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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking for signs

Hard to believe my Mother will be gone a year in February. It’s hard because it doesn’t seem like she is gone at all!

Here’s what I’ve discovered about the grieving process… it’s not what you think.

I always thought when my Mother died I would never get out of bed again. I thought I would never be able to stop crying and the grief would be a black cloud over my head forever. But that’s not what happened.

The first couple of weeks were hard… getting through the wake and funeral, going through her personal items, figuring out who gets what and what to send to Goodwill. It’s hard to pack up your Mother’s stuff and send it in a box to a charity. The funny things you think about when doing that. I had this vision that I would be driving down Water Street and I would stop at a crosswalk to let a homeless lady cross the street and she would be wearing one of my Mother’s sweaters…. And that would be a sign from my Mother to me, to tell me that she was ok.

But it never happened. I never saw the homeless lady wearing my Mother’s sweater. She never appeared by the side of my bed, even when I thought for sure if I opened my eyes she would be there. I never caught a glimpse of her standing behind me in a mirror or saw her ghost when I turned off all the lights downstairs before I went to bed.

She just never came back to me… I think it is because she never left me.

We think we are going to grieve like it is portrayed in a Hollywood movie. We have all seen those movies where the grieving widow throws herself on top of the casket as it is lowered in the ground, or when Patrick Swayze comes back to Demi Moore in Ghost to warn her that she is in danger, or like Norman Bates who kills his Mother in Psycho and keeps her corpse in the house with him because he can’t get past the guilt.

That’s not how it happens in real life. No one threw themselves on my Mother’s casket, I don’t own a pottery wheel and my Mother’s body is safely planted in a graveyard.

The truth is, life goes on. You have to return to work. There is laundry to be done. Dogs to be walked. Kids to be fed. Life to be lived. That’s life!
A friend of mine (who is a psychologist) pointed out to me that there is healthy and unhealthy grieving. It’s healthy to cry during a funeral, periodically over the next few weeks, marking holidays and events (birthdays, Christmas) etc. It’s not healthy if three months later you still can’t get out of bed or get back to life. She also pointed out that if you have no regrets, it is easy to move on. People who can’t move on are stuck because they have regrets. I made sure before my Mother died that I thanked her for everything she did for me. I apologized for all the times we fought. She did the same.

The one thing she did do for me, which helped me to move on, is she set me free. She told me not to feel obligated to stay in touch with people I feel no connection to. Without getting into details she said, “Be happy. That’s all I wanted for you. If you didn’t get along with someone when I was alive, you won’t get along with them after I am dead.” It was the best gift she ever gave me.

I had no regrets. I went on living while still looking for signs that she was with me.

I rarely go to the graveyard. I don’t feel her there. It doesn’t do anything for me.

This past summer I looked out in my garden and to my surprise a carpet of blue Forget-Me-Nots had grown throughout my yard. She had planted them there a few years before. I took my tea and went out and sat down on the deck. I could smell her perfume in the air and I could feel her in the garden.

Just before Christmas I searched frantically for weeks for a X-Box One for my son. There wasn’t one to be had in the province. One morning I dropped into Future Shop just as it opened. I had checked the web site and it said they had one in stock. The young sales girl assured me it was a mistake. As she went off to the back room to check I whispered “Please Mom, find that X-Box for Daniel. He’s going to be so disappointed if I don’t get one.” The sales girl came through the door holding the last X-Box One in the Province and handed to me. She said “You must have someone watching over you today. I don’t know where this one came from.”

Was it Mom? She always delighted in spoiling Daniel.

It’s almost a year later and every night when I come home the first thing I do is check to see if the message light is blinking on the phone. If it’s not, my first thought is “Mom forgot to call me today.”

This is the first Christmas I didn’t buy her a gift. It was always a dilemma anyway. What do you buy a Woman who has everything, doesn’t need anything and don’t want nothing? I used to put together a gift box of items; Oil of Olay products, a new lipstick, a sweater and an Azaleas flower.

The Azaleas flower comes in a box. You put the bulb in a small planter, put some dirt on it and it grows three feet tall and flowers. It never worked for me but she could make that thing flower three or four times before it died. I bought one at Dominion just before Christmas and followed the instructions on the box. I put the planter on top of the kitchen counter and wished it luck, warning it that I probably wouldn’t remember to give it any water.

To my surprise, it grew and grew and grew. Then Christmas morning I was so happy to find eight big red flowers had bloomed on it. It bloomed right into the New Year. Me growing anything was nothing short of a Christmas miracle. I was so pleased with it I took a picture and put it on Facebook. A friend commented on it and sent me a link to a story about “signs from beyond.” I took a closer look at the picture I had posted and noticed my Mother’s sweater hanging over the chair next to the flower. The only thing I had taken from her house.

It was a sign. A sign from her that this wasn’t my first Christmas without her. It was my first Christmas with her… in a new form. I’ve discovered that the “Feeling of peace” people talk about really does exist. When I think about her, I do get a calm feeling of peace. It feels like a warm blanket or a hug.
I hope I never run into her ghost in the living room after I turn the lights off but I do hope I see her work in my garden this Spring. The blue Forget-Me-Nots will be my sign that she wants me to keep moving forward, keep being happy.

Merry Christmas Mom and Daniel says thanks for the X-Box One.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Around the World

How better to get the Christmas spirit than catch it from The Spirit of Newfoundland?
http://www.spiritofnewfoundland.com/

Their Christmas Around the World show is exactly what you need to get your Christmas spirit soaring. This year’s show has two new members, Michael Power and Keith Power. Both are well versed entertainers.

Michael is a graduate of the Musical Theatre Performance Program at Sheridan Collage and is a well-seasoned performer. He is cute enough to play Jake Doyle’s little brother and displays an amazing talent whether he is singing, dancing or making the audience laugh.

Keith is a graduate of Sir Wilfred Grenfell College with a Bachelor in Fine Arts in Acting and it shows. This guy was born for Broadway! He can sing, dance and make you burst out laughing with just a facial expression.

Christmas Around the World also features two of my favourites, Shelia Williams and Dana Parson. Both well-known entertainers that can make any show.

I’ve often described Shelia as Newfoundland’s Lucille Ball and she does not disappoint. I would love to know how much she ad-libs and how much is from script. I can’t image she sticks to the script much because her one-liners can even break up her cast members.

Dana has this God-given voice that she uses to bring the audience to fits of laughter or causes shivers down your spine. She easily switches from her comedic talent to a trained opera voice that leaves you speechless.

Christmas Around the World is exactly what your family needs to find the Christmas Spirit. From the traditional Christmas songs to a moving soliloquy from Michael Power, the show will quickly bring you from laughter to tears back to laughter again.

On the night that we attended, we were lucky enough to have the one and only, Shelley Neville, in the audience and at the end she gave the audience the best Christmas gift ever, her rendition of O Holy Night. We left the Masonic Temple filled with love, peace and joy.

Do yourself and your family a favour, bring them to Christmas Around the World at Spirit of Newfoundland and remind them what the season is really about… spending time together, remembering old times and laughing out loud.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Boy's Cat

It's the insatiable crying that drives me mad.

Every night, she walks from room to room searching and crying. It's like she knows when I am just about to doze off. She sits by the side of my bed. She knows I let one hand hang over the side and she arches her back until my fingers are running through her fur. She turns around and puts her head under my hand forcing me to scratch her behind the ears.

She came to us by accident. My Mother's cat had kittens. My son was almost three at the time. He fell in love with the long-haired ginger curled up in the cardboard box. Nan said he could have her.

She slept on his bed. As he grew, she grew. She followed him around the house and waited for him to come home from school each day. She went to bed when he did. Snuggling into his back or stretched out on top of him. Leaving a trail of fur all over his bedspread.

He played X-box with her sitting in his lap or lounging next to him. He rubbed her fur without knowing it and scratched her head instinctively.

I have never had to do anything for her. She wasn't my cat. I don't know why she seeks me out at midnight every night. She stares directly into my eyes, meowing like she's asking me a question. "What do you want?" I ask her, exasperated by her relentless crying. She asks again but I don't understand. She follows me around the house all day long crying and crying. It never stops. She's not hungry, or sick. I don't know how to pacify her.

I turn the key to the front door. The sun is shining in through the foyer window on the slate floor. I open the door and she is enjoying the sun rays, stretched out like she is laying on a beach. When I come in she jumps up and swirls around my feet. I scratch her head hello and go into the kitchen. I get her food and lay it on the floor but she doesn't go near it.

I can hear the school bus stopping at the top of the street. She scratches franticly at the door to get out and I open it to let her go. I watch her cross the street and run like a cheetah to the corner. She greets the bus. The driver opens the door and the children pile out. She sits, watching each child walk by. Some stop and scratch her head and her tail sways in appreciation. The last of the children get off and the door closes. The bus pulls away. She's still sitting there. Waiting.

The last boy off the bus rubs her head then walks down the street towards his house. She follows him. He turns around and smiles. He waits for her to get near then reaches down and scoops her up in his arms. She nuzzles into his neck. The boy strokes her back and her long tail sways around his waist in glee.
He gently lays her down on the sidewalk as he gets closer to his house. She sits and watches him go inside. She gets up and meanders across the street to our house and paces in front of the door as if to say, "I am home now." I let her in and as I close the door she locks eyes with me meowing and crying all at once. Asking me the same question she asks every night when I am trying to sleep. I don't know how to get it through to her. She never gives up asking. She never stops crying.

Frustrated with my response, she bows her tail and runs to the basement. I follow her down there to see what she's doing. I don't come down here anymore. She leaps up on the couch and curls into the abandoned white hoodie bunched up in the corner. It's covered in fur. She's slept there before. I should throw it out, but I can't. She smells him on it. I sit next to her and scratch her head. She begins to cry again. Asking the same question. I tell her over and over again but she doesn't get it.

He's gone I tell her. She cries again and it sounds like "Why? Why?" She crawls onto my lap. Arching her back like a Halloween cat and then reaching her cold nose up till it touches mine. Her eyes are green and she locks them on mine. "Where is he?" She's asks. I tell her every day, "The boy is gone. You have to learn to let go."
She walks off my lap and back to the hoodie. Laying down with her back towards me. I know she's saying "I don't believe you."

Suddenly she jumps to her feet and runs up the stairs. I can hear her scratching at the front door. I chase after her. I can hear the second school bus at the top of the street. I open the door and she runs up to the bus stop. The doors open and she sits patiently. Watching the kids get off. The doors close and the bus pulls away. She gets up and begins the slow walk back to her house. Her tail is down and I can see her mouth moving. She's crying again.
I let her back in. I hate the sound of the school bus. I miss the boy too. I long to see him jump off the bus with his heavy book bag over his shoulder. Running towards home and her running after him.
She searches the house again. Looking for him. I follow her to the basement. Now an empty, hollow room filled with electronic games, a TV and couch. The walls are a shrine to his accomplishments. Certificates and trophies are everywhere.

She's crying. "Where is he?" She leaps back to the couch and curls up in the boy's hoodie. I lay on the couch and she climbs on top of me. I cry with her.

"Where is he? Where is my baby boy?" The tears sting my eyes and roll down my cheeks. She lifts her head and meows back to me "Why? Why?"

She jumps off and runs up stairs again. I go behind her. She's scratching at the door again. She wants to go out. I open the door. There's a group of boys heading to the park. She chases after them. They don't notice her trailing behind. I can hear her cry. I know what she's saying. "Do you know where my boy is?" They don't pay any attention to her.

She'll keep me up again tonight. Continuously crying. Like me. Asking "Where is my boy?"

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A woman’s work is never done. How could it be when we live with men?

A woman’s work is never done.

How could it be when we live with men?

It all started Saturday morning when I decided to make brunch for my family. I went out to the stand-up freezer in the garage to get a package of bacon. I opened the door to the freezer to find the ice age had begun. Someone, and I am not pointing fingers but it was the only male living in my house, left the freezer door slightly ajar causing two inches of ice and snow crystals to form over everything in it. I unplugged it and left it for a half hour. When I came back, there wasn’t a single drip of water. Everything was still as solid as I left it.

I spotted the Black-n-Decker Stripper 1800 heat gun next to the tool box in the garage and thought “Now that’s a good idea.” I got a harmer and a chisel and began chipping away at the ice to get the food out. Everything was freezer burned. From the perogies I bought two years ago to the pumpkin pie I forgot to serve during Thanksgiving. Everything went in the garbage. Of course, what happens when I see anything wet? I have to pee.

I pee danced down the basement stairs to the bathroom. Of course the one time he remembers to put the lid down is when every second counts for me and my fifty year old bladder. I reach for the toilet paper. The roll is empty. Because no one else in this house knows how to change the toilet tissue roll but me. I change rolls. I go to put the empty roll in the garbage can but the lid is jammed. The garbage is full. Now I have to find a Sobey’s bag in the sink cabinet and change the garbage. Then I find out someone put a Tim Horton’s coffee cup in the can with about an inch of old, cold coffee in it which spills over the floor when I lift the bag out. When I get the bags changed, I reach up and grab the hand towel off the wall holder and wipe it over the floor with my feet to sop up the coffee. Then put a clean towel in its place. My pants are still around my ankles and I now have the bathroom cleaned.

I get myself back together and take the bathroom garbage with me. I lift the cover off the big garbage can in the garage only to find that one is also overflowing. I stuff the bathroom bag on top of the mess and began pulling the big orange bag out of a tub that’s big enough to hold the body of a grown 53 year old, 225 pound man. (Not that I measured). Unbeknownst to me, someone put a half-full McDonald’s soft-drink cup in the bottom of the big garbage bag and it threw up all over the garage floor. Stale, sticky Pepsi exploded at my feet. Cursing and swearing, I dragged the bag out to the side of the house and went back in the garage with a roll of paper towels and begin to soak up the mess. Of course, the Pepsi was sticky and I had to get the mop and bucket to do an old fashioned cleaning on the garage floor. Forty-five minutes later, I was frazzled but the garage was clean.

Then I noticed the stream of water going across the floor and remembered the freezer. It was just starting to thaw. I hooked up my Black-n-Decker Stripper 1800 heat gun and began chiseling my way through the frozen tundra. Two hours later I had thrown two buckets of ice out by the curb next to our driveway and the freezer was washed and plugged back in. This whole time hubby was out in front of the house putting Christmas lights up on “one” tree. I know because at one point he came in the garage and asked “Can you come out and hold the ladder for me?” Because he thinks that no matter what I am doing, I can just drop it to help him. “No!” I growled at him. He went off muttering “What are you in a bitchy mood for today?” He never came back for the answer.

I drag the bag of frost-bitten food to the garbage bin beside the house, put the mop and bucket back where it belongs and make some tea to thaw out my frozen finger tips. It’s then hubby comes bouncing in through the front door like Tigger yelling “Come look at my lights!”

“I am having my tea” I yell back.

“Come look at my lights” he pouts.

“Ok” I drag myself off the chair and go outside to look at the Christmas lights that took over three hours to put in one tree. “They look good” I tell him and turn to go back in the house.

“By the way” he says, “What happened to brunch? Where’s the bacon?”

I’ll give you a hint as to where I buried his body…. He has a great view of the Christmas lights in that one tree.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

I threw my back out taking off control top panty-hose


I am not even joking. Here's what happened....

Friday night hubby BBQed ribs and as usual, cooked way too many, but they were cooked to perfection with smoked hickory sauce dripping from their crispy grizzle. (I know I look at food the same way some women look at men).

Then Saturday afternoon I cooked a big brunch with bacon, sausage, eggs, hash-browns and toast. That night we had friends over for supper. Hubby went back to the BBQ with big, juicy prime-rib steaks and I made German potatoes (these are cooked with a full pack of bacon then the onions are sautéed in the bacon fat and poured over the potatoes. I topped it off with my famous broccoli casserole.
Well Sunday is family supper night and we had baked chicken with all the fixings. Needless to say come Monday morning I was not fitting comfortable in my skirt.

I tried putting and wire hanger through the eye of the zipper pull. While I pulled down on the skirt with one hand and pulled up with hanger in the other hand, the hook on the hanger gave way and straightened out under the strain,  sending me flying across the room.
I laid across the bed and tried to pull the button closer to the hole, but there was a better chance of getting Heather Mills & Paul McCartney back together before this button and the hole.

I finally gave in and decided to take out the big guns... Spanxs and control-top panty hose.
Putting Spanx on is an art form. You have to carefully shimmy them up past your knees and hips. Then when you get the fork in place you carefully roll them up over your hips and stomach like you're rolling up a jelly-role. You take your final deepest breath then roll them past your rib cage until they rest comfortable under your breasts. Be careful not to accidently tuck a nipple in because you will pay for that when you stand up.

Once the Spanx are safely in place I start on the control-top panty hose. Carefully unrolling them up over my ankles, then knees, taking them to the breaking point of their stretch capabilities over the hips and stomach then twisting them till they fall in place.
It's the "Latest celebrity diet!" Twenty minutes to put on Spank and panty-hose, 6 inches disappear off my waist and three off my thighs. I make a mental note to remember to check the Weight Watchers Guide to see if putting on Spanx and control-top panty-hose is in their exercise section. I should get at least 10 points for that.

Once everything is in place, my skirt slips on without a problem. It is actually a little baggy now around the stomach. I am pleased with my accomplishment.
Everything was great until I came home from work. As usual, I am in a rush to get my daughter to her music class. So I run up stairs and take off my suit and begin the decompression process.  I carefully roll the control-top panty-hose over my stomach, past my hips and down to my knees.

I gain three inches back. I sit down on the bench in my room.
I roll the Spanx over my stomach and to my hips. Lunch begins to digest and I gain the last three inches back. It was like opening a big bag of pink insulation. The entire mid-section of my body starts to expand and loosen.

I stand up and bend to roll the panty-hose past my knees. I feel the most God-awful pain starting in my lower back and running through the left side of my body. I am sure I've been shot.
I land on the floor, curled up in ball with shocks of pain going through my body and let out a blood curdling scream. My daughter comes running into the room.

"What happened?"
"I don't know." I think I am having a heart attack but I don't want to scare her. "Call your father and tell him to get home now."

"I should call an ambulance!" she screams. At first I think, yes that's a good idea. Then look down and notice my knees are still tied together with the control-top panty-hose and the Spanx are constricting my hips and blood flow. I have visions of a paramedic writing something about "50 Shades of Gray" in his report on me.
"NO!" I scream. "No ambulance!" She helps me up and kindly finishes taking the panty-hose off. She helps me up carries me to the bed. Then helps me roll on to the mattress.

I knew my next request would ensure her need for counseling someday but  by then she would be married and not my problem. "I need you to get me some normal underwear and help me get the Spanx off." The look on her face was sheer terror but I was determined that if the good Lord was going to take me, it would be in comfortable underwear. If this was to be my daughter's last memory of me, then so be it. It's not like I asked her to change my bedpan.
By the time hubby arrives I am curled up in a ball on the bed in wracks of pain. I refuse to go to the hospital until the indents from the Spanx have disappeared from around by body. Turns out I have a pinched nerve in by back.

Five days, a bottle of muscle relaxers and pain killers later. I only feel a slight pull in my left hip. Tonight Hubby is taking me to supper and a show with friends. I have to fit into a dress. I've spent the entire week on the couch, unable to move, eating Halloween chips. I walk into my closet, the dress hangs on one side, the Spanx and control-top panty hose are on a shelf on the opposite side.  It's like the showdown at the OK Correl.
What have I learned... I am a slave to my vanity. I begin the arduous process of pulling the Spanx up over my knees, shimming them past my hips and stomach, taking that final breath as I roll them past my rib cage.  Instantly I lose three inches.  I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I look like a Polish sausage but nothing jiggles. Yay me!

Monday, October 21, 2013

The big 5-0!

When I woke up this morning I realized that in a few short weeks I will be half of 100!

Now, normally age does not bother me. I have never been one to lie about it or be put-out if someone asks me how old I am.

I always tell them, my knees feel like they are 65 and my back feels like I am 70, but in my head, I am still 30.

At noon today I looked in the mirror and noticed the lines from the pillow were still indented on my face. Which wouldn’t be a problem except for I got up at 9. My skin just doesn’t bounce back like it used to.

That’s not the only thing that doesn’t bounce back when you start sliding into 50. I’ve noticed “The Girls” need an alignment. The headlights are no longer pointed at the road ahead and need a little more support than usual. I read that it is a good idea to have a bra fitting every year, so on a recent trip to the mall I stopped into a lingerie store. A young lady half my age (or more) asked if I needed help. “Yes” I told her “I would like to get a bra fitting.”

In the changing room she assured me I was wearing the wrong size, as most women do, and took several measurements. Turns out I was. My 34 inch rib cage had expanded to 36. She then went on a hunt to find bras that would fit me.

Within minutes she was back with a half dozen in every colour. We were doing well until then. She may have been an expert with a measuring tape but the age difference was blatant with her choice of styles. Among the selection, she had chosen a light support black number, a red half cup, and a white see-through lace. Now that may be a good choice when you’re 25 but at 50, anything that comes in red, white and half cup better be from a wine bottle not a bra store.

“You don’t need that much support” she tells me. “Try them on you’ll be surprised how good you’ll look” she reassured me.

“I am turning 50. I need support, wide straps and full cups.” Then I add, “As a matter of fact, I need a lot of support. Stick you head outside the store and see if there are any other 50ish aged women in the area and ask them to come in. I am going to need all the support I can get.”

I left the store with a bra that I am not sure I will ever wear and then went to Winners and bought an extremely expensive purse that I don’t need but it covers my entire butt and saves me from having to try on jeans.

I am not only getting droopier, I am also getting shorter. I noticed my blue dress pants drag on the floor, even when I am wearing heals. I measured myself and found out I am shorter! I researched it on the internet and found that after 40, we lose about half an inch per decade. My daughter is continuously saying “Stand next to me Mom. Look in the mirror. I am taller than you!” I always thought it was because she is growing like a tree and has legs like a giraffe. Turns out no, it’s just osteoporosis and I need to drink more milk and load up on calcium.

Don’t even start me on the whole “Pee” thing. I wrote a blog dedicated to the fun of sneezing and losing fluids from both ends http://iamfunnylikethat.blogspot.ca/2012/05/how-often-can-woman-pee.html

Or the day when you find out that the hair on your head isn’t the only hair that turns gray. (Think about that one for a while).

How about the facial hair? That’s a good one. Putting on my makeup in the magnifying mirror with my dollar store near-sighted glasses on, I discovered it was not going to be a good day. No, not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin.

I immediately booked a laser hair removal appointment. $2500 and weeks later I was told it doesn’t work on some hair types and was referred to electrolysis.

Electrolysis is considerably cheaper ($20 for 15 minutes) and got rid of the problem after a couple of months but I still need a touch up here and there. The first five minutes of every morning is spent in the magnifying mirror with my 2.0 dollar store glasses searching for strays. I am so paranoid about it I made my daughter promise me that when I am on my deathbed I trust her to bring the one thing that will help me transition from this world to the next in peace… a pair of tweezers!

Yes. I am aging. But I am ok with that. I am still hot, only now it comes in flashes. The clerk at Sobey’s no longer calls me “Me ducky” and now refers to me as “Ma’am.”

I take care of myself. I walk every day. I watch what I eat. I like the way I look and who I am. I am happy with my accomplishment s.

I have a 53 year old husband who is going bald and taking up more space in the bed than he did 20 years ago. So it’s all good. We’re aging together.

Some even say life begins at 50. On the bright side, I am only 15 years away from getting the senior’s discount at our favourite buffet.

So as of next week, I am 50% off.

Here's to good health, good friends, good food and being happy. I hope to live to be 100, 100 years or more.

Monday, September 9, 2013

What's more dangerous than the "Old Boys Club?" The "Good Girls Club!"


I've always worked in a male dominated industry and I don't mind it one bit. I love my job and I enjoy my coworkers. There are certain professions where women and men may have equal pay and benefits but will never have an equal amount of each sex working together.
For example, nursing. Nursing draws a certain number of men each year, but you are never going to have a nursing work force that has 50% women and men. Women will always outnumber men in nursing. Construction is another. A certain number of women will be drawn to the trades, but you are never going to have an equal number of men and women on a construction site.

That's life.
I was shocked tonight to see a story on CBC about Memorial's student engineering society allowing beer mugs bearing a sexually suggestive message at a recent student engineering party.  CBC quotes, Myfanwy Price, president of Memorial's student engineering society, as saying the mug was meant to be a joke.

A Joke? I didn't find it funny.
I have spent 25 years and two careers in a male dominated workforce. What I have discovered in the past ten years is the "Old Boys Club" is losing its steam. That's happening for a number of reasons; because those card carrying members are retiring, their daughters are following in the footsteps of their fathers and labour laws are now very strict. Having said that, the "Old Boys Club" still exists and has power.

What it is being replaced with is the "Good Girls Club." That's the women who have made it to the boardroom table, middle management or are still climbing the ladder who support the "Old Boys" and be "Good Girls." They are the girls that go along with bad sexist ideas like this mug, profess they never see anything wrong, and swear that everything is fine. They also attack the ones that stand up and say "Wait, This is wrong." They are the first to say, "She's always making trouble, pick me, I'll keep my mouth shut."
Ms. Price was quoted as saying "This year's design was selected by our executive which consists of six females and eight males, so it's important to note that, too," said Price. "At the time we just thought, you know, it fits in pop culture and it's a laugh."

The mug they gave out featured a picture of a scantily-clad woman with the words, "If she's thirsty, give her the D (day)." The expression 'Give Her the D' comes from an infamous internet meme expression 'Give Her the Dick.' (According to the CBC website).
So, Ms. Price, let me tell why it's so wrong for you and the five other women on your engineering society to have voted for this.

Let's go back to 1989, probably before you were born. Fourteen women were studying engineering at  École Polytechnique in Montreal. On December 6th, 1989 they became famous, but not for breaking through the glass ceiling that existed for all women back then, or for voting to put a scantily-clad women on a mug so the guys would think they were one of them, but because they became victims of the Montreal Massacre.
On that day, twenty-five-year-old Marc Lepine armed with a legally obtained rifle and a hunting knife,  shot twenty-eight people before killing himself. He began his attack by entering a classroom at the university, where he separated the male and female students. After claiming that he was "fighting feminism", he shot all nine women in the room, killing six. He then moved through corridors, the cafeteria, and another classroom, specifically targeting women to shoot. Overall, he killed fourteen women, injured ten other women and four men in just under twenty minutes before turning the gun on himself.  His suicide note claimed political motives and blamed feminists for ruining his life. The note included a list of nineteen Quebec women whom Lépine considered to be feminists and apparently wished to kill.

Ms. Price, you and our five female collogues let these  women down this week but you also let yourself down. How do you think it would look when you're on a work term and you show up at coffee break with a mug that says "If she's thirsty, give her the Dick?" Engineering is still and will always be a male dominated field. These men would think one of two things; 1. She's an idiot and not mature enough to be in this profession or 2. She's going to be great fun at the Christmas party.  Either way, you won't be asked back.
Sexism is not a joke. Women who speak out about it know what they are talking about. You have no idea what it feels like to work hard and have your power taken away, be belittled and demeaned just because you are a women.

I will soon be fifty years old. My daughter is thirteen. I would be so proud if she announced that she was president of the student engineering society. I would be devastated to find out she thought this mug was a good idea.
I can tell you from years of experience that people never remember your mistakes, they only remember how you recovered from them. If you were remorseful, if you were sincere in your apology and if you learned a lesson.  

You are very young. You made a mistake. Hopefully you will learn from it and become a powerful, important leader in engineering someday.
You and your entire student engineering society have to sit down now and get real. First of all Google the Montreal Massacre. Look at the pictures of those young girls. Look at the faces of their mothers and fathers that go to the campus every Christmas to mark the brutal murder of their daughters.

Remember, those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it.
To the dean of the Faculty of Engineering at Memorial University who has condemned the use of the beer mugs, that's not enough. You have the biggest responsibility here. You have announced that these students will be punished. Please do not do something stupid like kick them out of school or make them give up their positions in their society.

If MUN really wants to make a difference here they have to get real. Send these six women to Montreal for the annual ceremony that marks the Montreal Massacre. Have them stand shoulder to shoulder with the families of the fourteen women who died and the survivors. Let them see the tears and hear the sobs of grieving family and friends. Only then will they realize what they have done. Only then will they understand "When she's thirsty... give her knowledge, give her direction, empower her. Don't give her the dick."
Only then will they no longer want to be "Good Girls."

Friday, September 6, 2013

When did guys become classy and girls become trashy?

So I am watching Miley Cyrus twerking her butt on YouTube. I am not disgusted I am more in awe wondering how the hell  she gets her butt to do that. Being able to twirk like that is a gift!

Having said that, twerking your butt off at the Video Awards and uploading it to YouTube when you're an international pop star who's life depends on the amount of publicity you get is one thing. Twerking your butt at a club on George Street, taping it on your phone, and uploading it to your Facebook page when you're a student at MUN, is just nasty.

I hardly ever go to George Street or night clubs in general. Not that I am a prude, I am just.... 50. That's right 50 years old, and with age hopefully comes wisdom. But I wasn't always this wise. At one time I too was a 20 something girl in a mini skirt on George Street. Thank God twerking and Facebook did not exist back then.

Recently I was invited to a party at a nightclub on our famous George Street. I was really looking forward to it because I couldn't remember the last time I was there. We met up with some old friends, enjoyed delicious fish and chips and had a great time.

My favourite thing to do on George Street is not dance, but people watch. People watching is the best sport there is. People always entertain me. By the time I was on my third Vodka martini I noticed this pack of three young girls standing a few feet away from me.

I am convinced we are raising a superior race of super models. Girls today are all so tall and beautiful. These girls were at the top of the food chain. Each one was tall, thin, and beautiful with long hair. If they were 19 that's about all they were. One wore a black leather micro mini skirt, or a wide belt as my Mother would say. She had on a white halter top that had no back and I was wondering how the hell she kept it on. Her two friends wore matching micro mini dresses, or sausage casings as my husband would say. All three fought to keep their balance on four inch Lady Gaga heels.

We laughed watching them try to stay upright in the Gaga heels, taking bets on which one was going to hit the floor first. I guess the strain of four inch heels got to them because they carefully waddled over to a tall table that had three stools around it. Each one tried their hardest to prop themselves upon the stools but the skirts were too high and tight. They each decided to lean against the table instead.

I noticed two things:

1. No one approached the girls at the table, although I did notice guys watching them out of the corner of their eyes.
2. All the guys in the club were wearing a shirt, tie and suit. None of them wore jeans.

Interesting I thought. All the guys looked like Justin Timberlake and the girls looked like Miley Cyrus.

So when did guys get classy and girls get trashy?

While guys are imitating artists like Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z, Usher and P-Diddy. Girls are imitating Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Kesha and Rihanna.

What's going on?

Mark Twain once said, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” This I believe to be true. Remember when guys were going around with their jeans down over their arse with their underwear showing. I wanted to run around the mall reverse-pantsing everyone (It means pulling them up instead of down). It would irk me to no end to see grown men walking through the mall with their jeans below the cheeks of their arse. Just for fun I would walk up next to them and whisper "Nice skid marks on your Fruit of the Looms." Thank God this fad passed.

Coco Channel once said, "A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous." I agree with this. I would hope my teenage daughter restricts her twirking to sleep-over parties with her girl friends.  I would hope she never thinks she needs a micro mini skirt to attract the man of her dreams. I also hope if she chooses to wear four inch heels that she will be smart enough to wear leggings so she can sit down.

Oh I hear ya! Those without sin throw the first stone. Don't worry, I am not throwing stones at anyone because I was that girl in the mini skirt and high heels thirty years ago.  My Mother used to say "There's no sense talking to you!" She was right. We all have to learn on our own.

As women, we eventually learn that being smart IS attractive. Being powerful and self assured is a good thing. We learn the sexiest outfit is just a pair of worn jeans and a T-shirt. We learn that guys who look at you out of the corner of their eyes are not giving you the look of love. Then we learn that the difference between the most beautiful woman in the room and the mousiest women in the room is not the price of her dress or the length of her hair, it's her attitude and self confidence.

Then one day you find yourself at 50, searching "How do you twerk?" on YouTube. Not because you want to do it on George Street in a mini skirt, but because you want to embarrass your teenage daughter when she has hosts her next sleepover.

My Mother used to say, "Why wait for a man to bring you flowers when you have the ability to grow your own garden."

Maybe we need to teach our daughters how to be good gardeners. Maybe we need to bring classy back.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Beatlemania has hit St. John’s!

The Beatles – Back in the N.F.L.D.

Beatlemania has hit St. John’s!

I love Paul McCartney.

I used to have a huge poster of him on my bedroom wall back in my teens (When the Beatles were still on VOCM’s Top 10).

I even loved him when he and Danny Williams went head to head on CNN. (I had to secretly love him then. I didn’t want to get voted off the Island).

The only thing better than Paul McCartney, is Peter Halley playing Paul McCartney. I love Peter.

Spirit of Newfoundland has done it again! I don’t know how that crowd comes up with ideas! I suspect the creative process requires a little “Day Tripper.”

The show is so well done and stars the Fab Four: Peter Halley (Who I love), Sheila Williams (NL’s own Lucille Ball), Darrin Martin (Amazing voice) and Shelley Neville (Will give you shivers).
The skits are written as well as any Lennon – McCartney number with a touch of that wonderful Newfoundland spin that Spirit of Newfoundland is so famous for.

The show centers around an accidental visit The Beatles make to Gander back in the 60’s while on their way to their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Their plane has a stopover at the Gander International Airport. Paul and John leave the plane for a pint at the airport bar and run into the Gander girls, Nina and Dot. The girls come up with the phrase “Beatlemania” and as they say, the rest is history.

The show will keep you laughing all evening.

Spirit’s Fab Four takes you on a Magical Mystery Tour of The Beatles song portfolio, and just for fun, they perform some well - known numbers in different musical genres; Like Gregorian chants, Country and Western and even Disco!

Peter, Sheila, Darrin and Shelley do an amazing job with this show.

Is there a doctor in the house? Yes there is. Sir Paul himself would say “My Guitar Gently Weeps” if he knew his music was performed by Dr. Sandy Morris, Boomer Stamp, and the Spirit of Newfoundland Band.

The dinner was absolutely delicious with a choice of chicken or Spirit of Newfoundland’s signature dish, The Tornado. It’s a mouth-watering combination of salmon wrapped in cod and baked.

Get your friends and family to “Come Together” for The Beatles: Back in the N.F.L.D. Book in advance because the shows sell out fast. Get ticket information and details on all their shows at: http://www.spiritofnewfoundland.com

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Paying it forward

My daughter went to the Rock City summer camp in July and their final performance was held at Shamrock City, a small Irish night club and restaurant in downtown St. John's. It's a wonderful program that allows young people a chance to play in a live band and perform in front of a crowd.

My husband, son and I couldn't wait to see our daughter perform with a live band in a night club setting. The final performance was held on a Friday afternoon. We decided to meet there for lunch first to ensure we found a parking space and made the show on time.

The kids did an awesome job performing and the food was fabulous. While we were eating I couldn't help but notice an elderly lady sitting alone at the table across from us drinking a beer.

This lady was probably in her 70s, with blond hair piled on top of her hair. Her front teeth were missing and she was dressed more like a teenager than a senior. The lines on her face were a tell tale sign that she had lived a hard life and her overall appearance told you that she suffered from mental illness. She is a regular character in the downtown area.

By the time the waitress brought us our food the club was filled with families of the children attending the camp. Before too long there wasn't an empty table in the club and the only empty chair was the one opposite this elderly woman.

I couldn't stop looking at her out of the corner of my eye. The loneliness in her face was hard to ignore. Maybe it was the passing of my Mother this year that made me notice this woman. My Mother had a soft spot for women who lead hard lives because she knew firsthand how hard life could be. She would have approached this lady and said hello and asked if she was ok.

When I was growing up I would get embarrassed when my Mother approached someone like this lady and ask "Why do you have to talk to every hard luck story we pass?" She would always answer with “There but for the Grace of God go I."

I noticed she took some coins out of her pocket and counted a few loonies and toonies. Then put them away again. The waitress brought a fish and chips and laid it on the table in front of her and in no time she cleaned her plate. She took out her change again and counted it. It didn't look like she had enough to pay for her meal and beer.

By that time the waitress had brought our bill and told us we could pay at the counter when we were ready. I took the bill from my husband's hand and said "My treat" and met our waitress at the counter to pay for it. I pointed out the lady sitting alone and asked the waitress to put her food on our bill.

She said, "You don't have to do that."

"Yes I do" I told her, "Go ahead and put it on my bill."

"No" she said, "You don't have to do that because she eats here for free."

"Really?"

"Yes, the owner lets her eat for free."

I was dumbfounded. I looked back at this lady sitting alone at the table and thought not many restaurants would even let her sit inside with their paying customers but here, at Shamrock City, not only was she welcome, she ate for free!

I could only think that the owner, like my Mother, knew what hard times were like. He must also look at this lady and think "There but for the Grace of God go I."

I went back to my table. The lady was standing and putting her coat back on. She reached into her pocket and took out her change. She picked out a toonie and laid it on the table, then quietly walked out.

The families of the children performing were erupting in applause as a song ended. Families all there to support their children. I watched the blond haired lady walk down Water Street wondering if she had family.

My Mother would look at a lady like that and say "Somebody did something to her that made her life turn out like that. No one chooses to be that way."

  I watched her disappear into a crowd of tourists and thought to myself, "There but for the Grace of God go I."

Sunday, July 28, 2013

I am white hot, I can’t take it anymore!

I am pushing my cart through the liquor store picking up a few goodies for the weekend when this weird feeling comes over me. It feels like my skin is burning from the inside. Sweat begins pouring from my forehead into my eyes and I get this overwhelming feeling that I am going to pass out.

I think, “Oh my God, this is spontaneous combustion!” In two minutes I’ll be nothing more than a scorch mark on the floor of the liquor store.

I tear off my jacket and my T-shirt is already soaking wet. I spot the beer cooler and make a bee-line. I run like a women on fire to the cooler letting go of the cart and it rolls into a wine display.
A female store attendant pokes her head around the stack of Corona neatly piled up at the entrance. I am sitting on top of a waist-high stack of Labatt Lite, fanning myself with the bottom of my T-shirt. Steam is seeping from my pores.

“Are you ok?” she nervously asks me. “Hot flashes” I inform her. “I’ll leave you alone” she nods as she walks way. She has an after- thought and pokes her head back in “Don’t open any beer ok? It’s illegal to open it in the store.” Then she backs out as if she is inside a bear cage at a zoo instead of the beer cooler at her place of work.

Hot Flashes! I had my first one about a week ago. I started early menopause a year ago and started having night sweats at the same time. I thought that was the worst thing that could happen to me.

Wrong!

Hot flashes are the worst thing that could happen to me. It’s hard to believe that the good Lord would make us bleed and cramp for forty years then burn in hell for the next forty.

I now keep bottled water in my freezer not to drink but to put between my boobs when I have hot flashes.

I phone my sister and ask her how long these last “I’ve had them for twenty years” she tells me.
Twenty years!!! What?

I can’t go through twenty years of spontaneously combusting in public. I am already banned from the liquor store. She tells me there’s a hormone treatment. All I can think of is “Great, $1500 spent on laser hair removal and now I have to take hormones.” It leaves me with visions of becoming the bearded lady in a circus side-show.

I make it home toting a dozen Labatt Lite. I don’t even drink Labatt Lite I just felt obligated after I melted on top of the box. Plus my bum print was on the box.
 
By the time I get to my bedroom and take off my soaking wet T-shirt another hot flash hits. I open the windows all the way. My hair is soaking with sweat and curls up into a Foxy Brown afro. The sweat burns my eyes and I want to pull the skin off my body. Good Lord, the feeling of fainting takes over me. I just make it to bed and lay on top of the comforter. After a few minutes I come to and drag myself off the bed. I look at the comforter. The imprint of my body is outlined on the material from the sweat. It reminds me of the X-rays left on the buildings after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

Hot flashes. Just another thing to look forward to ladies.

I stagger to the windows and start turning the handle that closes them. There’s a teenager sitting in a car across the street from my house. He has the radio on blast and I can hear Tom Cochrane singing “I am white hot. I can’t take it anymore.” I think “You and me both brother, you and me both.”

Then I realize that I am standing in the window wearing nothing but a bra and this kid is looking at me like I am Mrs. Robinson.

“Hot flashes. I am having hot flashes” I yell out the window. He slowly drives away. “I hope he wasn’t my son’s friend” I think to myself.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Should airlines serve alcohol?

I went to George Street to enjoy a night out with my friends and being a responsible person, I left my car at home. After our evening was over I decided to take a taxi home. I walked up to the stand and opened the back door of a parked taxi and asked if he was available. I didn’t realize that there was already a male passenger sitting in the back seat. The driver asked, “Where are you going?” Thinking he was going to call another taxi I told him, “The east end.” The man in the back spoke up and said, “That’s where I am going. Hop in and we’ll share a cab.” It was then I noticed that the passenger was drunk. His speech was slurred and he could barely keep his balance as he patted the empty back seat next to him. “No thanks” I said and closed the door.
I would never get in the car with an impaired driver. I also would never share a taxi with an impaired stranger. That’s just common sense.
Alcohol can make a normally passive person aggressive, a quiet person loud and give an asshole an excuse to do something he wouldn’t have the nerve to do if he was sober.
Not getting into the taxi with a drunken passenger was my choice. Now let’s change the situation.
I am in Halifax boarding a flight home to St. John’s. I go to my assigned seat next to the window. As the plane ascends into the clouds I put my headphones on and start watching a movie. The man sitting next to me orders Vodka on the rocks. He is coming home from Fort McMurray. I know this because he tells everyone around us who will listen. He tries several times to start a conversation with me. I take one headphone off and answer him with a single word (Yes or no) then go back to my movie. He is on his second Vodka but from the way he is acting I can tell he had a lot more than that in the airport bar and probably on the other flight from Alberta. He is so loud I can’t hear the movie.
The flight attendant smiles as she passes him a third Vodka and takes his credit card. I look at her annoyed. There is no mistaking the pissed off look on my face when she hands him back the credit card. I think about asking her not to serve him anymore alcohol but I know this will make him even more aggressive. I know I can’t move because they already announced the flight is over-sold. He refused to take the hint that I don’t want to talk to him. I finally say, “I am watching a movie. Leave me alone.” Then he starts in with the “Oh you’re too good to talk to me are you? Some people think they’re too good to talk to a common worker. I work 60 hours a week in Fort Mac….” He continues on about how he contributes to the economy of Alberta.  It turns into the flight from hell for me as I now have to put up with this drunken idiot beside me.
I didn’t ask to sit next to a drunk on this flight. I assumed when I booked my ticket that Air Canada would also keep my safety in mind. During the flight I had to pretend to watch the movie to avoid talking to him. I was hyper aware that if he started getting aggressive I would be the first in his line of fire. I had to watch his drunk, exaggerated hand movements out of the corner of my eye because it seemed like he was going to grab my knee. I thought to myself, what if I had my daughter with me? How would I protect her from this drunken man? I couldn’t even protect myself and the flight attendant didn’t seem to care.
This week the media ran two stories about planes having to make unscheduled stops because of intoxicated passengers.  So my question is; why is alcohol allowed to be served on an airplane?
Intoxicated passengers are more than just annoying. They also pose a risk to their own safety and the safety of others. What would happen if our plane had to be evacuated due to an emergency? We were seated in the middle of the plane. It would take two men to lift him off the aircraft if he was passed out or maybe four police officers to subdue him if he started to freak out. Either way, I would be pinned to my window seat left to fend for myself. I would be trapped with no way to exit the plane. So if there were a fire, I would die due to Air Canada serving alcohol to this intoxicated man.
By serving this man alcohol Air Canada was putting my life and safety as risk. Not to mention how he was allowed to annoy not only me but everyone around us. He continuously used profanity totally oblivious to the lady and two children seated across from us and at one point announced to the whole plane how he “Had to take a piss!” He staggered through the plane to the bathroom and returned about fifteen minutes later telling everyone how he “Pissed like a race horse!” Needless to say no one used the bathroom after him.
I cannot order a beer on a city bus, or ask for a cocktail in a taxi, so why is it I can order alcohol on an aircraft. Air travel is a vital part of life. We have no choice but to use if whether for work or pleasure.
Years ago airlines glamorized the “Inflight cocktail and cigarette” when they marketed air travel to consumers. Years later they banned cigarettes because they were a health hazard to travelers who did not smoke. That was the right thing to do.
I think the time has come to ban alcohol to protect the safety and security of passengers.
If a plane had two or more intoxicated people on board how could they evacuate passengers according to their industry standards? How can a flight attendant subdue an unruly, intoxicated person in a confined space like the seat on a plane or the small walk way. How can they ensure the safety of the passengers seated next to them?
When I buy a ticket on an aircraft for me or my family, we have a right to a safe environment. It is a reasonable expectation that and my children will not have to sit next to a drunken man screaming profanities or passing out in the chair next to us, impeding when and how we can leave our seats.
It’s time for airlines to do the right thing and stop selling alcohol onboard aircrafts.
When I pay hundreds of dollars for an airline ticket, I expect that I will not be seated next to someone who will harass me for hours in a setting that I can’t get out of. I also expect a full can of Coke, but that’s a blog for another day.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dear Daniel: 10 things my teen needs to know before he leaves home.

Dear Daniel,
This is such a big year for you. You are graduating from High School and going on to pursue your dreams. Your life is now one big adventure!
As your parents, we support your choice of joining the Canadian Air Force and we are so proud of you following your dream and being accepted into the Fighter Pilot program and Royal Military Collage to complete your degree.
For the past seventeen years we have devoted our lives to molding you to be the person you are becoming, but parenting is not a job you get laid off from. It’s a job that lasts a lifetime. So before you go I am going to save you from making years of mistakes by telling you everything you need to know about surviving in the real world.
10. As you join this organization that will become your life and your career you will meet some men and women who will become your second family. You will also meet some assholes. Learn how to tell them apart. Your second family will have your back; the assholes will be the ones putting a knife in it. Don’t waste your time wondering “Why me?” Move on and know that people have issues. It’s not about you. Sometimes people you trust will be the assholes. Remember the old saying, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Stick with the people who are truly happy for your successes. Remember the only one who can stop your dreams from coming true is you. Don’t get in your own way and don’t let anyone else get in your way. There’s no getting away from the assholes in the world, but you can learn to work with them. Just don’t kiss them. You’re too smart and talented to have to kiss assholes to get ahead.
9. Be nice to everyone. Acknowledge people. Every time the cleaner comes into my office to empty my garbage bucket, I say “Thank you Mike.” When I go to the cafeteria I always ask our cook about her granddaughter. Make it a point to know people’s name and use it when you talk to them. Thank people who work around you. It’s a sign you were raised well. It’s also a sign you are a good and grounded person. By taking the time to talk to people I found out that Mike (Our cleaner) served 30 years in the Canadian Navy and took the cleaning job to keep himself busy while waiting for his wife to retire. He just likes spending time with people. Our cook saves me the biggest raison bun every morning because I take a minute to talk to her. This is not India. We do not have a class system in Canada. I have raised you to believe that all people are equal. Treat everyone with respect and they will treat you with respect. Remember, no one is “only a cleaner.” Someday you’ll appreciate getting the biggest raison bun.
8. Stay connected with your sister and brother. You are very fortunate to have a sister and brother who love you very much. They will always have your back. If someone harms you in any way, know your brother and sister will take them out. No questions asked. These are the only people in the world you can call and say “Help me move a body?” and they will answer “OK” and never ask any other question. You are following your brother into the Canadian Forces and that’s not surprising. You’ve followed him around like a puppy dog for seventeen years. As parents, we know his opinion and advice is worth ten times what ours is worth. (Which is why we always get him to tell you what we want you to do.) Continue to talk to your brother about all the important decisions in your life. He will always have your best interest at heart. For the past seventeen years I have always told you “You sister will believe she is the person you tell her she is.” If you tell her she is smart and beautiful. She will believe it. If you tell her she is stupid and worthless, she will believe it. Your opinion of her will be the mirror she will forever see herself in. Now that you are moving out, she will be lonely without you. Take the time to call your sister and ask her about her life (then tell me later). She will find the house empty now with just Dad and I. She no longer has her brothers to blame for broken lamps and spilled milk. She is operating without her safety net now. A weekly text, email or phone call will let her know she still has backup. Take a minute to talk to her.
7. Be stingy with your money. It’s so easy as a young person to spend your pay cheque at a gaming store or run your credit card through the roof with on-line shopping but these things will come back to haunt you. Pay off your credit card every month. Don’t use it unless you really have to. Save at least 10% of your pay cheque every month in some kind of secure mutual fund. Take the time to educate yourself on money. It took me years of grief until I discovered this. Having debt is the number one thing that causes stress, breaks up families and ruins lives. This is where I also tell you that you’re cut off. That’s right. No more access to Mom and Dad’s money. The next time you get anything from us will be in our Will which won’t happen for a very long time and that’s only if Dad and I don’t spend your inheritance on travel. You have a pay cheque now. Spend wisely and I’ll expect better birthday and Christmas gift from here on in.
6. Don’t take yourself so seriously. I know you have six grueling years of university and training ahead of you but don’t forget to have fun. You’re young. Enjoy it. Give everything you do 100% but relax when you can. Don’t get so caught up in achieving goals that you forget to laugh at yourself. It’s important to get good marks and you would certainly give Dad and I bragging rights if you make the honour roll and won a few awards along the way, but if you don’t that’s ok too. We still have your sister. The point is, do your absolute best always. If you can walk away from a test saying “I really gave that my all” then we’re proud of you. If you have to ask for help with a subject, do it. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness it’s a sign of strength. Nobody makes it on their own. That’s why the buddy system was invented. Finding the humour and laughing at yourself instead of finding the negative and being depressed, is so much better for you. It may also get you a “Mental Health day” too which is ok.
5. Fall madly in love. You’re seventeen, the age when you actually believe the poems written on Valentine’s Day cards. The next ten years will be an amazing time for your love life. Don’t worry I am not going to have the whole “Birds and Bees” talk with you again. My advice on this is simple. Fall in love. Fall madly in love. Then fall out of love and start all over again. Relationships are not hard. Either you love someone or you don’t. If it takes five years to decide if you’re with the right person, then you’re not. You shouldn’t have to constantly “work” at a relationship. You shouldn’t have to change who you are or bend your moral values to please someone. If you break up every few weeks, end it. It’s not working. You’ll know in the first twenty minutes of meeting a woman if you want to marry her. Then wait until you’re 30 years old. No one should get married in their 20s. But fall in love. Wear a condom (even if she says you don’t have to). Then, marry a girl like your mother. You can’t go wrong there.
4. Call home. Phone, email or text your parents three times a week. Put a reminder in your phone calendar for Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays to call home. Take a minute and do it. If you don’t make contact at least three times a week I will assume you’ve been kidnapped by a psychopath and killed. I’ll drive your father crazy trying to convince him to contact the police. Then I will cyber-stalk you until I pinpoint on Google Earth where you are. It will be very embarrassing to you when a police swat team crashes through the window at Starbucks (where you’ll be having coffee with your friends) and rescues you because I’ve reported you as “missing.” Save yourself the embarrassment, your father the grief and me the worry. Call home.
3. Buy new socks and underwear at least once a year. When you receive your degree, you should not be wearing the same underwear and socks you wore to your prom. Once a year, around New Year’s Eve is good, go buy new underwear and socks. When holes show up in your underwear or socks, throw them out. Also make sure you wash them once a week. To clarify this point even further, when I say “Throw them out” I mean in the garbage, not “Donate them to the Salvation Army.” Poor people don’t need your underwear. You should note that I did not write your name on the back of your underwear like I did when you went to camp. So you’re going to have to remember what they look like. Especially since you are going to have a roommate.
2. Eat some good food. I know you’re on your own and you can eat what you want but try to fit at least one vegetable in your day. For years I have told you “Eat your vegetables, they’ll make you grow big and strong.” It’s true. I wasn’t lying. I know I lied about Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and your uncle being Scottish and that’s why he wears women’s clothes but trust me on this one. Vegetables are good for you. You make fun of Dad’s belly extending a little more than it should but thirty years from now you’re going to look just like him. So do a few sit ups and eat some vegetables they are good for you. Trust me on this one.
1. Know you are loved. As a Mother I love my children the same amount. I never prefer one over the other and I don’t play favourites. So, although I may love you all the same, I did love you first. You were my first baby. You made me a Mother. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you. If you need something, I would be there in a second. I know I smothered you over the years, controlled your life and made you crazy at times but it was only because I knew this day was coming. The day I lose control. But don’t think that just because you are moving out that I am going to stop being your Mother. I am still going to worry about you every day because it makes me feel needed, I am going to send you texts that say “Good night” and emails that remind you to brush your teeth because “Nobody wants to talk to someone with bad breath” and I’ll hate every girlfriend because I am afraid she is taking my place (eventually I’ll like her, if she’s ok with me moving in your basement.) The bottom line is, no matter what you achieve in life or don’t achieve, you are loved. You have a home and a family who love you. The supper table will always be empty without you. I will always wish you were home. I will always with your were six years old again. I will always miss you. I will always love you.
Enjoy your life, but always remember you are the biggest part of mine.
Love,
Mom J

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I am so Canadian I smell of maple syrup!

I started to realize how Canadian I really was on a recent trip to Texas.
I was shopping in a large outdoor outlet mall and using a shopping cart. I go to the front door of a store that I want to enter and start looking for the handicap button and can’t find it. I start looking around like I lost something and a security guard took notice of me. He came over and said “Did you lose something?”
“No” I told him “I can’t find the handicap button. He looked at me with this dumb look on his face and asked “What’ that?”
“It’s the blue button you press that automatically opens the door and gives people in wheel chairs, with baby strollers or shopping carts easy entry.”
“That’s a great idea!” he smiles at me. “That would be really handy you should invent that.”
“It’s already been invented. It’s law that every public building has one.” Then I remembered. I am not in Canada.
“No, we have blue zone parking but I’ve never seen a blue button” he tells me.
“Oh, I am visiting from Canada and in Canada it’s law that all businesses have to have a blue zone button that automatically opens the door for those who need help.”
“Law?” he says. “How do you make that a law?”
Then I remember. This is the country that can’t ban automatic weapons because it infringes on their rights.
A few days later some friends and I were walking through a very touristy area of town. I was a little shocked to see how many dogs were wondering around without owners let alone, not on a leash. There would litterly be 2 -3 dogs walking through the area. The one dog I did see on a leash with his owner stopped a few feet in front of us and pooped on the sidewalk. Then the owner walked away. I said to my husband, “What? People don’t stoop and scoop here? Surely there’s a bi-law for that?” Apparently not. Maybe the First Amendment covers your dog’s right to poop where he wants too.
Then we’re sitting in a bar one night and my eyes began to water. Then I feel like I am breathing in smog. Then I realize that everyone around me is smoking cigarettes! It was gross. Then the smell hit me. By the time we got back to the hotel I had to take my clothes and put them in a laundry bag before putting them in the suitcase because the smell of smoke clung to them. As Canadians we are not used to breathing in second hand smoke anymore.
Then I realized “You are so Canadian!”
I know we are the country who believes everyone is entitled to health care, and we believe that two consenting adults should be allowed to marry no matter what they gender is and we like our beer a little stronger but man, are we ever light years ahead of our neighbors.
We take so many things for granted in this country. Little things like handicap buttons to help people open a door, picking up your dog poop and being able to sit in a restaurant or nightclub without getting cancer from second hand smoke.
Before I visit the States I always do a few tanning sessions so I don’t look so “Canadian” on the beach, but this time it’s wasn’t my pale skin that gave me away, it was my expectations that people treat other people with respect.
Maybe it’s the maple syrup in our veins that makes us so sweet and caring.
We are so lucky to live in this amazing country. We need to market ourselves more as “The greatest country in the world!”
Oh wait. That’s unCanadian to toot our own horn.
Well let’s just pat each other on the back and say “Way to go ah!”
Oh Canada, I am so proud to call you home.

Monday, April 15, 2013

What makes a man sexy?

For me, it’s always been Tom Selleck. I fell in love with Tom back in his Magnum P.I. days. Our affair has lasted all these years and continues on Friday nights with his role as Frank Reagan on Blue Bloods.

I love the mustache, the hairy chest, the eyes, dark hair, the way he smiles . . . I need a minute.

The definition of "Sexy" changes over the years for women.
In our 20's, a guy was sexy if he had a nice car. It didn’t matter what his face looked like.
In our 30's, a guy was sexy if he had a good job and didn’t live with his mother.
In our 40's, a guy was sexy if he was a good father and treated his wife with respect.

Now that I am months away from my 50's. I find any guy who vacuums without being asked sexy as hell!
Things that were important to us in our 20's and 30's no longer apply in our 40's and 50's. Let’s face it there’s just not a lot of guys in their 50's with six-pack abs and a full head of hair. Even Tom is getting a little sparse on top.

As we get older, we get wiser.

There’s nothing sexier than waking up late on a Saturday morning and hearing the vacuum going downstairs, or seeing the laundry separated in tubs on the floor and the first load already in.

It’s pure ecstasy when you walk into the living room and find out not only was it vacuumed but it was dusted too!

Nothing says true love like a man washing the pots and pans after super then wiping down the counter and the kitchen table.

It’s multi- orgasmic to come home and find the laundry folded, put away and the laundry tubs put back in place.

Guys in fast cars don’t turn my head any more because I know they’re just going through a change of life.

As my Mother used to say, "It doesn’t matter what’s parked in the driveway. You still have to put up with the asshole in the house."

Guys with great jobs don’t do anything for me any more because I have my own great job. This honey makes her own money. I don’t have to ask a man if I can spend it.

When a woman turns 50 a man becomes sexy when he speaks about his wife with respect, is involved with his kids, is kind, honourable, vacuums, dusts, wipes down the counter and separates laundry and remembers to take out the trash.

It doesn’t hurt if he looks like Tom Selleck either.

Lucky for me . . . Hubby does vacuum and has most of his hair.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Then a hero comes along

Not all heroes wear their underwear on the outside or fly around in capes wearing spandex. Most live their lives quietly not knowing that anyone is watching.

My friend Sondria Browne writes a blog called "The Rising." It's about her life with breast cancer. I love reading it because it not only inspires me, it gives me a kick in the ass when I need one.  (Sondria's blog can be found at: http://sondriab.blogspot.ca/2013/03/circle-of-sun.html?spref=fb
Believe it or not, there are lots of days when I need a good kick in the ass to get going. I went through major back surgery last year and I am still recovering, still living in pain and this damp, cold weather doesn't make life any easier. There are days I just can't take the pain anymore.

Then a hero comes along.
Sondria posts a blog. It's about her daily struggles with breast cancer. She's funny and witty. She makes me laugh out loud. I look through her pictures documenting her past year. The picture of her beautiful daughter. I can't imagine what goes through your mind when you're fighting for your life. I know her first thoughts have to be about her daughter and the life she only started to live. I can't even get my mind about around it. She puts herself out there. She's not afraid to cry out loud. She lets a photographer take her picture showing her reconstructed breast to the world. I sit up and think "How lucky am I? My back hurts. So what. Get up and get moving. It's not cancer." Thank you Sondria for kicking my ass.

It's so easy to let yourself get down. I still have a hard time walking and doing stairs. It gets frustrating because I used to run up to five miles every day. I ran the Tely 10! Now I need help going down the stairs. Without even thinking I start with the "Why me? Why did this happen to me?"

Then a hero comes along.
My Mother-in-law lost her leg a few years ago. It was very hard on her. She was a beautiful woman who loved to dance, to go shopping to go bowling every week. Then a horrible disease took her leg and gradually weakened the remaining one. Now she uses a walker to get around but most of the time, she uses a wheel chair. A traumatic blow like that could send someone into a deep depression, not her. She gets up every morning, puts her make-up on, does her hair and calls Wheel-Way when she wants to go out. She refuses to be a burden to anyone and insists on living alone. She's gone all the time, playing cards, visiting friends, going to supper. Her will to live is incredible. I've never heard her say "Why me? Why did this happen to me?"  She just smiles and says "Thank God I am alive. Every day is a blessing." The wheel chair doesn't define who she is or what she can do. It's just a chair. I think of her when I get frustrated and tell myself "Take the ramp. Who needs stairs anyway. Be grateful you can still walk."

The one thing I have realized over the past year is that no one suffers from an illness alone. It affects everyone around you. Your children, your coworkers, your friends, your spouse.
Then a hero comes along.

I would never be able to have the quality of life I have now without my husband. He suffers from this disease as much as I do. Over the years, we have developed a love of travel and used to take the opportunity every chance we got. It's hard to travel with someone who can't walk long distances and needs a cane from time-to-time. I am sure he never imagined his life would end up like this. I've learned that you have to compromise to make a marriage strong. I've also learned that you have to say "Thank-you." There are times when I have to cancel our plans at the last minute because I am not feeling well. There are times I can't get out of bed and my husband becomes a single parent having to leave work early to drive kids to events, finish homework and make supper. I realize you can't help it when you're sick but you can say "Thank-you" to those around you who are also affected by your illness.
Having a disease doesn't make you a hero. It's just makes you a person with a disease. How you deal with it makes you a hero. How you treat the people around you makes you a hero. 

The people in your life that allow you to continue to live with dignity, who live with your disease too, they are the heroes. Make sure you thank them every day.