Finding a new normal

My sister and I were enjoying one of our weekly chats on Sunday, catching up on each other’s life. We are both doing what we can to eat better and become more active, while also working on our personal lives and our homes. During this discussion, we came to a pretty profound conclusion that we had both heard before, but, at least for me, I didn’t really GET until right then:

When you choose to be healthier, your whole life changes. Choosing simplicity and a healthier way of living creates a ripple effect.

About a week and a half ago, I chose to start working out and starting to log my food intake. Simultaneously, I found myself forced into a situation where we have to be more careful about our spending. Being mindful of my nutritional intake worked hand in hand with my new need to be extremely mindful of my food budget. Fitting fitness into my daily routine also forced me to create a daily routine or rhythm. Liam and I are now waking up at around the same time every day, he is having his nap at roughly the same time and we have a rhythm to our daily activities. He helps me cook, we play, I work out, it’s fantastic.

Liam loves his play cleaning set from his Auntie Jodie, Uncle Colin and his cousins.

Liam loves his play cleaning set from his Auntie Jodie, Uncle Colin and his cousins.

Sure, it may be coincidence that our money troubles happen to come into focus right when I decided to start taking charge of my health. I’m just thankful that all of a sudden, right after the extreme chaos of my unmedicated period, I’m finding myself in this simple, calm place. When I was unmedicated, my whole life seemed out of my control. It may have just been for half a week, but it magnified issues that I had been dealing with for a while. The house was a mess because I was too depressed to do anything about it. We were eating crap, because cooking was too much work. Doing anything was a chore, and I just didn’t care. Coming out of the haze, I feel empowered to take control and make a difference in our home and our lives.

Amazingly, it’s the most simple of things. I’m doing small bits of cleaning daily, instead of letting it build into massive disasters that take the whole weekend to clean. I’m working out only 15-30 minutes a day, during nap time, so that it doesn’t really change our plans or impact Liam in a negative way. I’m incorporating Liam into these changes as best I can. He LOVES cleaning and helping me cook and is truly delighted to participate, so it becomes a joy for both of us.

Liam, helping me make biscuits to go with some crock pot chili

Liam, helping me make biscuits to go with some crock pot chili

Thankfully, this all came at a very good time. We just received news last night of a family emergency which requires us to head out to a suburb of Montreal this weekend. It’s Cancer again, rearing its ugly monstrous head, effecting our extended family. Any brush with Cancer has a massive impact on me. It triggers all sorts of horribleness, but I’m finding that I’m starting to be able to cope with it better. One of my favourite people, a girlfriend of mine, is currently dealing with one of her parents having brain cancer. When I found out, I cried and I raged. It all seemed so unfair. When I found out our beloved Auntie Pony had colon cancer, I was shaken, hurt and scared, but rallied to support cousin Anne. Getting this news last night, I think Pat was afraid that it would set something off in me, but I’m doing ok. We aren’t close to the one who is ill, but we are very close with those who are dealing with it. It also brings us back to Pat’s father’s illness (it’s one of his siblings), which is the most difficult aspect for us, I think. Anyway, the point of this ramble is to say that I am doing pretty ok thanks to getting my head on straight before getting this news.

On a related topic, do you have any tips for us for our first road trip with Liam? He’s never been in the car longer than an hour at a time, so a two/two and a half hour trip may be tough on us all. Also, we’ve never been out of town with him for just the day, to a home that is not toddler friendly…what should be pack?

Liam is ready to hit the road!

Liam is ready to hit the road!

Hills and Valleys

Man, 2014 has been a rollercoaster for us. The last month or so, I’ve really been struggling.

The Downs

The Downs

-. In a very short span of time, our laptop was broken, my wedding rings went missing and we realized that were were in a tight spot financially. Of course, the lap top was where I did the majority of my writing. It allowed me to be present for Liam, and to feel a little less like a cave dweller (ugh, basements). Having it break was harder on me than I expected. As much as I enjoy my new cellphone (LG G2, for those curious), I HATE typing on the damn thing. I swear to god, I’m like an 80 year old with broken thumbs. The bigger screen and the different keyboard has made my life hell. This has resulted in me shutting down a bit in terms of my communication. It’s just too much work to speak that way now. So, there I was, speaking less, bummed about a turn of bad luck, stressed over broken things and lost tokens of love, knowing that financially, we could never replace any of them.

-. My eyesight has gotten worse. I don’t know if its that I am finally admitting my poor eyesight OR that my dependency on my glasses has made my vision worse, but I have gone from never wearing my glasses (or owning a proper pair) in the fall to now wearing them all the time. Unfortunately, because of where I live, my drive to work involves driving directly into the setting sun and I didn’t have a pair of sunglasses that were prescription. We really didn’t have the money for me to get one, but I was getting more stressed about dangerous driving conditions every time I went to work. Finally, we buckled and got me a pair from clearly contacts, but we both felt the financial strain immediately. Hopefully we get some of that back through Pat’s benefits at work. It was a hard week though.

-. Liam is going through….something. I don’t know if its teeth, his cold, the terrible twos, a wonderweek type thing, or what. The kid has been up and down like a yoyo and it has been exhausting. Major tantrums, big feelings, screaming, hitting, refusing to sleep, eating nothing or eating everything. It’s been hard to deal with.

-. About a month ago, I found out that a good friend of mine was going through a really rough time. Her mother had been diagnosed with brain cancer and had been given a short life expectancy. It broke my heart to see her go through that. Meanwhile, one of our own (an auntie), had just been diagnosed with colon cancer and had surgery coming up. Cancer has been terrible to me and mine, so I was pretty scared. Even with my friend’s mom, it triggered all sorts of emotions in me. I would really appreciate it if you kept both wonderful women in your thoughts.

-.I had two fillings break. Two. Finally found a dentist that would see me on a weekend and it ended up costing me almost 800. Yep. For two fillings. (Thanks to being a new patient, I needed xrays, a first time exam, etc.. etc…). Here’s hoping most of that is covered. Oh, and he says that I need a significant amount of work. Like, another 2000$ worth of work. Fuck.

-.I was dropped by our family GP (rather, she went away on sabbatical and decided not to come back), leaving me without a GP for myself or for Liam. Not a huge deal for most, but trying to find a GP that is cool with extended breastfeeding, bedsharing, babywearing and informed consent is harder than one might think. Further to that, I need someone who is ok with me having lots of questions and coming in for seemingly small things (without family to turn to and ask “Bwah? Is that normal?” I want to be able to turn to my doctor without feeling like an idiot). Of course, this also coincided with my prescription for antidepressants running out (as in, no more refills).

But! Nanny J recommended a Dr to us and I thought all was going to be fine…until that Dr and my pharmacist got into a pissing contest. You see, I can’t get in to meet her until April. After which time, she will decide if I “fit” her. She doesn’t consider me a patient until then. I went back and forth on the phone, between both offices, until finally the Dr sent a snarky fax to the pharmacist, which he then read to me. Thankfully, he saw my position and filled the prescription for me to cover me until I have this meeting with Dr. Pain in the Ass.

The fall out of this whole thing was that I ended up going 3 days without meds and I was completely overwhelmed with anxiety. On day three, I sat on my couch and cried silently, while Curious George kept Liam occupied. Thankfully, I had the right mind to reach out to my dear friend, Kaitlin. Just by being her awesome self and listening, I was able to calm down. I got myself out of the house, with Liam, to visit The Children’s Museum with Krista and her guy, Wes. It was AMAZING. I am definitely going back soon. Honestly, it was one of my favourite places I’ve been to with Liam.

And that leads me to…

The Good

The Good

-. I have amazing friends. No, seriously. These girls are there for me through thick, thin and crazy. They make me a better person.

-. WE FOUND MY WEDDING RINGS! WOOO! They were missing a month and a half, and were found in a pile of laundry (my guess is that Little Man took them on an adventure)

-.I am medicated again!! This makes all the difference in the world for me. I can cope now.

-.Auntie had her surgery this past week and it was a huge success! They think they got all of the cancer. Fingers and toes crossed!

-.My time away from electronics has led to some productivity with my hobbies:

Liam's gramps cardigan

Liam’s gramps cardigan

I am finally making progress on Liam’s birthday sweater. I am on to the main part of the body now. Probably about 6-8 more inches before I switch to ribbing, and then do the sleeves, collar, pockets and elbow patches. Woo! That’s on hold for a little bit though while I plug away at my RRG 2014 Olympic project:

Gaybreak WIP

Gaybreak WIP

Say hello to my very first shawl, my RRG 2014 Gaybreak. It doesn’t look very gay right now, but I’m just about to finish up the solid colour portion before starting on the rainbow bits. SO EXCITED. In the end, it should look something like this:

Photo by Red Pepper Quilts of her own Daybreak shawl

Photo by Red Pepper Quilts of her own Daybreak shawl

-. One of my very best friends just had the most gorgeous twins, ever. I’m so so excited. Honestly, this family is made up of my favourite people. I can’t wait to see them :D I’m hoping to visit them tonight.

-.I finally got to visit my sister from another mister, Sarah and two of her boys (Her hubby was at work, and her daughter was at school). We baked cookies, chatted, and had a great day together. I got to snuggle both of my nephews and my heart grew two whole sizes. It was awesome.

-. It’s the long weekend, y’all!

-. After being so completely bummed, depressed and manic, I have decided to try to get myself to a healthier place. I’ve been living on chocolate, takeout and coffee for months and its just not doing good things for me anymore. I’m back on SparkPeople if you want to follow my journey there.

-. I’ve started working on my family tree again. I was very overwhelmed after my dad died and I inherited his giant collection of geneology stuff. I just couldn’t compare to his professional approach to it. So, I’ve stopped trying. Instead, I’m taking my own damn approach. It’s much more casual and I’m finally enjoying myself again! To check it out, here is our page. 

Birthday Shenanigans

Hi everyone,

I have had one hell of a week! Friday was our busiest day at work, as it was The Relay For Life in nepean. I worked from about 8am til 11pm, and definitely felt it. It was such a great experience though, getting involved with the community and seeing the incredibly fighting spirit of the survivors. I wish mum could have attended one.

This past weekend, I turned 27 and celebrated with my bachelorette! Firstly, my sister and I went down to this cute little place in town called “The Mud Oven” to paint some pottery. I did a spoon dish (purposed to be a ring dish for Pat and I) and was gifted a lovely latte mug by Tracy.

Me, at the Mud Oven

This was followed by a latin dance lesson at Dance Studios! I had so much fun! Normally I find dance lessons can be so awkward, but our teacher was lovely and approachable. I had such a good time and I polished up my salsa moves.

Me dancing with our instructor

After this, we changed and made our way to the Highlander for dinner and drinks. Tbere I was introduced to the game “Manhunt”. They provided me with a list of men I had to be photographed with. Hilarity and molestation ensued.

Me, at the Highlander, enjoying my first drink of the night

The Manhunt! Me with Popped Collar and Beardo

From there, we went to a swanky martini bar for more drinks while waiting for the dance floors to get busy. We then made our way to The Whisky Bar for dancing and drinking, and stayed there til the wee hours of the morning. I had a blast.

Me and my sister, at the Collection

Sunday morning we recovered at Zaks with some eggs and coffee. Nothing beats a diner breakfast after a night of drinking and galavanting.

Since then it’s been a lot of running around, getting things ready, cleaning and meeting with vendors. I, of course, have had a massive face breakout. Good times. I cheered myself with another hair appointment to make the colour more unified and rich.

New Hair! Again!

Taaadaaa.

It’s all coming together. A week and a half left to go, and two more relays. Life is hectic!

On top of that, there’s been some more family drama. Again, no details, but I am forced to deal with a specific individual who I a bit of a drama queen and manipulator. I’ve always known that people in our family could be incredibly sneaky and manipulative, but the last few years I’ve really learned that our family isn’t all honour, trust and rainbows. Some people have made me downright ashamed to share the same last name. Does anyone have any tips or witchy tricks for dealing with people like this? It’s important stuff. It’s my mother’s estate and the relationship with all of my siblings on the line. Part of me almost wants to do a binding on these people, but I know that that crosses some lines. Personally I’m not comfortable with any of the “controlling of others” magicks. I don’t want to control their actions or thoughts, I just don’t want their influence bringing me down to a deep dark depression anymore. Today I was so mad, I was shaking. I just wish I was Teflon coated so none of this would stick to me anymore. Or maybe it would be good to send them clarity and understanding. I don’t know. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

It’s a song and a sigh of the weary.

As we pause in life’s pleasures and count its many tears
Let us all taste the hungers of the poor.
There’s a song that will linger forever in our ears:
Hard times, come again no more.

It’s a song and a sigh of the weary.
Hard times, hard times, come again no more.
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door.
Hard times, come again no more.

As we seek mirth, and beauty, and music light and gay
There are frail forms fainting at the door.
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say:
Hard times, come again no more.

It’s a song and a sigh of the weary.
Hard times, hard times, come again no more.
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door.
Hard times, come again no more.

It’s a song that the wind blows across the troubled wave.
It’s a cry that is heard along the shore.
It’s the words that are whispered beside the lowly grave
When hard times will come again no more.

It’s a song and a sigh of the weary.
Hard times, hard times, come again no more.
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door.
Hard times, come again no more.

-Hard Times, Eastmountainsouth, Elizabethtown Soundtrack

This past week has been one of the very worst of my life. I don’t say that lightly. I’ve had some pretty awful weeks in my short lifetime. I’ve seen sickness, I’ve rolled my car, I’ve been sexually assaulted.  This week, my mother passed away very suddenly. I can’t say unexpectedly, as she had been fighting cancer for the last 13 years. She died before I could get my sister home. She had a massive stroke or heart attack while I held her hand and played with her hair. I had to decide to make the doctors to keep fighting and put her on a ventilator. I had to be the one to tell my uncles, my cousin, and my sister that they arrived a mere few hours after she passed. I was supposed to move in with Mum the day after she died. The movers were booked. I am now the co-executor on the estate with my brother, and I’ve had to look at the home that I grew up in, the home that my father died in, as an asset to be used to pay off the debts accumulated by my parents over the 22 years that they lived here. Thank the gods that there isn’t much debt, and we should be able to keep the house for sale later and just pay things off with their investments.

I realized a friendship was truly done, and others were so much stronger than I ever thought possible. I let go, and relied on other people. I slept beside my sister. I slept with a stuffed animal. I met with lawyers and bankers. I went through pictures and laughed. I had a cheque bounce, I missed an interview and I rescheduled my hair cut. I’m having an allergic reaction.  I fought with my brother and then held him and cried. I had a piggy back battle in the front yard. We played board games. I arranged a funeral and wakes. I heard stories that I will cherish forever. I am realizing just how lucky I am to have both Pat and his family in my life.  I realized that all of these things that I went through, I was never alone. Pat was right there beside me, holding me up, along side my family.

I have barely cried. I am in shock and denial. I have been full of rage, of fear, of confusion. I begged a dying woman to stay here and fight. I eventually told her to go and find peace. I was a doula to the dying and longed to hear a baby’s first cry again. I was released from my duty and am terrified at the possibilities.

I am getting married in June.

I feel lost and scared one moment, and stronger than I ever thought I could be the next.

Together, as a family, we will get through this. I even have hope that we may be stronger than ever.

One of the worst weeks of my life, but also one of the most defining.

Rest in Peace, Mummy. You were truly the strongest and most beautiful person I’ve had the honour to know and love.

My sister, Mum and I

Mother, wife, sister, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt, role model, mentor, friend, companion…61 years young. <3 Miss you Mum. You made the world a better place.

Update – Family

I’m sitting at my desk, in my office, listening to the sound of my Mum’s dog breathing as he sleeps on the floor beside me. Two floors down, the boys are working on the basement floor. I’m debating how much I should share here, how raw I should be. As a typical gemini, part of me wants to keep this pristine, sculpted and shared once each post has been carefully worded and edited. The other part wants to be honest, free, and express exactly what I’m going through.

Seeing as how the Restrained Twin has been forced to be in control lately, due to the circumstances I’m about to explain, I’m going to let Emotional Twin take the reins for a bit.

Tuesday afternoon, my Mum was taken to the General hospital by her best friend, Karin, and myself. She was disoriented, extremely weak and not looking right.

It is now Thursday, and she’s still there. I am her legal caregiver, and her eldest daughter. I have been doing my best to see that she has everything she needs, while still taking care of the move and the sale of our house. They don’t know 100% what’s wrong yet, though they suspect it’s a condition of the blood, caused by the many years of chemo in which the platelets in the blood are attaching themselves to a certain protein and hulk smashing their way through the rest of the cells, leaving everything damaged and my Mum in an awful state.

I have cried a lot this week. I have to be strong, and brave. I have to tell myself that she is going to walk out of that hospital in a couple of days, annoyed at herself for letting it get so bad and happy to be back at her computer, playing bejeweled. Today, I smelled of feces, sweat and hospital disinfectant. I carried the woman who has carried me countless times. My heart is broken for her, and for my family, as they turn to me in their fear, hoping for answers that I don’t have.

My Mummy and I, in Cuba. 2008

I have been pulling my strength from the Earth lately. When I feel faint, when I feel like the tide is going to overwhelm me, I plant my feet and borrow some of it’s power to get through. Pat has been by my side this entire time, and I’m so thankful. Without him, I would be lost.

Our families have really pulled together lately. His brother and brother-in-law are here now, helping out. His sister cooked us dinner and cookies. My best friend, Isaac, was here, helping me pack with Pat’s brother’s wife. My brothers are going to get the house in Orleans all ready for the move. Without this support, I don’t know what we’d do.

I feel… like Alice. I’m in Wonderland with no map, no rabbit and no hatter to lead the way. I have to keep my footing and continue forward. At least with the move, I’m staying busy and pre-occupied so that I don’t let myself think too much about the possibility that Mum may not recover from this.

There’s a friend, someone I’ve loved and was very very close with. I considered her a sister. We don’t talk anymore. We went our separate ways years ago after the friendship became toxic. At the time, I thought I was the only one suffering, but apparently, she was unhappy too. I desperately want to email her, talk to her, get her support and comfort, but I know i can’t. I don’t have that right anymore, and I know it’s taking advantage of her. I’m not ready to rekindle the friendship in earnest, and it would be wrong to engage her in this and then disappear again.

I dreamt of her the other night. I was a part of some kind of group (knitting, crafting, hobby, whatever). It was a large group that met at a members house every month. This month I showed up to find myself in The Friend’s apartment. I was so fascinated with her objects. I went through her apartment, room by room, looking at everything, happy for her, and wanting to learn about her and her new life. Seeing her, I felt a yearning to be close with her again, and a heart break at everything we had lost. She was so kind, in the dream, so forgiving and supportive…I felt such a strong pull to her, even once I woke up, I almost tried to contact her. I know that I can’t.

I need to get back to work. I have so much packing left. Please, keep my Mum in your thoughts and prayers. We are not ready for this fight to be over yet.