Thursday, March 7, 2019

March 2019 - End of Week 10

WHAT ten weeks into 2019 ALREADY?
What have I done?
Have I just wasted 10 weeks?

Olivia is my favorite actress (based on seeing her in two shows: Broadchurch and The Night Manager.) I haven't watched her do any interviews, nor have I read any articles about her. So I don't know HER. I just loved her acting in those shows (and am looking forward to her role in The Crown). Her acceptance speech? Was lovely and spontaneous and sweet and heart-felt and I couldn't stop my eyes from tearing up along with her. The standing O did me in.

I want to be her friend.
And have tea with her.
And listen to her say words like snog and kip and bollocks.

Watching the Academy Awards used to be a family event with my kids. When they were little we used to do it in Palm Springs during Spring Break. EVERYTHING CHANGES over time. Now they're on TV a month earlier and I watch them with my mom. Different. But good.

This week has been filled with emotions.

Monday February 18 was Family Day in Canada.
I spent it at the lake, thinkin 'bout n prayin for my family.

(Which is the next best thing to being with them.)
(They all were busy with other plans, so it was a quiet family-less day.)

I left the lake at 4 so I could meet Sheri for supper at 5.
And then at 7 was BOOK CLUB!!
And we did a re-run; The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
I love this book.
You should read it.

Yes, I know. The movie is on Netflix. BUT TRUST ME ON THIS. 
T h e. B o o k. I s. B e t t e r.
Like x 1000 better.

Predictably, Monday night's meeting was lovely. 
Next month we're reading a mystery, which is a genre we don't visit often. 
I can hardly wait. I love being stretched by reading books I wouldn't normally be drawn to. 

On Wednesday, news that Remi's body had been found (under the avalanche of snow on Seymour), punched me in the heart. I ached for his parents.

Clint knew both hikers; he'd worked at camp with Brock, and had wall-climbed with both in the past. This just added to the ache.

Right after that news was announced, Marj texted me. Her mom had passed away. And Kara (her daughter) had a daughter. All on the same day. SO many emotions.

And shortly after that, Nancy posted news that her mom-in-law had just died.

Looking out my window at work, all I could see was blue sky and blinding sunlight. Which felt like God's gift to those who're saying goodbye to their loved ones. After work I met a friend for supper. Twas her birthday last week so we needed to eat cake. No we didn't. We had Asian food. Nothing says Happy Birthday like Kung Pao.

She's recently divorced (last June), bought a condo (December) and started a new job (January). Yes, you're right. THAT IS ALOT OF CHANGE in 6 months. Life is hard sometimes, yo.

I took a 1/2 Flex Day on Thursday to drive my mom to her eye doctor appointment. And to look after a few appointments of my own. And Friday after work I met a few friends to celebrate a couple more birthdays.

There's something about a relaxed evening with good friends around a table of delicious food that opens the door to rich conversation. It's a lovely thing. To be in the company of strong, loving, kind, creative women. Inevitably, someone will say something, randomly, and I'll be encouraged and inspired and thankful.

Can I suggest that if you crave female friendships, (but due to the circumstances of your journey so far, it's not been easy to make friends,) pray about it? God is a great match-maker. He knows of a few women He'd love for you to get to know.

One of the many things that came up in the conversation is my hair. My hair with no bangs. And shorter than it's been in years. I have never talked about my hair as much as I have this past year. That's the thing with growing out bangs. EVERYBODY KNOWS YOUR BUSINESS. It's right there. Next to your face.

So I explained that on my last birthday, when I turned a number I don't like (what is with me? I never used to care. WHY THIS YEAR?) I moved forward with the belief that on my next birthday, I'd be turning 84. I'd be in an old folks home. And my sister wouldn't be around to cut my bangs every 3 weeks. So I'd look bedraggled and unkempt and ignored and unloved. So. In order to look decent (at 84, in the old folks home, next year) I needed to have a hairdo that didn't require attention every 3 weeks. A long bob with no bangs was the answer. My mom's friend, Hildegarde has blonde hair. She's in her 80's. She was my inspiration.

Coincidental that we both have sunglasses on top of our heads. Or maybe not. A role model is a role model. It's all in the details.
My next project, for living in the old folks home, next year, when I turn 84, was to have my teeth capped. Teeth have a life expectancy of 80 years. And then they age. Mine had a head start in decomposing because of genetics. They were cracking and falling out way earlier than is legal or right. So I spent my vacation dollars and holiday time in the dentists chair having anxiety attacks because I couldn't breathe when they put that dam over my mouth. Fun times.

Anyways. I'm ready.
84 here I come.

Advice I've been hearing from multiple sources is that I need a tattoo.
Two of them.
Where my eyebrows are.
Micro-blading it's called. And everyone in the old folks homes will have had them done. That'll be my 2020 project?

Anne Lamott just wrote a piece on aging. I'm posting it here. Because it's delightful. There are times I wished she lived next door. Or maybe down the street. She'd be fun to go hill-walking with. (She's going to be 65 in April, by the way.)

People like to say that you are only as old as you think are. That’s very nice. I think I am 47, even though I filed for Medicare last week. I think I am 47, although my hip hurts like an old golden retriever’s, and I have an appointment next week to get my hearing tested and am already feeling crotchety and bitter about how expensive hearing aids are. I think I am 47 even though I already need a stronger prescription for my glasses, but will never go see the optometrist when this first becomes apparent, until the blurriness and headaches go on for two months or more. When I finally go in, the doctor always says, “Why don’t you come in right away, when things first get blurry?” and I always say, “Because that’s admitting defeat.”
So let’s say I’m 47. I’m getting married in six weeks—a young bride!
I am marrying a much younger man, the love of my life. He is 15 months younger than I—so approximately 45 and 3/4.
It’s funny how much time the two of us spend at the doctor’s for such young and active people. We’re like the car your uncle sold to you for $100 when you came home from college, a Chevy Malibu station wagon. Hey, it still runs. Maybe a few random dings and dangs. Name one body system, and I can assure you that one of us has been to see the doctor about it recently. One of us—and I won’t name names—had to pee into a jug in our bathroom every few hours for a whole day, and then pour it into specimen cups for the lab. Does that sound very romantic to you? Is that something from Bride’s Magazine?
So eyes, hips, hearing, pee-pee, feet—don’t even get me STARTED on the feet. All of these are par for the course, along with tiny memory lapses. And, well, bigger and bigger memory lapses, until they are pretty worrisome, if not occasionally terrifying. But then we all compare our latest little moment of forgetfulness, and reassure each other that we’ve done it, too, and then some. Hah hah, the keys, the phone, the glasses that are on top of our heads. We get to—have to—finally release the perfectionism and expectations. Expectations are resentments under construction. We can’t bog down in this stupid stuff, and God is such a show-off and our friends so amazing, that it’s actually kind of miracle just to still be here, and keep muddling on through, grateful if sometimes perplexed.
Then Monday, I took a fistful of my dog’s medicine. Two Benadryl for her allergies, and one large tablet was for her old lady dog incontinence. How this happened is kind of a long story: suffice it to say, once when my son was 9, I was dragging him behind me along the docks in San Francisco on my way to do a live interview, holding a stack of papers, a heavy purse slung over my shoulder, and inevitably dropped some papers, which blew in the wind onto the bay, the tarry pilings, and (I like to imagine) some rather startled pelicans.
My son stopped in his tracks and yanked on my arm. “Mom,” he said fretfully, “You’re carrying too much and you’re going too fast.”
These were also the conditions on Monday, when I took the dog’s medicine.
These are, in fact, the conditions a lot of the time—carrying too much on my heart and my mind, going too fast, caring for so many people, trying to get just one more thing done before I have to be somewhere, pummeled by the data stream of terrifying political news and joyous wedding planning. But Monday, I was doing this with a handful of dog meds.
The second I’d swallowed them, I said out loud, to God, “Please don’t let me have just taken the dog’s pills.” God rolled Her eyes, sighed, helped me find my phone.
I called the vet, and said Oh well, hah-hah, you must get this all the time. She said, very nicely, that No, it was kind of a first.
The dog’s incontinence meds had been banned by the FDA for human use twenty years earlier, so I really needed to call my doctor.
I was already in the car by then, heading to the mysterious East Bay, with a double shot in my latte to counter the Benadryl. My doctor said I needed to watch for signs of hypertension and a racing heart beat, but that the odds were good that I would live. She said, “Maybe just take it a little easy today, until the Benadryl wears off.”
She did not yell at me for operating heavy machinery while on antihistamines. She did not suggest I get a complete cognitive work-up at Stanford. She didn’t think I was going to have a stroke or a massive heart attack, or that she needed to urge Sam to proceed with his research on a (She also did not necessarily think I needed a lot more caffeine that day.) I was so happy! I had a whole, sunny day ahead of me, to LIVE, to be, to savor, to move about more slowly, and attentively, to take special care with myself, checking in with my inside person more often, gently.
That’s exactly how I know and aspire to live, and it’s the secret of life, but I need to be reminded from time to time. Doctor’s orders. I’ve loved this whole week, and Neal said I hardly piddled on the floor at ALL, and when I got home from Oakland, I successfully gave the dog’s medicine to the dog. Victory!


Back to me.

On Saturday evening, I walked in Vancouver with Heather. Nothing unusual about this, except that,  in doing so, I raised $2040 for City Reach Care Society as part of the Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser. Thanks to everyone who donated to the cause through me. I was totally humbled by the response.


Which brings us back to Sunday. Sunday of the Academy Awards.
I had been looking forward to spending the late afternoon and evening with my kids. Disproportionately, so. Arrrgh, I hate when I do that. We were going to meet at Sleep Country to try out mattresses, then have dinner and watch the Oscars together. And then one of them cancelled. And the rest asked if we could reschedule to the following Sunday.

This is the stage of 'family' that's the hardest.
When y'all live together in the same house, it's easy easier to feel/be connected. It's easier to share a meal without weeks of planning and checking schedules. It's easier to see if someone's struggling or celebrating. It's easier to express love. It's easier to give love. It's easier to understand. But this stage? When everyone lives in a different city, has jobs, friendships, obligations ... getting together has to be intentional and purposeful. And everyone needs to have the same level of commitment.

It's not like I sat around all week, just waiting for Sunday to happen. But through all my busyness of the week, I was holding on to the anticipation like it was my precious.

So my day didn't turn out like I'd hoped but it was still fine. And then Olivia Colman won. I sobbed with her as she gave her acceptance speech. Because, life.


Back to work Monday, then out for dinner with Marg and Patricia. We changed it up. We all had salads at Chopped Leaf instead of our usual at the White Spot. Who said old broads can't learn new tricks? The only problem with our new hang out is they close at 8. And we were barely done catching up. Two and a half hours just isn't enough time. You know?

If you're the praying sort, please add Marg to your list of peeps to pray for. She's hopefully having her last cancer treatment this month... We're anticipating a full and complete healing.
He is able.

Tuesday, after work, after months of rescheduling, Marj and I finally met halfway. She drove west, past 2 exits on the #1 and I drove east, past 2 exits on the #1 and we met at the McDonalds behind the gas station at 264th. Haha. Couldn't get much fancier. She had tea. I had supper. Classy dames.
Her mom had just died. And her youngest daughter had just given birth to her fourth child. Some people's plates just overflow with life stuff. I am in awe of how she handles it all. How does she handle it all you ask? WITH JOY. It just bubbles out of her. We were going to have a quick chat, but I don't know how to do that. Sorry Dave, I kept your woman out late. At McDonald's. At the 264th exit.

I was supposed to meet up with Kim on Wednesday after work; a chance to connect before she left on her Israeli adventure. But she had to cancel. So I was gonna watch some TV. But I sat on my couch and fell asleep before I even turned the TV on. Must be age. I am going to be 84 next year, after all.
What a waste of a night. I could've done so many things. Like, I have lists of fun or necessary things to do when I have a quiet evening... and sleeping on the couch isn't one of them. Grrrrr.

On Thursday, Andrea and I drove into Vancouver to walk the seawall. I think this was my first seawall walk of 2019. And it was SO PERFECT.

The real reason we were in the city wasn't the pretty sparkly lights or the reflections off the water,  it was to catch Pokemon. No it wasn't. I jest. It was to drop off a power bar at Clint's (and pick up a mug he collected for me). Yay! I saw one of my kids! Twas a 30 second encounter, but I'll take it. (This, PLUS Max borrowed my truck this week while his brakes were getting done, so earlier in the day, I had a 10 minute car ride with him when I dropped him off to pick up his wheels.) My heart was happy, so my hours with Andrea where light and lovely.

The other thing that contributed to my good mood?
I was taking the following day (Friday) off work.
Yup, taking a vacation day.
To attend a funeral.
Last year I went to 8 funerals; 3 were on Saturdays. The other 5? Were during the week. I used vacation time.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that Thursday was about as perfect a day as one can have.

I ended the day by binge-ing on Shetland. What a great show. Apparently there is a season 4 being shown on BBC right now. So it'll get picked up by Netflix in the next few months. If you like crime drama, Scottish accents, stunning cinematography, then give it a gander. (Give it a gander? Is that a thing we say?)

Friday started the way all good days start. With no alarm going off.
Followed by a kick-ass celebration of life. Martha Toews you tiny little history-maker you.

Martha died 3 days before her 84th birthday in her daughter's home, surrounded by her family. Her husband of 20 years died in 1982, so she's logged in alot of years on her own.

A couple years ago, a friend and I were chatting about end-of-life details, and she'd been at a seminar earlier that day where the speaker made the following observation: "The average hospital bed has room for 8 people to stand around it. Who are the 8 people you want at your side at that time? THOSE are the relationships you should be investing in now."

Mrs. Toews invested intentionally in her children and grandchildren's lives. They all spoke of her phone calls, her invites to visit, the conversations they shared, the gifts she bought/made and always, the prayers that she prayed. She was the first person they called if they needed prayer.

Both her daughters and all of her grandchildren spoke at her funeral. They all shared stories of her love for them. And her never-ending message that they were special and God loved them very much.

But more than that, she prayed for everyone she came into contact with; all her neighbours, care aids, pastors, missionaries ... and her message to them was the same - the were special. And God loved them very much. She baked cookies, by the hundreds every fall, arrange them on a fancy plate, then bring them to each of her Indo-Canadian neighbours'  homes at Christmas.  She'd let them know she was praying for them. Over time, they began to come to her with their prayer requests ...

After she retired (she supported herself as a house cleaner for years after her husband died) she volunteered at Telecare, answering phones and talking/praying with callers who needed someone to talk to. She logged in more hours than any other volunteer, being the compassionate caring voice to over 5000 callers in the past twenty years.

This tiny woman, with multiple physical issues, walked (with the help of her walker) through her neighbourhood every day. She was always positive, joy-filled and ready to talk about Jesus. And her bed? The one she lay on during her last days on earth? Had way more than 8 people around it. (And those people? LOVED her. Sang to her. Prayed with her. Laughed and reminisced with her. And the night before she died? They sang, in harmony, as only Mennonites can do, the Doxology. (Which was recorded on someone's phone, played at the funeral, and wrecked us all.)

She was a rich, blessed, beloved, beautiful woman.

When the service was over, I went for a walk. (Accidentally. I was aiming for the freeway, but missed the turn. So I ended up on another street. With this at the end, begging me to walk over it)...

The new pedestrian walkway, over the freeway...

Close up of the bike tires, decorating the sides:

There was a bench on the other side, so I sat there for awhile, suntanning, humming How Great Thou Art, watching traffic, looking at the mountains, thinking about my life and praying.

Nothing like a funeral to hit the re-set button. Do I need to change a few things in my life?

From there, I drove into Chilliwack to my favorite used book store...

... which made my heart happy.

And then I bought a hyacinth from Safeway (purple, because it was Aunt Agatha's colour) and plopped planted it in the mug Lianna Klassen made (that Val mentioned loving) (and Clint picked up, that I got from him on Thursday night) then dropped it off at Val's house,... in remembrance of  her mom's birthday (her first one being celebrated in heaven). 

(The funny part of this story, is, back in January, when Val and I were catching up over Shrimp Sandwiches, toasted on sourdough, at the White Spot, the conversation meandered around to Lianna (I sat next to her at Val's mom's funeral, and Lianna's parents and mine, were friends from way back.) We both pulled out our phones to show each other Lianna's Instagram account, because we both had seen a mug that we thought was beautiful. Haha. Related, much?

About a week later, I contacted Lianna about buying it. Told her I'd be in to Vancouver to pick it up, as she lives near the seawall that I love walking around.

February weather hit (snow. More snow. Then rain.) and it was a month before I made into Vancouver. I knew I wanted to get it on Thursday, (Feb 28) because that was Agatha's birthday, and I'd be going out to Chilliwack on Friday, (Mar 1) when I'd be able to drop it off. But, as luck would have it, she wasn't going to be home on Thursday evening, it was her hubby's (Randy's) birthday and the two of them were going out for dinner. (Thus, Clint was the hero, and picked it up for me in the afternoon.) And I got it from Clint later that evening.

MEANWHILE, Val, had made plans of her own. She was going to be seeing Lianna on Friday (Mar 1) to celebrate Randy's birthday with a group of friends. SHE asked Lianna to save the mug FOR HER, she'd get it at the party. Seeing I had told Lianna that I was buying the mug for Val, she told Val 'sorry, don't have any left', so that I could surprise her with the one I had just bought. But what Val didn't tell her, was that she wanted to buy the mug FOR ME.


We are so related.

ANWAY, I left the mug at Val's backdoor, and drove up to the lake.

And it felt like I was at home.

On Saturday I walked around the other end of the lake:

New condos being built at the old marina

Then went back to the cabin and watched 10 hours of Amazon Prime. (My kids had cancelled on getting together on Sunday, again. And I was a bit heart-broken. So I binge-watched Bosch in my stretchy pants and ate a pan of brownies.) There are worse ways to deal with disappointment. :)

I think I'm going to be hard-pressed to come up with 8 people who'll stand around my bed while I'm dying. Hahaha.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Inspiring funeral services. Families who love well. People who can sing in harmony. Grandchildren who wear handmade slippers to honor the hands that knit them.

2. Long, chatty, wonderful emails from friends who live far away.

3. Mountains. Benches on overpass walking ramps. Sunny moments. Quiet weekends.

  • Proudest moment this week: Raising over $2000 for City Reach Care Society via the Coldest Night of the Year fundaising initiative
  • Most embarrassing moment of the week:
  • Funniest moment of the week:
  • Biggest achievement of the week: Walking 5K, keeping up with my walking mates, in brand new footwear which was a really dumb thing to do.
  • Best moment of the week: Ten minutes in the truck with Max, as I dropped him off to pick up his truck. Got a glimpse into his day (he'd done a presentation with his team at BCIT at the Children's Hospital.) Proud of him. 
  • Best holiday memory of the week:Alas. Another week with no stat holiday. But my day off on Friday March 1 was perfect. So there's that.
  • Best advice I heard this week: I was listening to a talk Lee Strobel gave recently and he asked, "If Jesus showed up and said, 'All your prayers from last week will be answered today', will there be any new believers in the world?" That is going to sit with me for a long while. 
  • Most grateful for this week: Smart bankers (RRSP season), good writers (book-reading season), empty gyms (quit-looking-like-a-cow season) and new socks (cold-feet season).
  • Favorite family memory of the week: Uh, ten minutes in the truck with Max? One minute in Clint's driveway to get Val's mug? Haha. EVENTUALLY we'll get together. (If you're keeping score, it's been once since Christmas.) 
  • Biggest regret of this week: That I wasted the weekend sleeping and watching TV. 
  • Best thing I learned this week: Basecamp 3! I downloaded the free trial version, so I could learn the ins and outs before I introduced it to my Creative Team. And I did! Learn things! And it felt good!
  • Biggest change I made this week: Parting my hair a little more to the left? Haha. Wearing socks at home? Not a big week for change I guess. 
  • Best gift I received this week: THIS! I got this! From France! From Alexandra who used to work with me, but moved back to France. (And when Anne, who still works with me, went home, to France to visit her family, she brought back this!) For me, from Alex... 

  • New friend this week:
  • Most inspiring person this week: Martha Toews
  • Word to describe this week: Full
  • Unexpected obstacles I faced this week: One of my senior designers, has asked for a one year leave of absence in order to live/work/serve as a graphic artist in Israel. I am thrilled for him and love that he was given this opportunity. But. It sure is inconvenient for me. Reallly trusting that God has someone in mind for my team. 
  • Unexpected surprise this week: Two former (Focus) co-workers both got in touch with me to share their (unexpected) happy news - they were pregnant. Neither of them worked with each other, it was purely coincidental that I heard from both of them during the same week. Miracle pregnancies for both.
  • Best place I visited this week:Nuggets. SO many good memories , stopping in there to buy books with the kids in the summer on our way to the lake. Since he's moved from Sardis to Chilliwack, I've only been to there once in the past 5 years. 
  • New skill I learned this week:
  • Biggest obsession this week: Trying to write out thank you cards to everyone who supported me. Writing 24 cards is time consuming. And my heart is willing, but my hands end up doing other things. 
  • Best food I ate this week: Anything not cooked by me. 
  • Best TV I watched this week: Shetland. (I also watched Bosch, which was fine. But Shetland was better.)
  • Best viral video I watched this week:
  • Best meme I saw this week:
  • Best movie I watched this week:
  • Best song heard this week:Doxology. In harmony. Recorded on a smart phone. Sung by Martha's family around her bed. 
  • Most excited about this for NEXT YEAR:
  • New skill I want to learn NEXT YEAR:
  • Place I want to visit NEXT YEAR:
  • Something to try NEXT YEAR:
  • One thing to work harder on NEXT YEAR:

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