Day 6

Wow. Six days into the new year. Only six. It feels like more.

Today I got rid of a bunch of expectations. I mean, I really let shit go. Personal stuff, stuff that always makes me feel bad about myself. It’s time.

I went for my daily walk and as I’ve done every day since beginning I said good morning to my father. We began our route – the usual one I take. We head north from my house and then turn east. As I came upon my first corner the waxwings I mentioned the other day came swooping overhead. Hundreds of them. I smiled and continued on.

Suddenly they came flying low overhead and made to land in a couple of mountain ash trees on the opposite side of the street. They dove into the branches and then whoosh! out and up again. The sound of all those hundreds of wings pushing against the air made me gasp. They repeated this display twice more and I stood totally captivated. Then I heard the trilling sound of more coming to join them from behind me. As I turned this other flock swept low above me; if I had reached up I’m sure I could have touched them they were so close. All those tiny bodies making such a huge impression. What a gift that was.

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Day 5 and the purge goes on. . .

It was a busy day today, so my purging was pretty limited.

Today I threw out:

a bunch of tuna cans, and a big tin that once had those rolled up Italian style cookies in it.

The tuna cans were for this project:

great idea!!! these are tuna cans!! would be so pretty for christmas in gold and red scrap paper around the outside, or new years in silver and white paper on the outside!! or paint the insides different bright colors, with bold patterened papper wrapped on the outside!

Cute isn’t it? Well I collected those tuna cans about three or four years ago. They were in a basket by my recycling and every so often I’d look at them and think about how I should get started on turning them into these delightful candle holders. Thinking about it was as far as I ever got. So – boom! – into the recycle bin they went. I’ll keep this picture — it’s on one of my Pinterest boards — and who knows? Maybe someday I’ll save me some more tuna cans.

The cookie tin I kept because, well, it was a good-sized tin can with a lid. Perfect for storing all kinds of things. The only thing it managed to store was some dust and a couple of dead spiders. When it hit the tuna cans in the recycle bin I smiled ruefully – ’cause I got another one of those cookie tins upstairs in my pantry. Those Pirouline cookies are so good!

 

Day 4 of the purge

Today was a simple day. I went for my third walk. The weather was beautiful and there was a huge flock of waxwings that seemed to be following me around town. I scared them out of a couple of spruce trees as I walked past and from there they just seemed to wheel overhead wherever I went. They were a delight to watch.

I heard a little chickadee singing his Spring song and I said to him, sorry, little guy, but Spring is still a long way off. Hearing his little song made me feel hopeful, though.

Today I got rid of old hair products that I’ve had for longer than I can remember. I buy hair products usually after I’ve visited with my sisters. They are all great with hair and they take it upon themselves to do my hair whenever we’re together. I love it. I love the attention and the conversations we have while they transform me.

I’ve never been one to fuss and primp, but those girls can get me thinking that I should.

So, once our visits are over I go out and buy hairspray and mousse and serum and god-knows-what-all and fuss with my hair for a week or two. Then, it just gets to be too much work, and without them, no fun. The products get stuck in a closet or under the bed or in a drawer that I don’t use. Occasionally I’ll decide to try again, but then I wonder about chemical breakdown and whether using them could damage my hair.

But throw them out? No. That would be wasteful. Today, though, I grabbed that fifteen year old bottle of leave in conditioner that has been in my medicine cabinet since the day I bought it and I threw it in to the hazardous wastes container. Along with some twenty year old mineral make up that I only kept because it had a nice brush. That I used maybe twice.

Then I got rid of some more food stuff from the fridge. What did I think I was going to do with that single tablespoon of cherry preserves? Obviously, I forgot because it was just mouldy sludge in the bottom of the jar when I dug it out from the back of the fridge. It looked like something that Stephen King might have written about in his younger years. I was tempted to pitch the whole jar, but I couldn’t do it. It’s a glass canning jar, after all, and I can re-use it. (My purging only goes so far.)

Then there was the container of homemade chocolate sauce — maybe enough left for one dish of ice cream. I don’t remember when I made it, but I know I made it for my grand-kids. It got shoved in the back on the second shelf behind a jar of sun-dried tomatoes and some jars of bouillon. When I opened it the top was all speckly and pitted. It looked more like congealed gravy than chocolate sauce. Again, I saved the container.

I know why I hang on to things for as long as I do. It’s not because I’m thrifty, or lazy or just forgetful. It’s because these things have in some way brought me pleasure. They remind me of simple moments of joy shared with people I love.

I’m only four days in on this 100 days of purging, but I’m learning that letting go of things does not mean letting go of memories.

Day 3 — the purge continues

20180103_204556Every time I write the word purge I laugh a little. It reminds me of the terrible The Purge movie we watched a few years ago. It was worse than dreadful — it was violent and boring. I couldn’t wait for it to end.

Now, of course, there are sequels. Go figure.

The word purge is an ugly word. It sounds ugly when you say it; it’s ugly when written. Even the meaning is ugly.

Purge (noun)

:an act of removing by cleansing; ridding of sediment or other undesired elements
:the act of clearing yourself (or another) from some stigma or charge
:rinse, clean, or empty with a liquid – purge the old gas tank
:eject the contents of the stomach through the mouth – He purged continuously
:make pure or free from sin or guilt
:an abrupt or sudden removal of a person or group from an organisation or place – he died in a purge by Stalin
:clear of a charge
:excrete or evacuate (someone’s bowels or body) – The doctor decided that the patient must be purged
:oust politically – Deng Xiao Ping was purged several times throughout his lifetime
:rid of impurities – purge the water – purge your mind
But my intent to purge my life of unnecessary things is not ugly. It is liberating. Like some forms of purging listed above, it is actually a good thing.
Today I rid myself of magazines. I have hung on to these magazines for ages. Some of them were from the early 1990s. I kept some of them in the bathroom in case someone needed reading material. I, personally, wouldn’t touch them. And as far as I know neither did anyone else. They were dusty, wrinkled from constantly being steamed from the shower, and out of date.
Dr. Oz’s advice on how to stock your refrigerator so you’ll lose weight is only good for one reading as far as I’m concerned. When I picked up the women-only fitness magazine and leafed through it I thought for one brief moment that I should try some of the workouts, but then I remembered that I went for a walk this morning. That’s good enough at my age.
It’s not like I ever want to wear a bikini again — no, a nice high-waisted tankini with tummy control, waist minimizer and boob support is my style these days. Something I can walk around the resort, beach, deck in with a glass of wine in one hand and a book in the other. My pretty-young-thing days are all behind me and I’m happy.
I also got rid of Christmas and holiday magazines. I had been clinging to these as though they were precious artefacts. These magazines represented the romanticized versions of the holidays that I always tried to create. I made a few of the crafts, tried out recipes, and read inspirational stories of stranger’s special holiday memories. So many times I felt dissatisfied after the holidays were over because they had not lived up to the expectations I’d borrowed from the glitzy pages of those magazines.
This year I wasn’t home for Thanksgiving; I spent it with my parents and some of my siblings. I didn’t have to do a thing. It was my dad’s last turkey dinner and I felt blessed just to be able to be there and share that moment.
Christmastime, I was home, but because I spend half my time living in Fort McMurray where my husband works I didn’t decorate or put up a tree this year. I said I didn’t have time. Honestly, I just didn’t feel like decorating.
I didn’t go through my usual routine of replacing my dishes with Christmas ones, putting out Christmas linens or stringing garlands all over the place. The Dickens’ village didn’t get set up and didn’t have Christmas blankets and teddies strewn all over.
We spent Christmas morning at my son’s house and enjoyed all the festive decorating my daughter in law does. Their tree was lovely. We opened presents, we had our traditional eggs-benny breakfast and then my husband and I went home. None of it was inspired by a picture or article from a magazine. It was genuine, it was memorable and it made me happy.
When I saw all those magazines today it occurred to me that they are meaningless. Holidays are not about how your house looks, or how your table is dressed. It’s not about decorating advice from the pros or how to host the best Thanksgiving dinner – EVER! It’s about family, creating memories and sharing love and laughter, tears and joy.
I didn’t even break a sweat as I carried all those magazines down to the recycle bin.

100 Days — Day 2

I woke up this morning and wondered — will I keep up with my stated goal of purging for 100 days? I felt doubt trying to get in my way, but then I told myself doubt could only stop me if I let it.

I went out for the 1st of my 100 days of walks. It felt great. It was certainly a plus that the temperature had risen to -4 overnight. I smiled at birds flitting about in the sunshine, enjoyed the quiet streets, fresh air and saying good morning to the few people I happened to cross paths with.

I had a conversation with my father, who passed away on October 23rd. This is where day 2 of my purging comes in.

The one thing my father and I shared was a love of walking. We didn’t get to walk together much, but we did enjoy a few walks whenever he and my mother came to visit. I was always closest to him during those walks. Today, I felt him there with me again.

Dad and I were not as close as I wished we were. Ours was always a tumultuous relationship. I have always harboured guilt for not being a better daughter and anger for him not being a better father. Today, I let that go. I said I was sorry, and I hoped he could forgive me. I forgave him. And I told him that I hoped he knew I always loved him.

Being with him in the two and half months before he died was a hard thing. I watched my father who had always been such a powerful force in life wither away to nothing. But, even as his body wasted away and he lost his ability to communicate his eyes still held a look that was both fierce and passionate. I could tell how angry he was that cancer was robbing him of the ability to enjoy the thing he cherished most – life.

It’s such a sad thing to get to know your father, like the man he was, realise, finally, that he loved me — us — all more than he had the ability to say and then watch him draw his last breath as you struggle to say goodbye.

I miss my father, as I know all my family does. My heart aches for my mother, who was married to the love of her life for 60 years. But he left us much to be grateful and thankful for. And he gave us all the greatest gift he could – life, and love for it.

 

100 days of purges

January 1, 2018 — Day 1

I purged the left over sticky toffee pudding that I made for Christmas dessert.

It was lovely. It was fattening. It was made with 1 and 1/2 pounds of butter, copious amounts of sugar and smothered with a sauce made from more butter, cream and sugar. I had made a huge pan of it because we were expecting 22 for dinner on Christmas Day at my brother’s house. Only 15 could make it, so there was a lot of leftover pudding. (I am baffled as to why this dish is called pudding, because it is not at all pudding-like. Unless it is drowned in delicious sauce.)

I’ve been having ‘a little piece’ every other day or so, because I didn’t want it to go to waste. Instead, it’s been going to my waist.

So, this morning when I was considering what to purge I immediately thought of my pudding. Before I could have time to rationalise my decision I picked up the plate, flipped open the garbage can and let all that artery-clogging goodness go. My husband hollered in horror — “I could have taken that to work!” He doesn’t need it, nor do his co-workers, any more than I do. I felt good about saving them/us.

From there I threw out the stale sugar cookies, a jar of dill pickles I’d made in 2014 and which had been languishing in the fridge since about 2015.

I also did some emotional purging. I wrote on Facebook about 2017.

It was a year of milestones. My father turned 80 in July. He and my mother celebrated their 60th anniversary on October 18th. My grandchildren flew for the first time to attend our family reunion — the last one my father would attend. He died in October of kidney cancer after being diagnosed in May. My seven siblings and I were all in the same place for the first time in many years. We settled stuff. We bonded in grief and heartache and sadness and anger. We realized the depth of our love for one another and how we owe so much to our parents.

That was day 1.

Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

100 Days of. . .

So. I’m going to try blogging again. This time my goal is to chart my progress over the next 100 days, or series of 100 days as this year (2018) progresses.

I’ve been inspired lately by a lot of posts I’ve seen on Facebook of people who have made changes in their lives and who have accomplished some pretty great things, all in 100 days.

100. It’s such a nice, compact number. Not too big, not too small. A reasonable goal to strive for. Whether it be 100 days of push-ups, 100 days of gratitude, 100 days of drinking a glass of water or 100 days of conquering fear. If you can do anything for 100 days, then you can probably do that thing for the rest of your days.

My aim is to document my progress daily. 100 days of recounting how I’m fulfilling my 100-day goals. I’ve been in a sort of limbo for a few years. Not accomplishing much. Abandoning hope, abandoning faith, abandoning happiness. It’s time to reach out, to hold on and to live. REALLY live.

I am turning 60 this year. In a few short months I will be, officially, a senior. Sigh. Sigh. and SIGH. I’ve been feeling that there is no point in trying to accomplish anything, anymore for so long that I’ve come to believe it. I don’t want to believe that anymore. I want to believe that in the time I have left I can make some real and lasting change in my life.

My first 100 day goal is to purge at least one thing everyday.  Something that weighs me down either physically or emotionally or both.

My second 100 day goal is to go for a walk. Breathe. Enjoy air and sun and wind on my skin. (This will be hard, I have to admit, when the temperature is in the -30’s, but we’re into the upswing towards Spring now. Ha, ha, ha.)

I hope my journey(s) inspire others as I have been inspired by others.

Just a little rant. . .

It’s been a while. But I’ve got something to say and this is quite likely the best place to say it.

I wish to GOD that people would stop posting all those melodramatic posts about what it means to be a mother.

Don’t get me wrong – I know being a mom is a tough (tuff) job – but come on people! It’s not like you’re working in the salt mines or digging ditches in 100 degree heat all day!

The tone of all these posts that get circulated on the internet is that somehow being a mother is akin to being in shackles and that there is absolutely no respite or appreciation or compensation for the job.

I call bullshit!

I don’t get why all these women who wanted a home and family are now so bent on getting attention and recognition for their ‘sacrifices’.  It wasn’t a sacrifice — it was a choice. A choice women since the dawn of time have made. And they made it knowing that it would change their lives. Mostly for the better.

Despite all the mewling and whining and ‘woe-is-me’ out there, I believe most women who have been mothers or are mothers just get on with the job of being mom. That includes being wife, housecleaner and chief bottle washer. They get up each morning with a smile and greet their families without the marks of self-flaggelation upon their backs.

You don’t see a gazillion weepy-penned articles or posts about what it means to be a dad.  If all these women crying the blues think they’ve got it so bad, think they’re so under-appreciated and under-valued, why don’t they try being the dad for awhile. Gain a little perspective, then talk about sacrifice.

I was a mom. I loved it. Not every day did I love it, but 93% of the time I have to say, I completely loved my job. To me, it was the most important thing I could ever do in my life. Raising a child, teaching him, guiding him, providing for him. I chose that, no one forced me into it.

I was lucky, I had a husband who worked full time while I stayed home. Occasionally I worked at a part-time job when we wanted extra money for holidays or some big purchase. But mostly, I got to be at home – a place I took pride in, a place I felt blessed to have, a place I knew was my responsibility to keep clean and maintain as a trade-off for being a stay-at-home wife and mother.

I don’t get how the women in these posts and articles feel they need all this validation. They’re constantly bemoaning the fact hat their husbands come home and question them about what they did all day when they walk in the door to chaos and no supper. Well, I question that, too.

What the hell are they doing all day? Surfing Pinterest for the next great birthday theme so that they can impress all the other whiny-mommies? Or, perhaps it’s searching for butt and ab exercise routines that can be done in under 20 minutes? No, more than likely it’s for smoothie recipes to help them lose weight.

And, if it’s not Pinterest, then they’re probably on FaceBook or Twitter or just texting to complain about how hard their little lives are. Meanwhile their kids are being ignored, the house is a mess and they don’t get why their husbands are  no longer attracted to them.

It’s time for women to stop acting like martyrs. Time for them to step up, do their job, and do it well. Time for them to stop begging on social medial for respect and acknowledgement. Nobody, except movies stars and athletes, gets to do that.

You’re a mom — get used to it.

 

June 7th, Saturday

It’s early, I was up before 6:30 this morning.  So much on my mind.

Foremost this:  what is it that the Universe is trying to tell me?  What am I supposed to be waiting for?

Lately, it seems that no matter what I try, how hard I try, there is no success.

I believe, I really do, that things happen for a reason.  That if something is meant to be, it will be.

A good friend always tells me that I didn’t get whatever I was aiming for because there is something else, something better waiting for me.

I am seriously beginning to doubt that.

I know I have skills, experience, talent, enthusiasm, drive and determination.  I present well.  People seem to like me, seem to admire my work.

Not enough to give me the job, though.

It’s embarrassing and a little demoralizing. It makes me doubt myself. Makes me wonder if it’s because I’m OLD.

I’m in my mid-50’s.  I don’t feel OLD. I still feel pretty good.

Sure, I don’t have the vast stores of energy I once did, and I often find myself thinking that it’s okay to just let things slide, because I’m so conscious of time and that it’s starting to run out.

I think about my grandkids. They’re 9, going-to-be 7 in a few days and going-to-be 5 in a few months. Another 10 years and they’re going to be young adults. I’ll be in my mid-60’s then.

Will I still be chasing pavement then? Will I still have this sense of having not accomplished enough? Will I still be seeking validation?

It’s not a great way to wake up on a sunny Saturday morning.

Sunday, March 23rd and apart from the sunshine you wouldn’t know it’s Spring

I know that I tend to gripe about the cold.  I can’t help it.  Despite having lived my entire life in places where winter is the longest season, I just can’t get over it.

Friday was the first official day of Spring, and the forecast for next week?  Expect January-like temperatures.  The projected high for Tuesday is supposed to be a balmy -18 degrees Celsius.  Yay.  Can hardly wait.

I’ve been keeping my bedroom window open at night in the misguided belief that it’s NOT THAT COLD, and THE FRESH AIR WILL DO US GOOD.  What I got for my troubles was a sore throat and a sinus cold.  Yay, Again.

We had a good lot of snow this winter and last week most of it melted.  Creating lovely, goopy, slimy mud pits everywhere.  The street I live on in my idyllic little rural community are not paved.  They are gravelled.  But, I was happy that the snow was gone out of my driveway, and that at least I could see the gravel again.  But, then, the local idiots decided that tearing up and down our side street and four-wheel driving through the muck in their Mazda hatch-back and sore-excuse for a sports-truck would be fun.  They made a grand mess of the road and the boulevard.

Yet another sign that Spring has arrived.  And, here’s another. . .

The husband took matters into his own hands and went after one of them.  Talked to a dad of one of the boys and told him the police would be called next time it happened.  Barricades went up the next day.  Hope the two are related.  The traffic has been a lot more sedate since, however.

Now things are frozen again.  I guess we’ll see what happens when Spring decides to stick around.

I can’t wait for Spring to really arrive.  I’m thinking it might be for real somewhere around Easter.  Until then I’ve got Pinterest.

 

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