My Precious

If I had to name an item, a physical object, my most-prized possession, it would not take much time or thought to know what it is. It is not a childhood memento of mine, although I suppose at some point it could be for someone else. It is not a flea market find, but it certainly would be a splendid find, for the lover of the saturday flea market. It is not a family heirloom, not yet, anyways.

The future for this object holds some uncertainty, as the best laid plans can change. However, I have a grand plan for it’s future, a desire to pass on, the beauty of it and the emotion that it holds.

It was many, many years in the making, passing through my thoughts as time went by. I had seen a few of them, and was always drawn into the beauty, of the idea that it held. Like building or creating anything, you will have a finished product to show for it. A house, a craftily designed room, a piece of artwork to hang on a wall. Something for you to admire, and bring with you into the future, even if only on film. The memories, right from the moment of conception, are given new life with each and every glance. I experience emotions from years gone by, good or bad, happy or sad, it doesn’t matter which. I love that I can be reminded to get my act together, again, or to be awestruck at the perfection and beauty.

When I wear it, I feel as though I am wrapping myself in love, and taking them along with me on every adventure. I hold them in my hand, or slip them into my pocket, protecting them in a sense. I carry their spirits with me, a closeness which is my substitute for the real thing. Nothing can touch the real thing, but the memories it provokes, go far and beyond the fact that it is just a ring.

Unlike my engagement and wedding rings, which held meaning for only a few years, my family ring will hold fast. Yes, the dad’s birthstone is on it, and rightly so, as he was a part of this family that we created together. It wouldn’t feel right any other way. I will treasure it to the very end, and hope that it will spark someone else’s memories, as it did mine.

Writing 101 last day.

Comments are always welcomed!

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8 Thoughts on Health

Why is it such a challenge, a struggle, to be healthy? Attitude, society, availability and affordability of healthy options…maybe? I think that the majority of us (adults), are well aware of what we need to be doing to be healthy, and we all use the same excuses, to not be. Myself included. Yes, there are many health reasons that can put some extra weight on us, or make it more challenging; thyroid issues, diabetes, arthritis, and any physical disability. The list goes on, but, we do have control over what and how much, we put into our mouths. That, even over exercise, is a huge component in weight loss and over-all health.

1. Television ads of fast food, cereals, snack bars, etc., entice us with the happy looking, healthy looking, slim and fit looking couple or family; who of course, have the perfect relationships and the happiest of lives. This is wonderful! Don’t we all want that? So lets buy that food, and then we will be happy forever. They convince us that food has a therapeutic value, and yes it does. However, there are many other healthier options for providing therapy, that don’t lead us to more therapy. You will also see how quick and easy it is to cook a meal from scratch, should only take thirty seconds, yes? Turn it off. Have limits on how much you watch per day. Make sure you’ve eaten a healthy meal before you zone out or you will be participating in a little something called ‘unconscious eating’; that hard to break habit of force feeding yourself some sugary or salty snack.

2. Our lives are so hectic (or so we think), that we eat in our cars, while at our computers, or in front of the television. Here’s a new concept; turn the television off, turn your computer off, turn your phone off, and just eat. Savour each mouthful, taste the food, be mindful. Show gratitude for the food you eat. Enjoy some conversation over the breakfast, lunch, or dinner table. Make eating a pleasurable experience. You will begin to build a routine that way, which will only lead to other positive changes. Take charge and be consistent, give it a chance. Nothing happens in a day or two, obviously.

3. We take the road well travelled, not intentionally, but because it feels easier, faster, and fills the gaping hole inside of us, so we can get back to doing other, more fun, time-wasting, mind-numbing, stuff. A sugary snack (instead of a healthy one), can give you a high, and while you are in this high, you can do and be anything. Then you fall from the sky, as if your parachute didn’t deploy. When you hit bottom, your emotions are free to trample your heart and your thoughts, then your high ends on an even lower note than the day before. This is the vicious cycle that so many of us are caught in. I’m looking in the mirror right now. Changing your entire maddening behaviour, is all it takes. Just get out of your head and make the changes. I know, I know, it’s not that easy! It really is though, just your attitude that is holding you back. Your excuses, the lies you tell yourself, become your truth. One day at a time, downhill or uphill. It is a choice.                                                                                                          

healthy fruits and vegetables

4. It can be expensive, the fruit and vegetable isle. Low income presents a huge problem. Depending on our location, we could grow our own gardens, freeze and can the food for winter. That is time consuming, and if someone has a long commute, or has to work two jobs, when would they have time to garden? Or could they have a garden, if they lived in an apartment building, in the middle of a busy city? Would there be enough fresh food to sufficiently feed a family of four or more? It seems that there is always a sacrifice of one thing for another. Depends on what you most want, what is most important to you. It’s the ‘get out of your head’ thing again. New study confirms that eating healthy does indeed cost more…  Even if we eat healthy food, we still aren’t getting all the nutrients required; enter supplements. Even a really good multivitamin is not going to help meet those needs. If you are going to take supplements, choose ones that will address your individuality. –and yes, supplements add an extra monthly expense. Yay!                                                                                                     

floating rock clock in the sky

5. The amount of time it takes to prepare fresh food daily, is mind blowing. The daily routine becomes much longer, albeit a healthier one. You are standing and moving about while slicing and dicing, and not being a couch potato. I attempted this a while back, making huge salads (to last a few days), and preparing mostly vegetables for meals. It literally sucked up my days. I don’t enjoy cooking at the best of times–just ask my guy–but this was ridiculous. I ended up wanting to do anything else but prepare food. Honestly, when will ‘They’ come up with a pill, that covers all your nutritional needs and fills you up? I’m sure I would still have an occasional treat, and my green tea lattes, but I definitely am not a ‘live to eat’ girl. I am an ‘eat to live’ girl. On a positive note, the four days that I completely cut out sugar, white flour, white rice, anything processed, my energy level went through the roof. A hill that might have noticeably increased my breathing, had no effect at all. That lasted a good few weeks, even though I added back a few things to my diet. Why then, since I felt so divine, am I not continuing? Well, that is a good question, isn’t it?

6. Exercise. Some of you may be so far in denial, that you question what that even is. I block out exercise sometimes. I go in stages where I do wonderfully, and then I will get slammed with some physical ailment (could be a cold with a hacking cough), that will put a crashing halt to my routine. I love routine, and right now, I’m searching everywhere for the one I lost a while back. Isn’t there someone, somewhere, that can do it for me instead? It goes back to the time thing again, exercise takes time, so if you can’t find the time, then make the time. If you wrote down all your necessary tasks, including sleep, and the time allotted, there would probably be some time to fit in a few sit-ups, push-ups, or some yoga. You would probably be surprised. Simple. Instead of watching your favourite television show, go for a walk. Yah, that’ll work.

7. We have this grand vision of what we will look like, once we’ve started to eat better and exercise. Forgetting of course, that the changes are small, and stretched out over time. Make your goals achievable, baby steps. Don’t get stressed out if you take longer to achieve a goal or fail to achieve one. Just start again. A daily goal of eating carrots for a snack, and getting in your twenty minute walk, is a start and is achievable. Or, pick one of those, and just start. Then, because you achieved, you feel happy, you want to repeat it. That’s the idea anyhow.                                                                 

people exercising with weights

8. You will most likely fail, if you have no support system. A support system is a must if you are to be successful long term. We seem to need the basic information to health, pounded into our brains on a regular basis. As an example; Weight Watchers holds weekly meetings. Some of the information shared is quite simple, and even silly to some, but nonetheless, very effective. It’s all about showing up, being accountable to yourself in front of others. Knowing that you are not alone in your challenge or struggle. You may even meet some new friends, who by the way, are like-minded people who can be added to your support system.

After all this, we must remember that our attitude holds huge sway, when it comes to our choices. Strength of character? You can do it! We are also the role models for our kids, and if we eat crappy, our kids probably will too. If we are heavy, then our kids will probably follow suit. Why not be the positive example for others, at work, at school, and at home. The more you have on your team, the easier it will become.

Writing 101        As always, your comments are welcomed and encouraged! Don’t be shy!

Socks or Slippers?

I am a ‘slipper’ girl. Slippers, in my opinion, are better than socks. Although on occasion, I have been known to wear socks with slippers. Nothing like, socks with sandals. My feet are almost always cold, unless I’m in Hawaii, so bare feet around the house is not an option. I also never notice when I step on crumbs, or little rocks, or anything else for that matter. I think it was back about the time I had my kids, when I started wearing slippers. Too long ago to remember correctly.

My preferred style of slipper, is one with a rubber sole. If I forget to put shoes on, and am making my way to the car, my feet are kept dry, and/or dirt-free. I have been known to pull this off, actually making it all the way to the car before clueing in. With the rubber soles, one might mistake them for a shoe–then again, maybe not. At any rate, they are so comfy. I also prefer any shoe, that I can wear without socks.

brown suede slippersI get them from the Softmoc store, and I buy two pairs at a time. That would be one pair a year. Once I discovered these ones, there was no going back. I’m due for some new ones in about six months time. I will be on pair number seven. Did I mention these are my favorites? I’ve had them in brown, red, and my favorite, blue.

I have given other, less desirable styles, a test trial. Some stretch out so badly, they just fly off my feet whenever I take a step. The ones with the big thick bottoms, trip me up. The foam seems to expand the moment your weight is transferred to the other foot, so when you slide your foot forward,brown suede slippers the bottom catches the ground. I keep trying these ones on, thinking that maybe one day, they will be different. I do want a pair, so I will keep trying. For summertime I do like the ones that just cover the toes, but those stretch out as well, and offer no padding. I’m a sucker for slip-ons, so anything that I have to bend over to pull on, is not going to fly with me. Booties are not my style, and anything with a heel, lets not even go there.

My guy says, “Slippers remind me of old people.” Well, thank you very much for that. I suppose now that I’m old, they’re okay?

He does not like my slippers touching him, and if he catches me with my slippered feet on the couch, I will be held down and they will be removed forcefully. However, he will wrap my toes in a blanket and say, “Isn’t that better? They will be so much warmer now.” Sigh!

On occasion I will slip into bed with the slippers on, just to rile him up. It’s quite comical to see his reaction.

Are you a sock, or a slipper person? Or both? Or none? Do you have a favorite flavor?

Always appreciate comments…hint, hint!

Road Trip (Part 2)

Road Trip (Part 1)

“Helen,” Lucas said.

“What,” I said, snapping like a turtle unable to retreat into it’s shell.

“Get in here. This is really cool.” Standing on the front landing, I turned my back to the open door. I hate this place already, and I’m loath to appease my brother.

“Helen, you are going to love this,” He says, making his way back to the front door. “Helen, did you hear me?” Abruptly turning to face him, I avoid eye contact and push past him into the foyer. Startled by the simplicity and beauty, a rush of air inflates my lungs, making a small sound.

“Nice eh?” Lucas said. I could tell he was grinning from ear to ear. Another irritating quality of his.

“Whatever,” I said, moving myself forward to avoid more conversation. Turning to the left, the kitchen, dining room, and family room, flowed from one to the next seamlessly. Pale blue was the predominant colour, with some splashes of gray, green, darker blue. Spacious but not too big. Windows, lining all three walls, were currently closed off with pale blue, blinds. The light of day still able to push through to the room. “Jesus,” I said, not able to mute myself.

“It’s really nice, isn’t it,” Lukas chimed in. I saw him out of the corner of my eye, grinning, his eyes so wide. An intermittent ache had started in my gut. Moving about ten feet to the right of the kitchen island, I use my fingers to push at a door. A half-bath separated by a pocket door, opened onto a state-of-the-art laundry room. I kept moving forward, trying not to lose my terse composure. Through the final door, a long hallway, obviously the other half of the house.

“I guess it has electricity,” I said.

“And a flush toilet,” Lukas joined in.

“Yeah, I guess it does.” The length of hallway showed three more doors. Lukas bumped past me and entered the first one. The same colour scheme, only slightly darker, was pulled together on the king sized bed spread. Sliding glass doors to the left and a window of glass tiles adorned the wall above the bed. So much light, I almost let go a smile. A walk-in closet to the right next to a full ensuite.

I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror, and shrunk back into the bedroom. The ache in my stomach returned with a vengeance. I needed some air, so I held the blinds to one side while I fiddled with the lock on the glass door. “Jesus,” I said, under my breath. Panic was setting in. Finally, the lock gave way and the door slid open. I took some deep breaths, the air was warm, I could feel the sun on my face. No one knew of my anxiety. No one knew what really happened, and I planned on keeping it that way. One family member left to alienate, and I was sure to manage that in three weeks.

Peering out from under my eyelids, I saw a massive deck that ran the full length of the house. A large, sunken, hot tub sat in the center. My thoughts were interrupted by Lukas, as he came around from the right side of the house. “There is another deck around the corner. There’s another bedroom, just like this one.” He taps the glass with his long fingers. “So what do you think, Sis?” He asked, and leaned his back against the glass.

“I guess it’s alright,” I said. “We’re only here for three weeks.”

“What is your problem?” Lukas raised his voice. I had finally inched my way under his skin. “You are being such a bitch,” He said. “I can’t figure you out. Ever since Eleanor, or whatever her name was, you’ve changed. No one can say anything to you, without getting a nasty look thrown at them or having you jump down their throat. I don’t know what happened to you,” He finished with a puff of air, and turned to go back inside, attempting to slam the sliding door after himself. He couldn’t even slam a door right.

“I don’t give a crap what you think,” I shouted after him, wiping at my eyes. He didn’t stop. I walked past the hot tub to the railing, and peered over the edge. “Oh my god, there’s a creek down there. That’s so beautiful.” One or two more tears ran down my face, an impossible side effect of the deep-rooted sadness.

“There is no cell service,” Lukas called out to me. “I’m going to drive back to the main road and try there.” I barely heard him. The creek was a long way down, and I was beginning to feel dizzy, and if the railing were to give way, “Oh,” I yelped, as I pushed off the railing and fell back on my ass. “Why can’t I stop? I want this to stop,” I blurted out into the open air. I could feel the comfort and familiarity of my anger, restore itself inside my gut, stoking the ache.

© Gerri Leathley 2014

Feel free to pick it apart, or not, but do leave a comment!

 So, I used the writing helper, ‘copy a post’. Now I have the comments and the likes from the original post stuck on this one. Don’t quite know how that works. Just so you know.

 

The Twelve Year Old

She comes out every morning in a silly, orange and pink, housecoat. I think she’s had it forever. It looks like she can hardly make it down the two steps to the walk-way. That’s where the paper lands, once it leaves the older boy’s hand. He rides by very fast, I don’t know how he gets it in the same spot every day. I’ve seen him around, other places–“Oh! Here she comes,” I whisper to myself, feeling some sort of weird excitement.

I sit on the front steps of a neighbour’s house, in the morning before school. I walk their little boy to school, and they pay me. At the same time every morning, I see the old lady’s door open slowly. Everything is slow about her. She is old, I guess that’s why. I don’t want to get like that, all wrinkled. Mom and Dad are getting wrinkled too, they are so old. It took her fifteen minutes, according to my beautiful new watch, payed for with my babysitting money, to get her paper and go back in the house.

I heard my parents talking about her a while ago, something about her getting kicked out. Mr. Pauley died three months ago, and the house looks like it’s going to fall apart any day. I think it had something to do with her not having any money left. I remember Mr. Pauley, he used to be the one to come out and get the paper, but he would stand outside with his face up to the sky. I think he was a bit looney. That’s sad that he’s gone now. He said hi to me once, and asked me how I was. He seemed okay.

I didn’t know that she had kids, who were all grown up now. I’ve never seen them visit her. I don’t think I like them very much. I’m pretty sure that I would visit my mom, if she was alone like that. I wonder if that’s one of her kids. Why are the police coming. I watch intently, a little on edge, at the scene play out in front of me. The police were taking Mrs. Pauley out of her house. It looked like she was pulling back, but they didn’t let her go. She still had her housecoat on. “She’s in her housecoat,” I shouted as I ran across the street. “She’s in her housecoat. Where are you taking her? She needs to get dressed.”

Mrs. Pauley sat in the back of the police car and stared out the window. It looked like she was crying. No one spoke to me. I watched the car as it pulled away. Jimmy called to me from his front steps.

As always comments are welcomed and encouraged!

Writing 101

Cleanliness

What does ‘clean’ mean to you? What does ‘clean’ look like, to you?

sink-full-dirty-dishes.jpgThere are so many different ideas around the definition of clean. According to the dictionary, ‘free from dirt, marks, or stains’, means that it is clean. Factors contributing to  the perceptions of cleanliness: ethnicity, physical environment, parental tendencies, personality type, and I’m sure there are more.

For me, clean means to be able to make lunch on the counter, without having to wipe away crumbs from another meal, or move dirty dishes to create a space. Being able to use at least one side of the sink, at any time of the day, without removing contents, is a pet peeve of mine. This is a very general statement, but one that I follow to be respectful of others; if you make a mess, clean it up. This is simple, common sense!

I am no where near being a neat freak, or a germaphobe, or anything else that resembles it. Again, it’s simple to me. If I share a space with someone else, then I make sure I tidy up my stuff within a reasonable amount of time, so it doesn’t infringe on the other person’s space. Why should they have anything to do with MY MESS? They shouldn’t.

Do unto others as you would have done unto you, or something like that. I think that’s fair.

The general all around house cleaning, should be shared between the occupants. A no-brainer. If you share expenses, share good movie-watching, share cooking, share moments with a glass of wine, do your own laundry, then, help clean the house. If everyone pitches in, then no one is left with much to do. There is more time for the fun stuff.

It was challenging as a mother, one son was a neat freak, but only in HIS room; the other son was the complete opposite, and not only in his room. I made an effort, in several creative ways, to establish some sort of neutral ground. Unsuccessful would be a good word. The one, whom was the neat freak, is now the creator of disasters, and the other one, much improved. I would never have known that it would turn out this way.

I think it comes down to being mindful, slowing down enough to notice the mess, slowing down enough to notice  the others in the room. The mind may be creative, with a messy craft room, but the mind cannot be peaceful if the rest of the house is the same. There must be some space for ‘space’. A place for your mind to breath, to expand, to de-clutter. Feel joyful, when you walk into the bathroom that you just cleaned, and you notice how it sparkles. Lie down on the carpet that you just vacuumed, and smile when you get up and have no dog hair sticking to you. It’s the little things that usually go unnoticed, that make the biggest and most profound changes in your life.

This will come back to the topic of cleanliness, but I thought it prudent to mention. Being in a relationship is always, I believe, a work in progress. Communication is key, and contribution sits right next to it. Without discussing who will do laundry, then you will never know who should be doing it. Without discussing boundaries, you will cross over each others, and unknowingly create strife. A willingness to participate in all aspects of the relationship, without grumbling, or eye rolling, shows your partner that you care.

I will say again, I am not perfect, nor do I expect others to be. Just be respectful.

Would love to hear your thoughts on cleanliness. This could be an opportunity for you to rant!

 

Lost and Found

lost and found tagAs a child, I don’t recall much loss, and the same throughout my teenage years. There must have been some, and at the time, I assume I responded accordingly. My life was filled with so much happiness and love, that I suppose I was able to just get on with it, or I blocked it out. As a young adult, I remember the loss of family, hitting me hard, but not lasting any great length of time. I can look back now and see the stages of grief I went through, depending on the relation, and how close I was to them in life. My focus seemed to lie with how my parents felt about the loss, not so much me. I can remember thinking about how much they were hurting, and that is what made me sad.

When I married, and had kids of my own, the idea of loss was much greater. I had so much more to lose, much more that was precious to me. I also had a clearer sense of how I responded to loss; part of my journey on getting to know myself better. (…and I just noticed that I put my comfy shorts on inside-out; I wondered why they seemed darker…brb)

There are many different types of loss: death, ability, material things, relationships, plus. At one time in my life, the loss of material things was much greater. Now, yes I will be upset at it, but I will also recover very quickly from it. Even my photo albums, with all the wonderful expressions, and celebrations, and thoughts on the pages, don’t have a hold on me anymore. Again, I would be ticked, but what I have in this world with me now, is of much greater importance.

The loss of my marriage, of the white picket fence, the fairy tale, hit me the hardest, and I also learned the most about myself. My worry for my kids was front and center, and yet I knew there could be no other way. It was the best thing for everyone, and everyone will, in their own time, see that. I came out of that with a wealth of self knowledge and wisdom, that I can draw from.

With aging parents comes my experience with the loss of ability. It is like beginning the grieving process, and putting a hold on it, until the next noticeable change in behaviour, mentally or physically. For me, it feels a little less traumatic, spreading out the anguish into little parts, instead of one giant cry-fest. Learning to adjust to the changes in smaller increments, less pressure, less stress, a transitioning. As I go through it, I can discover my patterns, and adjust my behaviour, my reactions, with a sense of knowing, and an understanding.

As my kids grow into young adults, I experience second-hand loss. I watch their challenges, wins and losses, and grieve on their behalf, for I only want everything in the world for them. I’m not sure how much they actually process, when I share my life experiences with them, in hopes of alleviating some of their hardships. Even though I’m well aware that we have our own journeys and life lessons, I am full of great advice.

With the years beginning to add up on me, I’ve accumulated some losses, and looking back, the best conclusion I can see is; the less we have in material things, the greater the space in our minds, the less traumatic a loss will be. If you have the space to feel and to process and to love; less trauma, more peace. A knowing that the connection you’ve created from clearing the clutter (say that fast five times), will give you strength and the endurance that is needed to continue on. In loss, you find life.

Feel free to add your comments, they are always welcomed!

Writing 101