To should or not to should – that is the question.

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.

Sailboat

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.

Waves

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….

Everything is always working out for me

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.

Weather

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?

Appreciation

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.

 

 

Advertisements

As good as it gets

I have been back at work for about a month now. My vacation was…..well………perfect. I suppose the sign of a good vacation is coming back and feeling ready to face whatever life presents to me. I had taken the time to re-energize or re-align myself. I felt like I was in touch with me again. I could breathe and I felt very solid- no matter what may happen.

In the past. I would return to work with a feeling of dread. As if work had the power to take away my feeling of inner well-being. Now I am not saying that I have felt perfectly fine during the last few weeks, but suffice to say, I feel an odd sense of peace, despite what has been happening around me.

I had plans to meditate every single day, as I had at the beach. I had plans to stay active and do physical activity- as I had during my vacation. Oh so many plans. The reality is, I gave myself to my work and when I could, I would meditate. I have also discovered just being. I think «Ease» is the feeling I have been exploring. Allowing myself to take it easy. This time I was perfectly aware that it was ME making the choice, to take or not take, the time to do my planned list of activities. This time, I could not blame anything on work or outside circumstance. The freedom felt in just accepting that I may not always achieve my planned routine has been…beneficial.

The 180 turnaround

Work has been much the same, but slightly different. Last week, I received the news that I did, in fact, get my promotion. It is now official. In hindsight, I see the benefit in experiencing the exact polar opposite of this news before I left for my vacation. I had felt a sense of freedom, no matter what I was told back then, I knew then that I was deserving and good enough. I had become open to new and exciting opportunities. I still am, although they are currently with my firm. I may not know for certain what caused the 180 turn of events, but suffice to say, I think I have some clue. The lessons learned from that whole experience taught me that I no longer have to believe in other people’s perceptions of reality. My own count as well, if not even more. For example, the other day I started to get really stressed about a presentation I had to finish. A presentation that «presented» itself to me last minute with little time to achieve the planned objectives. I became aware that I really enjoy a challenge and I had invested and committed myself to this. Nobody forced me. Although I know that it is understood that I must do these tasks, another part me was very much aware that I wanted to nail it. I then realized that in my stressed out moment, I had bought into another person’s perception of reality. I was actually able to distinguish between my perception that things work out, desire to do well versus another’s perception of urgency. «Worry pas» is an expression my second dad always says, it means «don’t worry». We used to always say it and laugh, but now I am living it, or at least trying to.

I have been learning new things at work too. Proposals are something new to me. This is how we get new clients, business and projects. I had always wanted to be involved before, however now, I am in a position where I have to be. It is required that I become adept at writing proposals. Understanding the context, client needs and submitting a concise approach that reflects that are key. Sales, selling our team and myself in a concise, precise articulate way. I am new to this, Ironically, I had many review notes and did not react as I had in the past. This time, I did not feel unworthy or not good enough. I turned those suggestions into lessons learned and enjoyed the process rather than dread it. Yes, I will always be someone who will need to focus more on details, but I was able to produce good enough work, in my view, and still enjoy the detailed process. This is progress.

Acceptance and appreciation

In my soul, the memories of the ocean are never far away. I love remembering how the ocean and waves felt. I enjoy finding shops where ocean and beach items are sold. Case in point. Many beach and ocean themed stores have furniture that is wood, with a white tint. I adore the look. I am thinking of turning my mom’s bedroom furniture, given to me many years ago, into my new project. The furniture currently has a green tint and always reminded me of spring. My mother had done that all herself. I could never bring myself to dispose of the furniture despite the fact that it is «old». My project is to sand it and tint the wood white – to resemble the furniture I have seen in beach homes, cabins or even huts.

Ocean

In my little piece of the world, I have noticed myself appreciating what is around me. I can list a number of things that upset, worry and anger me. I know this. However I am learning acceptance and awareness of how I feel. In addition, I have noticed that I find myself looking at the things I do enjoy and really focusing on them. Case in point, I recently went for a walk along the Lachine Canal, there were boats on the canal.

 

It seemed busier than usual. The Atwater market is just 10 minute walk, maximum, from my apartment and I found myself really appreciating being so close to local farmers. I purchased fresh blueberries and strawberries and other local produce. I loved looking at the flowers. They will forever remind me of my mother. I cried at the sight of some of them and did not mind one bit. You see I have become comfortable with tears. I know she is in a much better place. I also know that my tears are because I do not appreciate how she passed, and I miss her physically. And that is okay. It is perfectly acceptable. I feel very grateful to be able to accept myself in this way. It feels new. It feels like I did bring back a piece of my «Cuba self.» The walk on the canal is free. It costs nothing. So many people, all outside, co-existing, enjoying nature and life in their own way. There is a boat called «Canal Lounge» where you can go eat, drink and be merry. During my walk, I noticed a man playing the trumpet by the water, jazzy blues. It was the perfect accompaniment to that afternoon by the water.

 

I look back on my life in the last few weeks and I feel very blessed. I have a wonderful family. Being able to see them for a visit, dinner or just call and chat on the phone matters to me. I had dinner with my brother and his girlfriend, and, not long after I had dinner with my second dad. I really enjoyed those dinners. I had been somewhat worried that those family dinners would no longer happen, now that my mom had passed. They still happen, they are just different. That is perfectly acceptable too. I have come out of my little bubble and re-connected with an old friend. She has some issues with her health. I was able to be there for one of her treatments. We just sat and talked at the hospital. I had never felt comfortable doing that before. I felt inadequate and felt I would not know how to help or do anything of value. I feel differently now. It was an honour to be there with my friend.

My daughter is going through difficult times. I cannot say I am not worried and I wish I could do more. However, even in feeling powerless, I know that just by being available to talk with her and listen, more importantly, is helping in some small way. Over the past few weeks, I was given the gift of a phone call from her. One time she called me at work. Why? Because she felt good. She was calling me to tell me she felt OK because she always calls when she is not feeling so hot. I have never cared when she calls. I am just happy she calls, no matter what. The fact that she called just to tell me that day was ok blew my mind and my heart. I am very blessed. Since that day, we speak even more than ever before. I enjoy listening to her talk. I had always hoped she would, but always respected her space. Well now we are chatty Cathy’s on the phone almost daily.

The self help people always say «Do what you love», or. I agree. That is one fine goal. However, these days, I am finding it pretty satisfying just being aware of how I feel, accepting what I do and loving what I have. I may not have the prefect boyfriend but I try to see his qualities. I know now I have enough boundaries set that no one can take advantage of me. I am no victim. That is progress. It is nice to know I can appreciate being accepted for who I am. I do have the perfect family for me and I have never really had many expectations from friends. I do however appreciate that they accept me for myself. My wonderfully «imperfect but perfect in my imperfection» self. Accepting what I do and have in my life is a perfect first step. I have found love in appreciating where I live, my family, my friends and yes, even my work. I hope it sticks.

In the news there is a lot of hate and now more recently, Mother Nature unleashed some severe weather in the USA. I dislike it. I am not comfortable with it. I am unsure how I can contribute to change, except for doing my very best to do no harm to people and to treat those around me, strangers or family or friends with kindness. Perpetuate my belief that we are all human. Race, religion and whatnot are simply labels created by man. However, in my personal life I do not experience this hatred. I have friends of all religions, race, colour, sexual preference and I love that. In the world it seems things are different. I am able to accept that I do not know what to do or have all the answers. I do know one thing – I do not condone hate, and I will not join in the hate. No matter who you are. I feel like this is another way to control people. Get people worked up over ancient issues that have been existent for centuries, distract them enough and they will not pay attention to what is really important. I will not play this game. I will not hate, or condone violence. And you know what? That is what I am capable of right now. I will perpetuate energies I consider to be more beneficial like love, appreciation, kindness, and tolerance, understanding and general gratitude.

Speaking of those principles, earlier this week, Louise L Hay passed away. She lived by the principles of love. She was one of my favorite authors. Her books have helped me immensely. Over the last few years I would find myself thinking of many of her «quotes» from her books. She really helped people learn to love life and especially themselves. I have carried her book «Life Loves You» with me many times since 2015. She also believed that you could heal yourself from many physical and mental illnesses. She wrote books about it. The world needs people like her in it. I wonder, will she be even more powerful in the non-physical? I smile as I think to myself that my mom and Natalino, Jade’s dad are also there. I had always hoped they would read her books when they were not physically well. Now they are all together.

I used to wonder- Is this as good as it gets? Today I think I am happy about how my life is. Perhaps another word would be acceptance. Perhaps that is the difference. Who knows, but until I do know, I will continue to focus on what I love. Until I do have my beach cabin by the sea, I will act as if I am there. I will walk along the canal, fall asleep to ocean sounds and recycle my old furniture into something that would befit a beach house. I will adore my plants and talk to Tessie, my African violet. Ironically, she is in full flower mode again, even though it is winter in Africa and this plant typically does not flower in the summer – well our summer. She is thriving too. I like to think she is my mom in physical form. Who knows but it sure feels good talking to her. The day I received the news about my promotion, I came home, there was a new flower. I sat with her, told her the news and thanked her.

On that note, I think the lesson is to love what you have and try to ignore the rest, I know it is not easy, but accept what is and focus on what is loved. This may not be as good as it gets, but boy am I happy my life is this good. And that makes all the difference.

When plans change

When I retunred from Cuba, I was really looking forward to a family trip. Initially, this road trip was supposed to be with my daughter, her boyfriend and my two grandsons. I had reserved a two bedroom cottage, The Beachcomber, at the Old Shipyard Campground, Spencer Island in Nova Scotia. Instead, because my daughter was feeling quite ill at the time, she suggested that I go with Aidan. I was not overjoyed that she was ill, however, I was happy to have this opportunity to bring Aidan to the ocean with me for the first time. The road trip to the ocean with Aidan was supposed to be for three nights.

Instinct told me to call to confirm my reservation because after giving my credit card information, I had not heard back. It just so happened, they never received that email. However, it also just so happened that they had a 1 bedroom cottage for the same number of nights available. Ironic that I no longer needed two bedrooms. They told me to drive safe and they would see us the next day.

We left Montreal around 3pm. He is quite the good little traveller. Road stops along the way were ensured to help Aidan not feel bored or restless. We would run around the trees and pretend they were magic forests. Indeed, they were. He would ask repeatedly «Where is the ocean Nana? » This warmed my heart because I felt the same way. Except I am an adult and I know it takes a while to get there. So I would explain that we had to get back into the car so we could get closer. No problems there.

I had promised him he would see the ocean before his head hit the pillow that night. We succeeded in driving to St John, New Brunswick. This choice was because there is a harbour there and, while my geography skills need improvement, I knew that was the «beginning» of the ocean. I was determined to keep my promise. We drove through fog, and darkness. There are moose in New Brunswick, so I was very cautious. We drove slowly, but we made it to the ocean by midnight. The place we stayed at for the night was next to the water. I showed Aidan the ocean before his head hit the pillow.

St John

The next morning, we had breakfast and left for our ultimate destination. Spencer Island. This place has meaning for me. I had never been there, but my second dad and mom would go there every year and they adored the place. Claude had told me about the tides and the ocean. How they would come in so high that they would almost touch the camper. He told me about the cottages. He told me about the serenity of this place. How you could fall asleep to the ocean sounds. I listened to him. Going there with Aidan was meaningful to me on so many levels. I knew I would feel my mom there and I knew she would be overjoyed to see her great grandson there as well.

It was about 3 hours away and Aidan was very excited. I had been told about the road there. It would twist and turn and then a clearing where the ocean would appear in full view. When I saw this, I told Aidan to look and see the ocean. We were beside ourselves with excitement. We were so very close. Then I saw this:

 

May 28th we are at a family gathering. My dad and his wife are in town. My daughter, son in law, grandsons, brother, sister in law, nieces are all together for brunch. They took Aidan for a walk by the river. It was time to leave and Aidan cried «I don’t want to go, I want to see the sea!!!!!!!!! »

I laughed and cried at the sight of that sign.

The couple that owns this campground knew my parents well. When I arrived I was, well, emotional. I said I had a reservation. I told the lady that my parents had been going there for years. She asked their names and then slowly, recognition crossed her face. She asked if Claude had a water company. I confirmed he did and then she said «We were just talking about them yesterday, wondering why they had not been here in a couple of years. » I explained why. She called her husband and explained what had just happened. They hugged me. We cried. They asked how many nights the reservation was for. I explained that it was available for 2 nights. She stated that a third night had just opened up. That was a no-brainer. I took it. They told me they had never seen a couple that enjoyed just being together so much, walking hand in hand on the beach, going for dinner. I agreed.

Our cottage was named «Sea Urchin» and it was perfect. Fully equipped and so cozy. The view from the cottage was perfection.

Interesting how the ocean is. In the Bay of Fundy, the tides are in, out and the ocean looks different every hour. Every day there is something new about it. No matter what, it is still the ocean. So many facets, so many changes, still it is the ocean. The tides are high or low. I suppose that is how life is too.

This location had rocky beaches. Aidan took to the beach immediately and played in the rocks. Aidan would run, trip and fall. He would get up and in minutes, all had passed and all was well again. He found seas shells, rocks and I did too. I even found my first piece of sea glass. One day, we walked along the beach for 2 hours, exploring, playing in the rocks, sand and finding our treasures.

We visited the surrounding areas. Lighthouses, cliffs with each view more breathtaking than the last. Each view of the ocean in all its glory, different that the last.

On the day we were supposed to return to Montreal, we decided to extend the trip. We went to Parlee beach, a beach on the ocean with sand. Aidan would love that. We made sand castles and when the tide started coming in, we were in the water. Aidan felt the little waves on his legs and started to laugh. I wish I had caught that sound on video. The sound of his laughter filled my heart. He sounded just like me. I laugh like a child when I play in the waves. I could relate to Aidan. We had a picnic on the beach. Then it was time to move on to our next destination. We chose Alma. New Brunswick, the Bay of Fundy, NB side. Always by the ocean of course. There was a quaint motel with rooms that had kitchenettes. We had bought food for our journey, opting to cook instead of eating out. We had a nice little dinner by the ocean that night. Aidan wanted to speak to his mommy, daddy and William each night. I loved this because I would get to chat with William. I requested one more night with Aidan and my daughter agreed.

Aidan settled down for bed and I decided to check my work emails. There was one from my partner entitled Personal and Confidential. He thanked me for responding to a client request. Then he informed me that they had decided to present me for a promotion to Senior Manager with a rating of 2. The decision of yay or nay was in progress. The exact polar opposite of what I had been told during my evaluation. I did not know what to make of this email. I was surprised. I had come to some realizations in the recent weeks about work. I went outside to reflect, by the ocean. In the silence I understood that this was out of my hands and I would let the Universe reveal what would happen with this. I let it go.

The next day I walked along the shore and thanked the ocean for a wonderful time, again. You see, there was fog in the mornings but it would always dissipate because of the sun. We had not seen a drop of rain this whole time.

We did not know which route to take on our journey home. I knew of Rocky Harbour, where there is a ferry, a huge boat that goes to Grand Manan Island. The trip is 90 minutes one way. Just anything to keep me on the ocean. However, we had just missed the ferry when we arrived. At that moment, my brother sent me a picture of his African violet that just so happened to have three beautiful flowers. It was my mom’s plant. It had not flowered since her passing. He was in Vancouver visiting my dad and my sister in law had informed him of this news. I was overjoyed for him. I too had purchased an African violet, named her Tessie, after my mom and she had given me three flowers just before my vacation started. It would appear that mom was watching over all of us during our vacations.

We headed towards Fredericton, away from the ocean but next to the St John river which eventually does lead to the ocean…………but I digress. We enjoyed a wonderful sunset that night, as we had every night of our vacation.

Sunsets 2Sunsets

Eventually we made it back to Montreal the next day. I promised Aidan to make a treasure jar with what he had found at the beach.  The following day, I left to go to Sainte Agathe in the north of Montreal. The following day it rained. I walked in the woods and enjoyed the rain. My first day of rain since my vacation had begun. I came across a stream. I decided I would return the next day. I had been hoping to see some animals in the woods, but they were absent that day

I was sitting by the stream in silence. Listening to the rustling trees and feeling the breeze. It was so serene there. A butterfly flew around me. I was surprised because I was wearing black. They are typically attracted to bright colours. It would not stop flying around me. Eventually it flew around my face and fluttered against my eyelid. I called out «Mommy» and it flew around me once more and then went on its way. On my way home, I stopped at Mont Tremblant National Park and saw deer within minutes of entering the park. I spent the rest of the afternoon at the beach. I thought of Aidan as I made castles in the sand with plastic beer glasses to the interest of little children around me that had boatloads of sand toys.

I suppose things do not always go as planned. I understand there is something precious in this when it happens. Trees, oceans, lakes, streams and nature in general hold secrets to life. This has been my experience in the last three weeks. No matter what the conditions, nature carries on with grace and finds a way to thrive. Every once in a while I feel that way. More so when I am alone, but slowly I am finding ways to be in that state around people. That was one gift of my time spent with Aidan and my vacation in general. Sometimes you really do need to talk with a three year old just to understand life again.