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!

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

A Year of Grace

Apparently it can take more than one year to figure out who you are after your life is torn apart!  I didn’t realize how much of my identity was derived from my business and my relationship.  Once those things were gone, there I was standing naked, feeling exposed and alone, wondering what the hell I was going to do.  I have moved on with my life in a number of ways and most of the time it was trial and error and the best things were happy accidents.  This is the first time in my life I am not working, since the age of 15, and I also didn’t realize how much my self worth was tied into my job and being productive.  It has been one hell of a year with lots of ups and downs but the ups are winning.

I have done things in the last year I never thought I would do.  I tried online dating without much success.  How the heck do you write a profile?  The best and most honest one I could come up with went something like this:  I don’t dye my hair, I don’t wear make up, I own 6 pairs of black boots and I have all my own teeth.  There were few who were intrigued by this!  I finally gave up on the dating thing and asked someone I knew a bit if they were interested in being my friend with benefits, even though I wasn’t really sure what that meant.  Well, this friend with benefits thing turned into much more than I was expecting.  He helped me find the joy in life again and continuously makes me laugh.  He is a very private person so he may not like me writing about this.  Oops, too late.  I guess I just want you all to know that when you least expect it, someone or something is going to come along and help you find the joy in life again.  I also started this blog in the last year after a spiritual awakening of sorts and gained so much from not only the writing of it but hearing what other people had to say about it.  Some comments were surprising and made me see that I was constantly downplaying who I was and what I contributed to the world just by being myself.

Each of us has something to contribute.  You don’t have to move mountains or earn six figures to have value to this world. Sometimes a kind word or a smile can change the course of someones day or life for that matter.  I recently ran into my former husband who I have not been married to since 1998.  I was a little uncomfortable at first but we had a few chats and it was like having coffee with an old friend.  I also had lunch with his parents a few days ago while they were in town and it was a joy to see them again.  I forgot how much I adored them and realized that when we got divorced I essentially divorced a lot of people in my life.  The pain of that period of my life is long dealt with and gone, there is nothing left but love for all of them.  One thing my former husband said in a text message really made me stop and think.  He said, “Maybe you just bring out the best in everyone.”  Perhaps I do, though my first thought upon reading those words was I am not that special.

If you have the ability to approach people and love them unconditionally that is special. If you can let them be them without judgement that is a wonderful gift, not only to them but yourself.  Don’t try to change people, love them for who they are and just by doing that you give them the space they need to grow and change because they want to, not because you think they should.  Don’t restrict other people or your love for them because of your own definition of right or wrong, good or bad.  Open your heart and the world opens its heart right back.  Besides, do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?  I love being wrong.

So, I would some up the last year as a year of grace.  There is a gracefulness to awkwardly finding your way.  There is grace in the tears of grief as well as tears of joy.  I am one of those people who cry when I am happy!  There is grace in this world, it is all around you and you can see it if you look for it.  You know what they say, you get what you expect.  So expect grace, expect kindness, expect love, just expect great and wonderful things to happen all around you.

 

Be kind to yourself.
Hug everyone like you mean it!

Donna
aka Miss Daisy

Kind or Polite

Seems like I am finding my groove again after a week of waking up at odd hours and feeling an edgy restlessness. I would imagine that things will settle out even more once I hand over the keys to the house and am living in the new place. I am looking forward to being there on a regular basis instead of visiting there to empty boxes. I bought one of those coffee makers that takes the little cups and have not enjoyed one cup of coffee out of it yet. I don’t like the prepackaged coffee so I bought one of the refillable cups and cannot for the life of me get the coffee to taste right. Does anyone have a need for a Keurig machine? I guess it will be back to the French press style of coffee maker for me! I like my coffee strong with a hint of cinnamon. After I wrote that the thought I had was that’s how I like men too, strong with a hint of spice and I started laughing. Who compares men to coffee? Apparently I do.

I got to spend some time yesterday with a female friend that I haven’t seen in months. We spend most of our time laughing when we are together and it has always been easy to be around her. So we were catching up on our lives for the last few months. She lost her significant other just a month after Howard passed away. Two totally different experiences for sure, but same results. We are each handling things differently too but it does not matter, what matters is that we approach each other without judgement and are supportive and encouraging. That is what it is all about. Do not assume you know the best way to handle anything for anybody. Let them do it their own way and be happy for them.   Let them be, but be there if they need you.

Lots of people told me to call them if I needed anything. Some people meant it and some didn’t. Oh, I can spot phoniness a mile away so I know who is just being what they think is polite and what I think of as bullshit dressed up to look nice. I would rather people be kind than polite, because I find most times the polite ones have another agenda all together. They want to look good, but don’t mean a word they say. Be kind! Show up with someone’s favourite take out and eat it with them or show up with a bucket of cleaning supplies, but do not wait for someone to call you to do something. Kind people get shit done, polite people just talk about it.

It is funny comparing the terms polite and kind. Politeness seems to me to be an external thing and kindness an internal attribute. Don’t get me wrong I do not like rude people as a rule, but sometimes a little rudeness is needed to get the point across, some people don’t get the picture any other way. I would rather have someone be honest and rude than polite and deceitful. Kindness is a whole different ball game. It shows a respect for others without restriction and doesn’t have strings attached to it. Kindness comes from your heart, politeness comes from your mind.  Politeness is dictated by societal standards and by the looks of what is going on in the world, is on its way out. Kindness, even the word has a softer sound to it and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Politeness is exclusive where kindness is inclusive. Polite society will donate money to a cause, a kind society would create change to benefit all and get their hands dirty. I like dirty handed people!

Now there is something else that fascinates me, people’s hands. I am always looking at peoples hands! I look at their eyes a lot as well and have a thing for butts and shoulders too! But their hands can tell a lot about them. Don’t assume you know what the hands are saying. I know some hard working hands that are very soft thanks to hand cream and work gloves! You will just have to trust me on this one but take a look at the hands of the next person you have a coffee with. How comfortable are they with their own hands, do they use them when they talk? I have noticed that when people are uncomfortable their hand gestures are as well. I have also noticed that I put my hands together like I am praying in front of my mouth when I am trying not to say anything and focusing on what the other person is saying. It gives my brain a cue to shut up and listen I guess. Watch their hands and let me know what you see! Bet you start noticing your own hands as well.

Peace and love to all
Hug people and trees and animals
Donna

 

 

 

 

 

Guardians of Stone and Trees

I am sitting here on the sofa and it is quiet this morning, my slightly soiled chair is at the new house. My yellow mug is filled with steaming coffee and the rooster next door is not awake yet. Oh let me correct that, he just woke up and has started broadcasting his manliness to the other roosters in the neighbourhood. Once he starts the rest of them get going, he seems to be the ringleader though. I hear him but I rarely see him. He’s like a sneaky little ninja rooster!

My magnolia tree in the back yard has bloomed and I was hoping it would before I move permanently in two weeks. I was given the tree as a gift on Valentines day twelve years ago and it is now over 14 feet high and overflowing with beautiful white blossoms. I am amazed it is even alive because the neighbour’s goats ate it down to a small nub when it was still in the pot. I do not like goats. Interesting tree, it has no leaves when it blooms, the leaves come later and it is still beautiful after the flowers are gone. Most of the trees planted around the koi pond were gifts. There is a twisted baby black locust tree that has leaves that hang like little ringlets, a waterfall maple that turns a brilliant red in the fall, a fig tree, an assortment of replanted trees that were used in the house for Christmas trees and a gorgeous rhododendron that was transplanted here and has blessed us with huge red flowers every June.

It is not the house I am going to miss but the land and the trees. I am surrounded by tall pine trees, cedars, alders and other trees I am unable to identify.   I feel safe and secure here surrounded by these green sentinels. I have lived in a nurturing green cocoon for years, but now it’s time for me to leave and it is much harder than I thought it would be. I don’t know if I will come back to visit, it would be like stepping back into the past where there are only echoes of the time I lived here. Things change, people move on and new people and things take their place. I hope the new family is happy and that they thrive here. This land is special and has a way of becoming part of your blood and bones.

My new place has no back yard. All I can see out of my windows is this massive rock that has little niches that are just begging for some potted plants, steps carved into it that essentially go nowhere, moss strategically growing in the best spots and my raven sculpture sits on it greeting anyone who walks the path to my door. I love rocks, so it is a wonderful view in my opinion. I feel safe and protected there with this huge guardian of stone keeping watch. It is the perfect place for me to be for the next year. Ooh I have to remember to take my stone gargoyle and find him a spot on the rock!

I have had lots of help with the move and things are clearing out quickly. I cannot believe how empty this place feels. It almost feels as though with everything that has left the property a little of the spirit of the place has left too. More and more of the things that were part of Howard have been sold or given away and every time something leaves it is like he is slowly letting go of this place as well. We both had a lot of letting go to do. The hardest thing for me was to see Howard’s mountain gorilla sculpture leave. I know it is going to a great home where it will be loved, but he has guarded the gate for a long time and the yard feels bare without him. There is also a huge rock in the front yard that looks like the head of a gorilla and the picture for today’s post is a shot of it. The one below is a picture of Howard and his Mountain Guardian sculpture that I took before he got sick. It was rare to see Howard smile in a picture so I really like this shot.

Mountain Gorilla

Well, I hope you all have a wonderful day and that you are able to let go of the things, people and places you need to with grace and love. Much love and big squishy hugs to you all.

 

Please don’t kill spiders

Be kind to everyone

Donna

 

 

The Other Side of Grief

Five letters full of pain and wonder that is what grief is.   In the midst of the pain there are some wonderous moments.  Grief has a lot to offer if you are open to it.  Grief can leave you  laying on the floor broken and also be the catalyst for a life beyond your wildest dreams.  At least that has been my experience over the last year.  Life is never all positive or all negative but a beautiful blending of the two, you can’t have one without the other.  Well, I suppose some people can, however, the two help define each other.

People will be there for you during rough times and offer to help.  Let them help.  Allowing them to be part of your grief, even in the smallest way, is your gift to them.  You may all be changed by it in ways none of you expect.  I know that grief has changed me and I have observed how it has changed others around me.  Not all of it has been positive, but most of it has.  The grief has shaped a softer, yet stronger heart in the middle of me.  Funny how it works sometimes.  You have to find the softness and the gentleness to find out what your true strength is.  I usually think of strength as assertive, forceful, or a test of endurance.  Now I see strength a little differently.  

Strength comes when you are able to experience all of your emotions and see the truth behind them and how they are connected.  There is no good or bad, right or wrong.  Strength comes when you give in and let go.  You must let go of the bullshit and the untruths to see yourself.  Let go of all the beliefs and things that you think define you.  There is nothing like a life shattering event to help you clear away the bullshit that you have based your sense of self on.  

Grief strips away the layers you have wrapped yourself in, attempting to protect yourself from the pain of love, life and death.  You cannot avoid the pain so you may as well throw yourself at it and experience it fully.  It is the experience of its fullness that releases it.  Go for it, things cannot feel any worse.  Oh wait a minute, yes they can.  All you have to do is resist it or try to ignore it and it will make you feel worse just to get your full attention.  So I say, experience the pain of grief fully.  Then you will begin to notice the small bits of wonder hidden inside.  You will laugh, smile, cry and start living again.  It is up to you whether you let it harden or soften you. I choose the softness, we have enough hardened people on this planet.

Have a soft heart

Hug people and dogs

Donna

Grief and Compost

Woke up this morning with tears streaming down my face. I had a dream about Howard which I do not think has happened since he passed away. It was a wonderful dream and he was so happy and full of life. Then I woke up and remembered that he is gone and the grief started pouring from my heart and eyes. This has not happened for months and took me by surprise. I remembered the last few days of his life and some of the conversations and experiences we had together. I asked him not to leave me here all by myself and he said he wouldn’t. I knew he could not stay and I could not stand to see him in so much pain. So, I had to let him go and let him know I would be okay. He just grinned and said I know you will, like he knew something I didn’t.

There must have been some part of him that knew he would be leaving long before he got diagnosed with cancer. He tidied up a lot of loose ends with the vintage cars and made connections with people who would become important to me. Sometimes it feels like he is still looking after me and that I am never alone. Other times, I can barely remember what it was like to have him here, my life has changed so much. I have no regrets, I feel no guilt, and know we both loved and appreciated each other. Howard actually thanked me for staying with him through all of it which surprised me. He said some people would have walked away. I don’t want to know those people. How could you walk away from someone you love just when they need you the most. According to the hospice staff it happens more frequently than we know. What a sad and lonely world we live in.

I thank the universe that I had the strength of spirit to stand by my man when things went to shit. I never realized how much strength I truly had hidden inside this small body. I will be there for the people I love regardless of how much it hurts me to see and feel their pain. My heart just keeps getting bigger because of it. I also had a lot of people who stood by me and supported me through this whole process and my God I love them for it. They are my tribe, my community. It takes special people to allow someone to fall apart and just be there for them without trying to change it or fix it for them. Some want to stop your tears and your grief. They cannot handle your pain, it makes them feel things they do not want to feel inside themselves. It is all about them and their fears.

Today I have a few people coming to the house to take more things away. The fishing boat, some sculptures and tools. Soon there will be nothing left but an empty house sitting on this land. Land that has nurtured me for twelve years. I am going to walk away from here soon and it is proving to be much harder than I expected. However, I am not walking away from my life with Howard, I am walking towards something, I am walking towards my future.

Be there, really be there, for the people you love. Don’t shy away from the tough times, you don’t grow when everything is all rosy. In our disposable society, in which even people are disposable to some, be the compost. Be the compost that provides nourishment and promotes growth in others. Take all the pain you have experienced in your life and use it to find that connection with others and encourage them to be the best them they can be. Be compost for their soul and yours.

Love to all

Wings and Things

I was going to take the day off and then it got filled up with things to do. I am busier now that I am no longer working and wonder how I ever got anything done when I had a business and a full time job. I guess now my time is filled with things I want to do. Lunch with friends, long walks, phone calls with friends and family who don’t live close by and time to just breathe. Getting geared up to move and selling most of my material possessions is an interesting and some times strange experience. I have a difficult time putting a value on material items. I apparently do not have a talent for dickering, they ask what I would like for it and because of my previously mentioned difficulty I just ask what they would like to pay. If the offer is reasonable I’ll accept it. This throws people off and gives me much amusement when they feel the need to explain or justify their offer. I also like to just give things away! So as I go through each room there is a must pack, a must sell and a donate pile. I also have a cannot decide what to do with this pile. Make me an offer on that pile would you please . My house looks like a war zone.

There is something about decluttering and moving that brings a sense of freedom and clarity. A new home and some new furniture mixed in with the pieces I love. The hardest thing for me to pare down is the artwork. Each piece has strong emotional significance for me. Some pieces I have bought or inherited and then there are Howard’s sculptures. I have decided on two pieces of his, the raven that he made for me and a sculpture called the peaceful warrior. A picture of the warrior is at the top of the page and it is made out of chrome bumpers from antique cars that were no longer usable. Howard was into recycling in a grand way. Interestingly, whenever Howard did a warrior piece they were always female, I loved that about him. This piece is not small so I have no idea where it will fit but I cannot leave it behind. Perhaps it will live in my meditation room, I shall see.

Back to decluttering. What a huge job! It amazes me that a person who really isn’t materialistic can accumulate so much stuff. One thing is for certain I have a penchant for home made soap. Going through the bathroom cupboard revealed 21 bars of soap! I have enough soap to last me almost a whole year! Note to self do not buy anymore soap, toilet paper, laundry detergent, olive oil or coconut milk until I am out of them. Seven cans of coconut milk, really! I stop at the store without my list which is still sitting on the kitchen table ( I make lots of lists then forget to take them with me) and then I can’t remember what I have, so I buy more. You run out of anything call me! Except sugar or cow’s milk, I don’t have either in my house. I also own every kitchen gadget known to mankind. So if I haven’t used it in the last year out it goes. The only thing I do not own at the moment is a coffee grinder, it died a tragic and noisy death last month. So if anyone has bought me a gift in the last few years you may see it at my garage sale and please do not get upset. I am downsizing, it is not a reflection on you, your gift or our relationship.

The important things cannot be packed. The magnolia tree Howard bought me for our first Valentine’s Day together is now almost 20 feet tall, the lilac tree that I planted in memory of our child that was lost, the rock wall we built together on a sunny afternoon, these things cannot be packed. These remind me of the life and love we shared and can only be carried with me in my heart. The land, the house and the material things really don’t matter much in the long run. It was the life of the people and the animals that spent time in this place that I hold dear and I will carry them with me, they have shaped me and made me who I am today.

So I give thanks to the land, to Howard and all the animals that have shared my life, for allowing me to grow and flourish in a safe and supportive environment. I am grateful that I got to be part of it. Now it is time to spread my wings and leave the safety and comfort of this soft little nest and part of me is afraid that I will not be able to fly on my own. I know that letting go is a constantly recurring theme in life and if I hang on to old ways of thinking and being my wings will never develop enough to carry me. Today I will fly knowing that the universe will help me and guide me. The people I need in my life, the new lessons to be learned and the life I am destined for are already there waiting for me. I just have to go meet them with an open mind and wings strengthened by a wide open heart! So the next time someone asks me what my sign is I am going to say open!

Peace and love to all

Donna