CATCH UP

Another stretch of radio silence and I do apologize for that. I was visiting with a dear friend the other night and we were catching up after a long stretch of our own brand of radio silence. We discussed spouses, kids, family members and jobs. Sadly, a lot of the discussion was rather sad, and stressful, but to a certain extent, we both realize that no one gets through this life unscathed. I learned a long time ago to stop asking, “It couldn’t get any worse, could it?” because the answer is sometimes frightening.

Neither of us talks like this on a daily basis. Neither of us is the type to drop our heads, pop our lips out in a pout and whimper “why me?” It’s just that every now and then, a girl has gotta vent!

About a year ago I was fortunate enough to see a motivational speaker who called out a large group of people on the human nature flaw of self-pity. He pointed that drama is toxic, talking about others (gossip) is toxic, ranting is toxic. He also stated the obvious – that everyone who lives this life will face challenges. Some are small and annoying, some are large and life-changing, but EVERYONE will have them both. People who ask “Why me?” should then ask themselves, “If you not you, then WHO?” Does any one person deserve to have an inordinate amount of trials and tribulations so that others may have less??

Part of what makes life sweet, are the sour moments. Think about it. You cannot appreciate the light without the darkness. If you were given an existence without hills and valleys, you would undoubtedly, be bored – not to mention unfulfilled. Each of us has a journey. Whether it’s to learn a lesson, share a gift, have an experience, and we all have our crosses to bare.

Every now and then, it seems like my plate is overflowing with “character building” situations; but I also acknowledge how blessed I am, how good my life is, and how much I have to look forward to. There are days that are challenging, but they come with days that are wonderful. I’ll take the sour with the sweet.

Roundup Reading

There has been far too much going on to focus on any one topic, so here goes nuthin’!

1. Graduation

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It was a pretty big day. Second Born Son wore my Dad’s going away suit from his wedding to my mother 46 years ago. Some minor alterations and a trip to the dry cleaner, and he was the snappiest grad in the room. Dad gave him the suit two months ago and seeing the outfit that night was a very emotional part of the event.

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If you think he was excited about the Graduation certificate….

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…and the Athletic certificate (with a broken arm for half the year, no less)…

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…imagine our surprise when he received the Principal’s Leadership Award.

My mother and I were too busy commenting on the various other awards being handed out, to listen to what the principal was saying about our Grad!

“Each year, the Ontario Principal’s Council donates a leadership award to go to a deserving grade 8 graduate. This student demonstrates many great qualities such as leadership, and citizenship, and kindness, and humour, and respect. He’s helpful, well-liked. He’s willing to go that extra mile for peers and for adults. He’s supportive of on-going social causes and has been active with the Me to We group. He approaches life with a great positive energy and unbridled enthusiasm. I am pleased to give the OPC Leadership Award to SECOND BORN SON!”

Needless to say, we are very proud!

2. The Kindness of Others
It has been truly heartwarming to experience the outpouring of support and kindness in the weeks (a month already!) following my father’s passing. You find out who the people are that you can count on; those who truly care.

It is a unique situation; losing a parent. Those of you who have not yet experienced this, there are no words to prepare you. People can tell you their stories, but your experience will be as unique as your relationship. To those of you who have lost one or both of your parents; wow – I cannot believe how much this situation sucks. It’s like the world is spinning on a different axis. The sun now rises in the North. You almost lose trust in yourself. You don’t even realize you go days without crying and then a single phrase can knock the wind out of you.
I want to feel better and forget about this. I never want to feel better and I will never forget this.

3. Hail Mary – Good News!
Anyone who has followed The Bowery Girl knows that employment has been a delicate top. Need a refresher? Try here.

In the past three years, there has been a lot of frustration, some revelations and a great deal of change. The job I’m going to at the end of the month is a compilation of every job I’ve ever had, including my most recent. It’s interesting how the universe will make you think you are heading out into the wilderness, only to find your Utopia!

I’m very happy to be back to work full time, even if The Big Guy and the boys will have to make do with a little less homemade baking!

Real or Fake: AKA Getting into the Spirit of Christmas

Real or artificial?

It’s a debate for the ages. Some suggest full and natural, the way God created them, is the best. Others think there is nothing wrong with the artificial version, and that sometimes perfection is attained through a manufacturer, not necessarily nature. This is especially true when you are particular on size, shape, uniformity.

You know we’re talking about Christmas Trees here, right?

This year I decided I’d really like a real tree. And then I furthered the concept by deciding I’d like to get one from Mom and Dad’s property. Dad was thrilled. Mom objected. Especially when I asked for one of these…..

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So, I relented. After all, I didn’t want to look greedy. Dad was keen to help us out, and scouted a couple of locations. The problem was, everybody had an opinion about what kind of tree we should have. We struck out with the big truck, and headed back the lane way. After a brief search, the guys decided they found “The One”.

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Ah. No.

So, we kept walking, and walking.

Then they found this one…

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Really?

Still walking. Getting cold now people!

Then we came across this one.

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Now we’re talking turkey! We all agreed, this was our tree. The Big Guy got the cutting started with the handsaw, and Second Born Son quickly took over.

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He cut,

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and cut,

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and cut. Finally, we thought we heard something!

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I didn’t think it was serious, after all, my father is howling with laughter. But it looked like assistance may have been required!

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More than just a little ham was being served here, folks.

So after First Born Son took off to locate the truck, the rest of us debated the best route to get the tree out of the forest.

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Why, yes, that is a water gun. Why is my father holding a water gun? Because he’s carrying it back to the house for SBS. Why do we have a water gun? Because we are looking for a Christmas tree…Do I have to explain EVERYTHING???

Finally, we are making tracks.

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We load up the tree and take it home. Where, suddenly, something becomes apparent….

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Yes, that’s the tree, upright, outside the house. Adjacent to the sliding glass doors. No photoshopping here, Jack. That tree is THAT TALL. Hmmmm. Wisely, The Big Guy decided to wait until I was at work to bring the tree in the house. We knew the tree would need a little trimming. The top was very spindly, so we figured nipping that off would solve the problem. What I missed was A LOT of trimming. A LOT of sap and, my favourite, a middle of the kitchen stump docking. Yes, A SAW IN MY KITCHEN.

Thankfully, when I came home, all I saw was this…

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Let’s pause for a moment and note the amount of clearance between the top of my tree and my HAND PLASTERED CEILING!!! We opted for denial and started decorating.

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Again, I’m going to draw your attention to the TOP OF MY TREE!!!

Finally, after covering ourselves in sap, spruce needles and glitter, we had ourselves a Christmas Tree! We had one last thing to do…

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Folks, if my angel were to sneeze, she’d be wiping sap off her nose. The Big Guy crammed her on so hard, she might have to go out with the tree.

With my tree lit and angel violated installed, it finally felt like Christmas had arrived!

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From our house to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I Can’t Change, Even If I Wanted To…

Indulge me and read the lyrics for this song below…

“Same Love”
(with Ryan Lewis)
(feat. Mary Lambert)

When I was in the third grade I thought that I was gay,
‘Cause I could draw, my uncle was, and I kept my room straight.
I told my mom, tears rushing down my face
She’s like “Ben you’ve loved girls since before pre-k, trippin’ “
Yeah, I guess she had a point, didn’t she?
Bunch of stereotypes all in my head.
I remember doing the math like, “Yeah, I’m good at little league”
A preconceived idea of what it all meant
For those that liked the same sex
Had the characteristics
The right wing conservatives think it’s a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made rewiring of a predisposition
Playing God, aw nah here we go
America the brave still fears what we don’t know
And God loves all his children, is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago
I don’t knowAnd I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warmIf I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the YouTube comments lately?
“Man, that’s gay” gets dropped on the daily
We become so numb to what we’re saying
A culture founded from oppression
Yet we don’t have acceptance for ’em
Call each other faggots behind the keys of a message board
A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it
Gay is synonymous with the lesser
It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference!
Live on and be yourself
When I was at church they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service those words aren’t anointed
That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned
When everyone else is more comfortable remaining voiceless
Rather than fighting for humans that have had their rights stolen
I might not be the same, but that’s not important
No freedom till we’re equal, damn right I support it

(I don’t know)

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

We press play, don’t press pause
Progress, march on
With the veil over our eyes
We turn our back on the cause
Till the day that my uncles can be united by law
When kids are walking ’round the hallway plagued by pain in their heart
A world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are
And a certificate on paper isn’t gonna solve it all
But it’s a damn good place to start
No law is gonna change us
We have to change us
Whatever God you believe in
We come from the same one
Strip away the fear
Underneath it’s all the same love
About time that we raised up

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can’t change
Even if I try
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

Love is patient
Love is kind
Love is patient
Love is kind
(not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I’m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I’m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I’m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
Love is kind

I heard this song for the first time last week and it had a profound impact on me. I bought it on Monday and I’ve been listening to it ever since, and every time I hear it, I have the same reaction. YES! This is everything I could ever want to say!

For me, homosexuality was not an issue. I don’t remember seeing my first gay couple. For my way of thinking, finding another human being who will love and accept you, that’s a beautiful thing. Maybe it’s because of my upbringing. My parents never voiced negativity about homosexuality, but in all honesty, it didn’t really enter our world. There were themes in movies and music, but my sister and I never got the vibe that it was “wrong”.

I remember sitting in church when it was announced that the United Church of Canada was the first Christian denomination to ordain gay and lesbian ministers. I was so proud. That was 25 years ago. In many ways, living in Canada has given me a perplexed view of the insanity going on about gay marriage in the U.S. What’s the big freakin’ deal?

Let’s look at it this way…

Sarah

female

mother, wife, daughter, sister

writer, photographer, dreamer, schemer, baker, closet singer

heterosexual

When the topic of homosexuality comes up, you would be the same but unfortunately, it seems to look like this…

Jane

HOMOSEXUAL

Lots of other things that make up who Jane is, but not nearly as interesting as

HER SEX LIFE

Whaaaaaaa?

I can guarantee you, I don’t want to move my sex life up my list of defining characteristics. Do you?

Here’s more food for thought. You wake up tomorrow and there is a new set of “rules”. You are no longer allowed to be with your partner. If you are male, society does not want you anywhere near your wife/girlfriend. You need to find yourself a nice man and settle down. If you are a female, forget having a future with your husband/boyfriend. Society, family, friends all try to convince you that you are confused, you REALLY want to be with a woman, right?

Imagine sitting in church and being told you are not loved by God if you love someone of the opposite sex? Could someone offer you a course that would make you accept a relationship you didn’t feel was natural to you?

Then why the hell would you expect that of a woman who loves another woman; a man who loves another man.

There is no “choice” in this. There is no “wanting” to be gay.  Young people would rather die than bear the torture they experience because of how their DNA lines up. Hate crimes against the gay communities continue, regardless of the media focus and supposed moral outrage. This is why I’m saying this now. Here. I support my family, friends, and co-workers past and present who are all a part of SAME LOVE.

I fully expect to get some negative feedback about this column, and quite frankly, I DON’T CARE. I would rather be judged by small minded, backward thinking people than be silent and considered to be one of them.

Passing on Perfection

There was a conversation about my sons earlier this week. The person I spoke with made a profound comment.

“Your sons are just perfect.”

My heart sank.

Crazy, right? Mothers around the world would love to have their offspring branded as “perfect” and yet all I can think is “NOOOOO!” I thanked her and dismissed the comment at the same time. After all, there is no way IN. HELL. that my kids are perfect. Their mother certainly isn’t.

I’ve had issues with that word, that concept, for a while now. I don’t believe in “perfect”. Perfect is limiting, unattainable, and damaging. Lifetimes have been wasted in the quest for perfection. It’s a conversation I’ve had with The Big Guy throughout our relationship. He’s a big believer in “perfect”. As you can imagine, it makes for interesting chit chat.

The perfect couple, right? WRONG!

The perfect couple, right? WRONG!

He is driven by details, and is brutally hard on himself. He pours over the fine points. I am deadline driven. I can accomplish a huge amount in a very short period of time. Together we are a great combination, even if we don’t come from he same point of view. Perfection is something he values, and I’m still wondering why he ever wanted to be with me since I know that I don’t rank very high on the Perfect Scale. Nor would I care to.

You learn so much more from a mistake. I don’t want perfect children. They would be very uninteresting. They are better prepared for life with the flaws that they have and learning how to overcome or embrace them.

Perfection is a relative term. My idea of a perfect evening could be pjs, a bowl of popcorn, a great movie and a blanket to cuddle under. Yours might be an evening at a restaurant with friends. Which is actually perfect? Is my vision wrong because it doesn’t match yours? My definition the following night could very well change. Was my first night not “perfect” because I picked a new “perfect” the next time?

THAT'S more like it!

THAT’S more like it!

Once perfection is achieved, which in and of itself is almost impossible for the majority of us, the next mammoth task is to maintain perfection. Any less is failure, which perfectionists know full well, is the antithesis of perfection.

Now please don’t misunderstand, I believe in putting your best effort forth. I think its important to have a personal best. I have looked a photographs I have captured, which at the time were my best, and now I can do better. It’s about growth and the continued development of me. Tomorrow I will do better than I did today, just as I am better today than I was yesterday.

Perfection is uninteresting, predictable. Perfection is the starting place of downfall and disappointment.

Give me flawed, real, genuine. It speaks to me and is a far better motivator.

A Year Ago

A year ago, I couldn’t go to the back of my parents’ property to see the Trilliums.

That’s because a year ago, my father was going into the hospital. We missed a lot last year; the trees coming out in leaf, the magical ponds that appear only in the spring,

…we missed the little things that deserve our attention. We missed a lot.

But we were more afraid of missing the things that could have been. We were afraid of what might not be. We were lucky, blessed, if you will. A year ago things looked very bleak, or so we thought.

Six months ago, however, we found out what bleak was. But that was then and this is now. Six months can make a world of difference.

Today, I went for a tractor ride with my father. He worked. The fact that he could do so, well, there are no words.

We looked at the flowers, the magical ponds and admired that no matter what happens in nature, spring always has a way of giving us hope.