Inhale…and…still trying

My usual daily attitude is one of supreme happiness. I mark my visage with a gloriously toothy grin. I smile at one and all. There is always something around me that can make me feel content about life. I am your typical Pollyanna believing that every day can be the “Best Day Ever”! That WAS true until yesterday at about 2:42 pm when my cheery soul was kidnapped and replaced with a dark a demented life sucker.

What happened? I am the poster child for health. Got a cold? I’ll be your healer. Nothing ever affects me. Ever. Well, the day of “ever” has finally arrived and I have been royally knocked over onto my keister. Maybe I’m being overdramatic, but saying I’ll rather be dead is really a thought that has crossed my mind. Let me explain how my brain when from sunshine and lollipops to a machete-wielding psychopath.

TIMELINE:

Day 1: Slight sniffle. Nothing new there. It’s a transition from my nice warm home to the chilly outdoors. The air is cool and refreshing. It’s winter in Canada. I have my down-filled winter coat on. I am wearing my fur-lined hood. I have my thick winter gloves on and my faux-fur lined woolly boots. My body is sufficiently protected from the elements. I have preheated my car and I’m ready to roll. *sneeze.

Day 2: *sniffle, sniffle, sniffle, sneeze, sneeze, sneeze, sneeze. Ok, this is annoying. *blow nose. Ok, that’s 6 facial tissues used in as many seconds. This ain’t right. (Yeah, my brain forgets grammar when I’m not feeling 100%). Ok, it’s a cold. Drink lots of fluids. Amp up the Vitamin C. Pull out the echinacea pins. All defenses up! Time to get fighting! I am ready for battle!

Day 3: *cough, cough, sniffle, sniffle, sneeze, sneeze, blow nose. My eyes are going to fall out of my head. Really, it’s true! Blinking is actually painful. I never realized how often I blink in one day. My sinuses…my throat…my ears…my nose. I am very aware of my facial orifices. Everything hurts. My nose is raw and red from sneezing and blowing. My sinuses are chock full of something because they are the ones trying to push my eyeballs out of my head. The pain is incredible. Ouch. I blinked again. THAT HURTS! How is it possible that blinking hurts! I have had migraines, and that is painful, but this whole body soreness is … NO I’M NOT WHINING!

Day 4: *cough, cough, wheeze, wheeze, nose whistle, sneeze, blow nose. I think a bug landed on my arm. There is a bruise the size of a grapefruit there now. I never knew how much skin I had on my body. I put some hand cream on my crocodile-skin legs and arms. The chore itself made me wonder how I usually have the ability to lift my arms daily, as now they each weigh about 2000 lbs. How does my neck hold my head? It really is a a miracle. Breathing…something I definitely took for granted. I try to breathe through my mouth because my nose no longer wants to do that job. *Inhale…COUGH COUGH HACK HACK COUGH COUGH! Right! That’s why my nose needs to get back to doing the breathing thing ’cause my mouth doesn’t want to be the substitute. My next thought…I wonder if I can learn to breathe through my ears. It might be easier.

Day 5:

Day 6: I don’t know what happened to day 5. With my Sherlock Holmes hat on, I survey my surroundings and try to deduce what happened. Here is what I see: Box of facial tissues…an empty box. Pile of “used” tissues. Bottle of water. Bottles of pills: Vitamin C, Vitamin B complex, echinacea, Advil. Small bottle of Eucalyptus essential oil, mug with camomile tea bag, jar of honey, spoon of honey stuck to nightstand. Shot glass? *sniff. Cognac. Well, looks like Day 5 was my Armageddon. I chose my weapons both herbal and man-made. Looks like my flu bug cocktail of choice knocked me out for the day. Unconsciousness was a much better way of dealing with this hideous illness. Good news…at home and not in hospital.

Day 7: One week of my life play “Torturing Pollyanna”. Wait…*sniff. I think my one nostril is working. *cough, cough. Ok, so if I inhale I cough. Breathing leads to venomous vipers ripping at my throat. Still trying to get my ears to do my breathing.

Day 8: Have I blinked yet today? I must have. No pain. *blink-blink. Woo hoo! I am on the mend! My nose…oh bless you…no, not from sneezing. Bless you for coming off strike and taking up your old job again. I love you, you snot-filled wonder. You are incredible. I touch my nose, gingerly. The poor thing is so sore. It’s scraped raw from all that horrible facial tissue. My arms aren’t as heavy anymore. They feel like they weigh their usual normal weight. What is that…off in the distance? Are we reaching the finish line toward salvation?

Day 15: It has been 3 weeks and I feel like a totally different person. I am reborn. I am so grateful for surviving that horrible illness. It wasn’t even the flu like I thought. I never had a fever. But let me tell you, I am beyond happy at being one of the healthy again. I love my nose, my throat, my lungs. I even love my ears (I do think at one point they did take in a few breaths for me…how else could I have survived?).

So, my Pollyanna-ism has grown exponentially larger. I am even more grateful and happy with everything I have in my life. My happy medicine that healed me. My body that worked hard to get me back to my usual happy self.

Salute! To my body…you are incredible!

You are beautiful…I love you

I finally get it.  Oh, it took me several months to finally see what this particular group of people see daily when they look in a mirror and examine themselves.  The realization and comprehension took me by surprise, but I am so glad that I FINALLY GET IT!  Oh, I am talking about thin people looking at themselves and thinking they are fat.  WHAT?!

I reinvent my look every few years.  I am a confirmed shopaholic.  I LOVE buying clothes.  I love buying shoes.  I will venture into designer stores and I will frequent Goodwill.  I am not too choosy about where I buy, but I am choosy about what I buy.  I think my subconscious knows how much I enjoy cavorting in malls so once I have reached my allotted closets space (yes, I have commandeered more than one closet), my body suddenly transforms.  

Ok, it’s not sudden.  It’s more laboriously time consuming…like 6 months or a year, or two.  I will go from a svelte size 6 and balloon to a size 14. I have gone from being a weensy, boney size 4 to a plump and cuddly size 1X (I think that’s a nice way of saying size 18, I believe).  So, I have been all over the board with my body size (and all over the malls…lol).  

My most challenging mind game was learning to love my plus size body; all the bumps and lumps and squishiness of me.  And I did learn to love it… every big bit of it.  Even when my mother mocked and shamed me, I still loved the round cherub cheeks I had, and my breasts…OH WOW…full and quite glamorous.  Though I loved the Mrs. Claus version of me, my lungs were clambering for oxygen after walking up a flight of stairs.  So, it was time for me to start my journey to becoming a healthier me.  Not necessarily a non-fluffy me, but just a person who could walk and not get winded.  A person who could lift a toddler without her back going out.

I began with healthier eating.  Load up my plate with the colours of the rainbow…broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, strawberries, blueberries, eggplant, et. al.  You get the idea.  The bland whites and beiges were absent for a little while.  No bread.  No pasta.  No cookies.  No donuts.  I re-introduced those after I lost 40 lbs, but there were no longer any carb-fests that I had previously enjoyed.  Anyway, after shedding parts of me, I joined a gym.  (Technically, hubby Wiseguy signed us both up).  Well, after a couple of months of “healthy” eating AND three days a week at the gym (for an hour) I have a new-to-me amazing body!  I mean, my body is an incredible thing and it can do some amazing stuff!  

Before this “new” me, I couldn’t lift 2 lb weights without heaving and straining and now I can lift and hoist 40 lbs.  I can lift toddlers without breaking a sweat.  I can do squats like a champ…which means kidlets can be bounced on my lap and I no longer have to worry about getting a Charley Horse.  Amazing!  I am lookin’ goooooood!  I have rounded shoulders, thanks to my newly formed muscles.  My bat wings … non-existent!  My calves and thighs; toned and sinewy.  Look at me being a femme fatale version of Arnie (Arnold Schwarzenegger).  I’m feeling great and looking great!  Or am I?

I’ve been thinner now for about a year, but I started working out about 8 months ago.  Now when I look in the mirror I am finding faults with my body. My thighs only seem toned if I flex them.  The mushy flab around my belly is still wiggly and jiggly.  Where is the 6-pack I am supposed to have?  It’s obvious…I am fat.  Yup, that is what I see when I look in the mirror and see my reflection.  My butt (sorry, not into the big butt look for myself), but I just see cellulite and flab.  What happened?  I weigh 40 lbs less than I used to be so why do I feel and look fatter now?  Apparently, I am not alone with this bizarro way of thinking.

Phantom Fat.  It’s actually a thing. Basically, your mind still believes and subsequently sees the bigger you that you were.  So, after I lost weight I found I was still trying on large size clothes and would be surprised when they were too big.  Even now, I try on small clothes now and am surprised when they fit.  “Must be American version of small which is really like a real-size large,” is what my brain tells me.  

I am still surprised when people I haven’t seen in awhile tell me how great I look.  They ask me how I shed the pounds, which is easy to talk about.  What shocks me is how tiny they think I am.  I don’t see it.  I quickly change the topic because I feel like a fake and a liar.  

I will tell you that when I accepted the soft, pudgy me, I was happy and loving life.  Oh sure, I ate my feelings (food has always been my go-to comfort when life gets hectic).  Now, I worry when I have my latte and biscotti.  I worry when I skip a day going to the gym.  I worry about not fitting into the clothes I have purchased.  I worry about the food I eat thinking I’ll gain 50 lbs after one meal.  Who would’ve thought that losing weight and being healthy could become a mental hazard?  

I wasn’t going write about this, but I thought there might be someone out there having the same unrealistic thoughts and wondering if they were the only person having these crazy thoughts.  Well guess what?  There’s a bunch of us trying to overcome this weird way of dealing with something that is actually a great thing!   

So today I will stop judging myself and go back to my old mantra that I used when I was trying to love and accept my biggy, squishy me.  I will look at myself in that full length mirror and tell that wonderful person, “You are beautiful and I love you.”  


And Nobody Lost an Eye…

Wiseguy and I are happy grandparents (who refuse to grow up).  We are lucky grandparents to five beautiful grandchildren.  None of them are into the double digit birthdays yet, so shopping for birthdays and Christmas can oftentimes be done in advance.  When I extricate myself from my humble home to go on a shopping spree, I will oftentimes pick up “future” gifts for the grandkids.  If I am in the midst of a clearance sale extravaganza I become quite a neanderthal; hunting and fishing for the best deals.  It was with grandchildren in mind that I purchased an interesting little toy that has left me with an indelible memory forever.

On this particular trek to the store, I ventured into the children’s area and found a toy on clearance called the Penguin Popper.  It looked kind of fun.  In my head I was already debating who would be the lucky recipient of this unique gift.  The eldest (a girl of 8 years) is more into the “tweening” phase of her life and is more likely to appreciate articles of clothing for her “American Girl” doll (or clothing for herself).  Then next in line would the 4 year olds; one boy, one girl.  Now, if I gave it to the boy, who is into wrestling and fake fighting, I  could see his excitement with the toy turning into devastation as one of the other kids would lose an eye.  How about the 4 year old girl?  Well, she does have great tomboy moments.  I could see her getting a kick out of it.  Then I thought, well her cousin (the 4 year old boy) would probably wish he had it (even though someone would lose and eye) and there would be sadness and loss of joy so I couldn’t bring myself to create that kind of drama in our lives.  So…no to both 4 year olds.  The last two were way too young for it.  A two year old and a one year old.  The toy’s packaging stated this as well:  Ages 4 +.  Hmmmm, what to do.  I expanded my search.

I thought about my niece’s kids.  Little dude of 8 months was waaaaay too young.  How about his big sister?  She would love something like this!  She is 3 1/2 years old.  Almost 4.  And she laughs hysterically when people get…injured.  Hmmm, like a mini ball in the eye from 20 paces would be hilarious.  My competent adult brain finally decided that this actually wasn’t such a great kid’s toy to introduce into our family.  I did the only plausible thing.

No I didn’t return it!   Remember the adults who refuse to grow up?  Well, I was so excited about my decision to keep said toy that I couldn’t wait to see Wiseguy’s face light up when he saw our new play thing.  I could picture us popping that ball out of the penguin’s mouth and having the kidlets go chasing after it to see who would get it first.  Then they could ALL take turns playing with it and no one would lose an eye and no one could keep it because it belonged at the grandparent’s house.  WIN WIN!  Right?

When I gave hubby the rundown on how we were now the proud owners of a Penguin Popper, he rolled his eyes in helpless defeat.  Not sure, but I believe (assume) these were the thoughts running around in his brain:

  • Not more junk!
  • Another toy?
  • Someone is going to lose an eye!

The comment that actually emerged was, “Waldo is going to steal the ball, choke on it, and die.”  (Note:  Waldo is our 10 year old super cute and fluffy thief dog.)IMG_3861

Well, I didn’t see that comment coming.  So, me being me, I had to prove that THIS was the coolest toy ever and he would be the most fun grandfather in the history of grandfathers!  Wiseguy turned and started to walk away.  I had to prove my point so I grasped the Penguin Popper in both hands, holding it directly in front of me, and I squeeeeeeezed his stomach.  (I’m assuming it’s a “him” Popper because there is no pretty bow on his head.  If it was a girl Popper they would’ve put a pretty bow.  Also, the inventors probably figured that girls wouldn’t do fun (vicious) things like this, but boys would and so the Penguin is definitely a boy.  Ahhhh, classic stereotyping at its best.)

Here is what happened after the stomach squeeeeeeeeze:

  • Loud POP! sound
  • My eyes opened wide, in a bit of disbelief actually, when I saw the velocity of this little once-inch ball catapult away from me
  • Wiseguy turned to me when he heard the POP!
  • The ball hit him on the side of the head
  • “Are you kidding me?!” emanated in an exasperated tone from my husband’s general direction
  • I laughed…hysterically!

I was in stitches!  I couldn’t breathe.  Tears were streaming out of the corner’s of my eyes.  I doubled-over to hold my stomach.  I couldn’t believe it actually hit him!  Oh, I had read the box while I stood in line to purchase the product.  It contained the usual words of warning:  “Never aim at anyone”.  It also said it could shoot up to 20 feet away.  Yeah, best case scenario maybe, I thought.  And yet, here I was in utter shock as the ball had ejected far, far away and NAILED Wiseguy!  My next thought was quite simple:  I’m dead.

Wiseguy was at my side in two strides (he has long legs and can cover 20 feet in two steps).  He confiscated the Penguin Popper from my hands.  I pivoted and ran.  I ran for my life.  I heard POP! and I turned around.

(Sidenote:  Why is it that when you hear a noise you look toward the direction of the sound instead of running away from it?)

Like a slow-motion movie I saw the ball (mini ball?  ball-ette?) wing by my head.  Wiseguy had missed.  Wiseguy NEVER misses!  He is Super Sportsman extraordinaire!

I am unsure why this next thing happened, but I believe it was from the confusion of NOT being hit.  I doubled over laughing uncontrollably….again.

POP!  Woooooosh!

He missed me…AGAIN!  Saint’s preserve us, I was lucky (or unlucky?).  Wiseguy then unceremoniously deposited the Penguin on the kitchen counter and meandered away.

My next thought:  Best day ever!  So many good things happened to me in that short amount of time:

  • I got a fun new toy since Wiseguy didn’t want it.  Mine…all mine!
  • I actually beat Wiseguy at a (non)sport
  • I laughed and laughed and laughed – my core muscles got quite the workout and all my tension of the day washed away

IMG_5673I am so grateful that I found this toy.  I am grateful that I decided to keep it.  I am grateful that I got to play with this toy.  I am grateful for the once in a lifetime experience I had using it.  I am grateful that Wiseguy finds this story as amusing as I do and doesn’t mind that I have shared this.  I am grateful that he isn’t really considering payback.  Right?  Right????!!!

 

EPILOGUE:  

Waldo got the ball.

He is still alive.

As of yet, nobody has lost an eye.

Sunny with a chance of…wishes?

Last month I walked out of the building I work at and thought it was snowing…in June!  Ok, snow in June might be likely in Nova Scotia, but definitely not something that happens in Ontario.  The weather was warm…way too warm for snow.  After my brain attempted to interpret what Mother Nature was up to now, I finally realized what was happening and couldn’t help but smile.

Remember the lovely fields of dandelions?  Those flamboyant yellow “weeds” that were covering all untended lawns?  Well, the transformation happened.  They went from the pretty yellow, bloomed flowers to the airborne plethora of wishes.  The sky was full of them.

 

I have a unique perspective on life.  I oftentimes see the world with a different lens than most others do.  I try to find the good in all around.  Sometimes it’s hard work as I need to really try and re-focus my thoughts.  We are taught and trained to think a certain way. It is through experience that we gain knowledge.  It is also how we learn to find our own uniqueness in this world of ours.  Just like the dandelions.

As children we are taught about the ugly duckling turning into a beautiful swan.  We are taught about creepy fuzzy caterpillars turning into beautiful butterflies.  So I say…why can’t the glorious bright yellow dandelion finally join the ranks of the transformed:  ugly to beautiful?  Then again, maybe they shouldn’t be part of that group.  In my opinion, they don’t really have an ugly phase.  We can learn a lot from the dandelion.

SELF-LOVE.  Dandelions don’t know they are “weeds” and are a scourge to be decimated.  They believe they are pretty and they stay nicely rooted and happily populate the world with other happy “flowers” of their kind.  So, be a dandelion.  Believe you are beautiful no matter what anyone else thinks.  Spread your happiness around.  Hang out with other happy people.

KEEP CHANGING.  The dandelion has the ability to reinvent itself.  It starts off nice and pretty and yellow.  It stays like that for quite a few days.  After it’s done sharing its sunny yellowness, the dandelion will dry up into a little round puff ball.  Not only that, but the puff ball is actually composed of seeds.  So, when that puff ball breaks apart, all the little seeds go parachuting to new areas and the circle of life begins again.  How absolutely fantastic is that?!  So, be a dandelion.  Don’t like what is happening in your life?  You can change it.  You have so many ideas about what you would like to do in your life and each idea is like a dandelion seed.  Plant those seeds and see what blooms.

HAVE FUN.  I like to believe that dandelions love when kids come and blow the dandelion seeds and chanting wishes as they do this.  There is something about watching that puffball fly through the air, riding the ribbon of wind that will carry it up to the final wish granter.  Be a dandelion.  Don’t take life too seriously and have some fun.  Do something silly.  Believe that wishes can come true.

YOU AFFECT THE FUTURE.  Dandelions…those wonderful yellow blossoms, become puffballs.  The original flower is gone, but from the seeds of that original flower become the beginnings of new flowers.  Be a dandelion.  Remember that you do affect future generations.  Everything you do on this earth will somehow affect this earthy world of ours.  You, though you do not feel very important, are magnanimous!  You are an incredible being and you do matter.  Your life is important and valuable and you do affect others.  It might be some small thing you do one day, but that seed will carry on and become the birth of another person, another idea, another thought.

After observing the whitened sky, I smiled.  It was a happy, contented, joyful smile.  Life is grand.  I know I’m a small piece in this puzzle of life, the size of a minute bug, but I know I’m vital in this world.  I also know that this world is an incredible place to be if we would just but take the time to look at our surroundings and appreciate all the incredible things that surround us.  Remember to look at the world with childlike wonder.  Remember what it was like when you saw these things for the first time.  Remember what it felt like when you used to make wishes on dandelion puff balls.  The magic lived in that “real” world then, and you can bring it back now.

So, all you green grass lovers and landscapers out there, I would like to invite you to join my world.  In my world, you can escape the minutia of the mundane plots of square manicured lawns.  You don’t need to pamper and water that greenery.  In my world, you can run through the bright yellow fields of dandelions.  And once they become seeded wonders, then race through that field again and watch the sky turn white as snow.  You can wish and wish and wish over and over again as you watch the puffs float freely and unencumbered toward the sky … a reminder that you should free yourself of unhappy thoughts and just let them float up far, far away from you.  When all you are left with are the happy thoughts, use those carefree, happy seeds to plant your new ideas and start growing this wonderful new life you are going to lead.

All I can say is…Be a Dandelion.

 

 

Best day ever!

Woo hoo!  Another year of being alive!  Now THAT’S something to celebrate.  Oh there are those out there who poo-poo their birthday.  They focus on the years of their life that were “wasted”.  They aren’t living their dream life.  They aren’t in the relationship they want.  They aren’t in a job they love.  Me?  I focus on the fact that I’m alive and mostly well.  As a friend of mine said, “I’m on the right side of the grass”.  So darn tootin’ it’s a fantastically, radically, amazing day!  BEST DAY EVER!

So, now that you’re substantially jealous of my incredible feat…living another year by default…what did I do on my BEST DAY EVER?  Seeing as this was my very last year of my 40s and I am careening into the mid-century of my life, I wanted to make it super extra special.  What does a birthday girl do to make her day extraordinarily spectacular?

  1.  Book day off work
  2. Be away from home

Not being at work meant no deadlines hence no stress.  Not being at home meant no cleaning or “home” work which also equaled no stress.  I am sure you were thinking I went all adventurous and did some skydiving or went for a surreal trip in a hot air balloon.  Or maybe woo-hooing as I went white water rafting or maybe zip-lining.  Yes, many things on my “want to do” list.  I don’t have a bucket list.  Buckets get holes in them. (Dear Liza.)  Nope, I kept it simple.

MOST IMPORTANT RULE:  Declare it your BEST DAY EVER!

Then…

Sleep in.  Absolutely lovely seeing the sun shine in through the curtains and gently awaken you.  You rouse from sleep thinking you are tardy for work and then BAM!  Wicked cool realization that it’s your Birthday and you booked the day off.  SWEET!  I declared it my HAPPY BIRTH DAY!  All about ME day.  Time for some FUN day!

BEST DAY EVER!

My birthday started off with a pinched nerve in my back.  My eyes popped open after my extended sleep.  I lifted my head to get out of bed and … OUCH!  I flopped over onto my side like a wounded seal.  I attempted to slide off the bed and to land on my feet.  Every move and every breath seemed to make the pinch worse.  I had the “dropsies” too.  I grabbed my sun dress and it slipped out of my hands, crumpling to the floor.  Good news was I did lots of squats since I couldn’t bend.  (Silver linings folks.  I’m always looking for ’em).  I managed to get dressed and decided that pinched nerve or no pinched nerve I was heading out and about.

I dropped into the driver’s seat.  Yes, dropped my butt into the bucket seat whilst holding onto the Oh Shit handle.   It was a scorching, hot 29 degrees (celsius) and did I mention that the air conditioning in my car did not work?  I drove for over an hour, with my underwear melting and my thighs stuck to my leather seats.  On the bright side I was soooo happy my car windows could roll down and BONUS:  a sun roof that I could open.  I was cruising with my hair whipping around my face.  Booyah!  Good times!  For a little while at least.

There was an accident on the highway as well as road construction on my regular route so I had to divert to city driving.  Slower speeds and lots of stopping at red lights.  Stopping meant no air circulating through my windows.  On a positive note I definitely got my Vitamin D for the day.  There was absolutely no snow in the forecast.  I wasn’t at work.  Happy trifecta!

BEST DAY EVER!

Finally got to my destination and was cheerfully greeted by a pig-tailed little 3 year-old darlin’ who wished me a happy birthday!

BEST DAY EVER!

“How old are you?” she inquired.  I told her I was four.  I left out the “9” part of the “49-year’s old”.  What do numbers really mean anyway?  She smiled happily so that meant it was a good age.  We sat.  We chatted.  We hugged.  We cuddled.

BEST DAY EVER!

Then we trekked to a kitchen supply store (besides makeup, kitchen supplies are my other crack).  I bought an aebleskiver pan.  Say what?  Yeah, new to me too.  The pan was too unique and too cool and too totally cast-iron so it was destined to be mine.

Check out these babies…can’t wait to surprise the fam with these goodies!

BEST DAY EVER!

Had chicken wings AND sushi for lunch.  Best of both worlds.  And a yummy, sticky, fresh baked DOUGHNUT for dessert.  My tastebuds sang hallelujah.   (My thighs screamed in horror.  Meh…can’t please everyone right?)  Then it was time to trek on home.

Traffic…swimmingly good.  No accidents or road construction or anything to divert me from my usual path.  Made it home in great time (while sweating off the calories I had inhaled).  Just in time to go out for more food.  Succulent ribs with a side of super hot fries for my screaming thighs (haha..great rhyme!)  Birthday treat was a colossal brownie, fresh from the oven, with some vanilla ice cream teetering on the top and slowly melting.  Oh glory be to all my gluttony (OMG…another rhyme…and after all this time!  Ok, my thoughts are getting loose with the ghost of Dr. Seuss).

And so it ended.  Another birth day celebration.  A day all about ME.  A day where all I wanted was to spend lots of time being happy and relishing everything in my life.  A day where I was wished a happy day from all:  the kids, grandkids, hubby, siblings, cousins, relatives, friends…oh and even my parents with a phone call from Europe.  All of them wishing that I have a wonderful day.  And do you know what?  Their wish came true because I had the BEST DAY EVER!

 

 

The little things…

I have learned a lot from Wiseguy about relationships.  In the past, relationships to me meant I had to give it my all and expect nothing in return.  It meant turning the other cheek or saying nothing, even if I was really upset because that was how you kept a relationship running…no issues, no problems and lots of denial.  Through thick and thin. For better or for worse.  Right?  Here are some lessons I learned.

BE YOURSELF:  Most people in relationships believe that they are being honest and truthful with themselves.  Have you ever given up doing things you like to do because the person whom you are dating doesn’t like it?  Maybe it’s the opposite.  Maybe you are starting to do you things you don’t like to do.  You pretend to like exercising or maybe you have become vegetarian because you think your partner will love you more since that is their preference.  The same holds true for you trying to change the person you are with.  Accept them for who they are.  Oh sure, people grow and change, but becoming a totally different person just to please someone else is not how to live a happy life.  Be happy with yourself and who you are.  If you love being the yappy, talkative person in the room, don’t become the quiet, shy person when in a relationship.  Be yourself.

SAY THANK YOU:  When you first start dating, you are always on your best behaviour.  You are also very polite and say please and thank you for every little thing.  That should not change once you have been together for awhile.  To this day, Wiseguy will thank me for any meal I have prepared.  Even if he doesn’t like it, he will thank me for making it (and then politely ask me to never ever make it again).  I used to tell him that he didn’t have to thank me.  He explained that since I made the effort, he should thank me.  The children were taught this as well.  Just because you are Mom or Dad or Spouse, it doesn’t mean that your work should not be acknowledged in a positive way.  Feeling appreciated makes for a happier home environment.  Thanks for getting the groceries.  Thanks for doing the laundry.  Thanks for driving us to the party.  Saying a meaningful “thanks” is always nice to hear.

SHOW APPRECIATION / GRATEFULNESS:  When you are dating someone, buying little gifts and tokens of love are usually the modus operandi.  After you have been together awhile the gift giving drops off and there is usually a daily routine that ensues.  Certain chores are done by certain individuals.  One person will do the cooking and one person will do the laundry.  Someone will load the dishwasher and empty it.  One will mow the lawn and / or shovel the snow (welcome to Canadian looooooooong winters).  Indoor chores and outdoor tasks need to be completed.  Now, when your life gets topsy turvy and your usual division of labour leaves you overwhelmed, it’s nice when that 50/50 split can become 70/30 without anyone griping about the sudden amount of work they have to do around the place.  Yes, I am thinking of a specific example.  I am the dishwasher loader/emptier and I am also the garbage-taker-outer.  This week I had some additional errands to take care of and was exhausted just thinking about completing my at-home tasks.  To my supreme delight I arrived home to find the waste and recycling by the curb, the dishwasher emptied, and the dishes put away.  OH JOY!  Yes, it is THAT simple to show appreciation.  Wiseguy appreciated the fact that my life was a bit more hectic this week and I was grateful that he did this without my asking him.

COMMUNCATION:  This is THE most important lesson I have learned.  I would oftentimes assume that Wiseguy knew what I was thinking.  More often than not, I would get angry with him about things that he had no clue I had even thought about.  Not fair.  Even worse, I learned the “silent treatment” from the master…my mother.  Not a word spoken, while I slammed doors to make sure he knew I was upset.  It would be up to him to figure out why I was upset.  Adults tantrums are not pretty.  As adults we have a vocabulary to be able to communicate what is on our minds.  We are not mind readers.  We cannot assume that other people know what we are thinking.  So, if something is bothering you, take the time to talk about it.  Those who do not communicate are the ones who let each little angry moment start a pyramid of disaster.  Brick by brick it builds as you hold every bothersome incident inside and then suddenly CRASH!  One little thing will have the whole pyramid of anger cascading down.  Hurtful things will be said as you dig deep into your memory for past trangressions that the other person had no idea had been bothering you.  Let it out.  Talk it out.

Relationships are give and take.  Relationships involve work.  You are two people who used to live your own way, with your own rules and who now live together while trying to figure out whose rules would be the best to incorporate as a couple.  Start off with these four simple rules and you’ll see how much easier this transition can be.  More often than not, it’s the little things that can make it or break it.

Who’s the genius now?

I am a smart woman.  I have lived almost a half century and there is much wisdom stored in my grey matter.  Truly, I am a competent adult.  I function well in society with knowledge gained through schooling and book learning.  I have experienced many things in everyday life that have led me to believe that I am a bright individual; resourceful even.  So, why is it that when I try to figure out stuff on my iPhone my brain cells seem to pack up and go on permanent vacation.  Why is this so hard?

I never liked computers, rather, I never understood computers and hence my dislike of them.  Right from the good ol’ PET Computer and my inability to do any kind of sophisticated programming…or any kind of programming for that matter.  Sure, I use a computer now.  I am typing on one as we speak.  However, there are many things I am sure it can do besides letting me click, click, click on its keyboard.  I tell myself, “It’s a learning process.”  I tell myself, “I can always Google it.”  Oh yes, even dear Google can’t educate me on the basics on these newfangled programs.  There were signs telling me that I was slowly losing my “hip” persona on the ways of the world.  Old lady brain was just around the corner.

I realized my technological brain was fizzling when I couldn’t figure out the TV and cable remotes.  So many buttons to try to turn on one screen.  I had finally mastered that high-techiness (new dictionary word) when Wiseguy presented his fantastic new projection screen TV!  Gulp.  Was that another remote?  No wait…two remotes?  Did I see a third one?  After installing everything, including surround sound speakers, my wonderful husband scurried off to work and jealously left me to play with our new toy.  After managing to scare myself half to death (and deaf) with surround sound static from my “Poltergeist” TV screen, I hit every OFF button on every remote and proceeded to read a book.  So much for my introduction to technology and being a modern woman.

Now, when it came to the most profound new technology of my generation, I would say the cell phone.  Music lovers would probably say the Sony Walkman, but I was a bookworm so my vote was for the cell phone.  I had pined for it, begged for it, and finally got it.  This was actually not too complicated.  It reminded me of my high school calculator.  I remember using numbers to spell words.  We were so cool (lame…in 80’s speak).  I learned how to program phone numbers.  I could now call people while I was away from home!  Coolest device ever…until the phone’s battery died on me.  Besides not having an active phone I also realized my inability to recall phone numbers.  After that I made sure to memorize at least two numbers in case of emergencies.  Smart right?  Not as smart as the creative minds out there expounding their computer geniusness (new dictionary word) on the world.

Technology grew in leaps and bounds.  Suddenly simple things became super complicated things.  Most horrifically, the flip cell phones transmogrified into a … AHHHHHHH … A COMPUTER!  The thing I could never understand!  These TV-screen-typewriters that used to sit on a desk were now in people’s pockets!  When the kids showed me what they could do I was stunned.  Literally, dumbfounded.  My jaw dropped.  I couldn’t believe that this “phone” could take pictures and show videos and play music and provide instant information!  No more need to store information in your brain.  All you had to do was “Google” for the answer.  (Yeah…first time I heard THAT word I needed a kid to ‘splain to me what a “Google” was).  I was happy living in my flip phone world until that universe expired.

My phone battery died yet again so I went to get a new battery for my exquisitely ancient (7 year old) flip phone.  To my horror I was informed that my phone was obsolete which meant its battery was also extinct.  **funeral dirge**  There were other antique (5 year old) phone styles I could pick from, but Death of a Battery was not something I wanted to relieve again and again.  It was time to move into the future.  I bought an iPhone 4.

The very first thing I did was open the box and survey the instructions.   Then I promptly made sure all the kids would be home for a fancy dinner.  After our fancy dinner I would have them program my phone, show me some of the basics, and ply them with educated questions.  Three hours later I had numbers programmed and had learned how to turn my phone off and on.  I had managed to take fantastic pictures…of my thumb.  With the basics memorized, I followed up with my usual modus operandi…trial and error (mostly error).  I have learned lots via this intense and elaborate technique.  There is no real manual for using this computer…ahem… “smart” phone.  I rely on overhearing conversations, or watching others do stuff and then follow up with the excited “how did you do that?”

I’m on the iPhone 6 now.  I wait for the grandkids to show up for the fancy dinner.  They show me stuff on YouTube and how to download stuff.  Yeah…they’re smart.  Technologically smart.  They know how to use TV remotes too.

But just wait…my time is coming.  One day they will come over for the perfunctory fancy dinner and I will show THEM something they have never seen before.  I can write cursive.  Hah!  Who’s the genius now?

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