Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Humans and boundaries

My PG (tourist) season has been full. Which is all to the good.

I've observed something over the years with our fellow creatures. If one concedes even a tiny bit, they continue to pound away at the boundaries until one cries uncle. Or not.

I had one such recently. My breakfast schedule is between 8 and 9 a.m. After she checked in she wheedled her way into making it 7.30 - a very early rise for me. When she did come down for breakfast she announced she was celiac. No gluten. I asked her why she hadn't shared that information with me before her arrival and she confessed I mightn't have taken her. So here I am pantry scrambling and freezer digging. On Day 2 she asked could she do her laundry even though on my profile I say no laundry privileges. I conceded ( I need my head examined!) to take her laundry and do it for her and later folded it and put it on her bed. On Day 3 I asked if she found her laundry on the bed and received the casual: "oh yeah, I guess, thanks". she never moved a plate off the table which nearly all guests do and left her bedroom tossed. And never purchased even a token in my wee shop. A forty something privileged white woman with a healthy bank account (she had shared that much).

Thankfully, she's in a tiny minority of humans who believe that I host for fun and pleasure and am there to fulfil any need they express.

She also helped me considerably to firm up my own boundaries and tell guests that early breakfasts don't work for me, I can't accommodate special dietary requirements unless given at least one week's notice and there's absolutely no laundry.

So I still learn from those who are in my path to teach me what to do but also what not to do.

Friday, June 23, 2017


I shepherd my energy carefully these days as I feel I'm falling behind. So the blog gets shoved aside for another day.

Tourism is a huge benefit to my life. Both the engagement with my PGs (guests) which feeds my intellect and the financial benefit which I rather desperately need.

Many ask me how I keep going with my health challenges and the demands of still having to make a living in my seventies.

My answer is: carefully (see first sentence). It would be fairly catastrophic if my health worsened now, as inevitably it will. I need to keep chugging until September when my load will lighten considerably, fingers crossed.

Therefore I prioritize. We just finished the Living with Chronic Disease series of workshops yesterday and I can't praise it enough. I've been asked to be a facilitator in the future but I've shelved that for now. I'm becoming more skilled at the art of saying NO.

I learned so much about accepting where I am and dealing a fresh deck of cards which encompasses my heath challenges, not focussing on what I used to do, but focussing on the now and making Action Plans for each day that are manageable and achievable. I had been thinking in the light of what I used to be able to accomplish but recognise now that I was doing far too much as a result and burdening myself with unrealistic expectations of what my day should be packed with and beating myself up for failure to do so.

The art of pulling back and the power of both Now and No are my new best buddies.

One of the incredible results of the workshop was our youngest participant (in his mid thirties) shared yesterday that his last hope was committing to the workshops for all 6 weeks. If nothing changed for him, he had planned suicide. We were all crying after he spoke. He has many challenges including his young spouse in a wheelchair (boy, perspective!) and he had absolutely no hope. Now he's attempting to live within his limitations and try one new thing every week and list his achievable goals.

I feel I've turned some kind of corner too, not clear on what it is yet. But more will be revealed, I'm sure.

I just know I feel so much more alive now.

And ready.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Local politics and knitting.

I'm still learning at my age and with, at times, my challenging health. None of us gets a free pass at life, do we? Roll with the punches, etc. Importances shift and swirl and change. Observations become keener and sharper. Letting go of toxic people becomes easier. Personal growth takes on a new meaning as I learn into the grave.

I recently persisted with a form of knitting that I didn't have the patience for all my life - or, you know, adapting the instructions for it which never worked and resulted in awkward bulges and then I would toss the results. So I sat down and wound all these bobbins to hang off the back of the work and persisted in learning and finally mastered intarsia a couple of weeks ago. It felt good and satisfying and fulfilling.

I've had my battles at the local political level too. I've been up against some old guards, bleeding deacons, buzzards, in my efforts to create outdoor community spaces that are used daily. I was drowning in negativity and mockery. Frankly, it wore me down. I've only 3 months left on my municipal term and I'm trying to push through some more town enhancing changes and it was endless, soul destroying battles one after the other at our monthly meetings.

I gave up. I've got too much other stuff on the go which is sapping me until I move and I thought: conserve your energy, f*** them all. I'm just too tired and each battle is chewing another bite out of my soul.

I mentioned how dispirited I was to my clerk (who is quitting at the end of my term, he is equally disillusioned) and he said: "Go down fighting, don't let the bastards grind you down."

And I thought to myself: there in one sentence is the difference between men and women and our cultural conditioning (I don't believe in the concept of 'gender'). Women are taught to be subservient peace makers, men to assert and dominate.

I've worked in so-called male positions all my life, starting with my first job in Ireland. And too many times to count, I subside at meetings as the men talk/yell/shout over me. As the men talk/yell/shout over me today at meetings even though I'm technically their boss, until I bang the table loudly and tell them to stop. I dread these confrontations, not so much as before, but yelling shouty men have the power to make my heart pound, as in my experience it was always a prelude to violence.

So I took his words to heart and thought: No, I won't shut up, I will continue to speak my truth and whether they adapt my ideas or not, I'll leave "unground".

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Leopard, spots, death

Never speak ill of the dead.

She did her best.

She didn't mean to be nasty, did she?

Words soaring in my head after an older cousin died. A cousin I tried to like but couldn't. She was an only child of a "widowed" and cold mother to give you a little background. The widowed aspect was always under a cloud as our granny would always "humph" nastily when her daughter's status was mentioned. Only one picture of her father existed and it looked like it was cut out of a magazine. I remember he wore a uniform of some kind but no one could answer how he died.

She was enormously cruel to me when we were younger and even when we were older too, come to think of it.

When I was 4 and she 10, she threatened to hang me by my nose off the church railings if I didn't give her the bracelet my granny gave me. Needless to mention.....

When I was 8 and she 14, I was staying at an aunt's in the country while my mother was giving birth in the city. I felt very important as my father had written down his work number on a piece of paper so I could telephone him from the post office up the main street and he would tell me if my mother was OK and if it was a boy or girl.

She dropped by my aunt's (this aunt was a maternal aunt and no relation to her) and I proudly shared with her how I was going to make my first phone-call all by myself at the post office. She snatched the piece of paper from me and raced away only to come back about 10 minutes later and tell me I had another brother. I was inconsolable that she had stolen even this from me.

Frankly, I was always a little afraid of her. This was enforced by my mother who barely tolerated her due to her constant lies and demands on my father who was her only uncle. A parade of "suitable" men were paraded through our home when she hit 20 to be vetted by my father. She always insisted, privately to me, that she was closer to my father than I could ever hope to be. And there were other cruel little interplays with her, particularly when my mother was dying which still has the power to upset me all these years later.

Yeah, I get that she was needy and sad and alone and over compensated with braggadocio. I truly tried to like her in later years, being aware of all of this. But the last social interactions I had with her left me feeling so empty and baffled. There had been no personal growth, her conversation circled around herself, her skills, her beauty, her wardrobe, how all in her path adored her. And her remarkable lack of curiosity or compassion for others was breathtaking.

I'm left reflecting how bereft of feeling I am for her, this strange leopard and her spots that never changed.

Not even a whit of guilt.

And for that I'm glad.

Saturday, June 03, 2017


Strong coffee, a good book, fresh design on the needles....what more, seriously?

My friend T had his surgery on Thursday, a quadruple bypass, and is astonishing everyone with his speedy recovery, even his surgeon. He's sitting around for a few hours, all the tubes are out and he wants to go home. So next Wednesday is his release into the real world.

The Living with Chronic Disease series of workshops is marvellous. I was resistant to getting a handicap sticker for my car (only really, really challenged people get those!)and was encouraged to bite the bullet. Often I have to park a distance away from my destination and my legs seize after a few minutes walking and the pain, m'dears. So yeah, I agreed to taking my walking pole when out walking, requesting the handicap registration from my doctor (done and mailed) and checking out a folding walking stick from a local shop which another participant recommends. You just never know, she says, when you might need it.

One of the important things I noted in this workshop is that participants with hobbies are the happiest. Those with no passion or have retirement thrust upon them with nothing to fill the time apart from chores and TV are the most anxious. Gardeners, knitters, fishers, quilters, wood-workers are the most fulfilled.

We commit to certain things each week (this week mine is 1,000 steps a day and finishing a shawl and continue to toss excess from my house)plus some exercises we are all attempting, even finger exercises which can be painful. My knitting keeps my hands fairly flexible but my legs and back seem to be worsening so I am attempting more.

New York and Quebec tourists are arriving tomorrow, both holiday rooms in my house are booked which is good news.