A sense of accomplishment

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The month of November came in like a lion and is going out like a hibernating bear.  But within the tumultuous days in what is quite possibly my least favorite month, there was a light, not only at the end of the month-long tunnel, but emanating from inside of it.  NaBloPoMo cast the glow of a warm light that bathed me in its radiance.

November is typically a month of dull, grey days that do nothing but merge into dark, lifeless evenings.  The clock has fallen back to make those days even shorter and without snow on the ground, November is nothing more than 30 days of lethargy and gloominess – until NaBloPoMo came into my life.  Since I am relatively new to the blogging world, and have only recently re-acquainted myself with the writing portion of my cerebral cortex, I wasn’t sure if I had enough verbiage that would span 30 days.  I couldn’t have been further off the mark.

Words seemed to tumble over themselves to jockey for positions on the screen.  They pushed and shoved each other until the line up resembled a bar code for the Tassimo brewer – everything had its place.  If one of those words lined up incorrectly, the flavor of the post left a bitter aftertaste.

It’s been a great month-long ride of diving into the fountain of my creativity.  I still find myself blissfully afloat in the calming waters and feeling like I am home.  The tepid water envelops me, yet keeps me buoyant and cradled in a sense of unity with its tides.

So I shall pat myself on the back for posting for thirty days successively,  and hope that the next 31 days find me still floating (face up) in that fountain of ideas.  I thank all of you for your continued support and encouragement and look forward to sharing more of my ideas as well as ingesting so many of yours.  I can honestly say I love the new community I find myself ensconced in and look forward to a continued journey of words, phrases and friendships.

Here’s my opinion…. and keep the change

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On February 4th of 2013, the Canadian Mint will stop distributing the penny to financial institutions and eventually take them out of circulation altogether.  This decision instills a small fear in me.  Not the fear of change, (pardon the pun), but the fear that my opinion may no longer count.  And yours too, for that matter, if you live in Canada.  You should all be concerned that friends and family may no longer ask us how we feel, because there will be less of a way to measure our input.  Putting in our two cents worth will become either non-existent, or result in a much higher cost.

(photo courtesy of Google)

And what happens to all those two cents worth we have volunteered in the past?  Are they negated because the currency of their voice no longer exists?  By changing the essence of the Canadian economy, they are creating instability in the people’s method of voicing their opinions.  Does my two cents worth increase in value because they are rounding up?  Does what I have to say really equate to five cents?  And, is what I have to say really worth that extra three cents?

And what about “a penny for your thoughts”?   Will we now be subjected to soliciting free advice, or will those seeking outside recommendations be paying more for what they thought was only worth one cent?

The monetary value on the weight of our words, when asked for, will no longer hold any financial worth.  Either that or it is going to become increasingly costly to ask for outside counsel.  What once would have cost a penny for a thought will now be rounded up to a nickel, and someone’s two cents worth will now become a dime.  This may have a long-term effect on mortgage rates and interest rates – this could lead to financial anarchy!

Perhaps this is the Bank of Canada’s way of insinuating its salacious attempt to create more wealth amongst those willing to bestow their wisdom upon others.  What would have once earned you a penny, will now net a profit of four more cents towards a retirement account and bring an earlier date of financial freedom.  And if you are willing to give up what would have once been your “two-cents worth”, your net profit is now a substantial increase on your original remuneration.

Perhaps the powers-that-be have converged to agree that our opinions truly do matter, and perhaps they see more value in that inference than we had originally anticipated.

For what it’s worth, that is my two-cent conjecture.  This blog post will no longer be worth anything on February 5th, 2013. (or you may owe me a few cents!)

Here’s your stick…..draw your line

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The sand lays in wait. Millions of grains stretch for miles and the beach seems to be swallowed by the horizon line.  But you boldly step forward, take that stick (or your finger) and draw your line.

Personal limits are a must-have.  By setting boundaries, by drawing that line in the sand, we take a giant step towards preserving our integrity.  The line we draw becomes an invisible wall of defiance and gives us the strength to truly stand behind what we believe in and allows us to have the courage to defend that wall.

Knowing where you stand is more than half the battle.  Many people can aimlessly wander through life with no true convictions.  They are easily swayed and can become lost in the crowd, without ever truly engaging their basic human right to have an opinion.  But allowing ourselves to have that opinion can define who we are, to the core of our being, with no outside influence and no second-guessing.  We can create a line that we won’t cross to avoid being swallowed in the maelstrom of millions of other ideals that don’t represent our own.

It’s perfectly okay to have boundaries.  Our opinions are like doorways to our mind.  We can leave those doors wide open and allow others to come in and hear those opinions, or those doors can remain closed to safeguard our thoughts without really having to defend that line.

Have an opinion and be willing to stand behind it.  Here’s your stick – feel free to draw your line.

Two words that shouldn’t be so offensive

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Today’s world is a far cry from simple.  It is a labyrinth of cultures, race, skin color and vastly different systems of belief.  It is a melting pot of strong ideals and judgements, and it is quickly becoming far less tolerant than it once was.

I happen to celebrate Christmas, and in the process of that celebration I can be heard uttering two words that, although were once mainstream, are now, by some, thought to be completely offensive.  Merry Christmas.  Two words that contain the ideals of the child I once was and now hold dear the spirit of a celebration that I embrace.

I am not a vindictive person and when I choose to verbalize those two words, I am not negating the fact that you may not celebrate this particular holiday.  I am choosing to share my love of the holiday season in my way.  I am attempting to insinuate my child-like joy into the moments of your day by choosing to wish you the best of the holiday season in a way that I learned through osmosis.  There used to be something exceptionally special about watching the joy spread by speaking those two words.  It was like watching a wave of true happiness spread from one person to the next.  Now, instead of riding that wave, it is more like treading lightly on the edge of the water, ever mindful of sharp objects in the sand.

I have felt trapped at times, wondering if I should only articulate the two words that do not seem to easily offend, but happy holidays doesn’t encapsulate the true spirit I have at this time of the year.  Sure, it may be less offensive to some, but perhaps they don’t take the time to know the feeling behind the words.  By wishing you a Merry Christmas, I am merely saying that I want you to enjoy your way of celebrating as much as I enjoy mine and somehow inject some of my cheer into your day.

So let me throw caution to the wind and impart my holiday spirit to you on this Sunday morning.  Merry Christmas to all and may the spirit of the holiday season, whatever your holiday may be, bring merriment to your smile and gladness to your heart.

The revenge of the rhymes

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This was written several years ago, but I have been thinking about it lately for some strange reason.

Rhymes of Passion

When inspiration urges my thoughts and feelings hidden within,

I’m overwhelmed by the beauty of words and ideas that begin

to flow forth from the keyboard caressed gently by my hand.

Such a spontaneous collection of flowing phrase and rhymes that I command.

I understand a passion that’s not easily defined.

Only when my keys are idle, imagination is confined

to whimsical thoughts of whirling words trapped in such small space.

Only when I script my rhymes, my thoughts have found their place.

For passion seeks to free itself, the means are not rehearsed,

The many ways it manifests, the many different verse.

I accept the visions I have not seen, I am blind from word to word.

But when I read my thoughts aloud, what imagery I have heard.

The splendor that is created, the feelings that I may share,

when poems, dreams and promises, magically fill the air.

I open my soul for all to see when my prose is read,

and allow the rhymes to define the words that could never before have been said.

I am a prisoner of my passion, a victim of its grace and style.

Spoken words will never fulfill, they last but only a while.

The rhyme flows on and with its touch, embraces a gentle whim,

and embarks on a journey of bringing forth, creative thoughts from within.

A Chance Encounter

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Today’s Daily Prompt was this – Open your nearest book to page 82. Take the third full sentence on the page, and work it into a post somehow. (I highlighted the sentence in question)

~

I loathe public transportation.  Every nuance of its existence offends me. The platforms are loud and over-crowded, the blended fragrances of the vast array of perfumes, cologne and foul body odors are noxious and people are overtly rude.  I don’t like crowds and I certainly don’t like feeling like a sheep being herded into a confined space.  I wish I had a car.

I purposely took a seat in the station far from the gathering crowd.  If I could begin my holiday with some personal space, I might have a fighting chance of surviving the journey without incident.  I buried my nose in the latest Oprah Book Club selection, The Poisonwood Bible, and tuned out the din of the increasing population of travelers.

I felt his stare before I actually looked up to take notice of him.  He was staring directly at me.  His eyes were so fixed on my face that he had seemingly forgotten to blink for about three minutes.  His face was worn, and it carried with it a lifetime of pain.  The deep-set lines in his forehead reminded me of the lines carved into a sand-blasted sign.  To say he had character would be a gross understatement.  But nothing about his gruff complexion made me uncomfortable.  There was a genuine sadness in his eyes and, for the first time in my life, I wanted to talk to a complete stranger.  I made the first move and closed the distance between us.

He was the one who spoke first, “You look like her.”

He blinked and a single tear traced through the jagged pattern of wrinkles on his cheeks.  The words he uttered almost came out in whispers.  He had lost his daughter, and every day he would come to the bus station just to catch a glimpse of someone who resembled her, to help him hang on to her memory.  We chatted about ourselves briefly and I became so intrigued by this man that I barely heard the metallic voice announcing the arrival of my bus.  I stood to gather my things, but I didn’t want to go.  I didn’t want to leave him.

I missed my bus that day.  My family was angry that I was late for the festivities, but when I explained what had happened, they were moved to tears, as was I.  The sweet man who stared at me in the bus station and I now have lunch together every Friday.  I now call him my friend.

It’s okay to get stuffed every once in a while

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The only thing I hate about a steak and lobster dinner is getting too full to eat any more. ~SS

There’s a lot to be said for the joy the holidays bring – or any celebration, for that matter.  Whether it be a birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas or a reunion – the ease of the conversation, the steady flow of wine, the melodic sound of laughter and the joy of being with a close-knit group of people is unequalled.  There is an undefined comfort level that allows us to become absorbed in the festivities that surround us. The fact that we can gorge ourselves and have an excuse to eat everything in sight with only a few fleeting moments of guilt is sublime.

The molecules change in the room when family and friends get together for a holiday celebration.  There is something intrinsically sacred about holidays and the memories that are created within those moments. Time has a way of strategically obliterating those precious seconds as it marches on at a frantic pace, but our memories have a way of stopping that clock, if only for a few moments.

Holidays are a portal.  They can freeze time and create a vortex that allows us to travel back and relive certain periods in our lives.  The memories wrap themselves around us like a blanket and soothe us with the warmth of the times that engaged us and truly breathed life into our lives.

Although many holidays have passed and are collecting dust in the books of my hallowed history, watching my brother “float” his dinner in gravy brings back a rush of nostalgia, and that, to me, is what the holidays are truly about.  Personal moments that, to any other person would mean nothing, but to me, define my holiday experience.

Our Canadian Thanksgiving has come and gone, and the time that I got to spend with my family is etched into my subconscious.  Glimpses of that night will replay themselves on the movie screen in my head and I will be front row, enjoying the show.  I can only hope the same fate happens upon my American family and friends, and that their Thanksgiving will leave them with the same lasting memories.

Embrace your family, enjoy the moments, and get stuffed with those memories.

On the eve of my 100th birthday

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Written for the Daily Post Challenge: You have the chance to write one last post on your blog before you stop blogging forever.

Last blog entry – March 27th,  2069 – the eve of my 100th birthday

I am a smoldering pot of emotion.  This blogging journey, and all of you, my fellow writers, have taught me a great deal about myself.  I was apprehensive beginning what I thought would be a whim, but what truly turned into a collection of moments that, once they were added together, defined me.  From the rare glimpses into my humor to the things that truly touched my heart, I have bared my soul through pontificating on these random polysyllabic profundities.

Many suns have set as I assumed the position at my keyboard, unaware that the day had passed and the night had now enveloped the walls of my widow’s peak to which I have become accustomed to writing behind.  The wind has frolicked through the leaves and tickled them on its way.  Those same leaves have fallen to allow for the snow to blanket the branches, season after season, and I was none the wiser.  Months, even years passed as my mind was lost in thoughts of future tales to tell.

And now, in what may be my eleventh hour, I am overcome with grief as I say goodbye to what has possibly been one of few true friends that genuinely understood me.  This blog has been the one confidant that I was able to tell my deepest secrets.  It let me rant when I needed to release my anger, it laughed at my humor and embraced me when I wrote about things that absolutely broke my heart.  It has nursed me through the passing of loved ones and helped me welcome the next generations into our family.  And now, as I sit alone on my last night on this earth, it is this blog that is my only companion, for it sees me as I truly am.  I want my family to remember me full of life and not a feeble, bed-ridden old woman, barely able to type.

There is a slight chill in the air and I feel the darkness seeping into the corners of my eyes.  I shall hit ‘publish’ one last time so my last words will enter the blogosphere as I enter the light.  My words will be there to greet you one last time as those who have passed before me await my arrival to join them in that place beyond our world.  Thank you for joining me on what was a very long, but extremely fulfilling journey.

Do not go gentle into that good ultrasound

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The following story is an excerpt from my life and IS based on a true story.  Some names have been changed to protect the …..oh, you get it.

I never used to regard myself as a “ballsy” person.  The biggest risk I would take would be changing my brand of peanut butter (which was a big mistake, by the way, never deviate from the Kraft Smooth PB).    As I became submerged in the work-a-day world, my perspective on risk began to deviate.  Perhaps slaving through those 16-hour days, 7 days a week made me rethink those subsequent risks and I embarked on a quest that would lead me down a very interesting rabbit hole, only to be faced with the rabbit in a very unexpected way.

I am a woman and women get ultrasounds.  It is an undeniable truth that we will not be able to avoid the photon beams and  gelatinous goo that is liberally applied to our nether regions.  We lie exposed and are contorted into precarious positions so those smiling radiation technicians can see us from the inside out.  It’s not a completely unpleasant experience.  There is really no pain involved, unless you include the potential of an exploding bladder, then it can be unpleasant.

The radiation tech on this particular day was a charming and attractive man, and as I lay cloaked in the fading, and somewhat see-through blue hospital garb his mouth opened to speak.  I was sure it was going to be the usual inane description of the process, but this guy bypassed all decorum and dove right into a conversation that had absolutely nothing to do with photon beams.  I was so taken by the twinkle in his eyes that I hadn’t even noticed the cold viscous fluid making contact with my skin.  After what seemed like only a millisecond, it was over.  I’m sure I saw that glint of light on his teeth when he smiled, like you see on TV shows, and then he was gone.  I was alone, barely covered in the hospital’s excuse for a gown, and I really had to pee.

The ultrasound was completely normal, for those concerned for my well-being, and my life went back to what I perceived as conventional.  But I couldn’t get this guy out of my head.  I was transfixed on the memory of “Ronnie’s” smile and was determined to see him again.  Short of swallowing a foreign object large enough to warrant another ultrasound, I decided on an alternate, yet just as devious, route.  I sent an anonymous card to the hospital with an extremely well-written poem inviting him on a blind date.  Yes, you read correctly – I did that!!  I gave it to one of his co-workers who stealthily placed it in his locker and I was left to see if he would respond.

A few days later, the phone rang at the front desk of the hotel I was managing and the curiosity had gotten the better of Ronnie’s cat, and thankfully didn’t kill it!!  After interrogating his co-workers to find out a) if I was actually a woman, b) if I was incarcerated and c) if this wasn’t an unseasonable April Fool’s joke, he accepted my offer and called to announce his apprehensive, but confirmed appearance.

True to a gentleman’s form, Ronnie arrived on time with a lovely display of fresh flowers.  Extra points were awarded as they were not haphazardly picked from the garden in front of the hotel in a panic to present a gift.  After the initial awkwardness, we settled into a nice dinner, some fine wine and the conversation floated along with the warm summer breeze.  At another time and in another place, things may have been picture-perfect, but Ronnie was in the middle of a nasty divorce and custody battle.  After dinner, I stood outside the hotel to say goodbye to Ronnie.  I clutched the flowers that he so graciously brought to dinner and watched him drive off into the sunset.  (Okay, it was pitch black, but the sun setting seemed far more romantic.)  What would have been the beginning of a great love story to potentially tell our overtly attractive grandchildren, turned out to be a pleasant evening that ended with a hug.

I am a woman and women have mammograms.  Thankfully, it is other women who give women mammograms.  When I entered the Radiology department, I had no misconception about what was going to transpire.  I would disrobe, don the ever-flattering hospital gown and place objects that were once an orb shape into a machine and they would be made to look like a pancake.  I would re-dress in my pseudo savvy wardrobe and life would go on.  But the technician said “hmmmmm”.    When a university trained technician says “hmmmmm”, it makes you second guess the success of your mammogram.

The delightful technician, who now saw that I had drained of all color, suggested that I have an ultrasound to potentially see what the mammogram could not, but she was sure it was nothing.  She and I crossed the hall together and she told me to lie on the table and leave the robe of cheesecloth around my waist.  I obeyed the orders and nervously awaited her return.  The knock on the door came and I said I was ready.  The door swung open and in walked Ronnie….the ethereal God of photo-refractive beams.

To say the moment was awkward would be doing those precious seconds a grave injustice.  If I had been pale before, I was now transparent, or at least I had hoped I was.  Ronnie was standing over me, preparing the beams and the unset jello as I lay on the table, both breasts completely exposed.  Had the initial dinner gone well, Ronnie would have, more than likely, gotten to first base in a far more civilized and non-clinical manner.  However, his intrinsic work began and during the procedure Ronnie made small talk about his kids and his divorce.  The torture finally ended, and after what seemed like an eternity, Ronnie gently pulled the up the robe to allow me a small bit of modesty and left the room.

As an eternal optimist, I always think that it could have been much worse.  Ronnie has since moved on to a larger hospital in a more urban area.  At least my ultrasound on Friday will no longer be marred with uncertainty and I can feel more comfortable exposing myself to a complete stranger!

Laugh from your toes

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Life has the capacity to throw us a lot of curve balls and present us with a multitude of precipitous obstacles.  Sadly, many of our emotions are born of frustration, angst and anger. But there are rare glimpses into something wonderful. A moment that begins with a smile, turns into a giggle and takes over our body, doubling us over with infectious laughter.  Our cheeks burn with crimson, our eyes well and tears stream down our face, but we can’t seem to stop that ‘roll in the aisles’ guffaw.

Minutes go by that we are hunched over, clutching our ribs.  We give every effort to try to catch our breath, but our uncontrollable laughter makes us laugh even more, sometimes forgetting what we were in stitches about in the first place.  Now we are laughing at ourselves for laughing so hard.  Our ribs now burn, our muscles contract, our face is saturated with saline and we can hardly catch our breath.  Those around us who have not been privy to the initial joke find themselves laughing along with us because the sense of joy is all-consuming.

These are moments to be cherished.  They don’t come along as often as they should for most people, but if we have the chance to lose ourselves in laughter, we shouldn’t let that moment pass us by.  We need to learn to let ourselves go and enjoy that feeling of utter helplessness as we laugh ourselves silly.  A laugh, not just a giggle, but a good belly laugh that comes from our toes is some of the best and most affordable medicine!!

We may not remember what we were laughing at, but we will remember the feeling of escape and utter happiness and ultimately crave that feeling again.

When was the last time you had a full breakdown of side-splitting laughter?