Month: December 2015

Make Fear Your Bitch…

Earlier this month, I turned thirty-four years old. Yesterday, I got on an airplane for the first time ever. It didn’t take me this long because I was afraid to fly. It’s just that the money, spare time, and opportunity has never presented itself or been a priority.

I have a four year old son who did not accompany me, and being a mother has made me a bit more vulnerable than I’m used to. I’ll admit it, I was scared. Sure, you’re remembering the colloquial statistic that we are safer in airplanes than we are in cars, probably because there are a lot more people driving cars than flying in planes. If we all flew as much as we drove, I’m sure plane crashes would be a bit more common, but I digress. I was afraid.

I was afraid my plane would be the one-off and that I’d never see my son again. I was afraid that I was marching towards a death-sentence. I thought about all the things that could go wrong; massive earthquake grounding all flights and possibly ending life as we know it, all while I’m stranded across the country and unable to protect my son; terrorist attack; obviously a plane crash into icy, tumultuous water, slowly freezing to death as I desperately cling to an ice floe in a violently churning body of water miles away from any civilization or possible rescue; my house burning down while I’m away, just my lucky day, my space heater started smoking about a half hour before my car was to arrive and whisk me off to the airport, and I had to unplug it and watch it until I left to make sure no embers remained smouldering away in secrecy within, ready to burst into flames after my departure and consume our happy home.

I’ve never left my son for this amount of time before. I’ve never been this far away from him before. I also felt guilty for leaving him so soon after Christmas and making him leave many of his new toys behind to spend a week with his auntie and cousins. It’s a very hard thing for most mothers to do. It was a hard thing for me to do.

My legs felt wobbly and my tummy ached as I made my way through the airport. Anyone who passed a glance over me could easily tell I was brand new. I sucked it up and asked myself this question: Who are you? Are you a lion, or a frightened little gazelle?

I still felt scared, but I was going to eat my meal, fear or no.

I’ve faced a lot of things in my life that terrified me. I’m a girl, alone in this cold hard world with no protection other than my own wits and strength. I’m a warrior. I’ve paid my dues to be who I am and to know what I know.

As I sat in the terminal, waiting to board, I thought that just maybe I’d seen my son for the last time. I thought about him and what my final message to him would be, if I ever got the chance. This is what I came up with:

 

Listen.

Be brave. Make fear your bitch, and make wisdom your master. Never get these twisted.

Always seek to understand; the world, circumstances, others, and more importantly, yourself.

Be honest; with others, but more importantly, with yourself.

Do what is right, regardless of what everyone else is doing; don’t jump into the mud with the pigs.

Never make the mistake of thinking you are perfect; be humble, or be humbled.

Be quick to admit your mistakes and correct them.

Find your own purpose and live for it, not for the approval of others.

There is good to be found in everything. Look for it. Beauty is everywhere. Be observant.

You are always right where you are meant to be. Embrace and master every circumstance you find yourself in. Learn to live in the balance between clinging and pushing away. Live with intention and detachment.

Believe in God. He is real. Do not believe what other people tell you about what God wants of you. Seek Him for yourself and don’t be afraid of what you might find. Be brave and listen. There is a Holy Spirit and if you can tap into it, you can march through the fires of hell and not be destroyed. Listen. Your body may be harmed, but your spirit will be unbreakable, and every trap set out to harm you will only work to make you stronger.

Trust in God.

Get to know God.

Seek God.

Listen.

I love you. With all my heart and with all my soul I love you. I always have, and I always will. There is nothing that can ever change or diminish my love for you; absolutely nothing.

I’m writing this now so indeed I survived my first plane-ride. I’m hoping to live long enough to teach my son all these things myself. I want to live long enough to be certain he fully understands.

Flying in an airplane turned out to be pretty interesting. I especially loved the takeoff and the landing. The middle was actually quite boring and cramped. At least in a car you can pull over and stretch your legs. Hours of clouds gets pretty monotonous and you really can’t make out anything on the ground. What I thought were cars might have actually been buildings, or maybe even city blocks. I have no idea. It didn’t even feel like we were moving, even though the little flight navigator said we were going five hundred miles per hour. It felt like we were in a big ship, in a slow-motion crawl along a calm sea of foamy clouds. Some turbulence might have actually livened things up a bit.

I sat in a window seat. The plane was a lot smaller than I expected and my row mates were practically in my lap. More than one person farted during the flight and various human odours constantly permeated the stale pressurized air. It was pretty neat watching the truck with the robotic arm spraying the wing with de-icing solution. I kept thinking the plane was about to lift off as it taxied towards the runway, when it finally fired up it was unmistakable. No turning back. As it lifted, I imagined it swiftly plummeting back into the earth in a fiery crash and for some reason, it made me giggle. I’d made my choice, this was my meal and I was going to enjoy it; every last minute of it. Another random thought sent me into gales of laughter as I watched the ground fall away and we were air bound. If we were going down, I was apparently going with a grin.

I’m grateful for the experience and I’m still having a wonderful time. My fear is in pocket, and as for the flight home, well, bring it on, come what may.

Merry Knitting Christmas!

For the last week I have been knitting like a mad woman. This happens every year. I say I’m not going to knit anything and low and behold, I end up frantically knitting gifts at the last minute. The piece I’m working on right now is actually for myself.

It all started with a simple compliment. One of my son’s teachers complimented his hand-made mittens. They are his favourite because they are fingerless. They are designed for lighter weather, but he’d wear them in a blizzard if I’d let him. They are warm enough, but they aren’t as warm as those puffy ones that make your hands about as dextrous as giant snowballs.

I had been on the fence about what to get his teachers for Christmas, my best chance at buttering them up and pushing my little cherub into their good graces for the upcoming year, when I decided that those mitts would be perfect. They are made with super wash wool, making them washable and super-warm, they are fingerless, meaning that the teachers won’t have to take them off every time a child needs help with a zipper or a runny nose, or to take pictures for the class blog. As well, the wool is also very hearty and long-lasting – my son is on his second (or third?) year with his and he will likely outgrow, or lose, them before he destroys them. He is a very rough and tumble boy who cannot keep anything nice. The fact that his mitts have survived really says a lot about the quality of the wool.

So for my son I had made mitts and a full toque, but for myself and his teachers, I went with ear warmers instead. Ladies tend to wear their hair in different styles and toques are rarely forgiving to those styles so an ear warmer is generally better suited to do the job without too much collateral damage.

I wish I’d had some time to come up with an interesting pattern or some colour work, but I figure spending about six hours per teacher on a straight up ribbing and stockinette set seemed reasonable. If you count time plus materials, it’s a seventy dollar set, and that’s being as fair and generous as possible. He has three teachers, whom he adores, so they each got a mitt and ear warmer set in their own colour which I personally chose based on their skin tones and eye colours. I had to do one size fits all, which is pretty safe when it comes to mitts and hats because, if I’d tried to measure them the jig would have been up.

But I haven’t done much reading, and I haven’t done any writing. And now I have more sets to make.

I am visiting my birth-mother after Christmas – long story, not for right now. And I decided that instead of giving her some of my hand-made soap – or in addition to, I haven’t decided yet, I’m going to make her the same set that I made for my son’s teachers. And of course I can’t forget my sister, who is my best friend and well worth a handmade gift. If I make for her, I would also love to make a matching set for her daughter, which means altering the size slightly, no biggie, and less materials. But the rub with that is that I’ve now made a few things for my sister and her little girl, and I’ve made nothing for her son or her husband and I really don’t want to overlook them again. So I’m trying to come up with a complimentary colour to use for them, I’m liking navy and I have it on hand so that solves that, but for the boys, I have only two skeins of navy and I will need to make full toques for them, so I’m likely to run out of navy before I can get them all done. Meaning I will likely have to work another colour in there and spare the navy wool using some clever colour work.

I’m halfway finished my own set, making four total, and I still have five sets left to make. That will be nine sets total. That is fifty four hours of tireless labour. Even if you exclude the six hours I spend on my own, it’s still 48 hours of knitting, and there are less than four days till Christmas. I may be a bit of a masochist.

I’m guessing that there is no way my sister and her family’s will be done in time for Christmas, but she is my sister and she loves me so she will forgive a belated gift. Especially one of my gifts. I don’t half-ass things. If you’ve made it onto my ‘nice’ list, I can gauran-got-damn-tee that you are going to get a gift that will knock your socks off. Or maybe they will be socks. Beautiful, hand-made ones, the luxury of which you have never felt in your life.

The point is, a lot of love and time goes into hand-made gifts. Those teachers put a lot of love and time into my son who, admittedly, is a handful, and they deserve every hour spent on their gift, I only wish I had time to make gifts for the gym/music teacher and the librarian, who I overlooked, and the crossing guard, who I almost overlooked and winded up getting a Timmies gift card, and everyone else who makes my son’s time at school a safe and educational experience. Really, they are my heroes. Knitting them winter warmies is the best way I know how to say Merry Christmas and thank you… I mean, show it with actions. Obviously I could easily just say the words, which I did, but showing gratitude with thoughtful gifts made with love and quality materials is my way of expressing my feelings for them, which are warm and fuzzy feelings.

So I guess in closing, Christmas is not about material things, but also, it is. I really hate when cheapskates prattle on about how commercial Christmas is. As if there’s no reason for it. When you love or appreciate someone, you show them by doing something for them or giving them something thoughtful and special. Actions speak louder than words and while thanks are always appreciated, giving back is generally more appropriate and better appreciated than simple lip service. I could tell my son I love him till I’m blue in the face, I could smother him in a million kisses, and I’m probably closer to two million by now – I like to get him while he’s sleeping, muahahahaha! But those words and kisses don’t put food in his belly and I show my love for him by feeding and clothing him. So, go out there, think about the person you love and appreciate the most; what they’d love to have but would never buy for themselves, and get them that thing. If you can make beautiful things, then invest the time and do it, if not, then buy, and if you can’t do that, then do them a service that you can offer.

Don’t be that grinch who just uselessly complains about everything as an excuse to be stingy and selfish. Or be that grinch but just know that that attitude will not get you on my nice list and will not get you any cozy winter warmies from me! To everyone else: Merry Christmas!!!

Magnify the Good…

T’is the season… *sigh* the season for perpetual hope, miracles, positivity. Why am I not seeing it?

I think I need to take a little break from social media. As a matter of fact, anytime anything horrific happens in the news, it’s a good time to take a break from social media because everyone and their uncle Bob is going to be posting about it; gruesome pictures of dead children, horrible stories, and even worse opinions. It’s enough to drive a black cloud over even the most sunny and optimistic soul. I’m admittedly not the most sunny and optimistic soul. I like to fancy myself happily balanced between optimistic and realistic, but I know that it’s a delicate balance and one that I must maintain; too much negativity and it’s back to crippling depression-ville, population: me. So I have to watch what I take in and what I allow to infiltrate my being.

It never seems to end. Syrian refugees, then an attack in Paris, and just as soon as the chatter is starting to peter out about that and my feeds are starting to brighten again, there’s another massacre in America.

It’s just never going to stop and people are never going to stop sharing the poison and passing the kool-aid. It’s like the devil’s flu and it just never stops making the rounds. So, if I take a break anytime anything horrific happens, I will basically be taking a permanent vacation from social media, because it’s one thing after another, with maybe a brief smattering of cute or funny cats hiding out amongst the carnage. Now that we are so connected, we have to hear about every single crisis going on the world. There is always disaster happening somewhere in the world and it’s been this way since the dawn of time, we all take our turn at the whipping post, but it is only now that, unless we live under a rock, we are bombarded with the horrific details of one after another, after another. This can’t be good for our spirits. This can’t be good for our minds.

Bad things are happening in the world. They shouldn’t be ignored. But they also shouldn’t be magnified and exploited. Imagine, for a second, that someone goes into labour, or gets into a fender bender, what does everyone do? They stop and look. In the case of the fender bender, they might only slow down to look, but just about everyone does it. What does that do? It causes more people to slow down and look. Pretty soon we’re all crawling, everyone is stagnant and staring at this interesting thing that has happened. Out of all of those looky-loos, how many are actually qualified, willing, and able to do something about it? How many are needed to do something about it? But yet we all have to get our eyeful, even though it’s really only entertainment for us if we’re not there to help, able to help, or needed to help. Just like entertainment, it riles our senses, makes us feel, and makes us think. Some of us are nudging each other and sharing our thoughts, feelings, and opinions among friends, or even with whichever random stranger happens to be beside us or within earshot.

Every tragedy doesn’t need to be exploited and turned into a soapbox and a spectacle.

If you can help then help. If you aren’t qualified, willing, or able, then maybe move along and try to brighten someone’s day with some cute or funny cats or something.

As much as I try to ignore the bad, yes, I know it’s happening, no, there’s nothing I can do about it that I’m not already doing, and no, being sad about it doesn’t help anyone and just makes the world a sadder place so I’m not going to cry and be miserable, it sometimes pops up in the least expected places. A simple post, explaining that the food bank doesn’t have enough adequate food to feed people, especially with the influx of refugees, and asking people to please dig extra deep and give what they can this holiday season is a nice, reasonable post, which should have some pretty positive and uplifting feedback, no? Most of it was positive. Most of it was positive. That is worth repeating. But there always has to be the few who just cloud it up with their negativity, “why don’t they get educations and jobs?” “Dads need to step up and feed their own kids.” “Poor people are just lazy.” “It’s all the government’s fault.” “We can’t afford these Syrians.” “People steal the donations.” Like, geez, the lady asked people to give donations, not sermons and excuses. You either have and are willing to give, or you can’t or won’t give. Your choice.

My journal, my blog, is not the space for that. My space is for harmony, and hopefully fun and interesting topics. I guess when the world gets to be too much, I want to be able to come here, read the good things I’ve written, and feel happy and sparked up again. I want other people to be able to come here to get away from all the tragic and negative news in the world too. Take a break and get your head right. That’s the idea, but it’s fluid and anything can happen. I’m into freedom and flowing into the natural, not really frigid rules and censorship. So, whatever happens naturally is going to be allowed to take it’s course, alter it’s course, choose a new path, or start over again. It’s whatever.

Harmony happens when things come together and balance out to create something beautiful and magical. Believe it or not, bad things do have a place in all that. Without evil in the world, we wouldn’t understand the relevance of good. We wouldn’t be able to fathom the magnitude, the importance, of it all. Yin yang, right? Harmony happens when we learn to let go and let flow. To agree to disagree, to yearn for deeper understanding, no matter how ugly or painful the truth may be. I’ve been through some tough things, and it’s true that there is beauty to be found in even the most ugly places. All survivors know this. Okay, well maybe not if they only survived, then they might just be existing in a very hurt, bitter, and angry place; just walled off and still breathing. But people who overcome the bad, and thrive to the best of their ability despite it, do understand that there is beauty in everything, even tragedy. The ugliest things have a sliver of something beautiful in them like a golden vein running through a cold hard stone. That is the only piece worth holding onto and magnifying.

I suppose one discord with social media is the lack of balance. Sometimes it seems as if the darkness is just pummelling the crap out of the light and people are complacently just drinking and sharing the toxic kool-aid, treating it like it’s some sort of medicine when it’s really just a cleverly disguised poison. The more darkness I see, the more light I must shine. That’s my new motto. Probably for a few days until I think of something even more clever, gotta let go and let flow – ooh, that’s another good one! I’m on a roll!

The other discord is usually found in the comments sections. People always have to feel right. Even when they’re wrong. I’m not innocent, here. I won’t pretend to be perfect. I’m not even close. But I find that no matter how horrible, wrong, and bad we find someone’s opinions or beliefs to be, it’s always better to sincerely seek to understand why they feel and think the way they do, rather than trying to shame or coerce them into our way of thinking, or to just flat out deride them with memes and jokes. So many people tend to take this futile tactic, which just doesn’t work, although, it is easier and prettier. I’ll give it that. Haha, it’s the slutty way out. (I don’t advocate calling women sluts, no matter how open they are with their sexuality, but that’s another topic. The term just seemed germane here, so I took the liberty.)

When I was learning how to train my dogs, two tiny little things, a chihuahua named Beanie, my boy, and a Papillon named Daisy, my girl, I learned how to get them to cooperate on the leash and the instructions always stood out to me and I never forgot them.
If you pull on the leash with constant pressure, the pups nature will be to pull back with equal pressure.
The pup won’t go willingly, but will have to be dragged along. This is kinda mean and not exactly the desired outcome.
The key is to pulse the leash. For my tiny little dogs it is a light flick of the wrist, that gives and takes. Gives pressure, yields to pressure, then gives pressure again. In order to be understood, you must give some understanding. I sometimes see interrogative questioning which is used only as a condescending way to gather information to be used to win the argument, and that isn’t at all what I’m talking about. Seeking to understand and gathering ammunition are two totally different things, and people know, can sense, the difference.

It’s counterintuitive to ignore negativity, to try to understand people we see as bad, rather than shame and condemn them. But I feel that is the way to bring about balance. If the sensationalism died down then I think the tragedies would follow suit. If open communication and understanding without condemnation was encouraged, angry, hurt people would post hurtful and angry manifestos and be met with love, would be compelled with the power of love. When suicides became less publicized, the suicide rates dropped. We need to focus on what we want and magnify that. We need to magnify good, and diminish bad. That’s what I try to do, and I hope others can do the same. It’s really all some of us can do.

I suppose I will sign off by quoting Mother Theresa:

“I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”

Oh, and commenters, assuming that there are any, please don’t pipe up to inform me that Mother Theresa isn’t quite the saint that everyone thinks she is, or that she’s done this terrible thing or that. I don’t care. It’s not my business, or my focus. Whatever bad she’s done doesn’t take away from the wisdom and aptness of the quote, or the good that she’s done which has, wisely, been the focus until the internet know-it-alls had to come along and start digging for dirt and ruining everything for everyone. If that’s you, feel free to give it a rest.

 

She Choked on a Bag of Dicks…

Imagine a woman died, and the only surviving relative really hated her and so had the headstone engraved with “She Choked on a Bag of Dicks.”

I bet that’s happened before – maybe not exactly with the phrase “bag of dicks,” but still (you have to pay by the letter, I think, so it’d be more cost-effective to be terse with the insults). I’m sure someone somewhere has had their headstone purposely engraved with something they wouldn’t have liked. It happened to Frank “Grimey” Grimes on The Simpsons… It could happen to you!

I remember reading about a young lady who suffered from depression and had committed suicide. I won’t mention her name for two reasons; the first is that I don’t remember it. The second is that in her suicide note, her dying wish was that her mother not tell anyone what happened.

Her mother respected her daughter’s final wish by posting her face, details about her mental state, and exactly what had happened, including the suicide note, begging her mother not to blab, all over Facebook.

What really shocked me is that not one person pointed out this betrayal in the comments. Everyone was all like, “you’re so brave to share your daughter’s story,” I mean sure, the commenters didn’t benefit directly from it, they were just there for the entertainment value, like people slowing down to view the carnage of a car wreck, but still. Not one comment was even close to being along the lines of, “I was just about to kill myself when I read this and now I think I’m saved. I can feel my depression lifting. Thanks for posting this, my life has been saved here.” I didn’t comment at the time, because I was, frankly, too baffled to even know what to say. I can see why the kid was depressed. Mother probably didn’t respect or listen to the kid too much when she was alive either.

The mother’s post went viral, she got many kudos and likes, so that was probably some consolation for her. I mean, I would hope so now that she has to live with herself, knowing that she sold out her kid for them. There are about a million ways she could have brought awareness to the issue of depression without disrespecting her daughter’s final wish. A Facebook post is unoriginal and almost exactly what the daughter asked her oversharing mother NOT to do. I’m pretty open about my life, to the point of TMI sometimes, but if I’m asked to keep something in confidence, it’s something that goes to the grave with me. If I could bag of dicks that mother’s headstone, I would. But she’s the only one I can think of who I’d do that to and since we’re not related and I don’t care enough about her to find out who she is, I guess the bag of dicks thing will probably never happen… Unless someone does it to me, that is.