A Conversation with Myself

It was an innocent enough question.

“Uh, so what is your age now?” she asked. A light little voice with a Romanian accent.

“I’m 40,” I reply.

“Ah,” she breathes. Now I’m worried. She ever so delicately asks me what skin products I use and what my routine is. She then asks me if I have any products for Mature Skin. I have dry, sensitive skin which is the BEST skin EVER if you want to age prematurely. All I need is a heaping helping of leathery skin from OD’ing on sunbathing and it’s the perfect storm of old lady skin. She’s giving me advice, every so kindly, about taking care of myself; making sure I have the right products; the proper routine and regimen.

Here we go….

I’m laying in the dark with lovely, relaxing Nature Music playing. Little Sister has started the two-part process of covering the greys. My head is now turbaned and I’m getting a variety of lotions and potions applied to my skin. One feels like water, the next feels like Jell-O before it sets. I get a mask and a neck and shoulder massage before my little European friend leaves me alone in the dark while the mask seals on to my skin.

Vanity is not a tolerated characteristic in my family. Look good, yes. “Maintain” yourself? Who do you think you are? My big indulgence is the dye job (sorry Little Sister – “colouring”) but my nails aren’t always done. I give my own manicures and pedicures, mostly in the summer time when they are exposed. LS and I have talked about me going grey, since that’s what my hair has had in mind since I was 19. So I’m starting to think, why fight fate?

But as I lay in the dark I start a conversation….with myself.

“This feels SO good! I really need to do this more often!”

“Really?? You have the time to come down here and get all pampered and primped for most of a day once a month!?”

“But I think it’s good for me! This is the most relaxed I’ve been in a long time!”

“That’s great, but where are your priorities?”

“Well I try to take care of everyone else, why can’t I take a break for me too?”

“Really?! Sounds rather self-indulgent!”

“If a doctor told me I had to take something for my body’s health, I’d do it. What’s so different about my skin?”

“Vanity.”

“I’m NOT being vain!”

“Sure sounds like it!”

You get the idea. I focus on the babbling brook running through down through the speakers and into my head. So much better than my inner voice.

In my truck on the way home – with a jar of moisturizer beside me, the second chapter of the conversation begins. But it includes the information given to me by my new little friend – the magician who makes me look fresher, if not slightly puffy from spending two hours flat on my back in the middle of the afternoon.

“I’m going to do this! I’m going to start taking care of myself.”

“Of COURSE you are.”

“Well, you know what? She told me it’s easier to start taking care of myself now, than it is in 10 years when things REALLY start to slide.”

“Next you are going to be shooting crap into your face.”

“NO that’s GROSS!”

“Well then you’ll end up with surgery.”

“I don’t want plastic surgery!!”

“Ah! You want a nose job!”

“Well that’s different – it’s a genetic thing!! It’s a brutal nose.”

“And your eyes?”

“Well I’m convinced I’m going to wake up one day and won’t be able to open my eyes – and I can thank my father for that too!!! Freakin’ droopy eyelids! You know WHAT?? I don’t want to CHANGE myself, I just want to TAKE CARE of myself.”

“Sounds like justification to me….”

At this point I turn up the radio and sing, because honestly, how does one end an argument with one’s self?

One books next month’s appointment…..

A Tale of Two Paths

In the work that I do now, I get to witness people at some of their lowest points. The biggest observation I’ve made is my internal response to these experiences.

I have found these intense events fall under two categories: people who have bad things happen to them; and people who bring about bad things to happen to them.

There are people, who at this very moment, are finding out a loved one has died, that their house has burned down, that their car has been broken into and stolen. These people woke up this morning and had no clue what their day would end up like. They figured it would be another Thursday in a lifetime of Thursdays. And at breakfast, it was just another Thursday.

But by dinner tonight, not so much.

Then there are the other people. This group is not blind sided by the events of their day. They are aware of what their reality is, because they helped build it. They have spent their lifetime of Thursdays exposing themselves to people and events that are not healthy for them. They have made choices every day that have helped them get to the chaos they exist in.

They stay with their husband/wife when they should probably leave; especially when he/she has beaten them, again. They sneak out a window when their parents have forbidden them to leave the house, to meet someone who does not have their best intentions at heart. They have one more drink, one more joint, more, more, more. And finally, they sit up and question how they got to where they are now. What did they do to deserve this? In a word – nothing. But they are the authors of their own horror story. What they don’t realize is that they have laid every brick in the wall. They could choose a different way. It’s one step at a time, but it might as well be a 10 foot stair.

My heart bleeds for the people who get a phone call and find out their world is upside down. I want to reach out to them.

For the person who is angry at the world and doesn’t understand why their 18-year-old daughter is a drug addict when she’s been getting high every weekend since her children were born…

Well, I guess I’ll just have to work on that level of compassion.

Letters that Need to be Written – Part I

Dear 2011,

I thought this letter would be really hard to send you, but I think this is really going to be the best thing for the both of us.

We’re done.

We started a year ago with a lot of promise. I was hopefully for what you had in store for me and excited with what lay ahead. When January finally arrived and I was laid off my job, I was disappointed, but chose to take the high road and make lemonade out of lemons. The Big Guy was happy with his new job, and I figured, it was time for me to re-evaluated some things. Everyone around me was so supportive – “It’s just a matter of time,” they said, “You’ll be back to work before you know it.”

But I wasn’t.

I worked my butt off. No job. I stuck with you because it was early in our relationship. How bad could it be?

Silly me.

In February we found out The Farm was sold. A part of my heart died and my soul has ached ever since. We had two months to get used to the idea but with each passing day it was just more painful. Next my father was given scary news. The Big C had come to his little world and surgery was needed.

Easter came and we received more bad news – The Big Guy’s mom was very ill and it wasn’t going to get better. The following week we said our first good bye to The Farm. The next week, my father went under the knife. Four hours later, he was conscious and as sarcastic as ever, and I went home to pass out after the stress of  the day. Within three days, my sons buried their granny.

In the summer, Samson failed and we were faced with the incredibly difficult choice of letting him go. At this point there was so much snot and tears that I started getting the feeling that you and I might not be the best fit.

I gave you some slack when we found Roman. There was a glimmer of hope there. I was willing to give you another chance.

I was so distracted with freelancing and looking for work that the weeks flew by. We found ourselves wrapping up our long goodbye to The Farm. The pain of this was eased somewhat by the fact that I now had a freakin’ job. While the training for the new position had me questioning my sanity, intelligence level and the ulterior motive of my new employer, I was successful.

I was ready to be positive, honestly, I was, but for some reason it was too hard. My Dad, who appeared to be doing well over the summer, started to fail. It was getting very scary and by October, he was in emerg almost as much as he was at home. I knew I had it with you when November rolled around. The scare we had with him was profound and life altering. We nearly lost him. I decided I couldn’t find a glimmer of hope in our relationship, 2011. You and I needed to take a break.

I know you were trying to extend an olive branch to me last week, when doctors gave  Dad the news that he was Cancer free. However, he is far from healthy and we are doing everything we can to get him stronger.

I will look back on the afternoons under the trees with family and friends. I will cherish the warm weather we had while I worked outside. I would have liked a day or two at the beach, but I think I’m going to try that next year.

That’s right. I’ve found someone new. I’m excited about the opportunities that are presenting themselves again. I’ve learned a lot in the time you and I spent together. I will not ask myself “How much worse can it get?” because the answer is chilling. I will take it one day at a time. I look forward to feeling positive again. The next 12 months have made no promises to me, and I’m okay with that.

So, I hope you can let me go and allow me to move one. In time I’m sure I’ll recall more fond memories, but for now, I need time.

And his name is 2012.

Sarah

A Little Too Much Reality For My Liking

So, that extended break in entries… I was a little distracted with life.

Originally, it was the day-to-day stuff that got busy, like Halloween, but then crap started happening and I wake up today feeling like I’ve been hit by a truck and spinning out control like the hub cap it left behind.

My Dad has been ill, and things took a turn on Sunday. It’s not my news to share, but suffice it to say, I woke up to an urgent call at 8 a.m. and went to bed the following day at 2:30 a.m. There was a lifetime that happened in between. He is ok. Not great. Ok. He should be better if things continue the way they have for the past couple of hours. The problem is that things happened that shouldn’t have. He was in a great deal of pain when he didn’t have to be.

When the cashier at Wal-Mart makes a mistake on your bill, she can fix it. When the waiter messes up your order at the bar, you get a free drink. When the paint store mis tints your living room colour, you either learn to like lavender, or you get a refund. There is a reason why doctors are paid in a different tax bracket. The work they do and decisions they make not only impact the person they are in direct contact with, but also the legion of family and friends around that person.

Not reading a report is a mistake I would anticipate from someone working in a less accountable type of job. Not someone who is going to have to save a life. Patients need all the information to make informed decisions and fully understand what is happening to them.

We have launched an investigation to find out what happened in Dad’s case. We can’t change what has happened to him, but we can get some questions answered and prevent this from ever happening again, to him, or anyone else.

40…otherwise known as FORTY

I remember thinking when my mother turned 40, it was OLD. Oh the joy of youth.

I remember turning 15 and FREAKING OUT. Because I was half way to 30.

I remember years ago between diaper changes figuring out some time frame for some random reason and telling The Big Guy, “You know, when that rolls around, I’ll be 40, First Born Son will be 14 and Second Born Son will be 11!!!!!” Guess what…..

Perhaps its the fact that most of my friends are older than me, or maybe credit should go to Haley Berry’s pioneering efforts, but 40 ain’t no biggie. I’ve always enjoyed celebrating my birthday, and feel there is nothing wrong with taking a day to feel special, but in recent weeks, there have been a number of people saying something along the lines of “Oooh, FORTY! Getting OLD!”

I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed each stage of my life. The years with babies making way for the years with young men. It’s going fast and it’s my goal to enjoy every moment. Like this morning, when the boys stage whispered around the house and when I came downstairs, shouted “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” and guided me to my spot at the table where a tea biscuit dressed up with a candle waited for me. Balloons made my chair festive and the moment was recorded for posterity – bed head and all.

It would be nice not to get a cold for a present, but all things considered, I’m blessed and ready to admit it.

 

“What I Did This Summer” by Sarah

Ok, so we’re not going to talk about how long it has been since my last entry. Mostly because I really can’t handle the guilt. But in my defence, there has been a lot of stuff going on these past few weeks. It’s almost like God is sitting up there looking down and saying “Hey, let’s see what she can do with THIS!” That God, such a sense of humour he has…. So, in no particular order, let’s get you caught up.

THE JOB HUNT

I am officially employed – cue the choir, trumpets and kazoos. Ironically, I can’t talk too much about my new job, but I can give you some parameters.

1. It is in law enforcement (hence the “can’t talk too much”) but I don’t, sadly, have access to firepower, or for that matter, handcuffs.

2. Taking this job required computer training. While I’ve participated in training in the past, I would have to say, hands down, that this instructor was THE WORST teacher I’ve ever had. That includes you, Mr. Walduck. I’m sure you are glad to pass the torch from Gr. 10 Accounting.

3. Shift work is involved, but since it is part time, it’s not too bad. I have had to rewire myself to understand that napping in the day is not a sign of sloth, but an essential key to survival. You will have to ask my family how well that’s working out, but I’ll hedge my bet to say it’s a “thumbs down” kinda result.

4. The Boys’ reaction to my employment status was mixed. On one hand, they knew the steady flow of baking they had been enjoin would slow diminish, but on the other, they were going to get the “Kid channels” as promised to them “When Mom gets a job”  since Dad’s job offers us an attractive discount on our fibre bill.

5. I have worked two nights, and now, two days. In this length of time, I have come to realize that no matter how bad things may be in my life, someone out there is suffering through something 100% WORSE. I can promise you this – and it is heartbreaking. It makes me appreciative for a good man and two amazing children, two terrific parents and an extended family I am proud of. There are so many worse scenarios out there right now.

THE BOYS (and yes, that includes Roman)

1. Well, we are back to school. With this coinciding with the start of my new job, it’s been an interesting experience. Add to the fact that First Born Son started High School, and it is fair to say the anxiety level was at an all time high here at Boweryville.

2. The dog HATES school.

I am serious considering renting him out for weddings and Bar Mitzvahs.

This is Roman on Day 2 of Back to School. He is sitting in the kitchen – howling. This is after he watched the boys walked down the driveway and spent five minutes doing this….

Forgive the poor quality - it was edit photos or write the blog. I guess by now you've figured out which I chose.

He’s sitting at the front door trying to see if they are outside. You can’t actually “see” through this glass, but you get an idea of shapes, and this pup is looking for a big blob and slightly smaller blob. On Day 1 – he spent the day running from door to door, whining to be let out. It’s like he thought he lost track of the boys and was convinced that “they must be out back, no? Oh, well, let’s go check again out front! No?!? I must have just missed them.” I think you get the idea.

Now he spends most of his time looking at me with a look on his face that speaks volumes. “YOU are a lousy mother for losing track of your CHILDREN!” Join the club pup.

3. Ironically, The Boys do NOT hate school. FBS is loving high school and Second Born Son has a teacher who taught his brother. We all loved her and are looking forward to a great year ahead!

4. No hockey for SBS this year. He’s decided to “take a year off” and once it became evident that he was not headed to the NHL, The Big Guy and I think it is a misappropriation of parenting to force him to play. We realize we are the only two Canadian parents to take this position. He would like to try skiing and I’m thinkin’ that’s a GREAT idea!

5. FBS is playing, and actually trying out for Rep this year. Anyone who has followed this blog knows the hardship this kid has gone through in the name of love for hockey. The fact that he’s grown almost a foot in 18 months has certainly helped his odds. We should know which team he’s on in a couple of days. I’m just thanking the stars above that we didn’t have to replace his pads, catcher and blocker, but I just didn’t managed to find that $2,000 lying around this summer.

PARTY CENTRAL

1. We’ve been “Party Central” lately!

Two birthdays at one party - hey, we like a big BANG for the buck!

We had First Born Son’s birthday at the same time as my Mom’s. But we actually held it on my father-in-law’s birthday.

We do having a living room, but everyone wants to sit in the kitchen....

But it’s all good, because we had his birthday the weekend before…with his sister’s….

This could take a while....

And then just yesterday, we celebrated FBS’ birthday!

That broad in the back looks familiar, but I never see her in any of the other pictures...

So suffice it to say, the five pounds I gained with all the birthday cake I seem to have worn off with the back and forth with the dog to each of the four doors of this house.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH THE CLASS?

1. Farm update I guess. We finally said good-bye to The Farm. The household items were sold at the end of August and while it didn’t impact me as much as the first auction did, it was still a tough day. Once again, SBS directed traffic, and FBS helped his father on the wagons. It was interesting to see some of the artifacts that were unearthed.

Butter Churn

This butter churn now resides south of the border.

What almost $300 looks like!

It was amazing what people were willing to pay for items. Here is a bovine horn with gunpowder in it. Sold for just under $300. Give me a moment while I look for a saw and some horned Herfords…..

I managed to pick up some items myself, but we’ll leave that for another day.

2. Worked our a$$es off outside! I was so sick of looking at the Red and White shed – in case you can’t remember….

The job necessitated the dog run, which began the thought about how to paint once it was done...

and once we realized the pup needed a proper run for when I’m a the mine and the boys are at school, we realized if were ever going to get rid of that colour, the time was now.

I'm supposed to be up on the ladder, but no one would hold the camera for me.

So I started painting. No one could get where I was going with “mud” for a colour, but patience people!!

TA-DAH!

The idea was to make it disappear. I don’t want to see it any more and I think it is Mission Accomplished! The Big Guy gets credit for the finishing touches, such as some of the trim and the kennel. Roman has the best dog run this side of the Saugeen!

IN CONCLUSION

Therefore, I defend my failure to submit on a regular basis on the grounds that I haven’t exactly been watching soaps and eating bon bons.

That being said, I will make a concerted effort in the future! 😉

Puppy Love

The first dog I ever had was a puppy named Heidi. I must admit, I was only a puppy myself at the time.

She was a German Shepherd puppy and she was beautiful.

Don't judge the bangs, or the turtleneck for that matter. At least I'm co-ordinated!

German Shepherds are vicious dogs; you should watch your children around them! (I think someone needs to save the dog!)

Because we lived on a farm, it seemed natural to have a second dog, since Heidi was starting to run with a neighbor’s dog and we worried about her getting too farm from home.
So we got Rene. Rescued him, would be a better way of putting it. He was owned by a large German man who not only intimidated his wife and son, but the dog too. Rene finally had enough of being treated badly and dared to stand up for himself. This did not go over well with the owner. He wanted him gone. I am ever so glad, because Rene was lovely.

Gingham was TOTALLY what all the cool kids were wearing - and Rene didn't mind my bowl bangs....

Ironically, Rene was Little Sister’s dog.  Not that he was given to “her”, since she was only an infant, but Rene, sensing that Heidi was responsible for me, took LS as his very own. This big “aggressive” male became bound to her in a way that could only be described as “darling”.
When nap time came for my wee sister, Mom would put her on the front porch in her buggy. The breeze was cooling in the warm summer afternoons and it was out of the strong sun. Rene would watch my mother putter around with her regular tasks and park himself beside the buggy. When LS awoke and cried out, Rene would howl to let Mom know that the baby was up. Like the very first baby monitor.
Rene would follow LS while Heidi followed me. We had our own personal body guards. The only time we ever had an issue was when Rene suffered from arthritis in his back hips. He slept fitfully one afternoon and I strolled past him with a bat resting over my shoulder.  The bat was far bigger than the shoulder and within a second the bat fell on the dog’s back end, waking him suddenly and causing him intense pain. Remember, his history told him that when he was being hurt, he needed to defend himself, and he did.
A small row of stitches were needed to heal the damage done, but I never blamed Rene for the bite. He blamed himself though. Upon my return from the hospital, Rene’s head hung as low as his tail. I was bathed in slobber as he licked me from ear to ear once I returned from the hospital. He felt bad for days after.
Rene more than made up for it a couple of years later, when a boy older than me tried to push me around. He raised his voice and gave me a shove that sent me to the ground. Within seconds Rene had the boy pinned to the ground beside me. He never bit the older boy, but he scared him enough to leave me alone.
By this time, my beautiful Heidi was gone. Rene pined for her as much as I did, so my parents found Britta. She was a female deemed unsuitable for breeding, as she had an overbite. While she wasn’t pretty like Heidi was, she was loyal and had a sweet personality.
After these two dogs, our family had a string of others, usually adopted as full grown dogs and all loved for their own special traits. So when the time came to start a family of my own, I knew it had to include a dog. The Big Guy and I fell in love with a Dutch Chow pup and after we named him Cole, we started house training. Eleven years later he developed Cancer and we lost our first “Fur Baby”.
That brought us to Samson. A purebred mutt, Sam was perfect for our young family. The boys loved him, and he was the best parts of Lab, Rottweiler and German Shepherd. The day we put him down was easily one of the worst in my life. We struggled with the decision to put him out of his pain, and in the end, I know it was the right thing to do. That didn’t make it any easier. Samson is the first dog we buried at our new home, and I look out on him every day.

My Beautiful Boy

I could talk about how his bark could stop you cold, if you didn’t know him well enough. Or how grown men thought twice about just walking up to him. But then I’d have to talk about how he was actually as sweet as his caramel eyes, and how much he loved running at The Farm – which we also lost this year. And I can’t do any of this without choking up…so enough about that.

The Big Guy got tired of my moping by the second day. He knows it’s not my way, but as I said, the last couple of days with Samson were really tough.

“Why don’t you look at some puppies?” he asked.

“I don’t think I’m ready for that yet,” I replied. He tried again the next day – pointing out I might feel better looking at puppies.

A quick scan of kijiji found hundreds of puppies – all of which were cute. He was right – it was something “happy” but I still wasn’t sure that I could imagine our house with another dog. The Big Guy contact the people we got Samson from, and they wouldn’t have another litter until the new year. A quick consensus of the household determined we didn’t want one of Samson’s brothers – it would be too hard to look at him and not see Sam.

Then it happened – a crazy combination of circumstances that gave me all the signs I needed. Before I knew it – there was laughter in the house – and smiles.

And chew toys….for a new pup. A German Shepherd named Roman.

The ears almost give the ability to fly!