Thursday, December 31, 2015

Life Long Learning

Isn't it great? - I mean the fact that we are never finished learning about this life business.

I had a session yesterday. What should be obvious often isn't. And vice versa. I can't believe what's tumbling out of my head. Stuff I hadn't thought about in years. Linking previously (to me) unrelated events. And sharing. And it's astonishing how he can weave a tapestry out of all this.

Like the man says, terrible losses can open up every single loss in one's life. All over again. Fresh. Or for the first time if they've never been looked at before and dealt with. I'd rather deal. For what happens is: every creative stream inside is finally set free and becomes "magnificent in its flight". We shall see. The pieces of every sorrow are gathered within us ready to fracture again when a new loss is inflicted on this huge ball. I wouldn't have believed it until it happened to me.

Plus insight. Example: living life like a stereotype, a cliché, for most do. Automatons, told how to feel, desire, behave, respond, accumulate, judge, terrified of anyone who marches differently and thinks tangentially. Never for me, thanks.

Maybe we need to be more like metaphors. Ha!

Happy New Year 2016 to all you duckies out there. Keep waddling and quacking.

Breathe. Feel. Learn.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

For the day that's in it.

I'm taking that to heart.

Along with acceptance. And being mindful to stay where my hands are. To be joyful for others. To feel the deep empathy and sadness for others' unbelievable tragedies. On December 23rd, a man and woman I greatly admire, for many, many qualities (kindness, gentility, commitment to their own health in the worst of weather conditions, pillars of support when their son and his wife took on the raising of abandoned twin grandsons, their great-grandsons and so on)lost their beloved teenage granddaughter in a stupid, careless, dumb automobile accident. Unspeakable. Truly. Good people suffering the unbearable. I can't imagine.

Grandgirl was here. We love her, we do. But she's gone now. Back to grinding school work and intense studying, a part-time job and her incredible social life. She really doesn't understand rural living in spite of the changing seascapes and breathtaking sunsets and wilderness. I don't think I did at her age either. My life was the city. And also in Toronto for years and years. I get it.

But a craving for peace sets in in later years, away from the madding crowd, and I knew if I didn't jump then, I never would. So here I am, enjoying this serenity of living, no sidewalks, ocean at my doorstep and a life I only ever whispered about as I was afraid I would jinx it.

And I get social fulfilment when I need it. Like yesterday. An all day "Hash Party", no not that kind, but every bit of leftovers from Christmas put on heated platters that run down the kitchen for about 12 feet, never seen the like, and an enormous cast of characters coming in and out of my friend's house, from all walks of life where one is encouraged to talk of the past year and travels and achievements and hear of everyone else's. A Boxing Day tradition for Daughter, Grandgirl and I.

And friends from the city call and we chat and one is visiting me again later on this year.

And all is good.

And kindness.


Monday, December 21, 2015

To Do List

(1) Saw the doctor as my own (new)BP machine was scaring the hell out of me. It scared him too. He added another pill to my expanding pharmaceutical shelf. If you knew me well you'd find this absolutely hilarious. I've had a war going with Big Pharma for, like, most of my life. Bellicose was my stance.

(2) I had a wonderful couple of days alone with my beloved Grandgirl. Now she's gone to her mum's and they are spending one-on-one days together and are coming back here on Xmas Day and then Grandgirl leaves on Boxing Day. Far too short a time for this grandmother. But my, at 21 she's such a very interesting person and truly kind and beautiful. I can hardly wait to see her in her future plans which truly encompass the world.

(3) I wrote to the husband of my BFF, a task I had long put off. What to say? But the words came and flowed. I was ready.

(4)Plan Writers' Workshop outlines starting January 4th.

(5)Rehearse the 2 person play, opening sometime in February.

(6)Finish editing the anthology that came out of the last series of workshops.

(7)Knit a bit

(8)Buy a yoga mat

(9)Plan beginning of training for Tely 10 2016. Can I do it? Sez I to Doc. Why not? Sez Doc, but train slowly and work your way towards it.

(10)Defrost turkey.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


As I age, I get an almost frightening clarity of thinking. Frightening because, oh lawdie, life would have been better if I had this insight, like, maybe, 40 years ago. You know?

My family of origin has this uneasy relationship with love. As children, love could be withdrawn instantly at the slightest misbehaviour or provocation if you didn't meet the standards of The Master. Or adhere to certain previously unmentioned criteria. I'm not saying love was actually withdrawn but it had all the appearance of it. I had a memorable encounter, as a very small child with this type of deprivation here. Much as I understand my own story it can take a very long time to take an altered perception of life on board.

I was struck recently when I spoke truth to an intimate, my truth, the truth in my last post (my excitement)and it was labelled in an unsavoury way, repelling. And I said: what on earth would make me confide my innermost self to you again?

Are we all going to live superficially? Is this the Victorian manners type of lifestyle that is now acceptable? When I am hurt or excited or disappointed or worried, do I now have to shelter these feelings from those who purportedly care about me for fear of labelling, attack and withdrawal of affection?

Are we expected to wander in the wilderness of being afraid to show our authentic selves?

I can still love someone without agreeing with them or approving (as if it's my job to approve!)of their behaviour. I respect their feelings, even if I am opposed, and anticipate the same in return.

But hey, I'm usually disappointed in this expectation.

Thankfully, I've moved beyond outrage.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Inside Me

You know how that poem goes, don't know the author, it may not be even a poem but it has always resonated with me:
"Inside my winter there is an endless summer?"
or something like that.

I tailor such quotes to fit my own brain.

Well, inside me there is this 3 year old. She doesn't 'adult' well. I love how "adult" has now become a verb, much like many other words. I remember Grandgirl saying to me one time" "Oh Grandma, don't harsh my mellow". Loved the phrase, adapted it for my own use.

So I work madly on this 2,000 word article/essay request that came in, I loved the process, even the intense editing involved and I submitted it. And, and, and, the editorial team send me individual emails raving about it.

I mean what do real adults do when this kind of response is elicited? Sit quietly, I imagine and get cracking on their next oeuvre? Sounds very mature and responsible and grown-up, right?

Me? I race around the house and then out to the meadow a la Rocky pumping the fists and then I PM Daughter and Grandgirl. A humble brag. And then run around again, just for the hell of it.

Each time a piece of my writing is well received, I can't believe the feeling I get. That crayoning 3 year old escapes and races around in delirious excitement.

I observed similar in an author friend today who's been nominated for a major award. "57 congratulatory emails and climbing", he sez, "And I'm sitting outside a small convenience store at the edge of nowhere, syphoning their wifi, unable to leave in case I might miss another."

May this feeling never leave me, may it encourage me and sustain me.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Old Lovers

Some die off.

Some move on.

And the very few Somes keep in touch


The Christmas Letter Email!

I got one today.

I can't tell you how many years I've been getting them from a former gentleman lover. As my name is sprinkled throughout with a couple of dearests, I think perhaps, unless there were many such as myself all bestowed with this fairly common name, that the email is personal. For my eyes only, so to speak.

I'm at the age where lovers can be pretty thin on the ground, ex- or otherwise.

He's a few years older than I, I wrote about him - kinda sorta with my usual poetic and literary licence - here, for those who are curious. (And I know I would be if you were writing this post). Go to the extreme right column for the succession of instalments - there are 6. That 1st draft remained that way.

It's rather gratifying to have any kind of passion declared for one at my doddery age. I imagine the passion is for my younger, adventurous self as is my passion for his sprightly, but fearful, self (he is now crippled with arthritis).

One of life's greatest kissers was Ian.

An admirable skill set at any age.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

December 9th, 2015

A lovely comment on Facebook today from a friend who has an estranged member in her family also.

"I remain friends with her younger self."

Extraordinarily comforting.

My estranged child remains estranged. No change there. This is my annual post on her birthday.

But now, today, her younger self surrounds me, the witty, vibrant, artistic woman she was. She lived with me for close on 28 years. We read the same books, visited art galleries together, jointly wrote reviews of the best greasy spoons in Toronto: de rigeur: Formica, elderly crotchety waitresses in grubby uniforms, maroon lipstick, smokers' coughs, a belligerent unsmiling chef rolling out the bacon, eggs and homefries, and thirty year old hits on the table top juke boxes.

I would never have anticipated her cutting off her entire family and her oodles of friends. She was popular. She was brainy. She was loving. I joke that I wore her for the first 9 years of her life. She was always hanging off a part of me. The complete opposite of her older sister. She is somewhere in England.

And she is missed and loved every day.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

A Lonely Old Month.

The last ember of the year, fizzling and dying. Pauline writes so beautifully of twigs and birds. E writes of creating new memories.

I am inspired by such writings for many reasons. There's nothing wrong with a lonely old month. I do have choices. I force myself out the door to a large gathering of turkey eaters yesterday. I bring my camera to such events which gives me purpose and avoidance of small talk. I am so hopeless at small talk. I must have missed those lessons early on in life.

Small talk lessons:

# 1: The weather

# 2: Clothes, hair styles, makeup, nails, OMG shoes!

# 3: Vacations in the sun. Cruises.

# 4: Neighbours.

# 5: Christmas, shopping for, cooking for, baking for, preparing for.

I get tongue-tied or glazed over or both. I also have the challenge of being the only genuine Irish person on the whole peninsula who chose to live in Newfoundland so I am the resident expert on all things Irish and everyone here has visited Ireland at least once and wants to talk about the enchanted land forever and ever amen. (Um, I emigrated for many reasons, left fairyland behind me, I'm awful, I know, I should go back, yeah.)

Those particular convos can take hours as every tour, every castle, every city and town is stroked and fondled in memory. To me it's massive small talk. So I skedaddle early with my photos and put them up on FB for the town to savour when they get home after the dancing. And we're all happy.

Did I mention the dancing after the feed? (i.e. the scuff after the scoff - I love Newfoundland English). Lots of it. And the Irish music. The sentimental yankee kind, ah, Mother Macree, toorah, loorahs.

I know. I should shut up now.

With the assurance: I do play nicely. I do smileys and happies quite well. And. The big and: the huge, big hearts of Newfoundland people never fail to warm me and revive me and nurture me. They are a breed apart. I've never met the like.

In this lonely old month.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Yeah, weird alright.

< I took this pic last year at the side of my house. I love the red mailbox against all the white.>

That's me. I had a super busy week, jammed with meetings and sessions and training and budgets and planning. And at one point of it I was struck, when talking about making our community more age-friendly (all ages, not just elders)as we were discussing a few who are having challenges (loss of licence, mobility) and I reflected, internally, ah, the poor old things. And then realized, mein gott, they are waaay younger than you, babe. A kind of chill runs through me, you know? Gratitude I am so active, and extraordinarily mindful to make improvements in the lives in my community. We are seriously discussing appointing a volunteer "helper" to each challenged resident. Nothing too extreme: a daily check-in, a Sunday drive, coffee or tea in the community centre.

Anyways, after this week, there's a massive storm (20-30cm) forecast for tonight and you know what? I am so looking forward to it. Leo has brought in a load of wood. I have spare water in case the power kicks out. And I've now indulged one of my end-of-day's greatest pleasures: the bra comes off, the PJ's go on and the "robe" which isn't really a robe at all, it's an ancient oversized LL Bean hoodie, gets donned. Like a private uniform. The books are stacked, knitting's in the basket, the 3 oil-lamps are freshly wick-ed and filled, the candles are loaded and the car has been tucked into the garage. AND the snow shovel's put in the hall. I'm ready. Bring it on.

I love these kinds of days. Isolated and snowed in. No demands. No meetings. No office. Just me and the fire. And my pleasures, my knitting, my books and my writing.

Life is very precious and sweet in this moment.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

What happens in between?

I seriously envy those who blog every day. Sometimes twice. Interesting posts. I lurk on some as they get something like 100 comments and I just KNOW they're not reading them all. How do I know? Well, I don't really. The ones who get just a few comments, well I comment. Because they notice I do and usually reply. So we're all happy, our egos and us.

In between my blog posts, when I'm up for it, I do other writings. Climbing back into the saddle after my annis horribilis. There's always fodder for writing even in the sad and miserable times. I'm working on this play of mine, another reading tomorrow with one of the two cast members, a "feelz" meeting for the character. And then there's my "Job" which involves budgeting and newsletters and several liaison committees all of which eat away at my time but leaves me with no fodder for a blog post as you'd all snore away at how dreary meetings can be.

Speaking of meetings, the most successful I ever attended were a series of brain-storming sessions in Toronto which lasted 1/2 an hour tops. No coffee, no sticky buns, and NO chairs. Business moved at the speed of light, everybody jonesing for those missing items.

Out here? Endless, if you let them. When I chair, I clip along, nip the expounders and broadcasters in the bud (butt?) and use the word "focus" a lot which is non-offensive and works - most of the time. There's always one who will tell you his discourse is important, doncha know. Then I use the word "please" elevating my voice in gradations until it's just shy of a banshee's howl.

Yesterday was a book finalization meeting. I was thrilled when they all begged me to include "Norah", my story which was short-listed for the Fish prize in Ireland.

I think the old fashioned sepia cover with the oil lamp is going to fly, the blur is deliberate. That's a picture of my parents beside it.

So that's my life in between.

How about yours?