Monday, August 23, 2021

On My Mind

Apparently the average person (average Canadian? Average North American? Average world person?) lives in 11 homes in their lifetime. What number are you on? My Langley Loft will be my 12th residence since I was born a million years ago. If I remember how to add a Poll to the sidebar of this blog, I'll ask you to (anonymously, of course) indicate how many homes YOU'VE lived in so far. Twill be interesting. How average are you? (I guess age would have to be a consideration. If you're only 28, (do I even have readers who are > 60?) (Was that the correct usage of the ">" sign? I was taking a short cut to saying less than. Mind, its not much of a short cut if you have to add a couple sentences of explanation.) (Does me writing mind, instead of mind you, sound very English? ... (back to the original thought - ) if you're only 28 you probably have less than the 'average' senior. Maybe this is a stat that is considered upon someone's death; how many homes did they live in? Maybe I'm overthinking this. Gosh. I haven't blogged in forever, I forgot how to do it. There seems to be no filter between my brain and fingertips. 



When I woke up today, I lay there for a few minutes (to rid myself of the grossly awful dream I'd just had) and asked myself, "how're we doing? Are we OK? Or still feeling blue?" I was delighted to acknowledge that while I wasn't ridiculously happy, I wasn't filled to the brim with sad emotions either. Which is as good as it gets sometimes. 

It's been a rough week. And even though my social-media life indicates that many, many good things happened, I was also pathetically sad at the same time. 

First with the good:

Nope. That won't work. The good and the sad get mixed together, so I can't separate them into lists. 

Oh bother. Just get on with it Jane. 

So, last Sunday, I started to feel down. I got a 'no' answer, regarding something I'd been praying about for a few years. I didn't handle it very well. Prayer journal got a million pages of frantic writing in it.  I did my laundry, cleaned up my living space in the basement, made some plans for the week ahead, and after spending an unhealthy amount of time scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, I got caught up on my Read-Through-The-Bible-In-A-Year readings, highlighting the verses that seemed to be messages from God to me. I fell asleep around 4 am. 

Monday is/was my VCHRP day. (Voluntary Covid Hours Reduction Program - I've reduced my hours and my pay by 20% throughout the summer, taking Monday's off to sit in the lake.) But it was a rainy day, so no lake sitting. Instead I was meeting Marj in Fort Langley for a visit. We sat outside under the umbrellas at Blacksmith Bakery for over three hours, laughing (mostly her) and crying (mostly me) while the water dripped steadily on my backside. (So, kinda typical of my Summer Mondays. I did end up with a wet bum.) 

We parted ways at 5, and I stayed in the Fort to wander around. If I could ever own a store again, it would be like Wendells. MAN. I love everything in that building. I ended up buying a dozen cards, some magnets, and a book. Proud of myself for not buying out the bakery. Kicking myself for not taking a pic of the two of us in the rain, in a pretty European setting, eating our croissants.

Oh hang on. Gonna have to finish this later. It would have been my dad and mom's 62nd wedding anniversary today, so I'm taking her to White Spot for dinner. When I say "I'm taking her to dinner" it means it was my idea and I'm driving. She'll pay, as per usual. I will always be poorer than her. Haha. 







Hours later. 

We're back. I'm tapping away on my keyboard on the deck, enjoying the last of the day's sunshine. My mom's sitting 6 feet away from me while I blog. She's scrolling on her phone like everyone else in the world. 


OK, where was I? 

Monday? Right. 

I bought a book. And read the whole thing that night. 

If you want a punch to your spleen and have little pieces of your heart hacked at with hedging shears, I recommend this book. Otherwise, stay clear. It. Will. Mess. With. You. 

This book was written by two former American draft-dodging hippies who worked at the St. Michael's school for 4 months in 1970. They're now in their 70's and this is their story. (The St. Michael's school was in Alert Bay, BC.)

My heart, man. Just took a pounding. 

Not that it's going to make any difference to anyone in this entire world, but I numbered another batch of rocks (have now completed 141 of #215 rocks) and added the words "Every Child Matters" to the back. 

Grateful for friends who've 'taken on' some of those numbers and painted/placed rocks for the cause: 

Heather W and her grandson placed the three rocks she painted in Shuswap - 

The rocks are originally from Kamloops. (Which was were the 215 unmarked graves were.)
Thanks, Heather. (Insert heart emoji here.)

Monday was also the day that Afghanistan was in the news. IN THE NEWS because no-good, terrible, bad things were happening over there causing a black cloud to hover over my already miserable being. And in the midst of a text to Dani, I mentioned that I felt useless and unnecessary. 

Everyone should have a daughter-in-law. Mine responded with paragraphs of encouraging words that made soft gooey feelings bubble up and leak from my eyes. She just said the loveliest things. I'm so grateful to have her in my life. 

I decided I needed to combat the stories of evil that were invading my headspace with some good words, filled with truth. So I listened to Jeff Bucknam preach it to his new peeps in Chicago. Want a link? He's preaching through the book of Ephesians and I happened to listen to the message about marriage in Eph 5: 20-something. At the time I was not married, so nothing really applied to me, personally. But it was good hearing his voice of authority spreading good news again. Anyway, here's the link: 

If you're married, he says many encouraging words. 

Twas another late night, OBVS, so Tuesday was a bit of a rough day at work. 
(I really hate this style of blogging ...'and then I did this. And then this happened. And then I felt like this. And then. And then. And then.) I am massively uncreative when it comes to story-telling. 

Despite my efforts to 'cheer myself up', I was still feeling meh, with a side serving of ugh. I did some errands in the evening (retail therapy is not, and never will be, a mood changer for me.) I made myself a healthy meal of hotdogs then scrolled through Facebook. (Mom, if you're reading this, I still owe you two weiners.) Not many people are posting much anymore. (Is that even a sentence?) LOTS of ads and group posts, but my people aren't avid share-rs of personal activities. But September had posted a video of her speech for the next Toastmaster's meeting. I gave it a listen. Her topic was timely, appropriate and helpful. She was in a bit of a rut earlier this year, and she talked about the daily Positive Thinking sheets she'd complete every day AND IT WORKED. Affirmations, healthy habits and gratitude journaling had made a huge difference. 

So I sent her a message, thanking her for posting her speech, and asking if she could email the sheets to me. Told her I'd been feeling useless and unnecessary and, even though it had been just a few days, I wanted to nip this in the bud. (Bud? Butt? Which is correct? What am I nipping?) I didn't want to wallow. Or have this mopey version of me be my new thing. 

Everyone should have a stranger in their life like September. She sent me her sheets, within like, minutes, personalizing them first with my name. Then she wrote me a letter, filled with long explanations of the five affirmations that she believed to be true about me, suggesting (demanding) I repeat them to myself daily. I couldn't breathe through my nose by the time I got to the part where she said, 


Everyone has had a terrible year. The Twitter hedometer says so.
But you have had many terrible years and that takes a toll.  It breaks your heart to lose a man like Pete Klassen in all his tanned, turquoise-ringed, Italian stallion chest hair glory.  It breaks a body down to fight off cancer.  It hurts a woman’s heart to be divorced, layer upon layer.  It takes a toll all the changes in your life with your mom selling the house your dad built and you moving into a condo and these are just the things I know about because Facebook isn’t always where we say how we hurt. 
You are not useless or unloveable or unnecessary or whatever you might believe right now no matter what circumstance is occurring that I don’t know about.  You are a woman I admire, who for years has made lemonade right in front of me and has showed me one blog post at a time to be thankful and to try and help others and to be just fine with feeling my feelings and then writing about them.  Please consider what your father in heaven - both of them - God and Pete would say to you right now.

Shit. Now I'm crying again. 

September and I have never met. She lives on the other side of the big mountains, 15 hours away from me. She knows me through my blog and Facebook. (Have you ever seen the movie Romancing the Stone? I think that's the movie... where, at the beginning, the writer is finishing up her novel, reading it to herself, sobbing? And she keeps blowing her nose and kleenexes are accumulating around her? WELL THAT IS MY EXACT SITUATION RIGHT NOW.)
Wait a sec. I'll take a pic. 

Hang on, it's getting dark outside; that first one didn't work. 

(In case you're wondering, my mom went in to watch TV half an hour ago. I am not a very interesting conversationalist when I'm blogging.) It's getting cool out here on the deck but I'm just not ready to go back to the basement. So I'm wrapped in one of her crocheted blankets. 

Yes, that's a chocolate bar. It's my new favorite. If you like Terry's Orange Chocolates, you will LOVE this flattened version of it. And that's the water bottle I got from my co-workers in my Cancer Gift Basket two summers ago. WHO KNEW that a pretty water bottle would make such a difference. Now, whenever I hear of someone getting cancer, I try to get them a flowery, pretty water bottle. Because beautiful things do make a difference. 

Right. Klennex's. And dripping noses. HOLY HANNAH the power of written words. September's words just cut through the murkly, sludgey, dark emotions that were simmering. (And her description of my dad DID make me smile.) 

In case you're wondering, this is what her daily sheets looked like: (Well her's had HER name on it. And she sews for an hour instead of painting rocks.

Jane O.

Date: ______________








Goals for Today:

_____DRINK TWO LITRES OF WATER____________________________________________

_____WALK 5 KM___________________________________________________________

_____Paint Rocks for 1 Hour____________________________________________________





I am thankful for:













Morning: BAD   1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10  GREAT

Afternoon: BAD   1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10  GREAT

Evening: BAD   1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10  GREAT

NOTES:  ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I might start doing this next week. 

I took Wednesday morning off work in order to do a deficiency walk-through of my condo. Move-in date will be late October, so this hour in my new home was to look for all the nicks and bumps and cracks and things that need to be fixed before I arrive. I am so, so, so, so glad I had Daryl (bro-in-law) and Nancy (friend-realtor) along to look for deficiencies. Because all I could do was try to imagine living in a space a little larger than the size of a garage. I stood in the TV/"living room" area and thought about furniture placement. MAYBE I can get seating for 3 people in that 8 x 10 space. Grateful that there was room for a table that can seat 6. Sighed in the 9 x 10 bedrooms; they both will get a bed and a night table. My hope of squeezing in office space into either of them is not an option. I love the large windows and 11 x 20 deck and the unobstructed view and yikes the laundry closet is so small I'm going to have to lose a few belly inches to squeeze past the appliances. 

I am grateful. I really am. It's a lovely unit. This is what I can afford, this is what makes sense for me as an aging single woman who works at a not-for-profit to own. It's a safe place to live, in a development that will have all the services I require. It's close to the freeway, across the street from my work building. Every single thing I wanted (well, more space in the living room would have been GRAND) is contained in this condo. 

So why was I not ecstatic? Why did I know that I was going to have a good long sob in the shower at the end of the day?

Because I felt like a loser. 
This is how old divorced women with limited incomes live. 
Not that I'm comparing, (I totally am), but none of my friends live like this. I am the only one. Sometimes it's hard being The Only One. 
Oh, I know. It'll be good. I'll be fine. This is me PMSing as if I had hormones. But ON THIS DAY, I just felt like a huge loser in the game of life. I was getting a 'participation' ribbon for trying. Yeah, so add guilt about being ungrateful. Really. Just a colossal mess. 

I worked for the rest of the afternoon, then drove out to Yarrow where some of my friends had accepted my invitation to join me at the Cutlus Lake Flower Fest for a pizza picnic. Just as I was getting off the freeway I wondered what the heck I was doing. There was going to be 14 of us. Everyone knew me. Most of them didn't know each other. Would it just be an all round awkward evening? Or the beautiful evening with friends at picnic tables next to the sunflower patch during the golden hour that I'd imagined? When I invited everyone, I said it was to get some photos for my funeral slide show. (I will die someday. And if my kids think of having a slide show (which they very possibly won't), BUT IF THEY DO, they won't have any photos to draw from. So I will endeavor to provide them with a folder full of images on my desktop.) 

Sadly, on that picture perfect evening, with 14 friends sitting at a super long table with cheerful umbrellas and checkered tablecloths, eating (surprisingly) delicious pizza (from Dancin Pizza in Yarrow) under the setting sun, no pictures were taken. 

So use your imagination. Pretend that three tables have been moved together. Pretend the tops have checkered tablecloths on them. Pretend there's a large metal basket filled with ice and flavored sparkling water. Pretend there's 4 boxes of large pizzas, a bowl of watermelon and 14 happy faces ... and imagine the skies are blue:

And when we walked around the gardens, when I finally started taking pics, it was pointed out to me that I had no memory card in my camera. 

So I used my (old) phone. 
To take a pic of Marg and Patty. 
Then Marg took a few pics of me. 
And Patty took a selfie of the three of us. 

Then I took a quick one of Sue just before she left. 

My funeral slide show file has a couple more images in it.

Fingers crossed that the group shot Megan took turned out. 

You know how when you're in a funk, you're just in a funk. So after everyone drove away, I got into Mitzi and just sobbed all those stupid feelings out. 

In the midst of my Grand Sob, it was also not lost on me that on this night, I, an unmarried woman with no man speaking for me, had the opportunity to invite some friends, who could choose to attend or not, based on THEIR feelings (not on their husband's, or brother's, or son's say so) and could wear pretty clothes and have make-up on, or not, and do their hair fancy, or not, and drive their cars, by themselves to a field of flowers and feel safe to sit around eating pizza and walking through sunflowers. 

Our sisters in Afghanistan cannot do this. 

This image ^ of people desperate to get out of Afghanistan (and the video of people falling off the wings of the plane) haunted me on Wednesday. The stories of beheadings and rapes and house-to-house killings makes my stomach hurt. 

I'm sure any one of those women in that war-torn country would love my little loser life. 

I worked late into the night on Thursday to keep my mind on something I could control. (Via the lists and timelines I create, I control who does what on my incredibly talented creative team.) It's not the power that I love; it's the sense of teamwork. Everyone contributes their bit to make an awesome whole. And my bit is the bit that gets everyone started. Being part of a trustworthy, committed, professional team is good for one's battered soul. 

By Friday I was starting to feel a little like my ol' self. I was in the mood for mindless entertainment, so I asked one friend, then another, if they wanted to see a movie this weekend. No one was in the mood, everyone said no, so I went to Walmart and had some keys cut. 

And bought a $19 yellow dress.

The reason I was getting keys cut is because my mom doesn't have a key to her own home. She should have one. And I got another one cut for our new housemate. Earlier this summer a friend mentioned that her daughter had broken up with her boyfriend and she was looking for a very short-term temporary place to live. Seeing Max moved out of the room above the garage, I offered it to her (checking with my mom first. It is, afterall, her house.) She stayed with us (although we never saw her) for a couple weeks, then moved on. Two weeks ago, I heard of another young gal who also was in the midst of a relationship ending and was looking for a temporary place to live. So again, (I am so very generous with my mom's things) I offered it to her. She moved into our Heartbreak Hotel on Saturday, and I happily gave her a shiny new blue and purple key. (Keys should be fun, yes?)

Later that same very fun Friday night, I got a message from Shaw telling me to clean up my act. Of the 100,000 something-measurement-of-email-space, I was using 990,000 units of it. And they were serious this time. Clean up my room or there would be trouble. 

So from 10 pm til 3 am, I went through 9 years of emails, eventually deleting all but 375 of them. 

Saturday morning I woke to the tragic news that just as I was going to sleep, three teen boys (16, 17 and 17) were killed at the scene when their car crashed into a tree in my neighbourhood. 

Their names are Caleb Reimer, Parker Magnuson, and Ronin Sharma. They're all hockey players: 

Reimer spent last season with the Edmonton Oil Kings, who selected him in the first round (18th overall) of the 2019 Western Hockey League bantam draft. Sharma was about to start his rookie campaign with the B.C. Hockey League’s Langley Rivermen. All attend the Delta Hockey Academy. 

I drove past the crash site on my way to Marg's house. So very sobering. Praying for those boys' moms; I can't imagine the pain. 

Then I pulled into Rudy and Marg's cud-de-sac just as their 3?4? year old granddaughter was getting out of her mom and dad's truck. She knew she was at Oma's house. And she was just so happy to be there. Her whole body expressed unbridled joy:

I followed her into her Opa and Oma's backyard and witness every grandchild run to their arms for big hugs. 

Rudy and Marg are celebrating their 40th Wedding Anniversary. He's had cancer once, and beat it. She's had cancer three times, and was deemed 'cancer-free' just a few months ago. So much to celebrate. They asked me to capture a few pics of their family gathering (as well as a couple 'everyone stand here and smile' ones). 

Dinner for 14, set up in the backyard with eleventy million attentions to details. 

I took about 300 pics and the group shots turned out great, considering we were dealing with 4 under 4. 

I called Drew and Dani to see if they were free for dinner (they weren't. They were going to be with her fam), so I checked with Clint (he was with his dad) and Max was at the lake with friends. Determined not to let all the no's I'd received this weekend get me down, I picked up a can of Campbell's Chunky Beef soup, added some boiled macaroni and called it stew. Which I ate on my mom's deck, convincing myself I was having a special evening. While I was eating (and editing the Anniversary pics), my sister, (GOD BLESS SISTERS), called. We talked about my apartment and she said, 'check your emails, I sent you some drawings'. 

She is a cabinet designer. And she had some ideas for my closet, (it's a walk-in with two wire shelves; one on each side), my TV wall, my laundry 'room' and my kitchen. We talked about the lack of space (it was so good to talk to someone who agreed with me that 500 square feet for the living room, dining area, kitchen and storage room (aka laundry closet) really is not spacious. Yeah, yeah, yeah, the windows are fabulous. The deck is amazing. And that area, with no furniture in it looks inviting. But I needed a realistic conversation about what is actually possible. 

And she gave me the gift of hearing me say my "it's so small" words out loud without judging me for lack of gratitude or responding with platitudes about it being bigger than it appears. 

We hung up (haha, what an archaic word. Hang up WHAT exactly?) - we pressed the red end call button on our phones at 11 because she goes to bed super early. I finished editing the pics for Marg, then bundled the files up and We Transfered them over to her so she'd get them first thing in the morning. 

I found out a Twitter friend's dog died, so I downloaded the pics of Zac posted to Twitter and made a photo book. It cost $4.99 for 28 pages and should be ready for me to send to England in 2022. 

Walter (on the left) and Zac (on the right) are both rescue dogs. Walter (and the rest of the family) are missing Zac somethin fierce right now. I think the little photo book will be a fun surprise.

Eventually I made it to bed, feeling a little bit better about everything. I had Done. Some. Things. 

And like I said when I started this post 8 hours ago, (seriously, it's gonna take you three minutes at most, to read through this with your morning tea, and I've been typing words and posting pics for most of the day) I've made it through the dark clouds that have been hovering for the past week. 

Not sure why I woke up feeling better equipped to handle the day. 
Because I knew my first task of the day was going to be adding messages and notes (and in some cases, rocks) to the greeting cards I'd bought earlier this week? 
Because I've been praying non-stop for peace all week?
Because I'd read my Bible and found words from God to me?
Because I've been eating good food?
Because I've been getting good sleeps?
Because I've been exercising?
Because I've been taking antidepressants?
Because I've been drinking gallons of water?
Because I was able to help someone in Afghanistan?
Because the rocks I painted have made a difference in the lives of those families who've been impacted by the Residential Schools?
Because my sister, daughter-in-law, and September all heard my little cry for help, and responded with words of love, hope and practical advice. 
Because, magically, overnight, my stomach shrank?
Because I realized I COULD IN FACT fit my family of 5 in my living room?
Because I KNOW, (I heard it on a business/leadership podcast so it must be true) EVERYONE in the whole wide world is going to have a mental/emotional (possibly physical) reaction to the global pandemic. It will look different for everyone, but we've all lived through a trauma and It IS Going To Affect Us All. Maybe that's what this is with me? Maybe this is why I'm not deliriously happy considering all the good things in my life? Maybe this is my mental/emotional reaction to the uncertainty of life brought on by the neverending news cycle/conversations/discussions about The Virus. According to the podcast, we'll all going to get to a place where we just can't. Just can't get our shit together. Just can't smile when there's an ache in our feelers. Just can't concentrate at work, or on conversations, or look to the future with hope and joy-filled anticipation. There will come a day when we'll all need to take a break to look after ourselves. And give each other gobs of grace when we all get a little weird. 

(Or maybe I should just get into a better sleeping rhythm.)

By the way, the advice (as I recall) was to reach out to someone and let them know what's going on. Don't swim through the swamp alone. 

So thanks, mom, for listening everytime I talk non-stop for a couple hours. Thanks, Danica for loving me and reminding me of answered prayers and the Greatness of our God. Thanks, September for your emails and your words and your charts. Thanks, Jule, for your ideas and drawings and Pinterest pics and for being The Best Sister Ever. 

Thanks, Daryl, for measuring and asking questions and put little bits of green tape on every surface of my new place while I was standing in the living room feeling overwhelmed. 
Thanks, Nancy, for making sure all the details were looked after, and all the green tape was not going to be ignored. Wednesday morning was a blur; so grateful you both were with me.

Thank you friends, who hung out with me on Wednesday night in my favorite garden. 
Thank you Marj for three of hours of your time on Monday afternoon. 

No one walks this journey alone and I've been blessed with some mighty fine companions. 

Three Things I'm Thankful For:
(Besides everything I've just listed above)

1. I live in Canada. Where tap water is delish if you add ice cubes. 
2. A fridge that makes ice cubes. (My condo will have this wonderful feature.) Yay. I said something nice about my new home. 
3. Warm summer evenings.
4. The internet. I will never not be thankful for this. 
5. Churches that post their sermons online.
6. The Bible will always have something relevant to say to any reader, regardless of how you're feeling when you crack it open. Grateful for the words I read.
7. Praying makes you feel better because you're talking to someone who understands exactly what you mean even if you can't summon the words. And praying is even better when you see those prayers answered. EVEN IF IT SUCKS WITH A "NO". You can trust that the NO means it wasn't a good idea in the first place. The NO is to protect you from a future you can't see. So, what I'm saying is that I'm thankful for the phone line between God and me. 
8. I am thankful for this week's VCHRP day (on Tuesday this week); so many fun plans. 
9. I am thankful for books, and friends that read books, and writers of books. And the way books feel in your hands and look on your shelves. 
10. I am grateful for supper plans this week; none of them involve hotdogs or cans of soup. :)
11. I am thankful there are families that celebrate life's milestones; from 60th birthdays to 40th anniversaries. Thrilled I can capture some of the love with my camera.
12. The Memories feature on Facebook. 
13. Mitzi
14. Postal services. I can send a card ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD.
15. Clint's friends who post pics to Instagram so I can see what he looks like. I've seen him a total of 2 hours in July/August. 

16. Same appreciation for Max's friends:

17. And of course, super glad that Danica chronicles her life with Drew with pics:

Thanks for reading. 
Stay safe, wash your hands, feel your boobs, 

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