On September 11th, change, and homeostasis

11 09 2016

nuke-nycFifteen years is a long time. Listening to the memorials for the 9/11 disaster, I find myself thinking about two things – the thousands and thousands of people of all nations who have lost their lives in war since then – and the changes that have happened to me and in the world since then.

Canadians were heroes that day; George W. Bush read a story about a goat. I’m sure he did a lot of other things that day, too, but that’s all I saw. That and the towers falling down over and over and over again.

I heard about the disaster at work. I was working in public health, on the family health team, and we raced downstairs to see the disaster on the office television. Internet news wasn’t the thing yet. The crashes altered our functioning. They destroyed a media campaign a couple of us had been working on about fetal alcohol syndrome. We’d gone through the loops of approval, community engagement, la di da, and it perished with barely a sigh. Just the money was gone. Such a colossal waste of time and money, but then I soon felt that most such health campaigns were the same.

They seemed especially so after the disaster and the wars that followed. what’s the point in pushing healthy eating when half the world is fighting for life?

Since that time, I changed jobs 4 times, moved 9 times, wrote a bunch of stories, was published a bit, started needle felting, learned the ukulele. I took the train across the country. I went to Newfoundland. I moved to the East Coast, leaving family and friends behind, started over.

I divorced. I lost 50 lbs. I was diagnosed with MS. I gained them back. My son, then my daughter, stopped speaking to me. He remains silent. My other sons grew up and away. I gave up on work, on parenting, on weight loss.

I met and loved a couple of men. One wisely broke my heart. The other one’s heart I broke. I gave up on love.

In the meantime, we all gave up freedoms. I travelled by plane, stripping off my shoes when going to the US. People somewhere started reading our emails and tracking our phone calls. The War on Terrorism, even less effective than the War on Drugs, had started. Our world turned to the right, to the intolerant, to the uncharitable. Fascist leaders got elected here, there, and everywhere. One is even running for President. And North Korea 29906170001_5117832015001_5117813897001-vsplays with atomic weapons like they are kids’ toys.

keep-calm-and-maintain-homeostasis-9But in the corners of the world, and my own personal disasters, things are changing. There’s a light wind of hope – only light so far.I could be imagining it. In my ear, it whispers homeostasis, that wonderful word that describes how everything gradually swings back into balance.

I’m getting back into balance, more settled, less windblown. Nothing is perfect, but things are less imperfect.

World-wise, a few gracious visionary leaders are being elected. Maybe there will be more. Or maybe things will go completely off the rails and we’ll all be dust by this time next year. In any case, spring will come again, and things will push forward to balance, whether or not we are part of it.

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Thats it, I’m done.

10 06 2015

pallas-cat-manul-6__880I can’t do it anymore. I took a break, I tried again, I hated every minute. 

I’ve spent I don’t know how many dollars and hours taking writing courses over the years. I took them to learn the trade, to force the inspiration, to try to get closer to some real, for life publication. 

I’ve been published, for short things. I’ve won a prize or two. For short things. I’ve entered contests and placed. Again, for short things. I like the thrill of the dash, the lack of dreadful other stuff – the synopsis, the pleading cover letter, the explanation of WHY YOU ARE THE BEST PERSON to write this particular thing…all of that hangs over my head like a dead albatross, frozen, on a stick. I can’t face it. It is a powerful disincentive to write.

But that’s an excuse, really. The thing is, I’m missing the feeling in writing lately – that wonderful flow. You writers out there know what it’s like. It feels like walking with the gods, hand in hand with a muse. I laugh out loud when that happens, such is my joy.

I remember writing my first three day novel and laughing throughout. It was such FUN! My character took off and I raced behind her with my keyboard, trying to keep up.

There is such intense joy in such moments that it is impossible to continue when they aren’t there.

So I’ve talked with myself. I’ve bargained with myself. I know I can write, it’s not a self-confidence thing, I’m not depressed. I simply don’t want to. The world suddenly feels full of books to read and I think to myself there is no need to add mine to the pile – there are much more persistent sorts than me out there, people who will push, who need to push. 

I did all of that, in my work and in my parenting. I worked hard hard hard. I ended up disgracing myself with a breakdown caused by MS. I parented hard hard hard I played hard, too) – loved those three creatures with every cell in my being, and, well, they grow up. I exercised my way through bilateral knee replacements with MS to a recovery my own doctor finds amazing. I needle felted over 40 animals in the space of a month to raise money for MS.

So I know I can work hard. But I also know my time is more limited now. MS lurks in the shadows. To keep it at bay, I have to exercise every day. I have to rest, every day.

And in the remaining hours, I want to feel that joy, that flow. I find it when I am creating with my hands – building creatures, hooking rugs, constructing things, brewing beer, making bread, throwing pots, tactile things. Perhaps my MS brain has shifted me out of the word side, has pushed me into touch-based creations.

I remember going on a date with a fellow once – we went to Westport, ON, and as we walked along, I ran my hands along the stone buildings, feeling their texture. He wondered why. I couldn’t explain, but it was the same temptation that made me want to run my hands over his shoulders – he was a professional hammer thrower and his shoulders felt like warm granite, bulked with muscle I’d never before felt.

So I’m leaving the darkened corners of my head, that place where writing lurks and refuses to come out and play, and heading into the tactile light. 

Don’t be alarmed if I touch you.
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Some people say these are the worst of times…

5 01 2015

Ah, Styx…..How I loved them, still do. Was mellowing out to music today while stabbing a felted mushroom (yes, my life is odd) and this came up on iTunes Shuffle.

I loved Styx in the day, though sometimes their heavy musicality, like that of the Alan Parson’s Project, overwhelmed my ears like too much Beethoven’s 9th. All wonderful things, all moving, all sometimes too demanding on a bubble pop day.

But the message of the song seems oddly apt these days of such violence and despair and sorrow. It seems every news item is about people behaving badly or stupidly, about our government in Canada acting like tinpot dictators, about the crazies just below us carrying weaponry when shopping with their toddlers or killing police or innocents in the street.

It is easy to give in to it all and give up. Like the song says, “The best of times, is when I’m alone with you…” – it’s easy to hide inside and mutter in your small groups about the outside, about the dangers. To shut it out with noise, or good books, or activities or each other. I’d love to have someone to spend the best of times with having some sweet cuddles or something to distract me from Mr. Harper for a moment or two. But I digress…;-)

It isn’t enough, is it? The hairy beasts are still outside the increasingly porous gates. Perhaps it’s time to try and recreate the paradise we once had…with each other, within ourselves, in our world.

“as long as we keep alive…The memories of paradise….”

I’m thinking that maybe we can get there again…we are smart enough, rich enough, connected enough that these COULD be the best of times…

Or if nothing else, we can sing madly along with songs of our youth and stab tiny animals out of wool…





New Year, new days, no mistakes yet…

2 01 2015

Well, not strictly true. It’s difficult for a gal like me to get through a day without a mistake or two. I almost set fire to my hot bag today, for example. I’ve given mixed signals to a friend. Promised myself I wouldn’t do that. But I did.

Fortunately, I have other things to write about besides self-blame. I was given a “Forgotten English” calendar for Christmas (Jeff Kacirk’s, see Amazon…)

6033113062_1ab2b8da21_z The first word for the year was so appropriate I have to talk about it. It is baubosking, which apparently makes reference to the straying of cattle or sheep from the pasture assigned to them.

I love that there is a word for such straying. I think this may be a good year for us all to stray a bit, step outside our comfort zone, be seen where we normally wouldn’t be expected, step out and be heard, create discomfort, ask questions. It’s an election year here in Canada. Time to wander into the pastures of unfamiliar organizations, find what is important, munch down on policies we haven’t yet explored.

We spent much of 2014 hearing bad news. Maybe it’s time to leave that pasture, too, look at the good things, FIND the good things, in ourselves and others. Maybe the grass is really greener outside the fence of bad news and media reports.

It’s also been all about sexual harassment in 2014, too. Let’s jump that fence, shall we? Let’s expect men to behave like human beings, let’s hold those that don’t meet that expectation accountable. Let’s pull together, men and women, to ensure respectful treatment for everyone, of all ages. It takes so little to be polite, so little to hold open a door to contact, so little to be well-behaved. Let’s not hide behind bureaucracy and work and puttering and buying and eating to numb the feelings that would make us stand up and offer support and help to others.

I’m eying the pasture gate, myself. Not sure which way I’ll head, but I’ll be stepping out. Want to join me?

Peak_District_Animals_-_Sheep_2We can do it.





Moving on

29 03 2014

Just listening to Stan Carew on Weekend Mornings – he plays the best music and woke me this morning with a rousing fiddle tune by Natalie McMaster. I’m feeling my toes tap under the covers as I sluggishly awaken.
But the song spoke to me.
Lately I’ve heard from a quite a few people who are by choice or not in a position where they are living in a hellish situation. Family dynamics, unhappy marriages, awkward locations, bad jobs. It seems so many are trapped, struggling against ties, but unwilling to take the risk, unwilling to bear the swirls of awfulness that come from change. We’ve all been there at some time….
There’s a part of me that still feels badly about the dissolution of my marriage. I was brought up to believe that marriage was a lifetime promise. But sometimes the contract is in fact broken, and then sometimes it is the right thing to leave, rather than stay and let the poison of our anger or hurt eat away at everyone in the family. Or so I tell myself. I don’t know.
Life is short. Should we make ourselves unhappy for all of it? Or should we move on, so that we are capable and have the resources to be joyful, bring joy to others? I’m not saying to cast aside things casually, but if we tried our hardest and it doesn’t work, what good are we doing breaking ourselves against the rocks?
See, the thing is, where we are at may seem like absolute hell. But, like standing in a prairie rainstorm, two or three steps to one side or the other may bring us into the sun again. Change doesn’t have to be dramatic, in fact, we are such small bugs in that prairie rainstorm, a tiny change may well be enough. A willingness to speak up, to try something a different way, to reach out or push away…
But we also have to be willing to draw our line in the dirt and say ” this far and no further.” And if we are still miserable, we can turn, and move on.

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Yin and Yang

27 01 2014

images-13I’ve started a Tai Chi class, taught by a very soothing gentleman who is patient with our stumbles and questions and awkward poses. He may go home and snicker to himself, but somehow I doubt it. He seems suffused with calm. I find myself looking at him, wanting to get closer to his aura, somehow absorb it all.

But instead I try to memorize the steps, ease back and forth, move my arms around in circles, feel my body sway. It is wonderful, even as I miss steps and teeter.

He speaks a lot of Yin and Yang as we work, reminds us of the constant shifting from one side to another, controlling our weight as we move, maintaining a strong posture, holding the centre.

It’s all wonderfully applicable to this, my winter of discontent.

I’m not alone in the discontent, I think. This winter has been unusually harsh and we are already fed up, a lot of us, with the prospect of weeks and weeks of more winter to come. Add the usual and unusual trials of life and a lot of us feel buffeted, knocked off-balance, off centre and wobbly. We crave change, if only to alter the view.

And yet, change is already constant. The challenge in all, as in my Tai Chi class, is to keep centred as the changes happen, as we look this way and that, as we move forward and back, full or half-steps.

My balance is dodgy at the best of times. I race forward with enthusiasm and then find I am overreaching my abilities. I retract and grieve when really I should just seek balance in my new position, move into it or past it, stop fighting with myself as I go forward.

I need to remember that we naturally seek balance and I should ease into it, arms raised high.

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The love of a new bathroom floor

24 02 2013

ImageFor most of my growing up years, I lived in the same small town, restricted by expectations and past experiences. When I married, I first escaped to London, UK for a year and a bit and then our multiply moving military madness started. We moved so often I got to be a pro at it, grew to hate having to clean the same bathrooms for more than three years, adored getting to know new towns and views from my windows and places to walk and different paths home.

When my marriage ended, I found the exploring part of my nature didn’t. I love to change my scene regularly, though I think my kids think I am barking mad when I do. Recently I ran away TO home, to Nova Scotia, a place that claimed my heart over 15 years ago. We’d moved here and there and all over in the inbetween times, but I knew this was where I wanted to be.

Now I’ve been here for two years, in an apartment with a lovely superintendent couple and great neighbours, but I feel the need to move again. Why? It’s quiet, too quiet. I look out on suburban monster houses and I’ve explored as far as I can walk all around here. I cannot easily walk for a paper or a coffee.  When visitors come, I have to give up my bedroom. I can’t see the sky. I’ve cleaned the bathrooms the requisite number of times for me to feel restless. I’m so completely self-contained in this place I never have to speak to anyone if I don’t want to. That’s not good for me.

So move I will, though it seems hardly wise. This time I’m going where I can see the sea and the lakes and the sky out of my windows. I’m up high, so I can satisfy my catlike self. I can watch ships coming in and out, see thunderstorms and fall leaves and fireworks and boat races.Image

Primarily it’s because I like a different view. My kids think it’s because I am never happy, never content, and my response is, I am happy. That doesn’t mean I have to stay static. I strive in every other part of my life, to be more fit, to be more knowledgeable, to do more interesting things. Why wouldn’t moving enter into that?

Of course, packing is a pain, but it’s also purging. It gives me an excuse to empty out stuff, clear the decks, look for things I don’t need to toss. It refreshes me but when you are living in a place for awhile, I tend to let rubber bands accumulate in the corners of drawers and crumbs in my cutlery tray, papers here and there. Moving forces me to take account, take charge. It’s lovely.

So I may appear mad, unsettled, unhappy, strange, compared to the stability of living in one place for years. Realistically, I had that time. Now I can move when I want, and so I will. And with the move, the new vista, new friends to meet, new places to explore.

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