Making the right things different

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“We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love.  It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love the changed person.” ~ W. Somerset Maugham


I love stories of couples who have been together for decades, who celebrate year after year together and still maintain that bond of love and friendship.  My grandparents had it, my parents had it and my brother has it.  I have not been able to weather that change with as much success as they have but that truth does not make me sad.

The most basic definition of change is to make something different.  That is how the dictionary categorizes change and I have been through many circumstances in my life that have caused me to become different.  Sadly, or perhaps not, I was unable to continue relationships with certain loves because I became a changed person.  I had grown from experience, I had aged from knowledge and I had matured from the lessons of my reality.

I am, decidedly, not the same person this year as last.  There is an underlying intensity to me that I had never previously possessed.  There is a confidence, a slow-burning belief in myself, that is gradually being fueled by the understanding of my recently discovered strengths.  And that person did not exist while I was in those past relationships.  That person slowly transformed from chrysalis to butterfly, evolved from the person I used to be, and changed into the person I am now.

Butterfly Emerging

Certainly it would be a happy coincidence if we are fortunate enough to mature together and to be able to love that changed person in our lives and grow in the same direction.  But it would no fault of either person if that change took different trajectories.

People change.  Ideals change.  Love changes.  Our job is to decide whether we, being the person we are now, are still able to love that changed person or whether we need to make a change for ourselves.

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2 Kisses I shall give you

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sunrise-18a

In the wee hours of the morning,

her visits often happen then,

the charge in the air is palpable

and sleep is still in my head.

Her message hangs heavily in the air,

the words are always the same.

“Two kisses I will give you,

to help get you through your day.

 One kiss is to give you courage,

to help you save the world.

The other kiss is to help protect you

from the curve balls that life will hurl”.

Her words soothe me and give me peace

in the last moments of my sleep.

And on my cheeks, as I face the world,

two kisses I shall keep.

(image credit: santabanta)

~~

This was originally posted in 2014, but I swear I could feel them on my cheeks this morning.

Two ships

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His touch,

timid at first, playful.

His eyes held a merriment,

his laughter concealed a deeper emotion.

Fleeting moments of stolen glances,

subtle traces of a finger on bare skin.

His touch,

evolved from an innocent beginning,

holding an unspoken desire.

His eyes burned into hers.

Currents of electricity,

hearts beating,

breath short.

Lips graze, sparks fly,

accepting a shared yearning.

Moments of complete breathlessness,

hearts skipping a beat,

sustaining warmth in memories,

torn between desire and reality.

The Gods of fate dealt the cards,

flop, turn,

river pushing against the tides.

two ships

Two ships,

pulled apart by the current,

sailing around the world,

hoping the movement of the ocean

will make them collide once again.

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A Sunday well spent

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“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.”
W.C. Fields

 freezer meals

For those who have read my recent posts about my passion for cooking and my desire to give back to people in need, this post should come as no shock to you.

I recently stumbled on the genius trend of freezer crockpot meals.  These meals are all prepared ahead, placed uncooked in ziplock bags, laid flat and frozen.  When thawed the night before, they can be dumped into a crockpot the next morning and 6 to 8 hours later, a family has a hot meal waiting for them.

I had one specific friend in mind when I decided to do this but as I told people what I was doing, the list of recipients grew a little longer.  I spent a Sunday afternoon, without watching football, and chopped, poured and bagged until I had completed 16 meals.  At the end of the process, it had taken slightly more than three hours from start to finish – a very encouraging pace.

This Sunday, and most likely the following Sunday, I am going to gather with a group of women to do it all over again, with one major difference.  Although many of the women will take some meals home for their families, we will be donating at least one meal per person to a young couple who lost their home and all of their belongings in a fire.  And though the fire is tragic enough in itself, they were at the hospital giving birth to their first children, twins, as their home was slowly destroyed.

It breaks my heart to think of this couple, worried enough about being parents for the first time, now starting their life as a family with absolutely nothing.  It overwhelms me with emotion to think of all the joy they had setting up the nursery, all of the meals prepared by family waiting in a freezer to ease their first days parenting – all of it, gone.

It is through tears I write this last paragraph.  Currently there are about 16 women wanting to help this family by packing freezer meals for them, as well as some dear friends who have donated cash to the grocery bills.  We shall divide and conquer.  We shall chop, bag and provide, not only food but, our support and concern for a family who could really use a helping hand.

Table for one?

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This time of year my office is a much quieter place than it is in the summer and the first thing on my mind when I get home is to change into some comfortable track pants and relax with a glass of wine.  Curling into a corner of my couch should be enough to soothe the winter blahs I feel at the end of a long day, but it isn’t.

What relaxes me most, what softens the reality of a dark winter day, is cooking.  And although I typically cook only for myself, I enjoy creating a food experience rather than just making something to eat.  I like to think of food as an encounter more than just a necessity.  Food should nourish but food should be enticing.  I don’t just put my dinner on a plate.  I want my meal to have an attraction beyond taste and, even if I am only cooking for one, I will put that effort into the presentation of my meals.

chicken

There is something truly invigorating about inhaling a combination of smells that you know blend into an amazing taste medley.  And the effort of cooking these meals for one is not as taxing as people would think.  A simple preparation of “real” food takes a few more minutes than opening a package of processed food and putting it in the oven, but the benefit far outweighs the effort.

Perhaps the artsy side of me weighs heavily on my plating but, regardless of the reason, I continue to put a concerted effort into each dinner I create.  I take great pride in knowing that I nourished, not only my body but, my eyes and my mind.  Food feeds the soul as much as it feeds the engine and as I dig into my meal I always feel happy knowing I didn’t reach for that can of Alphaghetti!

Brothers will be brothers, and then they make you cry

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I wrote this post last year about a very emotional moment created by my nephew during our 2014 Christmas festivities.  Well, that emotional little apple did not fall far from the paternal tree.

Last year (2014) was the first Christmas without my mother so it was a very emotional time for all of us.  This past Christmas, I vowed I would get my shit together and celebrate the holiday the way my mom would have wanted us to – with happiness and joy and time with family.  And although it was filled with all of those things, my brother threw in a bit of overwhelming sentiment and my tears flowed freely once again on the eve of our Christmas Day celebration.

As I have for every Christmas Eve since 1976, with the exception of the one year I lived in Halifax, I donned my gear and headed out to gather, en masse, at the end of a family driveway to watch Santa Claus go by on the Fire Truck.  The weather was comparatively balmy and Santa was much more jovial than he was two years ago when he was braving the minus 30 C temperatures.  After the truck had disappeared, we went inside and my brother handed me a Christmas gift bag.  I was instructed to wait until I got home to open it and my first question was “do I require Kleenex”.   That question was remarkably redundant.

When I got home, I carefully opened the box and found myself holding what looked like a jewelry box with the words “Dear Daughter” embossed on top.  I thought about what a lovely gesture it was and then I lifted the lid and realized it was a music box.  Somewhat reluctantly, I turned the dial and the song, unrecognizable at first, began to play.

As soon as the familiar strain was recalled by my memory, the first tear slid slowly down my cheek.  It was immediately followed by a torrent of emotion and I was in a full-blown ‘ugly cry’.  The song was Edelweiss.  It was a song I had known since I was a child.  And it was a song that my mother and I would sing together as we continued our holiday ritual by watching “The Sound of Music” together every Christmas Eve.

I couldn’t bring myself to watch it in 2014, but this past year I vowed I would, and I did.  And each time Edelweiss played in the movie, I found myself lost in a sea of tears once again, but they were happy tears.

My brother not only picked the perfect gift but he held onto that gift for a year because he knew I wouldn’t have been ready to receive it a year earlier.  I have remembered a lot of gifts I received during the holidays but this gift, this truly touching gift, is the one I will always cherish the most.  Not only did it come from the heart of someone I love and will fiercely defend, it represents the heart of the person who created us both.   I cannot think of a better gift.

 

There is nothing to fear but……TV commercials and junk mail

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Beginning a new year is difficult.  There is a tremendous amount of pressure to join the mainstream of people who have made numerous resolutions for the impending 362 days, considering the leap year.  And if it were not bad enough to be compelled by friends and family to make a list of the things we would like to accomplish, the media shoves the most popular of those resolutions down our throat with each television commercial they can fit into an amiable time slot.

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The start of a new calendar year should give us hope but those writers, those advertising gurus that tax their brains to come up with stunning ads, somehow make us feel like the earnest promises we make for ourselves are slightly off the mark.

I was feeling excited.  I was entering 2016 on my terms and, although I had not made them public, I had made a small set of goals I would like to accomplish this year.  I wanted to embrace my skills and I was looking forward to a year filled with prose and literary triumph.  And then I made the mistake of turning on my television.

Thankfully I have the fortitude to block out the nonsense that is broadcast to us, in what they think is a subliminal missive.   If I heed the message in those commercials, I would look at my humble goals and feel nothing but fat, undervalued and, as Bridget Jones’ Diary would describe it, like a spinster who would eventually end up being eaten by wild dogs.

The rubbish I receive by email can be just as bad.  Countless emails for weight loss, dating sites and plausible scenarios to make me my best self accumulate in my junk box.  Those messages are ignored just as quickly as they were downloaded.

I find great value in myself as well as my sincere goals for the new year.  Screw the advertising monsters who want to make me feel less than I am.  My worth cannot be described in a commercial.  My life cannot be depicted by a summation of what presumed reality sees as my shortcomings.

I am me.  I have worth because I care about people and I respect myself.  I treasure my strengths, I acknowledge my weaknesses and I spend each day trying to have a positive effect on those around me.

Now, if they can write a commercial for something like that, maybe next time I’ll leave the television on.