Thursday, December 29

Monovering Life Without My Mom And New Beliefs.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas with people they love, or like....or at least at a bare  minimum,  tolerate without feeling violent.

It was a lovely day here. It's our third blendy family Christmas together and as the self appointed Christmas Captain I would say it was executed perfectly.

To be clear, my definition of executed perfectly means
1) We didn't run out of booze and a nice buzz was felt most of the day.
2) I only cried once thinking about mom.
3) Kids Didn't fight.
4) Dog didn't poop in the house.
5) No Food was burnt.

It was nice.Trying to make sure children remember the importance of the day, trying to make sure everyone has happy memories of the time we spend together. The importance of that is with me 24/7 now. It's one constant thought I appreciate having.

Christmas's are a new focus for me now without the religious tones. When other are "keeping christ in christmas" that doesn't apply to us anymore. So trying to figure out what it is about for us now is our newest family project.

I have really been reflecting on what my personal beliefs are now. After leaving the mormon church 5 years ago and feeling a massive relief doing so, I have had to figure out what I now think about certain things. What do I believe happens after death? Is there more, and if there is, what is it all about? Some new beliefs and thoughts have been easier to adjust: A white guy born in Israel to a virgin who had 12 friends with very english names isn't a difficult one for me to adjust. Christmas is about family and time together. Easy, Next!

Other believes are proving to be a tad more challenging. Like death.

I know what the mormon church taught me. After I die, if I was a "good woman" I would be one of an infinite number of wives to some "worthy" man (yes you read that correctly 1 man...loads of women) and make spirit children forever populating the world the man is now god over.. OMFG no. NO NO NO, birthing children is not all I am good for. In this life or the next. COME ON!!!

Once upon a time I was ok with this because it kept me safely tucked away not exploring my talents (unless those talents were singing of sewing) and kept me as far away from my money, thoughts and independence as possible.
BLAH BLAH BLAH... No. no more.

I no longer find comfort in that and it's taken me a while to get over things that happened while being mormon. Things I saw and knew about. How I didn't have a relationship with my family because of my moronism. How ok the church was with me not being close to my family because "they were my family".

Ooh the irony. Sad sad irony.

When you leave a religion, your world gets turned upside down. You need to refigure everything you have allowed yourself to be taught. So this year, that's what I am going to do.

I have been talking to a councillor for a few years now, Cara. She has helped me sort past things and helped me through this new relationship with Jason. Now I need something more.

I hired myself a life coach. Her name is Shawna. I decided I needed direction (moving forward). Changing my internal dialog and figuring out this next chapter of my life without the guidance of a mother and being told what to think by a church with their own agenda governed by men.
I see how much I need woman in my life now more than ever.

I didn't realize that before. I really wish I had.


There will be no diet resolutions this year, just new things added to my bucket list. Experiences I long to have before my time is up. Priority will be given to experiences over things. Learning from other women I respect will be my focus.


I'm looking forward to 2017.

J

Today:

I am grateful for coffee.

I am grateful for sleep.

I am grateful for jeans that still fit after a solid week of eating!
























Sunday, December 11

Advent Day 9-10 & 11: Julie Jones Caesar Salad Dressing

My mom made the best Caesar Salad Dressing!

We all loved moms salad dressing and would beg for it if it wasn't on the menue.  My Christmas gift for you is moms recipe.

1 cup Mayo/mayonnaise (whatever you call it)

2 TBS mustard (you want the end dressing to be the colour of soft butter yellow)

3 shakes of Worcestershire sauce

Garlic fresh... A LOT ( 4-5 cloves)

Black Pepper

2 TBS Lemon Juice

Put Bacon bits on the salad and use croutons too.

You want this to be smack your face off strong, if it burns your tongue from the garlic... you have made this successfully!

While doing day to day shopping and getting ready for the holidays I am noticing more and more things that were in my parents house for Christmas.


Quality Street were my moms favourite chocolates.


My mom always made sure we had these in our stockings every year.

Also for years before my parents moved to BC, my moms closest friends would exchange Christmas baking and DEAR GOD it was good. Sandra always made a cereal mix and Reta made squares and cookies.


After mom passed Jones gave me moms winter jacket and in the pockets were these...


Moms blue daffodil mittens from her Cancer Run For The Cure.


Mom would go for a walk every day after dinner. She would carry a plastic bag and collect pop cans she found while on her walk and bring them home to recycle/get money. She was such a freak about recycling she would even make Jones pull over while driving if she saw pop cans on the side of the road.

Funny the memories a simple pair of mittens can bring back.

J

Today I asked the kids to do the gratitude's.

Ethan:

I am grateful for eggos.

I am grateful for food.

I am grateful Milo.

Gabe:

I am grateful for family.

I am grateful for Milo.

I am grateful for my girl friend.

Nora:

I am grateful for Mom.

I am grateful for Grace.

I am grateful for Milo.

Seth:

I am grateful for good tasting food.

I am grateful for sleep.

I am grateful for puns.









Thursday, December 8

Advent Day 8: The Advent

Ooh the Christmas Advent!







We ALWAYS had an advent calendar growing up. Could there be or is there anything better than chocolate first thing in the morning? Pffff.. nope!

Mom made sure we had one with little chocolate bells, or candy canes and we always got to keep them in our rooms. Which now as a parent I'd never allow.

I, of course, would eat all of the chocolates on day one or two (probably why I don't allow my kids calendars in their rooms).  I don't think it bothered mom much, she never let on that it did (or at least I don't remember). I just remember the excitement and anticipation of the first day of December knowing we would get a special treat every day.

Even after I would ransack the entire thing devouring all chocolates with zero guilt, I would carefully close each door again and then open them accordingly on the matching day.

Weird the things you remember.

I have kept the tradition of Advent going ever since the kids were little. I made a mitten one that hangs on a clothes line. I fill each mitten and every morning the kids take the treats in them. And.. as all children should, they are stolen and emptied before the correct day. I often refill the mittens at least twice.

This year I bought the boxes to try something new.



And, since meeting Jason I added a new part to this tradition.



The beer Advent. I would like a wine one, so if anyone knows where I can fine one, I'd appreciate letting me know!

Today:
I am grateful this dog is doing so well with the house breaking thing. I happily will take the irregular sleep thing vs having poop and pee everywhere in the house.

I am grateful for Christmas concert season. I think I'm starting to enjoy them the older I get.

I am grateful my friend is still here. Christmas can be a hard time of year for people, and sometimes harder for others than we understand.

If you know someone who is struggling with depression or is talking about hurting themselves, please take time and reach out, listen when they need to talk.

I hope to never get another message like that again.

J






Wednesday, December 7

Advent Day 7: The Time Mom Got Us Farm Animals For Christmas.

My mom was a banker. I am not sure if I ever mentioned that before. She was a financial planner to be exact. She worked with people to help them save and make money decisions every day.

Every year around Christmas my mom would, of course, be thanked for the help she provided families. Grateful people wanting to show my mom how much they appreciated her.


That is where my favourite Christmas memory of my mom started.


My mom always supported World Vision. She had financially adopted a few children in Africa and their pictures were on my parents fridge (along with my high school boyfriends baseball picture that was up my entire marriage, my mom really liked him and I together... yup, awkward).

Anyway, back to my story, her adopted children pictures.. She never spoke about her feelings about it, my mom was a crier so it's safe to say she would just start bawling if you asked her her feelings regarding needy children.

One Christmas,  years ago, my mom informed all of us that we would not be buying gifts for each other that year. She made it abundantly clear that we were going to be cost saving and that it was about spending time together. You know, trying to get to the true meaning of Christmas (minus the religion).

Well, Christmas morning when we are all meeting in the living room my mom handed my kids envelopes, each of my kids opens their envelope to find this...




It's a paper ornament with a child on one side and a write up of what gift was given and how it helps the family/community.

Each of my children's gift was different, one was cows, another goats, one got chickens and I think a pig?? My mom explained how she donated these things to these kids and their families in each of my children's names and how it should feel good to help another.

What a beautiful moment right? My kids just fake smiled at each other.

Then she says, "This was going to be my only gift to you guys this year, until this week when I met with a family that I have worked with for 5 years and have helped make them a lot of money for retirement". She continues, "every year they come in at Christmas and give me a gift certificate to the Strathmore Station (a local restaurant my mom goes to once in a while with her friends) and I look forward to that every year.

Annoyed, she says "This year when they came in, they informed me they made a charitable donation in my name and then left" ever more flustered, she says, "what a crap gift that is."


I was dying!! Laughing so hard at my mom explaining how much she looks forward to the salad she has with her friends and how a donation in her name is so ridiculous.

Laughing at herself, she said to the kids, " I got you these (meaning the livestock for world vision), but I also got you this stuff too" and proceeded to pull out wrapped gifts, toys, chocolate and handed me an envelope with money in it.  (I was a single parent then and it was a hard time and she knew that).


The kids opened their gifts and I was laughing so hard as mom grumbled under her breath about not getting her GC this year, "I have gotten one every year" she went on. "A donation? jeez!"


Hahahahaha, still to this day thinking about that Christmas makes me laugh.

She never gave donations in our name again as gifts.


Today:

I am grateful for the happy times. Life is truly beautiful and such a gift.

I am grateful for opportunities for self improvement and learning about ones self.

I am grateful for days off. Time to rest and get ready for the holidays.

I am grateful for friends who chat on the phone and catch up.

J







Tuesday, December 6

Advent Day 5 & 6: Watching My Mom Do Her Makeup

It might seem like an odd memory to have, but I loved our bathroom in the house I gee up in. It wasn't anything special with tile or paint, but I loved it because it had a huge mirror, and then on the side wall, where the door was, there was a smaller mirror so you could angle it and see the back of your hair.
Also, the counter was huge and when my mom would get ready she would spread all her makeup on it and I would just sit on the toilet (not using it) and watch her get ready.

I was always fascinated with makeup, I still am to this day. I don't wear a ton, but sitting in that bathroom watching her is where I learned so much. Curling eye lashes, how to tilt your head to apply mascara and how to pluck eyebrows. I would sit there staring for an hour, just observing and learning.   , playing with her makeup as she would go.

I remember thinking my mom was so beautiful and always smelled so pretty.


Around Christmas my mom and Jones would go out more than normal because of staff parties and then New Years. I loved when they would go out, it didn't happen often, but that's when we would get pizza and my own full can of pop, which was pretty much the greatest thing in the universe.

Weird the things that you remember.

When we would all go to my parents friends Christmas gift exchange, that was always my favourite party ever. My parents have THE GREATEST friends. They are all still friends now and when my mom got sick every single one of them was there to help in one way or another.

After mom died and some friends came over with wine, I had a discussion with one of my moms oddest friends, she said to me that my mom had a way of making everyone feel welcome, even if she had just met them. She told me mom was always the life of the party and made sure most every party had a theme, decorations from the dollar store and that there were always prizes. It's weird to think that at the time i thought they were ridiculous and now, kinda miss them.


Today:

I am grateful for health.

I am grateful for my parents dear friends who continue to care for and watch out for Jones.

I am grateful for coffee and its magical powers after another long night of no sleep with a puppy.









Sunday, December 4

Advent Day 4: Decorations

Every year when my mom and Jones decided it was time to decorate my mom would go down to our basement and get the "suitcase".

The suitcase was full of all our decorations for the tree, house, and pretty much any structure that would hold still long enough to drape Christmas garb on it. When the suitcase was opened, Christmas was promptly barfed all over the house.

I have unwrapped these specific decorations since I was little. And now they are in my house on my shelves.



I remember when I was little these were my favourite things to unwrap because their bonnets are textured and it felt prickly on my fingers. I always made sure when I put them up in my parents sunken living room I put them together, on the TV stand or mantel. I always imagined they were friends and they wanted to stay together and watch whet we were doing. I never wanted them to be lonely.

If you knew my mom you knew her love for value village and consignment stores. When it came to clothes she would have a constant rotating cycle of buy and sell, but when it came to our Christmas decorations we never got rid of anything and not many new things ever made it into the suitcase. Only the core decorations were ever there. The important ones.

I will be keeping these angels out all year round I think. They make me happy to have around.


Today:

I am grateful for finally getting family pictures done... and by family pictures I mean an eye care add for the optomotrist and his glasses store in town .





I am grateful for comfortable jeans.

I am grateful for oranges, what a simple delicious little thing!

J

Saturday, December 3

Advent Day 3: Moms Shortbread Cookies







When I think of Christmas and especially Christmas with my mom it ALWAYS has these bad boys in that scenario. 

My mom wasn't a hug baker/cook but she aways made these, and my job when helping was to put the cherries on the top. They were always a staple in Christmas snacking, along with nanimo squares, matrimonial squares and of course Christmas oranges. 

When I was married, my (then husband) liked shortbread and once my mom found that out, she made sure he always got a special gift of shortbread. She would go out of her way to always make sure she went to a Christmas craft sale and got him beautifully decorated or stamped shortbread. 

Even after we were divorced she would go to the Strathmore market at Christmas and buy some, give it to the kids to take to their dad to maintain this tradition. When my mom knew you liked something she would never forget it and if it was within her power to do so, she made sure you had it. It was her way of showing her love.  At the time it annoyed me that she would still do that for my ex.. but now I see how loving it was. I divorced him, that didn't mean my family stopped caring.  It was/is a good lesson in love. 


Today:

I am grateful, after a very long day of driving this little thing is finally here.





He is called Milo and, as you can imagine, he is a big hit! He is happy, healthy and fitting in well.  And yes, i am becoming one of "those" people.

I am grateful for comfort food.

I am grateful for good hand lotion during this time of year. My skin doesn't hurt and crack as much.

J






Friday, December 2

Advent Day 2: SAAN Store Stockings and Hampers

Me- "Hey Gabe, I have this list of stories I am going to blog, stories of Grandma. What one should I tell next?"

Gabe- Pointing to the bottom of the list, "This one. What is a SAAN store?"




My mom was a single parent for a lot of years. My bio father and her were divorced when I was 5 and Dawson was just born. Mom and Jones (Steve) didn't get married until I was 10 so we had a few Christmas's that were very very humble. I would never have known it then, mom always made everything feel special.  That's how mom rolled.

After my parents got divorced mom put herself through college and worked. I didn't realize then, how could I have? But now as an adult, and having been a single parent myself, I see things differently.  I see how she must have struggled. God she must have cried a lot and felt like things would never get better.

A few Christmas's, in our small town, we were the recipients for a town food hamper.

One year around Christmas In our local SAAN store, we entered a draw for a boy and girl stocking.

Now.. let me paint the picture here.

These were not just run of the mill stockings, these SAAN store stockings were 20 feet long EACH. They were hanging from the ceiling and were the focal point of the stores decorations that year. I have no idea how we were entered and if I am being honest.. I might question that my mom was lovingly "picked" to be the winner. We were in a small town and I know my mom was loved by many.

When we won I don't remember all the details but I do remember being so excited and happy. LOOK AT ALL THESE TOYS!!! There must have been 20, maybe even closer to 30 toys in each stocking for Dawson and I. EACH!

Wide eyed and frothing at the mouth, ready to jump in and get busy on playing, I remember my mom stopping us and informing us that we were only going to keep one toy each. OBVIOUSLY disappointed, I must have complained and been like a normal child. Feelings of robbery and that this was completely unjust. WHHHHY?? THEY ARE MIIIINE???

I remember my mom explaining that other kids needed gifts too (having been those kids for years) and that we would pick one gift and put the rest in the town hamper for others to enjoy.


After all these years I don't remember what toy I picked, I would give a dozen cookies to know any other details that might fill in other holes in this story from people who were around then, but after all these years all I do remember was that even when we were poor and mom didn't have a lot, she still made sure we helped take care of others. Even when we would have been justified and clearly allowed to have kept everything, she kept things in check and taught us the importance of giving.


Today:

I am grateful for cookies and especially cookies by George. GOOD LORD!!!

I am grateful for on line shopping, waaay easier!

J








Thursday, December 1

Advent Day 1: Start With The Last

I thought this was such a great idea to blog all these Christmas memories, until I actually started blogging. Looking through old pictures and feeling all these feelings. Jason is trying to exercise in the room beside me and I am trying to find all of my pictures from Christmas last year. I have interrupted him 3 times now with bursts of tears, yelling at the computer and then "Jason come look at this one" when I find more.

Who's idea was this? .... ooh right, mine.

I have been listing on a piece of paper all the stories I could remember, ones I want to share the most. The ones that made me laugh are the ones I thought I'd start with, until I realized at some point I would have to talk about the hardest one, Moms last Christmas. So instead of avoiding it we will do that one first.

Deep Breath..

My last Christmas memory of my mom was last year.


I have just spent 30 minutes picking pictures for this post. I have had to stop 4 times to walk around the living room, I began making toast, started organizing my old bills.. why am I avoiding this?


Last year for Christmas I didn't have my kids (Drew and I alternate year to year who gets the children on the actual day) and for last year it turned out I was able to go spend it with everyone in BC.  Because of the circumstances after moms surgery, having found out the cancer had spread, getting to have Christmas as the child and be able to focus all my attention on mom was a true gift. One I treasure dearly.
It's an interesting roll caring for your parent. I had have taken care of kids as a mother myself, labouring mothers as a doula, sick people as an EMT, but nothing was quite as tender as helping with my own mom. Last years Christmas memory I guess is Service. A deep service that has changed who I am.


Here are some pictures from Moms last Christmas.




This is the Blanket I made mom for Christmas last year.











Mom and Steve gave us these metal animals last year, mine has pride of place at my door. I see it every day.  







 I guess I am not really sharing many stories in this blog post, maybe it's because this specific Christmas is still too raw. Pictures will be the main share here. I wish I had taken more. Why didn't I make a video? I guess its easy to look back and think Shudda, couldda, wouldda. Maybe this is a good reminder to take more. You're welcome for the reminder.







 Today:

I am grateful for pictures I do have. I am grateful for time and laughter.

I am grateful for this project I have given myself, even though it's painful.

J








Wednesday, November 30

My flight Home

The other night I was on an airplane flying back from a work trip and my co-worker handed me the Oprahs Favourite things December magazine. It was a nice thing to flip through, light reading, for the last hour or so of our trip.

When we were about 30 minutes till landing,  I got to the part of the magazine that asked what are some things you want to pass along, Christmas tradition wise, and the woman who was telling her story was talking about her first Christmas without her mother. Then it happened.

The waves of emotion washed over me so unexpectedly and the flood gates opened.
Sometimes these emotions literally strike out of nowhere. Now just to be clear, and to explain, of course you'd expect emotions while reading something like that, even if you hadn't lost your mother 6 months ago you'd feel something. No, the emotion I am talking about is this immediate eruption that explodes out of me, blind siding me really. It hits hard and it is swift. It's how I imagine being punched in the face would feel if you didn't see it coming.

I quickly put the magazine down and reached for the light above my head to turn it off to hid the tears. My throat constricts and I try not to gag or make a scene.

I unsuccessfully attempted to gain my composure as another wave hits.  They come one after another after another.

This Christmas will be without my mommy. The first one in 38 years I will have ever had without her.

My chest started to get tight thinking about everything she would do during the holidays for us as kids and that now those have become traditions that I have to pass along to my kids. I was thinking about everything that she did to make Christmas special and how some of it I laughed at, even teased her about and now would give anything to have one more time.

It was a hard moment to have felt.

So, what happens now? I thought about this the entire drive home that night after I left the airport. Do I just go the rest of my life getting side swiped with feelings or, can I harness them at all?

That's when I decided, in the spirit of the holidays and as a gift to my Children (and to myself) I am going to do an advent style blog for the month of December with all of my Christmas memories of my mom.
The holidays are already so hard, trying to manoeuvre them with this extra emotion not in check might be down right impossible. This way at least I can direct it. Well... try to anyway.

Day one will be tomorrow, I am excited, I think.

Today:

I am grateful for the dentist who fixed my teeth yesterday. I am grateful for health care and benefits and painkillers!

I am grateful for resolve and memories and feelings, even the crazy ones.

J







Saturday, September 3

Perfect Coincidences


Today:

I am grateful for small and perfect coincidences!!

Gabe has been at his dads all week, and was invited to go with a friends family to their cabin in BC for the weekend. I didn't think any thing of it. Then today when I got a text from Gabe asking for Grandpas phone number, I was confused, but I sent it to him. Then he said, "Mom, I am across the lake from Grandpas place"

So, the family Gabe went with invited Jones to come to their place and had a great visit with my dad!
Gabe adores his grandpa, all the kids do. I was so touched that Gabe thought to contact him.

They sent me this, and it fills my heart with complete joy!


J

Friday, September 2

Grateful

Today:

I am grateful to get to fall in love with stories all over again. (Outlander)

I am grateful for kids being the age to help around the house, lighting the work I have to do.

I am grateful for comfortable shoes.

I am grateful for cooler weather and warm sweaters.

I am grateful for helpful people who are kind and generous with their time.

I am grateful how simple complements from my children build me up.

J

Thursday, September 1

Begin Again Being Grateful

I went and got my hair done yesterday. Sam has been doing my hair for almost 7 years now, and she is amazing.
I always look forward to hair day, I feel so pretty after and it's always wonderful getting to catch up with the girls. Laughing and telling stories.

But Yesterday when I left I was very aware that I wasn't laughing. Yesterday I didn't leave filled and refreshed like I normally do.

I sat in the truck after and replayed the last hour and a half in my head. I replayed the conversation and then got to thinking about the last year of conversations while I have been with Sam on hair day... and I realized how depressing conversation with me must have been. Sam, of course would never complain, she just loves the way Sam does, kindly and with patience. She just says "You have had a rough year." But the truth is, I am not the same. I have not been the same in a while, and I think a huge part of that is I have stopped being grateful. In its place I have become angry, I complain, I only see the negative and am just generally unpleasant to be around. I realized that for the entire hour and a half I sat in that salon chair I did nothing to lighten anyone else's load. All I did was be negative about a vast array of things. A buffet of bummer!!
I have somewhere in this last few months/year stopped being a bucket filler, stopped being fun, stopped being happy and full of gratitude for the little things. I don't think I could have not changed, but I forgot to be in charge of my change.

 I have become what I hate... a life sucker, one of those people who drains you when they are around.

So after hair day yesterday I realized I need to get back to work with being grateful.

Gratitude makes what we have enough. It makes what I have enough.

Gratitude changes the way we see things. It has changed the way I see things.

It has worked for me before, so, I'm going to begin again.

Three things every day that I am grateful for. Starting now. I will work to get back to that place I use to be.

Today:

I am grateful I get to decided how my life looks.

I am grateful for real cream for my coffee. The half and half just isn't the same.

I am grateful for music sent by friends who get it.

J


Friday, August 26

I Remember Her



It's been 70 days

I still remember the moment I was told your heart stopped beating and mine had to carry on.




I took Ethan to Basketball camp a few weeks ago (the same one I went to when I was his age).  Trying to hurry we were at each others throats the entire drive to Olds Alberta for no good reason.

When we arrived, registered and I finished getting him sorted and into his dorm room to stay for the week,  I was feeling exhausted and hoped that this camp and the responsibility of being away would help make him grow up a little, be more grateful.

As I walked out to the van to drive home, the thought crossed my mind that "I wonder if mom noticed a change in me after camp?" without thinking,  I picked up the phone to call her to ask, and just as fast as the thought came to me the realization that I could never ask her another question about my childhood hit me like a tidal wave, knocked the wind out of my lungs and made my hands shake.

I had to pull over onto the shoulder of the road many times that drive home to try and compose myself.


I was getting dressed the other day and put on moms sweater and shoes and just sat in my closet, crying, thinking how much she loved these shoes and how she loved to tell everyone she got them from Value Village.

 I can still smell her on the sweater. I will never wash it.


Please listen to this.



There is an constant, deep and merciless ache in my chest for everything that was lost. For everything that was changed that I had no control over. I hate this. I hate the feeling that I might never feel happy again like I use to. A part of me is permanently changed.

I hate that it keeps me awake at night.

Wanna know what it is that keeps me awake at night?

The thing that keeps me awake at night is this picture. The one I put at the top of this page. This picture was one of the pictures in my moms slide show at her funeral. My grandfather helped out one night and went through boxes and boxes and boxes of old pictures I brought up stairs (I was going to go through them the day I returned back to Chase to help finish planning everything) But before I could he did it for me.
It was so helpful, and kinda cool because the slide show was a true surprise for me. While I was sitting there, in the pew, watching the slide show and listening to the music, this picture that I had never seen before popped up on the screen.

It took my breath away.

A picture of my mom and I playing. I was only a few years old in it. Her smile looks so genuine and she looks beautiful, vibrant,  happy and healthy. I had no idea this picture existed. I have never seen this picture, ever. How did I not know a picture like this of my mom and I was taken?.... and If I didn't know about this simple picture, how many metaphoric oceans are there of things I don't know about my mother? That I will now never know about my mother. I want to ask her about this picture. What did we do this day? Why was I in a dress? But I can't, It's just over.

It's been a long 70 days, and at the same time it feels like only yesterday.


This picture is now on the fire place, where it will stay, so I can continue to remember her.

J


Today:

I am grateful for my hazel eyes.

I am grateful for my blemish free skin.

I am grateful for my chin and nose that matches hers.

I am grateful for this picture.













Thursday, April 14

The Paradox of Sadness and Gratitude



par·a·dox
ˈperəˌdäks/
noun

-a situation, person, or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities.



Blogging is not an option right now... for the most part. 

I have written lots, but can not let it into the world just yet. The emotions that have been swirling in my head for the last 3 months are best kept stored for now. Probably because I am not ready to grasp all the complexities of this part of my journey at this moment. 

But this one thing keeps coming up and I feel it's time to talk about it. 


The Paradox between Sadness and Gratitude. 

I have now, on numerous occasions, had conversations with people regarding my mother and how she is doing and then of course how I am doing, that for some reason or another have concluded in that person saying something like, "well just remember to be grateful for Jason" or "Remember your blessings and that you have a nice house"
 I have also been told, "just be more grateful"

These interactions leave me very confused. I leave feeling angry and baffled and sometimes sadder than I did before I started talking to that person. 

Why can't sadness and gratitude hold space at the same time? Does me being sad automatically mean I am ungrateful?

I consider myself someone who is very grateful. It's my life motto. I strive to be grateful in everything I do. Does me being mad or heartbroken over my mother somehow make me less grateful? Can't I be both? 

I went for my morning walk today and posed this question to Mel, my friend who's Mother in law is now end stages of liver cancer and we talked about this. I asked her the same thing and she said, "If I wasn't grateful for these things, I would have no reason to be sad." 

And that finally gave me a vocabulary to why these exchanges leave me feeling so annoyed. 

The suggestion I am not grateful is offensive. Of course I am grateful. I am grateful for everything I have, but the idea that my 2 year relationship with a man is somehow a magic repair to the deep, confusing and devastating wounds I feel regarding my mother getting sick is ridiculous. She has been my mother for 38 years. It's a complex thing. 
This has and will forever change who I am. 

Jason knows he is the love of my life and not even he would be so foolish to think he makes natural, healthy and expected sadness vanish. 

I think people just get scared of strong emotions. They don't know how to just listen. Just allowing someone to voice their sadness (that might also presents itself as anger) is hard for people. It's uncomfortable. So, they need to fill that space instead of holding it. 

"Ooh it's ok"
"Just be grateful for what you do have"
"Remember your kids"
"Be grateful you have a nice house"
"Just be happy"

BLAH!!!  Seriously... WTF???

If people think having a man and a house is going to make my heart heal from what my mother and family are going through and make the pain go away...Then I am a horrible horrible person who does not deserve friends. If that's the kind of person you think I am, please, for the love of god, put me on a raft and push me out to sea. I do not want to be that kind of person. 

If holding space is difficult let me offer some helpful things for you to say instead. 

"I am so sorry you are feeling this way"
"This seems really hard"
"Do you want to go punch things with me?"

.....or, just go bake muffins. Don't talk, just bake muffins, muffins and wine. 


I challenge this idea that these two emotions can not have pride of place at the same time in my heart and be treated with the same respect. I do not accept that when I am one, I am not able to be the other as well. Both feelings are beautiful in their own way. 

The other night when I was putting Nora to bed after a long day, she asked to be tucked in. She wanted to have the blanket shoved under her sides as she lied there in bed with the covers up to her chin. She is 8 and has not asked for that in ages. Normally we just read together. But this night she wanted to be tightly tucked in and in that moment a wave of emotion hit me remembering that very thing my mother use to do for me when I was little. I felt a wash of sadness and gratitude at the same time. Sad for times long past, and gratitude for stored memories that are surfacing at times when I least expect them. 

I can be both. I am both. Sadness and Gratitude seem like friends right now in my life, and I don't think I will feel one without the other for a long time to come. They might even get matching tattoos. 


Today:

I am grateful for understanding. I am so sorry the Straight Family is going through this, but it's nice to have someone to talk to who understands my feelings. 

I am grateful for friends who, without hesitation, can make me laugh and get me. 

I am grateful for the bright beautiful sun that blasted through the windows this morning. Buds on my tree and the geese back in the lake. The Lilacs will be out soon and my heart heals best around lilacs. 

J











Saturday, April 9

Jason Asked Me To Marry Him

I'll start off the blog by ending the suspense, I said yes.


There ya go.

Now, to back track a little.

Yesterday at work, unplanned, Rob and I were having a conversation about weddings and over the course of the hour talked about how people plan them... and how some are good and some are bad, and that's when Rob asked me off air, "should we officially tell the listeners Jason asked you to marry him?"

So we posted THIS on the work Facebook page.

I did not think anything of it.
Jason asked me to marry him a few months ago, but with the stress of everything else going on I didn't get around to blogging/texting or calling people just yet.  I was planning to, just have not gotten around to it.

Maybe in me not blogging yet there is also some fear that because Jason and I have been married before this might not be something people want to get excited about. Or they would feel it's silly or unnecessary or just poorly timed. Maybe I just fear judgment and so I have kept it quiet.

So yesterday when Rob and I talked about it I was shocked, humbled  and filled with gratitude at how many well wishes I received. Even Jason got private texts from people he works with who heard about it on the radio.

Then last night while walking with Melanie, she reminded me that even though we have been married before, people (especially our dear friends) will be excited for us and want to celebrate this with us.

So, I am sorry I didn't let everyone know ASAP. I am sorry I assumed people would be uninterested.

Jason and I are very excited to finally get this right, and will share details as they come.




And thank you so much for being excited and happy for us. It means the world to me. I am excited to laugh and explore the world with this guy for the rest of my days!

There was a time I didn't think I would ever want to do this again. I didn't think it was for me or that, frankly, I was any good at being a wife. But he made me change my mind. He is my friend and he has helped heal parts of my heart I thought were broken forever.


*** Revision***

I went for lunch today with a girlfriend and while I was driving in to meet her, about an hour after I posted this, I realized I did not say that correctly.
Jason has not done ANY of my healing for me.
What this wonderful man HAS done is he has provided a safe place for me to do my own healing. He holds space for me to feel whatever I am feeling and he allows that to take as long as it needs. He does not pressure me to be anything. He allows me to spread my wings and is not threatened by my success, life, friends or journey.
He supports my creative freedom and I him.
He laughs with me daily and when we disagree, it is respectfully.

That is why we are getting married. That is what changed my mind.




J

Today:

I am grateful for the reminder that people who love you are always rooting for you.

I am grateful for shared experiences. My mom and Melanies mother in law are going through the same things right now and it's nice to have someone to  walk with at night and talk to about it.


I am grateful for cold cereal and beer at night.















Saturday, March 12

Being A Doula







When I was pregnant with my first son I didn't really know what to expect. I was 23 and had been working as an EMT up in Peace River Alberta. 
I didn't have any family around so when decisions were being made as to where we would deliver and how and what we wanted, I was blissfully unaware of almost all options available to me. 
I had had one friend who was more alternative and had had a midwife birth with a doula, but my husband at the time and I felt a hospital birth was a better option for us because we were both in EMS and trusted the doctors we knew and worked with and of course...."what if"
Looking back now, I am not upset with my birth experience. I was induced like so many women, I only had my husband there (again, like so many women) and we were left to figure it all out alone with only the occasional nurse to pop in and out to check out how we were, check the babies heart beat and to ask "do you want drugs yet?"


After what felt like a year long labour and birth, I had massive sleep deprivation, a baby boy, and a  shredded bottom end that would take a full year to heal. 
So 7 months later when I found out we were expecting baby number 2 (yup you read that correctly) I started to look at options that might allow me to have a birth that would be better for me in the long run. And that's when I decided I was going to birth with a midwife. We had moved to a small town that had a birthing centre in a hospital (best of both worlds for us) the midwife would over see my delivery and my doula would be there to help support me not leaving the entire responsibility to my husband. 

Birth number 2 was so different to my first in every possibly conceivable way. I went into labour on my own , I gave birth In the water with a midwife and doula. Not only my body left this second experience unharmed, whole and intact, so was my confidence and faith in myself. I also found a desire to make sure EVERY woman had a birth like this. Or at least have a birth where they felt supported and not left alone. Someone would be with them and that should not only be an option for people with money. 

After the birth of my third son (a respectable 12 pounds, again delivered with my midwife Noreen Walker and doula Ava in a birthing pool) I registered for a course to become a Doula. 
That was in 2004. I have been helping women give birth for almost 12 years now. It is and always will be one of the best parts of my life. 

Not all births go as planned but every woman deserves to feel supported during this experience. To not be alone in a room, and every couple deserves to have a constant with them from beginning to end to help with the little things that busy hospital staff can't always attend to. 


Having started radio 4 years ago, I have not been able to do as many births and childbirth classes as I normally have. But I do get to squeak in a few, and this beauty is up next.







Due in the next month or so, Rachel and her husband have invited me to join them in the birth of their third child. I taught them classes with their first.

J - So Rachel, why did you decide to go with a Doula? 


Rachel - I was induced with my first, which ended in an emergency c-section because she turned out to be footling breach. For my second I wanted a VBAC so badly, and that's what I got...but I wasn't prepared enough to work my way through contractions. I ended up choosing an epidural, which completely stalled my labour. My body did exactly what it was supposed to, and what I had wanted it to do, and then I intervened and it changed the course of the birth. This time I want my baby and body to be in control, and the support of a doula will help me work through those intense moments. 

J - What do you hope it will be like?

Rachel - Empowering. I am excited to see what I can do! 




The next few weeks are going to be so exciting. I have kept my phone on at night and will until the baby arrives and I leap when I hear it ring at night.

...It NEVER gets old helping with babies. I am still just as excited as I was with the very first birth I ever attended.


Today:

I am grateful for this part of my life. The people I have met being a doula, the experiences I have had and the lives I have seen brought into this world have changed me. Serving women in this capacity has proved to be some of the most fulfilling work I have ever done. It's a beautiful thing that I will never take for granted.

I am grateful for technology. So very very grateful. Getting to FaceTime with mom is such a blessing.






I am grateful the peeling skin from my burn is done now. FINALLY! It was super gross and I lost most of my tan, but the shedding in disgusting amounts is now over.

I am grateful for vanilla coffee in the morning. WHAT.A.TREAT!!



J


OOh and anyone looking for a midwife or Doula in or around edmonton can look 


or 


Monday, March 7

The Rob and Joelle Reunion Tour.

One more day and then The Rob and Joelle show starts round 2. 

Our reunion tour if you will. We are like that weird old band you once liked a song or two from who is playing in your towns old bar one thursday night. That's us. 

I can say truly and completely, I never thought this day would ever happen. When Rob left last June to do a morning show in London Ontario, I didn't think I would ever speak to him again let alone work with him again. Yet here we are. 9 months later and we are about to do the Rob and Joelle Show the sequel. 

I have changed. I have grown. I am not the same person I was 9 months ago. But I am nervous as hell. I won't deny that. 

What if he leaves again? What if I can't get past my anger from him leaving the first time? It took me a long time to forgive what I felt was a betrayal of him leaving. Over dramatic? ok. Maybe it is. 
I am told ,"that's how radio is" so maybe I was just being sensitive. There was a lot of loss that week Rob left, maybe I made it bigger than it was. Regardless, that's how I felt. 
But over time, the sting went away. With time, I saw how good it was for me that he left and how I grew in my craft.  I discovered just how creative I am. I found out how capable I actually can be and what I am really made of. When he left I saw myself differently. I saw that I, again, made it through 100% of my worst days. It wasn't pretty, but I made it. 

So here we are. About to try this again. 
We will cover for Rachel during her mat leave for the next few months, Monday -Friday 3-7pm. 
I am excited to see what we are capable of doing now. 


I find it funny that I have worked on 4 different teams in 4 years. 2 times with Chris and now 2 times with Rob. 
Not sure how that makes me look, but I guess I can't do anything about that. It is what it is. My story will write itself exactly how it's meant to be. It's the journey that is the best part. 

Tuesday night at 7, we shall see. 

It would be nice if you would join us, in all the asshattery and awkward shenanigans you can handle. 






Today:

I am grateful for Chris. He is a talented and kind man. People don't often get to see that side of him because he doesn't open up often. I am sad our time together is over after this week. He has been the greatest person to work with during the last 9 months. He has let me find myself and grow. Everyone deserves to have a friend like Chris.

I am grateful for the geese across from my hose. I heard them last night. They are back... and that means it's spring soon!!

I am grateful for perogies.
Honestly. They are a gift from food heaven.

J

Thursday, March 3

Change Is Inevitable.

The Memory on my laptop is full.

I have not downloaded the pictures off my phone for weeks because I have no room. I am not sure what the correlation to downloading pictures is to me actually writing on my blog, but somehow there is a direct link. Maybe I only write when I can add pictures to the posts because thats how my brain works best, with pictures. Maybe I use them as a filler. Not sure now, Ill think on that one a little more.

I finally get around to blogging when I receive at least 3 text or messages from strangers on social media. That's when I know it's been too long. I use to write when I got 1 message....that's too much pressure now. lol

It has been a busy few months.


I don't know how to write about mom.

I am literally sitting here starting paragraphs, staring at my computer, then deleting the paragraphs. Im frustrated, angry and feel alone in these feelings. So, for now it's only facts.

So the facts are: She just had a PAT test. Having the PAT test allows mom to start Amino therapy after one round of chemo.
The PAT test shows speck in her lungs now too.
So dates to start the Amino therapy are what Mom and Steve are waiting for.


I hate that I use to be an EMT. I hate that I ask questions and I hate that I am never satisfied with small amounts of information. I wish I wasn't like this. I want to be like everyone else.


Other things that have happened in the last little bit. Rob Grant is coming back to NOW radio. We  start working together again next week. I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous, but It should be fun. Hard work covering the drive again for the next 6 months, but fun.



It has been a huge 8 months of growth for me. Having Chris with me during this time has been so helpful. Change is the one thing that is always a guarantee.

Speaking of change.... Jason asked me a question, and I said yes.
We will talk about that more later.


It's been a long day, and this blog post has taken almost 2 hours to write.

So, I will call it a night and try to write more tomorrow.

Today:

I am grateful for my time working with Chris. He is the kindest man you will ever know. He has taught me so much over these 8 months. He has been so patient and understanding during all the hardships I have had to deal with.

I am grateful for the warm weather.

I am grateful for Downton Abby and the escape it gives me late at night.

J













Friday, January 22

Tell Me Your Stories....Please!!

While I was on the airplane to Kamloops to see mom for the last 3 days I had an idea.

So, I need your help.

I need your dating stories. Good, bad, and everything in between.

I need dating stories from both men and women.


Please.


When I finish what I am working on, I promise you'll be the first to know.

Please email your stories to

J@jisforjoelle.com


Thanks. A lot. This will be fun.


J


Today:

I am grateful for mild BC weather.

I am grateful that the smell in the kitchen garbage is almost gone. I forgot to take it out before I left and it was really bad. gag

I am grateful for a nice visit with my mom for her (and my aunts) Birthday. We went to the spa.





Friday, January 8

Winter Day


I won't pretend that I like this time of year. 
I never have. 

Growing up my family was always outdoors. Dawson still is mad for the snow. My parents took us skiing and sledding often. I went, but not happily. I could have
 fun, sure. But it wasn't my favourite and now as an adult, I'd just rather not. 

Give me the sun and water and I'm a happy girl. 

But, because we live in Alberta and it's cold 99% of the time I need to be a team player and go out and play. And by play I mean take pictures and help carry sticks down to make sure everyone can play until I find the perfect time to escape back up to the house. 

It was a beautiful day though. 







I think this one is more like me.






Annnnd maybe this one too.


J

Today:

I am grateful for days like this when we can get out and do things together.

I am grateful for warm socks and lotion for dry skin.

I am grateful for a coffee bean grinder. Simple I know, but man does it make a huge difference to how good coffee can be!