Cher Lloyd - Live Show 2
Cher Lloyd - Live Show 3
Cher Lloyd - Live Show 4

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

End Of Story....Except.....

All the posts around the blog sphere today about voting in the US makes me think they take voting much more serious south of the border than we do in Canada, where there is a general apathy about it. Least that's my opinion. I admire the difference.

When I was a child my dad was approached by a provincial politician to enter the upcoming election as a candidate. I remember a big sign that was hung on the fence announcing to the community which political party we supported.

After my dad was approached we travelled to the provincial capital so he could spend the weekend hob nobbing with politicians. Money was tight so we pitched a tent in the pouring rain, in a campground 15 minutes outside the city. I remember my mom sitting in the car smoking her Peter Jackson cigarettes while three of us kids went inside a big city hotel with my dad to some kind of political gathering. There were ladies in fancy clothes serving fancy food. I don't know if it was pity or good social graces but they treated us like we were special. We were the only kids present. Soggy, bedraggled kids who had spent the weekend camping in a tent in the rain. We never went to another political function. My mom told my dad she would divorce him if he entered politics. End of story.

Except there was this big, blue, round building at the campground where one could buy candy and pay camping fees. People would gather there for a cup of coffee to shoot the breeze. I stood not much more than eye level to the candy counter and while my dad was visiting with the man behind the counter I reached up and stole a tiny Cadbury chocolate bar. It fit right in the palm of my hand. Inside it was two squares of delicious milk chocolate. I hid in the tent, water leaking from the roof and ate that chocolate so fast you would've thought I'd inhaled it. (A habit I never lost the whole time I ate chocolate!)

I doubt I wiped all traces off my face and I'm sure my mom had other things on her mind than wondering whether her kids were stealing candy. Like how it sucked to be stuck in a campground on a rainy weekend with 5 kids while her husband spent the weekend at political parties bull shitting with the candidates and possibly the former provincial premier. Looking back I doubt I would've given up a chance to meet Tommy Douglas either had I been my dad.

Fast forward 20 years. Dearest one and I are driving down the highway to our new home. And there beside the highway is that big, blue, round building where they used to have tiny chocolate bars for sale for a nickle. I could even remember exactly which camping spot was ours.

From then on we drove past that campground every time we went grocery shopping or had a doctor's appointment. One day, after I had sobered up, I stopped to make amends for stealing that chocolate bar. I have no memory of what followed. All I know is that I stopped carrying around the guilt and shame for my childhood crime. The adults around me as a child set all kinds of poor examples of morality but stealing wasn't one of them. It was a huge relief to make that amend.

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