Skinny and Other Treasures

Well, it’s five in the morning and I am sitting here with my sunny yellow mug full of coffee.  I no longer sit in my slightly soiled chair, it is in the basement, and I now write from a brown velvety sofa beneath the painting that Shawn bought me for Christmas.  It is a beautiful painting by Terry Issac of an ancient raven totem pole that has a real raven perched on top crying out into the mist. It is called the storyteller and was the perfect gift for me, I love it.  I still write most mornings but rarely post anything anymore.    I am still trying to find my way in my new life.  I still miss Howard and not a day goes by that I don’t think about him or talk about him.  He was an amazing man.  I remember writing a post called “To the Next Amazing Man” two years ago.  I have been blessed to find another amazing man who challenges me, makes me laugh, loves me for who I am, and shares his passion for all things old and rusty with me.  He does sometimes question my purchases and asks where the heck I am going to put them.  This question coming from the man who bought juggling balls ( he does not juggle)  a second cd stand with a creepy old guy with stringy hair holding the cd rack (we do not have a cd player) or two hooves with hair and googly eyes attached to them (he loves them) always amazes me and makes me laugh.  My usual response to where are you going to put it is, I won’t know till we get home!  On Christmas Eve I brought home an old oil can that is now our garbage can in the garage where we play darts. Shawn’s first question was, “Where are you going to put it?”  I love the oil can, it is two feet tall, painted black, has a wooden handle, a lid, a spout and a glass window for seeing how much oil was in the can.  I also have an aversion to regular old garbage cans, they are boring and mostly ugly.  I have never seen a garbage can that I fell in love with and I enjoy repurposing old items.

You might be getting the idea that we buy a lot of old stuff and you would not be wrong.  I start getting antsy about the time the swap meets start up in the spring and cannot wait to get out there and find the next treasure!  The perfect job for me would be roaming the country like the American Pickers on television looking for old and interesting items.  I have come to the conclusion that I am basically unemployable simply because I can no longer work with the general public without telling the idiots that they are idiots or rude customers to shove off.    After 25 plus years in the retail industry in some form or another, I have no patience for bullshit or rudeness and cannot see myself being employed by anyone who is smart and who wants a dumb boss!  Okay, back to the matter of treasure.  Shawn buys a lot of used and unusual things.  I am not allowed to say the H word (hoarder) in reference to him, he likes to be called a collector of fine treasures!  This has worked out for him for a lot of years.  He is always buying and selling.  Well, selling not so much- he gets attached to these items.  I like the hunt more than the item itself, most of the time, so we make a good team.  An eccentric form of retail therapy!  Besides, who doesn’t need an antique Inuit kayak frame hanging from their living room ceiling?

Once in a while, when I am away from the house for a few hours I will get a text from Shawn that says, guess what I bought.  There is no possible way, based on his purchasing history, that I could guess and be remotely close unless I said the words car or truck.  We both love old cars and I love driving my 31 Model A pickup ( picture of me in Skinny at the top).  I even got to drive it on the Bonneville Salt Flats this year!  Her name is Skinny Bitch.  The truck used to be owned by a local man called Skinny who passed away, so the Skinny part of the name was a given.  When I first met Shawn I needed some new jeans because I had lost a lot of weight during Howard’s illness and passing.  I went from 145 pounds down to 103 pounds and was basically skin and bones.  I went to a local store and one of the sales clerks pounced on me before my rear end had cleared the doorway asking me if she could help me find anything.  I find this to be extremely annoying so I said, “Sure, I am looking for new jeans, show me what the skinny bitches wear.”  Hence, the name of my truck.  She also sold me the most comfortable and well fitting jeans I have ever owned!  All of our cars and trucks have names which may seem silly but they all have their own personality and temperament.  I did not like to drive Skinny at first, but Shawn pointed that we just needed to get to know each other a bit and he was right.  All relationships take time and attention.

It seems strange to me sometimes that I have only been in a relationship with this man for about two years and yet it feels like he has always been a part of my life.  I met Shawn during one of the most difficult periods of my life and he helped me find the joy in living again.  Some people thought we got involved with each other too soon after Howard passed away.  Howard would have disagreed.  You only have so much time on this earth so don’t waste any of it worrying about what others think.  Do not let fear hold you back from moving forward and most of all don’t be afraid to face the world with your heart wide open.  I went from living in a big empty house all by myself, miserable and grieving, to a life filled with people, dogs, laughter and joy, because both Shawn and I took a risk.  We were willing to risk our hearts and trust our feelings.  Both our lives are richer because of it.

Love you all
Hug lots and sing loudly

Donna

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Renaming Grief and Other Shit

After a mostly sleepless night, I have a throbbing headache but have maxed out my painkiller quota for the next four hours.  Having sciatica issues makes it difficult to sleep.  I cannot get comfortable and my legs, (sometimes one, sometimes both) burn, tingle and ache.  Yoga and stretching are not helping and I have decided to seek some medical help and get them to look into what is going on with my lower back.   I am a light sleeper and one of the problems I had last night was hearing this strange scratching noise outside.  I lay awake in bed listening, trying to figure out what it was and then heard what sounded like a bear giving a frustrated long grunt, the dogs started barking and I flew out of bed. The dogs live outside and I don’t want them tangling with a frustrated bear.  Shawn and I are outside with flashlights having a look around, the dogs quieted down and we were left cold and wide awake. There is a beautiful creek right beside our property and the salmon are spawning so it is like a bear picnic at the edge of the yard.  Shawn thinks it was a raccoon, but he did not hear the noise the animal made.  I decided that he can think whatever he likes, but I heard a bear.

Okay, 2:45 am and I am wide awake.  We watch a little TV and head back to bed but the pain in my back and legs won’t let me get back to sleep.  So it is now 5am and I am still awake and in pain.  So I try meditating, becoming one with the pain, breathing into it, just breathing and finally drifted off to sleep for a few hours.  I don’t think people who have never dealt with chronic pain have any idea how debilitating and tiring it can be.  I look fine, you would not know that I have been in constant pain or discomfort for 3 weeks if you looked at me.  This happened to me about seven years ago and lasted for over a year.  Chiropractor visits, massage, acupuncture, yoga, and meditation were all part of my healing.  It got to the point where I could not put on my own pants, socks or shoes and was unable to lift my leg high enough to get in the tub.   I also could not drive because I could not move my foot quickly enough from the gas to the brake pedal and almost ended up in the ditch at the end of my driveway.  This was a year from hell.

However, it as nothing compared to the emotional, mental and spiritual pain I suffered when Howard was diagnosed with cancer and passed away a few months later.  While physical pain is a “damn pain” it has a different quality than grief and emotional pain.  It is not just the loss of someone you love, but also your hopes and dreams, and in my case my business, job and home as well.  Yes, it was my choice to close my business and to stop working.  I could have made other arrangements to take care of those things.  But, I did not have it in me to still manage those things behind the scenes while Howard and I navigated cancer world.  One thing that a lot of people do not realize is that the moment you or your loved one are diagnosed with a terminal or life-threatening illness is that the grieving can start immediately.  Life as you knew it has ended and you are thrust into a world full doctors, appts, chemo treatments, medications, and the never-ending supply of people who are only too happy to tell you what they think you should do, or criticize what you are doing.  Just navigating the medical system and being pushed to have this treatment or that treatment without being given enough information to make an informed decision had me wanting to pull my hair out and scream. The man I loved was dying and it seemed that some people, even those in the medical profession did not care, it was just another day at work for them.  He was just another cancer patient.  They did not know his story, or our combined story.  They did not know he had the biggest heart of anyone I knew and spent most of his life doing things for others or that he had finally started doing something he loved and was creating the most beautiful sculptures out of recycled metal. They did not know that I was terrified.  They did not know us and did not have the time or the desire in some cases to get to know us.  They did not know.

I made it my mission to let them know.  I talked to people, I annoyed some people, I got pushy with some people and I even told some people off.  They said I was angry.  Your damn right I was angry.  I was angry, terrified,  heartbroken, and I was watching this big strong man who was my rock waste away and there was nothing I could do to stop any of it.  One of the most annoying questions I was asked when people found out Howard had cancer was,” Oh, what type of cancer is it?”  What the hell does that matter?  I would tell them lung cancer and immediately their next question was “did he smoke”?  So if he smoked then he deserved to have this cancer, he brought it on himself.  If that was the case, then all assholes should get colon cancer, and heartless greedy people should have cancer of the heart, well they do have a type of cancer already, it is cancer of the soul.  Don’t be one of those people!  So my guy is fighting for his life and some people don’t ask if there is anything they can do, they just want to know what type of cancer he has so they can go to sleep at night knowing it will not happen to them because they don’t smoke.  Yup, I was a little angry.  But that is also one of the stages of grief, so are denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  The experts in the field of grieving and loss bandy these stages around and some think it can all be summed up just like that.  The bad news is it is much more complex, sometimes you are in one stage, sometimes the stages overlap and other times (at least for me) there seemed to be whole new stages that had no label.

What are these new stages you ask? When the shit hits the fan make them laugh,  they will never know how torn up inside you are.  If you have read any of my earlier posts you may have the idea that I have a sense of humor and you would be right.  My sense of humor along with dear friends and family helped me get through one of the toughest periods of my life.  If you have a sense of humour use it, if you don’t then cultivate one and watch comedies that make you laugh or do whatever you need to do to laugh.  Laughter heals, even hysterical grieving laughter heals.  My sense of humour is a little warped sometimes and it is one of the ways I deal with life,  my inner comedian comes out. It is one of my strategies for coping with life.  It came out at my mother’s funeral, it came out at my father’s deathbed and it came out when the six of us ( Howard’s parents Pat and Bob, Me and 3 dear friends) were sitting in the living room with Howard waiting for the funeral home to come take his body away.  I sat on the bed beside him and did the only thing I was capable of doing at the time.  I told funny stories about our life together and we all cried and laughed together.  I was exhausted, I was heartbroken, I was relieved it was over, I was terrified and consumed with guilt for feeling relieved that it was over.  I made everyone leave around 4:30 am and collapsed on my bed.  I did not remember anything for six hours.

Did I mention, that I did not get much sleep last night?  Well, now I am really tired and having trouble getting my thoughts out through my fingers so I will end this here.  If you want to know more and haven’t already clicked on something more entertaining, then I will  let you know what I called the other stages in the next few days.  I think they should all be renamed.  All that is going through my head at the moment is the seven dwarves but that would be way too Disney for me. I think the stages of grief need some new labels that have a little edge and a little humor in them.  I definitely think one needs to be called, How dare you die and leave me here all alone to deal with this shit!  Can’t believe I just typed that but it is true.  Don’t judge too harshly.  Hi ho, Hi ho, it’s off to the pub I go.

Love you all

Donna

PS  That is one of Howard’s sculptures in the picture and one of my favorites!

Books and other Poop

It is 5:29 in the morning and I am sitting on the sofa with my sunny yellow mug filled with coffee and a dash of french vanilla creamer.  Shawn and the dog are still sleeping so I have a bit of time to myself.  Even though I don’t write as often anymore, I am still up before the sun on most days.  I turned 55 last week while I was in Florida.  Some of my sister’s friends sang happy birthday to me, there were also cards, cake and a few phone calls from home.  I must say it was a little surreal standing in a strangers house having people I really don’t know singing happy birthday to me and giving me hugs.  I love hugs!  I would rather hug you than shake your hand!  The next day my sister and I attended the Hay House writer’s workshop in Orlando at the Omni resort.  What a beautiful hotel!  Even though the workshop didn’t start until Saturday, I wanted to arrive a day early and relax, have a nice meal and a glass of wine.  We went outside after supper to sit by a huge fire next to the pool and we ran into a number of people that were also attending the workshop.  It is amazing how quickly like-minded people can bond!  We shared stories, laughter and hugs and oh yes a few glasses of wine.

The next morning we are off to the workshop and the energy level was high with anticipation.  I, of course, head directly to the book table.  I love books!  I love the way they smell, the way they feel and the way the little black markings on the page can transport you to another world and allow you to see it through someone else’s heart and mind.  Yup, bought my first book in the first five minutes.  It was Mike Dooley’s latest book called “Playing the Matrix.”   I love his inspirational story and his uplifting writing.  Now I am not one to normally have my picture taken with people, I don’t like having my picture taken, but I saw Mike Dooley and I was on him before he even had his table set up and now that I think back to it, I believe my sister zoomed right in front of me and got to him first.  Not only is she tiny, but she is fast like a little book ninja. Needless to say the two of us, we are book whores extraordinaire, were like small kids at Christmas.  I got a hug from Mike, my picture taken with him and my newly purchased book signed.  Turns out Mike was also one of the first speakers at the workshop.  Who knew that publishing a book was so complicated or that the road to having a book published is a long one that meanders along a rocky coastline with hidden bays and unexpected treasures.  Here is a picture of me, my sister Marg and Mike.  I’m the one on the right, the tall sister!

Well, I guess that the last paragraph let the cat out of the bag.  Yup, I am writing a book.  Let me try that again, OH MY GOD I AM WRITING A BOOK!  I don’t want to tell you too much about it at the moment because (a) I want you to buy my book and (b) I am trying to build up some mystery and suspense so you will buy my book.  I hope you are laughing, because I am and the bonus is laughter heals!  So far I have the title and tagline and a bunch of writing material that needs to be organized, refined, edited and reorganized refined and edited again.  I need to do a book proposal, which will take a few months.  I have a lot of work to do and I am so excited.  This is happening in large part because of all of you who read this blog and have connected with me over the last two years.  You listened when I needed someone to talk to.   You also gave me feedback and the courage to move forward.  I can be brave on my own but when you have hundreds of people cheering you on bravery is taken to a whole new level.  I have also decided that I will continue this little blog, my sightly soiled home in cyberspace so to speak, mainly because I still want and need it and all of you in my life.  You are my cyber-family!  So, if you feel like getting in touch with me,  please send an email to  lifeinaslightlysoiledchair@gmail.com  I would love to hear from you!

I have to tell you a few things about my sister Marg.  She has the biggest heart of anyone I know and she is extremely funny. She will be starting her own blog and website soon.  I am trying to talk her into making her first blog post on pooping in public!  We had some public bathroom trauma at the conference and when she was telling me about her experience I laughed so hard I cried because it was hilarious and yes, we have all had to poop in public at some point in our lives.  I would also like to thank my sister Marg for being a cosmic cheerleader in my life and for loving me in a way that only she can!  Thanks, Marg, I love you bunches and bunches.  So three cosmic cheers for everyone who is brave enough to be themselves and share their story.

Hug lots of people today!!!!!!
Love ya

Donna

 

 

 

Fear and Mirrors

Sometimes things have to break completely before you can fix them. Life is funny that way. There is a cat that lives on the property, we call her Lucky. I guess she is lucky in a way. She has survived outside on her own for about twelve years, though that is just a guess on my part. I put a bowl of food out for her every night and I lived here for about six months before I ever caught a glimpse of her. Sometimes I wondered if she even existed before I saw her. She is a small, almost white cat with beige and brown markings on her paws, tail and ears. She is tiny, almost delicate like every other female in my man Shawn’s life. She is small but she has a fierce heart. She is a survivor. Every so often I sit with her while she eats and once in a while she lets me pet her and jumps on my lap for a cuddle. Lately, there has been a larger black cat that comes up to the deck to eat the food I set out for Lucky. I call him Spirit. God this black cat is fast! He fights with Lucky over the food and I don’t like that. I think he is a bit of a bully. I say he, even though I don’t know if the cat is male or female. Tonight he ran up the stairs and was across the deck and almost on top of Lucky before I moved and scared him off. I want to protect Lucky but I can’t be by her side all the time. So, I do what I can when I am present, though I am not sure if it helps. I am just the person that fills the silver metal bowl with cat food every night and most mornings before the sun comes up. I have my role to play and I do it with love most times.  Other times, there is more impatience and annoyance than love.

This reminds me that we all have our role to play. Sometimes it is the lead role and other times it is a small cameo. Regardless, the extent of the part we play in the world and others lives is not important, but the role itself big or small is of the utmost importance. It matters to the world and the people we interact with. Remember that. Your part matters. The world would not be the same without you.  The role we play in others lives, in my opinion, is one of the most important things in the world. People and our connections to them shape and change us all.  Lately, my interactions with others have made it quite clear to me that I need to make some changes.  Great more changes!  I had tea and lunch with a friend last week and she pointed out the number of changes that have taken place in my life in the last few years.  I was shocked by the amount even though I have lived, and in some ways thrived, through them.  I left my job, closed my business, wrestled with the illness and loss of the man I loved, sold my house, moved, started a new relationship, moved again and adopted a new circle of friends and family.  There are more changes but those are the most significant ones, and the ones I am willing to share with you.  My new life does not even closely resemble the life I had two years ago.  I sometimes feel as though I am adrift in a huge sea of change and am just waiting to spot land where I can once again feel the solidity of the earth under my feet.

Okay, back to people and fixing things.  I am no longer comfortable with the roles I have previously played.  The life I had disintegrated and while that was extremely difficult it has also given me the opportunity to create a new one and in essence, create a new me.  I have led a very self-centered life up to this point.  I am not proud of this and have been taking a good look at this aspect of my life.  I have also realized that I do like to have time for myself even though I enjoy having lots of people around and finding the balance between the two has been challenging.  In the last month, the universe has kindly provided me with many opportunities that have shone a bright light on my character and pointed out the parts I want to change.  I don’t think I have been a great friend, daughter, sister or partner.  So, I am looking at each of these relationships and the role I play.  If there is a problem with any of these relationships, I need to look at myself first.  The only thing all of these relationships has in common is me.  So sometimes your life needs to fall apart before you can fix it or turn it into something you are proud of.   You need to strip away all the extraneous bullshit of your personality (ego) before you can change it.  Love yourself and love others as unconditionally as you are able to do.  All the things about yourself that you don’t like are magnified in others.  Some say others provide us with a mirror,  I think it is more of a funhouse mirror at the fair that distorts and twists things so they don’t really show what is in front of them as they really are.  The ego is a tricky little thing!  The universe is tricky too and will present you with the same thing over and over in different ways until you are able to see it clearly.

I have come up with many reasons in the last six months that I am unable to write.  I don’t have time, I don’t have a space of my own that inspires me to write,  I have nothing to say, I cannot write about the people in my life because they are entitled to their privacy, and the list of excuses goes on and on.  The reality of it all is that I am afraid.  Afraid I will be judged, afraid that I will fail, afraid that I will succeed and afraid that people will see what lies beneath this facade that I try so hard to protect.  I am taking a big leap next week.  I am attending a writers conference in Orlando with my older sister Margaret.  One part of me is looking forward to the conference and another part of me is afraid. I have mentioned before that I have anxiety attacks.  One of the tricks I have learned in dealing with these anxiety attacks over the years is I ask myself what is the worst thing that can happen.  I spend a few minutes visualizing these worst-case scenarios then visualize ways to deal with them.  Things are never as bad as I imagine they could be, they are usually more wonderful than I ever thought possible.

So, next week will be my 55th birthday and I am off on an adventure with my sister and have no idea how things will turn out.  I am looking forward to spending some time alone with Margaret and sharing this experience with her.  One thing is for sure, there will be lots of laughter and a few glasses of wine in store for us.

 

Hug everyone
Look into the fun-house mirror without fear
xoxoxo
Donna

Two Years Later

I can’t sleep tonight and the need to write is strong. I have a feeling that this might be my last blog post on a Life in a Slightly Soiled Chair. There is a new blog taking shape in my heart and in my mind, but I am unable to describe it for you at the moment. This new chapter in my life and my writing is still taking shape and in all honesty, I don’t think I will know what it is until I start to write it. It has been exactly two years since Howard passed away and my world crumbled and I think this last post needs to be a letter to him but I have decided to share it with you. For some reason I think that if I put this out there, it will travel to all the corners of the universe and Howard will read it somewhere, somehow.

Hi Howard, it has been two years since you left this earth and sometimes it feels like yesterday and at other times it seems like centuries. I still miss you and think I always will. You know that I don’t remember dates for anything, all that well, but I think that my heart and body remember on a cellular level the moment that you left. I am not the same person, your life changed me and your death changed me again. I would not alter one moment of our life together, but I would trade everything to change the end of it for you. Oh yeah, I would like a redo on the day our house was raided and we were arrested, yup, I would change that. That was a crazy day and I am still convinced that they had the wrong house regardless of what the paperwork said. All they had to do was look at the dead plants on the deck to realize that I couldn’t grow a potted plant let alone a pot plant. We had the last laugh on that one, didn’t we!

I did plant a garden from seeds this year, but you already know that. This garden turned out much better than the year I decided to plant one in our backyard. Even the raven sitting on the pagoda laughed at my attempt to garden. I remember that you came out of the shop and asked, “Did that raven just laugh at you?” I managed to keep most of this one alive, with some help, and have had some wonderful meals with the vegetables from it. You remember how much I love bok choy? Well, apparently the deer love it more because I did not get to eat any of it. I did have an abundance of radishes. Deer do not eat radishes. Who knew? I tried to feed some to the cow Oatsie, but she didn’t want them either. Note to self, do not plant that many radishes ever again.

Yesterday I was in a friends store and saw some spirit bells. I was fascinated with these bells and took one home with me. I just could not keep this bell out of my hands and jiggled it around the whole time I was in the store. After I got home I remembered that in the last few weeks of your life you said you would ring bells. I gave you a bell beside your bed when you couldn’t get up by yourself so if you needed me I would hear it. Did you know that I slept with that bell beside my bed for months after you passed away waiting for you to ring it? I had a dream last night that I woke up and it was the exact moment that you passed away. All those emotions rose up in me like a huge wave threatening to drown me and you in spirit form kissed my head and told me it was okay. You also said a few other things and I went back to sleep feeling peaceful and loved.

I miss talking to you and sometimes have conversations with you in my head. I would talk to you out loud, but people already think I’m a little odd. Once in a while, I feel your presence and an image of you pops into my head. You always have a huge smile on your face and that light in your eyes that you always had when you were up to something. I loved that face. I keep thinking about your hands for some reason. They were large sturdy hands that were always covered in cuts and scrapes. Your hands were always busy sculpting, fixing, welding, weeding, cooking or petting a dog. Those large calloused hands were also gentle and I don’t think I ever felt safe in my life until you held my face in your hands and kissed me. I don’t think I ever felt safe or loved in my life until I met you.

There are so many things I want to tell you. I also believe that you already know everything that is in my heart. There is a space in my heart that will never be filled. One thing you did teach me is that our hearts are big and I can keep that space for you and still have enough room for other people. I took a risk last year and have someone new in my life. He too is teaching me much about love and life. He challenges me sometimes, makes me laugh constantly and encourages me to try new things and grow. We have a great group of friends and get together regularly at the pub or in our kitchen, which is filled with food, love and laughter. We both believe that you set the stage for us to get together when you sold him my raven sculpture. I remember how excited you were with the trade the two of you made. He also has a big heart and since the two of you were friends there is a place in his heart for you as well. We have the first sculpture you made called Victorious ( I affectionately call her Booba) and the last one you finished, the rhino, in our yard. The raven you sold him sits on top of the gatepost at the end of the driveway and when I moved in we put the second raven that you made for me on the other gatepost. I always think of them and you watching over us and protecting us. We also have the gorilla sculpture peering out of the bamboo. That was my favorite of all your sculptures even though I teased you about becoming a gorilla while you were creating it.

I want you to know that I am happy in my new life. Shawn and I are having many adventures together and in some way take a part of you with us on each of them. We took your toolbox with us when we went to Bonneville this year and God knows we could have used your mechanical skills while we were there. The racing did not go as well as expected. It was still an amazing trip though because of the people we met and old friends we got to see again. That is the most important thing anyway, the people in our lives. I am so glad that I got to be part of your life and hope I brought some joy and laughter to yours. I do know that some of my crazy antics brought some comic relief and I can still see you looking at me and shaking your head with that what am I going to do with her expression on your face. We had a few hard times and we had many more great times. Howard, you were an amazing man and the thing that amazed me the most was that you loved me. You loved me so much that I can still feel it.

Love the people in your life
Hug each other and laugh over the stupid stuff
Donna

Grief Part 682

I will start this post by saying that I am no expert when it comes to grief. I have danced with grief a number of times from a young age to today, at 54 years of age. I say dance with it because grief has a rhythm to it that moves you. I have experienced the death of two grandparents, a number of friends, my baby girl, both my parents, my older brother and finally the man I loved and lived with for twelve years. Each experience was different and each person’s death brought about a change within me. Howard’s passing happened Sept 15th, 2015 and I have to say that his presence in my life and his exit from it has changed me in ways no other experience has. Howard’s life and death had a profound effect on me and in some ways I am still discovering what those are. I will tell you that the grief never ends but it changes over time and becomes more of a slow heart warming waltz instead of a heart racing paso doble that spins you around and shakes your world. Grief changes you and grief changes.

I am one of those people who cries when I am happy and laughs when I am sad. This is not to say that I do not cry when I am sad. Howard’s death brought me to my knees, but I did not cry, I wailed a deep soul shattering sob that robbed me of breath and thought. I would cry myself to sleep at night and when I woke up in the morning for just a moment I would forget that he was gone and then the sobbing would begin as reality came into focus again. I cried at the grocery store, I sobbed in my car and had to leave a few places, (the bank for one) when my emotions overtook me. I wouldn’t change a minute of the grief. It was heartbreaking but it was also heart opening. I do not see the world in the same way, my vision is clearer because I see with my heart, not my eyes. So a year and a half later something will catch me by surprise and the loss of him will overwhelm me. I was visiting the hair salon that I frequent a few weeks ago and a song came on the radio there that had special meaning to me and Howard and the tears started flowing. This is a song by Shawn Mendes called “Never Be Alone” and here are some of the lyrics:

I promise that one day I’ll be around
I’ll keep you safe
I’ll keep you sound
Right now it’s pretty crazy
And I don’t know how to stop
Or slow it down
Hey
I know there are some things we need to talk about
And I can’t stay
Just let me hold you for a little longer now
Take a piece of my heart
And make it all your own
So when we are apart
You’ll never be alone
You’ll never be alone
You’ll never be alone
When you miss me close your eyes
I may be far but never gone
When you fall asleep tonight
Just remember that we lay under the same stars
And hey
I know there are some things we need to talk about
And I can’t stay
Just let me hold you for a little longer now

Howard passed this song on to me through a friend who is a medium. This happened while he was still alive but could not talk much. He did manage to say a lot to my friend in spirit while he was still alive even though they did not really know each other well. He chose his words sparingly at this point and did not waste his energy. Well, I played the song as Howard lay in his bed in our living room, while a few friends were visiting, Howard had his eyes closed with a big smile on his face and his toes were dancing to the music while the rest of us had tears streaming down our faces. After Howard was gone every time I started my car (for a few weeks) this song would be on the radio, it was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. It made me cry and reminded me that I am never alone.

So, here I am early in the morning finishing a post that I started over 4 months ago. I want you to know that I still miss him and think about him every day. I also want you to know that some days I still struggle to find my place in this new life I have created. Sometimes I still struggle. Howard’s artwork graces the yard and walls of the new home I share with Shawn the new amazing man in my life. He has brought much joy and laughter to my life. He loves me, he challenges me and encourages me to dream and grow. But, grief is a funny thing and I don’t think it ever goes away or is something you can overcome. I believe that it is always there, always a part of you. Grief changes you and grief changes you again, but your dance with it also changes the grief.
Now, it is not so much about the loss of Howard in my life, but the end of the life that Howard had cut short when he was just beginning to blossom as an artist and had found something he was so passionate about.

I believe that I have a difficult time finishing this post simply because there is no end to this story. Nor can I sum it all up and leave you with a something to think about. This is just a snapshot of day 682 of grief.

Be kind
Love ya
Donna

Forgiveness and Freedom

I have been having a lot of conversations about the past and the events and people that shape us.  These life events and the people in our past can have a huge and lingering effect on our lives and how we react and respond to the world.  I don’t think we should shut the door on the past, but I don’t think we should spend so much time there that we miss the wonder of what is right in front of us now.  Yes, these things have shaped us and left scars on our souls in some cases. I am telling you it is nothing you cannot overcome if you choose to. You have already survived it, haven’t you?  We are responsible for ourselves and our actions.

Grief, childhood trauma, hell just trauma in general, disappointments and betrayal,  all these things can make you feel isolated and so alone in this huge world.  No one seems to understand.  Or do they?  I don’t think there is anyone I know that has not been through some major traumatic event in their life.  We isolate ourselves with our pain and our anger.  Trapped within a vortex of emotion swirling around us like a tornado it can be difficult to not feel helpless.  True we are helpless in the sense that we have no control how others will act or respond but do we want to live the rest of our lives based on how others have acted.

When you decide that what you have been doing is not working and take a good long look at  yourself, you will realize how much power you actually have.  For example, someone in your life has wronged you in a large way.  You now have some choices. There is nothing wrong with getting angry but if you continue to live from that space it will bite your little butt!  So you are angry, now forgive. Just forgive.  Forgive them and forgive yourself.  Sounds simple and it is even though we make it so complicated.  I think people have attached all kinds of things to the word forgive.  One of the on line dictionaries describes the meaning of the word forgive as “excuse, condone, pardon, forgive meaning to exact neither punishment nor redress. excuse may refer to specific acts especially in social or conventional situations or the person responsible for these.”  Another describes it as “to stop blaming or being angry with someone for something that person has done, or not punish them for something they have done.”  For myself, forgiving someone is something like this;  I acknowledge their action and the pain it has caused me then I simply let it go. I do not seek revenge.  I do not hold it over their head.  Now I don’t want you to think that this is instantaneous.  Sometimes it is, but for larger transgressions it can take a little bit of time.  It takes me a while to process or work through some things.  Some things are so large that in the process of forgiving the other person I end whatever relationship I had with them.  Sometimes in order to let go you have to let go of the person as well.

I was abused by a neighbour as a child.  This was a traumatic experience for sure and while I will not go into all of the details of the whole thing  I will share a small part of it with you.  I was abused then the abuser moved away.  What sweet relief that was for me.  Our family also moved to a different part of town about a year later.  I was walking to school in our new neighbourhood and low and behold there was the man who abused me walking towards me.  I was afraid, I was angry and I looked him in the eyes as he walked towards me.  I am also stubborn so I was not going to run away or switch to the other side of the street. When I looked at him and he recognized me the look of fear on his face broke something open inside me.  I was no longer the victim of his sick mind, I realized that he was the one imprisoned by it.  I was free and I forgave him.  I never spoke to him that day and I rarely ran into him again.  I just knew, even as a child, that it was imperative that I  let the anger and the hatred go or my whole life was going to be poisoned by it.

You will find your own strength in the letting go and forgiving.  I have to admit that sometimes I have to do this numerous times for the same thing or person.  Some things that I think I have worked through pop up again.  So I let it go, then I let it go again.  The forgiveness can only come when you have let go.  The power or hold of the situation in your life only loses its grip when you let it go.  There is freedom in that.

Peace and love to all
Donna

Look for the Signs

Okay this is ridiculous, for the fourth morning in a row and I am getting out of bed at 4:44 am on the dot. Alfred Hitchcock also popped into my mind again just before I got up. What the hell is going on?

Shawn’s Dad, we call him Pops, has been visiting for the last few months. He had a farm in Saskatchewan and raised 100 head of cattle. We also have a Scottish Highland cow named Oatsie here, who is more like a pet at this point. Oatsie is 17 years old and an escape artist. Now picture a 1500 pound cow with horns about five feet wide with long hair and huge eyes. The other day we were moving some equipment and had the gate open and Pops was watching the gate. The next thing you know Oatsie is heading down the driveway, she just sailed right by Pops. Everyone was laughing cause this huge cow snuck right past the former cattle farmer kicking up her heels as she went. One of the guys enticed her back in with a bucket of grain and the drama was over. We live right next to the highway so keeping her behind the fence is important. Never a dull day here!

Okay lets go back to Alfred Hitchcock. I have told this story before, so for those who have read it you can skip this paragraph. My friend Debra is a wonderfully funny warm woman who happens to also be a medium. We were talking on the phone one evening and Alfred Hitchcock appeared to her on the ceiling of her living room. I said something like, ooh what does Alfred have to say to you. She started laughing and said he wants to talk to you not me. He said I need to keep writing, but I need to make stuff up. He had a bit more than that to say but I cannot remember what it was. I have not written much since and I am laughing as I type this. So now I am waking up at 4:44 every morning and Alfred Hitchcock keeps popping into my head. I am also writing once again. Thanks Alfred now let me get some sleep.

I have some intuitive abilities myself and have been able to see and get information from people who have passed away, but I would not consider myself a medium in any way shape or form. My information comes more frequently from the animal kingdom and the unusual number of coincidences that happen in my life on a daily basis. I stopped by a friends store the other day and when I went outside to get something from my car there was an SUV parked right in front of the store. On the back window was business information and the name of her business. I also write blog articles under the name Miss Daisy, which happens to be Shawn’s nickname for me. I still don’t understand why he calls me this. So the sign in her window says Driving Miss Daisy in big green letters. We had just watched the last half of the movie with the same name the night before.  I also pulled an oracle or tarot card while I was at my friends shop and the card had a picture of a woman surrounded by butterflies and halos of colour with a gold light seeming to extend from her third eye area into the heavens and said the word wants to be written. I went to a tile store yesterday and ran into a woman who worked there.  We have never met before but when I asked her what her name was she said Kristey and asked if I was Donna.  I thought perhaps my friend who recommended this tile store told her I was coming in but it just so happens we are friends on Facebook and she reads this blog.  The universe is constantly trying to get our attention and send us messages we just have to pay attention. Some may say that these things have no meaning and that is okay.  But, they have meaning for me.

There seems to be an increase in the number of people seeing triple numbers constantly on licence plates, the clock, sales receipts etc etc.  In fact there are entire websites devoted to the interpretation of these numbers.  Some call them angel numbers while others call it numerology.  To me it doesn’t matter what you call it and for some reason when they call them angel numbers it makes me snort silently in my head.  So I looked up the number 444 and read about it as pure numerology and the angel number interpretation.  They all basically say the same thing with or without the angels.  I will use the term universe instead.  The universe is sending a sign that all is well and the universe is supporting you on this journey in any way possible and to continue to work on your goals and those things you are passionate about.  You are on the right path you just have to trust in the process.

Do any of you see repeating patterns whether it is words, numbers, animals or symbols?Drop me a note and let me know what this means for you!  In the meantime,  I have a few fictional stories running through my head so I will try to make some stuff up as Mr Hitchcock suggested.  The characters in these stories are calling out for my attention.  Who knows,  perhaps I will write a book or a few short stories.

Hope you all have a wonder filled day
Look for the signs!!!

Donna

Shaped by the Past, Sculpted by Dreams

I have been awake at 4:44 am for the last three mornings. I am not sure why, and this morning I was having a dream about Alfred Hitchcock which will make my friend Debra laugh. So, I decided to sit and write while the coffee is brewing and see what comes up. I think about things a lot, my mind never seems to stop unless I sit and meditate and lately even that is difficult. I have this unsettled feeling swirling around inside me and I cannot explain it. It is almost as if I am waiting for something to happen and feel like my life has been in a holding pattern for a long time. Weird huh? I you have any insight into this please let me know.

One thing that has been on my mind lately is my childhood. Most likely because my sister is writing a book and we have been discussing some of these things lately. My sister and I are 13 years apart in age (she is older) and had completely different lives growing up. Her father was an angry abusive man and mine was the gentlest of souls who rarely got angry. Our mother met my father after her first husband was killed in an accident. It amazes me that four children in the same family can be so different and have such varied responses to life events and their memories of them. It makes me wonder how reliable my memory of events actually is.

Growing up in a family filled with alcoholism and all the dysfunction that comes with it teaches you some things. It teaches you to not take responsibility for your own actions. Someone else is the cause of your anger, your need to drink, your inability to get ahead in life etc. etc. It teaches you to keep secrets. God forbid if anyone every found out what really goes on in your home or your head. They would turn away from you in disgust, wouldn’t they? One of the biggest things it teaches you is fear and mistrust. When you cannot trust your own family how could you trust others? When you live in a constant state of fear it takes a toll on you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. You are always living in anticipation of the next drunken tirade that is filled with discord and abuse, in some cases physical and in some cases emotional and in a lot of cases both. Not pretty is it? I remember phoning home everyday from school to ask my mother if she needed anything from the store just so I could check her tone of voice to see if she was drinking. If she was sober I would go home, if she was drinking I would go somewhere else. This is the only world I knew and alcohol was destined to play a large role in the rest of my life. I was enrolled in Life Skills 101 with an alcohol fueled instructors. I was taught to think and navigate life like an alcoholic. All I wanted was to be loved and spent many years looking for that in all the wrong places. I didn’t understand that I needed to love myself before I could offer it to or receive it from another person.

In my thirties I found myself drinking a lot and married to someone who drank enough that his work forced him into a rehab program. The alcohol saga continued, but it was a familiar one and I knew it well. Funny thing though, I ended up walking through the doors of AA in 1992 and my life was changed forever. It was in those church basement meetings that I was taught the healthy life skills that I was not taught growing up. It did not happen over night because my conditioning was firmly entrenched and they were asking me to feel my emotions and take responsibility for myself, both of which I had no idea how to do. I discovered that I only had two emotions, or states of being, angry or not angry. I sometimes still revert to anger in extremely stressful situations. However, anger is not all bad and boy oh boy can I get some housework done when I am trying to get rid of some anger in a healthy way. I have made a lot of discoveries about anger since then and that emotion is rarely caused by someone else or their actions.

It has been over 20 years since I started this journey of healing. I have learned a few things that have improved my life and me as a person. I still have much to learn, but look forward to it. It is impossible to know yourself with out understanding what made you who you are. One thing is for sure, you always have choices regardless of your life circumstance. Sometimes you may feel like you don’t have any choices but you do. You choose whether you are hardened or softened by your experiences. You can also make new choices every day. You and you alone are responsible for the person you are today. Your life experiences began to mold you, but you are like an artist finishing the beautiful sculpture that is you.

I guess I have rambled a bit, though that is not unusual for me. I understand my mother and what caused her to be who she was. I also want you to know that every time I think about her with love and forgiveness her spirit becomes lighter and brighter. The people who were in our lives and have passed on are aware of our feelings and the repercussions of their actions when they walked this earth. We get to choose whether we will hang on to the anger, bitterness, or whatever else we are feeling. There is freedom in fully accepting responsibility for who you are. You can let the past shape your future if you want. Sculpt yourself, paint yourself, sing yourself or write yourself a new future based on who you want to be, not what has happened to you.

Treat others with kindness and compassion
Hug yourself for me

Donna

The Salt

I love old things, and older people for that matter.  I thoroughly enjoy listening to the stories that my elders tell of times gone by and their experiences. I love their wrinkled faces that give physical evidence of the life they have lived.  My favourite is eyes all crinkled from laughter, smiles and sunshine.  I also enjoy the stories that antique items tell in their own rusty and timeworn way.  I have a slight addiction to antique fire extinguishers for some reason and also to old cars.  The picture above is me and my little shadow Georgia (if great danes can be called little) at 7 in the morning after we unloaded my 31 Model A from the trailer that delivered it late at night.  I think I threw a hoody on over my pyjamas and ran outside to look at it and placed my hands on it.  I put my hands on a lot of things to feel the energy of them and in some ways I think that the items become a part of me, as if I can absorb their history through my hands. If that truck could talk!

The Model A arrived not too long after we returned from our trip to the Bonneville Salt Flats for the land speed races.  I had never been to the salt flats before and had no idea what to expect.  The salt flats are a short drive from the lights, sounds, and throngs of people at the casinos in Nevada to a  white covered world that reminded me of the moon.  There are no animals, plants or insects on the salt, at least none that you can see. It is barren and beautiful and if you ever get the chance to visit during the summer I highly recommend it.  In the winter the salt is covered in water and looks like a large lake. In the summer it transforms into a white wonderland that draws racers from all over the world hoping to break land speed records.  This area is so flat that you can sometimes see the curvature of the earth as you look across the salt to the distant mountains.

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Donna at the starting line with one of the race cars
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Panorama shot of the Bonneville Salt Flats

There is something about this place that seems to become part of your blood and the people who frequent the salt call it salt fever.  I am not normally an overly emotional person, but the day we said our goodbyes to the people we met and the place itself I cried like a baby.  I did not want to leave.  For anyone who has been there they know that my words only scratch the surface of what goes on here. There is a bonding that happens with the salt and the people.  Everyone is friendly and helpful and there does not seem to be much of that us and them attitude that is part of most car gatherings and races.  People are just as excited to see the rusty old cars that don’t look like they could run let alone be driven hundreds, if not thousands, of miles as they are to see the race cars that people have put hundreds of thousands of dollars into for the chance to race.  There were speed records broken, dreams dashed, friends made and old friends reunited in a place that calls you back time and time again.

My guy has been going there for years as a race spectator.  Some years he drives from Vancouver Island to Wendover, Utah only to discover that the races have been cancelled because the conditions on the salt are not suitable.  One year it was still covered in water and on another year it was just a big mud pit. I am so thankful that the conditions were perfect for my introduction to the Salt Flats. In 2017 we will be there again but this time my guy Shawn will be behind the wheel of his own 1955 Studebaker racing across the salt in search of the speed record in his class.  I will have my ear on the radio so I can hear his speed called out for the mile markers over the noise of the engines at the start line.  I can’t be in the race car with him as he flies across the salt but my heart will be.  I have a feeling that the salt from my happy tears will hit the ground and i will also become part of that place forever.

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Love you all

Donna