Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Waist Not - Want Not?

Ya, sure...
It would seem that I've been hijacked - or at least my body has. And it isn't the first time either.

When I was pregnant a life force overrode my free will and put me on autopilot. It turned my life topsy-turvy. My love of hot tea vanished and was replaced with a craving for "the bean". Favourites became the dreaded; what was once oily became brittle; tears bypassed the reasonable filter and flowed indiscriminately; and body weight and shaped were reworked to the linking and needs of the alien (to me) form sucking the best of me  nestled inside me. Control was remote - not mine to have. The only way to survive and thrive was to surrender and accept that which I couldn't change.

And now twenty years later, it's happening again. Probably something to do with this peri, post, men-  o-pause thing...  I've been hijacked by middle age! It's hidden my waist, kinked my bone straight hair, added a little frizz for extra texture, borrowed my short-term memory, and replaced the meek with a whole lotta chutzpah. Back to the waist -- I want it back, and I want it back now! I don't eat copious amount of food; pop and fried foods have been dropped from my vocabulary and bran and green food  are my best friends. I deserve to have a waist. I would give all the hair on my chinny, chinny, chin for a glimpse of the waist that was once mine. I hate guessing where my belt should go. By the way, all my belts have shrunk! How is possible that they once wrapped easily around me?

A recent trip to the grocery store inspired me to research the slimming garments -- at the grocery store. They sell everything now. Promises of a slimmer me, ten pounds lighter, muffin topper remover; it was all mine to explore. And this is what it has come to... I walk every lunch hour earnestly waiting for my waist to reappear. I think I spotted it under the muffin topper. Only time will tell!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Give a Little to Women in War

Photo courtesy of http://hhi.harvard.edu/programs-and-research/women-in-war
For decades now rape and other atrocities have been used as weapons of war – with women bearing the brunt of this horrific strategy. Tens of thousands of women have had their lives and bodies decimated by rape or sexually mutilation, and are left with horrifying physical and mental trauma – and a debilitating fistula.

What is a fistula? The explanation is not for the squeamish. Simply put, a fistula is a hole between the birth passage and an internal organ such as the bladder or rectum, damaging a woman so severely that she cannot hold her urine, and.or bowel content. Prolonged labour or complicated childbirth without medical intervention can cause a fistula as can sexual violence. More than the physical scar is the societal blemish a fistula imposes. If she survives, a woman with fistula is likely to be rejected by her husband because of her inability to bear more children and her foul smell. She will be shunned by her community and forced to live an isolated existence. These women suffer profound psychological trauma resulting from their utter loss of status and dignity, in addition to suffering constantly from their physical internal injury.

This week I donated to the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) partnership with Panzi, a Congolese hospital, focused on identifying ways to prevent and reduce the impact of violence that can protect Congolese women's health and human rights at the individual, community, and international levels.They also work to provide counselling to the men of the community to help shift attitudes and promote healing.

These women need the help and empathy of their sisters around the world who can relate to their suffering. I can count my blessings and dig deep as one whose biggest problem on a given day is whether to charge it or use my debit card.

Read about my weekly Give a Little challenge and other posts. I have to give ongoing props to Wendy Smith for her inspiring book, Give a Little. Consider giving it a read.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Natural Mosaic

Shadow dancing
Hubby and I headed north to our cottage this weekend, undeterred by the weather forecast that called for great weather Saturday and rain on Sunday. The opportunity to spend even a day immersed in the greenery, wildlife and natural ruggedness of the Canadian north was too much to pass up.

Time at the cottage is like applying a calming balm to the soul; the relief comes almost immediately. The wood-sided, low slung building sits nestled high into the cliff among the trees, overlooking the lake. Time spent on the deck is like being in a treehouse; a secret hideout from which you can see everything without being seen.

Saturday morning, we laid back lazily on our pillows watching the spectacular shadow-show being beamed onto our wall, with a Pileated Woodpecker providing the staccato soundtrack. Life at the cottage equals finding beauty and enjoyment in simplicity. Life is simple; life is good. And for that, I am ever-grateful.
Our bedroom window faces out into the forest - and provides the shadows.
Red squirrel is the bandit trying to get the bird seed.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Slow Lane

I was ready well ahead of schedule this morning -- you won't hear me say that too often. The hair went well, there was nothing to iron, and nothing that needed shaving. Before I knew it I was honking the horn as I passed my parents' place twenty minutes earlier than usual.

As I merged onto the highway, I decided to stay in the slow lane. There was no need to hurry, I wasn't feeling particulary rushed, and I thought it would be kinda nice to save some gas. So I locked in at 100 kilometres an hour and eased back into my seat. I smiled politely at the wild-eyed crazies who sped past me, tossing me nasty glares and hand gestures as they did so. I cranked up the radio a little louder, switched the station from the commute traffic report to a country music station, and sang my heart out for the 30 kms to work. And I daresay I sounded great!

And that is where I am right now in my life; I have happily moved over from the fast lane - speeding, passing and barely seeing little but the road in front - content to enjoy the view and relaxed pace of the slow lane. Life is short as it is; why would I want to race to the finish line?

There was a majestic hawk soaring in the sky; the sunrise reflected in my rear view mirror and with every mile, I could feel my shoulders drop a little lower and my stress ease. I started my day off on a happy country note. And I just decided that it's going to be a really good day!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Family Jambalaya

It was not the tea towel, tea sipping, polite bridal shower of yesteryear. Instead it was a grand affair; a monumental meeting of the clans; the mother of all famjams (a regular boozefest), held at my ex-husband's hovel. There were exes, steps, half's and greats; friends, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, and mother-in-laws - ex, present, and future. Simply put - it was a spicy family jambalaya.

Kidlet and Lyndsay schemed for months to make the shower special for their sister. They combed the closets for skeletons and settled on a "who dunnit" game, and a "50 Shades of Harmony" contest that had everyone matching the year with the appropriate Harmony hairstyle. The groom's mom struggled to keep the connections straight... "who is this again?", and I struggled to explain. We finally threw the towel in and just went with the flow. Speaking of which, someone broke into my ex's wine cooler after the sangria ran dry, so needless to say, the mood in the room was jovial; happiness abounded.

It's times like these that I see our family from the outside in: complex but not complicated; blended and extended; diverse and divine; large and loving. It's times like this that remind me how lucky I am to belong to a tribe such as mine. 

Harmony was overwhelmed, surrounded by the women in her life who have helped shape and support her, and she told them so. My baby is a baby no more; and lucky me - what a gem she turned out to be!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Dad's Day

I have a vivid memory of skiing down a hill, my white Squaw Valley skis firmly wedged inside his, my arms clasped tightly around his legs, freedom and fun nudging aside any traces of fear I may have had. I was safe and secure. I could do anything with his belief in me. Life was mine to push myself beyond my self-imposed limitations, and mine to enjoy and celebrate.

And that is how it remains to this very day. With the unwavering support and unconditional love of a truly great father - everything is possible. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Happy Father's Day to my dad, and all of the fathers in the world whose love for their children is greater than any disappointment, anger, or ambivalence they may have.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Day's End

It's late. Standing at the kitchen sink drinking a cold glass of milk with the surviving piece of date square as I reflect on the day, I can't help marveling at how good life can be. It's been a long day filled with lots of cleaning, cooking, decorating and preparing for Harmony's bridal shower. Lots of work for a quick couple of hours of wonderful. And at the end of the day, my back is killing me, my feet are sore and eyelids are heavy; and yet it was all so worth every bit of effort. Harmony had a beautiful shower and more importantly, her tribe showed up to fill the rooms with love and support. What more could a gal ask for? Maybe a cold glass of milk and a delicious date square!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Simple Joys of Summer

The taste of summer - fresh strawberries, straight from my Pop's garden, lovingly, organically grown with his special "brand" of compost. How is it a heaping bowl of crimson sweetness can deliver so much happiness? Guess when it comes right down to it, it's those small, simple things in life that create big goodness. Pops and Mama T harvested their bounty, side by side with the chipmunks, over the past few days, and then went into preserving mode.  And the extra bonus - a special jar of homemade strawberry jam. My drop in visits reap great rewards. I'm off to spread some of that goodness on a piece of toast. Loving the simple joys of summer.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Getting Back to Giving Back: Redefine Possible

Photo credit: Free the Children http://www.freethechildren.com/redefinepossible/
It's been too long, but I will save the lament. Looking forward only - and recommitting to giving thoughtfully, productively, every week. I call it my "give a little" initiative inspired by Wendy Smith, author of a book by the same name.

These posts are never popular with my readers; not surprising with the daily barrages of "asks" that most face, and the cause-weariness from the infinite number of natural disasters, conflicts, and other needs that demand our attention. However I am going to push through and consider these weekly posts little gifts I am giving to myself, and spreading the love.

This week I am donating $10 to one of my favourite causes: Free the Children; and more specifically to support the challenge that Spencer West, a truly inspiring individual is undertaking. Spencer stands two feet, ten inches tall; he is missing the lower half of his body. And to show all of us that we are stronger than we know, and have greatness inside us - we need only dig deep - he is climbing Mount Kilamanjaro. He is calling his challenge REDEFINE POSSIBLE. As I write this he is into day 2 of his quest. The fact that he has set his sights on such a monumental goal and is willing to risk failure to achieve something great - and raise funds for a cause that he lives to support - is enough. It is, afterall, not about the destination - but rather, all about the journey.

Good luck Spencer!  Follow his climb.
Photo credit: Free the Children http://www.freethechildren.com/redefinepossible/

Read about my weekly Give a Little challenge and other posts. I have to give ongoing props to Wendy Smith for her inspiring book, Give a Little. Consider giving it a read.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I Feel Good - Like I Know That I Should

There is a gentle breeze, the cloudless sky is the colour of the sea, and when I take a deep breath, there is a hint of optimism in the air. Maybe it was the two days we just spent at the cottage, where the biggest decision I make is my morning coffee should be sipped on the deck or the dock; or the sudden flurry of wedding activities (not mine!) that are ramping up; or maybe I am just have more reasons to be happy than not. Whatever the reason (check off all of the above) – I am wrapped in a brightly hued shade of contentment these days.

It’s good to feel motivated and excited for each day again. After a dismal past few months I am relaunching the product – ME!

There are important things that need tending to – such as the weed-fest that is going on in my gardens and between the patio stones. If only the wandering bunnies would develop a palette for them, or Fritz would lift his leg there instead of on the begonias.

And then there is my frozen shoulder that is slowly thawing, and that – with my continued torture-therapy – will having me “signing” Y-M-C-A to the Village People from a table top at Harmony’s wedding. My healing arm has also reignited my desire for blogging; I’ve missed it (and you) A LOT!

My girls are throwing their sister a wedding shower this weekend all on their own. I’ve been relegated to baking and cup cake making (don’t they know I am infamous for my avalanche cakes??) and providing general counsel on faux pas avoidance and etiquette navigation. I should be fired! It’s going to be a blast with all of the women of the tribes coming together like one big United Nations hen party. We’ll have my Jewish ex-mother-in-law mixing it up with my German mother-in-law (MIH), and face colours ranging from brown-skinned and flaming rosacea red, to a whiter shade of pale; there’ll be families of the exes, nieces I haven’t seen in years, and sexual orientation from gay to straight and straighter! Who said showers are boring? We are having it at my ex-husband's palatial hut and he is serving the appetizers. It's shaping up to be the mother of all famjams and booze fests -- just kidding of course.

Lastly, I am getting back to giving back. It's been adhoc and disorganized so I am getting back to my weekly giving; to donate devoutly, consistently, and whole-heartedly to causes that elevate, embrace and sustain to make the world a little better, and extend a compassionate hand up to humankind.

Stay tuned. I'm back!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Days Go By

It’s cliché. Days are running into one another, rushing by, picking up speed with each one that passes. Life is good – right now, in this moment in time. And every once in while, I wish with all my heart I could will the earth to stop turning and suspend time – freeze everyone in their current state - even if only for a brief pause.

Alas – it is not to be. Instead this rapid passage of time must be my inspiration to live presently in the full breadth and depth of each day; to fully express myself - and my love - to others; and to seek the joy and all that is mine to experience.

It’s cliché, I know. Life is but a fleeting wisp on the edge of a breeze, and all we can do is hold on and enjoy the vista. And be grateful for the ride.