Thursday, September 03, 2015

She's still got a bit of feist

Stopped by my Mom's for an hour or so today.  Sometimes we run out of things to talk about but today we were on a roll.  Somehow we ended up talking about music, and I looked up a few songs on YouTube.  Her two favourites?

Little Blue Man, by Betty Johnson


Diamonds, by Hawk Nelson.

I wish I'd video'd her rocking to Hawk.  Even so, I doubt I'll forget it any time soon.  Picture a wizened little old lady, grey hair, no teeth, totally bedridden, moving whatever body parts still move (mostly her head and arms) in time to the beat at the beginning of that song.  Made my week.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

No time like the present

I was going to do this yesterday and before that I was going to do it a different day and before that I was all tied up in knots trying to figure out how to break this long silence and today I'm just done overthinking it and here I am.

September is back to school month.  There are three of us returning to school, and because life is sometimes like that, we are returning in order of most reluctant to least reluctant.

B started Grade 11 this morning (which, hello, what, how? etc) and the most enduring image I have of this morning is him standing in the kitchen staring blankly into space saying "I really don't want to do this."

A starts at the Alberta College of Art and Design (YAY.) on September 8 and while she is pleased at the idea of most of her course work, she is not delighted at the hours, as ACAD apparently opens before noon.

I start into the second year of my BA (when we got married, we said he'd get his degree and then I'd get mine, so that's what we're doing.  33 years, before anyone asks) on September 14 and mostly I feel like that is a VERY LONG TIME from now and LET'S GET ON WITH IT.  (talk to me in November, when I am whimpering from the work and the reading and the papers)

And if that's not exciting enough for you, Brad and I went on a road trip this summer that was so laid back we had time to video a wasp harvesting bits of lunch from a scrap of ham on our picnic table.  I was going to post it here but I didn't because OneDrive/Luddite/SharyPantsMcConfusedHead.

But it's really exciting.    Two minutes and 20 seconds of Wasp on Ham, and 10 seconds of Overloaded Wasp Attempting to Fly. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015


If you had approached my bedroom window fifteen minutes ago, to take a look at the weather, you might have seen three bright yellow goldfinches dart away.  You  may have taken a look at the finch feeder and seen a bright yellow goldfinch having a leisurely lunch.

But here's what I saw.

I love goldfinches.  We used to get them at our feeders way back when we first moved into this house, when A was 3 and B wasn't here yet.  I haven't seen goldfinches at our feeders since we moved back from California in 2003.

This last week has been difficult and tumultous and last night I slept about an hour.  I went back to bed after Brad went to work and managed a few more hours of fitful sleep.  As I was getting ready to go to my class this afternoon, I walked over to window and a flurry of bright yellow caught my eye.  I looked down at the feeder with tears in my eyes and watched the remaining finch calmly eating his heart out and heard God whisper "I see you."

This morning I am praising God for finches, and for the blessing that needed a twelve year wait to reach its full power.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Think, please, for five seconds before this comes out of your mouth, ever.

The conversation goes like this:

Person A:  Yes, I was sexually abused as a child.

Person B: I suspect your abuser was also abused.

Person B is very well meaning.  Person B is alluding to the "well known fact" that abused kids become abusers.

Person B is clearly not thinking about what they have just implied to be true about Person A.  Person B is not meaning to put Person A into that "abused kids become abusers" equation, but I can promise you, Person A is doing it.

Just don't say it.  Ever.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

I Have Some Things To Say.

Mental illness vs let's say, cancer.

1.    Consider the differences in these two statements:

a.  I am mentally ill.
b. I have cancer.

From now on, I choose the second phrasing.  I have a mental illness.

2.   Interesting statistic, that has something to do with how stigmatized mental illness is, in this society, but also, to be fair, a bit to do with how weird Facebook can be. 

I post a link, on Facebook,  to a blog entry talking about Brad's cancer.  48 people "like" it, 5 people comment.

I post a joke on Facebook.  25 people "like" it, 3 people comment.

I post a link, on Facebook, to a blog entry talking about  the mental illness that I have.  9 likes,

3.  Brad and I were ill at the same time.  No-one ever suggested to Brad that my mental illness might be a "nice distraction" from his cancer.

4.  No-one ever suggested that Brad try not to think about his cancer so much, or that he was suffering more than he needed to because he was letting treatment take up too much space in his life.


Perfectly lovely, well-meaning people who love me and want the best for me have said these things to me.  I have been urged not to talk about my mental illness because I will get hurt.  I have been encouraged to take up new hobbies, to stop thinking about it so much, to pray for guidance as to how to move on.


I have to say - I am beyond fortunate.  I am surrounded by people who care about me, who listen to me when it gets weird, who will answer the phone and know I am not myself, and have a conversation with a traumatized 5 year old part if that's what's needed.  I have a long list of friends I can call when I'm struggling, who will not bat an eye, who will drop everything, who will circle the wagons for me.  And I have those, partially, because I have awesome friends, but also because I'll talk to anybody about anything if I feel like I'm being prompted to, and because I think I know more about mental illness than I did five years ago, and I feel like more people need to understand what it's like.  I spoke up about my illness because that's who I am.

But what about the people who can't speak up?  Who are too ashamed to admit that they're not okay? 

And why did I just write an entire paragraph defending myself for talking about the mental illness that I have?  Why do I feel like that's necessary? It shouldn't be.  The dialogue around mental illness should go like this:

You.  Depressed person.  Suicidal person, who is convinced your family will be better off without you.  Your brain is lying to you.  You are not fatally flawed or irretrievably broken. Some people get cancer, a horrible disease, to be sure, but one that people understand, at least somewhat.  Some people get a mental illness, an ugly messy invisible torment.  You didn't do this to yourself.  Find a way to talk.  There will be less judgement than you expect.  One word, one sentence - ask for help.  Write it down if you have to, and slip it under someone's door.  Suicide is a tsunami of torment for those left behind.   A recurring tsunami.  Your spouse will think they are to blame.  So will your children.  So will your parents.  Sure, it's going to be hard work to heal, but you don't have to do all that work today.  All you have to do today is find a way to say "help."

And help will come.

Friday, April 17, 2015

and speaking of birthdays ...

I Go Back To May 1937 - Poem by Sharon Olds

Play Poem Video I see them standing at the formal gates of their colleges,
I see my father strolling out
under the ochre sandstone arch, the
red tiles glinting like bent
plates of blood behind his head, I
see my mother with a few light books at her hip
standing at the pillar made of tiny bricks,
the wrought-iron gate still open behind her, its
sword-tips aglow in the May air,
they are about to graduate, they are about to get married,
they are kids, they are dumb, all they know is they are
innocent, they would never hurt anybody.
I want to go up to them and say Stop,
don’t do it—she’s the wrong woman,
he’s the wrong man, you are going to do things
you cannot imagine you would ever do,
you are going to do bad things to children,
you are going to suffer in ways you have not heard of,
you are going to want to die. I want to go
up to them there in the late May sunlight and say it,
her hungry pretty face turning to me,
her pitiful beautiful untouched body,
his arrogant handsome face turning to me,
his pitiful beautiful untouched body,
but I don’t do it. I want to live. I
take them up like the male and female
paper dolls and bang them together
at the hips, like chips of flint, as if to
strike sparks from them, I say
Do what you are going to do, and I will tell about it.


My father would have turned 82 today.

The thing is, that poem up there?  the part that reads "you are going to bad things to children"?  That's only part of who he was.  Most days, right now, that's the loudest part of who he was, but the good stuff is still there, waiting it's turn.  I don't need to define him.  I need to define myself, who I am before God, and do you know what I really truly deeply hope for? I hope he reconciled things with God, sometime before that heart attack, so that some day, when we meet in heaven, all this earthly stuff will have fallen away, and the strongest thing between us is forgiveness.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Today is a great day.

And here's why today is a great day:

It's Brad's birthday, and he is still here to celebrate it.

Thank you, God.