Family Fundamentals

Wow!  What a busy week!  Besides cleaning my house, I did other things that make my life so wonderful!  I booked Workday Wednesday off to visit with my friend.  She took me to a cutie little beach side cafe and we lunched and chatted and had a lovely afternoon.  Come the weekend, another grand day with the grandchildren.  Kennie was celebrating her 7th birthday and we got to hang out at a fancy park and play and laugh and chat and just catch up with people we hadn’t seen in awhile.  Standing back and taking pictures for posterity, I had a momentary split vision of the world that I live in.  I experienced a clarity of my life.  It made me smile.  This is my family.

Now, this may not seem like a big deal to most people, however, my family is quite unique and diverse.  When I say my family, it’s really an extension of Wiseguy’s family, but this weekend I saw how remarkable it was when everyone was together.  Let me explain.

If you search for the definition of family, you will find that this definition has not been officially changed from when it was first defined.  It still reads as follows:  a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household.  For many families, this is still true.  Our society has changed in so many ways with regards to who raises children and who the guardians of the descendants are.  Single parent, LGBTQ parent(s), grandparents, adopted parents, step parents, aunts or uncles.  It’s not the “who” that is watching over them and guiding them that is most important.  It is the love and desire to raise children to become good conscientious adult citizens.  It is the proverbial “village” that makes this happen.

Segway back to Kennie’s party.  Besides the mix of genders and races, there were the divorced people who had remarried and were there with their new spouses or partners.  There were the cousins and aunts and uncles.  There were the grandparents and great grandparents.  All differences were put aside to celebrate this wonderful occasion.  There was no backstabbing.  No bickering.  People played volleyball and soccer.  Others sat around chatting and just catching up on what was new in each other’s lives.  Parents watched over their children, but all others watched as well.  It was a community of loving people wanting to enjoy the laughter and happiness of these adorable children.  Their high pitched squeals and big smiley faces could wipe away all thoughts of past anger and resentment.

My camera caught an incredible image.  The peacefulness on each person’s face.  The uproarious laughter.  Children playing in the sand…of the volleyball court.  To sum it up, it was a day full of happiness.  We broke bread together (well, hot dog and burger buns…that counts).  Everyone ate.  Everyone chatted.  The party was slotted to last from 1 pm to 4 pm.  Due to unforeseen cheerfulness, the entourage stayed until 6 pm.  It was actually difficult to leave.  It was such a beautiful, sunny day full of joy and merriment.  An incredibly memorable day.

Wiseguy and I came home and unpacked quickly.  We were exhausted.  Was it because of the fresh air?  Was it due to extra playtime with all the children?  Was it being in the sun all afternoon?  We smiled, resigning ourselves to the fact that we had no idea why we experienced the onset of tiredness, but we knew it was time for bed.  We were both smiling.  Why?  The day had been perfect.

Perfect?  Yes.  It was perfect.  The weather was ideal.  It wasn’t humid.  It was warm in the sun and cool in the shade.  The “family” came together to celebrate a birthday, but it was more than that.  It was a collaboration.  It was various entities of a family bonding together and enjoying each other’s company.  That’s what my camera saved forever.  It was about love.  It was about family.  It was about being there for a common goal and bypassing past prejudices.

In so many ways, children are the leaders.  They don’t hate (unless you steal their toy).  They don’t judge (unless you steal their toy).  Everyone is equal.  Religion, colour, nationality, et. al. kids don’t care.  As long as you are a loyal and nice playmate, they will be your friend forever.  Fun is what life is about.

I appreciate and love my “family”.  It’s definitely unique, but I am so proud to be part of it.  Living it.  Breathing it.  Loving it.  Laughing with everyone else.  It’s all about putting the Family “Fun” in Fun-damental.

 

 

Save the last dance for me…

This song has a special relevance for me.  I always believed I should’ve been born 20 years before I was born.  I was hatched in 1969.  Yup…quite a crazy year…but being a newborn, it had no relevance for me.  I have always LOVED music from the 50’s and the 60’s.  Actually I have loved music from the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s…well you get the idea.  Being raised in a European family, we learned to dance.  We learned to polka and waltz.  We did the “heritage/folkore” dancing so we had the dancing bug early on.  Now, imagine my lucky stars when I met Wiseguy and HE was also a dance fanatic!  This was not disco dance machine stuff…this was Polka at it’s best.  Really?  Really Maryann?  Oh yes!

I am sure you have watched…wait a minute…you probably haven’t.  There used to be an old tv show with accordion music where someone played “Roll out the barrel”.   This is not the same.  Wiseguy and I are all about the super circular speed.  We are velocitous (?) spheres spinning around the dance floor.  We are twirling around without a care in the world.  We dance, we spin, we have eyes only for each other…unless we might collide with other couples.  Very rarely.  The dance floors of today, with bodies only gyrating in one spot…booooooring!  Dancing is all about moving around the dance floor and just enjoying life.  Super sweaty time but so much fun!  Why do I mention this?  I had a recall moment of when I was going to leave hubby for three weeks to hang out with my dad in Europe.  It was the first time we would be apart for this long and we were at a fantabulous (my favourite made-up compound word of fantastic and fabulous…feel free to use it) family wedding.  The kiddies were with us and we were having fun, but also counting down the time to when we would be apart.

Songs and song meanings are very integral in our lives.  I am sure they are part of your life as well.  There are songs that are triggers.  They are reminders of events in your life.  As I mentioned, Wiseguy is a big song guy.  More 70s rock than anything (ugh), but then I am the yang to his yin with my love of pop music.  So imagine me and Wiseguy after two years of marriage, with kidlets in tow, knowing that I had to be at the airport by 2 a.m. to catch my flight to Europe.  Imagine my surprise when I heard one of my absolute favourite songs:  Save the last dance for me.   Initially this was a “Drifters” song, but then Michael Buble sang it…a bit more up-tempo.  Kind of more polka-meets-rhumba.  The last song of the night.  Wiseguy guided me to the dance floor.  Little did we know that our “Princess” (9 yrs old) was taking pictures of us the whole time.

Wiseguy and I have danced at many occasions (weddings, banquets, birthdays, etc.).  Wiseguy’s only rule is:  We are the first on the floor to start the dancing and the last to leave the floor.  We have survived waltzes, polkas, two-steps.  We have done the chicken dance and gagnam style and in the old days we did the YMCA. …ugh to these favourites.  We are glad that some songs have left the DJ list forever.  I now bring you back to this song of mine:  “Save the Last Dance” by The Drifters.  The songs they did have been remade over and over again because they are classics and still apply to every day and every time.  They were and are wonderful!

So, here we were, hubby and I, dancing as the wedding was winding down.  Many of the guests had already left.  No surprise.  It was 2 am.  They had music in the background as the band was starting to pack up.  Suddenly, I heard Michael Buble start singing, “Save the Last Dance”. I looked at my husband.  He looked at me.  We went to the dance floor.  I had removed my high-heeled shoes.  I, 5’5″ and he, 6’4″.   We began to dance.  The floor was ours.  We both knew I was leaving in about 6 hours and we wanted to enjoy our last night (morning) together.  Princess took pictures of us.  We didn’t know until we developed the film in our camera (yup…old day stuff).  Each picture shows how we moved with each other, silently, in the moment.  Joyous.

I do love many, many songs. There are songs to relax to.  There are songs to exercise to.  There are empowering songs.  Songs are here to feed us inspiration.  The reason why I love this particular song (Save the Last Dance) is two-fold:  1)  The beat is incredible and 2) The lyrics are all about love and trust.  Go flirt.  Go have fun.  Go enjoy your night.  I know you will come back to me and come home with me.  Why?  Because we are meant to be together.

Maybe to some it sounds like a stalker situation, but I find this song to be supportive of  a healthy relationships.  You don’t have to be glued to each other.  You can talk to other people.  You can dance with other people.  Why?  In the end, we both know that we love each other and will always end up in each other’s loving arms.  Trust, faith, love.  The bestest (my made up word that should be in the dictionary) kind of relationship.

Moral of the story:  DANCE!

Not “dance like no one’s watching” because everyone will be watching, but who cares?  Just DANCE!  Feel that music in your body.  Feel the buoyancy in your body!  Move across that floor and just live!  Your body is full of electricity and vibrations and it knows that dancing feel awesome!  And…as a small favour…Save the last dance for me.  XOXO.

 

 

 

Can you do me a favour?

I am sure that many of you have been asked, “Can you do me a favour?”  Harmless right?  You might have been the person asking this yourself.  In most cases, it is a quicky, easy request that you probably would have done anyway.  However, what if it is something more than you thought?  This is one of the hardest favours to fulfill.  You don’t want anyone to be offended.  You want to please others and make sure there is peace.  The older I get, the more I realize that saying “no” is something that I won’t feel bad about saying.  Why?

I am not sure if you had the same upbringing as I had, but “no” was not in our vocabulary.  We would impinge on our own family time in order to make other people happy.  My mother’s theory was that God would pay us in heaven later.  I still knew that, in many ways, she wanted praise and accolades from others.  That took me a long time to understand.  She seemed to be very helpful, but like many others, we do want to be thanked and appreciated for what we have done.  It makes us feel better as human beings; being helpful to others.   My perspective on this subject has changed dramatically over the years.

I always loved helping people.  It got so bad that I would give up my time and the daily living of my life in order to accommodate the wishes of others.  I dated a hypochondriac that would have me with him in the emergency room at least three times a week for illnesses that never existed.  All he wanted was attention.  It was actually my boss at the time, who pointed it out to me.  I thought I was being helpful and a good girlfriend, where my boss pointed out that he was just using illness as an excuse to keep me from being at work and giving him (the unemployed) more attention.  The relationship ended.  That was in my early 20s.  I dated many “fixer-uppers”, hoping to save the world one person at a time, and then finally realized that I couldn’t fix people.  I could only take care of myself and make myself happy.  Enter Wiseguy.

My hubby of 20 years was (and is) always supportive of me.  I had given up on finding someone to spend the rest of my life with.  One night I finally asked the heavens / God / the universe / all other gods…”I just want to meet someone who can make me laugh.  I want someone to have my weird sense of humour.”  Then, I decided that I would give up.  There was no one on the universe like that.  Again…enter Wiseguy.

I met my funny mate.  I met the man who would make me laugh.  I met the man who never demeaned me or made me feel stupid.  This man always elevated me and backed me in whatever I wanted to do.  Feminism?  Yes…he always wanted me to be me and pushed me to believe in myself.  Now THAT my friends is what a true mate and friend is like.

Now, you many not have found your perfect match, or you may be working on the relationship you are in…but always remember that in order for any relationship to work, you need to love yourself first.  It may sound corny or weird, as we have been taught to love others, but loving yourself and taking time for yourself let’s you be more loving to others.

And…when people ask for favours, remember, in most cases, it is a one way street.  The “favour” you do does not mean that they owe you anything back.  You do it out of the kindness of your heart.  Do NOT expect anything in return.  If you do, you might be disappointed.  This is the old lady of wisdom speaking now.  I have done many favours for many people.  I have received some thanks, but in most cases it ends up becoming “Thanks, but what have you done for me lately.”  In other cases it becomes expected and routine that you will be there so it’s not appreciated.  Be mentally and emotionally prepared for that.  If you feel that you need the accolades and believe you won’t get them, then feel free to take a deep breath in, exhale out, and kindly say, “NO.”  It is one of the hardest things to say, but saying YES all the time and being miserable about it is not good or right for you either.

Old lady lesson (yes, I am considering myself an old lady and I’m fantastically proud of it):

  • YOU CAN SAY NO!  It hurts at first, but it’s not the worst.

P.S.  Hmmmmm, sounds like a good slogan for a t-shirt

IMG_2652

P.P.S.  Double Hmmmm…anyone out there is the t-shirt industry…”Can you do me a favour?”

Here’s your life…what’s your hurry?

Spring is in the air, that musty grass smell after being covered by snow.  The birds are chirping (quite loudly, I must admit) and there is this noise in the neighbourhood of children laughing and giggling and riding around on their bikes.  Spring is about renewal as everyone knows.  When others create their “New Year’s resolutions” in January, I wait until springtime to unveil to myself what my New Year’s persona is going to include.  After careful planning, intense deliberation, and weighing all the pros and cons I have decided that this is the year I will learn to slooooooooooooooow dooooooooooooooooown.  I am welcoming in my Year of the Snail.  How did I come upon this fascinating conclusion?  Sit back and relax while I tell you story.

Our tale begins with a middle-aged female, who, after years of dreaming and looking at pictures and requesting travelers to bring her postcards from their various vacationing destinations…finally got to travel to this place they all called “SOUTH”.  It was a wondrous place that this lady had heard about, where the sun continually shines, the water is pure majestic blue, the sand is soft, and there is nothing to do but smile and nap and do this bizarre action called “relaxing”.  Yes, so many very strange terms that the woman had never experienced before and yet here she was, ready to take this indiscriminate journey SOUTH.

Many tips and tricks were shared with the naïve female and her Wiseguy husband.  What to pack, how much to pack, where to go, what to do, where to eat, what to eat, health measures, first aid measures…her mind was overflowing with worry about this travel and if they would really be prepared for this overwhelming adventure.  After packing (over-packing truly), they spent a sleepless night and more tiresome day venturing before sunlight to the place where the metal birds fly you to this SOUTH place.  As tires touched ground at the destination, a tear slipped down her warm cheek.  She was SOUTH and it was like heaven on earth.

They stepped out of the plane into warm air.  No hail or snow, just glorious sunshine and palm trees.  She stared in amazement at the beauty of it all and had a hard time absorbing everything she was seeing.  “So this is SOUTH,” she thought and a calmness washed over her.  There was no fear of the unknown.  There was no more worry about what was packed.  For some strange reason, she knew everything would be wonderful here.  THE END.

THE BEACH

Yes, it’s all true.  I, the victorious lady in the story, was treated to a trip to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic (Thank you Most Awesomest Wiseguy husband).  One of many hot places that we here from the North call SOUTH.  Truly a great experience with wonderful people to meet and also lots of quiet time to relax.  No thinking about shoveling snow.  No thinking about work.  No thinking about cleaning or chores.  Really, somehow your brain gets re-set to think about what is really important in life:  remember to have fun and enjoy this ride called life!

Life should not centre on work and bills.  We always make those our priority and they usually lead us to fret and stress and sleepless nights.  Breathing in and out (which we are very lucky to do on a daily basis) and actually taking in and appreciating beauty and the good things we have around us are what makes us happy and makes this “life” thing worth living.

I officially welcome you to the Year of the Snail!  Try it!  Live with less rush!  (Factoid:  a garden snail travels approximately 1.3 cm per second).  Breathe…in…breathe…out… and appreciate what you have.   Don’t overthink or overplan everything.  There may not be any roses to stop and smell, but sometimes just listening to your breath, and knowing your alive is oftentimes the most valuable gift you will have today.  Here’s your life…what’s your hurry?

For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.”  ~Lily Tomlin

Pork and Beans and the Prized Nugget

Schools of thought.  I myself have been on both sides of the fence depending on my age and/or necessity to explain or justify what I’m doing.  Sometimes my own thoughts just don’t seem as intelligent or convincing enough so why not borrow from the tried and true?

Too many chefs spoil the broth OR many hands make light work

Absence makes the heart grow fonder OR out of sight, out of mind

The pen is mightier than the sword OR actions speak louder than words

I could go on, but you get the idea.  What got me pondering and processing proverbs?   This weekend was one that I had been happily anticipating for a few days.  Social calendar full, beautiful weather, and Wiseguy not working.  Trifecta! Perfection!  Or so we thought.

Earlier in the week I had learned that a lovely lady had passed away.  She was only 51.   (Yes, for you youngins in your 20s that’s old, but we middle agers find that to be baby status to old age).  It came suddenly and unexpectedly in the form of a heart attack.  After some tears and hugs and grieving at the funeral home I again began to look forward to my happy weekend plans and enjoy life again.   Three days later another life jolt.  Another beautiful,  young woman in her 50s had passed away.  A kind and happy person who enjoyed life and made others feel happy, comfortable when you were around her.  The question you can’t help but ask is why?

When the week was done, I looked in my rearview mirror of wisdom to try and decipher what it all meant.  Death is shocking.  There’s anger and guilt and fear and mostly denial.  Death is so final.  Death is also illuminating.  My thoughts and beliefs on death have changed many times over the years.  Maybe that’s where the wisdom kicks in, or maybe, I find more comfort in disbelieving what I had learned before.  If this was your last day on earth how would you feel and what would you do?

What about life itself?  Is there a purpose?  Is there a meaning to our lives?  We wonder how we really fit in.  We promise to take time for ourselves.  We see family at funerals and PROMISE to call and visit because the mortality punching bag hit us hard.  And then, we go back to “life“.  Work.  Pay bills.  Buy necessities.  Maybe a few days vacation.  Is that life?

As I age (gracefully, of course) I look more at children and their approach to life.  Take a 3 year old and watch them get upset when they don’t get what they want.  Tears.  Tantrums. They know.        They deserve more.  Why do we adults accept that we can’t have better?

Each person derives a message upon hearing about the death of a loved one.  Each person goes through the stages of denial and guilt and anger to final acceptance.  It’s an emotional journey that can either leave you emotionally drained and looking consistently at the sadness and unfairness in life or it will lead you to finding a new sign or life message leading you to a happier more fulfilled life.  Which side of the proverb are you on?

I am trying to find positivity in the negative.  I believe that this is a sign to live life to the fullest.  When asking why people have to die and leave us, I remind myself that we don’t know how long we have here on earth and that we do need to take time to have fun.  We assume that we will wake up the next day. I am starting to rethink my life.  I am in the baby stages of redefining the living of my life by actually making myself follow my dreams to their realization.  No more giving up for fear of failure.  I will be grateful for that first deep breath in the morning because I know I am alive and my surrounding world is full of adventures that I need to explore.  I will let myself float in the pool of happiness around me.  I will love myself and share that love with others.  I will live and love and know that when my time comes I will be grateful for this thing called “life”.

Pork and Beans.  (Stay with me here, all will be explained.)  I think it is the simplest explanation to my conundrum.  Have you ever had a can of pork and beans? I remember reading the label and thinking there would be numerous chunks of bacon with the beans.  Can opened and contents extracted.  Hmmmm, one little wee piece of bacon and MILLIONS of beans.  This can of beans was like our weekend (told you I’d explain it).  Our disheveled weekend plans became a blessing in disguise.  You will have many experiences in life that all seem the same and monotonous, like the beans and one prized “nugget” of pork experience.   That one nugget, that one day, when everyone’s life coincides in togetherness and love is as large as the full moon.  It’s magical.  Wiseguy and I did get to spend time with people we love.  We did to get to appreciate and feel good about life with the people who are still with us.

Moral:  There will be sad times in your life.  Cry, be sad, hurt, grieve.  It’s a process.  Then move on.  Change your way of life.  Stop living with the simple monotonous beans of life.  Go searching and experiencing numerous and exciting prized pork nuggets. (My analogies, you must agree, are not conventional but then, neither am I.)

For those who have lost loved ones, I understand, I feel your loss, and can only give momma hugs. Words cannot heal what you have lost, but the good memories to follow will.  XOXOXO

 

 

 

 

 

It takes a village…

Wiseguy was a very lucky man today.  No…a VERY lucky grandfather today.  He got to babysit…nope….entertain…little Kennie.  Believe me….she played games with him as much as he played games with her.  A battle of wits.  Entertaining?  Yes.  Tiring?  Absolutely.

Growing up, my mother always told me that she felt bad because I didn’t have grandparents or great grandparents.  “I have to be your mother, grandmother, great grandmother, best friend.”  That never made sense to me.  I thought she was just rambling…you know…the way mothers always do, and it never made sense.

Well, becoming an aunt was a learning experience.  I remember talking to my first nephew and niece (only 17 months apart) and trying to impart words of wisdom without having them burst into tears.  Then later, I became a stepmother.  Mother might have been easier, don’t know, but stepmother, to tweens and teens, not easy either.  Lots of “behind the door” tears because I couldn’t show hurt or failure.  I lived and survived it and learned a lot from that experience. 

Now, we’re at the fun part of  life.  Becoming a grandma at 42.  Although surprising, it was AWESOME!  I still have energy to keep up with the wee wonder-girl!  Our Kennie (who will be 2 years old at the end of august) is just hilarious.  Her two-syllable vocabulary and her imitations are amazing and fun and entertaining and adorable.  You can see how much time her mom spends with her.  She teaches her many things from singing to counting (by the way…counting starts like this..you say “one” and she continues with “two” …there is no “one” in her vocab.  Anyway, toddlers are fun.  Entertaining, fun, and…extremely tiring.

So, when Wiseguy told me that he got to babysit (ahem…hang out with) little Kennie, I was jealous…in a happy way.  It’s nice for him to have fun play time with little Kennie. 

Honestly, kids have an amazing view of the world and what is determined as “fun”.  Grandpa was brilliant.  He decided that it was time to water the flowers in the backyard.  “Kennie do.”  Yup, the hose, full of water, was initially aimed at watering the flowers.  Then it became a fountain, spraying on Kennie and the puppies and everywhere BUT the flowers.  Fun? Totally!  What else did the dynamic duo do? 

They ran around the house.  They drew pictures.  They ate fruit.  They played with the “Gogs” (aka dogs).  They had  lunch.  Then grandma came home at lunch and luckily got to put little Kennie down for a nap.  Nothing like watching a wee child sleep in peace.  Those little breaths in and out and that peaceful look on their face.  Absolute comfort and happiness.

After work, Grandma came home to the welcoming, happy face of wee Kennie and “come”…time to play.  We forget to play.  We adults play, but sadly, it’s usually a play to win situation.  Grandma just had to play with Kennie by dancing.  A little boogie woogie and giggling with mommy.  Then I had Kennie help set the table because “Kennie do” was all I heard.

Grandpa Wiseguy was happy.  He got to have fun playing games with the pre-two year old all day.  She had a two hour nap.  She scarfed down lunch.  She gave lots of hugs and held his hand and helped water the flowers and played drums and just gabbed and laughed and played with grandpa. 

After Princess and Little Kennie went home after dinner, I got a lovely text message “out like a lightbulb”.  I was so happy that Kennie had a  wonderful day with both grandpa and great-grandpa.  I texted back:  Grandpa out too.

Sweet dreams Grandpa.  You done good.

(Just a small note:   I have heard this phrase many times before, but in case you haven’t…it takes a village to raise a child.  The more the merrier.  All hands on deck.  Lots of supervision, lots of love, and lots of different views from different generations.  Yes, it does take a loving village to raise a child.)

Hello world!

This is it!

I have finally decided that I should enter the exciting blogosphere world!

I myself am an avid googler and searcher of all things exciting and popular and fun and educational.

My life, like everyone else’s, is full of so many interesting people, places, and things.  I am hoping to share my joys and my sorrows (which I am hoping are few and far far between). Life is a wonderful adventure and with my husband (a.k.a. wiseguy) of 15 years, he has been the one that makes me laugh and has always been the one that could bring me out of a slump or make me laugh until my stomach ached.  I’m a lucky girl for that.

Also, I am wife number two.  It’s a neat position to have in that I have happily become the proud stepmom or 3 grown children.  Being part of their lives for the past 15 years has also been an experience in and unto itself.  And I can tell you, I am sure they think the same thing.  Love you guys!

And with older children comes the wonderful part of life where we get to be in-laws to two wonderful girls and also grandparents to an amazingly beautiful, funny, smart, talented, and loving huggy granddaughter.  Best job EVER.  grandparent.  recommend that highly.

So, this is it!

Welcome to my blog and to my life.  I am happy to be able to share with you the interesting view I have of life and my opinions on it as well. Agree or disagree with me, it makes for an interesting read.

I welcome myself to the Land of Blogs and am really excited about my new journey into the realm of the unknown.  Computer illiterate…yes, that would be me.  I welcome anyone willing to spend any minute amount of time actually wondering what has gotten into my head on a daily basis.   (We’ll work through the cobwebs and the derailed trains of thought together.)

Looking forward to newfound friends and intriguing commentaries.  Enjoy because…this is it!