To Newtown, with love from across the border

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Senseless, targeted, horrific violence affects everyone.  It seeps into the very core of our being and floats our empathy to the surface of our emotions.  Yesterday’s devastation in Newtown affected the world.  It sank deeply into the hearts of people across the globe and left a scar that will never completely heal.

Everyone in the world wants to know why, but that is an answer that may never fully find a voice.  The news coverage is quick to remind us of many other abhorrent acts of extreme violence, but this one is the most sickening.  They were so young, barely beginning their journey in this world.  And the ones who survived will carry with them an early memory of childhood marred by true evil.

The news in Canada continues to be splashed with the images of those poor families. Many of the comments on Facebook immediately jumped to gun control, but it should go so much deeper than that. It seems nonsensical that an armed man with no real affiliation to that school should be able to walk in off the street and change the lives of so many people on a dreadfully permanent basis.  It truly will affect anyone that has a child of their own, or even a child in their lives in any facet.

The cloud of grief that blankets the small community of Newtown may never fully lift from their skies.  In time, the outpouring of love and support from their community, and the energy of that same support from all over the world will hopefully help the sun begin to warm  the cold reality that they currently face.  My heart is broken for the family and friends of the victims of this shocking catastrophe.

Uphill in the snow in bare feet

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Our presence on this revolving planet was never meant to be simple or straight-forward.  Without a heaping portion of challenges and quandaries thrown into the recipe of our existence, the end product of our being would be bland and predictable.

Life has a way of making us feel like we are in a batting cage with no bat. There is no helmet and no way out of that metal encasement.  The fastballs keep coming at 97 mph and we are powerless against their velocity.  As much as we try to dodge that line of fire, and even the ricochets, we end up being pummelled by a few of those spherical missiles and feel like those cage walls are closing in, trapping us in the hail of projectiles.

barefoot

Feeling overwhelmed can be akin to travelling barefoot in the snow.  Regardless of the direction we go, that path seems to stretch to eternity and every road leads up an insurmountable hill.  The harder we try to keep up the pace and the level of energy required to reach our destination, the more difficult the trek becomes.  We lose interest in the journey, we lose feeling in our extremities and each step sinks us further into the vast collection of flakes, making us feel defeated and hopeless.

This feeling of absolute frustration becomes much more evident during the holidays.  I have been noticing a myriad of posts lately about people feeling the holiday pressure – pressure to be the perfect host or hostess, to find the perfect gifts, to choose and display the perfect decorations, to create the perfect meal and to create memories of a perfect holiday.

But some of my best holidays were far from perfect.  The gravy was lumpy, the turkey was dry, the tree was on a 30 degree angle from centre and, as she does every year, my mother had left most of the price tags on our gifts.  It still happens on an annual basis and it will continue to be one of my favorite memories of our Christmas holidays.

Take each day one at a time.  When you feel like you are being swallowed by the maelstrom, stop and take a moment to breathe,  remember to take small steps and find one piece of scenery that makes you smile.  Hold that picture in your mind until you see another small piece that makes you smile.  Before you know it, you’ve made it through the mayhem, completely intact, and you’re still smiling.  That uphill battle to get through the holidays has levelled to a flat surface and those frosty feet no longer feel cumbersome and lifeless.  And maybe you will realize that the holiday isn’t meant to be perfect, it’s just there to spend time with friends and family and to simply be enjoyed.

It’s a dog eat dog world, and I’m wearing Milkbone underwear

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Although this subject line was “borrowed” from a Cheers episode from many years ago, it seemed to aptly portray my mood.  Perhaps the pathetic fallacy of the mottled grey sky and shards of freezing rain were a foreshadowing of what my mood would evolve into today.  Regardless of the cause, the outcome was a mixed bag of lethargy and despondency that I am not used to experiencing.

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I am that annoying person that can always see the silver lining in any cloud.  My glass is always half full, and the sun will always come out tomorrow.  I don’t want you to think I have rainbows projecting from my nether regions, but I pride myself on being that positive force in the room.  Although there may be an occasional prism of colors that expounds from some orifice,  it generally refracts from the smile in my eyes.

Everyone has their down days.  It’s what helps bring balance to our world and makes us appreciate those good days that much more.  After several hours of wallowing in my funk, my mood thankfully did not mature into a self-perpetuating cycle of angst and commiseration.  I did not send out invitations to my pity party.  Instead, I gave myself a proverbial slap in the face and snapped out of my self-purported misery.

After returning home, all is right with the world.  The glass of wine is poured and the words, once again, are cascading from the recesses of my brain and spilling out through my fingertips.  The earth is back on its axis, the glass is still half full (although I’m doing my best to empty it), and the smile is back on my face.

How do you deal with the bad days?

What word defines you?

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Tenacious is a word that I have come to love.  It sums up so much of my personality and my desire to succeed.   It gives me an excuse to fall back on when I seem like that proverbial bull in a china shop.  But when you know what you want, why should you not use everything in your arsenal to get it?

Words continue to fuel my fire and the roaring blaze is only intensified by my yearning.  I want to write.  I want more than anything to support my lifestyle by putting my thoughts and images into words, and I want people to get lost in the spectral portraits that I create with language. That tenacity is what keeps me going.  My stubborn refusal to accept my current station in life is evident by the passion I seek to create in the many fables I wish to share.

words

There are many adjectives to choose from when someone asks you to define yourself.   Honest, trustworthy and loyal are among the top words that people will use to exemplify the traits they find most honorable in themselves.  I embody all of those things, but my tenacity is what sets me apart from those benign words.  My ferrous belief that my writing will allow me to have a career by incessantly tapping at this keyboard is the light that beckons me through these dark nights.  It dangles that rabbit that I continue to chase in circles around that unending track.  It gives me hope that my dreams may come to fruition.

Some say words are only words. But words are unique.  Each word that is chosen in a story is selected because of the way it truly reflects the emotion and meaning of the sentence in which it is written.  And just perhaps, those words will lead me through the current reality of my days and into a world I had only once dreamed of – a world in which I was not just a fairy tale character, but the writer of that story.

Tenacious = determined, obstinate, persistent.  Tenacious is the word that defines me.

If you had to choose only one word to describe yourself, what would it be?

Childhood revisited – The memory that won’t go away

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This is not the first memory I have from my childhood, but this is one that stands out in my mind and helped to define the relationship with my brother that would continue for years to come.

I still recall the most minor of details that day and I was all of five years old.  Oakville was a seemingly small city in 1974 and the streets were safe enough that my brother and I could walk ourselves to and from school without parental supervision.  The day was crisp, the sun filtered through the autumn leaves and reflected jagged pieces of warm light onto the lawns and sidewalks.  School had been fun that day and I was anxious to regale my brother with tales of arts and crafts and have him dispel the myth of why some kids eat paste.  He was nine – he would surely be more privy to that information than a mere five year old girl.

The two of us began our journey home, and as I skipped along beside him I expounded about my day.  I had become quite ensconced in my own story and somewhere along the way I realized he was not beside me any longer.  I slowed my pace and heard him behind me, fiddling with a wrapper on what I had assumed was a stashed piece of candy from my beloved Shoreline Variety Store.  The sound of the wrapper immediately piqued my attention and halted the story I had become so engrossed in telling.

oh henry

I turned to find him holding out a piece of candy and remember thinking how generous it was for him to share.  It was surely a treat that would have been frowned on by my parents, but that made it all the more intriguing.  I gladly took the candy, and as I began to bring the treasured morsel to my lips, he stood stoic, waiting for me to take the first bite.

As my teeth sank into the delicacy that my brother had so graciously shared, his laughter pierced my eardrums before the pungent flavor assaulted my taste-buds.  His gales of laughter floated through the autumn winds as I tried frantically to remove every shrapnel of excrement from my mouth.  My brother had fed me a piece of dog shit.

I don’t think even Forrest Gump would have outrun me on the way home that day.  I sprinted past the crossing guard and could barely see the sidewalk for the tears.  I could hear my brother panting behind me, trying to catch up to me before I was able to cross the threshold of our home and explain to my mother how my taste-buds had been violated by a heinous act of terrorism.  I’m sure my words were not nearly as eloquent as I would like to think they were, but she got the point, and he got the spanking.

This simple act of cruelty led to years of pranks and retribution, usually always at my expense.  Not so many years later, because I seemingly still adored him, emulated him and worshipped the ground he walked on, I was easily swayed into helping knock a beehive from the side of our garage with a hockey stick.  Forrest Gump, again, would have been proud of my speed and agility getting to the old station wagon.  Long story short, there was a lot of baking soda required that afternoon to cover all of the puncture wounds those bees left in my body.

Thankfully my days of naiveté are over and I am perpetually careful around my dear brother.  And he may not know this, unless he reads this post, but I am still plotting my revenge!!

Written in response to the Daily Post Challenge.

The Christmas spirit is alive and well……at least in my house

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I generally live every day, 365 days a year, with the Christmas spirit, and being a big believer in Karma, that tends to bode well for me.  I’m always positive and trying to infect others with that same energy.  I’ve been asked by several people why I”m always smiling or laughing.  I will usually quote Will Ferrell from the movie ‘Elf’ and simply say, “I like smiling, it’s my favorite”.

This morning my smile was weakened a little by the blatant display of Grinch-like behavior from two strangers who have obviously not been dusted with the shimmering particles of the Christmas spirit.   A local TV station has been running a contest for the last four weeks.  Each week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, they put a jumbled word on the screen and viewers must unscramble the letters and send both words in for a chance to win the weekly prize of $10,000.00.

I woke up late Thursday morning, and mistakenly forgot to set the PVR, so I missed the scrambled letters.  Apparently I was not the only one as the mad flurry of Facebook posts echoed my lament.  There were a few comments about missing the Tuesday letters, so I thought I would harness the Christmas spirit and send the word from Tuesday and ask them for the Thursday letters in return.  I sent that word to both women this morning………and got no response from either of them.  Merry Christmas you selfish women.  I don’t think Karma will be picking either of your names from the hat on Monday!!

karma

Thankfully, the news station replays its morning show online and I was able to find the segment of the show that I missed.  And to ensure that those two women’s names get lost in a bigger pile of entries, I put the link to that portion of the morning show on the Twitter feed so more people could enter.  I even went so far as to up the Karmic ante and tweeted that if my name is drawn, I want them to draw a second name so we can split the prize and share that Christmas gift. (which was my plan, regardless of my spirit being temporarily derailed by these two women)

Wouldn’t it be terribly ironic if I did win and the other name that was pulled was one of those two women to whom I gave those scrambled letters??  Their complete lack of decency should negate their entry into the contest.  Wish me luck, and while I put an extra pin in the voodoo dolls of those Christmas-spiritless women who really don’t deserve to have their names in the pot in the first place, let Lady Luck roll her magical dice!!

Okay, so that is  not how I’m ending this post – if one of their names is pulled from that Karmic hat, it just solidifies the fact that they were meant to win one way or another.  Regardless of the outcome, I know I did a good deed today and perhaps that feeling is worth the $5,000.00 that could have been.

What would you have done if you were in the same Karmic boat?

Stalking….without any harmful intent.

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cat-stalking-prey

(photo courtesy of Google)

Let me preface this post by assuaging any negative connotations about the subject line.  I am not a dangerous person.  I do not hide in bushes and make a mental note of people’s habits and movements.  But when something strikes my fancy or my funny bone, I can be tenacious and become extremely enthusiastic.

I work at a large resort, and often people have difficulty finding time in their busy days to call us during business hours. Many messages are left and returned.  On the odd occasion, a game of phone tag ensues until we finally connect voice to voice.

I had the good fortune of returning messages on a particular day and it was serendipity at its finest.  When the recorded voice message first began, I thought that I had dialed the number in error.  But the further I got into the message, the funnier it became and I began to giggle.  By the end of the comedic rhetoric on the other end of the phone, I was in hysterics.  I phoned back immediately to listen to it again, and the message became even funnier.  My co-workers were concerned that I may be slightly losing my grip on reality, but when I called the number a third time and put the message on speaker phone, they were laughing just as hard as I was.

The crowd continued to swell in the office and in response to the demand to hear what was so funny, I kept calling back.  After the mayhem died down and I collected myself, I called another four or five times to write down, verbatim, what the message was so I could steal it.  I’m sure the poor gentleman that called for rates was marginally alarmed at how many times the resort had tried to return his call.  Although we were apparently desperate for his business, he surprisingly did not call back.

I have since modified the message to fit the time allotted on my cell phone.  I have thought of changing it to something a little more professional since the cell is my only phone, but what would be the fun in that?  Here is the gist of how the original message sounded.   I hope none of these apply to you!

 Hello, and welcome to the Mental Health Hotline.

  • If you are obsessive or compulsive, press 1 repeatedly.
  • If you are co-dependant, please ask someone to press 2 for you.
  • If you have multiple personalities, please press 3,4,5 and 6
  • If you are paranoid, we already know who you are and what you want, but stay on the line while we trace your call.
  • If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and a small voice will tell you which number to press.
  • If you are delusional, press 7 and your call will be transferred to the mother ship.
  • If you have short-term memory loss, press 9, if you have short-term memory loss, press 9, if you have short-term memory loss, press 9.
  • If you have a nervous disorder, please fidget with the # key until a representative comes on the line.
  • If you are dyslexic, press 696969696969.
  • If you have amnesia, press 8 and state your name, address, phone, date of birth, social security number and your mother’s maiden name.
  • If you are menopausal, hang up, turn on the fan, lie down & cry. You won’t be crazy forever.
  • If you have a masochistic complex, please press “0” for the operator. There are 200 calls ahead of you.
  • If you have low self-esteem, please hang up. All our operators are too busy to talk to you.

You’re laughing now too, aren’t you??