Sunday, January 31, 2010

January 31 - Daddy

My relationship with my father, as I've mentioned before, has been tumultuous at best. The stories about the tension between us began even before I was born. When my parents would begin to argue, my mother would regale me with tales of how I was born with a hand print, my father's hand print, on my back. Proof of his violence towards my mother whilst she was pregnant. Or how, as an infant, I would scream bloody blue murder whenever my dad came near or tried to hold me. If you ask me, we never had a chance.

Growing up I never saw my father as available, caring, supportive. He was brutal, narcissistic, believing strongly in the adage that children should be seen and not heard, and if you asked him, they didn't much need to be seen either. He was not a generous man, not a playful man - except with others, except for the "show".

I always believed my dad regretted having kids, if he considered it at all. Maybe that's closer to the truth, that he didn't consider us, me. He didn't spare a thought about me, about how I might be feeling, about how I was affected by the world, by his brutishness, by my mother's drinking.

And yet somehow all that has changed. Whether it's his vascular dementia that changed things - tiny strokes causing structural changes in his brain where once his heartlessness lived; or his aging, softening him up, so that he is aware of his vulnerability, and my willingness to care for him. I don't know. But I'm grateful for the change. He has a soft dopiness about him. He is always happy to see me, likes hugging and kissing, feels better himself for it, tells me that he loves me.

I'm grateful for my dad. I'm grateful I can say that.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

January 30 - Play Time

Good day to you. How has your day been? Mine has been lovely. I've been playing! Getting dirty! Soooo nice.

My dear friend Christiane has a pottery studio on the South Shore. I have mentioned before that I've been invited to go on a bi-monthly basis. Today I built amazing "lampions" - they are tall, elegant vessels for candle light. What fun that was. I made 7 of them! Even better - I am full of ideas for other things to make: a turtle candle, something with a balloon as the shape-maker, lamp shades - all out of the finest of liquid-porcelain and cheese cloth, fancy that! And, and! I have two bags of wood fire porcelain downstairs. I am going to revive them. I am going to make magic boxes out of them and have some of them fired in a wood kiln, and some I will smoke fire! I saw a very inspiring piece on an a poster at the studio.

A creative outlet has been missing for me for far too long. I am really very grateful to a) have someone as amazing as Cri Cri as a dear, dear friend, b) to have a friend like Cri Cri who has a studio!!!

I am grateful for the amazing things I get to do in my life. Today it's about friends, creating with them, cooking for them, ... life is good. I am grateful.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Day 29 ... Awesomeness....

So I left for the office at 7:30 this morning. It's a cool -30 with the wind chill, but it's so crystal clear and blue and beauitful outside, it doesn't seem so bad. I dont' know if it's the effects of the gelatinous stuff your eyeballs are made out of freezing, or the air molecules freezing, or what - but everything is sharper, clearer, more THERE. For me, cold like that let's you know your alive. I am grateful.

I had two very rewarding hours of work this morning. It always takes me to a place of gratitude when I reflect on how my brave clients privilege me by sharing their stories, by having me on their journeys with them. This morning was no exception. Great work people! And thank you. I am grateful.

On my way home, while it hadn't warmed up at all, the sun was higher, it really is gorgeous out. I went to pick up those hemmed pants, stopped and bought myself an all dressed bagel, just one, picked up a nice white for tonight, and to top it all off... when I got home - I got a perfect coffee out of that Mooka of mine!!! Awesome!

And all the way home, winding from one place to the next, out in this glorious sunshine, and super frigid temperature, I felt the anticipation of writing and sharing, and my gratitude grew! Thereby adding to the deliciousness of my morning.

And people, it's not even noon!!!

Sometimes things don't make sense. Yesterday was tough, dealing with issues about my dad and his care, late in the night fretting with Honey about his adventures, tough things to talk about, tough changes on the horizon perhaps, a wee bit of sleep deprivation due to the worries ... and then you wake up, go out side in the frigid morning air, and feel grateful to be alive.

I'll take it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day 28 .. Redux...

All right.. I have to be honest. I wasn't being honest, or my preferred way of putting it, authentic, in my post earlier today. Yes I'm grateful for the contact with the old friend, yes I'm grateful for the dog I had... but at the time of writing I was in a bit of a tizzy because of the state of my dad and the ensuing complications. Truth be told I was not feeling a whole lot of gratitude at the time of writing, which of course makes the post unauthentic. I can't bear that. Perhaps going forward I will say - Oh my I'm having a really tough day - and am not allowing myself to pause and consider what I am grateful for. Or maybe, the other lesson might be, wait till the storm passes before you write. Whatever... here I am for real....

What I am grateful for is the team of people that surround my father and make sure he lives well, with dignity and respect. People who work with the dementia-stricken elderly do some of the hardest work there is to do. Cleaning, caring, guiding, assisting, it never stops. And these dear lost souls, our parents, are so much better off for having these caregivers in their lives. For this I am really very grateful.

Peace to you Daddy.

Day 28.... Friends..

I got a call from an old friend today. You know a friend is a friend when it takes you less than a minute to fall back into something easy and comfortable. We caught up, shared some laughs, and shared about our pooches, our other friends.

We had a great dog for eight years. Doogie was an awesome friend. Took our love in stride, played the marital therapist, soothed our sobbing hearts when it was required, made us laugh to no end, he was a great friend. Having a dog is an experience unto itself. Nothing teaches gratitude quite like a dog. You can do absolutely nothing for them and they still appear grateful to have the honour of sitting by your side. They can be in extreme pain, limping along to the very end, and still, they're grateful to have whatever crumb of affection or time you offer. Obviously we offer more than a crumb - but a dog would settle for that wouldn't he? And still be happy.

I'm grateful for the time we had with Doogie. I am grateful for how he enriched my life, slowed me down, loved me, and stood by me. I miss him.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day 27 ... the little things...

I woke up not entirely happy this morning. But something changed along the way. I'm grateful for that. I am also grateful for the following:

It's a gorgeous day outside and I got the chance to enjoy it
I woke up in a warm and wonderful bed, in a warm and wonderful house
My trainer came today and I had a great workout
I walked to the tailor to have my pants hemmed
I'm having a crunchy, delicious apple
I have the time to reflect on all that is wonderful in my life
I am grateful for where I live
I am grateful for the words of praise and love I got from my niece about this blog, grateful that I'm touching people, making them think, sharing in the gratitude
I am grateful for the pictures of my grandson that my daughter sent along last night
I am grateful.

Sometimes, dear people, it is that simple.

Peace to you.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day 26 ... Tough Lessons...

I have been asked to reflect on my history. My history as a mother to be more specific. This in light of my daughter's impending baby - a new grandson for me. Another birth I will sadly not be a part of in a way I would like to be. Another fractured beginning - for me anyway. I've have decided, however, to be grateful for what ever it will be.

In a discussion I had today with a wise woman, I reflected on who I was when I had my kids. She kept saying "I just can not seem to connect who you were then to who you are now". "Neither can I" I replied, yet I am being held accountable for that, for who I was and choices I made, then. I remember being a somewhat chaotic, immature, desperately lonely and insecure child who yearned for family - when I had my kids. I was addicted, dysfunctional, trapped and stuck. I had no models for how to live my life, only a conviction that "this" was not how it ought to be done. At one point I remember clearly, seeing a road before me, one led to my mother's end, one led I knew not where. Who knew it would be here.

I feel sad that my daughter would reproach me for who I was then, rather than accept (would appreciate be too much to ask?) who I am now. That wise woman today remarked how she understood my leaving, understood the impossibility of me staying in that place given my propensity, absolute need even, of moving forward, learning, growing.

I am grateful for having arrived where I am. I am grateful, again, for having found a capacity for compassion, because it helps me here too. I am grateful for the wise women in my life, who help steer the boat in the stormy waters of my life, give me anchor, keep me steady. I am grateful for my strength, for staying open, and present, despite pressure to retreat, withdraw, cutoff. That would be unacceptable - it used to be a pattern, a habit, a solution. I am grateful that its not.

I love you daughter. I wish you peace.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Day 25 ... Compassion

Today's gratitude has to do with yesterday's events.

I am a negligent daughter. While I do a good job taking care of the money for my dementia-ridden father, I don't visit as much as I should or could. Worse, I don't really feel guilty. I go every couple of weeks, spend a few silent minutes with him - which he seems really happy about, and then I'm off on my merry way. I make sure the Residence and case workers take good care of him, that he has what he needs, that he gets his medical needs met, that his rent is paid on time. Maybe I'm not so negligent.

The relationship with my dad is a complicated one. My dad is a narcissist. He was brutal with me as a kid, physically, mentally, verbally. In my twenties I walked around with clenched teeth, so consumed was I by my anger. I grew up thinking my self stupid, because that's what I was told. I made decisions to accommodate that belief. I was never supported or taken care of. Never protected from my mother. It sucked.

Somewhere along the line, because of another event in my life, I began to learn about compassion. The kind of compassion that Pema Chodron teaches about. She is a Buddhist monk in Nova Scotia. Through learning about compassion, and directing it toward my self and then my father, my anger began to melt away. I learned that the weight of compassion felt much better than the burden of anger. It was a salve, a relief, a better way for me to be.

So yesterday, what was supposed to be a 20 minute visit, turned into a four hour visit. My dad needed taking care of. He had an "accident", didn't seem to know what to do about it so left everything the way it was. It was not nice, required a considerable amount of cleaning and laundering. I had to intervene with the Residence staff. I had to wash my dad, help him shave and brush his teeth.

I am ever grateful for the teaching of compassion. Without that yesterday would have been impossible. I am grateful to have in my heart the capacity and wish, even, to do what I do - to understand it as something I have to do, want to do, can do. It is such an irony to me that I am the one now caring for my father. More importantly, it's a real gift.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Day 24... Money and Change

I have been reading this book called Mind over Money: Overcoming Money Disorders that Threaten Financial Health. Money Disorders indeed. This has been such an eye opening book for me. Clearly, given the family I come from, I would have issues about money. The dance that Honey and I do, almost all the time when we talk about money, makes my - OUR - money disorder self evident. Ok so maybe disorder is a strong, even uncomfortable word. Ok so maybe just because of that it's worth exploring?

The book asks you to reflect on pivotal childhood events that shaped how you think and behave around money. Given my history, this is no small feat. The practice of thinking about this and exploring this issue, has in fact brought up some interesting things. My dad sold European goods to delicatessens and stores across Quebec and every Thursday he went around collecting. He always walked around with a huge, and I mean huge, wad of bills. He liked the feel of that, liked the bulge in his pocket, would flash the money around, and would say, there's none for Heidi. I am not entirely sure if he actually said that, but in my child's mind that's the message I received. I certainly had an aha moment when this memory surfaced.

My gratitude today is about my willingness to explore these things. My willingness to say, for sure given my history there are things I can improve. My willingness to say, hey kids, I have been blind to something important and that blindness may very well, surely has, impacted you and your lives. Wake up with me. I look around me and notice not everyone (family) sees the world the way that I do. And that's too bad. But I am grateful that I see it as I do. I am grateful I look at things and learn, and rather than hammer myself for not having known. I pat myself on the back for having the capacity to change and grow. I am grateful that I can. I am grateful that I do.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Day 23 ... To sleep, perchance to sleep...

Good morning! Is there anything better in the world than a good nights sleep? In a word, no.

I, being in prime menopausal territory - have been struggling with debilitating insomnia for the last two years (only one of the thirty-four symptoms!!). Ya, imagine, two freaking years of not sleeping properly. For the last two years I have been doing research, giving seminars (I learn by doing), going to doctors ad nauseum, and in short, losing my mind to hormonal upheaval. It's not been pretty, it's not been nice. Being sleep deprived has been the worst - in large part because without sleep there is no repairing and recuperating of your body, mind, spirit... let me just say, it sucks.

And through all the research and seminars and what have you, I always thought the route of HRT should be avoided. It seemed scary, you can't get two doctors to say the same thing, I didn't want a normal passage in life to be medicalized.... on and on... and then I caved. And truth be told, it's a damn shame to even put it that way. Why is there this mindset "out there" that doing something to help yourself is like failing. Maybe it's me? I don't know. I didn't care anymore, I decided to try HRT.

Which brings me to my gratitude... I am now sleeping, whole 6 to 7 to 8 hour stretches. It's unbelievable. I don't even get up to pee anymore!!!! That's a freaking miracle! It's crazy that hormones would do this. Absolutely crazy. Sleeping really changes things. It's hard to find that crabby place that used to greet me every morning. I don't wake up in tears anymore. I am not in pain when I wake up. My eyes open and I look forward to my day. My eyes open and I smile. My eyes open and I realize hey!, the last time they were open was about 11 pm last night!!! And truthfully, I feel overjoyed!

So there you have it. My deep and profound gratitude for the return of my slumber.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Day 22 ... About a Boy...

Today is a very special day. Today my grandson turns 6! How awesome is that. J is a treasure. Well what do you expect me to say - he is one of the most awesome kids I have ever met. He meditates, he fakes reading (funniest thing I ever saw), he is happy,inquisitive, smart, joyful and funny. I adore him. I wish he lived closer. I wish we, collectively, would have gotten off to a better start, but oh my how grateful I am for where we are. How very, very grateful.

I have another grandson on the way. And it seems my karma is all about difficult, fractious starts. I don't know why. I'm pretty sure it has a lot to do with choices I made as a young mother - many of them not very good. This time around, it also seems to have a lot to do with being judged for those choices. It's sad and painful. I can't change the past. I can however be the best person I can be going forward, and have been for a long time now. There is a silver lining to all that pain, and that's the gratitude you feel when putting your best foot forward does work, like with J and his mother.

I'm grateful for the clarity I have with my daughter. I'm very grateful for my relationship with her and her son. I am grateful that regardless how difficult my relationship with my other daughter may be, we continue to persevere. If my relationship with Holly is teaching us anything, it's that it can be done. I am really grateful for that.

Happy Birthday my dearest J. I love you very much.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day 21... is this habit forming?

About two years ago I joined Weight Watchers. I had been struggling with my weight and the issues of (ugh!) exercising for some time. I was getting tired of feeling, well, tired. And sluggish, and fat, and miserable about myself. So I did something about it. At the time, I remember receiving the message from three different sources that if you do something for 21 days it becomes a habit. So I decided that if I could exercise for 21 days, I would be set!

Well ... I would like to tell you that the Weight Watchers trip was a great success. I dropped twenty pounds, and I have in fact, more or less, kept it off. This Christmas period was a little indulgent, but I hover close enough to my new weight, and have managed to do so for over a year.

The habit of exercise is another thing!!! And here I was today, trying to use that line on a client!! And she said "Ya right! That's full of crap!!" Who was I to argue? However... here is where it gets interesting. Do something for 21 days. If it does not become a habit, do it for 21 more! If at anytime you "slip", "let go" - whatever, you start over. Can you see how actually, you could exercise for ever this way? Hmm...

Staying dedicated to yourself is tough work. I know I said that yesterday.

Actually the point of today's post was not supposed to be about exercise but about creating a habit. Like, say, gratitude?! This is day 21. I haven't missed a single day. I am not planning to. I am grateful that I am taking pause everyday to say thanks to the universe for providing me with endless experiences from which to grow and learn. Thanks to the universe for the time I find to reflect on and write about these things. There is a new lens with which I look at the world. It's positive, hopeful, full of possibility. This acknowledgement of gratitude demands I be aware of my self, those around me; be in tune with my experiences, be active not passive in the living of my life. This is something I could get used to.

The newly found habit of gratitude, you guessed it, is one I am deeply grateful for.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day 20 ... The Shape of Things...

So here's the deal. For over a year now I have been dealing with chronic, unrelenting back pain. It's a pain in the ass as well as the back. Apparently I have a pelvic structure with a mind of it's own. It thinks it should turn this way, when the rest of my body insists it turn that way. So what to do. I went through periods of using anti-inflammatory meds, muscle relaxants, plain old pain killers. On my more desperate days I tried some kind of crazy narcotic thing that was prescribed for migraines (I did this once) and really, all to absolutely no avail. At my lowest point, not too long ago as a matter of fact, I actually understood how someone would consider suicide as an option to dealing with chronic pain. It's debilitating and depressing, has a tendency to leave you feeling completely helpless and powerless to change.

I had gone to a number of physiotherapists, doctors, chiro's.. on and on. And the message kept coming back, you have to exercise! Well in December, for what ever reason, I got it. My gynecologist of all people said, sounds like you have to exercise, strengthen that pelvic floor of yours. Something hit home this time. I mean geez, even the gynecologist?? Ok ... and I had this epiphany that my back was MY responsibility. Seems obvious now ... but I kept looking for something or someone else to fix my back - when the solution was me all along. Funny how that realization evaded me for so long... ah well.

So I hired a trainer. I felt I needed the kick in the behind so to speak to get going. Well Massimo comes every Wednesday morning, and every time he leaves I feel kicked in the behind! Gaad.. and every Thursday morning I can barely move my behind!

But I'm grateful! I am getting stronger! My back is a ton better - not perfect but definitely better! I'm strong and flexible and grateful that I can do this. Our bodies are a precious commodity. I mean without them .. we're all souls and other dimensions right? I'm not ready for that. I want to hang on to the motivation to do this. It's a fine thread... it's tough. It's tough to put yourself first. It's astounding to me how easy it is to fill up my schedule with other stuff besides what I need to do for myself.

I'm grateful that I am learning how to take better care of me. I am grateful my body is cooperating.

Now, for that soak in the tub!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Day 19 ... The Nap...

I don't know about you, but I love napping. Even better if it's a sunny afternoon, and the sun is piling up in the middle of my bed. I remember doing that as a kid. The sun would pour into my parent's room, right on the bed. I would love to curl up in the middle and nap. Napping is really underrated. I don't know why it's not national corporate policy - got a cubicle, get a cot. Sometimes I sneak one in at my office. Even better are the naps after a little afternoon delight - huh, huh, know what I'm sayin'! Now that's a nap!

Ya well, today it won't be that exciting - just a couch and blanky nap. I like those too. I sometimes like to just lie there, on the couch say, and stare off into nothing - that's serious "chillin'". I have spoken to people about that and there are quite a number out there who don't or worse yet, claim they "can't" do that. Imagine. Maybe I was a Zombie in my past life?

So, I am grateful my work life permits me to come home and take a nap. I'm grateful I have the comfiest couch in the 'hood. I'm grateful I can be at peace, have time to myself, and nap. Life is good.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Day 18 ... when the going gets tough...

Howdy... I feel a little like I've been through the wringer. But before I tell you that story..

My dearest daughter has quit smoking!!! Day 3 and she is going strong! Even better - she is extremely proud of herself and is saying that she knows she can do this!! I could not be prouder. Holly.... take a step back, look at the road you have traveled my love, and pat yourself on the back!!! Hot Dog am I proud of you!!!

Now for the wringer part.

Any of you out there in a long term relationship? Ever fight about money? Ha ha ha. No, seriously... well I'm really grateful and proud of how Honey and I are able to have a dialogue, even when we're both scared and a bit (ok maybe more than a bit) panicky. We sit through each others' telling of the story .. which is always heightened, always a little high on the volume, cause, you know, we're excited. We have learned how to do that - hear each other through that. We don't leave the room until we find the clearing and say what needs to be said. And lucky for us, more often than not, we meet in that clearing, hold on to each other - even after all those words - hang on to each other, give each other a kiss.

I hope and pray each of our dreams comes true. I know we are there for each other. I know each of us wants the other to succeed. Fear and anxiety are not necessarily proof that I don't believe in something good.

I believe in you Honey. I believe that you are strong and a shining star. I believe you must pursue what your heart tells you to pursue. Please listen to that .. you're heart that is.

I am grateful we are together. I am grateful we listen to each other. I love you.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Day 17... Let's Play!

So first of all, my sincere apologies for yesterday's post. Even more so for not returning to it to let you know that hey, whaddya know, the day turned out lovely - yes, of course, for which I am very grateful. Thanks to Honey for his perseverance and his much needed attention!

Alrighty, and here we are, a new day.

But first back to last night. We had dinner with my best clay buddy. She is a potter who makes lovely, delicate objects both on the wheel and through hand building. Christiane is a retired college professor who has become a full time potter. She works hard going to different exhibits and "shows" and is really proud of her work. She established a group that have their own atelier on the South Shore, another thing she is very proud of - "Her" atelier. I am really happy for her. You see the excitement in her when she talks about her ideas, what she wants to do, the forms and themes of the next piece of work she plans to undertake. Yay Cri Cri!

So she has invited me to come and work in the studio every other weekend. When she extended this invitation it seemed like a door was opening for me. I have been really missing the creative side of my life - but always feel too involved in other stuff. I know that's not good. I know I "should" make time for that. But geez, it's hard. Yet here it is.. the perfect timing, the perfect rhythm, the perfect place and people... It's just delicious to be excited!!!

I'm grateful for my friendship with Christiane. I'm grateful that my soul will be nourished, again, by the act of creating with clay. I am grateful that I have been given the opportunity to get dirty again!! Let's throw!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day 16 ...

Geez, I woke up in such a crabby mood this morning. I'm agitated, restless, Honey is getting on my nerves - and simply by virtue of being Honey. Not good. So I reflect - isn't the practice of gratitude a way out of a mood like that? I don't know.

With a heart full of sincerity, I'm still very grateful for home and hearth, my livelihood, my, our, health. I'm grateful I have a laptop to plunk on while listening to Stewart McLean. I'm grateful I can peruse books of Ireland and plan a trip; yesterday's post still fresh in my mind, and the headlines today no better than yesterday. I am grateful.

And I'm crabby. Is it possible that mood and gratitude have nothing to do with each other? Here I thought gratitude might be a panacea for all that ails me when it ails me.. and turns out maybe not. Not a reason to not be grateful ... just seems a little conflicting is all..

Can I be grateful for being crabby? How and why would that work?

Ok.. I feel like this is going nowhere... so for now - my gratitude as stated above stands... as does my crabbiness.

Let's see what the day brings.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Day 15... Haiti

I had a great night's sleep. I woke up in a warm, wonderful bed. I had a great cup of coffee. How did your day start?

I read parts of the paper with my coffee. Glanced at the headlines about the tragedy in Haiti. I sent money to the World Aid Organization.

I exercised with my trainer. I am listening to the Buona Vista Social Club on my CD player.

I read the paper again - read the horror stories about Haiti, so very many. I feel like the contribution I made earlier today doesn't matter at all. I'm glad I did it, know it's important that I did, grateful I can, but it just feels so pitiful an attempt at "help" given the vastness of the destruction and pain.

It doesn't make sense. Well it does. I was born in a good place, at a good time. By virtue of that I don't have to suffer. I have the power to make choices. We may think everyone does - but when faced with the horrors of an earthquake, and the stifling poverty, we're not talking choices, we're talking survival. Sometimes not even that. I can't even imagine it. I really can't. I look at the pictures, I read the stories, I burst into tears. Yet here I sit, a million miles away from that suffering, I might as well be on another planet. Whatever tears I shed today for my fellow human beings, whatever compassion I feel for them, I hope it puts a dent in the karmic fabric of the world and provides some respite.

And everyone I know, every single person I know, friend, family, customer, colleague, none of us suffer like that. Be grateful. In this case it is not relative. So I am asking you, please, help however you can.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day 14 ... My Niece..

This morning I was greeted on Facebook with an invitation by my niece, to read an essay she wrote. I don't think she intended it as an "essay", but that's what it is. It is entitled "I am Only 18" .

My sister has three kids and I dearly love all three of them. However, for whatever reason, Laura and I have a bond that goes above and beyond the call of aunt and niece relationships. We're friends, confidants, girlfriends, family. She talks to me a lot. Sometimes she just talks .. a lot! Laura is one of the most refreshingly honest and direct people I know. A trait that I know she will have to hone and refine for it to serve as well as it might in her adulthood.

Laura wrote about the plight of being 18. In her essay I read about the excitement of breaking out and yet the really clear understanding and fear, even, of the responsibility inherent in that new found freedom. She talks about failure. I think I read between the lines when she writes that there are things she knows she is not cut out to do - and yet when her and I have those conversations - I'm all about "Yes. you can do anything" - and her response is clear now, "No, Aunty, the truth is I can not do anything I want". She is harsh with her self to be sure, but she takes responsibility for herself, her choices, her actions. She writes about the great malaise I see in my clients of her age, this lacking of a passion, a fire, a conviction about knowing what to do, what to grow into. My heart aches for her. She talks about love, at 18, and how, while it's sweet and wonderful, it's not something that ought to hold someone back. She talks about transitions - about transitions people! - she recognizes herself on the precipice of adulthood, of great change, of a letting go of childhood, even though she is clear that at this moment, she will cling to whatever vestiges there are of it... she is so poignant about that.

Some pieces of her work:

The worst part of this transition is the numerous changes in life, and you never really know where the change will take place first.

Sometimes, yea the truth hurts, but at least it is the truth. It is something you need to know, and need to take into effect. You need to realize life is a bitch, the younger the better. Don't rush growing up either, and definitely do not let your parents rush you into growing up.

So does that mean quit? Or does that mean beat the odds? That is all up to your personality. I vote; beat the odds. You will feel much better when you do. There is a great feeling when you accomplish something, its a sense of achievement, it makes you happy. I have felt failure, and let me tell you: not fun. The world tells you "no, you are not a failure, you are a great person and I love you," well that may be true, but it is also true that I have failed. I may not have failed you, but I failed myself, and failed the program. I truly believe failing yourself is much worse than failing another person.

There is life. Life happens and life goes on, whether you are ready or not. You need to get back on that horse, get up and dust yourself off, try harder, work harder, and play harder. Growing up stinks. Just saying.

I love my niece. I'm proud of how she embraces life. I'm proud of how she picks herself up, how she reflects, of her honesty - and her writing!

My gratitude today .. is obvious...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day 13... Little Blue Planet...

This morning ... this painfully early morning, I was heading off to a Board Meeting. It was about 7:00 am, which at this time of year I guess pretty much means sunrise. The sky on the eastern horizon was ablaze in an amazing pink. Hot pink clouds. What a spectacle it was. It got me to thinking of all the moments I have had where nature has shown me her best, where my little blue planet became so very precious to me. Of course, it always is, but how often do I stop in my day to contemplate my gratitude for the beauty that surrounds me. How often do you?

Sometimes I look out my back door (big window kind) after a snow storm and the big pine tree across the lane looks like it belongs on a post card.

I remember once, sitting on the rock at Winnetou Lake, in a lotus position (right? lotus? legs crossed like a yoga thing?) .. the sun was slightly to the right facing me. It was reflecting off the lake and I was surrounded by this amazing light. It was a spiritual moment. I'm not religious by any stretch of the imagination - but at that moment I felt I knew God.

Anywhere in the Rockies is always a moment next to God. I spent last Thanksgiving in Canmore, Alberta. It cured me of what I imagine was a depressive episode, or menopause, or burnout.. take your pick, I'm still not sure what was up. But those mountains fixed it! They take my breath away.

I love moments like that. Like this morning with it's pink fairy sky. It was breathtaking. It gives me a sense of being connected to something much greater, to something beautiful and meaningful.

I'm grateful for having had the privilege to experience it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day 12 - Work

I love what I do. I love where I do it. I love who I do it with. As a psychologist in private practice, I am so grateful and appreciative to my clients. They privilege me by letting me into their world. We work together, and quite a lot of the time they come to understand themselves in such a way that they are able to master their own problems. I ALWAYS learn more about me in the process. It's a real gift this learning I receive.

I love that my work is about relationships. I love that it's about making authentic connections with people. I love that I get to do it how I think I ought to do it, and it still works!

I love that I have to keep on learning to do what I do. I love that curiosity is a fundamental requirement in what I do. I love that openness and realness are rewarded and, are rewards in their own right.

I have a deep sense of gratitude about my work.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Day 11 .... dreams

I am a prolific dreamer. My dreams, for the most part, are a nightly source of entertainment. Of the several dreams I had last night, one was that I found a twenty dollar bill. It had fallen in between some kind of grill - therefore assuring me that it didn't "belong" to anyone. (There was a story similar to this at Honey's party so I'm wondering if that's where that came from....). Then I found yet another twenty dollar bill only this one was the "jacket" to many more bills, and they were of much bigger denominations! Like hundreds and five hundred dollar bills! Do they even exist? I like dreams like that, they make me feel like goods things are coming.

Then I dreamt of my mother. My mother passed away in 2005 after a sad and torturous life. She struggled with alcoholism from the time I was six years old, mostly in a bid to avoid feeling the feelings of having lost her own mother when she was 11. The thing is, except for one time, whenever I dream about my mother, she is always drunk. Always. Last night, the parts of the dream I remember: I was taking a bath with all my clothes on (?), then heard my mother come upstairs. I got out of the tub, went into the bedroom, we started hitting each other, and I screamed that I was leaving.

There is a part of me that longs for a dream about my mother where she is mothering me. The one time I did dream of her and she didn't seem drunk, she walked into an apartment I was in, turned on the light switch, and walked right by me as if she didn't know me. I remember thinking how beautiful she looked, but she did not acknowledge me.

I am not sure where this is going. Where is the gratitude? And of all things, about my mother. I wrote an essay after she passed away (sorry I don't think I know how to post a link properly)

and in there I struggle with the things I might be grateful for - not having to worry about midnight phone calls from the police ... but somehow that does not feel right for this space here - this space of gratitude.

Maybe it's about this .. I am grateful that I have learned other ways to cope with grief, sadness, and pain. I am grateful that I have other outlets for difficult feelings and interestingly enough, writing has always been one of those outlets. Maybe that's the link. I am grateful that I have people in my life that are there for me when I am scared, upset, lonely. I am grateful I don't shut them out.

I am grateful for the life I have chosen to live.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day 10 - niceness...

It occurred to me that I have been writing about all this love and wonderfulness in my life. I wondered "maybe too much?". I mean 9 great days out of 10 - and even the off day in between was fraught with learning and growth. But how silly is that? It's ok to have a long stretch of wonderful. It's ok to be happy, in love, satisfied even, for long stretches even. Is this where I insert - "right"?

Here I am, writing after 5 hours of sleep, and lots of work, and one of the best parties I have ever thrown. Honey was thrilled with all the little surprises - I think actually, that he is somewhat overwhelmed by the outpouring of affection. He doesn't quite seem to know what to do with it, feels all squishy and uncomfortable, albeit totally grateful and happy. I'm happy for him. He had a great time, he looked amazing, and everyone enjoyed themselves.

Today I'm grateful that I can just sit. Today I'm grateful that I won't be cooking. Today I will revel with Honey, share all the little details of how this whole evening came together, I know he likes those kinds of stories.

Today I will let this contentment flourish, linger, and expand. Today I will trust it.

Gratitude, it's a good thing.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Day 9 .. Happy Birthday Honey...

And so here we are. The day! Way too much food, but otherwise.. no real reason this should not be a lovely evening.

Twenty years ago today, I started what would be an enduring ritual to salute Honey's birthday. Maybe this should be our anniversary as well. We always struggle to define a date that would honour the beginning of our relationship. I've been thinking today would be good because of that lovely ritual.

So again, twenty years ago today, I greeted Honey, who was sitting at his computer (something I find hilarious because that hasn't changed!!) with a birthday greeting. I was dressed in a bow tie, had a chocolate mousse cake on a tray, two champagne flutes, and as we like to say, an Old Widow. Our favourite champagne has always been Veuve Cliquot (the Widow Cliquot). I have bestowed a birthday greeting on Honey in this manner for every one of our twenty years together - except for the Millennium, all the champagne was sold out!

The bottles have gotten smaller (I get the half bottle now because at our age we can't seem to make it through the big one), the cake is for one, instead of for six, and the bow tie has been done in flannel nighties, bathing suits, and sometimes like the first time, al fresco with a bow tie. Good times :-)

And now you're 50 Honey.. I want you to know you look absolutely beautiful, you still take my breath away, and no I won't trade you in for a younger model! You're all spicy and yummy and I adore you. Happy, happy birthday my love. And Happy Anniversary... here's to many, many more.

Gratitude is good....

Friday, January 8, 2010

Day 8 ... a long time in the making...

Today (and this last week) is and has been a frenzy of activity. Honey is turning 50 and he is getting a party. I have been cooking like a crazy person because for whatever reason, I didn't have the party catered. I still don't know why.. but there you go. I am now resting after making at least 70 Shrimp and Green Onion pancakes! Maybe more.

There's been a lot of running around getting the things that I know make him happy. Planning and organizing many little surprises. Can you say exhausted?! :-)

I've been taking a lot of time to make this celebration happen and one thing I take from all this... I really love my husband. After twenty years I love our relationship, I love how we like many of the same things. Ya we bicker sometimes. Ya we get on each others' nerves from time to time. But I love how we are there for each other, how we've grown together and continue to do so. I love it. And yes, of course, I'm grateful.

I'll be real grateful if my back and body don't give out on me before the end of the fun tomorrow night!

I am also truly grateful for all the words of love and tribute coming through for Honey... what loveliness.

And finally - cause I hear the oven bell ringing ... I'm grateful that at 50, and after 20 years together, he, we, find ourselves happy, content, excited, and very much in love.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Day 7 - Friends...

Friends... is there anything more important in your life? I mean all due respect to family and all but friends are the fabric of our lives are they not? Yesterday, as I wrote about my lovely hair stylist, I thought about all the women friends that are part of my life. I'm eternally grateful to all of you for what you bring to me, deeply grateful. I'm supported, taken care of, loved, appreciated, validated, taught, stood up for - I love you all for these blessings.

And as the weekend approaches, and Honey's friends arrive from near and far to celebrate this half century of his, it's lovely...

I'm grateful to and for all of you.

Warm heart to you all...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Day 6 ... most any Wednesday

Before beginning with my gratitude for today.. I would like to say .. it is not enough to not get caught up in others' drama.... it is equally significant and important not to get caught up in your own. I felt I needed to address that given yesterday's post (and geez on only day 5!).

So this year, and for the past year, I have very wisely rented out my office on Wednesdays. This makes it impossible to work. I'm grateful for that. I'm grateful that I have so much work that taking off Wednesdays is kind of a necessity.

I love my Wednesdays. I call them Spa Days, because the first few non-working Wednesdays I permitted myself the luxury of massages, or hairdressing appointments, and have now added training sessions and so on.

So today, after a night of not much sleep thanks to Honey having put his back out yesterday morning - yes yesterday, yes that would be 4 days before the big 50th birthday party, yes that would be 3 days before the surprise out of town guests arrive that HE is supposed to show around town, so that I might have the house to myself to prepare.... after all that.. I had a hairdresser appointment with Louisa.

I love Louisa. She is so beautiful, funny and really, very good at what she does. We share our work stories and always end up rolling on the floor laughing. It's a wonder my hair is as straightly cut as it is! Well here is my gratitude shout-out for today: I am so grateful for Louisa (she works at La Coupe on Sherbrooke if ever you need a great stylist) today. I stopped panicking about the weekend, I felt much less tired at the end of our "session", I feel beautiful, and at the moment - ready to tackle this party.

I am privileged and spoiled even, to have such a thing as Spa Day Wednesdays... but let me tell you - boy am I grateful!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Day 5 - Ya, but what about when it's not so simple..

Well that didn't take long did it?

Ok so here really is the challenge. Yesterday, my day started off wonderfully. I really felt infused with the spirit of gratitude. I felt it coloured my whole day. I remember walking home after a day of work with a smile on my face and feeling just wonderful.

And then... well, and then a series of events conspired to put an end to that wonderfulness. Painful relationships, I have my share. Disappointments, have my share of that too. And let downs (not the same in this case) .. and then for whatever reason bone-crushing fatigue ... so I cried myself to sleep last night. And then I had a bad sleep, and then I woke up this morning with the physical pain that always accompanies a bad sleep. And funny enough, all the many times I woke up during the night I thought, where will I find gratitude today?

I don't want this journey of gratitude to be taken lightly. I don't want it to be trite. It needs to be meaningful, reflective, honest, to be of any value. And it's hard to bring yourself to gratitude when you're angry, heart-broken, insecure. But maybe that's the point?

I feel as though I need to drag myself there today.

So gratitude.. let's see... I'm grateful for the lessons life keeps providing that help me become more assertive, and that help me know myself better. No I'm not. That's like the load of crap that suffering makes you strong - and ergo you should be thankful that it happens to you. Couldn't I be strong without it? Couldn't I go to assertiveness classes, or a buddhist retreat to know myself better?

Ok.. that's enough whining. I am grateful that my youngest daughter's pregnancy is going better for her. I am grateful that the older daughter is doing better. I am grateful that in-laws are helping in whatever capacity they can with the plans for the weekend. I am really grateful that I have help in the house today. I am grateful that I am cognizant enough of my power to make a choice to be grateful. Maybe that's the best of all.

Peace to you all.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Day 4 - It's simple....

Good morning. It's the first day back to work. End of the loveliest of little holidays. We relaxed, enjoyed, met with family, ate and drank, and relaxed. Yes I know I said that twice.

This morning coming down into the kitchen, I saw the snow out back. We had a pretty major storm yesterday and the back area with it's fences and pine trees looks pristine and beautiful. As I looked I thought hmmm, there is something to be grateful for, is that what I might post on my blog?

I then came into the dining room. Said good morning to Honey. He seemed excited to be getting back to business. It seemed we both were. I'm looking forward to my clients. Hmmmm, I thought ... there is something else to be grateful for, is that what I might post on my blog?

As I walked Honey to the door, and saw all the cars jam packed in the snow, I thought boy am I glad my office is a short 20 minute walk away! Hmmm, there is something to be grateful for...

And I have to share... it's a nice feeling inside, something shifts, when you pay attention to what to be grateful for. It's like that exercise that tells you to keep a smile pasted on your face for 10 minutes and that doing so will change your mood. It would seem that paying attention to what to be grateful for leaves you feeling ... well, grateful.

It's simple. I'm grateful.

Happy day to you.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Day 3 - Drama... redux

Drama... how does drama play itself out in your life? Well in mine - and many other's I know - drama has been a major player. Many of us from dysfunctional and/or addicted families have been raised to believe that drama is our very life blood, it's what moves us, what carries us, what makes us feel alive. It's who we are we like to tell ourselves. We have been raised to believe that these reactions we have are appropriate, not irrational; a show of love, not immaturity; strength and not histrionics.

The manifestation of this drama often looks like victimization, blaming, sometimes depression and anxiety believe it or not. We believe ourselves helpless, powerless, without choice.

But I have news for you my friends... drama ... is a choice. I never got that until now. I never understood this clearly how one can stand apart, respond lovingly and all, but stand apart and choose to not get sucked in by drama. And it's ok! As a matter of fact it's good!

I am very grateful for this learning. I hope that it will spread. It's a good thing. Staying calm, rational, happy and supportive .. is good!

I had a wonderful time with my daughter and grandson this weekend. Looking forward to many more.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Day 2 - Overcoming Obstacles

We're off to Quebec to visit my daughter and grandson. Now there is gratitude. My daughter has struggled mightily in her short life-time. Our journey through her adolescence and into young adulthood was difficult, heart-wrenching, frightening. That has changed and the journey is now enriching, enlightening, supportive and wonderful. I am so proud of how she is overcoming the obstacles in her life and making good and solid decisions for herself, her son and the rest of her family. I get to watch her flower, grow, and become the person she really wants to be and she is happy to share that with me. I get to watch my grandson ... well watching my grandson doing anything is reason enough for gratitude .. but I get to watch him watch his mom, look up to her, learn from her. My heart is truly full and I am truly blessed. Much to be grateful for.

Tomorrow's gratitude will be shared a little later in the day.

Day 1 - Clouds in my coffee

Okay so it's day 1. The official Day 1 of 2010, MMX. My resolution for this year, which came as a flash of insight with my morning cup of coffee, is that I am going to practice the fine art of gratitude for an entire year. Every day I will post something I am grateful for. This will be good for me.

So this morning, this morning-after-the-night-before, I am awake and finding some time to be alone as my Honey is still asleep upstairs. I decide to make my coffee in my Mooka, rather than the two people Moka we usually use.

This Mooka is a gift from our dear friends down the road. They spent a month in Italy this fall and brought it back as a gift. I love it! It makes a cappuccino with my soy milk giving me a wonderful frothy cup of coffee. Sometimes I have trouble using it. I don't screw on the mechanism that foams the milk just right, or I put in too much water and it over flows, or pack the coffee too tight and the water doesn't get through. Sometimes it sounds like an airplane about to take off, sometimes the water sputters and we don't get a full cup. It's a finicky little machine and I still haven't figured it all out.

But this morning, all the stars were aligned - and I got the perfect cup of coffee, with perfect foam floating in my cup, looking like a scoop of ice cream, or a cloud. It was perfect! And I am grateful.