Walls of emotion

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It is a very rare occurrence when my emotions take me by surprise.  I am usually fairly in tune with them.  But, tonight, driving past my mother’s old house, the same house I drive by every day on my way to work and again on my way home, the emotion stored within those walls hit me like a ton of bricks.   Tonight I glanced at the house, as I do every time I follow that familiar road, and I burst into tears.

I don’t know where the tidal pool of emotion came from but suddenly I was flooded with images of moments that became important memories in my life.  Christmases, birthdays, family gatherings and quiet nights spent as a family were at the forefront of my brain.  Lingering snapshots of magical kisses witnessed by only the walls upstairs slowly transformed themselves into moving pictures to replay the scene.  That house, the building others would only see as walls and a roof, was my home.  It was the vessel that helped create and store some of the most precious moments of my life.

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And although there were many happy times, there were also moments of great sorrow.  Those walls echoed as I told my parents, hysterically through sobs, that my best friend had passed away in 2003.  That roof sheltered both my parents as they battled their illness and those walls protected them for as long as they could.  That structure that is a seemingly unnoticeable building to passers-by will forever have a large part of my history carved into its frame.

That architecture will always be a part of me.   Each time I drive by and take the time to trace the outlines of those walls there will always be an affinity to its design and purpose.  It is said that we need to let things go to be happier but I feel the need to embrace those things to stay connected.

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Helicopter parenting and stating the obvious

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Helicopter-Parenting

 

(image credit: teenlife.com)

I had a remarkable interaction with a parent of a teenager who will be ready to face the working world next summer.   This particular parent just happened upon our resort to scope out potential lodging to stay at next spring while his son pounded the pavement to find himself a job.  The most important part of that previous sentence are the words  “to find himself a job“.

Too often over the last few years I have had conversations with parents gushing about the talents of their children and why said child would be perfect for a job at our resort.  Never in those golden moments of being told how great “Johnny” was did I ever speak to “Johnny” himself.  It has become the norm for parents to act on behalf of their offspring in hopes of finding them gainful employment.  One of the most unfortunate parts of this new trend is that the child will never gain that self-confidence that you can only achieve by creating a resume, making that first phone call to ask about a job and securing a job with a face-to-face interview.

While it is regrettable, I am among many in the position of hiring students who inevitably put “Johnny’s” resume at the bottom of the pile.  What kind of employee will “Johnny” be if he is not eager and hungry enough to seek out and secure his own job?   These kids learn nothing about achieving goals if somebody else does the work.  They will never understand the concept that the world owes us nothing – that you have to work for what you get.  The blades of their helicopter parents are slicing away at their chance of being successful on their own merit.

Life is about disappointment, but still having that drive to succeed.  Life is about making mistakes but learning lessons from those mistakes.  If our future generations are to succeed, they need to learn how to try and, potentially, learn how to fail.  They need to fly on their own and crash a couple of times before they have clear skies.

Thank you to that incredible dad who was allowing his son to leave the nest and fly on his own.  Please send him our way.  I’d be happy to have a look at his resume and chat with “Johnny” for a while about a job for next summer.

Reworking the image of a mid-life crisis

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I have noticed a few things about myself as I gracefully grow older, particularly over the last few years.  Grey hair and wrinkles notwithstanding, my perspective has evolved from the relatively carefree attitude I once enjoyed.   Gone are the days I flippantly put that first toe into the soothing waters of a hot tub and let my body follow.  Public pools are a distant memory and the frequency of my hand washing has increased exponentially.  Hell, these days I even avoid soaking in a bathtub.  I refuse to call myself a germaphobe but, if the label fits, I have three letters for myself – O C D.

I don’t know when this nuance in my psyche first began to form but it has taken root and branched out at an uncomfortable rate.  I haven’t reached the breaking point of color coding my closet or having my remote controls in a line at a 45 degree angle, yet, but I do notice the trending pattern and it has become somewhat disconcerting.

Perhaps this is a natural evolution from childhood to adulthood.  Maybe this is simply my acceptance of dealing with reality from an educated viewpoint.  Or just maybe, this is my mid-life crisis.  Conceivably I am taking things far too seriously but I cannot seem to access the earlier frame of mind that allowed me to live with reckless abandon.  I am stymied by my overwhelming urge to retreat from public spaces and the sharing of any bodily excretions that are emitted into public water.

midlife crisis(image credit:  someecards.com)

I can only hope that the misgivings of my mid-life irrationality will subside.  I hope to be able to, once again, access that childhood abandon that allowed my to enjoy my life without second-guessing it, or at least bring me reasonably close to that feeling again.  If not, I fear I may be sending my future blog posts via Skype from the bubble I have inhabited while banging on the keyboard through my rubber gloves!

Have you noticed any noteworthy changes as you’ve gotten older?

Old habits die hard….or get hit by lightning

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Last night we had a pretty epic lightning storm.  It didn’t hit as close to home as the bolt that struck a tree at the resort in late June but the pyrotechnic show was phenomenal.

As kids during any great thunderstorm, my brother and I would turn our couch to face out the picture window to watch the display in the sky.  While I could count the high number of my friends who I knew were shuddering under their beds, my brother and I were face to face with the awesome display of nature and the power of a storm.

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(image credit: National Geographic)

Last night I felt just like that kid again.  I propped myself up on my couch, faced out the window with a glass of wine in my hand and watched in awe as arcs of light graced the sky.  And although my brother wasn’t on the same couch, he was watching the storm through a different window.  Some things will never change.

 

Getting into trouble at school

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Last night was my nephew’s graduation from Grade 8.  Like every other family, we collected en masse in the auditorium and slowly felt the oxygen leaving the room as the number of attendees multiplied exponentially.  The ceremonies were late in getting started and after the first tapping of a finger on the microphone the noise of the audience was dulled and the festivities began.

The first thing that struck me about the celebration was the overwhelming difference from my grade 8 graduation to last night.  The girls looked like they were dressed for the red carpet and the boys were dressed to the nines.  Back in 19(illegible numbers) at my grade 8 grad, I recall wearing something that could have passed as a hand-me-down for Holly Hobby, minus the apron, and the boys wore jeans, running shoes, short-sleeved white dress shirts and clip-on ties.

The program for the evening kept to the letter of the printed description, minus the timing.  As speech tumbled into speech, I made the mistake of leaning over to my brother and whispering something about the extended ceremony and the fact that the grad class may miss their boat cruise after the graduation.  It was at that precise moment that my brother chose to whisper a response that not only shocked me, but made me start to giggle.  Now, when you are in the middle of an important rite of passage for a 14-year-old, giggling during the ceremony is frowned upon.

I did my utmost to stifle the laughter but that only made it worse and a small snort escaped.  This sent my brother into fits of silent, but convulsive laughter as well and we slowly lost control.  Tears streamed down our faces as we sought some sort of relief from our fits of hysterics but, every time we looked at each other, the inaudible giggles were compounded by more tears and several sideways glances from those sitting around us, including my sister-in-law.

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My younger nephew, who was sitting beside me, leaned over to quietly ask what was so funny.  I could only respond with a wave of my hand and more fits of silent laughter while trying to catch my breath.  Thankfully a somber moment in the ceremony grabbed our attention the restrained giggling came to an end.  I wiped the moisture from my cheeks and eyes and avoided looking in my brother’s general direction for the duration of the grad ceremony.

My nephew graduated with Honors and his class quickly exited the hallowed halls of their alma mater to board the steamship that was waiting for their arrival.  Like ants leaving a picnic, the cars sequentially left the parking lot and the evening came to an end.  I got in my car, a few chuckles escaping as I recalled the fun I had with my big brother, and heard the distinctly familiar ring of my cell phone.

My first words were, “I’m still laughing”, and I could hear that familiar sound on the other end of the phone.  We laughed again for another five minutes and I had to pull the car over because I couldn’t see well enough to drive!  That is certainly one graduation I will never forget – and when my younger nephew goes through the same ceremony, I’ll make sure my brother and I are not sitting beside each other!

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A blast from the past

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How quickly the past can bury itself under mountains of storage containers and lock itself in a shed.  I have been purging myself of many unwanted items and have stumbled on some treasured mementos that I have been thinking about a lot lately.

I used to love doodling in class when I was in high school.  Art class was the only time during my day where I found myself truly drawn (pardon the pun) into the subject material and would pay attention throughout the entire lesson.

I remember sitting in the library, long before the world-wide-web was introduced and encyclopedias were still a functional research tool, and I began to draw some lines.  The lines continued and a face began to emerge.  I continued, not knowing what the final product would be, and this face appeared.

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Drawing for me, then, was what writing is to me now.  I would lose myself in the process and dabble in many different ways to create a picture.  I painted birds with oil paints on cedar shingles, I would sketch with charcoal, create drawings using nothing but stippled marker and create caricatures of faces that were popular at the time.

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It’s amazing that I had long since forgotten that part of myself.  That creative side morphed from sketches into stories and now I use my words to paint the pictures that I used to draw.

I have an opportunity to speak to someone who may be able to  help me with a series of children’s books I have been working on.  Last year I began putting out the feelers to find an artist to sketch some characters for me but perhaps it was fate that I found these drawings.  Maybe I can sharpen a pencil or two and get back that love for modeling characters from a piece of lead and see where the lines will take me.

Father’s Day so far away

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This picture is my dad and I in 1970.  Seemingly, I was as stubborn then as I am now!  We were very similar creatures, my dad and I.  Although we would have some “heated discussions” during our ever evolving relationship, there was always love at the core of our bond.

My dad passed away in March of 2006 and I miss him every day.  I miss his silly sense of humor, I miss his charisma, his smile, and I miss knowing that he would be right there if I needed him.  This is a poem I wrote a few months after he passed.  He was a Councillor for our township and he was honored with a plaque that was place on a large rock in the local park and the planting of a tree.  Happy Father’s Day, dad.  We miss you.  xoxo    :)

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As Seasons Change

We give these gifts of nature in your name,

To forever keep you near.

To take root in a place you kept close to your heart,

And represent the things you hold dear.

Your rock will remind us to always be strong,

And to remain solid in the lives we love.

And follow in the examples you gave us in life,

As you look on us from above.

Your tree will remind us to accept the changes,

Of seasons that come and go.

As the tree becomes bare at times in our life,

New leaves will blossom in time to show.

That nature is beautiful and life has a season,

but all things do come to an end.

And with each change and leaf that is lost,

Family and friendships help mend.

Branches sway in the winds of time,

And your whispers will be heard in the breeze.

Your memory lives on in the nature around us,

The air, the rocks, the trees.