What is the goal of this piece? What is the central theme? How will it flow and present itself? How will this piece be laid out? How will this piece end? What is the conclusion? This is what I ask myself every time I write. I have not written a full piece of anything in over a month. The last time I wrote, I could not even finish it. I just read it – I stopped at the part where things went from fun to a nightmare. My daughter has mentioned to me at least once per week that I should write. I know she is correct. I know I «should» and still could not bring myself to write. I even re-read my last piece «As Good as it Gets». It is cute. I liked my life at that time. There was acceptance, there was a beginning, a middle and a nice end. Just looking at this paragraph, I can see that my writing is a reflection of my life. The same questions I ask about my piece can be asked about my life. I have a lot of questions at the moment. I used to believe whatever I put «out there» «should be» a positive force. Something good, not destructive. My writing was supposed to be good for me. A safe way to express myself. Safe – What is safe? Why look for or even desire safe? Is that not being afraid? Why all the questions? I think maybe I am onto something with my questions. It brings me back to when I was a child. I was curious. How do I know this? My mom told me. The thing is, I find myself questioning myself a lot these days. I also question other things, and they are large and relate to world events and baffle me even more. Quesitons? Oh I have a few……………
How to deal with loss?
That one I thought I sort of understood. Feel it, accept it, and understand that the person is not dead, they are «non-physical». Their sprit is with you all the time now. You never have to miss them, they are «there». I felt so solid and confident in my ability to feel. When it happened this year, twice, I did not run away and get fucked up on substances in order to feel numb – I was so proud of myself. I thought I had experienced it correctly. As I «should». I felt my feelings. I cried. I accepted to the best of my ability. I did not focus on my questions as to why? I did not focus on my questions of unfairness or mistreatment by certain individuals in hospitals. No, that was the «blame game» and in my new belief system, there was no room for that. Accept and feel, accept and feel……….oh and then that means I should move the fuck on with life. Suck it up buttercup. You got this. Now be strong and carry on.
My mom – I miss her. As I stated, I believed that I «should not» miss her because she was non-physical, therefore she was with me all the time. Blah, blah, blah. It is not fun to mock oneself, but I am doing it anyway. The plant I named after her is still special to me and helps me more than words can express. But my mom, in her physical form, her cooking, her laugh, her eyes, her talks, her words of encouragement, her unconditional love, and her hugs are things I find myself missing. I feel oddly alone at times like a lost little kid. I also feel sad. You see all those above coping mechanisms, and they are good ones – feel and accept I mean – «should» make this go away. That is what I thought. I realize this feeling will probably never go away. I am sad just writing this.
I am told this is normal. That is wonderful, to be «normal». Maybe I had some expectations about myself that were unrealistic. This «should» word is coming into question. Only where is the answer? Maybe I should stop «shoulding» my feelings into a beginning, middle and an end. Maybe there is no end.
How to help someone else go through unspeakable loss?
I just read an article about what we «should do». My daughter also lost two loved ones this year, her grandmother and her father. Ouch. She adored her dad and they did not have the healthiest relationship for many years. However, in the last 4-5 years, their relationship was on a good track. The loss was sudden, unexpected and a total shock. One thing the article said we «should do» is manage our own feelings first. I am beginning to think that with my daughter I am the blind leading the blind. As I stated above, I thought I had «managed» my feelings. That is funny – manage and feelings. Makes me think of managing water. Good luck with trying to control water. Feelings and water – cannot be managed, but I digress……….Apparently I did two correct things, according to the article. I told her I did not know what to say and I listened. Did it help? Not so sure. She started having panic attacks, so severe she ended up in the hospital. She was given medication that I was against in the past, but now had to accept because it was helping her. Pills are bad- people «should not» take pills to heal anything. That is what I believed. There’s that should again. The pills are helping with the panic and anxiety disorder she has developed. Not having answers and listening are not. Well not enough. I feel powerless – in some circles this is a wonderful thing to admit. I am powerless over my daughter, how she feels, what she does. I am NOT powerless within myself – how I react, how I think, my choices. Now if I could just find myself again – that would be great.
What about alcohol?
So alcohol is a drug. It does not interact well with the pills my daughter is taking. I know this because it almost caused her to choke to death. These pills do not interact well with alcohol – at all. Not even a 1 ounce drink. My youngest grandson, William, turned 1 year old on August 29th. On Sunday September 3rd, we held his official birthday party. My daughter asked me if I could host it at my place. I loved the idea and was so happy. I prepared a delicious roast beef, if I do say so myself. I bought balloons and decorations to make the place look and feel special. I am a kid at heart and I wanted this day to be so very special. It really was. Special. In more ways than one.
I found the perfect gifts, the prefect cake, the perfect balloons and decor. The perfect finger foods, the perfect everything. Tessie was in full bloom. Moving along………….my daughter arrived with my little ones and her boyfriend / father of the kids. My simple apartment was full of love and positive energy from all the joy, laughter and love.
My boyfriend offered me a mojito. I happily accepted. My daughter also said she would try one. She never drinks. I can count on one hand the number of alcoholic beverages she has consumed in her life. The mojito was a very balanced and weak drink. It was refreshing. Jade was enjoying it very much. We ate, she prepared Williams cake. He smashed it up into bits and was covered in icing. It was then that things went very bad.
Jade started to react as if she had been drinking all day. She was dizzy and incoherent. I could not believe this was happening after one drink. There was no abuse. Only moderation and enjoying an accompaniment to the day. It was not required, it was simply enjoyed. Until that moment.
We had her lie down in my room. The kids were happy and playing. Her boyfriend took her pressure and monitored her and we all thought she was fine. I got this odd feeling and decided to check on her. I am glad I did because she was lying on her back, choking. I rolled her on her side and she was able to release whatever was ailing her. Thank God I had the instinct to go check on her. What about alcohol? It is a drug and sometimes one really is too many. And sometimes it is not. I suppose it depends on the individual, and so many other factors. One thing I do know – a glass of wine with my second dad is one of my favorite things to experience. It is our thing and whether I should or should not – I will continue having that glass of wine with him, whenever the occasion comes up. Well that is one question resolved for the moment. I stopped «shoulding» myself on that one.
How does one manage feelings?
As I mentioned above, in order to help someone else grieve loss we «should» have managed our own feelings before focusing on the other person. So how does one manage feelings? Example – I was recently fortunate enough to travel for a work related project in Kitmat, B.C. This allowed me so stopover in Vancouver and visit my dad, my friend Lisa and this time Leah too. I had not seen Leah in 25 years. She was my best friend at the time. We were like kids looking forward to Christmas. We spent the day walking and talking. We walked all the way to a beach about 1 hour from her house. We talked for hours there. Anyone who knows me, understands I love the beach and the ocean. I was thrilled we chose to do this activity that day. When it was time for me to leave, I realized I didn’t want to leave. I realized how much I had missed her. She is like me in so many ways and we are so different too. The interesting part is that neither of us judges the other for the differences. It is an unspoken acceptance of the way we both are. She is so open about herself, and I, in turn found myself expressing things to her that only my daughter now knows, with no fear of being judged. I did not feel vulnerable. My last night in Vancouver I went for dinner with my dad and his wife for his birthday. It was the first time since 1985 that we were in the same city for his birthday. We went to a place called «The Boathouse». He wanted to celebrate my promotion and I wanted to celebrate his birthday. His wife was talking about activities that they enjoyed doing in the city because I was thinking about coming back to Vancouver for a personal vacation and had many questions about certain activities I had seen and wanted to do. She talked about how she gone on an outing with an old friend of hers. Suddenly I felt my eyes well up with tears, ready to overflow and I could not explain why. I was mortified. I typically do not get emotional in front of my dad for these unexplained reasons. She noticed and asked if I was okay. I tried to explain that I was fine but I suppose I found myself feeling something unexplained about my friend Leah. I had not expected to feel that way. Maybe that is why that day I had decided to walk the whole distance around Stanley Park. I needed to be with myself and just drink in the ocean, forest and beaches as much as possible. Almost like being at a buffet and binge eating before a fast.
I had such a wonderful time connecting with my dad, his wife and my friends. I even had time to do what I wanted to do alone. It was as if I had an abundance of time, activities and loved ones. With that comes an abundance of feelings. I still am not 100% certain how to manage feelings. I am not even I «should» try. I compare managing feeling to managing waves. You just don’t. You just let them be.
If not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck – what happens if you end up getting the thing you were at peace with not getting?
Yes, this happened to me. I ended up getting the promotion I thought I was not getting. I had realized that I was okay with not getting it. I had marvelous epiphanies because of not getting it. I was at peace, in full acceptance and happy, and then…………….a full 180 happened and I got it. What to do now? I am going with it. I will see where it leads and I am already seeing the wonderful learning experiences I am currently and will live through. I suppose I have a plan. Plans are to be approached with caution. Plans are much like waves too. You think you know how to body surf one – you establish a plan and then one wave comes along and tosses that plan to the sea – literally. So my root plan is to see how things flow and go with it.
But then, the greatest experiences come from throwing caution to the wind and taking risks. As I mentioned at the beginning of all this, what is safe? Isn’t caution much like fear and looking for safe? Where is the thrill in safe? It is ironic that my career involves risk management. Isn’t that ironic? Managing risk is much like looking for certainty. I am beginning to see there is no such thing. But we like certainty and because of that I have a job. As a result of my job I have some sense of certainty. Ironic. I have concluded that I cannot manage outcomes and I «should not» try. I am going to «should myself» out of that one too. All I can manage is my choices in response to the outcomes that are sometimes outside my control. Cute – outcomes, outside myself………..and remember….
Questioning the status quo?
Well this one is tough. In my experience one «should not» question the status quo or popular (read mainstream) opinion. Because I have a brain, I do. If it does not make sense I will question it. All these questions about how our western society is structured, the news, the politics, the economics, the effects on society, the impacts of religion, the beliefs that are 100% polar opposites to what certain religions preach. All of this is considered normal and I question it all. Yet, at the same time, I work in one of the most fundamental elements of the very structure I question – an accounting firm. Based in capitalism and business practices. I suppose I find myself relieved that I am a consultant whose objective is to help businesses and their operations. But then again, I cringe at severe cost cutting measures that put people out of work. I have opinions about the big corporations that are considered evil, yet I have learned so much from one of my larger clients. I have enjoyed working with most of the people I have met with this particular client. The people I have met are not evil. Their intentions are not evil. I feel like an oxymoron. I work the «9 to 5» job, actually more like 9 to whenever sometimes, but I do not see myself as a sheep.
I refuse to watch the news but I am told I «should» to keep up with trends. I must be informed, but I truly question the information that is meant to keep me informed. I look at trends with caution – trends are another word for status quo.
Politics is another subject I shy away from – so much energy invested in this and for what? Where is the benefit to the majority of people? Two sides of the same coin or three sides of the same triangle or four sides……..well you get the point. My perspective is they are the same. Are we really just sheep? If I have to be compared to an animal, I would like to be a wolf. Just not a wolf in the US, where they are perceived as a threat and shot to death. I conclude that I «should» remain curious and questioning.
What about mass tragedies?
Lately hurricanes have destroyed many islands in the Caribbean and other palces too. I know this because anywhere I walked it was all people were talking about. The news is now shown in elevators, subway stations, in hotel lobbies, everywhere. I felt so bad for all those people. I cannot make sense of any of it. Just as you cannot manage waves, you cannot manage Mother Nature either. I was angry at her. She destroyed places that in my view should be immune to such tragedies. It shook my belief in the one thing I did believe in – the Universe and its energy – that is my «God». I do not believe in any one religion. But even the Universe behaves strangely. I just do not understand it. Cuba is one such island. Their motto is «Be happy». Apparently they reacted to the hurricane in typical fashion. From one video I watched, they were swimming and dancing in the streets. They worked together to repair and rebuild. I hope the other affected areas succeed in the same way.
Mass shootings – the most recent one in Las Vegas – by one person with absolutely no history or motive. Very strange. I question the whole story. It does not make sense. I also predict that in the end, they will show evidence all over the news about this person and will have all the proof necessary – the victims need this closure. If I take this tragedy at face value-that one man did this – Maybe some new law will come about. Or maybe, just maybe, the powers that be will realize that civilians do not need automatic weapons to protect themselves? I have heard this way of thinking challenges the 2nd amendment (not sure of the number but I digress…..) but seriously, if I am guarding my home, I think these weapons are overkill (apologies for the unintended pun). Maybe, just maybe it is time to change those laws. I can hear the NRA screaming obscenities and yes I am totally challenging their apparent status quo. In addition, I also find myself wondering what else was going on that day that nobody knows about. We are systematically fed crap to distract us from real issues. Alternatively, I suppose if Mother Nature can up and lose it in the form of a hurricane, so too can humans. We are a part of nature too. It is sad and makes no sense. Maybe we are trying too hard to make sense of things? It is what humans do – well some do – they analyse things to make sense of them and then try to prevent or control these things from ever happening again. Prevention is key in my business as well. I do not know what the «should or should not» is in these cases. I do know how I feel – a range of sadness to disgust depending on the nature of the tragedy. And compassion for those that lived through it. Powerlessness too – there it is again……………..
So what to do?
It is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. For Hindus there is a festival of lights. Sounds nice. We received a message from the head honcho at my firm about being thankful for the people we work with. I am thankful. I agree with this – no question.
I also find myself thinking of other things I am thankful for. There is a list of things. I know many people cringe from feeling grateful or making «gratitude lists» when they feel like shit, betrayed, sad, depressed, angry, worried or hopeless. I understand. That article said it was one of the things to NOT do. They generally start the sentence with «Yeah, but…….or sounds great but……………or seriously, fuck that ,I feel like this right now……………» I respect that. I can relate because I have reacted that way and sometimes I still do. However, at the end of the day or in hindsight, it always puts things into perspective to reflect on what I am thankful for. Do I feel 100% better? No. Do I suddenly become happy and full of glee? No. Do I receive the answers to all world problems? No. Do I have all the answers? No. BUT! There is something calming and soothing, almost meditative about reflecting on the things, people, experiences, that I AM thankful for. In that moment, I am less (notice I did not say 100% relieved or cured) overwhelmed, worried, sad, angry, depressed, hopeless, and I feel more like myself. You know, the one that is at peace and just likes to be and accepts and loves herself. I am a human being after all.
So let’s give it a go – what am I, you, we thankful for?
My family, my friends, both near and far, my work, the people I work with, my clients, travel I have experienced as a result of my work and personally, my health (my body could use some work but back to the thankful list), my daughter (yes I worry about her, it is not a joke, I worry but she is here and talking to me more and more and I am listening even if I feel it does not really help, I am trying), my grandsons, (yes they are family, but in my heart they deserve a special mention) maybe I am grateful for being a grandma? Even if I am perceived as being old as a result and I do not like feeling old? Back to being thankful – being my age – it means I have lived this long. This is a privilege – to be alive and breathing. I can still kick too – so I am alive and not only breathing but kicking. I am thankful for my apartment, the two closed bedrooms, the location, the windows, my blue couch, pillow, and the open layout. I am thankful for public transit- because of it I no longer notice traffic so much. I am thankful for the free running water we have here. I am thankful for my plants, my peppers and tomatoes. I am thankful for my senses. I am thankful for nature – even if it pisses me off at times- the ocean, forests, mountains and beaches – these are elements that evoke wonder and awe within me. Seashells and the little things that make me happy. I am happy for my childlike wonder at simple things. I am thankful it does not take much to make me happy or smile. I am thankful for the unconditional love I have received in my life and can now try to give. I am thankful for the people who go through horrible conditions with grace and strength. I hate their conditions, but they are examples of human courage and ability to overcome adversity. I am thankful for that but I pause at why it has to happen for us to learn about such things. I am thankful I wrote today and for the 3 day weekend ahead.
I do not have scheduled plans but I love that. No «should dos» in the forecast. And on that note. I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving in Canada and a happy weekend in general.