The Gift of a Step-Mom

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Once upon a time, I met a woman named Gil. She was an unexpected addition to my life, an add-on to a cherished relationship. I was polite during our first meeting. I behaved as graciously as I could, considering I didn’t trust that she would stick around. She was my Dad’s new girlfriend, and while my Dad was a handsome and charming fellow most times, he also hosted a dark, brooding side. When he slid into that state of dispiritedness, the demons that haunted his past eventually escaped into the present, and he would become a miserable man. I knew from experience it would take a strong woman to put up with this type of episodic behaviour. So, when Dad brought Gil into my life as an unexpected gift, she was a gift I didn’t ask for, and one I thought was fleeting at best. Boy, was I wrong.

My mom died twenty years ago, and in her absence, she has missed watching my kids grow up and graduating, she has missed chiding me over my tattoo’s, she has missed encouraging my pursuit of writing, and she has missed meeting her great-grandchildren. My mom missed so much by dying too young. Yet, despite the absence of my mom, I was fortunate  enough to share all of my family’s milestones with a wonderful woman named Gil.

This once upon a time stranger, became a treasured friend enriching my life with her never-ending wisened words and exuberant laughter. Our relationship deepened even further when my Dad became housebound with cancer. After his treatments were done, and all hope for recovery was gone, the only wish he had left in his heart was to die at home. Gil made that final dream come true, and while I often went to help, it was Gil that bore most of the burden. She never complained, and her empathy for him was inspiring. It is only in the most difficult of circumstances that we finally come to understand the true nature of people in our lives. During this terrible time, Gil was a stone of strength.

So, it is with great sadness that in the midst of this chaotic world today, the best gift my Dad ever gave me became tattered and worn, a thin shadow of her former self. She was diagnosed with cancer, and in only a matter of months, it had extensively invaded her body, and quite soon after, death rapidly spirited her away. 

Gifts, as I have learned, come in all shapes and sizes, in all styles and wrappings, in all colours and patterns, and the best ones are people. In honour of my step-mom, Gil, I hope that you become one who steps forward to offer themselves as a friendly soul in difficult times. 

It changes lives. God bless you, Gil.

Thousands of Possibilities

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There is almost nothing more sacred than a tree. If you are ever feeling down-hearted and blue, I have the perfect remedy for you, take a walk within the woodlands. Strolling through a forest grove will still the loudest torment in your heart. It’s even scientifically proven, through a study conducted by the Center for Environment, Health and Field Studies at Japan’s Chiba University. Their research suggests that dawdling through a wooded environment lowers concentrations of cortisones, lowers pulse rate, lowers blood pressure, and has a positive influence on parasympathetic nerve activity. Even more importantly, they found compelling evidence to suggest that regular walks surrounded by trees boosts the immune system as well as a general sense of well being. It seems logical, right? Like brushing your teeth every day will prevent tooth decay, a walk in the forest will prevent the erosion of body and soul.

As for me, I’ve always loved the trees, and I enthusiastically recommend a touchy-feely approach. Once you are wandering among the towering timbers choose a tree that appears more inviting to you than any other. Then lean with your back against the roughness of the bark or wrap your arms around its expansive trunk. Close your eyes and open your heart allowing your worries to slip away, and then visualize its branches extending upwards into the sky, limitless and free. There is simply you and a tree. Imagine the roots beneath your feet fingering down into the earth, stretching and reaching, searching for the stability to hold itself upright during the most powerful of tempests. Fathom the persistence of the tree as it pushes its roots deeper still, twisting around rocks and threading through rigid clay.  In a sense, it’s teaching you how to weather any storm. It’s telling you to reach for those things that stabilize you and make you strong. And then, after you are securely anchored in your life, offer shelter to those who are not.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “The creation of a thousand forests is in one Acorn.”  His statement is a profound truth, and I do believe, there is almost nothing more sacred than a tree— except for you.

The creation of a thousand possibilities lies within you.

Loving Misery

Thank you.

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Photo by Panos Sakalakis on Pexels.com

Dear people, I appreciate your existence,  you are continually adding dimensions to this world through either positive interactions or negative ones. A balanced life conducts both. We are an amazing species which is complicated and special, our lives are a varied experience of opposing dynamics. For, how would we ever know darkness if we never saw light? How would we ever know joy if we never felt sorrow, and how could we ever appreciate health if we never suffered through sickness?  Encountering and reflecting upon oppositional events brings depth and wisdom to one’s consciousness.

Just imagine? Whenever you have an interaction with another person you either lift them up or add to their misery. The choice is always yours. This opportunity is etched into every communication whether you are driving in traffic, standing in line or writing a comment on someone’s Facebook page. The decision as to how you relate to the next person you meet is always yours. Are you building bridges or ripping them down?

So there you have it, I simply wanted to remind you, to behave however you like today. It really isn’t up to me, or anyone else whether you present yourself as Happy, Grumpy, Dopey, Sexually-frustrated, or Grateful. You, have all the freedom, and you better use it while you have it, because it won’t be long before the liberals decide your emotions are racist too. And on that note I will take this moment to genuinely thank the darling grumblers and scuzzballs and dagger eyed devils in the world; their diversity is appreciated and defining. They’ve shown me exactly who I don’t want to become.  

 

Dealing With Depression

September 2009 to March 2010-18

The heaviness is daunting; your body weighs more than it should, even if you’re the size of a twig. The effort to accomplish anything in your day is like wading through chest deep water to get it done. You pretend to be fine but your emotions range from sad to numb. Hope is far from your heart, you think it is a magical feeling at the end of someone else’s rainbow. You wonder why you can’t rise up out of this dark funk. There must be something seriously wrong with you. Some fatal flaw, and if anyone sees it— they will walk away, and you will be even more alone than you already feel.

I’ve been there, on the edge of actually living, in the deep depths of personal anguish. It’s not something easily shared. It can be hidden from everyone who loves you. It’s both frightening and amazing that even as you toy with the idea of ending it all— no one knows.

Addiction and mental illness runs strongly through my bloodlines on both sides. So I am a well-bred pony for running the distance with alcoholism, depression, and bi-polar. I experienced depression on and off in my life. Thankfully I am well now and throughout my years of struggle with this very private affliction I discovered essential practices that hastened my healing dramatically.

Step one is to seek professional help. If you are reluctant to do so because you fear the stigma or other reasons, then try the steps I have listed below, they can be effective for mild depression. However, if you commit to the following steps and they do not help please, please, seek professional guidance.

Step two is by far the most important self-help step; this is like making sure you put on a seatbelt before you go on a roller coaster ride. Practice appreciation; find the time to feel reverence for life each and everyday. I understand the walls you have built up inside yourself might not allow the feeling of appreciation to get through at first, so practice on small things. Maybe a dazzling butterfly that landed in your garden? Or the sunlight shining down through the grey clouds? Maybe observe the perfection of the tiny fingernails on a baby’s hand? Or become mesmerized by the soft curved eyelashes on a sleeping toddlers face? The point here, is to try and find love and appreciation for something that opens your heart. If you begin to feel the positive flow of love and appreciation extend it to yourself. Then expand it to include other people, moments, and things. It can be a two-minute practice a few times a day. Or a longer practice once a day. The trick is to get your mind moving out of the negative thought patterns that inundate you when you are depressed. I came across a video on you tube quite a few years ago and if you are having troubles opening your heart to appreciation it may bring aid. You might need a Kleenex box beside you when you watch it, A good day with Brother David Steindl-Rast. (click on A good day and Shazam you’re at the video)

Step three is to withdraw from the news, and any sort of TV shows encouraging judgement of others. When we are depressed all we hear is our own negative judgement on ourselves and on our lives. Hearing judgement of others and seeing it on TV just reinforces our dark side if you will.

Step four is to engage in some type of exercise. Again, I realize this isn’t an easy task because the last thing you feel like doing when you are walking through water chest deep everyday is to exercise. Trust me and do it anyway, maybe go swimming; you’re in the water anyway. It will help. I promise. You don’t need to spend hours at the gym. Start slowly— ten minutes a day, five minutes? Whatever? Just do something and then increase the time you do it every few days.

Step five is to buy a herbal cleanse, of course check with your health care provider to ensure it is compatible with anything else you might be taking. They might pooh pooh the whole idea but poop, pooping can be very good for you. Think about it this way, our intestines are like long lines of curved pipes, over our life they accumulate sludge and chemicals from the food we eat. Just like the pipes in the house, depending on what you put in them, the sludge will build up to the point of affecting the septic system. It’s the same with your body. A cleanse will loosen up the sludge and clear it out. The chemicals in the sludge could be contributing to the way you feel. I have one word of caution for you if you begin a cleanse— toilet. Stay close to a toilet during the first few days.

Step six is to watch your diet. I know– now you’re thinking this blog sucks, not only does she want me to exercise, quit watching TV and destroy my bathroom with a ridiculous amounts of pooping, now she wants me to diet! What a bitch! Yes, I can accept that. I actually want you to call me every rotten stinking name you have stored away in your hostile little heart. Get it all out. You can even call me the C word, and I hate that word more than Donald Trump himself. I just want you to feel better. I want you to find that spark inside your heart and tend to it until you have a roaring blaze of life inside you. So back to diet, it’s pretty basic, eat vegetables, fruit, protein, whole grains, healthy oils and fats like avocado oil, olive oil, grape seed oil and butter, limit your sugars, use NON-GMO when possible, and go ahead and cheat occasionally. However, when you cheat be prepared for the addictive nature of sugar, once you have the chocolate bar your going to want more, same with salty snacks. Being forewarned is forearmed against food craving attacks.

Step seven is to limit your contact with people who push you into the spiralling dark hole of hopelessness. If you are in a close relationship with them they will notice your absence. That means you might have to take a couple puffs of a big gagger and give it to them straight. If you can do it without the puffs, all the better, but it doesn’t mean you get to be nasty and accusatory. Just be firm, this is your life. Tell them like it is, you are working on getting well and you need some distance. Anyone who truly cares for you will support your decision.

Step eight is to keep a journal and write whatever you want in it, and then burn the pages when you are done. It is an emotionally purifying exercise where you can vent and then release the emotions by turning them to ash.

Step nine is to meditate, or practice Reiki, or Qui Gong, these practices allow for a positive frame of mind. They all aid in letting go of damaging beliefs. Research each and see which one appeals to you. I practice Reiki myself because I can easily access love and acceptance for myself within the practice. Meditation and Qui Gong are excellent as well, and there are many free practices to be found on YouTube.

Step ten is to unplug from technology period. No social media, no checking status or messages. Who’s more important to your survival? Other people or you? Go for a walk without your phone, listen to music, have an epsom salt bath, whatever, just please, find out how good it feels to unplug. It’ll be difficult at first but I know you can do this. People had no technology for hundreds of years and they were much happier for it. An hour a day away from electronics will not kill you. That’s my mama talking.

So go ahead and kick depressions butt, it doesn’t have to rule your world. You can change your outcome. You can find joy again. The only thing you have control of in this entire world is you. So get hopeful, and practice the steps which make you strong. You’ve got this lovely person.

Mind Your Own Bees Wax

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Well, let me just say, “I take offense to your offense, and I am super offended because you think I offended you. When really it’s you that offends me because you’ve taken offence to some perceived insult.”

The definition of perceived is to interpret something or someone in a certain way.

If everyone would just mind their own bee’s wax we’d have plenty of bees, and wax, and the world would continue to spin in the appropriate way.

I think we should operate on every single person and take out their offense button, and while we’re at it we should take out the perceived button so they can simply see the facts instead of interpreting people and things a certain way. It’ll make Deputy Dog’s job easier, “Just the fact Ma’am, I only need to know the facts.

I despise feeling offended. I want to be all peace, and love, and Zen. I want to sit in my mellow space with my diffuser spewing out the scent of lemongrass and bergamot. I’d like to keep my, everything will work out fine attitude. It seems I can’t.

I have unwittingly joined the ranks of other Canadians becoming a wee bit hypersensitive these days. Not only have I felt offended, now I’ve become on edge about opening my mouth, I might say the wrong thing. I might behave… God forbid, politically incorrect. Knowing this, I’ve come to believe that sometimes people lie about what they actually believe in order to prevent offending anyone else. This is a tragedy. Pressuring people to think a certain way promotes a bunch of phonies running around not truly supporting anything.

I would rather meet an honest person who displays their true colors with disagreement, than meet the one who is pretending to follow todays latest politically correct agenda. Lets be honest, you can only have an engaging and enlightening discussion with someone if they are offering you an accurate view they have of the world. Arguing different viewpoints doesn’t necessarily mean anybody’s wrong or right. It generally means the truth lies somewhere in the middle. A difference of opinion does not mean one person is bad and the other is good. The gray areas in life are far more profuse than black and white. I’ve taken to adding more gray clothing to my wardrobe in support of that very point.

Truth be known, it’s the politics in the country that really jabs the button on my feeling offended. Every time I look at the news headlines it jolts my Feeling Offended button just like a pre-schooler hitting the crosswalk button a hundred times.

I’ve come to the conclusion I should start wearing a paper bag on my head.

If you saw me, you might ask, “Why are you wearing a paper bag on your head?”

I might shrug brushing the bottom of the bag with my shoulders and answer, “It’s because I’ve taken offense to my own offense. I am so tired of being offended. It’s utterly exhausting.”

“I still don’t understand?” you would ask, “Why would you wear a paper bag on your head just because you’re offended?”

“It’s a corrective action, it stops me from looking around for more things to be offended about.” I said. “It forces me to mind my own bee’s wax.”

You might make a face, “But then you’ll miss all the other wonderful things going on in the world.”

I’d shake my head and the bag might shift slightly, “Not really, I miss them anyways by always searching for things to be offended about. This way, if I mind my own bees wax for a while, I’ll have enough wax to do my own Bikini line.”