Astraphobia…or is God out to get me?

There are many types of fears:  fear of heights, fear of spiders, fear of drowning…to name but a few.  They all have their own “phobia” name.  I had this one fear, that some of you might also have had, called astraphobia or the “fear of thunderstorms”.  Allow me to share with you my mind-numbing anxiety and how I finally conquered this phobia.

The first lighting bolt / thunderclap storm that I can recall was when I was 4 years old.  Our family (mom, dad, us four kids) had gone to Croatia for a vacation (meet the relatives trip).  Being so young, I don’t really remember much.  The one thing I clearly recall is a lightning storm.  It was pitch black outside until the firebolt lit up the sky.  I was under an umbrella with someone (found out it was my mother) and we were trying to run quickly through the mud to get home before we got hit by lightning.  It was a terrifying experience and therefore etched in my mind forever.  That was thunderstorm number one.


The second thunderstorm that I can recall, took place after we had moved into our new family home.  I was 7 years old.  It was early afternoon when suddenly, the sky went from pretty blue to smokey, dark grey.  We had to turn the lights on in the house.  I was standing beside my mother and we were looking out the window.  CRACK!!!  Lightning streaked across the sky!  Seriously, there were probably 5 bolts that went from cloud to cloud.  A few seconds later BOOOOOM!  Thunder shook the house.  My mom held me and informed me that everything was going to be fine.  Then the lights went out.  I was shaking with fear.  Then all of a sudden…ICE PELLETS!!  I had never seen that before.  Ice cubes falling from the sky.  Hail was piling up on the dirt mountain in front of our house.


I started thinking that God must be mad at us.  (Yes, going to church all the time and listening to the bible stories of the “vengeful destructive God” in the old testament can really get a kid’s imagination going.)  Well, God wasn’t going to strike me dead on this day.  I bolted up to my bedroom and hid under my bed.  I would live!

Fast forward to when I was 18 years old.  Another never-forgotten storm.  I was back in Croatia.  This time it was me with my parents and younger brother.  We had gone to Medjugorje.  It was a pilgrimage for our Catholic family.  My mother wanted us to do the Stations of the Cross.  We were prepping for prayer when all of a sudden, the sky went black, lightning bolts came bearing down from the sky, the thunder shook the ground and I believed God was going to strike me dead.  (Oh yeah…that “fear of God” can really do a number on a catholic girl’s psyche.)  I looked around and my mother was gone.  Maybe HE struck HER dead!  Nope, mom reappeared from behind a statue saying, “I wasn’t even afraid of dying.”  Well good for you!  I had been terrified!



(I wonder if my mother is a descendant of Zeus or Thor.  Why?  Doesn’t it seem odd that when the worst (and my most memorable) storms hit my mother was in the vicinity?  Something to think about, you conspiracy theorists out there.)

Now, into my adulthood I was still not a fan of storms.  I had friends and co-workers tell me that if I learned more about lightning storms I would get rid of my fear.  Oh, I read about them alright.  I read about golfers being struck by lightning.  STRUCK DEAD!  Then there were the articles about water being a conductor of electricity.  So, after all my “helpful” research, not only did I fear the storms even more, I managed to kick my fear into high gear:

  1.  No taking showers or baths if there was a lightning storm.  Why?  Water is a conductor and I would not be struck dead in my tub.fullsizeoutput_21eb
  2. No answering the phone during a storm.  Why?  Well, if water was a conductor, then surely an electrical phone would lead the lightning bolt right through my ear and into my brain and yup…strike me dead.fullsizeoutput_21ec
  3. No touching computer keyboards, screens, photocopiers, fax machines, etc. during a storm.  Why?  Same reason; electricity.  Like begets like.

Then something changed.  Children came into my life.

Now, this is the last memorable storm I can recall.  We were vacationing at the cottage.  Everyone was in bed.  Suddenly, a strange sound came to my ears.  It was rain.  You could hear it moving closer from across the lake.  So pretty.  So relaxing and then…BLINDING LIGHT!!!!  BOOOOOM!!!  I freaked and hid under the covers.  Then we heard a terrified voice yell “Daddy!”  Wiseguy went to comfort the wee 7 year old girl.  I shook underneath my covers and then my brain yelled at me: “What are you DOING?!”  fullsizeoutput_21ef

What was I doing?  What WAS my problem?  I had never perished in any other storm.  What was I so worried about?  I wasn’t a golfer.  So far, it seemed my mortality was not threatened.  My self-created reign of terror was officially over.

Afterward, when storms came around, I was the brave one and was there to hold our little princess.  I would tell her stories, or I would turn the radio on and we would dance.  Distraction…best thing to do during a storm.  After the storm was over, the beautiful rainbow would come out and all would be well again.fullsizeoutput_21ed

Nowadays, I do use electrical equipment AND take showers (not at the same time) when there is a thunderstorm going on.  The kids are all grown up, but I am now the official protector of my 9 year old fur baby, Sir Waldo; the fluffy shi-poo.  (Look at those ears pulled back and the crazy long “freaked-out-by-thunder” tongue.)











Being a descendant of Zeus and/or Thor (yeah, might as well go with it), Waldo and I no longer have to fear the sky storms.  However, I do still wonder sometimes…is it astrophobia or is God out to get me?

P.S.  So far, no damage to me from God storms.  Yay me!

P.P.S.  I did take up golfing…

I Am A Stripper…

Yes it’s true.  I am a stripper.  I became a stripper three days ago.  It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be.  I should’ve started each day with a warm up.  I am using muscles I haven’t used in many, many, many, millennial years.  Sometimes you have to do what is necessary.  I am reaching up high.  I am bending down low.  Squats.  I thought this only happened at the gym with a tough trainer, but here I am doing squats and hating it.  My hip joints are yelling at me.  My shoulder muscles (whatever they are called) are talking to me “Keep it up!  Great job!”  Yep.  Oh!  On top of that I am looking at my accomplishments and I am not that impressed.  Oh, by the way, being a wallpaper stripper is not as easy as you think.

BAHAHAHAHA!  Ok, my tagline of “stripper” was just a draw, but I was serious and honest.  I have been assigned the task of stripping…wallpaper.  This hideous, super-glued paper that has been the bane of my existence.  I have never been a wallpaper person as I have heard the tragedies from friends about the horrendous job of trying to remove said demon paper.  You know what?  They were and are RIGHT!

Wiseguy and I moved into a house with many levels (three) and many…ahem…interesting quirks.  That’s a nice way of saying, “Holy Sh**!  How did we miss that??!!”  This is where I am going to be very honest.  W and I didn’t really pick this house.  FIL (father-in-law) loved it.  He said this would be the perfect place for all of us as he was moving in with us.  (This will be a story (novel) for another day.)  However, we love this neighbourhood and were have great neighbours and there are many other locational benefits.  BUT…this Pandora’s box of a house has been…let’s call it an interesting boxing match.  Hubby and I get relaxed in our home and the house suddenly  says:  “Hey!  It’s freezing outside!  No water for you!”  Yup, our pipes froze.  Hubby punched a hole in the wall and once the copper piping was exposed the water flowed.  Good.  All was well and then…

Basically, our “home” has a personality.  (Seriously, I have worked hard to find the silver lining).  So, when it came to the removal of the wallpaper I knew it was not going to be easy.  I was ready.  I was armed with “Friend” knowledge and with “Google” knowledge.  I was going to prove to Wiseguy that I could do this!  Woman Power!

I am NOT a Renovationator!  I am a wannabe.  I am nowhere near being that reliable person to remove wallpaper.  Honestly, I even thought I would write a proposal to federal prisons and suggest that a good method of ensuring that offenders would never re-offend would be to make them remove wallpaper dating back to the 1950s.  I am sure anyone who has moved into an older home can agree with me.  Those in prison might also agree with me.  The desire to actually take a Thor hammer and demolish the wall is WAAAAAAAAAYY easier than removing this clinging wallpaper.  I digress.  Let me take a step back and re-evaluate the situation.

We have lived in this house for thirteen years.  There have been many changes and upgrades done to this house:  New roof (shingles), siding, eavestroughs, soffit.  New air conditioner.  New furnace.  New windows.  New kitchen.  New wood floors.  New bathrooms.  New driveway.  New bedroom mattresses.  Back to new kitchen because it includes new appliances including Wolf stove, Wolf toaster, Wolf toaster Oven.  Wow!  There are so many things to be grateful for!  Seriously grateful for!  The silver lining in this laborious new work is that once all the irksome wallpaper has been removed we are going to paint the walls with a beautiful new colour and make our house even more of a wonderful home.  In fact, tearing the wallpaper down is not actually a bad thing.  It’s a very good thing right?  Which means that being a stripper of said wallpaper is a job that I should be applauded for!  Yes! Yes! Yes!  It’s good to be me!

Then again, I could be delusional and I actually am in hell (or prison) and my punishment is to try and remove this horrific flowered paper that seems have been glued on with Gorilla Glue.  I will be needing physiotherapy as I am slowly losing the ability to put my hands over my head due to the usage of muscles that I have not used in about 40 years.

Progress Report:  As you can see from the scene below, it really does look like Alcatraz!  Except for the cute puppies.  (This could become a good “rescue dog” video).


MORAL OF THE STORY:  There may be hard times facing you.  It may seem impossible and overwhelming.  Little by little, and with lots of good thoughts (and/or good music) you can tackle any (seemingly) impossible job.  You can do it.  You will do it.  Believe in yourself.  Love yourself.  Conquer those self-doubts and you can do anything.  Even become an accomplished (wallpaper) stripper.



Life is like a rainfall shower head

I have read and heard many stories about the benefits of a nice, hot bath.  I have seen pictures where there are frothy bubbles and scented candles surrounding a tub.  There are spongy loofahs, wooden book holders, calming flute music…yadda, yadda, yadda.  I have foregone all these relaxing dunks.  I am sure that if I did try just soaking for awhile my mind would wander off to the fairy forest and my brain would stop overplaying lists of things I could be doing were I not sitting around in a watering hole.  I am sure I can hear your gasps of dismay and your degrading comments of how I am missing out on the special relaxing quality of the spa.  Maybe I’m just not that relaxing kind of gal.  Well, I thought I wasn’t until Wiseguy installed a new shower head.

My “new-to-me” Moen shower head was actually a gift that I bought for Wiseguy five years ago.  He is a tall man and I thought the two part shower head would assist him in washing off more quickly and efficiently.  (Yup, always looking for ways to increase productivity haha).  Wiseguy decided to reno his bathroom and remove the ancient green tub and put in a stand up shower.  I discovered he NEVER used the rainfall part of the shower head.  Meh, his loss.  The silver lining here is that he got a different shower head for his shower and I got gifted with the Moen.  Lucky me!

I was looking forward to using it, but not super excited.  I believed I knew what it would feel like.  I was wrong.  So wrong.  I used it for the first time today and I seriously almost fell down in the tub as this mini rainfall sprinkled upon my body.  I started with the small, main shower head.  Usual pressure.  Nothing crazy.  Then I turned on the rainfall shower head.  I cannot explain what it feels like to have little water droplets cascade from the top of my shoulders down to my thighs.  I will give it a try though.

Rain fall shower heads disperse the water so that it feels like little massage fairies walking around your body.  Little tap, tap, taps.  These hot droplets hit various pressure points all at the same time.  Your mind can’t function because you are enthralled with little wet fingers that keep gently striking you.  How can you think about anything while you are becoming jelly under these rain forest-like conditions?  You don’t realize how sensitive your skin is until you stand under a rainfall shower head.  I would recommend it to anyone!

For you bath people, I am sure that your method works well for you.  A nice, hot, steamy bath where you can feel your muscles unknotting as you soak.  Please continue to enjoy your method of decompressing.  I am happy to have found this glorious hot rain that won’t let me think about anything because I am too focused on where each water droplet is tapping on my body.  My mind gets erased.  My stress is removed.  The hardest part is realizing that I will eventually have to turn off this glorious stream and continue with my day.

This concludes my enjoyment sharing for today.  May you find and appreciate the little joys you have in your life.  There are many and we oftentimes miss them because our “want list” always seems longer and more desired than the “already have list”.

Quote for the day:  Life is like a rainfall shower head.  Feels good! (author: Maryann Jurcich)

How to Save a Drowning Orchid

I have never been very good with flowers. I even managed to kill a harmless, small “cannot kill” Ikea, cactus.  That takes quite a special kind of Killer talent. After ridding my house of any beautiful, living blossom, I actually felt relieved. I knew that there would be no little white bugs flitting about my house. No fear of anything being knocked over. No need to wonder if I had watered (or drowned) any plants. And surprisingly, my family did not die from lack of flora breath in the air. All was well.

Fastforward 10 years.  We had just completed a much dreamed about kitchen renovation.  Being an avid fan of makeover shows, I realized there was always a stunning arrangement of fresh flowers to accent and complete the transformation.   After years of plant freedom I decided that I was older and wiser and would somehow miraculously inherit Mother Nature’s whimsical and illustrious talents.  Whilst grocery shopping one day, I saw a magnificent white orchid that asked, nay, demanded: “TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER.”   Nope.  Overdramatizing (a little).  It looked really bright and happy and cheerful and appeared to say (if flowers could speak) “I’m yours.  Take me home”.  I was happy.  My new flowerage (?) was happy.  My newfound blossoms would reign over my new regal domain.

My orchid was astounding! I was amazed at the elegance and beauty of each petal and how it seemed to lord over my new dream room. What started as five blooms became six blooms and then seven and then eight. Amazing too, that the Curse of the Serial Plant Killer did not strike. For weeks I ensured that I followed the instructions: just a little warm water daily. I did well. Always just enough. And it always stood there beautiful and proud.

One day, while rushing about, I realized that my majestic orchid looked…well…droopy. When was the last time I had watered it? Two days? Three days?  How did I forget to add that ounce of warm water?  To compensate for my lack of care, I dispensed a whole waterfall of life giving liquid. That would do the trick. That decision was the beginning of the end. What was once beautiful, elegant, sturdy flowers became serial floral demise.  Whole blossoms began dropping. One at first, then two at a time. It was over. Serial Plant Killer struck again. Egad! “Waaaahhhhhh!!” I screamed out to the sky: “HOW DO YOU SAVE A DROWNING ORCHID?!” That death sentence actually made me suddenly ponder the similarities between plant life and human life.

How do you save a drowning orchid? How do you save a person that is drowning in fear or unhappiness and is having kneejerk reactions to life? How do you get them to search for that lifeline that will drag them out of their drowning fear or anger or hurt or regret that they feel? Oftentimes we forget about those around us and when we finally remember them we give a “quick fix” through gifts of sorts and then move on believing everything will be fine.

Love, like water, needs to be given daily. It doesn’t need to come showering down like a big party then leave you feeling hung over and alone for days after that. A nice, kind, gentle, daily dose is what keeps true love on the right path.

True love is about friendship, kindness, and understanding. It is always there, like a slow trickle of water that will never leave you feeling dried out or thirsting for love from others.

My dear orchid, I am sorry that I let you down as I now know that I let myself down. Tough lesson, but a lesson well learned. I need to take time to love myself. Don’t love myself only on some days and not others. I am always worthy of love and by loving myself and not expecting it from others, I will never thirst for it or hope that I am worthy to receive it. My water trough of love will always be full. And by having great love for myself, my love for others will be stronger and the love I receive will be even more appreciated.

Rest in peace, my dear orchid. Lesson learned.


How hot was it ?

“It was so hot, that while driving home, I believe my underwear melted.”  This was the comment I made to co-workers back in 2001.  My awesome Toyota Tercel decided that since it was volcano temperature outside, it would be best for my air conditioning to stop working.  Boo hoo for me.

I believe I am a magnet for failed air conditioning systems.  Honestly.  In 2010, on the hottest day of the year, the air conditioning unit in the building conked out.  We needed a new thinga-ma-jiggy.  Since the building was old, the part would hopefully be in, (yes, hopefully) within 2 days.  Luckily, it was ONLY two days.  It was difficult trying to figure out what to wear as NAKED was not an option.  My profession (phone picker upper and paper filer) does not allow for that type of wardrobe.  As such, summer dresses that absorbed all heat related moisture were the winners of those two days.

Flash forward.  The year is 2011.  The place is still the same building.  The inspection at the beginning of spring for the air conditioning:  “Yes, it’s all working well, but your fan might need replacing in the A/C unit”.  Uh huh.  Didn’t get a good vibe off that report.  Now, what do you think happened?  Weather report:  “Heat advisory is in effect for….”   NO!  Not again!  Day one of sweltering summer and….hmmm, all is well.  Air is on.  Coolness in the building.  Great!  Day two…back in the building and internal temperature reads:  Dante’s inferno.  How comforting.  Much better news when repair technician showed up.  He had “connections” so he would be back with the part in the morning.  As in NEXT morning?  Waaaaaaah!

I do realize that it’s that time of year again.  Summer!  How exciting!  Fantastically wonderful for all you sun worshippers and pool owners.  Those who despise our Canadian winters can’t wait for this time of year.

I myself prefer fall.  That time of year when all you need is a light sweater to be comfortable.  There is nothing dripping off the edge of your nose.  There are NO mosquitos.  You rarely get sunburned in the fall.   The foliage changes to such wonderful colours.  You can sit around a campfire and roast marshmallows because it’s not too cold and not too hot.  See, all these positives.  Yay autumn!

So, you summer-loving-sun-lovers…I need you to explain to me WHY this is your preferred season?  I really am trying to find the good points, but losing pints of sweat is not a bonus in my books.  Laying very still every night on my bed, wide awake, as I wait to feel a bit of chill off the ceiling fan on my hot feet.  Even trying to find a cold spot on the bed…that’s like trying to find a parking spot at the mall at christmastime…virtually IMPOSSIBLE!  The thought of turning my stove on…ugh.  The thought of ice cream for dinner is a definite possibility.  At least I am not adding to the unbearable heat.

I am sure I will hear the lecture about the “dry” heat compared to “humid” heat.  Yes, opening my door to leave the house reminds me of opening my oven door…except there is no yummy smell.  It’s a wall of hot air that stifles my breathing.  (This is only comparable to its polar opposite of extreme cold in wintertime.  You know…that first deep breath of cold air that will make your lungs want to collapse.)

Quick flashback…remember the days of yore when there was no air conditioning?  The family would pack up bed sheets and / or the top mattress and bring it all downstairs into the cool, dank basement so that you could get some sleep.  My parents grew up with many siblings and were used to sleeping together in one room.  Ixnay for that working with our family.  There were body odours and the accidentally released (hee hee) gases that would fumigate the room.  BUT…at least it was cooler.  During the day you would pretend to get water from the kitchen sink…then sneak some open- fridge-door-cooling-off time.  My mother could hear that fridge door every time.  You tried anyway and the reward was worth it.  Aaaaaahhhh, cool cool air.

So here we are again.  Extreme heat warning.  Drink lots of water.  Find places that have air conditioning.  Don’t think about the air conditioning at work.  No need to let IT know that summer is here.   Think cool thoughts.  If all else fails, I’ll just keep checking the flyers for sales on underwear.