Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Late days in March

It is coming up to the last days of March. In the distant past, March was a gloomy month I couldn't wait to end so Spring would finally be on the way. Late March is the detritus of winter replete with receding dirty snow on the sidewalk, its debris, salt, gravel and leftover litter embedded in there- winter's mess out staying its welcome. March is an ending, the end of winter, the end of cold weather the end of dark nights and the end of my life with my husband. The last days of March were the days I found out my husband was diagnosed with fuck ca and the days he spent dying of it. It will always mean this. Now when I get past March 20th it starts. The memories of what I was doing and not doing, knowing and not knowing, noticing and not noticing etched forever into my story as those last days slipped into never being a normal month of March again -not for me. I count down the end days of March and remember now what I didn't then. I wish for a different ending. I don't want March to end because I know what it means. I know what early April brings and I fervently hope by some magic twist or turn of fate, by some rethinking of it all perfectly, perhaps I can do it differently this time.

It's a funny thing this concept of time and even though it's three years since he died, for me time acts like it doesn't care or remember or give a shit. Time waits for no man- isn't that what they say? Not true - it waits for me every March. Once that calendar rolls over to March 20th I am back to 2014 like these last three years was a cruel twilight zone joke. And it's a hard go, when I say I relive it, I mean I relive it. I know those days and the events and the feelings like they are happening now.  I am walking to work, and functioning, and going through life's motions they are not happening now - but they are.

People are talking to me and forgetting that I lost him this week, they don't know that on the 25th I came to the realization that I missed the fact that he was dying as he did it right before my eyes. That, on the 28th I was telling him his death sentence and he wasn't getting it, too far gone in his illness with the toxins in his brain to comprehend such madness. That I am dreaming of it again, that I am reliving the loss of my world this week. No wait they are not forgetting this, scratch that, the truth is they don't know it at all. They know I am a widow, they know I lost him somewhere along the way, but they don't know what the end of March means to me. Oh some very close to me do, and they hush in my presence, they who know but don't want to go. But I go, I have to go. I march into the end of March like a death sentence on me, like a walk to the gallows where it will all be over come early April.

Monday, 20 March 2017

International day of happiness

Today they say is international day of happiness. I remember when I was growing up we had Christmas, Easter, Valentines day, Halloween and a few more, all other days were just Monday through Sunday. Now there is a need to label everyday something to celebrate or mark the occasion of. Most I ignore, but this one caught my attention. Happiness ahh that wonderful feeling of ...label what you think it is here...... To me happiness is "a feeling of joy that makes my heart want to burst". Of course I am not the only one to feel this, see here  https://www.scienceandnonduality.com/the-brain-heart-connection-emotions-feelings-and-health/  and I am not a good enough writer to detail this feeling into words.

But on this feeling, I think that is a lot to live up to isn't it? I am only happy if it causes this wonderful powerful feeling in my heart???  Umm well like many things in my life I am all in or not at all, one extreme to another, It is how I am. I am learning balance (I still think that is boring, but I am learning) but I don't want to focus on a balanced lesser version of feeling happiness in this blog and its my blog so I can do what I want. But I digress, back to happiness and this feeling of my heart wanting to burst because it might just not be able to contain the joy and feeling. I have been fortunate in life to have experienced this numerous times. I can remember some of them quickly off the top of my head when I hear the word happiness:
-playing outside by myself when I was seven, I had new socks and loved them
-seeing Terry for the first time
-a 230 am swim with Terry
-holding Justin for the first time, seeing all my children for the first time
-sitting on the bus going over the Mackay bridge on the way to work looking at the sunrise
-flying for the first time without fear
-hearing a song in a time of crisis that calmed my soul and spoke to me ("quiet your mind" by Great Lake Swimmers)
-a day on the Cabot Trail with Terry from sunrise to sunset, camera in hand
-jumping in the waves at Lawrencetown beach during a major heat wave, waves so perfect, there has to be a god
-making love outside for the first time - tall grass, hot sun, warm breeze
-watching the sunset over the Tuscan valley

Yes I have been happy, I have experienced happiness. Sometimes it comes because I have worked hard to achieve it, however, sometimes it just slays me out of nowhere. These are my favorite times, they give me hope that it can happen again and again. These unexpected visitations teach me that happiness isn't just something I deserve when I try hard and do good, sometimes it's just a beautiful gift given by the universe for no reason except I opened up to it. I think we all experience this, we are all visited with moments days weeks and longer of happiness and bliss. Maybe at times we shut off and won't let the feeling surface, I know I have, but having said that, I know happiness doesn't only come to those open to experience it,- here is the best part - it comes to all of us anyway. It comes to those that do not deserve it and to those that do, to those that squander it and to those that treasure it, to those open to it, to those closed to it and to those guilt ridden and feeling unworthy of it. Happiness comes anyway, why? Because it's not a thing- an external state- a event- a episode. Happiness is humanness. It is a bonus awesome byproduct of humanness.

Whether you worked for your happiness or you are fortunate enough to have it visit you unexpectedly today may your heart burst with the joy of it on this international day of happiness.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Hey twinnie

It is a blessing and a curse to be a twin. When I was young my mom dressed me and my twin Pam alike and lately I got to wondering if this was an identity crisis in the making. Of course I thought I had an identity back then, I was me I didn't know different I didn't question anything. It's only looking back knowing what I know now that this thought has started to seep in. Think about it. I was squished into a small space forming who I am for 9 months literally physically entangled with her doing the same. I then slept in the same bedroom with her until I was about 13. Talked a strange language with her as a toddler, went to the same classroom until grade 5, the same schools even into post secondary education, and I looked exactly like her so much so that I can't tell who I am in childhood pictures. From grade school I was called twinnie, I was constantly asked,"which one are you"? I answered to both. Although I viciously fought with her a lot growing up, I usually was crushed if we weren't on best terms, and still feel that way. I shared my best friends with her, even shared the same dreams with her some nights. And yes we had some major differences as we grew up- she had no children of her own, I had five, I married at 18, she in her 40's, she's going grey, I refuse to (tee hee) regardless, yes identity issue for sure. How could you not have?

So you know how they say that you go through a midlife crisis and look back over your life and regrets and unfulfilled dreams yadda yadda bullshit etc. Well I didn't do that in midlife mainly because I have been doing that all my life. But I have recently been thinking about who I am and who I want to be. Not brought about by being middle aged but by have a whole new life forced on me. So as I contemplate who I am of course what comes up is  I am Pam's twin.  But I am not Pam I am Susan (albeit and notwithstanding the difficulty I have connecting with the name- another story for another time) but yes I am Susan. Or hey maybe Sussey for now. So really case in point is who the fuck am I anyway and what do I like, want, dream of? Well I like a lot of the same stuff as my twin (see there I go again). I love music, nature, the ocean, reading - and so does she. I love photography but I am not connected to that creative side of me right now. I wonder if I lost it, I even wonder if it has to do with Pam's own love of photography and how into it she is and I just can't or don't want to compete anymore (we never were very competitive-NOT!!!). And here comes the identity crisis creeping in. Do I so want my own identity I will give up my love of photography because she does the same hobby? Can I do it myself and not be tied to her doing it? I don't know the answers. I am seeking them and will let you know when I do.

It is very hard to convey to a singleton the tie that bonds twins - this creepy twin thing, like a old married couple who finish each others sentences and anticipate what the other is thinking and feeling. Pam's husband says her and I share a brain (no we are not co-joined) but he has a point and damn it I want my own thoughts and personality (whatever the hell they are) back- or at least found- thank you very much. Not that I would ever not have that twin of mine constantly in my consciousness. Even when not physically there, she is always right beside me (kinda on the right side of me) invisible  but present, us commenting back and forth in thought - in everything I do. If she wasn't in the world this would not stop. I know that now from experience.

She makes up a big part of me, I am grateful for my twin Pam but Sussey needs to go for awhile and see how different and unique her thoughts, actions, decisions, and life can be. It's not a crisis, lets just call it an identity fact finding mission. The funny thing is I know she will totally understand and get this. In fact, I am already thinking about what she will say about it to me. However, dear twinnie hold off this time, let Sussey find her way first then we will talk.

Monday, 13 March 2017

On ageism and my smiley guy

So one day last May, two years plus since fuck ca took him, I had made a decision to not stare at the ground and cry on my walk to work anymore. A lot of time spent crying on the way to work was not cutting it anymore and I needed, no - I wanted - a change. I wanted to be part of the world again but just could not make my way out of the plastic bag I periodically envisioned over my head. The grief therapy- group and private-, love/ hate on/ off again relationships with antidepressants and talk till you drop your friend's patience was not cutting it (at least as far as a change in the behavior). Because hey wanting something and actually doing something to get there are two different things right? So after contemplating it for a few months it was time and the month of May with spring in the air was as good a time as any. Be in the world Sussey, look up, look people in the eye again and smile at them. I would make my mark on the world instead of hiding in it. Advertise that I am alive again.

So forward I go with this attempt at a change in my behavior in the hopes to then perhaps change my mood (my own private personal trial of CBT). I remember the decision and I remember the weeks of failure. To be seen and to get a smile in return was just not happening (what the fuck people this is Halifax not Edmonton). I was really looking at people, staring them in the eye and smiling. Seeing them come toward me on the sidewalk, catching a glance at a distance, hello over here, see me, staying with it as we get closer, broadening my smile, crinkling the eyes with it and..... shit you walk on by me and look down?  WTF? Was my smile too warm? Too welcoming? Too in your face? Are you grieving too? Do you just not see the invisible middle aged women? I must admit as the days mounted up without a return nod of acknowledgement, let alone a smile, I was believing the latter. And getting more and more angry and more and more determined. You motherfuckers you're not gonna get me down. You're gonna see I too am part of this world! I have a right to be here, to be happy, to smile,....damn you frowning ignoring eye averting fuckers to hell. I HAVE A RIGHT TO LIVE, TO LIVE IN THIS WORLD AND FUCK YOU I AM NOT INVISIBLE, I AM HERE. Be warned don't get me going, I am Irish, I am a redhead.

Then I noticed something. I started to believe it and feel empowered by it. This reverse psychology was starting to work on me. And I was smiling. Not because I was saying fuck off to ageism or out of spite to the world I thought I didn't want a part of or to one up the non-smile-backers. But I was smiling because I wanted to and because it felt so much better than watching those sorry guilt-laden tears fall to the sidewalk. Because it did make me part of the world again. Imagine that....CBT worked......   And then down the sidewalk comes my smiley guy.

In my head I did my ok here comes someone, oh he has a beautiful stark red turban on, wow look how meticulously it's wrapped how its shape is perfect, he carries it so well especially for the young man he is. I wonder will he? I'm staring I don't care I hope it doesn't offend in his culture, oh he won't look betcha 10 bucks, he might think it's disrespectful closer, closer, he walks fast, hold your smile hold your gaze sussey just do it, closer and then ......magic. Another human reciprocated. This beautiful young man looks at me directly in my eyes and wowzers omg  omg  omg that is enough. But then to add pudding to the pie and reward me for weeks of trying, when it finally didn't matter anymore he smiles back at me and I am blessed with the most beautiful smile I have ever seen. (I have analyzed this many times afterward as I've been repeatedly rewarded and yes I am not making it up or just attributing the beauty of his smile to it being my first reciprocated, it remains the most beautiful -bar none). Beautiful man, I don't know your name, we see each other about twice every week on average, if I leave on the 7:10am ferry I will catch you. I have gone from a coy shy glance and brief look to the full on ain't letting your beauty go here it is when you look up-gaze. You have gone from pretending you don't see me until the last minute to waving at me from across the street but you never fail to smile, ever. We have gone from only smiles to saying hello to saying good morning. One time I saw you unexpectedly after work instead of before and giggled like a school girl with glee, foolish yes but I could not help myself. Smiley guy's smile gets me every time and lights up my day. I promise myself everyday, if I see him I am stopping him, I am telling him my name and how important his smile is and why. I want to capture it, I bring my camera in case I am brave enough. I promise I promise. And I walk by, excusing my failure with the likes of oh he was with another friend or he was walking too fast or others are on the sidewalk and will overhear me. And I kick myself all the rest of the way to work, but when I pass him I always look back. As I become a more assured more visible women, I swear I will do it, maybe one day when I look back he will too and I will run back and tell him. One day this blog will have another story to finish this story, it will have his picture, his reaction. Stay tuned.
So I was having this conversation with a friend the other day about women my age and how A) we are invisible B) about the May/December relationships and how when it's reversed (older women younger men) there is a stigma. And we chatted about smiley guy, who I guesstimate is probably mid thirties. I do not think of him in "that way" although  was challenged on this. No that is not it. Smiley guy lights up my day in the most innocent of ways. But later I admit I examined the challenge closer. Perhaps societal stigma and how good girls behave (demure, not assertive, especially not aggressive or going after what they want) has kept other encounters "innocent" and me unable even to entertain the thought of a younger man in my life "that way" (and no I ain't talking about thirty somethings) but just maybe forty somethings? Time and circumstances will tell, as for those 40 somethings actually interested in a 54 year old well that is a rant for another time. For now I say even to entertain the thought, to ponder my friends challenge, is a "fuck you" to ageism and I like that.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Food is Love

My first memories of food and all the complex emotions that surround it started around the age of seven. We used to go to my big Nanny's house, yes we called her big nanny. My mom's mom was big, and I was told she used to be a chef at the old Elizabeth Hotel in Halifax. Her kitchen always smelled like tea biscuits, homemade bread, and roast beef. She wore a dress, orthopedic shoes, support hose for her varicose veins and a big dress apron. I never saw her in any other clothes. She would hug me into her big wonderful bosom and hold me on her lap. She was my first memory of demonstrative love. Me and my two sisters and parents would go to big nannies house every Sunday afternoon for a visit and supper, all this topped off with Hymn Sing and The Wonderful World of Disney. We would gather around the big dining room table with my mother's siblings and my cousins and eat what I now understand was her wonderful magical food. I know as a seven year old I didn't care that much about the actual food then (except her strawberry shortcake) but I sure cared about the love and the feeling and the fun around that table. 

My big nanny died when I was nine and my mom carried on the tradition of suppers at her house when I had my babies. I then took up the cause in due time. All in all love and family and food are inextricably linked for me. When my children were older my husband was the Sunday chef, everyone gathered at his big dining room table on Sunday and I talked often of my big nanny and how important making these memories for others is. I lost my cooking skills (the little I had) and so I felt the weight laying heavy to carry on the tradition again after Terry died. A few of the kids moved away and I stopped regular Sunday suppers after a brief year of trying.  All that said my point is I know how much food and love are linked. I know how important the effort is to gather my kids and grand babies at my table. I feel joy when I do it and have them there, and I remember again big nanny in her kitchen.  Love and food.

My favorite movies are those about food, (check out Like Water for Chocolate, Babette's Feast, The Lunchbox), some of my favorite shows are those about food. I want to know the history of food, I drool in Lydia's kitchen. A scene in a movie where a family sits outside in a Italian garden around the table drinking wine and eating and carrying the plot along awwww gets me every time. My most favorite date memories with Terry revolve around a fancy or not so fancy restaurant with great food and all those innuendo's and heightened senses of taste and smell, like in the movie Nine and a Half Week. Better than a dozen roses, just talk food.   Sex and food

When our son died friends and family showed up first thing in the morning with food (I was young and didn't get it then, I do now). I've made a special cake every year for the last 17 years, the same one my best friend brought me that morning, the only thing I could eat for a week. Years later when I was in a clinical depression I could not eat for months on end. After my husband died I could not stop eating and stuffing myself, I could not stop buying food to fill the house, only to throw it out rotten.
Grief and food.

I get food. I get the connection, that visceral hook it has in me and in us all. I see how it can become an addiction, how it can make or break a person, their body, their mental health. I understand the need to strictly control what goes in the mouth in order to not feel that which is there. The deprivation, the victory of denial that can take the place of the real issue, it takes a lot of hard work and focus to starve and this distracts from the trauma. I get the cycle of stuff deplete, stuff deplete  repeat. I can see how it can change a person from a 100 lbs to 400lbs over a troubled life.  Mental illness and food.

So life goes on, I still have to eat. So I go wherever and whenever I am invited to dinner, I eat out with friends when I can. I invite people over so I can use my fantastic kitchen and make a nice meal for them. But I despise cooking for one, in fact I rarely and I mean rarely do it. And by "cooking" I am talking put a pot on the stove for Kraft dinner- and even that is too much effort if I am the only one eating it.  I have yet to go to a restaurant alone for my supper. So I have resorted to boxed dinners and or cheese and crackers and potato chips or ice cream for supper. My new single girl's supper. It's telling of where I am at. But more importantly- it is not where I want to be. I see a future where I come home and cut up some fresh veggies, cook something healthy just for me, experiment with recipes, set the table, anticipate and enjoy the meal I made just for myself. Or perhaps a evening in that restaurant I always wanted to try.  Just me, a table for one please. I see it. It is coming. It will be like another baby step on the road back to healing from this grief, to filling in this crater that sits in the middle of my life.   Healing and food.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Dating: Entry level

So when you make the decision to date you step into a whole new world. In 2017 it's evident to me that you need a entry level course, like a pre-101 course. Especially for someone like myself who has not dated since I was eighteen years old. Yes that was way back in 1980. Yes, times have changed and let me tell you.... Dorothy we are not in Kansas anymore. So for those of you like myself, listen up girls while I share what I learned. Here, you can borrow my notes from class before you step into this life lesson yourself and navigate your way to a first date.

1) You have to go online, yes it sucks but no one you know knows anyone single, so get over it
2) Make your profile about who you are- not who you think they are looking for- be honest
3) You do not have to answer everyone back who messages you, in fact don't (more on that later)
4) Yes there are cons out there who want your money and /or your pussy, nothing else
5) If a handsome youngish guy who is a widower messages you, he's from Nigeria, ignore him
6) If you are hearing everything you want to hear, don't believe it, it is too good to be true
7) You will be ghosted (google it)
8) You will see some virtual penises, when you least expect it
9) Always meet in a public place and have an excuse ready (you will need this)
10) No you are not obliged if they ask to kiss them after a first meet or first date
11) You will be messaged half sentences like  "your so beautiful", "I rely want to touch your hair"
12) Guys who stood you up or refused to talk to you will message you again to chat
13) You don't have to message them back or ......guys who can't spell
14) There are a whole pile of shitbags out there
15) There are a number of nice guys out there, if you get to date them count yourself lucky
16) Did I say be yourself?
17) Be very wary of connecting with someone who says they are moving here, they aren't
18) You will be very discouraged, step away for awhile when this happens
19) Meet face to face as quickly as possible, it is much easier to really know someone you see
20) Know what you want and what you don't want, you will be tested on that

There are some of my notes in point form I took in class thus far in my entry level dating course. I did not just copy these down from the lecture, I had to learn these on my own (my teachers are all married or in relationships and busy) and it has not always been a fun class. I would say I am averaging a C+. It is with great trepidation I sign up for the 101 course. I am not where I want to be and not even sure I know where I want to be. Sometimes I want to be alone, sometimes I want to just date and talk to men, sometimes I want be in a serious relationship, sometimes I want to just make out with no strings attached. Most times I just fucking want my husband back. Finally, I am pissed that I am in a position to have to take this course, that I didn't want or ask for, called widowhood. 

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Momma got a new pair of shoes

I find when I do something nice for myself there is a little lift that comes into my ordinary day. I went shopping one day recently and spent a little over $500 on myself. In the old days this was unheard of. I grew up with no money except the meager dollars gained from the odd babysitting job. I remember wanting to buy a bag of chips when I was a teenager and it being impossible to find the money to do so. In my married life we were poor at various times over the years while raising our five children and this poverty left a ugly mark on my soul. But times have changed. I have a great paying job, no debt, no dependents that require mega amounts of money. I have freedom to spend money on what I want when I want. Now I don't want to make the impression here that I am materialistic, I am not. I have learned that money can't buy happiness (try cashing a life insurance cheque from your husband's estate and see if you feel happy about it- or realize you can retire years earlier than planned but alone and without him). However, money can facilitate you experiencing nice feelings such as security or gratitude. It can enable you to act on your generosity in a new way. It can allow for the creation of happy events and thus memories that might not otherwise have been experienced. When I spent this $500 on myself it was to enjoy something nice that I had never had the luxury of experiencing before. I did not feel guilt that I was doing this, I did not regret it or think of all the other things I could have done with the money. I just treated myself to something very nice. It lifted my sad soul in that moment in time. And I was so grateful. I did not take it for granted or feel like I was entitled - I felt wow how fortunate am I to do this!

When I wear the items I bought on this ordinary day, no one will know or notice, but privately I will feel extraordinary. I will feel special and that I am worthy of this. I will remember the hard days when I was hungry and wanting a bag of chips, when I scraped together money to pay the bills. I will remember my husband working so hard to provide in all the ways he did and the humiliation and shame he sometimes experienced in his efforts. I will remember our married years of poverty as well as the years when the money flowed. I will take these memories and walk forward in my new shoes in this new life of bittersweet privilege I now have. And I will experience profound gratitude and thank the universe for it.